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Polish Jewish Museum To Open In April 2013

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Jewish Rabbis look on as cantors from the US perform in front of the Ghetto monument in Warsaw during ceremonies surrounding the laying of a cornerstone for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on June 30, 2009. The cornerstone of the long-awaited Museum of the History of Polish Jews, a major step towards reviving Jewish heritage in Poland after the Holocaust, was laid in Warsaw, organisers said. In the works for a decade, the long-awaited multi-million dollar, multi-media facility | Getty

WARSAW, Poland -- An ambitious museum devoted to the 1,000-year history of Poland's Jews will open on the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, officials said Monday.

Some 500,000 visitors are expected each year to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews to view multimedia exhibits on the life and culture of Jews in Poland, their fate in the Holocaust and the present day, as Jewish culture is being gradually revived.

"The Jews were a part of the Polish landscape, now they are gone," said historian Marian Turski. "We want to fill in this vacuum."

"This (museum) is about people who were here, who created their works here, who contributed to the progress of the civilization," said Turski, who is head of the Jewish Historical Institute, which is cooperating on the project.

The building is an austere concrete-and-glass structure, divided by a jagged chasm that symbolizes Moses' Biblical parting of the Red Sea that allowed the Jews to flee slavery in Egypt.

It will open to visitors on April 19, 2013, the 70th anniversary of the doomed uprising by Warsaw's Jews against the Nazis, said Agnieszka Ruzinska, the museum's head.

Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski announced a subsidy of 10 million zlotys ($3 million) to help finish the building on time. The funds are to come from state and Warsaw coffers.

President Barack Obama visited the neighboring Monument to Warsaw Ghetto Heroes and was briefed on the progress of the museum in May.

Poland's Jewish community numbered 3.5 million before World War II, but most were murdered during the Holocaust under German Nazi occupation. Today, the community has some 20,000 members and is growing.

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