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In the 60 years since survivors founded the Holocaust Museum L.A., it has become one of the most important resources in the world for documentation and education on the Holocaust. On Nov. 15, the museum broke ground on an expansion to its Pan Pacific Park campus and the largest capital campaign in its history.
The expansion will see the establishment of the Jona Goldrich campus. With a design by architect Hagy Belzberg, the addition will include galleries, classrooms, outdoor reflective spaces, a new pavilion that will include an authentic boxcar, a new theater for survivor talks, concerts, conferences, film screenings and other public programs, as well as a theater dedicated to the “Dimensions in Testimony” exhibition, created in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation. Through holographic and voice recognition technology, this exhibit allows visitors to chat virtually with Holocaust survivors. The capital campaign aims to raise $50 million, of which $43 million has already been raised.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, museum and community leaders pointed to the importance of the expansion’s timing. It has been roughly six weeks since Hamas began its terror campaign against Israel, the latest in decades of conflict. Since the Oct. 7 attack, thousands of people have died, including children. Reports of antisemitism have increased around the world, including in Los Angeles County.
“This is a really important day, not only because its the culmination of years of vision and leadership and so much hard work, but because of the significance it carries at this particular moment,” Los Angeles Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, 5th District, said.
Yaroslavsky spoke of a meeting she, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and other Los Angeles representatives had with victims of the Oct. 7 attack in Israel.
“I was reminded of the power that comes with hearing personal first-hand accounts,” she said. “People want to do something. We feel compelled to action to stand up against the hatred, against the inhumanity. And that’s one of the reasons why this museum … and the work that’s being done to expand it, is so important, particularly in this moment in the world. Because remembering the Holocaust is not just about honoring the millions who lost their lives, which of course it is. It’s about continuing to tell stories and drive action. It’s about the work that we have to do right now in this moment, to create a world free of hate and violence for our families, and their children.”
Assemblyman Rick Zbur (D-West Hollywood) said that it important that the Jewish community have allies in the larger Los Angeles area.
“I understand that, throughout history, so many Jewish communities have been painfully let down by their governments. I view my role representing the Jewish community as a special responsibility,” Zbur said. “As the former executive director of Equality California, and as a gay man myself, I understand the importance of allyship. I want to make clear that the Jewish community should be able to take full, unconditional allyship for granted. Support for the Jewish community shouldn’t be noteworthy, but the rise in antisemitism we’ve seen in recent years – and especially in recent weeks – highlights how much work we have left to do.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, 3rd District, connected the antisemitic uprising to the necessity of the museum and its programming.
“Given the rise in antisemitism we’ve seen not only in our region, but across the country and all over the world, it’s important to create a space like this that will help educate our community, build on the foundation that we built with the museum and in partnership with the county’s program, L.A. vs. Hate, to make sure that we are providing programming and opportunities for community connection, to understand our history and to make sure that we are informing our future,” Horvath said.
“In the last budget cycle, I was grateful to be able to earmark additional funding specifically for the museum’s educational programming,” Zbur added. “I am excited to see the museum grow physically, and I know this beautiful addition will be exponential in its impact.”
The museum’s board chair Guy Lipa said in his welcoming remarks that the event served as an important reminder.
“I’m heartened to see our community come together, which is a testament to the importance of our mission to educate future generations to speak out and stand up against hatred, bigotry and antisemitism in all its forms. Never again is no. We’re here to celebrate our survivor community,” Lipa said.
For information about the Holocaust Museum’s expansion, visit holocaustmuseumla.org/expansion.
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