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Holocaust Museum On Long Island Remembers

As the last survivors pass on, one museum finds new ways to tell their stories


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Gallery One – Holocaust survivor Lillian Gewirtzman, Press writer Jaclyn Gallucci
Gallery Two – Holocaust survivor Charlotte Gillman, Press writer Chris Twarowski
Gallery Three – Holocaust survivor Eddie Weinstein, Press writer Tim Bolger
Gallery Four – Holocaust survivor Anita Weisbord, Press writer Kaitlyn Piccoli
Gallery Five – Holocaust survivor Werner Reich, Press editor Brad Pareso
Gallery Six – Holocaust survivor Dave Gewirtzman, Press editor-in-chief Michael Patrick Nelson

The remaining Holocaust survivors alive today will disappear from this planet within our lifetime. It’s a chilling statement, but one all too true.

Tucked away in a wildlife preserve, at the end of a long, winding trail that bends through dense trees and crosses streams, stands a mansion that bears witness to the darkest chapter of human existence and strives to keep its stories alive. The building’s red brick façade pierces the wooded canopy like a rising sun upon visitors’ approach. Indeed, its purpose is to shed new light on the Holocaust, to make others understand that these old stories are still relevant—still essential, still urgent—right now, today.

The Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County, located on Welwyn Preserve, the former estate of oil heir Harold Irving Pratt, opened its doors in 1994 and has since remained steadfast in its resolve. The Center accomplishes its mission through educational programs and tolerance workshops to students and adults, a Workplace Tolerance Program at North Shore/Long Island Jewish Health System and, of course, the Center’s vast exhibits, which incorporate the oral testimony of actual Holocaust survivors, some of whom volunteer at the Center.

For the past 18 months, the Center has undergone a $3 million transformation into a state-of-the-art, multimedia exhibit and learning center featuring artifacts, videos, photographs and archival footage that spans the Holocaust’s beginnings through the continuing genocides of today. The newly renovated facility is now open to the public.

The staff of the Long Island Press was given unprecedented access to the Center and its exhibits. Reporters were paired up with Holocaust survivors and assigned specific galleries throughout the Center. Six reporters, six galleries, each “guide” providing personal commentary on his or her experience of that particular gallery’s focus.

The result is this collage of stories from both the writer’s and survivor’s perspectives, interwoven with the backdrop of the Center and its extensive collection, with the hope of creating a brutally honest snapshot of the Holocaust’s horrors that is, in the same instance, both past and present, survivor and observer, historic and alive.

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