March 24, 2008

Sosúa (again)

Settlers on the beach

The staff continues to be delighted by the response from the Dominican community with regard to our exhibition, Sosúa: A Refuge for Jews in the Dominican Republic, on view through July 25. A wonderful article appeared in the Feb. 21, 2008 edition of The Riverdale Press, “A Haven from the Holocaust in an unlikely place” by N. Clark Judd. (¤t_edition=2008-02-21)

The article was the front cover of the second section of the paper and was illustrated with great photos from the exhibition, including the one you see on the webpage. After the article appeared, two letters to the editor arrived shortly thereafter. One praised the show and another gave an account of a true, only in New York moment. See that letter below:

Sosúa article caused quite a stir

To the editor:

We are new to the neighborhood, new advertisers as well as new readers. I had to take this opportunity to let you know what a hit your Feb. 21 Better Living article, "A haven from the Holocaust in an unlikely place," was with my customers, particularly my Dominican customers, at Super Sonic Suds Laundromat and Dry Cleaners. After reading The Riverdale Press each week, I promptly place the sections on display for customers to peruse as they wait for their laundry. Coincidentally, this past Saturday five of my customers were from the Dominican Republic. They were browsing through the paper when they came across the article.

Within a very short period of time, Super Sonic Suds became a hub of political conversation as Rafael Trujillo came under the limelight. Each and every Dominican customer knew the history of the Holocaust and Trujillo's part in accepting Jews fleeing Hitler. Many customers learned this history on their grandfathers' knee. The pride these people take in Sosúa and its Jewish population is incredible. Everyone wanted to take the Better Living section home with them to show their families. We had to call your office to request more copies.

Customers were excited and planned to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage to see the Sosúa exhibit.

Thanks for a great article.

PAULl BREITSTEIN Owner, Super Sonic Suds Laundromat and Dry Cleaners

If you haven’t taken the time so see our first bi-lingual exhibition, please come down. Soon the flowers will be blooming in Battery Park, and the Garden of Stones already has its first buds. Take some time to read Sandee Brawarsky’s review of the exhibition and Marion Kaplan’s insightful accompanying book, Dominican Haven: The Jewish Refugee Settlement in Sosúa, 1940-1945. (

(Photograph: Dr. Herbert Kohn, collection of Ruth Arnoldi Kohn)

March 11, 2008


One of the great pleasures of working at the Museum has been getting to know remarkable survivors, who dedicate their lives to Holocaust education. One such person, Fanya Gottesfeld Heller, is an asset to the Museum in so many ways. At the Museum and at schools throughout the country, she speaks passionately about her experiences during the war, providing students with honest and frank first-person testimony. Fanya is also one of the most knowledgeable and best read people I know. As a Trustee, her erudition enables her to offer educated and insightful opinions about what is going on in the world and how we can best serve the public as an educational institution. The Museum is grateful for Fanya’s generous support. This year, March 18, marks the Ninth Annual Fanya Gottesfeld Heller conference for Educators, which will once again be a testament to her dedication to the Museum and to her foresight. As Fanya and I both believe, one of the best ways to teach the public about the Holocaust is to ensure that those who teach have the tools they need.

More than 200 participants are expected to convene for the conference, which this year explores the unique difficulties women faced, and the particular adversities they overcame, during the Holocaust. Narratives of the Holocaust: Women’s Perspectives will take place at the Museum on Tuesday, March 18 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The oral and written histories of women in the Holocaust are an under-explored, but extremely important part of Holocaust and Jewish history. Examining women’s roles and choices, this conference will help teachers guide their students in understanding what women went through in the ghettos, in the concentration camps or in hiding, and after liberation.

Women remained silent for many years after the Holocaust. The conference will begin with a consideration of what happened in the last several decades to help the voices of women gain a more prominent place within Holocaust studies. The conference will continue by focusing on how women’s roles as caregivers, wives, and mothers were significant factors in their responses to the Holocaust. Guest speakers will share inspiring stories of how women supported and sustained their families and others, how they bonded in friendship to cope with loss, how they played key roles in resistance across Europe, and finally, how they struggled to rebuild their lives.

This facet of Holocaust history will be approached with an emphasis on narrative in oral and written testimony, scholarship, and literature. Fanya Gottesfeld Heller will speak of her experiences as a young woman in Ukraine. Joan Ringelheim will discuss the history of the study of women in the Holocaust. Bonnie Gurewitsch will provide case studies of women’s wartime experiences. Sara R. Horowitz will talk about women in relation to Holocaust literature.