Monday, August 18, 2014

New Sign Language Tours at the Museum

This fall, the Museum is pleased to launch the new ASL @ MJH series for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing visitors, which will take place one Wednesday a month at 6 p.m. starting on October 22.

The evenings will begin with light refreshments, followed by free, private gallery tours and programs. These tours will be offered in American Sign Language and led by Museum Educators who are Deaf. Special events for ASL @ MJH will be interpreted by certified ASL interpreters.

Elizabeth Edelstein, our Director of Education, said, “Deaf Museum Educators began studying the Museum’s content this spring, learning how to lead tours of the Core Exhibition in American Sign Language.  We hope that our tours and monthly programs will allow members of the ASL community to fully experience what the Museum has to offer. We very much look forward to working with the ASL community on programming at the Museum.”

The series will start on October 22 with an introduction to the Museum’s exhibitions. On November 19, the tour will examine artifacts related to Jewish heritage. On December 10, there will be a curator’s tour of Against the Odds: American Jews and the Rescue of Europe’s Refugees, which will be interpreted by a certified ASL interpreter. 

Future dates and topics will be announced soon. Visit this link for the most up-to-date information. ASL @ MJH is free but pre-registration is required.  To register for October 22, please click here.

Due to space constraints, sign language students are not permitted. 

ASL @ MJH is made possible by a generous gift from Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany: Rabbi Israel Miller Fund for Shoah Research, Documentation and Education.

Image of the Core Exhibition by David Paler.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Celebrating Latin American Jewish Cuisine

Latin American Jewish cuisine is heating up restaurants and kitchens throughout the Americas. On Sunday, September 14 at 2:30 p.m., James Beard nominated cookbook author Jayne Cohen will lead a lively discussion about the mouthwatering food and the journey of the cuisine from early Sephardic influences to the current Jewish food landscape at the Museum. Some of the cuisine’s most influential food mavens will gather to discuss their take on the exciting blend of influences. The panel will feature: chefs Sam Gorenstein and Leticia Moreinos Schwartz; food writer Susan Schmidt; and anthropologist Ruth Behar.
A reception featuring tasty Latin desserts will follow.
To whet your appetite, we thought we'd share the delicious recipe below. Purchase tickets to the event here.

Brazilian Crème Caramel

(Pudim de Leite)

From Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

Almost every cuisine has its version of flan, but what makes the Brazilian take so special is the use of sweetened condensed milk, lending a smooth, silky and velvety texture to the dish. Another difference is that this recipe is prepared in a blender or food processor. I’ve added a bit of heavy cream and extra yolks to expand upon this velvety texture that I like so much.

Beloved by all Brazilians for special occasions, this pudding is perfect for Yom Kippur break-the-fast and other dairy menus, as well as a treat for drop-in guests during the fall holidays. You can prepare the dessert up to 5 days ahead of time and only invert it the day you are serving.


Serves 6 to 8


For the caramel:

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons water


For the flan:

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 2/3 cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

3 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Equipment: Round cake mold, 8 inches wide and 2 inches deep (or 4 individual ramekins)


To make the caramel: 

  1. Place the sugar and water in a clean heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook the sugar over high heat without stirring, until it turns into an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the caramel into the cake mold and swirl it around making sure the caramel evenly covers the whole bottom of the pan. You don’t want to have any concentrated lumps of caramel in any part of the pan. Be advised that the caramel will continue to cook once it’s off the heat, so work fast.  Set the pan aside.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.


To make the flan:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the flan in a blender or (ideally) a food processor, until smooth.
  2. Carefully and slowly pour it into the prepared caramel pan. Transfer the caramel pan to a large roasting pan and fill it with warm water so that it comes half ways up the sides of the pan. Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the center of the oven and bake until the custard is set, about 45 to 55 minutes.
  3.  Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Transfer the custard pan to a wire rack. Let it cool at room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. It’s important to invert the flan only when it is chilled completely, otherwise it might break.
  4. When ready to serve, run a smooth knife around the inside of the cake pan. Place a large rimmed serving platter on top of the cake pan, and holding the pans together with both hands, quickly invert the flan onto the platter. Hold the pans so for at least 1 minute to make sure all the juices of the caramel fall onto the platter.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Understanding the Power of Artifacts

In preparation for my departure from the Museum of Jewish Heritage, I was going through a drawer of photographs. Back in the olden days, the press office sent out prints of our artifacts, before e-mailing a JPG was an option. I asked Erica Blumenfeld, senior registrar and manager of traveling exhibitions, and Jen Roberts, associate registrar, to look at the array of images to see if they needed them for any reason.

One of the photographs was of Heinrich Himmler’s annotated copy of “Mein Kampf.” My first assignment as PR Manager was setting up an appointment for a New York Post reporter to come and examine the artifact and talk about how it came to the Museum (it was donated anonymously). I think it was my second day at work. When I mentioned that this was the first artifact I knew personally, Erica and Jen revealed that the book was the first artifact that they each encountered in their MJH careers as well.

There are 25,000 objects in the collection. Our start dates were separated by 10 years. This seemed beyond coincidence so I asked them to share their experiences.

Erica’s first encounter with “Mein Kampf” took place within her first month here. An author wanted information about the book and Erica had to look for the portions requested. She says at first it was a book and then as she was going through it, its character changed. It wasn’t just any book. It was a charged object that belonged to one of the most despicable human beings who ever lived and it was “a shocking realization to hold in my hands the same object he held in his hands.”

Jen Roberts started at the Museum July 14, 2008 and on July 16 Jen was asked to scan pages of “Mein Kampf.” She asked Erica some technical questions and then she was left alone with the book. She says she felt overwhelmed by the weight of what it meant to work here. It was the first time Jen handled an object, any object, in an official capacity as a Museum employee. “You’re interacting with these items on a very intimate level. As registrars, we are ingrained to have a certain type of reverence for objects. When this book is your first object you understand the seriousness of the subject matter of this Museum.” The pages of the book, which is on display on the second floor, are flipped every few months, so Jen still interacts with the book on a regular basis.

Erica and Jen tweet about matters registrarial. Follow them on Twitter @MJHReg for more behind-the-scenes glimpses of our collection.