J for Jewish History Museum

I saw a segment on CBS Sunday Morning earlier this year about the National Museum of American Jewish History, which opened in November 2010. I was unfamiliar with the facility, but I assumed it was somewhere in New York; I assumed incorrectly.

It is in fact located in Philadelphia, not far from the Independence Hall. This was deliberate, a reflection of, initially, a “tiny minority [who] sought, defended, and tested freedom—in political affairs, in relations with Christian neighbors, and in their own understanding of what it meant to be Jewish.” Then “the migration of millions of immigrants who came to the United States beginning in the late 19th century and who profoundly reshaped the American Jewish community and the nation as a whole.”

“On the Museum’s first floor, the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame illustrates the choices, challenges and opportunities eighteen Jewish Americans encountered on their path to remarkable achievement.”

The first eighteen individuals to be featured in the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame are:
Irving Berlin
Leonard Bernstein
Louis Brandeis
Albert Einstein
Mordecai Kaplan
Sandy Koufax
Esteé Lauder
Emma Lazarus
Isaac Leeser
Golda Meir
Jonas Salk
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Rose Schneiderman
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Steven Spielberg
Barbra Streisand
Henrietta Szold
Isaac Mayer Wise

How many of the 18 can you identify? I knew 12.

And for no particular reason, here are:
America from West Side Story
There’s No Business Like Show Business, sung by Ethel Merman
A pivotal scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

0 thoughts on “J for Jewish History Museum”

  1. I’m afraid I could only manage seven, but then my knowledge of American Jewry isn’t what it might be.

    My grandfather was a train driver and he recalled many Jewish passengers on their way from eastern Europe to board ships at Liverpool for the US.


  2. I got 15. But I am a nice Jewish girl and had all of them ‘on the tip of my tongue’ but couldn’t if pressed give you anything more than vague recognition. I find the list very interesting and eclectic. A ‘shmorgasboard’ if you will of Jews who truly did shape politics, arts, philosophy, Jewish identity and culture.

    Neat post. Thanks.


  3. I only managed 8 – and Sandy Koufax only because he plays an important role in Stephen king’s Needful Things. Some of the other names are familiar, though. I’m going to read about them now.


  4. I knew 9. My husband is Jewish, so he might know more. What an interesting place it must be. Thanks, Roger!
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel


  5. An interesting and educational post as always, Roger. Knew only 11 of the names. Naturally clicked on the link to West Side Story. Love, love, love Jerome Robbins’ choreography. Rita Moreno now lives in Berkeley and often performs at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. She’s currently doing an autobiographical one-woman show.


  6. I knew 9 of them. I thought at first this was a museum of the ancient history of the Jews. I would love to visit one of those. The British Museum has a lot of that and I find it absolutely fascinating. Don’t know when I’ll ever get there again. There is no question that the Jewish people are exceptionally talented in so many areas!


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