Teaching Kids at the Museum of Jewish Heritage


On a recent afternoon, I took my children to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown NYC.  Located in the center of Battery Park City, the mission of the Museum is to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries—before, during, and after the Holocaust. While I personally have a deep-rooted interest in the Holocaust, I wondered if the museum would appeal to my two young children and I feared that the exhibit’s content would be too provocative for them. Fortunately, the museum offers multiple perspectives on modern Jewish history, life, and culture and there was much to be learned about the period outside of the destruction. We learned about hope, courage and about a unified people coming together before, during and after a difficult time.


The introductory exhibit about Jews before the war particularly caught their attention.  The collection illustrates: life cycle and ritual observance, Jewish culture and education.  Comprised of photographs, documents, textiles, Judaica, toys, musical instruments, posters, and other artifacts, the collection also includes audio and video testimonies by Holocaust survivors, liberators, rescuers, Jews who served in the Allied Armies during World War II, and many others. My son embraced his audio tour and seemed to hang onto every word.

The section about the Holocaust itself is very heavy, as to be expected.  It contains images of Jews in Holocaust ghettos and camps, anti-Semitica and philo-Semitca, Nazi and collaborationist materials, non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust.  While I’ve spoken to my children about the Holocaust, I realize that they are still very young and I want to maintain their innocence for as long as I can.  To make them feel proud about who they are….to teach them about hope and survival….those are two of my goals and I believe that seeing the first two sections of this museum helped support my goals.  As a result, we walked through this section quickly and found ourselves in the post-war exhibit about the founding of the State of Israel, the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, Jewish participation in the Civil Rights Movement, and the movement to save Ethiopian Jews. We also learned about people, Jewish and non-Jewish who saved people during the Holocaust and have been honored for their bravery.

The museum offers a range of fun and educational public programs for families with children ages 0-10.  From concerts and crafts, to story hours and puppet shows, kids can learn about Jewish heritage. So if you feel that the exhibits would be too heavy for your kids, there are other options which you can check out here.

The museum is located at 36 Battery Place and info can be found at their web site.

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to facilitate this review, but all opinions expressed are my own.



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