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An Evening for Educators 0 Comment(s)

On January 13, more 30 educators converged on the Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum to learn about the plethora of places where their students can learn about the Civil War. Our guests mingled and talked with representatives from each site, then sat in the pews to hear what each site has to offer. Pictured here is Braden Paynter from the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Southeast Washington.

We were pleased to host ten other historic sites and museums from the area -- President Lincoln's Cottage, Tudor Place, the Newseum, White House Historical Association, U.S. Capitol Historical Society, the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, and four National Park Service sites: Ford's Theater, the Civil War Defenses of Washington, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, and the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Our organizations are collaborating on joint programming to commemorate the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

You might ask, what does a synagogue built 11 years after the Civil War ended have to do with that conflict? President Ulysses S. Grant attended its dedication, perhaps to atone for General Order No. 11, which he issued while commanding the Department of the Tennessee (western Kentucky, western Tennessee, northern Mississippi) in 1862. That order--quickly rescinded by President Lincoln--expelled Jews from the area under his control.

This story is among the many told in our exhibition Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln's City. You can see a traveling version of that exhibition at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia through February 22! And don't miss one of our upcoming talks about Jewish life in Civil War Washington.

Barnes & Noble Talk Success 0 Comment(s)

I was thrilled to have an enthusiastic audience for a book talk on Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln's City yesterday at Barnes & Noble in Rockville. The talk originally schedule for a snowy February evening to coincide with the president's birthday had been moved to April and what turned out to be the prettiest day of this spring.

Thanks to those who gave up their sunny Sunday to listen in. April has many connections to Jewish life during the Civil War in our area. Many are sad and associated with Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865 -- the arrival of Dr. Charles Liebermann to the president's bedside vigil at the Peterson Boarding House, the marching of 125 members of Washington Hebrew Congregation in the funeral procession on April 19, and the Lansburgh brother's donation to the creation of a memorial statue to the fallen president (which still stands in front of the old City Hall -- now the DC Court of Appeals at 5th and D Streets, NW).

The date of the assassination was also the fifth day of Passover that year and the associations were not lost on those that eulogized the fallen leader. Lincoln was referred to as Moses leading the nation out of the house of bondage. He was eulogized both at Washington Hebrew Congregation and Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria.

JHS part of Massive “Learn In” at Convention Center 0 Comment(s)

Billed as 70 sessions in 7 hours on March 7, the massive "learn in" yesterday did not disappoint. I was honored to be asked to give an illustrated lecture on our exhibit and book, Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln's City, at this annual event hosted by the Partnership for Jewish Life & Learning at the DC Convention Center. Several hundred "students" of all ages attended sessions on everything from tips on baking challah to notions on Jewish prayer. I was awed by the SRO (that's standing room only) attendance at our session. This was a terrific opportunity to teach about our community's history in a room of folks new to the Society and its programs.

For another blogger's perspective on the event and more photographs, check out Rachel Mauro's JewishDC post.

New Book on Library of Congress’ Shelves 0 Comment(s)

It's a thrill to visit the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room at the Library of Congress. I always feel like Belle in the Beast's library with the mahogany bookcases and stairs to the upper shelves!

Yesterday, JHSGW staff and leadership formally donated copies of Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln's City to the Library. That's Mary-Jane Deeb, Chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division with our very own Peggy Pearlstein (center), Head of the Hebraic Section (and JHSGW past president) accepting the book from JHSGW President Sidney J. Silver.

Vice President Bill Rice and staff members Claire Uziel (co-editor of the book), David McKenzie, and Joel Wind were also on hand.