Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A School Play


Courtesy of the Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History at The Breman Museum
Last year, I bought a ticket to my cousin’s upcoming play Parade at Syracuse University. I had never heard of it and, judging by the title, it sounded cheerful and fun, just like a parade would be. As it turns out, I could not be more wrong. To give you a very brief synopsis, Parade depicts the historical events about the murder of a thirteen-year-old girl and the subsequent trial, and ultimate lynching, of a Jewish man named Leo Frank who was accused of her murder.

I was fascinated by this true story so I went home to do some research. There are so many significant and scandalous elements that are part of this history – child labor laws, the Ku Klux Klan, racial prejudices, yellow journalism, anti-Semitism – the list goes on and on. It’s no surprise that the media so heavily covered this story at the time and why it is still of tremendous interest today. I can’t help but think what Netflix would have done with this story if it had been around to make Leo Frank the subject of “Making a Murderer.”

Fast forward to January 2016 and I had just started working at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. I learned that one of my first tasks was to start promoting an upcoming exhibition, Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited. Thanks to my cousin, I was prepared.  Coincidence, luck, fate, call it what you will. If you get an opportunity to see your cousin’s play, you should go. You never know what you might learn.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit our website:

If you would like to learn how the history of Leo Frank was transformed into the Tony-winning musical Parade, watch this video:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

In Honor of Black History Month - A Display about African Americans in a Nazi Internment Camp, 1943



Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Gift of Jerome and Carolyn Mahrer
  
In honor of Black History Month, the Museum is presenting a display in the main lobby about African Americans in a Nazi internment camp for foreign nationals in Tittmoning, Germany. Inmates included African Americans who were living in Europe, many because of their careers as athletes, performers, or musicians.

The foreign prisoners in this internment camp were treated very differently than prisoners of a concentration camp. They were given regular food rations and did not have to work. At Tittmoning, the YMCA even donated a piano.

In 1999, Jerome and Carolyn Maher donated to the Museum an album of caricatures inside a folder created from a Red Cross package. Jerome received these drawings when he was an inmate in Tittmoning. The drawings feature prisoners and guards sketched by fellow prisoner Max Brandel, who ultimately went on to a career at MAD magazine. The inmates autographed the drawings for Jerry (Jerome), who was the youngest inmate and as such the camp “mascot.” The album gives a glimpse into the dynamics of the internment camp.

The African Americans included in the album are:
·        Johnny Mitchell, a musician from Baltimore who was arrested in Amsterdam and during his internment, together with pianist Freddy Johnson, taught young Jerry Maher to play the accordion;
·         Oscar Mathis, a Georgia native who was a wrestler or boxer and was living in Prague when he was arrested;
·         Jack Taylor, a boxer who fought many famous fighters including Max Schmeling;
·         Kemal Abdel Rahman Berry, a Kansas City native and well-known wrestler who was living in Prague with his European wife and their son when he was arrested;
·         William Walker, described as a “medicine man” (a type of performer with a traveling show); and
·         Freddy Johnson, an American pianist who worked as Coleman Hawkins’ pianist and backed Marlene Dietrich on one recording; he was arrested in Amsterdam along with his wife and two daughters.


While we know some information about these men, much remains unknown. Occasionally our research breakthroughs come from visitors saying “I know that person!” or “Hey, that’s me!” We hope when you see this display you will let us know if you have any information to share. Email us at communications@mjhnyc.org.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Learning about Toronto’s Hot Jewish Cuisine

Enjoy a Recipe to Make at Home

Some of the most delicious Jewish cuisine being cooked up in Toronto will be featured this coming Sunday, November 15, at the Museum.

Eating Jewish in Canada begins with cookbook author Jayne Cohen in conversation with chef and owner Anthony Rose of Fat Pasha and Rose & Sons, Ruthie Ladovsky of the legendary United Bakers Dairy restaurant, food personality Bonnie Stern, and author Michael Wex.

This annual food program honors the Museum’s late Gallery Educator Marilyn Feingold.

Following the mouthwatering panel, nosh on some signature dishes, such as popped on the spot popcorn seasoned with za’atar, warm hummus with braised chickpeas served in a pita cup, roasted cauliflower with tahini, schkug and pomegranate molasses, quintessential split pea soup, cheese blintzes, fried-on-site falafel with assorted fresh toppings, shakshouka, sabich, apricot rugelach, Nutella babka bread pudding with a maple drizzle, Canadian butter tarts – and last but not least, –  a signature spiced lemonade – all catered by our friends at Beth Torah Caterers (Glatt Kosher).

You won’t want to miss out as we dish on the haimishe and hip cuisine straight from our neighbors to the north. Reserve your tickets here, and whet your appetite this week by whipping up a batch of Bonnie Stern’s Butter Tart Squares.

Bonnie Stern's Butter Tart Squares
From Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking 
by Bonnie Stern (Random House Canada, 2003)

Bonnie writes: "These delicious squares are much easier to make than butter tarts, and you can have just a little piece and not feel guilty. Unless, of course, you have another little piece. And another."

Yield: Makes 25 squares

Pastry
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, cut in cubes

Filling
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) corn syrup
2 eggs
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) baking powder
4 teaspoons (20 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) raisins, optional

1. To prepare pastry, combine flour and sugar in a bowl or food processor. Cut in butter until it is in tiny bits.

2. Press flour mixture evenly into bottom of a lightly buttered and parchment-lined 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish, letting paper hang slightly over two sides of pan. Bake in a preheated 350 F (180 C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

3. Meanwhile, to prepare filling, in a bowl or food processor, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in corn syrup and eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla.

4. In a small bowl, combine baking powder and flour. Stir into filling.

5. Sprinkle raisins, if using, over pastry base. Spread filling over raisins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until set. Cool. Loosen edges of pastry and lift out of pan. Cut into squares.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Upcoming at the Museum of Jewish Heritage


This blog comes from Esther Moerdler, our college intern in the Communications Department.
David Krakauer in "The Big Picture," photo credit Melanie Einzig

There are many great programs coming up in September and October at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – here are just a few highlights we would like to share with you:

The Museum will screen two films in tandem with our exhibition Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945. The first is Different from the Others, a silent film from 1919 in which two male musicians fall in love. This film sought to expose the injustices of Germany’s anti-gay laws. Banned at the time of its release and later burned by the Nazis, Different from the Others is one of the few sympathetic portrayals of homosexuals from this era of cinema. This groundbreaking film will be shown on September 10 at 7 P.M. Later in September, join us for a 15th anniversary screening of Paragraph 175. This documentary tells the story of how gay men and lesbians went from being a part of a vibrant subculture of artists and intellectuals in Germany to being systematically persecuted under the Nazi regime. Both films include free admission for ticketholders to Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945 prior to the screening.

From October 25 – November 1, the Museum will host a Polish film series, The Unknown Holocaust: Recent Polish Films. The fall of communism ushered in a new era of candid and artistically accomplished Polish filmmaking about the Holocaust. This week-long series presents features, documentaries, and short films rarely seen in the United States. Discussions with experts follow the screenings. The all-access pass will allow you to see any or even all of the films for only $15, $12 for Members. For a complete listing of the films and accompanying discussions, click here.

On September 9 at 7 P.M., eminent historian Timothy Snyder of Yale University will speak about his new book Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, which chronicles the humanitarian risks we face in the 21st century in the context of the history of the Holocaust.

Popular podcast Person Place Thing is also making its way to the Museum. Randy Cohen will host a live-recording of the podcast as he interviews clarinetist David Krakauer on Wednesday, October 7 at 7 P.M. We’re keen to find out what person, place, and thing are meaningful to this great musician. 

On October 21 author Roger Cohen will discuss his new book The Girl from Human Street. Cohen traces his family history across continents and reveals vital patterns of struggle and resilience. Tickets are $12; free for Members. 

Grammy-nominated clarinetist David Krakauer will return to the Museum for a limited engagement of his vibrant concert The Big Picture. In this cinematic concert, Krakauer adds his contemporary style to beloved songs from films ranging from Funny Girl and Fiddler on the Roof to Sophie's Choice and The Pianist.

To buy tickets and for more up-to-date information on programs, please visit our calendar page. We hope to see you!  

Friday, July 31, 2015

MJH at the Disability Pride Parade


This blog is from Yael Friedman, Museum Educator.

On Sunday, July 12, Shu, one of our High School Apprentices, and I participated in New York City’s first annual Disability Pride Parade in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We marched with the Museum Access Consortium (MAC) from Madison Square Park to Union Square Park. Representatives from more than 10 cultural institutions joined the MAC contingent.

Despite the heat, there was a tremendous showing at the parade. It was remarkable to see the enthusiasm and determination of thousands of parade participants, many of whom are disabled. The NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities ensured accommodations for people with different types of disabilities. Many signs addressed challenges that people with disabilities face in their everyday life and the desire to be treated equally. For example, one sign stated "Treat me the way you want to be treated." Not only was this a celebration, it was an educational experience for those unfamiliar with the needs and perspectives of people with disabilities.

During the parade, I held the MAC banner as Shu ran up and down the street giving out Museum flyers and our calendar of events. MAC participants chanted “museums for all” as we made our way down Broadway. Shu cheerfully engaged with all of the supporters lined up alongside the parade and introduced them to the Museum. She reflected that, “Many people said thank you back, which was probably a courteous gesture in others' eyes, but to me, it really meant my work had an impact on them. I had long conversations with a few people on the sidewalk and in the parade. The onlookers were so pleased that people with disabilities are better accommodated in public spaces now than they were 25 years ago, before the ADA. I was also impressed by such advances in society. It was moving to share my happiness with them and be part of this historical moment.”

The Museum has worked with the American Sign Language (ASL) community over the past year, and it has been very successful. We consistently have a large showing at events and have been fortunate to work with three deaf Museum Educators who lead tours in ASL and Russian Sign Language for deaf visitors. Our focus this year is on expanding our programs for people with visual impairments.

A new season of programs for the ASL community will begin in the fall. Bookmark our ASL programs page and check back in September for new ASL events.

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Designing Home" Artifacts in Everyday Life


This blog is from Danielle Charlap, our Associate Curator.

Whenever I take groups through the Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism exhibition, everyone shares a knowing look when we get to Henry Dreyfuss. Whether or not visitors recognize Dreyfuss’s name, they certainly recognize his designs. We are lucky to have four of his products on display: the Honeywell Thermostat (c. 1953), Big Ben Alarm Clock (1939), Princess Phone (c. 1959), and Oxford Sink (1945). 



Dreyfuss was incredibly committed to making modern design user-friendly. To better understand how humans interacted with products, Dreyfuss studied the body and movement. He even created two graphical representations he named Joe and Josephine whose measurements were based on his research. He used this information to think about how to make products as ergonomic and practical as possible for their owners.


We see Dreyfuss’s user-centered approach reflected in his thermostat and phone design. Trying to help homeowners avoid unsightly crooked thermostat installations, Dreyfuss thought to make the thermostat round. This shape also comfortably fit in the user’s hand for easy thermostat adjustments. And not only did Dreyfuss’s Princess phone have a light-up dial to make it easier to see, but the same number dial could also be used as a night light. No wonder these products have remained popular for so long! 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Joining the Staff and the Museum’s Free Tuesday Afternoon Tour

This post comes to us from Ruth Frankel, our new Communications Assistant, who in an effort to familiarize herself with the collection, joined a Museum tour.

Having explored the Museum on my own accompanied only by the voices of Meryl Streep and Itzhak Perlman, narrators of the Museum’s free audio tour, I was excited to learn more from a real-live Gallery Educator. On the second day of my new job, David Zagor was the tour guide.

Throughout the tour, David used dialogue to teach us. To start the tour, he asked why we thought the Museum was called a “Living Memorial to the Holocaust” rather than just a “history” of the Holocaust. As the tour reached completion in Andy Goldsworthy’s Garden of Stones, he asked the youngest member of the tour, a girl of about 9 or 10 years old, “What does it mean – trees growing out of rocks?” This type of questioning allowed for meaningful conversation amongst the group.


CAPTION : Gallery Educator David Zagor introduces himself to a group of visitors before leading them on a tour Tuesday, June 30th.

The tour was diverse in audience. Londoners Penny Jones and her daughter Ellie sought out the Museum during their week-long visit to New York. Over a period of two years, Ellie had studied the Holocaust for her A-level exams, which she had just completed to finish high school. Though both visitors made it clear they were riveted by the Museum’s content, upon finishing the tour, they praised David’s inclusion of family stories. Penny told David, whose mother-in-law is a survivor, “Listening to you speak about your family was very important.”

Like the Jones family, I, too, was moved by David’s personal approach. As a new member of the Communications department, I am interested in different ways to tell stories and how to share the unique experiences that the Museum has to offer. I look forward to learning more on future tours from other Gallery Educators.  

Free guided tours are offered with admission every Tuesday at 3 P.M. Click here to learn more about tours of the Museum.