Over Thanksgiving break, we went to the Museum of Tolerance to see the new Anne Frank exhibit which opened in October.
Although we have taken our kids to the Museum of Tolerance before and also the Holocaust museum in Washington DC, the Anne Frank exhibit is unique and offers a different perspective of the events surrounding the Holocaust. This new, permanent exhibit is geared toward teenagers and our kids definitely related to the exhibit. It’s extremely well done and has more photos and memorabilia than we expected. The modern technology used made it very easy to walk through and listen to the narratives. Everything is on a loop, and each section starts every few minutes and it is spaced perfectly.
Telling Anne’s story from beginning to end, the exhibit is interactive and keeps the viewer engaged as you go from section to section. One of the highlights was the film clip by Anne’s cousin, her only remaining living relative. Listening to him talk about Anne and their family and the things they did and then, ultimately, the things they went through, was very moving and made the Holocaust more real to us. Another highlight of the exhibit was the replica of the Secret Annex, which you actually walk through to get to the next section of the exhibit so you can see what it felt to be in a room where you can’t go outside or even look out the window. Another very interesting aspect was the actual pages of her diary.
Although we had been to the Museum of Tolerance once before with each of our children before their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, it is such a big place filled with so many things to see that you can’t really do everything in just one or even two visits. Instead of paying for the entrance tickets, we chose to purchase a family membership so we can go as many times as we would like in this upcoming year. We had already done the main Holocaust exhibits and also had listened to survivor’s speak, so we chose to do different things this time. Although I highly recommend the survivor talks – that alone is worth the drive to LA and is something that has a lasting impact, especially since as these survivors get older and pass on, there will be no one to tell their first hand stories. On this visit, we wanted to focus on things we hadn’t done, so we spent a long amount of time in the Anne Frank exhibit, looking at and listening to everything, watching every film, etc. Then, we still had some time before closing, so we went to the “Tolerance” portion of the museum and really enjoyed the area where you watch little mini films about certain topics and then have an opportunity to give you own opinions via a survey pole and also to interactively ask questions (virtually, at a computer terminal) about the people depicted in the films and why they made the choices they did. We especially enjoyed the clips about bullying (based on sexual preferences) and teenage drinking and driving.
After a very meaningful and thorough time at the museum, we drove around in the heart of the “Jewish district,” around the Pico/Robertson area. It brought back so many memoires for me of my own teenage and college years and I was excited to point out to the kids things like the Kosher Chinese/pizza restaurant where I would go with my Jewish youth groups, the Aish Ha Torah center, where I hung out a lot during law school (hoping to meet a nice Jewish boy!) and Hansen’s Cakes, where I got my Bat Mitzvah cake. I loved driving down the street and seeing all of the signs in Hebrew and all of the Kosher restaurants. I hadn’t been there in a long time and it has definitely been built up.
No visit to “Jewish LA” would be complete without dinner at a real Jewish deli, so off to Cantors we went for dinner. Delicious corned beef, soup with matza balls that filled the whole bowl and, of course, black and white cookies, rounded out our fun family day in a very sweet way.
Barbara Boarnet is a contributing
writer to Kiddish and Orange County
Jewish Life Magazine.