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News and events in Lower Manhattan

Volume 6, No. 77, Oct. 21, 2023


'Courage to Act' at the Museum of Jewish Heritage

Bulletin Board: Release of the fishes; 'Boatlift' screening and discussion

Calendar: Open House New York sites in Lower Manhattan

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Go to for breaking news and for updated information on facility closures related to COVID-19 

MASTHEAD PHOTO: Pump­kin Point, Gov­er­nors Island’s annu­al free pump­kin patch and fall fes­ti­val, will take place in Nolan Park on the weekends of Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vis­i­tors are invit­ed to pick out a pumpkin (free with sug­gest­ed dona­tion.) Rain or shine. Food will be available for purchase. For more information, click here. (Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Downtown Post NYC's website ( is updated daily. That's the place to check for urgent messages, breaking news and reminders of interesting events in and around Lower Manhattan. So be sure to look at the website every day, especially if you want to know about breaking news.

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The entrance to the exhibition entitled "Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark" at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park City alludes to the extraordinary events of October 1943. (Photos: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

There are some stories that are so important that they should be told and retold — generation to generation. They show what is possible. They are beacons of bravery and rectitude. The story of how, in October 1943, almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark was rescued from being arrested, deported and murdered by the country's Nazi occupiers is almost unbelievable. But it's true. It happened.

This year on October 15th, after four years of work and an expenditure of around $6 million, an exhibition opened to the public at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park City that recounts how ordinary Danish citizens spontaneously banded together to save their Jewish neighbors.

The exhibition was created with young people, ages 9 to 12 in mind, but it would be of interest to people of all ages.

In 1943, there were around 7,500 Jews living in Denmark. Germany had occupied Denmark since April 1940, but the Danes had been allowed to continue their government with little interference. Jewish life also went on as it had before. Danish Jews continued to hold religious services and retained their businesses and their property.

On Sept. 29, 1943, that changed. The day before, a senior German official had quietly alerted some senior members of the Danish government that the Jews were going to be rounded up and sent to concentration camps beginning on Oct. 1. The Danish officials contacted the heads of the Jewish community and told them to urge everyone to flee. Danes — Jewish and non-Jewish — went door to door to Jewish households with the news. Some teachers warned their students in school, telling them to run home right away. A rabbi interrupted a synagogue service to deliver the same message.

As recounted in the exhibition, David Sompolinsky was home when a school friend burst in. "You need to leave immediately!" the friend shouted. "The Germans could come tonight." But Sompolinsky didn't leave. Instead of hiding, he risked his life to save others. Racing around the city and making urgent phone calls, he arranged hiding spots for Jewish families. "Bring us as many as you can," a non-Jewish schoolteacher told him. "Our homes are open."

Although the need for the Jews to leave was urgent, the question remained of how they would get away quickly and safely. It would have to be by boat. Thousands of people would have to be transported across the Øresund Sound separating Denmark from neutral Sweden.

Denmark is mostly an archipelago consisting of more than 400 islands in the North Sea plus the Jutland peninsula that separates the North and Baltic Seas and borders Germany to the south. There was no shortage of boats and of people who knew how to operate them.

One of those people was a 22-year-old woman named Henny Sinding. At the time, she was working for a lighthouse-tending business that her father managed. The crew of a fishing boat named the Gerda III approached her to ask her help and her father's permission to use the boat to rescue the Jews. Henny's father gave tacit permission and thereafter for that critical month of October she would leave her parents’ house at one in the morning to go smuggle Jews and her parents essentially just looked the other way.

Henny and the crew of the Gerda III would have been arrested and executed had they been caught by the Nazis. This almost happened more than once when soldiers climbed aboard the boat while the Jews crammed into the hold below didn't dare move or make a sound. A drawing of Henny at the wheel of the Gerda III is on a poster near the front door of the museum and her words as recorded in an interview many years later are displayed at the entrance of the exhibition. "It was the right thing to do so we did it," she said. "Simple as that."

Of course, it wasn't simple. Denmark was the only Nazi-occupied country that managed to save most of its Jewish citizens. In fact, elsewhere much of the local population enthusiastically collaborated with the Germans in rounding up the Jews.

The Danes protected not only Jewish lives but Jewish property. Most of the Jews who came back after the war found their houses and their possessions intact. Elsewhere in Europe, Jews who attempted to return to their former homes found them occupied by non-Jews, who chased them away.

In a time of rising antisemitism both in the United States and in Europe, this exhibition shows young people and anyone else who is heeding its message that the "courage to act" is possible. To act or not to act is a choice.

— Terese Loeb Kreuzer

The bustling fish market on the Copenhagen waterfront.

A hologram of a boy named Max addresses visitors to "Courage to Act." When visitors to the exhibition first see Max, he is watching the fishmongers, customers and fishermen as he juggles a soccer ball in his hands. He is aware of the presence of the Nazis but not really affected by it. The trauma and darkness awaiting him are not yet manifest.

Toward the front of the exhibition is a wall-sized photomural depicting the fish market on the Copenhagen waterfront. One of the women who worked in the fish market was named Ellen Nielsen. She was the widowed mother of six children. When it became clear that Jews were in mortal danger, two Jewish brothers who sold flowers in the fish market approached her for help. "You can stay at my house," she told them. "I'll close early today and you can come home with me." While the Nazis hunted Jews in the city of Copenhagen, Ellen hid dozens of people in Drager, a fishing village.

"Courage to Act" uses media of various kinds to engage its viewers. Holograms of live actors who seem to be talking to visitors are among them. One of the first of these composite characters is a boy named Max who is enacted by Ari Naznitsky. Like some in the intended audience, Ari is 10 years old and in the 5th grade.

The exhibition includes many detailed drawings that tell much of the story. They are the work of Sveta Dorosheva, an award-winning artist who was born in Ukraine and who currently is based in Israel. Her grandmother was one of 15 children and a Holocaust survivor. She was the only one of her family to have survived. Dorosheva has said, "My work on this exhibition is done for her— and so we may all remember the stories of our people's courage and humanity."

"Courage to Act" was designed by an award-winning exhibition designer called Local Projects. In this corner of one gallery, several engaging methods of telling the story of what happened in Denmark have been utilized. Local Projects sought "new and accessible ways" of sharing stories of modern Jewish history and resilience. Jake Barton, founder of Local Projects and creative director of the Courage to Act design team, commented that the population of living survivors is dwindling, making it necessary to find new ways of connecting with a younger audience.

"Courage to Act" has been artfully designed with corridors set on angles so that visitors walking from one part of the exhibition to another can see a cascade of events and places as they relate to each other. An illustration near the beginning of the exhibition depicts a boy peering through a window at the street where armed German soldiers are beating people up and manhandling them. Some people are running or bicycling down the street as though they were fleeing.

In one of the exhibition's interconnecting galleries, a door opens to reveal a hologram of an actor who says, among other things, "Germans tend not to suspect us. It makes it easy to be brave." Nearby displays include a telephone that the visitor can pick up and use to listen to a woman — a young refugee in Denmark — trying to contact her faraway family. Another display in this gallery includes a series of dates on cards that can be flipped to show what happened each day during August 1943. Some display cases are near the floor so that they would be at eye level for a young child.

David Sompolinsky, quoted in this wall plaque, survived the Holocaust and became a prominent microbiologist. He helped rescue hundreds of Danish Jews. He died on October 13, 2021 at the age of 100 in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak, where he lived. His obituary in The Times of Israel recounts that "When World War II broke out in Denmark, Sompolinsky was a veterinary medicine student in Copenhagen. Together with a local non-Jewish teacher, he helped found the Lyngby Group, which worked to hide Jews in the city from the Nazis and smuggle hundreds of them to safety in Sweden.

Among other things, David Sompolinsky made sure, through his medical contacts, that Jews who were hospitalized were kept safe from Nazi forces. He put a 'quarantine' sign on the doors of all the Jewish patients and wrote that they were contagious so the Germans wouldn't enter their rooms.

Each of the Danish Jews could transport very little when they fled from Copenhagen to Sweden. Some of their battered suitcases and tattered clothing are part of the "Courage to Act" exhibition.

Both Jewish and non-Jewish Danes helped spread the news about the Nazis' plans. Most Jews left their homes immediately. Friends and neighbors helped them go into hiding.

In a book entitled 'October '43' by Aage Bertelsen, the non-Jewish teacher who worked with David Sompolinsky to smuggle Jews out of Denmark recounted his experiences with the young man. 'I knew that any attempt to persuade him to escape was doomed to fail,' wrote Bertelsen of Sompolinsky, 'for he had decided that he would not leave Denmark until all Jews who needed his assistance had been brought to safety.' "

The Danish Jews had almost no time to pack before they had to leave their homes to be hidden elsewhere until they could be covertly transported to the port where they would be crammed into the small hold of a fishing boat for the dangerous journey across Øresund Sound to Sweden. The decision of what to take and what to leave, perhaps forever, was wrenching.

An article about Henny published by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, describes how "Henny and the crew arranged safe houses near Gerda III where Jews could await their passage for several days and a loft in a dockside warehouse where refugees who could be transported the next day waited to take the last perilous steps onto Gerda III. The loft was filled with food, drinks and sedatives for the children, to keep them quiet during the risky mission, provided by Henny and the crew." To read the article, click here.

Henny Sinding was brave and determined to help. Navigating the Øresund Sound was only one of the things that she did to help Jews escape. The Nazis made it illegal to be out on the street after dark. Henny went out anyway and guided Jews to hiding places along the waterfront. After guiding and transporting Jews to safety, she fought with the resistance movement in Denmark. When the Nazis caught several members of her group, she, too, had to escape across the Øresund Sound. In Sweden, Henny joined the Danish Brigade — a group of resistance fighters who hoped to help liberate Denmark from the Nazis.

In a central gallery of the exhibition, a mock-up of the Gerda III is displayed against an image of a stormy sky.

Gerda III is docked in Mystic, Connecticut rather than in Manhattan because the Mystic Seaport, a world-renowned maritime museum, has a full-time staff to care for the boat and to make sure that people have access to it and that it's being interpreted accurately. (For information about visiting the Mystic Seaport, click here.)

By the spring of 1945, Allied forces had made it deep into German-controlled territories. Denmark was liberated from Nazi rule on May 5. Days later, the leaders of Nazi Germany surrendered, ending World War II in Europe. Millions of people all over the world celebrated.

Danish refugees from Sweden were received in Copenhagen's Freeport on May 16, 1945.

With the war over, Jewish refugees in Sweden began returning home. In many cases, they were able to move back into homes that their neighbors and a special service set up by the City of Copenhagen had taken care of. Though the war had left people with emotional scars, they could begin rebuilding their lives.

In January 1943, a Jewish teacher and her students planted a silver maple tree in Theresienstadt.The children watered it and kept it alive through the end of the war. In 2021, 78 years later, a tree grown from a cutting of that maple was planted outside the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park City.

There is much trauma and tragedy in the story of how most Danish Jews were saved from being murdered by the Nazis. There is also heroism and joy. In preparing materials for "Courage to Act," the creators of the exhibition consulted Dawn Panebianco, a 5th grade teacher at PS/MS 276 across the street from the museum. She and her students reviewed and marked up the scripts, pointing out references they didn't understand and recommending edits so that other children will fully grasp the exhibition. Winter Blaine, a 9-year-old living on the Lower East Side the also reviewed and critiqued the scripts for the exhibition, offering thoughts on how other children might find opportunities to act courageously in their own day-to-day lives, just as those in Denmark did 80 years ago.

Commenting on the exhibition, Jack Kliger, President and CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage said, "As the number of Holocaust survivors decreases and we confront resurgent antisemitism, we must proactively engage new generations in the fight for a better world. Our charge is to inspire and equip young people to be compassionate citizens and leaders."

Tied to a dock at the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut a small, white lighthouse tender sports a huge Danish flag on its stern. The little boat, the Gerda III, belongs to the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park City. It was given to the museum by the Danish parliament in recognition of what the Gerda III and its crew did in October 1943 when Germans attempted to round up the Jewish population of Denmark for extermination. Over a period of several weeks, the 46-foot-long Gerda III made numerous trips across the sound that separates Copenhagen, Denmark from Sweden, each time with 10 to 15 Jews packed into its tiny hold. In Sweden, which was neutral, the Jews were safe from Hitler’s Nazis. The little ship and its brave crew saved 300 lives.

Celebrate Autumn with Té Company

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional lunar holiday celebrated by many people in the East. Typically, family members gather to give thanks for the year's bounty and to admire the moon when it is said to be at its fullest and brightest. The Festival took place on Sept. 29. This year, after a trip to Taiwan, Té Company offered mung bean mooncakes with salted egg yolk in addition to the traditional Taiwanese mooncake. Both flavors are still available at the tearoom at 163 West 10th St. This year’s recommended tea pairing is Valley of Dragon & Phoenix, a lightly oxidized oolong grown in mystic high elevation mountains. For more information and to order mooncakes and tea, click here.

The tearoom is at 163 West 10th St.

Open Tuesday through Sunday

For more information about the tearoom, click here.

The Greek at Greca 

452 Washington St. in Tribeca

Breakfast and lunch are served daily. From Thursday to Sunday, in addition to breakfast and lunch, The Greek at Greca also serves dinner.

For hours, menus and photographs, click here

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (917) 261-4795

Bulletin Board


The Wetlab in Hudson River Park on Pier 40 studies Hudson River ecology and wildlife and serves as an educational facility. In late fall, the fish in its tanks are released into the Hudson River as the Wetlab prepares to close until spring. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Oct. 26: As the Wetlab on Pier 40 in Hudson River Park prepares to close for the season, the annual Release of the Fishes returns fish that have been in Wetlab tanks to the Hudson River where they lived when they were caught. The Wetlab is a research aquarium that houses dozens of species of fish and invertebrates all caught within the Park as part of the River Project's ongoing Fish Ecology Survey. During the season, it features a rotating exhibit of animals that are released regularly to ensure that their behaviors are minimally impacted. At the Release of the Fishes there will be light refreshments and a wide range of activities for all ages including kid-friendly crafts and activities that teach about local wildlife. At the event you can help return the Wetlab's fish residents to the Hudson River and learn about the Park’s ongoing research and education initiatives from the park's River Project team. Place: Pier 40 at 353 West St. Time: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

Oct. 23: The 9/11 Memorial & Museum observes the 22nd anniversary of the largest waterborne evacuation in American history with a program on Oct. 23 entitled "All Available Boats." As the 9/11 attacks unfolded, it became increasingly difficult to evacuate lower Manhattan. When the Twin Towers collapsed, thousands fled to the water’s edge. Seeing the emergency, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a call for all available boats to help those who were trapped. The ensuing maritime response, from NYPD harbor units, fireboats and ferries to private and commercial boats, initiated the largest waterborne evacuation in American history. To examine this extraordinary story, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is screening the award-winning documentary, "Boatlift" followed by a discussion with Eddie Rosenstein, director of the film, U.S. Coast Guard Safety & Security Division Chief John Hillin, former FDNY Chief Marine Engineer Gulmar Parga and NY Waterway Captain Richard Thornton. In conversation with Noah Rauch, Senior Vice President of Education & Public Programs, they reflect on 9/11 and the improvised evacuation that transported an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people to safety in less than nine hours. Place: 180 Greenwich St. Time: 6 p.m. Free. To register, click here.

For those unable to attend, the events will be broadcast live, with captioning, at

Some of the Downtown Post NYC bulletin board listings are now on the Downtown Post NYC website. To see the bulletin board listings, click here.

E-Waste Drive in Battery Park City

Nov. 4: The Battery Park City Authority and the Lower East Side Ecology Center will be collecting donated electronics for e-waste reuse and recycling on Saturday, Nov. 4. Recycling electronic waste decreases energy and water use, reduces pollution and keeps hazardous chemicals out of air and water. Place: Esplanade Plaza in Battery Park City (rain or shine). Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, click here.

To see the events and activities on the Battery Park City Authority's fall calendar, click here. Most events are free. For some, reservations are required.


Spotlight: Open House New York sites in Lower Manhattan

Castle Clinton

During Open House New York, National Park rangers are giving tours of Castle Clinton National Monument on Oct. 22. Fort Clinton was built between 1808 and 1811 as part of New York City's harbor fortifications to protect against a feared British invasion during the run-up to the War of 1812 but never saw action in warfare. It was subsequently used as the first American immigration station, a beer garden, an exhibition hall, a theater and a public aquarium. Most recently it has served as a visitor center and a departure point for ferries to the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

This year's Open House New York Weekend features more than 350 places across the city that are open for tours, talks and behind-the-scenes, in-person access. At more than half of the sites no ticket is required. There is no charge for admission. Open House New York Weekend will conclude on Sunday, Oct. 22 with a Fall Boat Tour during which speakers from the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Dept. of Sanitation will discuss renewable energy and other waterfront innovations responding to climate change. For more information, click here.

Some 'Open Access' sites in Lower Manhattan, with no ticket required:

Manhattan Borough President’s Office Map Display

1 Centre Street Mezzanine (North Entrance)
Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Walt Whitman-Susan Tane Reading Library at Fulton Stall Market

91 South St. Saturday, October 21, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Castle Clinton National Monument

Battery Park
, Sunday, October 22. National Park rangers give tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with a focus on Castle Clinton's use between 1855 and 1890 as the Castle Garden Emigrant Depot.

The Skyscraper Museum

39 Battery Pl., Saturday, October 21, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Downtown Manhattan Monuments & Memorials: Contemporary, Radical, Invisible

9/11 Memorial at corner of Liberty and Greenwich streets, Self-guided tour

Architecture in Formation, The Architect’s Newspaper, and BJH Real Estate Advisors – Open Studios

25 Park Pl. 422, Sunday, October 22, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

WXY – Open Studio

25 Park Pl. 5th floor
, Sunday, October 22, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fort Jay

Governors Island Saturday, October 22, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Billion Oyster Project: Meet the Oysters

Governors Island, Nolan Park, Building 16
, Sunday, October 22, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Carol Willis, founder, director and curator of the Skyscraper Museum, standing in front of an exhibition at the museum entitled "NewsPAPER Spires." That exhibition ran in 2012, but like all previous exhibitions at the Skyscraper Museum, it can still be visited online. The current exhibition at the museum is entitled "Sky Marks Landmarks." It looks at all the structures in New York designated as Individual Landmarks that are “skyscrapers.” On Oct. 21, 2023 the Skyscraper Museum can be visited as part of Open House New York. It is also open from Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. with timed ticketing in place to manage capacity. For more information, click here.

Oct. 22: Waterfront Workings: Renewable Infrastructure for a Resilient City. Aboard a Circle Line boat, tour New York harbor and learn about renewable infrastructure investments including wind farms and energy storage. The South Brooklyn coastline, stretching from DUMBO to Sunset Park, is home to electrical systems, recycling facilities, a cruise ship terminal and New York's last "car float" rail yard among the many landmarks that line this working port. However, this landscape is not simply a vestige of New York City's industrial past. It is evolving as technological developments provide transformative opportunities to address the impacts, and in some cases mitigate, climate change. Place: The cruise departs from the Circle Line Cruises pier at 12th Avenue and West 43rd Street in Manhattan. Time: 3:20 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets: $48.24. Open House New York members, $37.74. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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