This article was first published in The Times of Israel.
Down in the Bronx High School of Science basement, in a heavily trafficked area between the boys’ locker room and the nurse’s office, is the school’s most recent attraction — a professionally designed and curated Holocaust Museum and Studies Center.
Even before this new addition, Bronx Science has always stood out: The foremost science magnet school in the United States, it is consistently ranked among the nation’s top high schools. It has had more Intel Science Talent Search finalists than any other school, and many of its graduates go on to Ivy League universities. Eight Bronx Science graduates have won Nobel Prizes (the most for any American high school), and six have been awarded Pulitzer Prizes.
And now, Bronx Science is distinguishing itself as the only high school housing a full-fledged Holocaust museum.
With its collection of 1,000 artifacts, the state-of-the art facility may have only opened on April 19, but its existence is a labor of love begun three and half decades ago.
Before there was the field of Holocaust education, and before there were Holocaust museums and memorials in cities across the US, there was Stuart Elenko. Elenko (who was not Jewish and died in 2009) was a Bronx Science social studies teacher who combined a passion for collecting historical memorabilia with a belief in the educational power of objects to establish a small Holocaust museum in a corner of the school’s library in 1978. He also instituted a Holocaust leadership class for students interested in learning Nazi-era history through primary sources, and who were willing to share their insights about the dangers of racism, hatred and intolerance with the rest of the student body.
Click here to read more.
© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.