An Unknown Holocaust Museum

November 4, 2022
Sydney Shankman

New York, New York, United States

Class of 2025

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Out of over 26,000 public high schools within the United States, The Bronx High School of Science (Bronx Science), a specialized high school in NYC, is the only school with a Holocaust Museum. The current Museum opened in 2013, but since the 1970’s teachers have collected Holocaust artifacts to be displayed in school. The legacy of Bronx Science dates back to its founding in 1938, when it had a majority population of Eastern European Jews who had relocated to the Bronx.

The Holocaust Museum is around 1,000 square feet and contains over 900 artifacts. It all started in 1978 when Mr. Elkeno, a teacher, started to collect artifacts to display in his classroom. Over time, the collection kept growing until it could no longer fit into a classroom. Collectively, the school, city and alumni decided to raise funds to create an official museum to display these artifacts. More artifacts were accumulated through generous donations by alumni and auctions. These artifacts were organized into three exhibits, and starting this year, the Holocaust Museum will be open to Bronx Science students on the last Friday of each month. 

In October 2022, I had the pleasure of being able to visit the museum. The museum contained three exhibits that were densely packed with artifacts. Each wall was filled with propaganda posters from the 1900’s in Europe displaying horrifying antisemetic messages. As I walked through the collection, it took me through the history of antisemitism, starting long before the Holocaust, and ongoing to this day. Some artifacts that shocked me were French postcards with antisemetic messages, as well as a hood and a handwritten letter from the Klu Klux Klan stating that Jews will be put to an end. Further, as I continued throughout the museum it displayed numerous pieces from the Holocaust, including the rise of the Nazis, life in ghettos, and life in the concentration camps. It was astonishing to see an empty can of gas, polaroid pictures from the camp, and uniforms worn by Nazis. These artifacts are essential to teach all people about the destruction caused by the Holocaust. The museum finished with a thick book with all the pages filled with the word Jew in extremely small font. Each repeat of the word Jew is used to represent a jewish life taken by the Holocaust. This book left me speechless.

Overall, the Holocaust Museum within Bronx Science is a unique memorial and an important museum. Although it is smaller than other Holocaust museums, it details the history of antisemitism and how serious of an issue it is. I have been fortunate enough to visit numerous Jewish museums throughout the world, including many in Europe on my BBYO Passport trip this past summer, and have left all of them, especially the one within Bronx Science, speechless. This Holocaust museum serves to educate my school’s diverse community on a historical event that should never be forgotten.

Sydney is a BBG living in New York City in Manhattan Region who loves listening to music.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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