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Brooklyn, NY - Crown Heights Museum Brings Kids 3,000 Years Of Jewish History

Published on: May 8, 2012 01:59 PM
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A girl puts a note in the wall at Crown Heights’ Jewish Children's Museum. The Museum recently unveiled its (eminently climbable) Voyage Through Jewish History, which takes pint-sized visitors through stories of the bible to the contemporary age. PHOTO CREDIT DNAinfo/Sonja SharpA girl puts a note in the wall at Crown Heights’ Jewish Children's Museum. The Museum recently unveiled its (eminently climbable) Voyage Through Jewish History, which takes pint-sized visitors through stories of the bible to the contemporary age. PHOTO CREDIT DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

Brooklyn, NY - It’s a place where kids can walk through the divided waters of the Red Sea, slip a note into Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, peer inside Maimonides’ medical bag or strum King David’s harp.

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In fact, there’s almost nothing in Crown Heights’s 50,000-square-foot Jewish Children’s Museum — including its massive new “Voyage Through Jewish History” exhibit — that children cannot play on.

Nothing except the chicken soup. 

“Nobody should be climbing on the chicken soup!” a crowd of excited preschoolers were warned as they rushed into the museum’s giant replica of a Sabbath table.

Noah’s Ark, however, was made just for climbing.
The ark is among the scores of child-friendly scenes that make up the new multimillion dollar exploration of Jewish history from the bible through the modern day that has welcomed more than 10,000 children since it opened on the fourth floor two weeks ago.

“It’s great that there’s a museum that focuses on Jewish history,” said Melisa Lazarus, whose children, Naomi, 3, and Aaron, 5, were busy decorating Joseph’s coat.

“You don’t have to fly them to Israel to see these things.”
The “voyage” begins with (climbable) Abraham and Sarah, the first family of the Jewish faith. It continues through the exodus from Egypt (via a parting Red Sea made with real water) to the biblical land of Israel, where young explorers can study ancient agriculture, build sacred structures and even help topple the walls of Jericho.

The fourth floor also includes a room devoted to Jewish scholars, and a special section on the birth of Hasidism in Eastern Europe. Though it has a religious bent, the museum, which opened at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue in 2004, prides itself on welcoming kids of all kinds.

The "Alley of Courage" explores the Holocaust for children at Crown Heights’ Jewish Children's Museum. The Museum recently unveiled its (eminently climbable) Voyage Through Jewish History, which takes pint-sized visitors through stories of the bible to the contemporary age. PHOTO CREDIT DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp  The "Alley of Courage" explores the Holocaust for children at Crown Heights’ Jewish Children's Museum. The Museum recently unveiled its (eminently climbable) Voyage Through Jewish History, which takes pint-sized visitors through stories of the bible to the contemporary age. PHOTO CREDIT DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

“Observant or not, everybody can find something,” said Dovid Wallk, 55, who’d brought his grandchildren from Borough Park for the afternoon.

Of all the high-tech features and interactive displays, it’s the room dedicated to 20th century history that contains the museum’s most effective and arresting exhibits. On the left, a floor-to-ceiling replica of Jerusalem’s Western Wall and, on the right, a child-sized tour through the Holocaust.
“We couldn’t — God forbid — ignore the Holocaust,” said Nissen Brenenson, the museum’s education director.

“We wanted to emphasize the faith and the courage aspect of it, not the dates and times and places.”

The Alley of Courage, a dark, narrow passageway of wooden planks, invites visitors to peer at photographs and artifacts illuminated between the cracks, and listen to individual stories of perseverance from Jewish history’s darkest chapter.

“Look at this depth of courage — the family that made matzoh in the middle of the night and shared it with other people in the ghetto,” Brenenson said.
“You have to talk about the Holocaust in that context.”

Across from the alley is the Wall, into whose ample cracks tiny visitors can press their notes and prayers. In time, the museum plans to send those notes to the real Western Wall in Jerusalem. 

“The juxtaposition is very significant,” Brenenson said of the musuem’s choice to place the exhibits together.

“It’s a symbol of the hope we’ve been able to preserve and our hope for the future.”

Content provide as courtesy by DNAinfo.com


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Read Comments (5)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 08, 2012 at 06:27 PM Anonymous Says:

I toured the acclaimed 4th floor before it was totally finished. It's incredible! I can't wait to bring my grandchildren.

2

 May 08, 2012 at 09:06 PM Anonymous Says:

In addition to this wonderful facility, the Liozna Rebbe, shilita has a museum in BP called the Living Torah Museum which has illustrations of all the plants and animals mentioned in the Torah. The Liozna (aka Rav Shaul Shimon Deutsch) is one of the top Lubavitch rabbonim but the museum doesn't promote a chabad agenda but is very scientificly accurate and even a Satmer or Litvashe family would very much benefit from a visit.

4

 May 08, 2012 at 10:01 PM Jax Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

In addition to this wonderful facility, the Liozna Rebbe, shilita has a museum in BP called the Living Torah Museum which has illustrations of all the plants and animals mentioned in the Torah. The Liozna (aka Rav Shaul Shimon Deutsch) is one of the top Lubavitch rabbonim but the museum doesn't promote a chabad agenda but is very scientificly accurate and even a Satmer or Litvashe family would very much benefit from a visit.

Your bias is showing how's about loving all Jews for a nice change. Enjoy reading a nice story w/o thinking such hateful thoughts

5

 May 08, 2012 at 10:02 PM Esq Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

In addition to this wonderful facility, the Liozna Rebbe, shilita has a museum in BP called the Living Torah Museum which has illustrations of all the plants and animals mentioned in the Torah. The Liozna (aka Rav Shaul Shimon Deutsch) is one of the top Lubavitch rabbonim but the museum doesn't promote a chabad agenda but is very scientificly accurate and even a Satmer or Litvashe family would very much benefit from a visit.

And the point of your negative comment?

6

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