I have greatly enjoyed my eight-month internship experience at the JHSGW. During my four years at American University, I have worked at a variety of internships, but this internship ranks highest in quality among all my previous experiences. The opportunity has been truly educational, inspiring, and rewarding.
JHSGW provides its interns with a variety of important tasks, ranging from programming, archiving, social media, historic tour guiding, and development. In this way, I have been able to participate in many interesting events and meet some amazing people. I have worked on countless memorable projects, including a silent auction at the 2012 Annual Meeting, which I created and managed. I implemented marketing initiatives for public programs and contributed to youth education programming for local children. I even contributed weekly to JHSGW’s Pinterest account. Most importantly, I always felt that my time, work, and opinions were greatly appreciated by the staff.
Undoubtedly, the skills I have learned from my time at JHSGW will assist me in furthering both my personal and career goals in the museum management field. I am grateful to the staff for mentoring and providing me with this invaluable experience.
Rachel Ripps is a senior at American University, working on a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Business Administration.
This summer, I had the privilege to intern at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. I hope to one day work in a Jewish museum, and have served as an intern at the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee and as a volunteer docent at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. As a museum studies student with many interests, what attracted me most to the Society was the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects instead of being restricted to one department as is often the case at larger institutions. Some of my projects included:
Developing a cumulative timeline of local Jewish history
Adding new sections to an online exhibition
Helping set up and take down traveling exhibitions
Leading tours of the historic Adas Israel synagogue
Assisting with public programs and special events
Collecting content for an informational fundraising packet
My experiences at JHSGW showed me how small museums meet the challenges that larger museums may never need to worry about. I was thoroughly impressed by the creativity staff members used to collect, preserve, and share local Jewish history to the public. The staff invited me to share my input and become part of the program-building team. I even got to go on staff field trips to visit the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the German-American Heritage Museum, where we shared ideas and experiences with our colleagues. This hands-on approach enabled me to apply what I learned in my scriptwriting, marketing, fundraising, and history classes to real-life situations and tasks in the museum. I really enjoyed being able to work with every member of the JHSGW staff at some point over the course of the summer, whether it was assembling mailings, brainstorming new organizational logos, or leading a tour.
My favorite undertaking this summer was leading tours of the 1876 Adas Israel Synagogue because I loved interacting with the visitors. The tours gave me the opportunity to share what I had learned about local Jewish Washington with the visitors. I loved the connections that I could draw between national and local history. I loved the discussions and dialogues that often began between the visitors and the museum staff, enabling both audiences to actively participate. More than anything, I loved the wide-open eyes and grins of amazement that the visitors made when I told them that the synagogue had moved three blocks on wheels, and would be moving again. The visitors asked all sorts of great questions, and I had a lot of fun answering them or in some cases throwing the questions back to the audience for ongoing discussion.
I am not ready to leave this internship, but alas my time is up. I plan to continue as a volunteer tour guide for both synagogue and walking tours in the fall, and I look forward to seeing what the Society does next!
Samantha Bass is a second-year Master’s student at The George Washington University, where she studies exhibit development, museum administration, and history.
Cataloging the Rosenfeld Collection also afforded an opportunity to experiment with JHSGW’s database software to express more nuanced relationships between items within larger collections, which could eventually benefit online searchers. I look forward to continuing the arrangement of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington Collection as I volunteer in the coming weeks.
Working as archival intern at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington this summer proved both great fun and valuable professional experience. I very much enjoyed pouring over photographs, papers, and scrapbooks in the collections I helped process. Along the way, I learned much about the development of businesses, community institutions, and even families I know today, with walks around my adopted city enriched by the many images of Washington’s past I’ve seen in JHSGW’s collection. Considering that there have always been integral ties between the Jewish and larger communities in the District and beyond, JHSGW’s archival collection reveals much about the broader history of greater Washington as it addresses its core narrative of local Jewish history.
In addition to participation in a range of public and behind-the-scenes activities at JHSGW, my primary responsibilities involved the “processing”, or preparing for accessibility to researchers, of several archival collections. Although I’ve benefitted from some relevant coursework and contributed to a manuscript conservation project in the past, my previous experience with the (I think) fascinating business of arranging and describing archival collections was mostly limited to hypotheticals. This internship offered more active participation, with much of my summer devoted to scanning and cataloging photographs comprising the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation collection; arranging and rehousing the Tifereth Israel collection; and arranging, cataloging, rehousing, and drafting both a finding aid and an Object of the Month entry for the Robert Rosenfeld Collection.
Shelly Buring is a second-year Master’s student at the George Washington University, where she studies museum collections management and history.
My name is Stacey and this is my first and sadly, last blog entry for JHSGW. I was an intern here for the past month or so before I begin a master’s program in museum education at GWU next week. I hope to someday be an educator at a Jewish museum, so my time here has definitely been valuable. What does an intern at JHSGW do? A little bit of everything! Besides the obligatory intern tasks of making copies and preparing mailings, in my short amount of time here I helped curatorial assistant David lead tours of our historic synagogue, made preliminary plans for bus tours of Jewish sites in both Philadelphia and Richmond, created an evaluation form to send to educators whose classes have taken field trips here, and even got to pick up a copy of Obama’s Jewish American Heritage Monthpresidential proclamation from the White House (during which I had a brief encounter with the First Dog, Bo).
I had a great time here getting a taste of the goings-on at a small Jewish museum. Because of our small size, staff members wear more hats, if you will, than at larger institutions. This means that our curator also leads educational programs and occasionally writes grants, our assistant archivist is also our webmaster, and so on. Therefore, I had a wide range of experiences during my time here, and I probably am leaving this internship with a greater amount of knowledge and new skill sets than if I had interned at a larger museum.
I am sad to leave JHSGW, but I hope to continue lending a hand with programs in the late summer and fall. One thing I especially hope to assist with is our youth education programs. Since I was only here in the summer, I never got to experience a class trip to our historic synagogue. We have some terrific lesson plans written for these programs, so I can’t wait to take part in helping kids learn about D.C. Jewish history!