Museum of Family History: New exhibits

What’s new at the Museum of Family History this month?

Walk in My Shoes: Collected Memories of the Holocaust

Chaim Basist (Lida, Belarus): He and his family hid in the forest with the Bielski partisans. Hebrew/English.

Peter Kleinmann (Munkacs/Mukachevo, Ukraine). Nine of 12 chapters of his autobiography are online with more to follow very soon. He was in Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen and Flossenburg.

MOFH Film Series (through April 18): World War II and the Holocaust

“The Jews of Krakow’s Kazimierz District.” 1936 archival film shows Krakow’s Kazimierz Jewish district. Most buildings can be visited today and are in a similar condition – only the people who walked those streets are long gone. Note: A YouTube version of this film states the years are 1938-9, not 1936.

Exhibit: “The Jewish Ghetto” (coming in 2010)

“The Ghettos of Dabrowa Grnicza and Bedzin” (10:51). Two parts shot in the ghettos of Dabrowa Grnicza and Bedzin, probablywhen the ghetto was founded in May 1942, although deportations began in October 1940. Despite cooperation with the occupiers, as shown in this film, several large deportations took place in 1942; the last major ones were in 1943: 5,000, 22 June 1943; 8,000, around 13 August 1943. The 1,000 remaining Jews were subsequently deported. An uprising took place August 1943, was quelled and the ghetto eliminated. Both films are in the Polish film archive (ul. Chelmska, Warsaw.

Al Jolson Film Festival

— Jolson stars in and sings in the film trailer to “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum.” Don’t forget to visit the Museum’s large Al Jolson exhibit, “The Immortal Al Jolson” (see and hear many more videos, more than 40 sound clips).

ERC Lecture Series: The Development of Yiddish Literature

— Since the Czernowitz Conference: In October 2008, Boris Sandler, Forverts editor-in-chief, gave a Yiddish speech at the IAYC (International Association of Yiddish Clubs) conference about the development of Yiddish literature since the 1908 Czernowitz conference on the future of the Yiddish language. A transcript of the talk is now available in English and can be found within the “ERC Lecture Series” at the Museum’s Education and Research Center.

Visit the Museum of Family History online. Learn what’s new at the Steve Lasky’s blog.

Questions for Steve on new exhibits or material you’d like to share? Contact him.

Judaica Europeana: Online access to 10 collections

A two-year project has been launched to digitize, for online access, Jewish culture collections at 10 European institutions.

The European Commission provided $2 million for Judaica Europeana‘s $4.13 million project, which will digitize 10,500 photos, 1,500 postcards and 7,150 recordings, along with several million pages from books, newspapers, archives and press clippings, from the project’s partner libraries, archives and museums. It is part of a larger EC project to digitize general cultural resources.

The project will be headed by the European Association for Jewish Culture and the Judaica Collection of Frankfurt’s Goethe University Library. Other partners are:

= European Association for Jewish Culture Judaica Collection, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Library, Frankfurt am Main
= Alliance Israélite Universelle, Paris
= The Jewish Museum of Greece, Athens
= Hungarian Jewish Archives, Budapest
= Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali – Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities, Rome
= Amitié, Bologna
= The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
= Jewish Museum London
= The British Library, London
= MAKASH Advancing CMC Applications in Education, Culture and Science
= The Central Zionist Archives at the World Zionist Organization
= Paris Yiddish Centre – Medem Library

Judaica Europeana (JE) will also work on other digital collections for comprehensive coverage of Jewish life in European cities.

An aim of the project is to demonstrate how the addition of Judaica content leads to improved use in discovery, delivery, and cultural heritage resource integration for multilingual multicultural use by scholars, cultural heritage professionals, educators and students, cultural tourists and the general public.

Upcoming Judaica Europeana (JE) Events:

15 March 2010, Berlin:
Digital Access to Jewish Heritage Collections: JE and MICHAEL

14 April 2010, Jerusalem:
JE Seminar, Israel Association of Judaica Librarians
21-23 April 2010, Florence:

JE: Applying Semantic Web Technologies to access European Jewish

3 May 2010, Tel Aviv:
The European Digital Library: Europeana and JE
25-29 July 2010, Ravenna:

Judaica Partners presentations on urban Jewish studies and Judaica

30 July 2010, University of Bologna, Ravenna Campus:
The JE Digital Humanities Workshop

For more information, see the website above.

Only in America: The Jewish experience

The new Philadelphia-based National Museum of American Jewish History has produced a video, “It’s Your Story.” Perhaps it should be titled “Only in America.”

The new National Museum of American Jewish History is dedicated to telling the still-unfolding story of Jews in America, who embraced freedom with its choices and challenges as they shaped and were shaped by our nation.

The Museum envisions its new home as a place that welcomes all people, inviting them to discover what they have in common with the Jewish experience in America, as well as to explore the features that make this history distinctive.

Rising five stories above Independence Mall, in the heart of historic Philadelphia, the National Museum of American Jewish History will join Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell and other landmarks at the hallowed site of America’s birth. There could not be a more fitting place for a museum that will explore the promise and challenges of liberty through the lends of the American Jewish experience.

Tracing the Tribe recommends the video, which demonstrates various aspects of the American Jewish community’s achievements.

View it here or below

Sephardim: Museum of Family History exhibits

The virtual Museum of Family History also has material for researchers of Sephardim.

Holocaust Memorials in Havana and Santa Clara, Cuba

Synagogues of Asia: Burma, China, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkey [Asian side].

Synagogues of Turkey: (European side of Istanbul)

Synagogues of Spain. The photo at left is the El Transito Synagogue in Toledo.

— Postcards from Home: Turkey

Museum creator Steve Lasky wishes to include more pre-war family photos. Readers with such photos are invited to contact Steve.

New York: Children’s history museum planned

An interactive children’s history museum will open at the New York Historical Society in November 2011.

Genealogists will be happy that the museum’s planned interactive features will include a place where children can videotape their own histories. There will be a place to use maps and documents to solve historical mysteries.

Perhaps genealogical societies – Jewish and general – could suggest that family history classes be offered for youngsters?

Children 12 and under will receive free admission to the society and free admission to the new museum.

Read the New York Times story here, which details the 4,000-square-foot “museum within a museum,” focusing on young New Yorkers, as part of the major renovation ($60 million) of the historical society building. It will be called the DiMenna Children’s History Museum.

According to the story, the new museum will focus on children, such as Alexander Hamilton who came to New York to attend college and the young newspaper sellers of a century ago.

Museum president/CEO Louise Mirrer said:

“In schools, history tends to be about figures once they have matured and become important,” Ms. Mirrer said. “But if we want history to become alive for children, what better way to teach them than showing them children from other periods? We want to be on the permanent agenda of children and families in New York.”

A past president of the society, Columbia University history professor Kenneth T. Jackson said:

“It’s an unusual effort to make a serious attempt to engage young people with the past. Generally, children’s museums are not about history, and history museums are not about children.”

Exhibits will come from the society’s collections and will be aimed at about a fourth-grade level.

Information about the “orphan trains” that took thousands of destitute children from New York to families in rural and farm communities across the country will be accompanied by a huge archive from the Children’s Aid Society: journal entries from social workers, children’s artwork, photographs and letters. Children will also be able to sit next to a cutout of a composite orphan on a three-dimensional train, listen to train noises and see a map of places along the routes.

In 2007, there were 243 children’s museums in the US, with 78 being planned. The new project will be one of the few history museums specifically for children.

Read the complete story at the link above.

Washington DC: Russian Judaica Collections, Feb. 3

St. Petersburg, Russia, is the home of unique Hebrew manuscripts, which are the focus of a Library of Congress lecture at noon, Wednesday, February 3.

The city’s libraries, archives, institutes and museums hold many unique artifacts of Jewish culture, such as more than 15,000 items in The National Library of Russia, which holds the Abraham Firkovich collection. The Leib Friedland collection of manuscripts and rare books is at the Library of the Academy of Sciences, while the Museum of Ethnography houses S. An-sky’s Pale of Settlement ethnographic expeditions material.

The Russian Museum of Ethnography’s Judaica curator Shimon Iakerson PhD, will present this program at noon in the African and Middle Eastern Division Reading Room, Room LJ220 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets not required.

The leading scholar in the field of Hebrew incunabula (books printed before the year 1501), and the author of several books on the subject, Iakerson is also senior researcher at the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 2005, he received the first Honorable Medal presented at the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress in Jerusalem for his two-volume work, “Catalogue of Hebrew Incunabula from the Collection of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America” (New York and Jerusalem, 2004-2005).

In 2009, he won the Antsiferov Award, an international prize in honor of the historian N.P. Antsiferov, for his overall contributions to the field of St. Petersburg studies for his most recent work, “Jewish Treasures of Petersburg: Scrolls, Codices, Documents” (Evreiskie sokrovisha Peterburga), St. Petersburg 2008.

Iakerson’s book presents a selection of examples of 16th-17th century medieval manuscripts, incunabula and unique works such as richly illuminated manuscripts, individual pages of “lost” works, classic works and more. Unfortunately, the text of the 240-page text – with more than 140 color illustrations – is only in Russian. The cost is $299, through The Hermitage Museum online store.

See a newspaper article – Jewish Treasures Survive The Czars – about some of these treasures from the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, from April 15, 1995. The Jewish Heritage Society here offers more information, as does the Petersburg Judaica Center. Here are details on a book, “Photographing the Jewish Nation: Pictures from S. An-sky’s Ethnographic Expeditions,” by Eugene M. Avrutin, ed, which includes 170 photos from the Pale of Settlement.

Sephardic researchers should know that St. Petersburg was home to Sephardim from the Netherlands (who were invited by the Czar), that the Russian court physician was the Sephardic Ribeira Sanchez, and that Russian collections hold Sephardic manuscripts.

The Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division is the center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia. The division’s Hebraic Section is one of the world’s foremost centers for the study of Hebrew and Yiddish materials.
Tracing the Tribe has often found materials of interest for our family history among the many resources in the Hebraic Section.

New York City: Voices of the Silk Road, Jan. 16-17

Travel the exotic Silk Road at the American Museum of Natural History, during its “Living in America: Voices of the Silk Road” from noon-5pm, Saturday and Sunday, January 16-17.

The program is in conjunction with the current exhibition, Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World.

In addition to the weekend activities, other special programs will take place in January, such as “Global Kitchen: Aromatics Along the Silk Road,” at 6.30pm, Wednesday, January 20, and “Caravanserai: A Perfumed Tasting Menu,” at 7pm, Thursday, January 21. In February, there are events for students also, such as the Silk Road Camp for 2nd-3rd graders (Monday-Friday, February 15-19).See these other events here. See the special kids’ page.

The Silk Road was also followed by Jewish merchants and traders and many other travelers of diverse religions and ethnicities who interacted with the peoples who lived along the way.

The weekend program includes performances, conversations and hands-on activities. For the details of speakers and presenters, click here.

Saturday: Folk paper cutter, calligrapher, face painting, Arab folktales, Arabic calligraphy, exquisite textiles from India, Silk Road spices, cultural Central Asian treasures. Music: Ukrainian bandura, Japanese fue, Tibetan folk singer, Bukharan Jewish singer, Kyrgyz traditional musician, Iranian vocalist and qanun.

Sunday: Music, dance, acrobatics from three unique cultures with Silk Road ties. Gagaku, the oldest traditional orchestral, Chinese Theatre Works music, acrobatics, dance of the Tang Dynasty; Bukharan Jewish music ensemble Maqam performing shashmaqam, vocal performance, stringed and percussion instruments.

See the link above for more information. Sessions are free with museum admission.