By COLlive reporter
Photos by Yossi Percia / COLlive.com
The Western Wall was unveiled in Brooklyn Thursday night as friends of the Jewish Children’s Museum gathered for the ribbon cutting of a new exhibit, part of the Museum’s all-new 6,000 square-foot fourth floor.
The select group got a first peek at the “Land of Israel Pavilion” which includes a breathtaking lifelike replica of the Kotel in Jerusalem.
Notes that will be inserted by museum visitors will later be sent to Israel. “We can pretend we are at the Wall in Jerusalem even though we are thousands of miles away,” reveled Nathen Cohen, age 9.
One of the evening’s guests was Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, who was deeply moved by the 3-D exhibit “Voyage through Jewish History” depicting his country and heritage.
“All the landscapes and pictures here are not just part of a lesson,” he told COLlive.com during the tour. “Kids don’t just come here to learn, they come here to live and experience their Judaism.”
The former Russian refusenik, who now lives in Gush Etzion located just south of Jerusalem, has a special connection to the land of Israel, where he says he “lives the Bible every day.”
“When I go outside my home, I am walking in the place where our Patriarchs walked, where Boaz met Ruth,” said Edelstein, who opened the new exhibit together with Eliezer Shkedi, CEO of El Al Airlines.
“Hopefully the children who visit here will also develop a love for the land of Israel.”
MEMORIAL TO VICTIM
Following tours of the new floor, which details the Jewish people’s history from the time of Abraham to the modern era, guests heard from the executive director Rabbi Yerachmiel Benjaminson who thanked the donors for their support.
Devorah Halberstam, Director of Foundation and Government Services at the Museum, mentioned in her remarks the special meaning the museum has for her, being dedicated to her slain son Ari Halberstam HY”D.
Halberstam said the museum is a living testimonial to the memory of her son who was murdered by terrorists on the Brooklyn Bridge 18 years ago to the day of the event.
“Ari lived by the principles of the Torah, and they are continued in these walls of the museum,” she said.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, said he sees the Museum as an important tool for education. “The Jewish Children’s Museum is a place where a child not only comes to learn, they can see Jewish life come alive.”
JUST LIKE BASEBALL
At the brand new fourth floor, visitors will relive the awesome wonder of the miracles at Mount Sinai; meet Sages through the Ages; watch the Red Sea part before their eyes and jump and slide in a softplay area called Noah’s Ark.
Philanthropist Yossi Popack, recently named Chairman of the Board of Tzivos Hashem – Jewish Children International (a partner organization of the Museum), explained why the support is so important.
“Children should be proud of who they are,” he told COLlive.com. “The Museum makes Jewish children proud of who they are. When they visit the museum they see the beauty of their history and their heritage, and this instills in them a sense of pride in their Jewishness.
“Just like a baseball stadium gives a sense of pride in a team, this building instills a sense of pride in Judaism,” said the Brooklyn property owner.
The grand opening ceremony for the new floor will take place April 1, 2012.