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Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City
Photograph: Courtesy of the Museum of Jewish Heritage

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is hosting free tours for 8th graders

The museum is trying to combat a rising tide of antisemitism.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Earlier this week, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust at 36 Battery Park in downtown Manhattan announced the debut of a new program that seeks to fight the rising tide of antisemitism across the city. Over the new three years, starting this fall, the cultural institution will host free tours for up to 85,000 8th grade students at NYC public schools and charter schools. Given that the city's school district is the largest in the nation, this is a pretty big deal.

The idea was first raised by City Council member Julie Menin after the October 7 attacks on Israel. According to NYPD data, since then, Jews have been the target of 62% of all hate crimes in the city. What's more, antisemitic acts of violence have risen by 45% in 2024 compared to last year, reports the New York Post. Clearly, there's room for education.

"We needed a proactive approach to combat this hatred at its roots," Menin, who is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, said in an official statement. "That’s why I approached the Museum of Jewish Heritage with the vision of a universal field trip program."

We needed a proactive approach to combat this hatred at its roots.

The decision to target 8th grade students follows current guidelines that require local schools to teach about the Holocaust through an explicit curriculum that starts that year.

The new program is a pretty hefty effort that, according to NBC, will cost around $2.5 million, a figure that makes sense considering that students will be granted transportation, guides and take-home materials to look through in addition to the actual guided tours that "will focus on the global history of antisemitism and propaganda that precipitated the Holocaust, as well as offering an experience for students to reflect on current events." 

As for which schools will participate in the project, it will be up to the institutions themselves. They will be able to sign up through the museum's website.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is not the only one doubling down on its efforts to provide a safe haven for Jews by educating the general public about the perils of antisemitism and general hatred. In fact, earlier this week, the Jewish Children's Museum in Crown Heights hosted an event celebrating its mission throughout the past 19 years.

The only way to combat the raging antisemitism we see across New York City is through educating our children.

"The only way to combat the raging antisemitism we see across New York City is through educating our children and the Jewish Children’s Museum has been at the forefront of this for two decades," said Devorah Halberstam, the Museum’s director of external affairs, in an official statement. "We’re going to redouble our efforts to familiarize New York City’s youth with Jewish life, history and culture, promoting a spirit of acceptance and understanding."

Given the current status of affairs, the various initiatives feel heart warming and necessary. Here's to hoping that they will actually make a change.

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