Area Holocaust Survivors Lead Groundbreaking for World-Class Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
Thursday, June 22, 2006
History was made when ground was broken on the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, fulfilling the dream of local Holocaust survivors to create an institution where visitors can reflect upon the lessons of history and apply them to the challenges of hate, intolerance, and genocide in our world today.
The day focused on hope for the future, with a joyous musical opening from the Soul Children of Chicago and speeches looking forward to the opening of the new institution. However, the ceremony was also commemorative, concentrating on remembering the past and creating a legacy of memory. With this in mind, over 30 Chicago-area Holocaust survivors sealed their stories, photographs and other keepsakes in a special time capsule. Led by Holocaust Memorial Foundation Board Vice Presidents Fritzie Fritzshall and Aaron Elster, the time capsule ceremony detailed the importance of creating a record for the future.
Project and Executive Director, Richard S. Hirschhaut began the ceremony by saying, “The ground that we break today will become sacred, for it will form the foundation of a powerful monument for remembering, conveying and preserving the legacy of the Holocaust. And from this ground will emerge a sacred obligation – the responsibility to create an institution that will serve as a bulwark against hate and indifference.”
Holocaust Memorial Foundation Board President, Samuel Harris addressed the significance of the day that signifies years of dreaming. He said, “This is a day long in the making. It not only represents nearly 7 years of planning, or the 25 years since the founding of the Foundation, but more than 60 years since the horrors of the Holocaust invaded our lives. This day assures that our stories, and those of our loved ones who are not here with us today, will be preserved for generations to come.”
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen, Consul General of Israel Barukh Binah, and Museum Campaign Chair J.B. Pritzker, also spoke about the importance of the day and the necessity of remembering the Holocaust in a way that teaches future generations how to stand up to hate.
“It is with great joy that we invite the entire Chicago community into our museum family,” said J.B. Pritzker, Museum Campaign Chair. “I encourage everyone to become part of our campaign to create an institution that has the power to transform our world, not just for us, but for our children and our grandchildren.”
A project of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, the new Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is slated to open in 2008. The new Center will be a 65,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility and will be the largest center in the Midwest dedicated to teaching the universal lessons of the Holocaust.
The new Museum will reach students throughout Illinois and across the Midwest, educating them about this period in history and alerting them to the dangers of unchallenged bigotry. It will personalize the stories of the Holocaust to students in Illinois who are required, by the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Education Mandate, to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides.