Council of American Jewish Museums
          E-News | October 2013   
In This Issue
First Glimpses of March Retreat
Retreat Co-Chairs
Keeping the Conversations Going
New Directors at AJHS and LAMOTH
New Curator at CJM
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.



From March 23-25, 2014, CAJM's 2014 national gathering, Retreat/Forward: Connecting to Communities in Changing Times, will convene in the idyllic setting of the Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center outside of Baltimore. Event participants will have two and a half stimulating, focused, and fun days to reflect on current cultural trends, the state of the Jewish museum field, strategies for strengthening our institutions - and CAJM itself. Balancing the theoretical and the practical, the retreat will shift our customary ratio of presentation and conversation, placing new emphasis on dialogue, breakout sessions, and small group discussions. BS pond and bridge, spring Talented presenters will serve as guides, sharing information and perspectives on the arrival of participatory culture and the emergence of new learning grids; changing audiences and audience expectations; new norms for civic/community engagement; and evolution within Jewish communities. Key speakers include Marsha Semmel of the Noyce Leadership Institute (you may know her as former Acting Director of IMLS, programs director at NEH, head of the Women of the West Museum and Conner Prairie, or Deputy Director of the B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum); Mary Alexander, Director of the Museum Advancement Program at the Maryland Historical Trust and co-author of Museums in Motion: An Introduction to the History and Function of Museums; and Laura Schiavo, Assistant Professor of Museum Studies at The George Washington University. In addition, Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner, will discuss the implications of the Pew Research Center's recent study, "A Portrait of Jewish Americans." These experts will be joined by distinguished panel members, and additional scholars and practitioners from the DC/Baltimore area will join breakout group discussions. We will not just talk, though: the retreat will offer refreshing breaks for text study, meditation, walks, games, and performances. 



Avi Decter, CAJM's Treasurer, Managing Partner of History Now,
and former Executive Director of the
Jewish Museum of Maryland, and Zachary Levine, Curator at Yeshiva University Museum, are the able Co-Chairs for Retreat/Forward. Bringing past experience as planners and presenters at CAJM conferences, they are devising innovative structure, formats, and themes for the retreat, together with a dedicated program committee.  Marvin Pinkert, current Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland and former Director of the National Archives Experience, is Host Chair.



The format for the upcoming retreat is a response to conference evaluations and other feedback that the CAJM board receives. Consistently, there is also a request to keep our members connected throughout the year so they can continue networking, soliciting ideas from colleagues, and discussing current plans. A new initiative led by CAJM board member and independent consultant Lynette Allen will expand on the "Talking Circles" first introduced at the 2011 conference in Philadelphia. Beginning in November, a series of focused conference calls will take place

among two of our museum cohort groups, the history/historical society/historic site museums and the synagogue museums, which have been selected
to pilot the project. 
Laura Cohen Apelbaum,

Director of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington/Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum (left) and Sue Braham Koletsky, Director of The Temple Museum of Religious Art (right, The Temple-Tifereth Israel Gallery at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage) are heading the two groups, respectively. We will keep all CAJM members informed about the program and opportunities for participation.



Rachel Lithgow joined the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) as Executive Director on October 1st. Lithgow was formerly Executive Director of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, from 2002-2007, and Vice President of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy. She brings to the AJHS a wealth of expertise as curator, adjunct professor, and researcher; fundraising, marketing, and branding expertise; and a deep knowledge of Jewish history and Jewish-American Affairs. Lithgow is the first woman to serve as Executive Director in the Society's 120-year history.


Samara Hutman is the new Executive Director at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH). Previously Executive Director of the Remember Us organization, she developed innovative filmmaking and social action workshops, survivor-teen arts partnerships, and school and community engagements. She now brings to LAMOTH the exciting programs launched at Remember Us. Said E. Randol Schoenberg, President of the Board, "Samara's creative vision and passion will help further LAMOTH's mission to commemorate, educate ... and teach future generations about the history of the Holocaust." 


The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) has appointed  Lily Siegel as Associate Curator. She comes to San Francisco from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where she served as Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Recently awarded a Warhol Foundation for the Arts Curatorial Fellowship, Siegel previously served in curatorial positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and as an independent curator. At The CJM, she will help develop original exhibitions, oversee touring exhibitions, initiate and manage artist commissions and special projects, and foster institutional partnerships in the Bay Area and beyond. Lori Starr, Executive Director, noted, "She is the perfect addition to a dynamic curatorial team that will oversee a new phase of growth and programmatic expansion at The Museum." 


CAJM offers resources for learning all year round on our website and at our annual conference; models professional standards; offers opportunities for information exchange; and works on behalf of Jewish museums and museums with Jewish content, like the Jewish Children's Museum in Brooklyn, New York (left), with its colorful interactive exhibitry and recreated environments.
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