When we began planning for this exhibit a year ago, we did so with the knowledge that antisemitism was on the rise around the world. But we did not anticipate that our exhibit opening would coincide with the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.
Our work is acutely, painfully relevant. The Museum of History and Holocaust Education’s mission is to present public events, exhibits and educational resources focused on World War II and the Holocaust in an effort to promote education and dialogue about the past and its significance today. Enduring Tension: (En)Countering Antisemitism in Every Age explores the long history of anti-Jewish bias in the United States within an international context. The exhibit asks a critical question: must we live with hate? And if we believe that hatred must be combated, what are the best ways to do so?
In 1966, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. reaffirmed his commitment to nonviolence in the pursuit of civil rights, saying “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
At this pivotal moment in American history, our beloved community is threatened by hateful rhetoric which can, and has, moved people to unimaginable violence. America is a strong nation, empowered by diversity and a commitment to justice. Jews have been a thread in the American tapestry since the first Europeans arrived in North America hoping to build a life in a new land. America will endure, and the Jewish people will endure. But that endurance must come with a renewed commitment to seek justice, to push against bigotry, to counter inter-group bias along the spectrum from misunderstanding to the depths of hatred and annihilation.
We at the Museum of History and Holocaust Education dedicate our newest exhibit to the Jewish community of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. And we re-dedicate ourselves to the work we have embraced and to our core values:
The more we learn about other people, the more willing we are to accept them into our community. By chronicling the history of antisemitism, and efforts made in every generation to counter it in positive ways, this exhibit seeks to bring us closer to achieving Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a “beloved community.” We offer this traveling exhibit to our community to build understanding one location at a time.