Thursday, October 27, 2011

Center for Jewish History: 16th St and 5th Ave

If you have an interest in Jewish history, genealogy, and the diaspora, the Center for Jewish History, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Yeshiva University Museum (all co-located) is your place.  They have an extensive collection of historic documents, research facilities, interesting displays describing the diaspora (I especially liked the exhibits about the Jews of Morocco), the emigration from Nazi Germany and post-Holocaust, and even some Israeli military artifacts (like the summer uniform, which resembles boy scout hiking uniforms to me, at right). 

There are luminous manuscripts, of course, but what I found the most interesting were the documents and displays describing the Jewish search (and many near misses) for an internationally recognized "homeland."  I had no idea that they had looked at, among other locations, Uganda, Angola (from the Portuguese), Surinam (from the Netherlands), Cyrenaica (from Turkey) and even Western Australia!  The correspondence between Jewish organizations and foreign governments about various locations is eye-opening.

At the Yeshiva University Museum, currently (the first two through early January 2012 and the last through April 8, 2012), there are modern exhibits of "Jews on Vinyl," "Prophesy of Place," and "Graphic Details."  I must admit that the first two did not really speak to me, but the "confessional comics by Jewish women" were funny and insightful.  There was one series that illustrated the river viewpoint of a woman who was stood up by a date that was particularly poignant (see below).

There are free guided tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 am, and admission is free on Fridays.  If you have any interest in the Jewish history (past and present) I would highly recommend a visit.  It covers a lot of ground in meaningful ways and does not get "stuck" on a single message.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review of Yeshiva University Museum exhibitions. However, one small correction: it is "Graphic Details", not "Graphite...". Glad you enjoyed it!!