It’s a ‘G’ Thing: NYC woman reflects on family heirlooms she’s donated to new Holocaust museum

Holocaust Education Center Off 24

“Herman is my father, and Dora my mother,” she said.

It’s a bittersweet trip down memory lane for Ruthie Rosenbaum, as she looks through items from the Holocaust that belonged to her parents.

“Those are ration cards as you can see from a town called Bamburg,” she showed me.

Like so many who were Jewish, they were forced from their homes and persecuted.

“He was taken to a labor camp and was basically doing slave labor,” Rosenbaum explained. “My mother, very often, had nightmares, that Nazis were coming to get her.”

The two of them made it out alive, and first met at a Displaced Persons Camp after the war.

“My father was a watchmaker, and he opened up some sort of store,” she said. “And my mother had a watch that broke so she went to fix it and that’s how they met.”

Despite having almost nothing, they found love. and quickly married, making sure to follow tradition.

“The Jewish marriage contract, it’s called Ketubah and it’s a very meaningful thing,” she showed us.

After trying for years, the couple was finally given a chance to come to the United States. They made a life here, had two children, and many grandchildren.

“This is my favorite picture of them, this is from my oldest daughter’s wedding and they just look so happy,” she smiled.

Ruthie’s parents have both since passed away and while going through their things, she found a binder full of pictures, documents and other heirlooms.

“I called my sister and said i found a treasure today in mommy’s drawer,” Rosenbaum remembered..

Rich in history and culture, and she wanted to share it.

“Many survivors are gone and I feel it’s our responsibility and our obligation to make sure their story goes forward,” she said.

So she decided to donate everything to the Amud Aish Memorial Museum.

“This museum is unique in that most other museums focus on the perpetrator,” Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, museum director explained. “Our focus is more on the victim and the victim’s experiences.”

It’s currently in development and at a temporary space in Mill, Basin, Brooklyn, serving as a way of educating younger generations before opening up to the public early next year.

“When kids come and see artifacts, it makes the story we’re discussing with them and the history of the holocaust that much more real to them,” Friedmann added

They’ve collected and preserved close to one million pieces from hundreds of different donors all kept organized, in a temperature-controlled room.

“This is a concentration camp uniform,” he showed us. “It went through four different camps and is very important to us.”

A somber museum, yes, but also a necessary one. And like so many family members of survivors, Ruthie knows how important it is to never forget what happened.

“Mom and dad are looking down and seeing what has happened to your life, what are they saying? ” I asked Rosenbaum. “I think they would be proud.”


Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi

About the author / 

Rabbi Sholom Friedmann

Rabbi Sholom Friedmann is a Talmid of Rabbi Leib Bakst זצ"ל, of Yeshivas Ateres Mordechai, Detroit, Michigan. After learning in the yeshivah and kollel, Rabbi Friedmann moved to the British colony of Gibraltar and studied in the Gateshead Kollel for three more years, at which time he received rabbinical ordination. From there, Rabbi Friedmann moved to London, England. In London, Rabbi Friedmann taught in the Menorah Grammar School, and was appointed the communal Rov of Kehilas Kol Yaakov, Edgware, London. Rabbi Friedmann was awarded Qualified Teaching Status by the British Board of Education in 2002, and a diploma in educational psychology by the Tavistock clinic (London) in 2006. In 2005, Rabbi Friedmann was accepted as a Fellow in Holocaust Education by the prestigious Imperial War Museum, London. Rabbi Friedmann relocated to New York in 2008 to become the Director of Zechor Yemos Olam, the Holocaust education division of Torah Umesorah. While occupying that position, Rabbi Friedmann created teaching materials, videos, and teacher training programs, including the ZYO Holocaust education fellowship program. In April 2012, Rabbi Friedmann was appointed as the director of the Amud Aish Memorial Museum. The museum founded by Elly Kleinman will carry on the legacy of holocaust history. For more info about when it is expected to open read this article.

Related Posts