We've wrapped up another successful Jewish American Heritage Month, again showing our role as the source for community history!
You may have seen Arthur Welsh, the first American Jewish aviator, featured in the "Flashbacks" comic in the Sunday Washington Post. Our efforts led to this feature and the Society was mentioned in the final strip! You can now view the entire six-part series.
Executive Director Laura Apelbaum and board member Diane Wattenberg were featured in The Federation's Jewish Food Experience blog -- read the post about the winning National Spelling Bee word: knaidel.
We partnered again this year with the National Archives on a very special program featuring Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein.
We were also featured in Moment Magazine (download article) and we were out in the community a great deal:
In 1994, I contacted Dr. John Y. Simon, the editor of the Grant papers, to ask if there were any documents among those papers that related to Grant's visit to the synagogue. That's how I first learned that among Grant's papers housed at the Library of Congress was an original receipt for the $10 donation the president made to the synagogue's building fund in June 1876.
Since then we have used a facsimile copy of this marvelous document in our exhibits and educational programs. When we learned that the Library of Congress was mounting a comprehensive exhibit about American Jewish life in 2004, we alerted the curators to the existence of the receipt in their collection. It was included in their exhibit, From Haven to Home, next to Grant's Civil War expulsion order, the infamous Orders No. 11.
Upstairs in the East Room as members of Congress and dignitaries gathered, President Obama spoke about this little known chapter in American history--giving it context by explaining each of the documents and calling on us to remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in our country.
This is such a wonderful validation of our work at the Society and Museum. We work to uncover, tell, and educate lesser known chapters in American Jewish history for our visitors and the general public. We should be proud that our message is receiving national attention and our role on the national stage is bringing these stories to the fore.
And we should be most proud of our ongoing work to protect and preserve our special historic synagogue--the one that President Grant attended--which has this powerful story to tell.
After the 2009 reception for Jewish American Heritage Month on Capitol Hill, which we co-hosted with The Jewish Federations of North America, we posted some photographs on Flickr. One of these photos shows Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords with friends Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We have always thought it a lovely photo, but a week or so ago, we learned just how special it is.
The photo seems to be the only one of the three friends at a public event, and it fittingly accompanied the dramatic stories about Gillibrand and Wasserman Schultz being at Giffords' bedside in Arizona when she first opened her eyes. The photo first showed up local New York paper, and we found it next on a Florida news blog.