July 12, 2024
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Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Mobile Museum of Tolerance Is Coming to NY

As we saw only too recently in Texas, there has been a disturbing rise of the world’s oldest hatred, antisemitism, spreading around the world and across political spectrums. There have been increased incidents of anti-Jewish vandalism, harassment, assault, arson and murder in synagogues and other communal institutions. Antisemitism is seen in the media, online in social media and on billboards. It is seen in classroom textbooks, on college and university campuses and schools and in student interactions. Alarmingly, antisemitism is becoming mainstream.

At this pivotal moment in time, there is an urgent need for education and action. It is crucial that we all truly understand the need to provide a much-enhanced educational resource base for our next generation to learn first-hand about cultural sensitivity, tolerance and diversity. Increased education is also needed to help them develop the skills necessary to combat all forms of hate, including antisemitism, racism, stereotyping and bullying, whether on social media or in person.

Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) is a Jewish global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context. SWC confronts antisemitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. From traveling exhibitions to panel discussions and work with state and local elected officials, law enforcement and activists, faith leaders, their congregations and college campuses, SWC constantly monitors, tracks and alerts authorities about the use of the internet and social media by bigots, to further educate the next generation.

And now, thanks to the New York State Assembly, $1.5 million of capital funding has been announced for the construction of the SWC’s New York-based Mobile Museum of Tolerance (MMOT). This is SWC’s third such initiative. The first MMOT, currently based in Toronto, launched in 2013; the second, in Illinois, has been operating since 2021. The Canadian MMOT, named the “Tour for Humanity,” has educated over 150,000 students at 750 schools and communities across Canada; and the Illinois MMOT has reached almost 4,000 students in its first year and another 2,000 in virtual programs.

While there is not an official launch date for the New York MMOT, it is targeted to be up and running for the next school year. Its anticipated chief target audience will be middle schools and high schools throughout the state, including New York City, the surrounding boroughs and suburbs. The MMOT will bring innovative, experiential learning and museum-quality training to teaching tolerance, diversity and inclusion. This state-of-the-art mobile education center will utilize the latest technology and interactive lessons, becoming a critical expansion of SWC’s educational capacity in New York State and allowing easy access for tens of thousands of students, educators, law enforcement agencies, faith groups and professionals to critical training on issues of tolerance.

Rabbi Meyer H. May, executive director, Simon Wiesenthal Center, said, “This state-of-the-art Mobile Museum of Tolerance brings all the dramatic experiential learning opportunities of the iconic SWC Museum of Tolerance directly into schools and communities throughout the State of New York.”

The MMOT will provide an array of programming such as “Combat Digital Hate” workshops, and will also be used to rush to hot spots in the event of serious antisemitic or other types of hate crimes/attacks or incidents that require intervention and assistance. It will be equipped with a full complement of professional educators working in coordination with Simon Wiesenthal Center’s education arm, the Museum of Tolerance.

SWC thanks Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Assembly member Helene Weinstein and Assembly member Rebecca Seawright for making it possible to bring this critical educational resource to New York.

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s New York-based Mobile Museum of Tolerance will educate New Yorkers on the importance of tolerance and acceptance and illustrate the detrimental effects hatred has had on the global community,” said Heastie. Weinstein noted: “The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been successful in spreading a message of acceptance and open-mindedness for decades. The simple truth is that hatred is not something we’re born with, and with the ever-rising tide of hate related crimes, the Mobile Museum of Tolerance engages visitors and presents an interactive curriculum on culture, race, ethnicity and religion—all things which make us unique and beautiful in our own right. One day I hope we won’t need this wonderful program, but right now it couldn’t be more crucial.”

By prioritizing Holocaust education and tolerance, the New York MMOT will help keep the history and lessons of tolerance alive Its interactive exhibits will benefit neighborhoods throughout New York. “The Mobile Museum of Tolerance is a traveling source of information to teach tolerance and the perniciousness of hate,” Seawright said. “I look forward to the van visiting the Upper East Side, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island.”

Michael Cohen, eastern director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is working diligently to see that the MMOT helps to create a world that stands up to hate and strives toward positive change. “Having this critical resource in New York State is truly a game-changer. The Mobile Museum of tolerance will bring to life the kind of immersive training necessary to further develop an appreciation for our diverse communities and a world where it is understood that hate of any kind has no place. We thank the Speaker Heastie, Chairwoman Weinstein and Assembly member Seawright for their vision and leadership, without which this monumental achievement would not be possible.”

Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005) famously said, “Freedom is not a gift from heaven—we must fight for it every day.” With the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Museum of Tolerance and the Mobile Museum of Tolerance, the next generation will be prepared with the education and tools to not only fight for a new world of freedom, but win.

For more information: [email protected], mmot.com


Susan R. Eisenstein is a longtime Jewish educator, passionate about creating special, innovative activities for her students. She is also passionate about writing about Jewish topics and about Israel. Susan has two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.

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