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“History is About the Future”: Malcolm I. Hoenlein Visited Beit Hatfutsot

“History is About the Future”: Malcolm I. Hoenlein, CEO/Executive VP of the Conference of Presidents presents to Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People Dr. Meir Schwartz’s Book, “Pogrom Night 1938″ Chronicling the Events of Kristallnacht in Germany

Beit Hatfutsot had the honor and privilege to host Malcolm I.Hoenlein, CEO/Executive Vice Chairperson of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations in the US. Hoenlein presented Beit Hatfutsot’s CEO Dan Tadmor a two-volume book by Dr. Meir Schwartz, documenting 1500 synagogues burnt in Germany on Kristallnacht, November 11th 1938. Hoenlein accompanied Dr. Schwartz throughout his research and assisted in the book’s publication.

In May, a special event was held in the US Congress on the occasion of the book’s publication, in the presence of representatives of the Foreign Committees of the US Congress and of Germany, as well as representatives of the Jewish leadership in the US.

Hoenlein came to Israel to present the book “Pogrom Night 1938” – A Memorial to the Destroyed Synagogues of Germany,” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People. The book, whose research took over 15 years, documents the events of Kristallnacht and relates the stories of the synagogues and Jewish communities in Germany – their flourishing and destruction.

Hoenlein, whose family originated in Germany, was particularly involved with the initiative to research the lives of the Jewish people in Germany and to ensure their story is told, “the book depicts how Jews lived, not how they died”, he said.

“It is a natural choice for me to present this book to Beit Hatfutsot”, said Hoenlein, “Beit Hatfutsot is the Museum of the Jewish People and while it is not an academic institution it documents and tells the story of the Jewish people.”

Standing next to the model of the Worms Synagogue, founded in 1034 and burned alongside all the synagogues in Germany on Kristallnacht, Hoenlein commented “History is about the future, not about the past”. The Worms Synagogue model is one of the many models in the renowned collection of Beit Hatfutsot which is currently undergoing major restoration and conservation. The new Hall of Synagogues, scheduled to open by the end of 2015, is made possible thanks to a generous endowment by Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, co-chair of Beit Hatfutsot’s International Board of Governors.

“Beit Hatfutsot is home to the world famous collection of synagogue models. We have learned that every synagogue tells the story of a community whether it still exists or not”, said Tadmor. “This extensive book brings back to life not only 1,500 synagogues but 1,500 communities”.

Beit Hatfutsot is a global center for Jewish communities and serves as a home to five extensive databases. The comprehensive book and its website will be linked to the databases and the online museum (scheduled to be launched by the end of 2014).

Malcolm Hoenlein is the son of German Jewish immigrants. His father, Efraim, a graduate of the Wuerzburg Rabbinical Seminary succeeded in escaping to the US in 1940, where he reunited with his mother who fled three years earlier. Hoenlein accompanied the project from its inception, because of its pronounced importance and because of his own families’ involvement in the reconstruction of the Ermreuth town’s synagogue.

Hoenlein serves in his present position since 1986. Born in Philadelphia, he graduated from Temple University with a degree in Political Science and completed his MA and PhD in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania. He is known for his long years of Jewish community service around the globe, and advises the US Government on issues and topics related to Israel – United States relations.

Malcolm Hoenlein has been awarded numerous honors, including honorary doctorates from Yeshiva University and Touro College in the US, and the title “Defender of Jerusalem” from the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

The Jerusalem Post covered the visit – read here


Nir Goldberg