PLEASE GO TO NEW WEBSITE: www.theChaim.org pw. chaimbeta


The Bay Area's ability to teach about the Holocaust to the broader community would be enhanced with a hands-on museum experience as an immersive way to teach about tolerance and the results of prejudice through the lens of the Holocaust. The JFCS Holocaust Center in San Francisco contains a library, archive, education center and hosts a variety of excellent Holocaust education programs. Yet, that's not the same as a museum experience. Every Holocaust Memorial Day since 2009, I have been putting up a Holocaust museum style exhibit at Congregation Beth David in Saratoga, CA (Silicon Valley). The museum is 'living' and new information & stories are constantly added. However, now is the time to extend its reach beyond a singular Jewish institution and to the broader Bay Area community. I'm gathering ideas to envision what would be the most beneficial way to do so - perhaps as a community based, mobile exhibit that can compliment the Holocaust Center's programming, and that can be placed for a designated time period in middle - high schools, public and religious institutions throughout the Bay Area. I have been granted the Morris Weiss Award for Holocaust education from the JFCS Holocaust Center, but am still looking for additional sources of funding to realize this project.

Information on current exhibit:
Current Name: CHAIM - California Holocaust Action Interactive Museum
18 steps from Darkness to Life - A Holocaust Museum Experience
Action: Act with TACT (Treat other with Acceptance, Compassion, Tolerance)
Link to article in J Weekly: J Weekly Article
2017 Morris Weiss Award Awardee About the Morris Weiss Award
Sponsoring agent: APJCC, Los Gatos, Ca
Cumulative Photos: Holocaust Museum Photos
2017 exhibit photos and video clips: 2017 Exhibit detailed videos and photos

If you're interested in helping with the project:

The last meeting to imagine the museum of the future was held on May 25, 2017 1pm at Congregation Beth David; a follow up will be scheduled in July.
Contact Iris Bendahan at irisbendahan@gmail.com.
We could use design input on content, space usage, structure, and use of technology, as well as sources of funding.

Next viewing opportunities (so far):
  • Aug. 5 - 9, 2017 St. Mary's College in Moraga - NewCaje Conference.
  • April 4 - May 5, 2018 - Congregation Beth David
  • November 2018 - Saratoga Community Library

The museum has a 2-fold goal. As a living exhibit, there is always something new to learn.
  1. To be an instructional tool especially for those unfamiliar with the Holocaust and its ramifications, as they relate to historical awareness, genocide prevention and promotion of TACT (treating others with acceptance, compassion and tolerance). See this video if you need convincing of this need: 94 Maidens - Mandate Vide
  2. The exhibit also serves as a memorial "To Remember and Never Forget". Many survivor stories are display, and I welcome you to add yours.
  3. The word "Chaim" in Hebrew means Life. Although the exhibit serves to remember the dead, it also serves to enhance life by teaching to live by the virtues of acceptance, compassion and tolerance.

  • The museum consists of 18 stations. The word "Chai" in Hebrew means Alive and has the numeric equivalent of 18. Hence the subname of the exhibit 18 steps from darkness to life.
Defining our mission
Before the War
What Now?
The Rise of the Nazis
Fighting Hate & Genocide
Art as a Witness
Meet a Survivor
The Final Solution
Children’s Reading Corner
Debriefing - Act with TACT as a way of life.
Great glossary of vocabulary Glossary from Echoes and Reflections

Who Can Attend
In general Holocaust education begins in middle school age*. All children should have had some preparation either at school or by parents, prior to entering such an exhibit. In an effort to keep the exhibit inclusive and appropriate for all ages, exposed visuals are kept to those that are the least graphic in their horrific nature, but still convey the indignity of the situation the prisoners found themselves in. When possible logistically, stations 6-7 are kept somewhat hidden in the exhibit design so young children can be led into the rest of the exhibit without dwelling on the darkest side of the Holocaust.
  • K-2nd: Young students should visit the museum from the perspective of the children's reading corner. They can be exposed to an age appropriate Holocaust story in this area, talk about the values of tolerance, compassion and being an upstander. They can gain an appreciation from being in the space without actually being exposed to the detailed history in the rest of the exhibit.
  • 3rd-5th: At this age, students can be given some historical context as a springboard to further discussing the results of prejudice, and learning from mistakes made in history. At the exhibit itself, teachers can use the the vocabulary guide below for students to use which can be tailored to the concepts to be covered.
  • Middle School and High School groups studying the Holocaust, genocide and/or tolerance. At this age, students can use either the Basic or Advanced 'answer hunt' as a way to zero in on particular concepts and ideas.
  • Religious groups
  • Adults/Educators/Teachers
  • Families

RESOURCES (Guides are based on the previous 15-step exhibit; station references need to be updated)

*It is my personal philosophy that children should be exposed to some aspects of the Holocaust earlier than middle school. It is important to seed within young children the ideas of treating others with acceptance,compassion, tolerance, community building, and being an upstander when a wrong is being done (such as bullying). Understanding that we can learn from the mistakes others made in past history is another concept that will enhance holocaust learning readiness. By 3rd- 4th grade, children can start to understand historical contexts and a general overview of the basic timeline of the Holocaust; certainly the cascading results of intolerance described in stations 2-4. It is highly likely that especially Jewish children, will encounter something to do with the Holocaust well before middle school and its best that its presented to them in an age appropriate way as they grow, rather than finding out about it in a sudden, haphazard way. I also believe that children should develop an awareness of their heritage as they grow (both positive and negative) - the Holocaust is now an inextricable part of Jewish culture because it has changed and colored the Jewish genealogical & geographic landscape significantly. Just as Israeli children learn at an even earlier age to stand at attention during the wailing remembrance sirens on Holocaust memorial day (as well as Israel's memorial day), children in the diaspora can grasp the need to honor and remember those who disappeared from their family trees as well as the human values needed to prevent a repeat occurrence.

B'todah (with thanks),
Iris Bendahan

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