Council of American Jewish Museums
          E-News | April 2013   
In This Issue
An Opening in Warsaw
National Baseball Project
Exhibitions to Consider
New Adventure for Colleague
How We Are Doing?
CAJM is ... 
Jewish art and history museums, historic sites, historical and archival societies, Holocaust centers, synagogue museums, Jewish Community Center galleries, children's museums, and university galleries ...  the professionals and volunteers who work in them ...  the children, adults, and families who visit them ...  the patrons who support them ...  the organization that keeps them vital.



On April 19th, the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews will open to the public. The striking 104,000-square foot building, designed by the Finnish architectural firm of Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma, is located in the Warsaw neighborhood of Muranow, once the heart of the Jewish ghetto. It features a copper and glass exterior, embellished with letters signifying "Polin" (the Hebrew word for Poland, interpreted as "you shall dwell here"). A near twenty-year project, the museum was founded by the City of Warsaw, the Minister of Culture, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland,


with an impressive roster of scholars to guide in interpreting one thousand years of Jewish-Polish interaction. CAJM friend and past speaker Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett has led the team designing the core exhibition, which occupies roughly half of the BKG  building and features $40 million worth of interactive displays. Barbara (aka "BKG") has long been involved with Jewish Poland, notably through her work on the photographic history Image Before My Eyes in the 1970s, and on They Call Me Meyer July, the exhibition and catalogue of her father's paintings of the ghetto. She became a Polish citizen in 2012. According to a recent article on Tablet, Barbara is hoping for the "Bilbao effect."  With rich story-telling aimed in part at healing rifts, plus regular concerts, lectures, films, guided walks, and workshops for children and adults, the museum is expected to become Poland's biggest tourist destination.



Just as the new season has begun, and in preparation for a major exhibition scheduled to open next March (Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Jews in America), the National Museum of American Jewish HIstory has launched a public collecting project focusing on Jews and Chasing Dreams logo America's pastime. According to Josh Perelman, Chief Curator & Director of Exhibitions and Collections, "This is an opportunity for us to cast a net broad and wide and give people an opportunity to potentially contribute to what will be a major national exhibition." To facilitate loans and gifts, the museum has set up a microblogging platform and social networking website, Koufax baseball where people from all over the world can post images of their memorabilia and share them with the museum's curatorial staff and baseball aficionados. If you have baseball material to contribute - ballpark souvenirs, personal scrapbooks, or whatever might help convey the meaning of baseball to our community - please post on the tumblr site and/or be in touch with Josh via email


CAJM museums produce marvelous exhibitions that are often designed to travel so as to extend their lives and reach people all over North America. If you have an empty slot on your exhibition calendar, or if you wish that you could explore a certain Tsarist Russia topic, but your institution does not have the resources to take it on in full, why not see what's offered on the Traveling Exhibitions page of the CAJM website? In recent months, some exciting shows have been added to the list. The Chosen Food exhibit from the Jewish Museum of Maryland is just heading out on the road (after all, who can't relate to food?). Two fascinating shows are being offered by the Russian-American Foundation: a NIcholls 2 photographic exhibit on the Jews of Tsarist Russia (left), and a collection of works by American artists of the 1920s who came together to celebrate what was meant to be (Pre-Stalin) a Jewish homeland in Birobidzhan. The JCC of Manhattan is circulating Distant Relations, a collaboration between a photographer and an ethnographer tracing the dispersal of a single family, originally from western Lithuania, throughout the world; as well as new works in a variety of mediums by artist Jacqueline Nicholls (above right), interweaving Jewish tradition and feminist ideas.



We often write about new professionals in the Jewish museum field, promotions to leadership positions, and the retirements of respected colleagues. This time we report on a departure, but it is neither a retirement nor a "leave." Steven Greenberg, Executive Greenberg, S Director of the Vilna Shul in Boston for the past seven years, is about to depart on a great adventure. Having decided that he'd done all he could to advance and strengthen the museum, i.e., make it a "safe, warm, and non-exclusionary Jewish place," he began to consider what his next challenge might be. Remembering a long-held desire to joinVilna window
the Peace Corps, Steve gave his notice to the Vilna Board and applied to do just that. He is hoping to work in a health-related field, perhaps in tuberculosis prevention, and is excited by the prospect of two years in a foreign country. While he waits for his assignment, he is being fêted by grateful leaders and supporters of the Vilna Shul (a celebratory tribute is scheduled for June 13th). Steve asked that we relay the following: "I'm so grateful to my fellow CAJM members, whose support, mentoring, and understanding was vital to my professional growth and to the work I've done at the Vilna Shul." We wish him all the best.


NFF logo
Philanthropy News Digest recently reported on a survey conducted by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, which looked at changes in nonprofit organizations over the past six years, in response to discouraging economic conditions. More than 900 nonprofit organizations in the arts, culture and humanities sector completed the survey, which was under- written by Bank of America. Happily, the majority of them have felt the economy turning around in the past year or so. 49% of nonprofits say they have added or expanded their programs or services in recent years, while 17% have reduced or eliminated them. However well your museum is doing, you may be interested in gauging your situation against those of peers, and learn from strategies other organizations have adopted. Check out the NFF survey results..


CAJM offers resources for learning all year round on our website and at our annual conference;
Temple Israel, Leadville
models professional standards; offers opportunities for information exchange; and works on behalf of Jewish museums and museums with Jewish content, like one of our newest members, the Temple Israel Synagogue and Museum in Leadville, CO. According to President William Korn, this frontier synagogue, built in 1884, served a large and active Jewish community until about 1912. The building was restored in 2008 and, late last year, an ongoing museum exhibit opened to document the lives of Jewish pioneers.
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