‘Neighbors Project’ seeks memories of WWII refugee center

Located near Fort Ontario, the Safe Haven Museum tells the story of the Jewish refugees who came to Oswego during World War II.
Located near Fort Ontario, the Safe Haven Museum tells the story of the Jewish refugees who came to Oswego during World War II.

If you or someone in your family has memories of the 1944-1946 Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter located in Oswego, N.Y., then the Safe Haven Museum wants to hear from you.

Museum board members and SUNY Oswego students have launched a project called “The Neighbors Project” to collect and catalogue these stories.

SUNY Oswego student Tuqa Youssef explains “we are interested in any of the stories of Oswego residents who interacted with the refugees, or who were in any way involved with the camp.”

The group is collecting memories for the 70th reunion of the camp June 19-22.

“We value the remembrances of the Oswego residents who are such an important part of the history of the shelter,” said Judy Coe Rapaport, board president of Oswego’s Safe Haven Museum and Education Center.

“As we plan this 70th anniversary, we want to make sure their stories are heard,” she said.

The Safe Haven Museum and Education Center is located at 2 E. Seventh St. near Fort Ontario in Oswego.

It commemorates the lives of the 982 European refugees from the Holocaust who were welcomed into the camp in 1944.

It is the only one of its kind in the United States.

A number of events to mark the anniversary and celebrate the reunion are being planned as well.

Youssef and Rapaport want to encourage interested residents to participate in the Neighbors Project.

Contact Professor Denise DiRienzo at 312-2022 or through email at safehavenpr416@gmail.com.

Please use the subject “Neighbors” and be sure to leave a name and phone number.

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