Our Collections Committee held a workday in the JHSGW archives on Monday. Volunteers worked for several hours sorting through dusty old boxes from the Rabbi Tzvi Porath collection, acquired by JHSGW in 2004.
Sam and Gail discovered a large series of papers including sermons, correspondence, and memoranda from the Jewish Welfare Board documenting Rabbi Porath’s chaplaincy during World War II. Brenda and Janice found dozens of Rabbi Porath’s sermons as well as event programs, invitations to the White House, and correspondence. Lenny uncovered dozens of photographs of Montgomery County Jewish Community and Ohr Kodesh, where Rabbi Porath served from 1952 to 1984 (see the photo below of Rabbi Porath with Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill!)
Meanwhile, Elsie continued her ongoing project with the Society’s institutional archives from the 1960s and 1970s.
It’s amazing how much a small group can get done in a few short hours! If you’d like to volunteer in the archives, fill out our volunteer application.
Nearly forgot to write about the amazing experience I had at the first ever Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM -- pronounced "JAM") reception hosted at the White House by President and Mrs. Obama. In the photo at right, I'm with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (4th from the left), the original cosponsor of the JAHM resolution.
In the photo at left, I'm on the far right with the JAHM national steering committee in the Blue Room. A total thrill to be included among the smallish crowd-- I serve on the national steering committee for JAHM-- the only representative from a local Jewish museum or historical society. Since JAHM's inception four years ago, JHSGW has been at the forefront -- annually cosponsoring an event on Capitol Hill.
Along with colleagues from across the country, we continue to plan activities to get the word out about JAHM and the contribution of our community to our country. Thrilling at this event to be in the same room as baseball great Sandy Koufax, baseketball great Dolph Schayes, TeaEO of Honest Tea Seth Goldman and even the CEO of Spanx not to mention the owners of Manischewitz.
To honor our 50th anniversary, we invite you to peek into our archives each month.
From the Archives...
Object #: 2008.18.6
Donor: Sandra and Dr. Clement Alpert
Description: 6.5”x10” black and white photograph. Rabbi Louis Gerstein, Amy Gerstein (left) and Cecile and Dr. Seymour Alpert (right) with President Gerald Ford (center) on July 12, 1976 in the Oval Office of the White House.
Background: On July 12, 1976, as part of the nationwide bicentennial celebrations, rabbis from six colonial congregations presented President Ford with a Bicentennial letter. Representatives were present from Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (Charleston, SC), Congregation Shearith Israel (New York, NY), Congregation Jeshuat Israel (Newport, RI), Congregation Mikveh Israel (Philadelphia, PA), Congregation Mickve Israel (Savannah, GA), and Congregation Beth Ahabah (Richmond, VA).
Rabbi Louis Gerstein, who served Shearith Israel for 32 years, posed in the Oval Office with his wife Amy, President Ford, and Dr. Seymour and Cecile Alpert. Dr. Alpert was on the Jewish Bicentennial Commission of Greater Washington. The Alperts were active members of Washington, D.C.’s Jewish community. They were philanthropists and leaders in organizations such as the Jewish Community Council, Israel Bonds, and United Jewish Appeal (a predecessor to The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington).
Do you have materials documenting the D.C.-area Jewish community’s bicentennial celebrations? To donate, contact us at email@example.com or (202) 789-0900.
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 Month presidential 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!