Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Over Ninety and Nifty

We’re kvelling, but not at all surprised, that according to New York Magazine two of the most influential New Yorkers over the age of 90 are members of the Museum of Jewish Heritage family. We’d like to offer a hearty Mazel Tov to our chairman Robert M. Morgenthau and to journalist and philanthropist Ruth Gruber. Learn more about Mr. Morgenthau in our special exhibition The Morgenthaus: A Legacy of Service. For more on Dr. Gruber, check out the new film about her life, Ahead of Time.

photo by Jake Chessum

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jews and Baseball

I preface this blog with the following disclaimer: I did not grow up in a baseball household, but I did live in Los Angeles in 1974, so l do remember that sunny late afternoon when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run against the Dodgers, tying the Babe’s record, and I recall that same season when Mr. Brownlee, our social studies teacher, let us listen in class to the Dodgers when they played the Oakland A’s in the World Series.

This is the foundation on which my baseball knowledge is built. Yet, I so adored the movie Jews and Baseball at the Museum Sunday, I can only imagine what a true devotee would think. Well actually, I have a clue. A scholar (or was he a sports writer?) informs us early in the film that baseball can be found in the Bible. In fact, it is the very first sentence of Genesis… "In the big inning…”

We hear from rabbis, historians, journalists, baseball icons, their children and grandchildren and even more personalities who talk about what it was like to be Jewish and love baseball. These scenes are artfully juxtaposed with interviews with Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax as they tell what it was like to be Jewish and PLAY baseball. Hearing in their own words how they made their decisions not to play ball on Yom Kippur was as enlightening as it was entertaining.

Rabbi Michael Paley comments on the similarities between Judaism and baseball. He likens the optimism of Judaism to spring training. The ethical affirmations of Judaism (having faith despite knowing there is evil in the world) is the spiritual equivalent of “We’ll get ‘em next year.” The values transmitted through Judaism from generation to generation are not unlike transmitting the love of the game from one generation to the next. The most prevalent theme, perhaps, was taking pride in what the Jewish people have achieved, especially if one of them became the youngest person inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Sandy Koufax, at age 36 years and 20 days).

On Sunday it didn’t rain, the film was great, the house was nearly sold-out, and there were baseball-inspired snacks – it was a grand slam. If you missed the film here, our friends at the JCC of Manhattan are showing it Oct. 5 and it opens in wide release Nov. 5. Consider taking a Met fan; she could probably use a good laugh right about now.

Photo of Sandy Koufax.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Neighbor

We wanted to wish the Museum of Chinese in America a very happy anniversary. You can celebrate with them today. They are offering free admission through 5 p.m. They are also giving away gifts throughout the day including 2 –for- 1 passes for future visits, mooncakes for the first 100 visitors, and other special surprises.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Get your cold beer and hot dogs here!

We’re happy to announce that this Sunday’s screening of Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story will include some very special guests. Esprit Events Catering will be selling kosher hot dogs, beer, and soda in the lobby before and after the program.

Play ball!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We Are the People in Your Neighborhood

Before the rain chased us and all of our events calendars away, Lisa, Betsy, Ginny, and I spent a good portion of last Sunday at the Battery Park City Block Party. Because this is Battery Park City, the block party took place next to the marina just across the street from the Winter Garden. This is our neighborhood after all.

This coming Sunday (9-19), meet the whole Communications staff, including Keika, when we hang out with our friends at Harmony on the Hudson, the annual day-long family music festival presented by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. There will be music by Tom Chapin and Friends, the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra will crank up the big band and swing tunes, there will be art activities and games for kids, and if you’ve never seen the Double Dutch Divas perform their wild, heart stopping jump rope acrobatics, you won’t want to miss it. Just watching them is an aerobic activity. The festivities begin at 1 p.m.

This weekend’s gateway to fun is in Robert Wagner Park, so if you’re planning a visit to the Museum to see David Marwell interview Thomas Buergenthal at 2:30, stop by our table and say hello.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spectacular Sukkot

New York Magazine is sponsoring a really cool sukkah design contest. Architects from all over the world submitted their designs and they range from simple and modern meditation huts to whimsical and over-the-top Doctor Seuss inspired structures. The top 12 will be displayed in Union Square September 19 and
2oth. Check out the designs and cast your vote. The sukkah with the most votes will be displayed in Union Square through October 2.

Seen here: one of my favorites, Shim Sukkah by tinder, tinker, Sagle, Idaho
Image courtesy of Sukkah City

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ahead of Time

Now that the Rosh Hashanah dishes are clean and put away, it is a great time to go to the movies and learn about a truly remarkable woman, Ruth Gruber. The Angelika Film Center is showing a documentary about her life, entitled Ahead of Time, through September 16. Click here to learn more and to watch the trailer or click here to read the review in the New York Times.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jewish History on the South American Slopes

This blog comes from one of our Gallery Educators, Joy Rosenberg, who just took a fascinating ski trip to Chile where she encountered some very interesting Jewish history in unlikely places. This is just one of her stories.

Last month 15 members of my ski club flew 11 hrs to Santiago, Chile and then drove 1 hour up into the Andes mountains to the Valle Nevado ski resort, one of South America’s premier skiing areas. Our summer is their winter. We were thrilled to leave behind a sweltering heat wave and trade it in for cloudless blue skies and abundant sun shining down on magnificent mountains buried in tons of pristine white snow.

In Valle Nevado my ski instructor was Alberto Stern Britzmann whose father, Eduardo Stern Honig, was the visionary who built the Valle Nevado ski resort 22 years ago. For 2 hours, while skiing, I was enthralled by this young man’s amazing story, beginning with his grandparents’ (both maternal and paternal) escape from Nazi Germany in early 1939. Alberto’s parents were avid skiers and both studied architecture in the Universidad de Chile. It was his father’s dream to build a ski resort there. Eduardo went to France to study mountain architecture where he met up with a French group who were developing the Les Arcs ski resort in the French Alps. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with cancer. After receiving treatment in New York, he was told he should return to his beloved Chile to die peacefully. He did return but upon being home, he rallied. Before he died in 2000, Eduardo was able to successfully fulfill his dream of building Valle Nevado.

This image is of a memorial to Eduardo Stern Honig.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What We’re Cooking Up for the New Year

We always try to provide a recipe around the holidays to share in the communal spirit. This Rosh Hashanah is no exception, except there is a twist. The recipe comes from a brand new cookbook, written by MJH supporter extraordinaire June Hersh, that combines so many wonderful ingredients that we wanted you to get a sneak peek. Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival (Ruder Finn 2010), began, as June tells us, as a book of recipes, but became a book of stories documenting remarkable people and their ability to nurture and nourish their families despite their own unimaginable experiences.

How is this cookbook different from all other cookbooks? There are inspiring stories of Holocaust survivors who share memories of unforgettable meals that they recall from childhood…right down to the bisel of salt. Their recipes are included, as well as creative takes on these culinary gems by Daniel Boulud, Arthur Schwarz, and Joan Nathan and others.

What can we say? It’s food for the soul. Learn more about this exciting project.

Our holiday offering is Sally Rosenkranz’s Honey Cake. Sally, from Radom, Poland, was 13 when she was taken to the camps. She was liberated at Bergen-Belsen, and after the war met fellow survivor, Sol Rosenkranz. They moved to Stuttgart when Sally discovered she still had family there. Her mother died in the Holocaust, but Sally learned how to cook and bake from her Aunt Toby, always refining her own creations, according to her daughter, Rita. Much more of Sally and Sol’s story can be found in the book.

Yields: Two 9-inch Loaves, 12 to 16 slices each
Start to Finish: Under 1 ½ hours
½ cup brewed coffee, cooled
3 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons powdered ginger (optional)
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups dark honey
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts or almonds
1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease two 9-inch loaf pans or a 16 x 11 x 4-inch baking pan. Brew the coffee and set it aside to cool.

In a medium bowl sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs on medium speed, gradually adding the sugar and beating for several minutes, until the mixture turns a pale yellow. Beat in the oil, honey and cooled coffee. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating on low speed to prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium and beat for several minutes, until a smooth thick batter is formed. Stir the chopped nuts into the batter. If adding raisins, stir them in at this time.

Fill the prepared pans halfway with batter. The cake rises considerably when baking. (Any extra batter can be used to make delicious muffins). Bake at 325 degrees for 1 to 1¼ hours until the top of the cake is a cinnamon brown, but not burnt, and a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before slicing.

We wish you and yours a sweet new year.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

NYPD Prepares for the Holidays

Artifacts from the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s collection were on display at the Police Department City of New York’s High Holy Days briefing this week at One Police Plaza. Police Commissioner Hon. Raymond W. Kelly and Chief Chaplain Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass offered remarks, among others.

Photo by Jennifer Roberts