In a video released this week, the Holocaust Museum of Montana announced that the new museum will be sited off Bozeman Trail.
It will show images and exhibits that depict the Holocaust. However the museum is also planning an education centre.
“We want to preserve our past — not to dwell on it, but to propel ourselves and others into a promising future,” says Chavie Bruk, executive director of the museum. “There is value in reaching one person at a time through a museum like this. Even in our little corner of the world, there is huge potential to create a ripple effect.”
She explains that it’s not just a case of remembering the past, but of using that history to propel the next generation into the future. “Just teaching tolerance, inclusion, love, and communication – all the things that the world needs,” she says.
The land has already been purchased via the Bozeman Jewish Community Centre. The next step is to raise funds for the building through donations.
The museum council is chaired by Max Baucus, former U.S. Senator, and Melodee Hanes, a former administrator at the U.S. Department of Justice. The board includes renowned public figures including Waded Cruzado, Carlson (“Duke”) Goes Ahead, and Chuck Tooley.
The Holocaust Museum of Montana: “shining a light”
Rabbi Chaim Bruk, spiritual leader of The Shul of Bozeman, says that many people travel through Bozeman and could learn about the Holocaust. “The only way to make sure those dark elements don’t get too comfortable is by shining light,” says Rabbi Bruk. “We need to debunk the myth. Montana’s not a place of haters. It’s a place of wonderful loving people who would love to learn even more about other people’s cultures and we would love to create that opportunity for them.”
The video shows news clips of anti-Semitic leaflets being spread around Bozeman, alongside national vandalism against Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. According to date from the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Jewish rhetoric has increased since the election of President Donald Trump.
“You have to remember because it could happen again,” warns Georgette Cassen, a Holocaust survivor and Bozeman resident, in the video. “There is enough hatred in this world it could happen again.”
Costs for the museum have not been finalised. However it is expected to be a multi-million dollar project.
Chavie Bruk says it’s important to build the museum now in order to preserve information from the generation who experienced the atrocity.
“We need to remember those events,” says Bruk. “It’s part of our history. But it’s also about how it propels us moving forward.”