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As summer wanes, we are busy preparing our new exhibition, Holocaust, Rescue, and the Shanghai Miracle. It will use artifacts and documents to recount the dramatic story of the escape of Jewish refugees from Central Europe and their subsequent settlement in Japanese Occupied Shanghai. In this newsletter, we sit down with Shoshana Greenwald to learn about her role as Director of Collections. We also highlight the talented student winners of this year’s Visual Arts and Literacy Contest: Born to Live: Remembering the Children of the Holocaust.




A conversation with Director of collections, Mrs. shoshana greenwald:


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Since the museum was founded, it has received hundreds of thousands of letters, artifacts, and archival pieces  from families and organizations that have held onto these items for more than 70 years. It is the job of Director of Collections Mrs. Shoshana Greenwald to process all acquisitions, catalogue each item, and collaborate with curators to plan and mount exhibitions.

[Click here for a brief interview with Mrs. Greenwald.]  



What do you do for Amud Aish and why is this job so important?

As director of collections, I oversee all aspects of our artifact and archival collections. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to the objects and the individuals and families whose stories they tell. People have entrusted us (and me) with their cherished belongings and memories and I do everything I can to ensure that our collection is preserved for generations to come.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is also the most difficult part: being exposed to incredible accounts of faith, hope, and survival as well as devastating stories of murder and pure evil. For example, when the newly discovered handwritten Wolgelernter diary was brought in from Switzerland, I began reading the page where Yitzchak Wolgelernter z'l wrote out an acrostic poem dedicated to his young daughter who was killed while the family was hiding from the Nazis in the woods. I had to turn away quickly because I did not want my tears to smudge the ink.

How is working at Amud Aish different from other museums?

I pursued a career in museums because I love and respect the power of objects to tell stories and to reveal aspects of ourselves. Working at Amud Aish has added another dimension to that mission. We describe the museum as victim-focused and not perpetrator-focused; that we tell the stories of Jewish lives before, during, and after the war. Where could I learn more about the Jewish people - my people - than working with the objects that tell the stories from their darkest periods and from their subsequent rebirth?

What do you hope people learn from the museum?

I hope that people learn about the Holocaust and relate to the individual collections that we highlight such as the set of metal pots and pans that the Glattstein family brought from a DP camp in case there were no kosher pots and utensils in the United States; and the correspondence between a son in Sosnowitz, Poland and his father in New York who tried desperately and ultimately unsuccessfully to save his family. Even in that sad story, there is a humanity that we can all relate to exemplified in the letter the son wrote justifying the grades on his report card. Who among us can't relate to that?



Highlights of Winning Contest Entries

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A panel of staff members pored through 1,525 student submissions from 127 schools in 14 states and three countries to select the winners of the Annual Arts and Literacy Contest, Born to Live: Remembering the Children of the Holocaust. Here are examples  of the winning entries:

Tchelet Carmel, a student at Robert M. Beren Academy in Houston, Texas, won first place in the middle school category. Her entry depicts Eliahu Michelsohn, a 13 year old German Jewish boy who left his parents via the kindertransport three months before his Bar Mitzvah in 1939. Upon his departure, his father gave him a 15-page letter of guidance for the rest of his life. He was later reunited with his family and they immigrated to America. Techelet described her work: “This collage was created out of strips of Hebrew and English newspapers, representing the Michelsohn letter. Some of the larger words in the artwork relate to the story of the Holocaust. The torn pieces represent the millions that were ripped and torn from their homes and families.“

Faigy Israel, a student at Ateres Bais Yaakov in Monsey, N.Y., won first place in the 11th to 12th grade writing category for her response to Hans Dovid Ettlinger’s first shoe. A child's shoe has become one of the most tragic symbols of the Holocaust, representing the murder of innocents and the brutality of a stolen life. In contrast, the Ettlinger's shoe recounts a story of life and escape. His family fled Germany first to the Netherlands and then, in 1937, to the United States. He was 18 months old. Germany began deporting Jews from Amsterdam in early 1941. In Faigy’s moving letter to Hans, she connects shoes as both literal and representative objects, discussing the steps he took in his shoes and the steps she has taken in hers.

For more winning entries, visit our website and click on each student name to view their work.



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