Six million Jewish people were murdered in the Holocaust. Millions of others’ lives were changed beyond recognition. European Jewish families, communities, and religious and cultural traditions were nearly stamped out forever. We live in the long shadow of this history, and we share the responsibility of remembering it.

To understand the depth and dimensions of what the Nazis attempted to destroy, we study not only how Jewish people died, but also how they lived. We explore the history of the Holocaust as a history of individuals—acknowledging the humanity, dignity, and diverse experiences of the people whose stories we learn.

Ordinary Treasures Child's Drawing
Drawing by Zuzana Hojtasova, age 7-10. Zuzana made this drawing for her mother while Zuzana was in the Terezín Ghetto (1942-45). The Czech writing translates as “For luck out of love.” Gift of Milton and Gita Kaufman and Howard and Sue Pinsky.

The objects featured in this exhibition are ambassadors from a world that flesh-and-blood people created, inhabited, and fought to preserve. They illustrate Jewish life and reveal self-reliance in the face of exclusion. Eyewitness testimonies give voice to the pain of extreme loss and express the difficulties, triumphs, and ongoing challenges of moving through the changed world as a survivor.

Like the majority of the Museum’s collection, many of the objects featured in Ordinary Treasures were donated by survivors or their families, or the families of those who perished. They were preserved through war and hardship, and with great care. They are treasures.

Ordinary Treasures is inspired by the Museum’s original Core Exhibition and by the Museum publication To Life: 36 Stories of Memory and Hope.

Ordinary Treasures is made possible in part by the Oster Family Foundation and the Krell Testimony Fund.