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Museum of Jewish Heritage

Museum of Jewish Heritage (5)

First of all, a minor clarification: do not confuse this museum with the Jewish Museum located on Museum Mile. The latter covers the history of Judaism in general, whereas this one pays tribute to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. In fact, the structure of the museum says as such. Kevin Roche, the building's designer, conceived it as a granite hexagon in double reference to the six-pointed Star of David and the number of Jewish victims during the Nazi barbarism. 

After 15 years of planning, this moving museum finally opened its doors on 15 September 1997 to offer the world a retrospective of 20th century Jewish history, to become a true memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust and to ensure their values are instilled. The quote that best sums up what you can find within the walls of the museum are "remember, never forget."

When starting the visit, do not miss the introductory video that will quickly explain the Sabbath and many other concepts that are basic to understanding this culture.

Afterwards, you have three floors to stroll around and discover at your own pace. On the first floor you learn about Jewish life a century ago, such as their life cycle itself, their holidays, their community, their typical jobs and synagogues, among others.

The second floor houses the war against the Jews. This is, without a doubt, the real heart of the museum. It begins with the rise of National Socialism and displays the barbaric acts of the Nazis. You will see items that might today seem both strange and chilling, such as copies of "Der Stürmer" (the famous Nazi weekly), stamps to identify Jews, identification cards and others. A representation of St. Louis, a ship of German Jews that crossed in the Atlantic twice in 1939 in search of safe haven, photographs of its passengers, a ticket for the boat itself and other very interesting details must not be missed. Items that induce hope, such as the trumpet of Louis Bannet, known as the Dutch Louis Armstrong, are also on show. It is strange to know that it is the same one that he used to play in the orchestra of inmates at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp for three years.

On the third floor you will find the renewal of the Jews after the Holocaust, which is a summary of the people since 1945. It is well documented and quite emotional. To finish the tour, you can access a hexagonal room with Torah in the middle. The Torah is teaching for the Jews. It is the instruction. It is the law. There are the 5 books that, according to Jewish tradition, were written by Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Perhaps the highlight of this museum is the way in which history is told through more than 15,000 objects, photographs, documents and especially video recordings, where Holocaust survivors and their families bear witness to their experiences. These are documentaries, as perhaps you have already guessed, which form part of the foundation created by Steven Spielberg himself, a real guarantee.

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