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Gallery of Understanding seeks World War II-era artifacts

Posted by Michele Morgan Bolton  February 1, 2011 10:00 AM

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Gallery Artifacts norwood large.jpg
Diane Joiner, Development Associate at the South Area Solomon Schechter Day
School in Norwood, views World War II era artifacts donated for an exhibit
at the Israel Arbeiter Gallery of Interfaith Understanding housed at the
school.

Memorabilia that documents the years from the rise of the Nazis to the founding of the modern state of Israel is the foundation of a new exhibit beginning to take shape at the Israel Arbeiter Gallery of Understanding at the South Area Solomon Schechter Day School.

So far, donations include a German officer's ceremonial sword, passports of an Auschwitz survivor, a copy of Adolph Hitler’s, Mein Kampf, which its donor has requested be displayed upside down, and 100 other books from that era.

Gallery co-chairwoman Dr. Gila Kriegel said preserving World War II-era books, letters, and photographs is critical as time goes by or they will disappear.

"We hope to create an exhibit that tells the story of that period to students and other visitors in a tangible, dramatic way,'' she said. "We want to ensure that artifacts are permanently preserved so they continue to bear witness to the Holocaust.”

Kriegel and gallery co-chairman Irv Kempner are both the children of Holocaust survivors.

The gallery's focal point is a series of panels tracing 86 year-old Izzy Arbeiter’s life from pre-war Poland through emigration and building a new life in America. Arbeiter said his hope is the exhibit will teach children not to hate.

Dedicated three years ago, the gallery is a meeting place for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about prejudice and ways to build bridges. It includes artwork on interfaith understanding by Jewish and Catholic children, and a display about Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat credited with saving some 10,000 people from the Nazis. Wallenberg posthumously received the gallery’s second annual "Righteous Among Nations" Award.

Donations must meet parameters related to historical value, educational aspects, and appropriateness for a K – 8 school. Monetary value is not important, officials said. If items are accepted, donors may receive a tax deduction in accordance with IRS regulations, and a plaque describes the object’s importance and gives credit to the donors.

The gallery committee is also raising funds to make the exhibit more interactive, to develop an educational curriculum, and to produce a video featuring Arbeiter.

Send inquiries to Diane Joiner, the school's development associate, at djoiner@sassds.org or call 781-769-9400.

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at mmbolton1@verizon.net.

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