Launched just yesterday, EnerJew Gratitude Museum is a 100 percent virtual, interactive and fully immersive exhibition that features stories of the Righteous among the Nations – gentiles who have been honored by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, for risking their lives to save Jews during the Nazi occupation of Europe. Volunteers, mainly school students, found a new way of remembering and presenting those people to a wider audience not only through an online gallery, but also by narrating their life stories and thanking them for their actions.
In the midst of Covid-19, as many cultural institutions are forced to close their doors, the opening ceremony of the FJC EnerJew youth movement’s new Gratitude Museum was held as a Zoom meeting and was presented by two special guest speakers: Eliezer Lesovoy, EnerJew Educational Director, translator, lecturer and a specialist on Jewish Eastern Europe, and Liat Glazova, Regional Director of EnerJew movement in Russia and a gestalt therapist.
Eliezer Lesovoy spoke about the significance of gratitude. “Being thankful is a very important custom. Not always those who tried to save the Jews were able to save them, but our Jewish gratitude extends even to the people who attempted to do so,” he explained, adding that a person who lives according to the Torah not only remembers the good, but remembers the good after a long time.
Liat Glazova, a gestalt therapist, focused her attention on the complex question: “If you save a life and I save the memory of you, then who am I?” and invited the volunteers to reflect on the experience they’ve gone through.
“Observe yourself,” – she advised. “Although technically it seems fairly easy, reading a story, making a video, at the same time every one of us changes as a result of it. When we meet with another person, our perception shifts and we become someone new. And every time we have to ask ourselves a question: who am I now, having gone through this interaction?”
Esti Friedman, 11-year-old volunteer:
“I am immensely grateful to those people who have saved the Jews. Had they not risked their lives, there might have been no Jewish people today. I think that every normal, decent person is thankful to those people.”
Konstantin Shulman, the director of the EnerJew movement, admitted that he was deeply moved by this initiative: “I noticed that the last slide in the interactive gallery is left blank. This blank page is a symbol that we will never forget this period in life, and at the same that this is a moment that always returns us to who we are, to the fact that one of our main tasks as human beings is to make this world a better place, not only with words, but with actions.”
Shulman reminded that the people in this museum were ‘people of action’. “They were not afraid, they shared what they had, they risked their lives. Their actions show both us and the new generation – these bright, wonderful children who tell us about them – how to make this world, starting with ourselves, starting with our family, a little bit better.”
Visiting EnerJew Gratitude Museum is simple: guests can explore the exhibition on the website and send in their stories and photos. The organizers also revealed their plans on launching an English version of the website in the near future. The new museum will operate 24 hours 6 days a week here.
Video: Volunteers tell the story of Stepan and Alexandra Sopot.
All photos and videos courtesy of EnerJew Gratitude Museum.