Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Apparently We Can All Get Along

When I was in Boca Raton, Florida on Tuesday, I noticed two houses of worship across the street from one another on the 300 block of SW 4th Avenue. One was the St. Joan of Arc Church, the other was Temple Beth El of Boca Raton. As I pondered what kind of interfaith programming they might do, my eyes caught these two signs at the entrance to each parking lot. As we are fond of saying here, there is hope for our future.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Keeping up with Macy’s, Saks, and Bergdorf’s

This blog is by Lisa, who wandered past what sounds like a Jewish version of a Disney World ride, but even cooler.

With the holiday season comes a plethora of pop-up stores, each unique in its own way. One in particular caught my attention: the Chanukah Super Store. And, it really is true to its name.

Chanukah Super Store features two spectacular holiday display windows. The backdrop for the displays is a shtetl home, with one scene featuring life-size, moving figures of a family, all gathered around the table playing with a dreidel and lighting a menorah. This window also features a monitor showing how a wooden dreidel is made. It’s beautiful to see the wood on the lathe and Hebrew letters delicately hand painted on.

The other delightful display window is a life-size scene of menorah candles and oil being made, pre-industrialization. There’s also a monitor showing how olives are processed to make the oil.

In the store itself, is a cornucopia of kosher candies in all forms, including parve and milk, as well as Hanukah games (I couldn’t resist Texas Dreidel, a holiday version of Texas Hold ‘Em).

Located on Avenue M and East 16th Street in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, Chanukah Super Store will remain open through the Hanukkah holiday. Hurry!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NYC Welcomes 50 Millionth Visitor

City dwellers often feel like tourists keep multiplying. It turns out that it is not just our imagination. Here is another blog from Jane, who would be happy to help tourists with directions.

There’s not a moment to spare in the city that never sleeps when there is so much to see and do. If you live or work in New York City or one of New York’s five boroughs, you know what it’s like to briskly walk down the streets of Manhattan and be inundated with foreign tourists staring and pointing in admiration of NYC’s highlights and sights. Sometimes it even makes us jaded New Yorkers see things in a new light.

Craig and Lucy Johnson from Lichfield, England specifically traveled to New York City to have their wedding ceremony at the Top of the Rock on December 20th. What they didn’t know was that their wedding day was going to be much more than a celebration of their unity and life together, but a milestone marker as the 49,999,999 and 50 millionth visitors to New York City. “We are thrilled to be in New York City with our closest friends and family celebrating our marriage,” said the newlyweds. “We traveled to New York City for the first time 10 years ago and it has always been our dream to return.”

If you’ve been planning that special trip out to New York City, now’s the time to book those plane tickets. It’s shaping up to be a comfortable winter, and there are several beautiful exhibitions and top-notch plays on and off-Broadway. Not to mention Spider Man the Musical. Whether you’re visiting for a short time or a longer vacation, be sure to make a point of stopping by the Museum of Jewish Heritage. We’re even open on several holidays including December 25, January 2, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Presidents Day, too.

Thanks to NYC & Company and Mayor Bloomberg for the story and photo, and of course for all their efforts on behalf of tourism in New York.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Only in New York—Happy Hanukkah Edition

This story was told to us by Lisa, who didn’t have time to blog herself today.

As you may know, our busiest day of the year is December 25. With not much else open, we welcome lots of locals and tourists to the Museum for public programs, tours, and family friendly offerings. As we prepare for December 25th, we try to figure out how to make our visitors’ trip to the Museum as memorable as possible. One thing we like to do for our visitors is have a list of local restaurants which are open that day. So this week we called around to the usual suspects (Jewish delis, hotel restaurants, and Asian establishments) to inquire whether they would or would not be open and if so, which hours.

I was delighted and surprised when I called Budda Bodhai, a vegetarian Chinese eatery on Mott Street. After confirming that they are indeed open, my next question was whether they are kosher and if so, what is their certification. The genial Asian gentleman who answered the phone said, “Yes, we are kosher, Baruch HaShem!”

Only in New York.

We wish you all a Happy Hanukkah.

Photo from Budda Bodhai's website from the New York Times. Photo by James Estrin.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hanukkah Party Advice

Even Cinderella and Prince Charming got nervous before the big bash, so it makes sense that every year before the Young Friends Hanukkah party, Regina Roper fields all sorts of calls from potential party goers asking for advice and a little nudge. So we asked her to blog today about the party.

Looking to meet your beshert? Want to get your dance on? All while supporting a great cause? The Hanukkah Party is the place to be. Here are a few answers to some frequently asked questions and if you don’t see your question below, feel free to contact Regina at (646) 437-4320 or All calls are confidential.

What should I wear to the party?
The invitation says cocktail attire. That being said, wear whatever makes you feel good. Women mostly dress in cocktail dresses and heels, while the guys wear slacks and a button down. Some people come right from work so they are in suits or other business attire which is just fine. It is our gala event of the year, so dress to impress.

What is the age range of attendees?
The Young Friends are between the ages of 21 and 40. Our median age for attendees is probably somewhere around 30. However, there are always a handful of people on either side of the spectrum.

How many people come to the Hanukkah Party?
Last year we had a great crowd of almost 450 attendees.

What is the ratio of men to women?
As with most benefit events, there are always more women than men. We do our best to make sure there is a good mix and usually end up with about 60% women and 40% men.

What kind of food is served?
Each year we have an open bar and a full buffet spread (served by a Glatt Kosher certified caterer). This year the menu includes a latke bar, sliders and hot dogs, a variety of sandwiches and salads, desserts such as sufganiot and fruit, and much more.

Click here to buy your ticket now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ways to Get Involved and Donate to Families in Need

This blog comes from our intern, Jane, who is excited to give back this season. I think you will agree that she makes a better case for it than this week’s episode of Glee.

Too many children and families aren’t able to share in the joy of opening gifts or have a festive home-cooked dinner with their family during the holidays. You can change this by donating new, unwrapped gifts to Toys for Tots, the wonderful organization run by the Marine Corps. We love seeing our children, siblings, and nieces and nephews excited about tearing the wrapping paper off of their gifts—now you can do the same for children whose parents can’t afford to do so. You can type in your zip code to find a local drop-off spot near you.

You can give the gift of warmth this winter by donating a gently-used coat to the New York Cares Coat Drive. To see a complete list of drop-off areas, click here.

As far as providing meals for children and families, you can volunteer your time at a community kitchen for the Food Bank For New York City by visiting the following link.

If you are unable to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, you can donate food as well.

Regardless of how and what you celebrate this year, we should take the time to remember and appreciate all the people in our lives that make everyday special and be grateful for what we have. The holidays aren’t about extravagance but about giving back to those in need and volunteering your time to help out a child or family.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hanukkah Goodies to Light Up Some Eyes

This blog comes from our new Communications intern, Jane Gogerman, who is clearly more organized and prepared for the holidays than the rest of us. We welcome her enthusiasm and look forward to putting it to very good use.

With Hanukkah in less than two weeks, you may be feeling like you’re pressed for time to find special gifts. Don’t fret, The Pickman Museum Shop has one-of-a-kind gifts sure to put a smile on the faces of those whom you love.

Your eager-to-learn son or daughter will love their new Friends of the World menorah ($40). Have them tell you something they know about each country as they light the menorah candle. As for your younger tot, I recommend the Melissa and Doug “Noah’s Ark Shape Sorter” set ($29). Teens may be a bit harder to please, but if you have a computer geek who’s eco-friendly, the LED Motherboard Menorah is perfect ($20)!

As a woman who loves dressing up her outfits with jewelry, my eyes are set on a unique pair of Michal Negrin’s blue flower earrings ($40 and up)that will surely complement several outfits. You can find an assortment of beautiful handcrafted jewelry in a variety of styles, shapes, designs and colors by Negrin and other talented designers at the shop.

Do you have a messy but loveable cook always in search of a pot holder and oven mitt? Now you can save them the stress of using their apron or that messy dish rag and surprise them with a menorah print mitt and matching pot holder. As a friendly tip, I recommend attaching two hooks, one near the stove and one by oven—now they will have their own spot ($5-7.50).

No matter who you are shopping for, you are destined to find the gift you are looking for and a welcome break from the mall traffic.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Not Your Typical Bat Mitzvah

Today is my 13th anniversary at the Museum of Jewish Heritage –A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. I arrived a tad late this morning to greetings of “Mazel Tov” and a spontaneous Bat Mitzvah-inspired Shirley Temple reception, as well as an early-morning e-mail from the founding director of the museum.

Having grown up in a small town, one of two Jewish girls in the high school, I did not have much of a Jewish identity in my early years. But since arriving at the Museum 13 years ago I have learned to appreciate the joys and sorrows of the Jewish people, from Biblical times to the present day. I love learning about laws of Kashrut, and asking my colleagues for alternative interpretations of Midrash.

When I went to the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, Poland during Hanukkah 2007, I lit the gorgeous 19th century menorah and said the blessings before a concert. Saying the prayers in that special place, the synagogue that had been a munitions depot and a carpet warehouse and was now a reborn synagogue, commemorating the Maccabees' victory over their enemies and rededicating their temple gave me pause. Completely overwhelmed, I stepped outside after the candle lighting. Flashing before my eyes were images of Hanukkahs past: affixing candles to a plate when, as a child, we couldn’t afford a menorah; eating gelt too quickly and accidentally ingesting foil and chocolate; singing Hanukkah O Hanukkah over the phone with my old roommate as she celebrated with her children. All the years of feeling disconnected evaporated. I was sharing in the spirit and the joy of a holiday that has for years represented the unrelenting strength of the Jewish people, in a place that had been sacrificed and desecrated. On this last day of Hanukkah, I felt I was rededicating this temple and bearing witness for all the Jews of Oświęcim who had lit the candles decades prior to that moment.

That afternoon symbolizes what the Museum has instilled in me – a love of Jewish culture, history, and the people, especially the people I have gotten to know working here. Whether it is the particularly wise and charming survivors who have befriended me, or the life-long friendships I have developed with colleagues no longer here, but who stay in touch with Skype; or the gang downstairs who constantly teaches me new ways of thinking; or the folks down the hall who make it a joy to come to work each morning; or the gals with whom I share a commute to Brooklyn, or the new cast of characters I admire. It is an honor to work in a place that is so meaningful, emotional, and full of life.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Recipes Remembered: in Time for Hanukkah

This Sunday, December 11, we’re delighted to welcome cookbook author June Feiss Hersh, who will discuss her wildly popular book Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival with Saveur editor Gabriella Gershenson.

Recipes Remembered is a beautiful compilation of recipes from Holocaust survivors and refugees and their families who contributed their personal stories and dishes to the book. In advance of Hanukkah, we’d like to share Ruth Eggener’s lovely recipe for applesauce, which may help end the debate about whether to serve your latkes with sour cream or applesauce. Ruth was a young German Jew who was fortunate to leave Germany in 1934 for the United States with her family.

Ruth Eggener’s Chunky Applesauce

No excuse for ever buying jarred applesauce again. Crisp fresh apples and pure ingredients make homemade applesauce a no-brainer.

Yields: 3 cups; Start to Finish: Under 30 minutes
4 crisp apples (about 1 ½ to 2 pounds). Use at
least 2 different varieties (Macintosh, Golden
Delicious, Cortland) peeled, cored and cut into
bite-size pieces
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 to 2
cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for
20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting Ready for Hanukkah

This post comes from Sarah, our producer of public programs, who in her spare time hangs out with rock stars, actors, directors, and puppets. We're hoping she can introduce us to the Muppets at some point.

Just in time for Hanukkah, I was given the opportunity to produce a music video for Mama Doni, the Jewish indie rocker for kids, who is one of MJH's favorite family performers. A center piece of the video is our beautiful Edmond J. Safra Hall theater where we shot a few of the scenes and then created a smaller replica of the space to create a stop motion aspect of the video. The song featured in the music video is “The Legend of Sour Cream vs. Apple Sauce” from her album Chanukah Fever, which stars Mama Doni, The Sour Cream Divas, Mr. Apple Sauce Man, and a few puppets.

So watch the video and tell me which do you prefer, sour cream or apple sauce on your latkes?