One penny. One murdered child. One and a half million pennies. A mass murder made tangible.
Many know of the 6 million Jews the Nazis killed during World War II. With the project of a South Florida youth, visitors to the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center can now grasp the number of children among the victims.
David Broide, 13, pushed for about a year to collect the pennies as a bar mitzvah project. The product of his campaign is in dozens of bags, jugs, coin rolls and sandwich bags lining the halls of the Holocaust center in Hollywood, Fla.
Thus far, 1.2 million of the pennies have been delivered to the Holocaust center. Broide and his family plan to have the rest taken in about a month.
While the center decides how best to use them, visitors are amazed at the sight, says Rositta Kenigsberg, executive vice president.
"They always say something like, 'So many pennies, so many children,' " said Kenigsberg, herself a child of a Holocaust survivor. "This is amazing. In all my years of Holocaust education, I've never met a young person who did this by himself."
For Broide, who began collecting the coins last summer, the project is personal: to commemorate his late grandfather Jose Broide, who fought Nazis in Poland as a partisan before emigrating to Costa Rica.
"He was a hero to me," said Broide, a member of the Beit David Highland Lakes Shul in Aventura. "I think he'd be very proud of this. And I'm honored that so many people have contributed."
Donations came from friends, relatives and classmates at the Hillel Community Day School in North Miami Beach. Broide also contributed $1,800 from his bar mitzvah gifts.
Passengers on Royal Caribbean cruises also contributed, dropping coins in cans at check-in counters at Port Everglades and the Port of Miami. A vice president of the cruise line, Craig Milan, is a board member of the Holocaust center.
Broide's Web site is www.NeverForgetNeverAgain.org.