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Animated Miniature Display Brings Holidays to Life

One of the miniatures on display depicting the Yom Tov of Purim in Jerusalem.

An exquisitely detailed exhibition, depicting various Jewish holidays in both different times and places, has been drawing large crowds in Borough Park since its arrival from Israel three weeks ago.

Located in the simcha hall of the Tosher Shul at 4615 14th Avenue in Borough Park, the Mini Judaica Museum currently contains approximately forty different displays. Each animated display consists of dozens of intricate, hand crafted miniatures, a sound system and numerous motorized parts, all hand crafted by Israeli artist Yehuda Weinberg.

The museum evolved out of a collection of Succah projects created by the Beit Shemesh resident after his Bar Mitzvah. The 42 year old father of eight runs a delivery company but during his free time, he has spent the last eighteen years crafting the 350 one and a half to two and a half inch people that populate his displays as well as countless animals, birds, landscapes, villages, houses and more.

The displays and miniatures are made out of several materials including foam, wood and plastic and each of the electrically powered displays contains moving parts, with Weinberg himself making the motors, chains and mechanisms that bring the miniatures to life. Weinberg estimates that, to date, he has spent $50,000 in materials to create the mini museum.

“Everything that is here is all his idea and his creation,” noted photographer Heshy Rubinstein, who has been working with Weinberg, told VIN News. “Each of the menorahs in the Chanukah display is lit by a fiber optic wire, with a small motor added to make the flames flicker and almost all of the displays have running water. It is truly amazing.”

Among the displays are a Tashlich scene set in a European shtetl, a market selling Arba Minim in Jerusalem, a matza bakery complete with a glowing oven and Haman leading Mordechai through the streets of Shushan on the royal horse, including details as intricate as the brushes in Haman’s barbershop and a beautifully detailed bottle of Chivas Regal sitting on a table in Achashveirosh’s palace. Another display shows a city of Succahs, each one depicting one of the Succahs described in the first perek of Mishnayos Succah.

The mini museum has been open for visitors in Israel only during Chol Hamoed Succos and Chol Hamoed Pesach and since its arrival in Borough Park, Rubinstein estimates that 3,000 children have come to see the display, including large contingents from local day camps.

“The response has been incredible,” said Rubinstein. “There was a bus driver who drove a group from a girls’ day camp to the mini museum who was so intrigued by the way the girls’ enthusiastic response to the display that he himself came back for a visit. A female Holocaust survivor found the early morning selichos display set in a shtetl so reminiscent of her youth that she sat down next to it and cried.”

The Mini Judaica Museum will only be remaining in Borough Park through July 25th. The displays will then be carefully packed in foam boxes and transported by truck to the Catskills where it will remain for the next two to three weeks, traveling to different camps and bungalow colonies. After that time, Rubinstein hopes to exhibit the mini museum in Williamsburg and Lakewood and possibly other locations in the United States. Admission is $9 per person.

While Weinberg continues to add to the display, he has undertaken other projects including a detailed model of the Lublin Yeshiva and is contemplating the possibility of a similar exhibition about the Holocaust.

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