New Virtual Exhibit Teaches Eastern European Jewish History Through Story of Young Woman Who Survived Holocaust

Beba Epstein.

February 16, 2021

A new virtual exhibition features the writings of a young Jewish woman from eastern Europe who survived the Holocaust.

The “Beba Epstein: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Girl” project — part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research’s Bruce and Francesca Cernia Slovin Online Museum — uses artifacts from the YIVO archives and focuses on the story of Beba Esptein, who was born in Vilna, then part of Poland, in 1922, and whose autobiography was found by YIVO in 2017.

Epstein lost her entire immediate family in the Holocaust and she spent two years in the Vilna Ghetto and two years in concentration camps on her own.

“Her experience during the Holocaust was so unique,” the museum’s chief curator, Karolina Ziulkoski, told NBC10 Philadelphia. “She didn’t have a savior. She essentially saved herself. She went through this by herself.”

After the war, Epstein ended up reaching the United States, via Sweden.

“What struck a chord with me with her story is that given the refugee situation in the world right now, you can see that her life was not unlike the lives of many kids today,” Ziulkoski noted. “There is a lot to connect with kids today.”

Rachel Knopfler, a teacher at the Girls Academic Leadership Academy in Los Angeles, said she would share the material from the exhibit with her seventh-grade English students.

“What we’re doing is we’re teaching tolerance,” she stated.

Read more about the exhibit at NBC10 Philadelphia here.