Museum of Family History: New in September

Steve Lasky of the virtual Museum of Family History has provided information on his new exhibits.

– Jews in Small Towns: Legends and Legacies: This exhibit is based on a 1997 book (of the same name) written by Howard V. Epstein, Ph.D. The stories provide an intimate look into the lives of Jews who spent part or all of their lives in small towns (fewer than 25,000 people) of the US and Canada.

Epstein writes, “Each individual story reflects the life and times of the author as he or she experienced living as a small-town Jew. For some, this existence could be characterized as ‘the best of times,’ and for others it was ‘the worst of times’…. Perhaps this will have some meaning for succeeding generations. I hope that as these stories are read, they will impart the flavor of a very special segment of the Jewish community of North America.”

The book includes 140 personal experiences; the online exhibition presents 29 of them.

HIAS: The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society: Many Jewish immigrants who entered countries such as the US sought assistance for food, housing and other needs upon their arrival. Aid societies, such as HIAS, founded in 1881 by Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City, often had representatives at major ports of entry, waiting to help the immigrants.

The founding of HIAS was a response to the large wave of immigration following the 1881 assassination of Russian Czar Alexander II and subsequent pogroms. Many Jews were forced to flee Russia and immigrate to the US, the majority entering via New York.

HIAS provided food and shelter to the immigrants, and tried to find them jobs. In 1911, HIAS ran a kosher kitchen at Ellis Island and supplied more than 500,000 meals 1925-1952.

Read all about HIAS c1913 in the new exhibit. Also see some of the content that appeared in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times (December 28, 1913), as HIAS appealed for fundraising from the public. There’s an example of a HIAS immigration card completed by HIAS officers and immigrants on arrival in the US.

Tracing the Tribe was happy to help Steve set up his Museum of Family History blog when we met at the Philly 2009 conference in August. Sign up for his blog via RSS or email and learn about new exhibits. It also features Google Translate and all postings are also available in audio format via Odiogo – just like all the posts at Tracing the Tribe.

In October, he’s planning an exhibit on “Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays.”

If you have questions or need information, contact Steve.

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