Polin Museum

  • Religion
  • 2014

There are facilities across the U.S. and the globe that remember the World War II genocide against Jews. But great museums celebrating the rich history and contemporary vigor of Jewish life are rare. A group of American donors led by San Francisco businessman Tad Taube and the Koret Foundation set out to remedy that.

The group focused their efforts on the country that had the largest Jewish community in the world at the onset of the twentieth century—Poland. They donated $30 million ($20 million of it committed by Taube) to create a series of exhibits that include a replication of a seventh-century synagogue, dozens of films, and a trove of historical documents and artifacts. The government of Poland erected an $80 million building to house the exhibition, which opened in late 2014.

The museum aims to undo some of the erasures of Jewish existence carried out during the Nazi period—when Jewish cemeteries were bulldozed, synagogues destroyed, and books and official records burned. “I want to improve the Jews’ image of themselves. And I want to see the world abandon its attempt to make Jews the victims,” says Taube in explaining his gifts that celebrate the strength and endurance of Jewish community traditions.