Friday, October 29, 2010

How Tweet It Is

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is now on Twitter. Follow us and learn about ticket offers, sightings of the Sad Panda, and other tweet-worthy events. If you performed here, attended a program or exhibition here, or rollerbladed by us, follow along. If you have suggestions of folks we should follow, send them along in a comment below.

We are MJHNews. We promise not to Tweet too often, but if we are overtaken by a pun we just have to share, look out.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Overheard in the Gallery

Every now and then we like to share with you interactions we hear in the gallery. Today’s tidbit is relayed by Bonnie Unger, Museum Educator for Internships, who was walking through the galleries with a group of 2nd graders from P.S. 149 in Brooklyn.

Bonnie: What language do you see on the wall? [Note to reader, it was Hebrew.]

2nd Grader: Florida.

It just made us smile.

Photo: The Marine Terrace Hotel in Miami, Florida, 1940s. Gift of Henry Weintraub

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Around the World in Thirty Days

We just wanted to point out that our November calendar is particularly diverse. In just one month we will be exploring the culture, food, history, and people of Italy, China, Austria, America, and Hungary. Tickets for all programs are $10 or less. We’ll even check your bags for free, and our café fare is superior to anything you’d get in the airport. Thank you for flying downtown.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We Knew Her When!

Today I had lunch with the author of The Bookseller’s Sonnets, a fabulous mystery that follows the journey of an artifact from Tudor England through Nazi Germany to present day New York City. The artifact in question, a diary written by the daughter of Sir Thomas More, counsel to Henry VIII, lands on the desk of a curator at the not at all fictional Museum of Jewish Heritage. If you enjoyed Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book or Dara Horn’s The World To Come, this is your kind of read.

Andi Rosenthal, MJH Communications Department Alumna (1999-2004), is the author of the book and I am interviewing her this Sunday at 1 p.m. During our lunch in The Heritage Café, we discussed the little known historical figure of Margaret More, who was just as educated as her brothers since her father was dedicated to knowledge and couldn’t fathom depriving his girls of an education.

Margaret and Daniel, the Jewish bookseller who befriends her, have the kind of relationship that I can see on screen or performed as an opera. Forbidden love never gets old. And neither do books about museums in Lower Manhattan that examine the Holocaust within the context of 20th century Jewish life.

We’re going to have a great conversation on Sunday. Join us!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mah Jongg is not just for Grandmas

The Wall Street Journal has just published this fantastic article about hip, young women who play mah jongg. The article mentions that at a certain museum (ours), staff members play during their lunch hour and even go to cool bars and cafés in Brooklyn to play and drink wine or old fashioned cocktails. I think it is safe to say that it’s all true.

Despite my mom’s original misgivings when I started playing 10 years ago that my love for the game meant I was destined turn into my grandmother at a young age, as the Journal reports, the game is experiencing some new popularity among my peers, none of whom will be retiring in Florida anytime soon. I can see why. The game makes for a great night out or night in. I also have to mention that it makes for a really cool exhibit, and a terrific Hanukkah gift for the hipster in your life.

*Image: Courtesy of Ruth Unger, President, National Mah Jongg League. Photograph by James Shanks Photography

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Free Inspiring Film

This is from Lisa who watches a lot of documentaries, so she knows a really wonderful one when she sees it.

If you’re looking for an inspiring film to see, please come to the Museum this Wednesday evening, October 20, for a special free screening of Teenage Witness: The Fanya Heller Story.

In this documentary, Ms. Heller recounts her Holocaust experiences to inner-city teenagers who are themselves struggling with very harsh existences. I saw this documentary when it aired on PBS last spring and was completely drawn in and moved by how Ms. Heller and these teenagers connect with each other in such a deep and empathetic way about struggle, survival, and hope.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Up In The Air

Elissa Schein is the director of public programs. She had a rather unique experience last week and we asked her to share it with us.

Every day as I approach the Museum on foot, I marvel at its beautiful architecture and privileged location on the water overlooking the Statue of Liberty. I never get tired of the views from our windows. For the last eight years I have watched the river in all its moods and seasons, and marveled at the dwarf oak trees that have taken root in our Garden of Stones. Our Museum seems to have organically grown from this soil, the stone walls and hexagonal shape in understated contrast to the vertical skyline of Manhattan in the distance. The Robert M. Morgenthau Wing, the newest addition to the Museum and the first construction project to break ground in this downtown neighborhood after 9/11, stands with dignity and resolve on the shoreline.

Last week I had the rare opportunity to fly over the Museum in a helicopter as part of a film shoot. We flew down from upstate NY along the Hudson River, on a picture perfect late fall afternoon. At around 5 PM, just as the beautiful late afternoon light began to take hold, we approached lower Manhattan and the Museum came into view. I saw the horizontal lines of the building and beautiful landscaping from an entirely new perspective, and smiled thinking about all my friends and colleagues, and how that lovely place has changed my life.

There was a figure perched on the rooftop of the Museum. Standing there was our chairman, Robert M. Morgenthau, the subject of an upcoming documentary and the reason for the film shoot. The cameraman focused on this distant spot, with Robert M. Morgenthau saluting the helicopter as we passed overhead. We rounded the Statue of Liberty flying low, within just a few feet of that indomitable lady, and approached the Museum again. I could swear that I saw her wink at me as we went past, maybe even saluting back to Mr. Morgenthau with a slight dip of her torch as if to say, "Keep up the good work." We seem a perfect match, Lady Liberty and New York's Living Memorial to the Holocaust, good neighbors engaged in a perpetual dialogue, providing a sacred space, and inspiring many generations with an enduring message of hope for our future.

One of my friends, Caroline Earp, was also looking out at me from inside the Museum as we flew by, and snapped this picture of the helicopter which she sent to me afterwards with the following message: "Can you believe you are in there?"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Much More about Hannah Senesh

This week's curator talk with Dr. Louis Levine about Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh was just fascinating, but if you didn’t get a chance to see it, or if it left you wanting to know even more, we’d like to recommend two options. We just launched a beautiful website where you can read Hannah’s poetry, explore artifacts, view a timeline of Hannah’s life, and much more. We’d also like to invite you to view the award-winning documentary Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh at the Museum on October 31, November 21, 28, or December 19. There will be two screenings each day at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The film is free with admission. Click here for the full public programs schedule.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We are happy to announce that the Heritage Café has a brand new gourmet dairy* menu complete with freshly baked croissants, sushi, quiche, pressed paninis, bagels and cream cheese, made-to-order breakfast burritos, macaroni and cheese, fancy salads, lattes, and more.

Stop by for a nosh created by Esprit Events Catering and your stomach will go from oy vey to joy vey!

All dishes are carefully prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws and certified Cholov Israel by the Orthodox Union.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Coming Down to the Wire

The final days before an exhibition opens are always quite exciting, and this week before the opening of Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh has been no exception. Lou Levine, curator and project director, while preparing two lectures to present to Gallery Educators about Hannah’s life, took time out to record the audio for the 14 artifact explorations that will be on the website.

We chose artifacts from Hannah’s childhood and adolescence in Budapest, her young adulthood in the Land of Israel, and a few items from her mission to Hungary. No photos of Hannah exist once she was captured, so we set the mood with, among other things, the last note she wrote to her mother.

The artifact explorations give us the opportunity to present more detail about an object or a photo, the kind of information that there is never enough room to include in the exhibition. While listening to Lou talk about the artifacts, I learned things that I just wouldn’t know otherwise.

For instance, there is a picture of Hannah and her brother Gyuri (Giora) taken in Tel Aviv in February 1944. It is the last picture taken of them, and it is the last time they see each other. When Gyuri received the photo, he inscribed the back of the photo: “How good and pleasant it is for siblings to be together. February 1944 Tel Aviv” and sent it to Hannah. She responded: “How good! Hannah 1944 March 10,” and returned the photo to him. Although the photo, which captures a smiling pair of siblings sharing what only siblings can know, had been published often, the original photo was discovered in Gyuri’s desk after his death in 1995. Only in researching this exhibition did Lou discover the inscriptions on the back of the photo.

This Wednesday, when the exhibition opens to the public, Lou will be giving a talk about Hannah at 7 p.m. where he will reveal more of what he discovered while researching the short but intriguing life of Hannah Senesh. Save the date.

Photo: Hannah Senesh and her brother Gyuri (Giora), Tel Aviv, 1944. Collection of the Senesh Family.

Monday, October 4, 2010

November and December Programs Now on Sale

If you like laughter, mah jongg, Chinese food, family fun, and Yiddish songs, and you crave compelling books, beautiful films, and provocative plays, thoughtful conversations, and important new scholarship, you’ll love the new season of public programs at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. I don’t want to give everything away —don’t you hate when a movie preview does that? — but it is sure to be a busy couple of months.

Photo: Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, will be one of the speakers at Jews and Chinese Food on November 7.