Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thank You For Your Service!

That’s how I began my day, greeting a smartly dressed Lt. Commander on Battery Place. Moments later I was in my office and received two calls in quick succession from Liz and Jamie alerting me to the fact that the USS Iwo Jima was sailing up the Hudson to herald the beginning of my favorite season in New York, Fleet Week. Approximately 3,000 members of the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard descend on the World’s Greatest City to show off their ships, participate in military exercises, have a beer or two, and observe Memorial Day. As everyone else flees the city, these guys and gals settle in for the long haul.

In previous blogs I have shared my appreciation for our armed forces and provided handy tips for standing on line for ships, so rather than repeat myself, I have supplied the links. Be sure to take time to visit a ship or two this week because the opportunity is fleeting.*

What makes this Fleet Week a bit different for me is that today our cadets and midshipmen who participate in our American Service Academies Program at the Auschwitz Jewish Center (AJC) arrived. They just spent two days with Shiri, our manager of International Programs, in DC and they will spend a couple of days with us in New York learning about the Holocaust and contemporary moral and ethical matters, meeting with historians and staff members , and taking part in workshops on military leadership. They will also hear survivor testimony. On Friday they leave for Poland for an intensive educational experience that will help these future military leaders understand what can happen in the absence of open and democratic governance, the ongoing relevance of the Holocaust to their work, and inspire and empower them to share their insights and understanding with others.

Tonight, not so coincidentally, we are hosting the AJC dinner. ASAP alums are always invited to participate. They share their knowledge with the current class and accept the thanks of guests and staff. One invitee, 1st Lt. Marc Bidder, who serves in the US Army and was in the 2005 class, sent his regrets because he is deployed in Iraq. He is among the dozens of young men and women who have completed the program, become commissioned officers, and are stationed around the world defending this country.

The presence of cadets, mid-shipmen, and alums at dinner is really quite awe-inspiring. I look at their youth and try to imagine taking on the roles they have chosen for themselves. I ask about their life experiences thus far and what has prepared them for the journey they are about to take. Mostly I just say, “Thank you for your service” and wish them a safe return…from all trips…foreign and domestic.

*A pun from Jamie and me in honor of Betsy's return.

The Museum is participating in several programs that allow military personnel, their families, and veterans to visit for free or at a very reduced cost. It's our way of saying thank you for your service. Please click here for more information.

It’s Raining Awards

This post comes to us via Alice Rubin who, in addition to playing a mean game of Mah Jongg, has done a great job with the Keeping History Center.

The Keeping History Center has been honored with two prestigious awards in the last two days. The first was announced Sunday at the MUSE (Museum and Technology) Awards, held each year by the American Association of Museums.

This year the ceremony took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center Sunday, May 23, in the evening.

Phillip Tiongson, from Potion, and Jonathan Alger, from C&G Partners, the two firms who collaborated on the Voices of Liberty project inside the Keeping History Center, attended the event as part of the overall AAM annual conference, and accepted the award on behalf of the Museum.

Here’s what Jonathan Alger had to say:
Phillip and I knew that our project with the Museum had won a MUSE award, but the level of the award (Honorable Mention, Bronze, Silver or Gold) is not revealed until the ceremony itself. We sat with the crowd, watching people Twittering the results in real time, waiting for our category to be announced. When our category came up -- "Interactive Installations" -- we were in rapt attention, wondering if we wold get called first (they do them in ascending order) but knew the later, the better.

They announced the category, briefly explained it and thanked all the entrants and jury. Then they announced the first award, which went to ...
... the new SONY exhibit. That meant we had a "metal" prize, we had to now be in the top three. It was getting interesting.

The Bronze was announced. Not us either. Phillip and I looked at each other. We were in the top two. That or they lost our submission.

Then the Silver was announced -- it was our project, we had won the Silver. We were very happy, and we went together up to the front of the room and accepted the award on behalf of the Museum.

The Gold award went to a project in Australia. All the results can be seen on the MUSE website.

There were many entries, and the Voices of Liberty beat out quite a few and climbed to the #2 spot. It's not the first award that it's won, we're happy to have been able to do our best work for the Museum and we look forward to many satisfied visitor to VOL in the future.”

A day later we heard from the 365: AIGA Annual Design Competition that Timekeeper had been selected as an example of outstanding information design. There were over 2500 entries and only 5% were chosen for this honor from the design community. We’ll be featured in the annual 365: AIGA Year in Design publication and be part of an accompanying exhibit mounted in New York later this year.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the exhibit please come by and we’ll show you our fancy plaque!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gateway to America

This noteworthy blog comes from Lisa who, along with Abby, did a great job holding down the fort while I was on maternity leave. Thanks, ladies!

Long before the national conversation currently taking place about immigration, generations of would-be Americans sacrificed everything to leave their homelands for the United States. Please join us and our colleagues in Lower Manhattan for the historical perspective on immigration by going on the Gateway to America Heritage Tour here in New York City. It’s a great deal and a poignant and relevant topic.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage has teamed up with the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Museum at Eldridge Street to offer a memorable way to learn about the history of New York City through the stories of immigrants from 1863 to the present—visiting where they lived, delving into their diverse cultures, and listening to their accounts using 21st century digital technology.

Through the Gateway to America Heritage Tour, you can visit these three museums in Lower Manhattan at a reduced rate and discover how New York City has been a gateway to a better life for generations. This includes the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s fantastic new interactive installation, Voices of Liberty.

Just download a Gateway to America Passport and present it at each museum to receive $2 off admission per person in your party. You can go to one, two, or all three museums.

For more information and to download your Gateway to America Passport, please click here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Dialogue of Hope

Today’s blog comes to us from Museum Educator Tracy Bradshaw, who had the opportunity to take part in an extraordinary afternoon and offered to share the experience with us. Thanks, Tracy!

On May 4, I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon and dialogue with Japanese survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. The topic was very intriguing to me mostly because I spend so much time working with Holocaust survivors and I had never given much thought to how the Japanese were —and still are —affected by the Atomic bomb.

This event was held at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on 86th St. and Amsterdam Ave. The host of the event was Rev. T.K. Nakagaki, a Buddhist priest, who was very warm and helped set an inviting tone. The audience included a group of 20 people, all of whom had some involvement in the two subjects, as well as a strong passion for spreading the message of peace.

The guest speakers consisted of three Holocaust survivors and two Atomic bomb survivors. Greta Elbogen, Sol Rosenkranz, and Rabbi Jacob Jungreis represented the Museum and shared their varied experiences of life during the Holocaust. Nakayama Takamitsu, who survived Nagasaki, and Hiroshi Nakamura, who survived Hiroshima, discussed what they were doing the day the bombs dropped and the lingering after effect of this disaster. The speakers seemed very connected and had a mutual respect for each other’s struggles. Hearing these five very different and extremely moving experiences gave birth to a series of fascinating questions and introspective dialogue.

Working at a Museum that focuses on the Holocaust I believed I was well versed on the events of WWII, but this program made me aware of the other side to the story that appears to be different but yet quite similar. I think we all left feeling enlightened and conscious of our responsibility to work towards change because coming together to discuss the past is important, but uniting to work as one building a better future is even greater.

[Editor’s note: Rev. Nakagaki brought two other Atomic bomb survivors to the Museum the next day to share testimony with Gallery Educators and staff. It was the kind of professional development afternoon made for a Museum like ours.]

In the photo are Rabbi Jacob Jungreis, Sol Rosenkranz, Greta Elbogen, and Hiroshi Nakamura. Photo by Tracy Bradshaw.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All the World’s a Stage and We’re Just Mah Jongg Players Upon It

Monday night was the opening for Project Mah Jongg. Whether it was the “Mah Jongg Martinis” commissioned for the evening and designed by Jennifer Nelson from Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn, or the Kosher spring rolls served by Foremost, or the perfect weather, the gallery was buzzing with excitement.

Our first guests, friends of Gallery Educator Geri Jacobs, came in their finest Chinoiserie, and they came ready to play. The families of artifact lenders were in attendance and included the family of Ruth Trager Greenberg, a beloved mah jongg-playing grandmother and mother; the family of Dorothy Myerson, the founder of the National Mah Jongg League; the family of Ruth Unger, the president of the National Mah Jongg League; and so many others.

Abbott Miller, designer of the show, and Melissa Martens, curator of the show, were there as well as Timothy Nohe, the designer of the soundscape; Patsy Tarr, publisher of the gorgeous companion volume; and trustees Judah Gribetz, Patti Kenner, Rita Lerner, Ann Oster, Jeff Tabak, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and Gary Zwerling. Our friends and media partners from New York magazine Ellen Wilk-Harris and Susan Greenhut also joined the merriment.

The opening of this wonderful salute to Jewish-American culture is a marvelous way to kick off Jewish-American Heritage Month, as decreed in 2006 by President George Bush. The proclamation was the result of efforts by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) and Senator Arlen Spector (PA) who initiated the resolutions and made them a reality. May’s month-long celebration encourages awareness and celebration of accomplishments made by Jewish-Americans. Don’t just take our word for it — visit the site at, and you’ll be sure to find so many programs, events, and exhibitions that you’ll wish May had 32 days, not just 31.

Photos by Melanie Einzig.
Top: Geri Jacobs and friends
Middle: Abbott Miller, Patsy Tarr, and David Marwell
Bottom: Rita Lerner, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and Jeff Tabak

Monday, May 3, 2010

We’re Ready for our Close Up

Set your DVR, your TiVo, your VCR, or just plan to stay home to watch Law & Order: Criminal Intent tomorrow evening on USA (10 /9 central time). We are told this is the episode in which parts were filmed at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. You may recall from the pictures we took when they were here that you may not recognize MJH, but sometimes it’s nice just knowing you were there.

The episode is called “Abel and Willing” and as most episodes do, deals with a murder, and some pretty harrowing choices. Jeff Goldblum and Saffron Burrows star.

Tune in and let us know how we looked.