Monday, December 30, 2013

A Sacred Gift for the Auschwitz Jewish Center

This blog comes from Shiri, the U.S. Director of the Auschwitz Jewish Center, who was happy to share this beautiful story in time for the new year. 

Something wonderful happened at the Auschwitz Jewish Center recently. Rabbi Kevin Hale, who is also a Sofer (a Jewish scribe of sacred scrolls), helped breathe new Jewish life into our new building in an incredibly meaningful way. 

Backing up a few months, his connection to the AJC started  when he discovered our Kickstarter campaign last spring which raised more than $28,000. Some 250 supporters from around the world helped us raise much needed funds for renovating the last Jewish home in Oświęcim (Auschwitz) and turning it into Café Oshpitzin, a welcoming space for international visitors for education and dialogue.

Not only did Rabbi Hale donate to the campaign, but he reached out to us because he wanted to contribute more than money, he wanted to bestow a very special gift.  He was headed to Oświęcim on a retreat and told us that he had intended to write a kosher mezuzah scroll while there. He very kindly offered that scroll to us for the doorpost of Café Oshpitzin.

We believe that this mezuzah scroll, written in the AJC’s Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue, is the first to be written in Oświęcim in more than 70 years.

Photos courtesy of the AJC.

Monday, December 23, 2013

What are your plans for Dec. 25?

The countdown begins to the busiest day of our year. Dec. 25 this year will be especially exciting because we are welcoming back Joshua Nelson and his Kosher Gospel Choir for two concerts. Previously playing to sold out crowds at the Museum, Josh’s combination of jazz and gospel styles makes melodies like Adon Olam and Oseh Shalom sound like you’ve never heard them before. Listen to an interview with him on YouTube (with a little music thrown in for good measure). I am listening to my copy of Hebrew Soul, his 2004 CD, while I’m finishing my work this afternoon.  Tickets are still available for the 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. shows. Buy your tickets now. There is plenty of time for a movie and Chinese after the show.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shalom, Bonnie

In the history of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, we have observed a lot of life cycle events of the staff. Engagements, marriages, births of children and grandchildren, b’nai mitzvahs of said children and grandchildren, but today we mark just the second retirement.

Bonnie Gurewitsch joined the Museum in 1990 (following our merger with the Center for Holocaust Studies, where she had worked previously). She curated or co-curated many MJH exhibitions, including two award winners, among them: Citizens Betrayed; Scream the Truth at the World; Ours to Fight For; Daring to Resist; Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow; and Against the Odds.  She worked on research for the inaugural Core Exhibition; integrated CHS items into our cataloging system and library; conducted video interviews; acquired artifacts for the collection; assisted researchers; lectured regularly at Education Department trainings; and so much more! 

Bonnie is a true teacher, and as one of her many students, I can say that we will miss Bonnie greatly, and we wish her a happy and fruitful retirement.

Photo: Nancy Fisher

Monday, December 2, 2013

Giving Tuesday, A Day to Make a Difference

This blog is from Emily, who, along with many other staff members, is very excited about taking part in #GivingTuesday for the first time.
We all know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and now we have Giving Tuesday, a new day to add to our holiday calendars. Giving Tuesday is a day dedicated to encouraging philanthropy and to helping cultivate a culture of giving throughout the United States by asking individuals to donate to a nonprofit of their choice. Giving Tuesday launched last year with 2,500 organizations participating and raising a total of $10 million. This year, there are 8,302 participating organizations, including our Museum.
 For Giving Tuesday, we are encouraging people to support our Interfaith Living Museum. This is a dynamic program that brings together Jewish and Muslim fifth graders from New York City to learn about one another. Over the course of six months, these students visit each others’ schools and places of worship and curate an exhibit together that showcases their own families’ treasured cultural artifacts.  As they realize how much they share and have in common, friendships develop among students who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet and spend time together. 

As one participant explained, “I learned that people who believe in different things aren’t very different, and two people who believe in different things can easily make a great friendship.” 

There is no cost to the schools to participate in this important program. In order to continue providing funding, the Museum is asking for donations to help keep the program free for participants.

The program is predicated on the belief that it is possible for the next generation to live in a world whose currency is mutual respect, an appreciation of cultural differences, and a knowledge of shared values. Because it is within our power to give the students the tools to help make the world a better place, we embrace this opportunity to provide an enriching learning experience to so many young people.                  

To learn more, please visit our Giving Tuesday website by clicking here.  

Photo by Melanie Einzig