Jewish History

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Menorah, Congregation Beth Israel, New Orleans, April 11, 2006

Katrina's Jewish Voices, Ten Years Later

Judith Rosenbaum

When most of us think of Hurricane Katrina, the Jewish community of New Orleans is not the first thing to come to mind. We’re more likely to think of the devastation of the Ninth Ward, of the homes marked with the number of bodies found inside, of the desperate conditions in the Superdome.

Topics: Jewish History
"Wedgwood Room, Pines Hotel, South Fallsburg, NY" by Marisa Scheinfeld

An Interview with Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld: Part II

Tara Metal

This year, photographer and Catskills native Marisa Scheinfeld mounted her first museum exhibit, “Echoes of the Borscht Belt.” We spoke to Marisa about her haunting photographs, what drew her to the ruins of the famed Jewish play land, and why the Catskills are so important to Jewish American culture. Don’t miss Part I of JWA’s interview with Marisa!

Indoor Pool, Grossinger’s Catskill Resort and Hotel, Liberty, NY by Marisa Scheinfeld

An Interview with Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld: Part I

Tara Metal

This year, photographer and Catskills native Marisa Scheinfeld mounted her first museum exhibit, “Echoes of the Borscht Belt.” We spoke to Marisa about her haunting photographs, what drew her to the ruins of the famed Jewish play land, and why the Catskills are so important to Jewish American culture.

Lauren Shapiro with her Aunt Jennie, cropped

“Can We Throw the Skirt Out?” A First-Generation Story

Lauren Shapiro

I am first generation American, as were most children and, for that matter, many of the teachers, in our public school. Not coincidentally, the word perseverance appeared often on our vocabulary lists. We used it in sentences, like “If you don’t have perseverance, you will not amount to much”—but I already knew that before I started kindergarten. Perseverance was my Aunt Jennie’s word of the day, every day. 

Pharaoh Notes the Importance of the Jewish People by James Tissot circa 1896-1902

Ancient Egypt, Nazi Germany, and High School Classrooms: Is There Such a Thing as an Innocent Bystander?

Eliana Melmed

There is little more frustrating than being punished for something that you did not do.  The extra homework assignments because a few classmates were talking, no sandals to work because one girl stubbed her toe, no more school-wide pancake breakfasts because one group of students did not clean up their lunch, the trampoline is off-limits because one person couldn’t follow the rules. So many instances when one person, or one small group of people, ruined it for everybody.

Topics: Jewish History
West Coast Highway

I Came to Explore the Wreck

Rachel Landau

Boxes of slide reels still cover my repurposed kitchen table. To help with storage, a nearby closet offers enough space for a whopping twelve boxes for a total of sixteen, all compiled by my paternal Grandfather. I’m no mathematician but I can easily calculate that, with sixteen boxes of eighty slides, there must be over twelve hundred squares of film.

A Censored Passage From a Book

Recording History, Warts and All

Sophie Edelhart

So, when prompted with the question, “Which piece of culture would you like history to forget?” I truly couldn’t think of anything. To willingly want to erase a historical cultural record really shows no regard for history at all. The culture we create is a reflection of our values during that period. Books, movies, TV, music, are the most compelling historical records we have of the mood of a society, and this includes the ugly parts. 

Topics: Jewish History
Seder Plate

How and Why We Remember

Yana Kozukhin

The people of a certain culture devote an entire week of each year to commemorating one of the worst parts of their history. They taste bitter things to appreciate the suffering of their ancestors. They consciously abstain from consuming bread to remind themselves what was eatenor rather, what was not eaten. They mourn the deaths of their ancient oppressors. They drink the metaphorical tears of their forefathers and foremothers. And year after year after year, they gather around tables to recount the suffering and the humiliation and the turmoil of their own people.

New Year Postcard

Propelled into the New Year

Deborah Rubin Fields

Early in the 20th century, Jewish New Year card manufacturers began embellishing their cards with airplanes. They did so for three interrelated reasons: to call attention to the thrilling, modern invention of the airplane, to draw an analogy between the New Year and this new means of travel, and to use the airplane to highlight the changing status of women.

Anna Held cropped

Great Women You've Never Heard Of: Women's History Month at JWA

Judith Rosenbaum

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: despite devoting my life to women’s history, I’m not the biggest fan of Women’s History Month. While I love the public attention that turns to women’s stories in March, I hate the assumption that the stories of half the population deserve this attention just 1/12 of the year.

Topics: Jewish History
Edmund Pettus Bridge

Go See "Selma"

Emilia Diamant

I cried six times during the movie Selma. Each time for a different reason, and with varying durations/intensities. Within the first few minutes I had tears of mourning and shock running down my face. At one point I broke into sobs of sorrow.

Rachel by Joseph von Führich, 1836

Hannah's Ghost

Eliza Bayroff

I love Hanukkah. Always have. Eight crazy nights of games, presents, impromptu dance parties to the songs of Jewish musical maestro Paul Zim, and examinations of a stack of illustrated children’s books about the holiday, among them one very special giant-sized coloring book. (When I tell you giant-sized, I mean the length and width of an average toddler.)

Beach Sunrise

Keep Loving, Keep Fighting: Reflections after Thanksgiving

Joanna Ware

Sitting in my grandparents' house in Northridge, CA, on stolen land that was originally Barbareño and Chumash territory, I'm thinking a lot about how to foster space for gratitude without erasing the pain and violence in the paths that brought us to this place. Because rolled up in my story, in the events that led to me being in this place with my cherished family of origin, is a lot of pain and violence.

Birth of Adrienne Cooper, Performer and Interpreter of Yiddish Song

September 1, 1946

Adrienne Cooper was in a way the mother of the Yiddish revival.

Fania Mindell arrested for distributing birth control material

October 26, 1916

Fania Mindell, Margaret Sanger, and Ethel Byrne opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brooklyn in 1916.

Barbecue Image

Whose Labor Day Is It Anyway?

Etta King Heisler

Ron Ashkenas’ recent post for Forbes about Labor Day has me feeling unsettled, and I finally know why. In his article, Ashkenas explains that the “real purpose [of Labor Day] was to serve as a tribute to the working class — the men and women whose physical, and largely manual, labor had built the country.” He goes on to bemoan (as we have in the past) how the meaning of Labor Day has been lost in end-of-summer soirees and all-American barbeques. So far, I’m totally onboard with his argument. We should find more meaningful ways to commemorate the people who built this country, brick by brick.

Buddha with Swastika Cropped

Symbols

Jes Milberg-Haydu

Have you ever explained the Holocaust to someone who's never heard of it before? I have.

I don't remember a time when the Holocaust wasn't a part of my consciousness. So imagine my surprise when, sitting with co-workers in a gazebo at our school, a girl of no more than 7 years old with a luminous smile ambled by, her shirt emblazoned with a massive swastika.

Ryan's Mart Old Slave Mart Museum

Passover in Charleston

Tova Mirvis

I went to Charleston, South Carolina during the week of Passover to escape the fact that this year my holiday didn’t really feel like a holiday. My three kids were with their father for the week, according to the custody schedule. My parents and siblings were in Israel, and I’d decided not to join them there.

My boyfriend and I had picked Charleston because it was a city I’d never been to and as a Southerner myself, I’d always wanted to visit. But until now, it had never made it to the top of the list – and indeed, my own sense of myself as a Southerner was fading. The longer I lived away – in New York and now in Boston - the less present that personal and family history felt, more a piece of where I come from, but less and less who I am.

[Untitled] from "Our Marathon" by Chris Petranech

Remembering and Healing Together

Etta King Heisler

What does it mean to remember together?

Silence. That’s what I remember. Silence coated in hazy sunshine and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I spent most of the week of the Boston Marathon Bombing feeling alone—at my desk at work, on the couch or laying in bed at home. I woke the day of the lockdown to the news on WBUR coming from my alarm clock and I sat quietly, anxiously, in my apartment all day. I heard nothing outside, no sirens or cars or people shouting in the alley outside my window. It was totally surreal. I didn’t sleep well for weeks after that happened. I felt scared and alone.

Jackie Cochran, 1961

From School House Rock to Seneca Falls

George Kelley

 

My first Women's History Month Event took place in the spring of 1985. I was a college student in Syracuse, New York and yet I was unaware of the importance of Seneca Falls, just down the highway. Lucretia Mott was the name of a woman I heard on School House Rock.

Collective Action: Lessons from the Labor Movement

What is the meaning of work? What conditions cause workers to suffer and what inspires them to take action to improve their lives? What can Jewish history teach us about contemporary labor issues and our responsibility towards workers around the world? Watch interactive activities and see an experienced facilitator model investigations of several historical artifacts you can put to use in your classroom.

"A Train in Winter" reveals the strength of women’s friendship

November 13, 2011

There are 230 heroines in Caroline Moorehead’s book "A Train in Winter."

Claude-Anne Kirschen Lopez, 1920 - 2012

I have decided it doesn't do anybody concerned any harm for a woman to take on a worthwhile project.

Ann J. Lane, 1931 - 2013

Ann Lane was a bold advocate not simply for women but, even more important, for feminist scholarship.

Theda Bara, 1915

Moments in History: Jewish Entertainers in Film

Jordyn Rozensky

For Jewish American Heritage Month, we’ve scoured the Archive for a special selection of posts we are calling Moments in History. This selection includes moments ranging from 1890 to 2011, each profiling a noteworthy moment in the history of female Jewish entertainers.

Topics: Jewish History, Film

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