It breaks your heart. When you see the raw hatred that has lasted for centuries, and the atrocities and brutality inspired by that hatred, it breaks your heart. And you realize how crucial it is to have places that record man’s inhumanity to man. The Museum of Tolerance does this brilliantly.
The museum doesn’t just present the dark side of our nature. There are also exhibits that encourage tolerance, empathy and respect: a Let’s Stop Bullying campaign, targeting pre-teens and teens; a Use Your Mobile Device to Combat Hate App, telling users to SPEAK UP and denounce hate on the internet and BE AN ALLY for anyone targeted by hate.
As we Greeters learned, The Museum is also called The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in honor of the Jewish-Austrian Holocaust survivor who became famous after World War II for his work as a Nazi hunter.
Our guides were Bob Goldsman and Sami Steigmann who are Greeters as well as museum volunteers. Sami is also a Holocaust survivor who still suffers today from the medical experiments the Nazis performed on him.
We saw cruelty and bigotry, both historic and contemporary, through interactive exhibits, videos and state-of-the-art multimedia. There were single victims: gay student Matthew Shepherd who was tortured and murdered, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American killed by white supremacists in Texas in 1998. There was also footage of large-scale attacks: the horrors of the Holocaust as well as 9/11 and other terrorist massacres.
The museum invites us all to learn from the past, engage in the present, and assume responsibility for the future. To find out more about the Museum of Tolerance, go to www.museumoftolerancenewyork.com