Monday, April 11, 2011

Gallery Seeks WW II Era Artifacts for New Exhibit

A German officer’s ceremonial sword, passports of an Auschwitz survivor, a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and a rare B-17 bombsight are the first four artifacts that have been donated to the Israel Arbeiter Gallery of Understanding at the South Area Solomon Schechter Day School in Norwood (Mass.).

This past year supporters of the Gallery launched a campaign to collect and preserve memorabilia from the pre-war through post-World War II era, mainly between 1933-1948 – from the rise of the Nazis to the founding of the modern State of Israel.

“World War II era books, letters, photos and other artifacts are in danger of being lost, thrown out, or sold,” says Gallery Co-Chair Dr. Gila Kriegel. “We hope to create an exhibit that tells the story of that period to students and other visitors in a tangible, dramatic way. We want to ensure that artifacts are permanently preserved so they continue to bear witness to the Holocaust.” The second Gallery co-chair is Irv Kempner. Both are children of Holocaust survivors.

Each artifact has an interesting background of how it found its way to the Gallery, and an exhibit card tells each story.

Dr. Kriegel says, “Many Holocaust survivors, World War II veterans, collectors, historians, their families and others may possess historically important, unique and interesting Holocaust-era artifacts. Here’s a way to preserve rare items and use them for educational purposes for generations to come.”

The focal point of the Gallery is a series of large panels tracing 86 year-old Izzy Arbeiter’s life from pre-war Poland through emigration and building a new life in America. Asked about the mission of the Gallery, he said, “To teach children not to hate.” He said, “We can't ignore people with crazy ideas. They must be stopped before they gain strength." Dedicated three years ago, the Gallery is a meeting place for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about prejudice and ways to build bridges.
Also on display in the Gallery is artwork on interfaith understanding by Jewish and Catholic children and a display about Raoul Wallenberg, Swedish diplomat credited with saving some 10,000 people from the Nazis, who received (posthumously) the Gallery’s second annual ‘Righteous Among Nations’ Award. Among visitors to the Gallery have been Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Peter Yarrow, Alan Dershowitz, and Loren Galler Rabinowitz, Miss Massachusetts 2010 and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors.

To be accepted, donated items must meet parameters related to historical value, educational aspects, appropriateness for a K – 8 school, etc. Monetary value is not important. Donors could receive a tax deduction in accordance with IRS regulations, and a plaque describes the object’s importance and gives credit to the donors.

Anyone interested in donating papers, photographs or artifacts may contact Stan Hurwitz: 508-269-0570 /, or or call 781-769-9400. The Gallery committee is also raising funds to make the exhibit more interactive, to develop an educational curriculum, and to produce a video featuring its namesake. Donations are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS regulations.

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