The David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie has reopened its reimagined Mania & Max Nudel Holocaust Learning Center.
The facility was originally dedicated in 1989 as the Mania Nudel Holocaust Learning Center with the purpose to provide Holocaust education to the community. It was named and dedicated to the memory of Holocaust survivor Mania Nudel, mother of Dr. Jack Nudel, its first benefactor.
Through donations from Nudel and Marcie and Laurence Gottleib, son of the late-George Gottlieb, a Holocaust survivor in the community, the JCC feels it has been able to reimagine the renamed MMNHLC into the 21st century, as the room has now been updated to include state-of-the-art technology, including virtual reality.
The center’s reopening also introduces the George Gottlieb Holocaust and Jewish Education Program, which is a curriculum designed to teach about the horrors of the Shoah and to educate a new generation to not only remember the stories, but to also be inspired to understand how to play a role against racism, anti-Semitism and oppression.
Leon Weissberg, educator at the center, said the goals are to “remember, educate and inspire.”
“We’ve been working on this project for four years,” Weissberg said regarding the re-imagined learning center. “It’s been a team effort.”
Among the center’s features includes artifacts from survivors, art work, a Torah scroll rescued from the Holocaust, a Garden of Peace and Reflection and more.
Despite the features, Weissberg said, “We’re not a museum; we’re a learning center.”
“We have artifacts, but the artifacts helps us learn,” he continued.
The center also includes the Anne Frank Annex, a room that is a recreation of the Franks’ secret annex where she wrote her diary during World War II.
The idea for the annex recreation was that of Craig Konhauzer, who along with Laurie Suskind, helped spearhead the center’s reimagining project.
Konhauzer said, regarding what he feels people can take way from the Anne Frank Annex, “To me, when you walk into this room, it makes you feel like ‘wow, it was real. It did happen.’”
Suskind said there have been a lot of tours come through the center since it reopened.
“The tours can be understood of 10 people or understood of 50 kids sitting here during Yom HaShaoh and listening to survivors,” she noted. “We’ve had a multitude of different things happening which have been very well-received.”
The George Gottlieb Holocaust & Jewish Education Program includes topics and virtual reality experiences that are designed to be viewed and taught at the center as well as other venues. The basic curriculum includes 11 lessons, and the topics are depicted on 10 monitors as well as three virtual reality experiences with scenes and accounts of the Holocaust.
Topics are 1,000 years of Antisemitism in Europe; Nazi Rise to Power, 1933-1938; Nazi Oppression, 1939-1944; The Final Solution; Resistance; After the Holocaust; Genocide: A Global View; Racism, and Unbridled hate, Pre and post-Holocaust; Activism and Advocacy: Lessons from the Holocaust; Anne Frank and the Anne Frank Annex; and Testimonies – Dedicated to the Memory of the 11,000,000.
Laurence Gottlieb, who lives in New York, said, “My wife Marcie and I are particularly honored and privileged to be able to continue the important work that my dad and his friends began about 30 years ago.”
“The need for this resource in this community to provide education on these important topics was there then and persists today,” he continued. “For us, it’s a privilege to be able to assist the JCC in its efforts to bring programming and education to the community that speaks to these issues.”
With the survivor population dwindling to age, Weissberg said it’s important to have their testimonies at the center.
“What’s happened now is that those of us who are second generation, children of survivors, have begun to tell their story,” he said.
The center is open to the community with docent-led tours and at no cost.
Visit dpjcc.org/activism-advocacy/mania-and-max-nudel-holocaust-learning-center/ for more information.