Elissa Schein is the director of public programs. She had a rather unique experience last week and we asked her to share it with us.
Every day as I approach the Museum on foot, I marvel at its beautiful architecture and privileged location on the water overlooking the Statue of Liberty. I never get tired of the views from our windows. For the last eight years I have watched the river in all its moods and seasons, and marveled at the dwarf oak trees that have taken root in our Garden of Stones. Our Museum seems to have organically grown from this soil, the stone walls and hexagonal shape in understated contrast to the vertical skyline of Manhattan in the distance. The Robert M. Morgenthau Wing, the newest addition to the Museum and the first construction project to break ground in this downtown neighborhood after 9/11, stands with dignity and resolve on the shoreline.
Last week I had the rare opportunity to fly over the Museum in a helicopter as part of a film shoot. We flew down from upstate NY along the Hudson River, on a picture perfect late fall afternoon. At around 5 PM, just as the beautiful late afternoon light began to take hold, we approached lower Manhattan and the Museum came into view. I saw the horizontal lines of the building and beautiful landscaping from an entirely new perspective, and smiled thinking about all my friends and colleagues, and how that lovely place has changed my life.
There was a figure perched on the rooftop of the Museum. Standing there was our chairman, Robert M. Morgenthau, the subject of an upcoming documentary and the reason for the film shoot. The cameraman focused on this distant spot, with Robert M. Morgenthau saluting the helicopter as we passed overhead. We rounded the Statue of Liberty flying low, within just a few feet of that indomitable lady, and approached the Museum again. I could swear that I saw her wink at me as we went past, maybe even saluting back to Mr. Morgenthau with a slight dip of her torch as if to say, "Keep up the good work." We seem a perfect match, Lady Liberty and New York's Living Memorial to the Holocaust, good neighbors engaged in a perpetual dialogue, providing a sacred space, and inspiring many generations with an enduring message of hope for our future.
One of my friends, Caroline Earp, was also looking out at me from inside the Museum as we flew by, and snapped this picture of the helicopter which she sent to me afterwards with the following message: "Can you believe you are in there?"