Mother Dedicates New Children's Museum

Mother Dedicates New Children's Museum
In Memory Of Slain Son

POSTED: 8:25 pm EST December 7, 2004

NEW YORK -- More than 10 years after her son was gunned down on the
Brooklyn Bridge, Devorah Halberstam celebrated the grand opening of the
Jewish Children's Museum on Tuesday with a dedication to the memory of
her slain child.
"What we are inagurating here today is the answer to terrorism,"
Halberstam said. "Our response to those who would destroy civilization as
we know it is this museum."
The ribbon-cutting, timed to coincide with the first night of Hannukah, was
created to memorialize Ari Halberstam, a 16 year-old Jew shot and killed in
1994 when a Muslim gunman opened fire on a van of Hasidic students
crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
One of the musuem aims is to promote peace and understanding among
children of all backgrounds, Halberstam said. It is located in Crown
Heights, the neighborhood where rioting erupted on Aug. 19, 1991 after 7-year-old Gavin Cato, who was black, was struck and killed by an ultra-Orthodox driver. Three hours later, a group of angry blacks shouting "Get the Jew!" fatally stabbed Jewish scholar Yankel Rosenbaum.
The event was attended by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph Guliani and other elected officials and community leaders.
"This may be a building named in her son's memory, but the real work
honoring him will be the day-to-day contact that this musuem provides to
all children everywhere," Clinton said.
After the inaguration, about 100 children played in the museum, which
includes a 12-foot dreidel, "matzoh balls" the size of volleyballs, and an
indoor minature golf course with lessons on "major Jewish life events."
"It seems more fun than a regular museum," 10-year-old Tafari King of
Brooklyn said as he played with a wall of doors meant to explain the Jewish
tradition of Sukkot.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Benjaminson, the museum's executive director, said the
museum's message of peace and understanding would counter hatred and
"The most important lesson is tolerance," Benjaminson said. "When
children find out about other cultures, it brings peace and harmony to this
world. It all starts with the kids."
The museum aims to speak to children on their own terms. Instead of a
standard exhibit explaining kosher food, the museum has a model kosher
grocery store, where children can pretend to shop for food. A game show
room features a trivia game called "Jewpardy.
The 50,000 square-foot building, the result of 10 years of planning and
construction, cost more than $30 million and features computer labs, a
library, a movie theater, more than 80 different activities, and a
community center.

2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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