The new Jewish Holocaust Centre is on its way

November 19, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre redevelopment has begun with the traditional ground-breaking ceremony of turning the first sod at the site of the new museum.

Josh Frydenberg and Abe Goldberg start the work

Handling the shovels to get the project underway was Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Abe Goldberg who is a JHC Board Director, Holocaust survivor, life governor of JHC, former treasurer and a museum guide.

This event, many years in the making, will send a powerful message to our community and our survivors that despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the new museum and education facility remains on track to open in August 2022.

The event was attended by representatives of the Federal and State Governments, which confirms the bipartisan support for this important project.

“It gives us great pleasure to announce that the building is being named in honour of Auschwitz survivor Josef Hellen, a major supporter of the project,” said Jayne Josem, Museum Director & CEO. “Josef’s substantial gift represents his firm belief in Holocaust education and its role in creating a better society.”

Josef Hellen, prisoner No. 64463, originally from Czechoslovakia, suffered much during the Holocaust losing his entire family, his parents and three siblings. But he did not want the Holocaust to define him. He attributed his survival to good luck and great instincts. In Australia, he built himself up from nothing and valued living in a multicultural democracy. Sadly, Josef died early this year but was grateful to have made his considerable gift beforehand.

Nina Taylor MLC State Member for the Southern Metropolitan Region (ALP),
Pauline Rockman, JHC Co-President Jayne Josem, Museum Director & CEO,
Debbie Taylor, Managing Director, the Hellen Group, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg,
Senator James Paterson, Suzanne Hampel, JHC Co-President Abram Goldberg, Terri Lazarus, daughter of Leon & Judy Goldman, Jonathan Lazarus, Helen Mahemoff, JHC Vice President and David Southwick, MP

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg expressed his deep understanding of the value of Holocaust education in Australia today.

He said: “The Jewish Holocaust Centre is an incredibly important place where Victorians can be educated about the tragedies of the Holocaust and learn the significance of tolerance and humanity.”

Josef Hellen

Jayne Josem added: “This moment is the start of something big. We are not just building a museum, we are building harmony, connection, tolerance, humanity and empathy. Holocaust survivors who came to Melbourne vowed to bear witness and spread vital messages to all. Our new Holocaust museum, the largest in Australia, will continue their legacy. This redevelopment will add significantly to the social fabric of this city that the survivors are proud to call home.

We thank the Federal and State Governments both of whom are supporting the project, the Hellen family and all our major donors for their incredible support and express our gratitude to the survivors, our volunteers and all other supporters of this important project.”

The Jewish Holocaust Centre redevelopment project began in August 2020 with plans for the new building designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects.

With the opening date scheduled for 2022 and the new building replacing the existing one, the museum is in temporary premises at 51-853 Dandenong Rd, Malvern East.

The new Jewish Holocaust Centre. An artist’s impression

The new museum will occupy a four-storey building, with an enhanced resource centre on the street frontage, will feature a thought-provoking new Holocaust museum that recounts a tragic history through powerful artefacts and the stories of Melbourne survivors. An innovative museum space for younger visitors, aged 10-14, will introduce the topic of discrimination and feature stories of children who survived in hiding and the righteous people who saved them. The aim is to reach all Victorian school students with this enlarged facility and support educators across the state with the challenging task of teaching this history.

A spokesman for the museum told J-Wire: “Most staff are still working from home and our Educators are delivering workshops to schools virtually.”


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