No Tolerance for Museum of Tolerance Expansion - NBC 7 San Diego

No Tolerance for Museum of Tolerance Expansion

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    No Tolerance for Museum of Tolerance Expansion
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    LOS ANGELES -- Dotted with synagogues and kosher food stores and serving as home to a large Jewish population, the area around the Museum of Tolerance is hardly a bastion of anti-Semitism.

    But the museum, the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named for the famed Nazi hunter, finds itself under fire from many of its neighbors over plans for a dramatic expansion.

    And many of those neighbors are Jewish.

    The 28,000-square-foot expansion would bring the museum to about 97,400 square feet, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    "We're bursting at the seams," Susan Burden, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief administrative and chief financial officer, told The Times. "We've had to turn people away because we didn't have the space."

    The expansion and additional revenue from events that the enlargement would make possible would enable the museum to serve double the current number of annual visitors, she told the newspaper. Currently, the museum welcomes more than 300,000 visitors annually.

    The expansion would replace a Holocaust memorial garden with multistory reception and banquet space that could accommodate hundreds of guests until as late as midnight six nights a week, according to The Times.

    "The traffic, noise and music would disrupt the neighborhood," Frances Simon, an 83-year-old survivor of three concentration camps, including Auschwitz, told The Times.

    But the project has support from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, local rabbis, many residents and Councilman Jack Weiss, whose district includes the Pico Boulevard institution, according to The Times.

    Opponents of the project contend that Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center's founder and dean, is pushing hard to propel the project through the city approval process before Weiss leaves the council in June, according to The Times.

    latimes.com: Neighbors oppose Museum of Tolerance expansion