The David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie has reopened its reimagined Mania & Max Nudel Holocaust Learning Center.
The facility was originally dedicated in 1989 as the Mania Nudel Holocaust Learning Center with the goal of providing Holocaust education to the community. It was named and dedicated to the memory of Holocaust survivor Mania Nudel, mother of Dr. Jack Nudel, its first benefactor.
Thanks to donations from Nudel and Marcie and Laurence Gottleib, sons of the late George Gottlieb, a Holocaust survivor in the community, the JCC believes it has been able to reinvent the renowned MMNHLC in the 21st century, as the hall has now been updated to include advanced technologies, including virtual reality.
The reopening of the center also introduces the George Gottlieb Holocaust and Jewish Education Program, which is a program designed to teach about the horrors of the Holocaust and to educate a new generation not only to remember the stories, but also to be inspired to understand how to play a role against racism, anti-Semitism and oppression.
Leon Weissberg, an educator at the centre, said the aims were to “remember, educate and inspire”.
“We’ve been working on this project for four years,” Weissberg said of the reimagined learning center. “It was a team effort.”
Among the features of the center are survivor artifacts, artwork, a Torah scroll rescued from the Holocaust, a garden of peace and reflection and more.
Despite the features, Weissberg said, “We are not a museum; we are a center of learning.
“We have artifacts, but artifacts help us learn,” he continued.
The center also includes Anne Frank’s Annex, a room that is a recreation of the secret Frankish annex where she wrote her diary during World War II.
The idea for the annex recreation was the brainchild of Craig Konhauzer, who, along with Laurie Suskind, helped lead the center’s reimagining project.
Konhauzer said, regarding what he thinks people can take away from the Anne Frank Annex, “To me, when you walk into that room, you feel like ‘wow, that was real. It happened.
Suskind said many visits have passed through the center since it reopened.
“Tours can consist of 10 people or 50 children sitting here for Yom HaShaoh and listen to survivors,” she noted. “We had a whole host of different things that were very well received.”
The George Gottlieb Holocaust & Jewish Education program includes virtual reality topics and experiences that are designed to be viewed and taught at the center as well as other locations. The core curriculum includes 11 lessons and subjects are represented on 10 monitors along with three virtual reality experiences with scenes and stories from the Holocaust.
Topics are 1,000 years of anti-Semitism in Europe; Nazi rise to power, 1933-1938; Nazi oppression, 1939-1944; The final solution; Resistance; After the Holocaust; Genocide: A Global View; Racism and unbridled hatred, before and after the Holocaust; Activism and Advocacy: Lessons from the Holocaust; Anne Frank and the Anne Frank Annex; and Testimonials – Dedicated to the memory of the 11,000,000.
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Laurence Gottlieb, who lives in New York, said: “My wife Marcie and I are especially honored and privileged to be able to continue the important work that my father and his friends started some 30 years ago.”
“The need for this resource in this community to provide education on these important topics was there then and continues today,” he continued. “We are privileged to be able to assist the JCC in its efforts to bring programs and education to the community that speak to these issues.”
With the population of survivors decreasing with age, Weissberg said it was important to have their testimonies at the center.
“What’s happened now is that those of us who are second generation, the children of survivors, have started telling their stories,” he said.
The center is open to the community with visits guided by docents and free of charge.
Visit dpjcc.org/activism-advocacy/mania-and-max-nudel-holocaust-learning-center/ for more information.