Page 1

5 years

celebrating Exclusive Interview with Architect James Polshek Two Weddings, One Special Venue Behind the Wine: Sammy Davis Jr.

FALL 2015

Photo: Matthew Christopher


04 Museum Offers Unique Approach to Educators Nationwide 06 Behind the Wine: Sammy Davis Jr. 07 Opening the Collection to Digital Learners 08 Museum Celebrates Five Years on Historic Corner

11 From Generation to Generation 12 Calendar of Events 13 Dreamers and Doers Speaker Series: Dr. Ruth Westheimer 14 Reflecting on Success

On the Cover:

The intricately designed ark doors featured on the cover of this issue once stood 20 feet high by 15 feet wide in the sanctuary of South Philadelphia’s Congregation Shaarei Eliyahu, called Shaarei Eli by many. An Orthodox congregation founded in 1917, Shaarei Eli was a vital part of the fabric of Philadelphia’s Jewish community at the time. As in many urban Jewish communities in the middle of the 20th century, economic and demographic shifts caused community members to move elsewhere. In the 1980s, after the synagogue had already been abandoned, the Museum’s staff were called on to identify, document, and evaluate the property of the congregation so that the ritual objects might survive the synagogue’s demolition. One of these doors is now preserved and featured prominently in the Museum’s core exhibition. Image: Carving from Torah Ark; Congregation Shaarei Eliyahu, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Painted wood; 1918. Photo: Will Brown.

Above Photo: Alicia Broudy, Young Friends board member, and Elad Strohmayer, Philadelphia’s former Deputy Consul General to the Consulate General of Israel, light the menorah on the fourth night of Hannukah at the Young Friends’ Cocktails and Candlelighting in 2014.

From the Director “At best, history aggregates, only poetry unifies.” — RODGE R KAME NE T Z ( p a ra p h ra s i n g Ari s to tl e )

I think about this notion all the time. And, as the director of a history museum, I strive to make what we present feel universal and broadly relevant without forfeiting that which makes our stories unique. Similarly, the poetry of James Polshek’s architecture and of Patrick Gallagher’s exhibition design creates a whole, integrated narrative and social experience for everyone who visits. This issue of Beacon celebrates our fifth anniversary. The feature on our architect (pp. 8–10) sets out what his vision was for the building and how the building, as realized, articulates both our rich history and what it heralds for the future. Our supporters do that, too. Founding benefactor Alice Saligman and her family’s involvement at the Museum dates to our earliest days. Museum visitors have long enjoyed the family’s support of our signature program, Being _____ at Christmas (p. 11). Ira Saligman is a devoted trustee who not only continues his parents’ legacies, but is actively helping us chart a course for the future. Ira’s vision involves the design of an app to creatively connect and share family histories from across the country to preserve them for future generations. An essential part of the design is to find the threads, the through-stories, that connect us—just as a key design element of our building, the frit on our windows facing Independence Mall, is composed of distinct threads that make a larger whole. Our privilege is to find the ways to connect families— warp and woof—to aggregate our stories, and at our best, to unify them. (More in future issues of Beacon. Stay tuned.) We have a number of ambitious projects designed to appeal to and engage the next generations and to serve constituents nationally. Our excellent objectbased school programs are increasingly being distributed across the country (p. 4). We are so proud of our strengthening internship program and the great young talent we have the opportunity to nurture. Our brilliant Young Friends group is strong and growing exponentially. We have every reason to look forward to a very bright future—realizing our vision together as a NMAJH family. Thank you for remaining an essential part of that journey. Warmly,

Ivy L. Barsky, CEO and Gwen Goodman Director P.S. W  e’d love to hear your thoughts on our magazine. Please feel free to email us at

FALL 2015


Photo: Jessi Melcer

Museum Offers Unique Approach to Educators Nationwide Using Objects and Resources to Bring History to Life “Take something out of your purse or pocket,” instructed the Museum’s manager of education programs, Ronit Lusky. She was addressing a group of 35 eager teachers attending a three-day training seminar at the Lorraine & Jack N. Friedman Commission for Jewish Education of the Palm Beaches (CJEPB). “Even a keychain, mundane as it may seem, offers opportunities to promote interesting discussions.” One teacher presented a two dollar bill from the 1920s, a good luck charm treasured by her late husband; this inspired a conversation about things people carry that remind them of loved ones. The Museum educators demonstrated how the bill could lead to broader discussions about, for example, the history of American currency. “The same conversations,” explained Ronit, “can be triggered by historic artifacts.” Fourth-grade teacher Alice Danis says it was the best professional development seminar she’s attended. “I liked the emphasis on the object-based learning method,” she says, “and will use the concept as a jumping-off point to foster discussion.”

Part of the seminar was dedicated to the Museum’s immigration curriculum, Becoming American. Teachers brought objects from home to tell their own family stories. One participant shared the bassinet that carried him from Hungary to America, a poignant example of how objects can bring history to life, enriching what students might otherwise only glean from textbooks. “By partnering with the Museum,” says Lynne Lieberman, senior director of the CJEPB, “we raised the bar on what we offer.” Distance is no longer an obstacle for teachers interested in using Museum resources. The Museum now offers training nationwide that equips educators with the skills and resources to teach topics in American Jewish history using the Museum’s collections. —— To learn more about our professional development for educators, visit or contact Katerina Romanenko, PhD, associate director of education, at 215.923.3811 x158 or

Sometimes the Museum recounts history; other times, we are part of it. This past summer, just days after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the right to same-sex marriage, the Museum kicked off the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration with an esteemed panel of legal minds who addressed a packed audience. Seated from left to right: Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law, and one of the three contributors to the New York Times Magazine’s “Ethicist” column; Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, lead counsel in the marriage equality case, Obergefell v. Hodges; Jennifer S. Goldstein, associate general counsel, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity 4




Photo: Matthew Christopher

Museum Hosts Legal Panel on LGBT Issues

Commission; James Esseks, director, ACLU LGBT & AIDS project; and Brad Sears, executive director, Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law. To watch the program online, visit

Two Weddings, One Special Venue Museum Offers Couples a Unique Space and Personal Attention The story of Dani Wald Spielman and Josh Spielman epitomizes bashert, Yiddish for destiny. They met as elementary school students at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Jersey. Since then, their respective paths diverged throughout their early lives, occasionally intersecting. Years later, in May 2014, they married in the Museum’s Dell Theater.

“Because we met at a Jewish school, marrying at the Museum seemed poetic.” — DAN I WALD S PI EL MA N

“A wedding,” echoes Josh, “should reflect the couple.” This past spring, for their first anniversary, Ellen Weiss, the Museum’s events manager, helped Josh surprise Dani with a private picnic on the Toll Terrace, right outside the ballroom where the pair had celebrated the year before with 225 guests. Mandy Rosenblum and Liz Hecht, who met more than 20 years ago while attending law school in Washington, DC, were equally charmed by the Museum; they wed in the ballroom this fall with 60 guests. “It’s a beautiful, modern space,” says Liz. Its themes also resonated. “We identified with the history of struggle—as Jews and as lesbians,” says Mandy. While they themselves are Jewish, Liz and Mandy appreciated that many non-Jewish couples had also been married at the Museum. Liz and Mandy were also impressed with the attention they received from Museum staff. Kristen Kreider, director of retail, “went above and beyond,” says Mandy, specially ordering a ketubah ( Jewish marriage contract) with genderneutral language. “The Museum’s collection of more than 30,000 objects is filled with examples of ketubot, chuppot (wedding canopies), and wedding invitations dating back more than three centuries,” says Ivy Barsky, the Museum’s CEO and Gwen Goodman Director. “So whether or not nuptials are happening under our roof, weddings are part of every day here.”

Dani Wald Spielman and Josh Spielman under the chuppah in the Dell Theater.

She adds, “While wedding celebrations are about building a future, we all know we bring the past with us to the event. So whether a couple is like Dani and Josh, with a deep Jewish background; like Liz and Mandy, Jews with additional connections to our stories of struggle and equality; or like the dozens of other couples who have wed here—from as close as Southeast Philadelphia to as far as South East Asia—building a new life on the foundation of history is very moving. It’s our hope that all these couples and their families maintain lifelong, meaningful connections to us.” —— For information about renting the Museum’s facilities, please contact Ellen Weiss, events manager, at 215.923.3811 x143 or To view our collection of ketubot and other wedding-related ritual objects, please visit our Museum Store in person or online at

FALL 2015


Behind the Wine Sammy Davis Jr. and the Matrix of Jewish Identity By Dr. Beth S. Wenger

The beginning of the Museum’s second floor tells the story of the suburbanization of American Jews in the post–World War II era. It includes a glimpse into domestic life, complete with a model kitchen and living room. Showcased prominently in the living room is a television—a key feature of the new suburban home and a new medium for communicating Jewishness to broad audiences. On the television plays the classic 1960s commercial that features Sammy Davis Jr. singing the praises of Manischewitz wine. It is a piece of nostalgia for older viewers, while younger ones (like my students at Penn) often require some historical background to understand Sammy Davis Jr.’s cultural importance and his Jewish identity. The commercial often elicits laughter from museumgoers, but the iconic ad also reveals deeper meanings about Jewish culture and identity. Manischewitz, founded in Cincinnati in 1888, grew into a titan in the kosher food industry. By the 1950s, the company was widely known throughout the United States, in part due to its highly successful advertising campaign that featured the slogan “Man-oh-Manischewitz,” performed by Sammy Davis Jr. on both radio and TV. The catch phrase became so much a part of the American vernacular that Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan spontaneously uttered it during a moonwalk in 1973. The commercial prowess of Manischewitz retains enduring power in the advertising industry, memorialized most recently in a 2012 episode of the TV series Mad Men, where fictional, slick advertising executive Roger Sterling seeks the company’s business and quips, “They make wine for Jews, and now they’re making one they want to sell to normal people.” But how did Sammy Davis Jr. come to sell kosher wine to “normal people”? The longtime pitchman for Manischewitz, born to a Catholic mother and Baptist father, had converted to Judaism after a spiritual journey that began in earnest after a severe car accident in 1954. One of the most popular entertainers of his era, Davis was among the few African American artists with significant crossover appeal to white audiences. His Manischewitz commercial was designed strategically to appeal to both black and white consumers, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.





Sammy Davis Jr. in Manischewitz commercial. Courtesy of MacDonald & Associates.

Sammy Davis Jr. crooning about Manischewitz wine in a lighthearted commercial offers a paradoxical foreshadowing of political, social, and religious developments narrated later in the Museum exhibition. Around the corner on the same floor, visitors encounter lengthy treatments about Jewish involvement in the struggle for Civil Rights and learn about the shared struggles as well as the ongoing tensions that animated the relationship between African Americans and Jews. As the exhibition closes, Jewish identity in contemporary America emerges in far more complex terms. At the time of the Manischewitz commercial, Sammy Davis Jr. was the only Jew of color who could be considered a household name. He chose Jewishness, and later, so did May Britt, the white, Swedish woman he married. Together, they raised a biracial Jewish daughter. In many ways, the pitchman for Manischewitz created a Jewish life that prefigured the more diverse Jewish community taking shape in our own time. —— Beth S. Wenger, PhD, is Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a founding historian of the Museum. Dr. Wenger was instrumental in developing the Museum’s core exhibition and here reflects on one aspect of it in honor of the Museum’s fifth anniversary.

Photo: Will Brown



Claire Pingel

Chief Registrar and Associate Curator

Opening the Collection to Digital Learners Collections Database to Become a Research Tool Imagine if the museum could give 24/7 access to its entire collection to researchers, scholars, and the general public. Imagine the possibilities that might unleash for fresh explorations of American Jewish history. Now stop imagining: that wide-open access is on its way to becoming a reality. Last year, a portion of the Museum’s artifact collection became accessible to the public through the web. Launched with approximately 500 objects, there are now 2,000 (out of the Museum’s collection of 30,000) online. People can view those artifacts and contact the Museum with requests for images and information. For example, a researcher seeking information about ritual objects from Eastern Europe could search the Museum’s database and discover the Hanukkah lamp pictured above. The researcher would discover when it was made, its measurements, and the fact that a Jewish immigrant brought it to the United States from Lodz, Poland, in 1881. The transfer of records from paper to digital, which laid the groundwork for this online initiative, has been going on since the 1990s. “We relied on a lot of elbow grease and late nights,” says Claire Pingel (profiled at right). Today, the Museum uses the images from the database to create delightful entries on the popular social media site Pinterest. In alignment with the Museum’s strategic goal of broadening access to content, Claire and her team plan to put the entire collection online—so please, check back often. To visit the database or Pinterest page, go to or

—— Contact Cobi Weissbach, director of development, at or 215.923.3811 x131, to learn about the matching grant from an anonymous donor and how to support this effort.

Photo: Ilana Blumenthal

Hannukah Lamp; Lodz, Poland; Silver; ca. 1850

Claire spends her workdays getting “up close and personal” with the Museum’s artifacts. As the Museum’s chief registrar and associate curator, she keeps track of each artifact—its story, where it is located and has been exhibited, its insurance and conservation needs, and its physical condition. And in her curatorial capacity, she also helps to choose new objects for the collection and objects for exhibitions.

Her NMAJH story: Claire studied art history at Trinity

College in Connecticut. After a stint volunteering as a docent at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, she quickly discovered that she preferred working behind the scenes to giving museum tours. She became a volunteer at the Museum in 1996, working to transfer handwritten collection records into the Museum’s first database. She joined the Museum’s staff shortly thereafter. Special artifact: An impressively large pair of tailor’s

shears showcased in the first exhibition she saw at the Museum. These shears—which are also currently on view in the core exhibition—made an impression on Claire because her ancestors worked in the garment industry. “I thought, wow, my great-great-grandfather might have used those. The stories we tell here could resonate with anybody.” Best part of the job: Sharing an object’s story. “A

museum artifact—unlike information in a book—has a special ability to bring history to life and to pique a visitor’s interest.” Realizing her dream: Claire’s parents began taking her

to museums when she was a baby. By the time she was eight years old, Claire felt certain that when she grew up she would work with museum artifacts. She was inspired by a particularly memorable visit to the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. “I remember looking at object ID numbers. I was amazed that some people get to touch the things in museums; I wanted to be one of those people.” FALL 2015


Museum Celebrates

Five Years on Historic Corner A R C H I T E C T U R E H O N O R S T H E P A S T, W E L C O M E S T H E F U T U R E





Photo: Barry Halkin Photography

“Whether visitors are experiencing a special exhibition, enjoying a performance in the theater, or attending a corporate event, the building’s rationale of design—its beauty and its accessibility—sets that tone,” says Ron Rubin.

View from the Toll Terrace of Independence Hall.

The exterior of the treasure box, facing the bustling Market Street, is a vivid terra-cotta, “which complements the historic brick structures of Philadelphia’s Old City. Additionally, it symbolizes the stability of Jewish history,” says the architect. The 5th Street façade, which faces the Liberty Bell, features a base of black granite, atop of which rests clear and translucent glass. The contrast between glass and granite conveys the sense that the Museum is floating. “That aspect was and is very important,” says the architect, and in an intentional contrast to the terra-cotta, “represents the fragility [of freedom].” Another important element of the façade is the aspect that makes the glass translucent rather than transparent, specifically, the “weave of … lines [that make] up the pattern of baked-on ceramic frit [or finish] on the glass curtain wall facing the Mall,” says the architect. The frit “diffuses the sun and subtly changes [with the time of day],” he says. This pattern was intended to look like threads within fabric, and it serves, says Mr. Polshek, as “a metaphor for the interconnectedness of the national community.”

Photo: Ilana Blumenthal


he magnificent building that is the National Museum of American Jewish History represents a shared vision: Museum leadership, architects, exhibition designers, and curators had hoped to build a place for people of all backgrounds to better appreciate the American Jewish experience. Five years after the Museum’s 2010 opening, the building’s story continues to unfold. In addition to being a repository of American Jewish history, the Museum has grown into a living entity, filled with connection, education, and celebration. When challenged “to create an interior as rich as American Jewish history itself,” architect James Stewart Polshek, who also designed the Clinton Presidential Center and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History, was thrilled to accept the commission for the new building on Independence Mall. The completed Museum conveys that richness and so much more. A key achievement of the design, according to Ron Rubin, co-chairperson of the Board of Trustees, is that “it brings people together. Whether visitors are experiencing a special exhibition, enjoying a performance in the theater, or attending a corporate event, the building’s rationale of design—its beauty and its accessibility—sets that tone,” says Rubin. The Museum features a top-down layout, a structural approach that it shares with the Polshekdesigned Newseum in Washington, DC, so that the core exhibition begins on the fourth floor in the year 1654, exploring the experiences of the first community of Jews to settle in America, and works its way down to the present. Because the exhibition contains valuable artifacts that must be protected from light, Polshek designed the interior to be a “treasure box.” When visitors exit the exhibition space on each floor, they encounter the light-filled Golda Och Atrium along with the Freedom Experience terraces, which serve to create a space “on each floor [that provides] inspiring views of Independence Hall,” says Mr. Polshek.

Intended to look like woven threads, the ceramic frit on the Museum’s glass façade represents the interconnected nature of the national community.

FALL 2015


Photo: Ilana Blumenthal

Golda Och Atrium and Kestenbaum Overlook under construction, 2010.

Museum architect James Polshek.





Current view of the Golda Och Atrium and Kestenbaum Overlook.

The Museum is testimony to more than 360 years of Jewish life in America on a most historic site. The building’s narrative is one of contrasts and complements—of light and dark, stability and fragility—underscoring the complexity of the American Jewish experience. Perhaps, though, the most meaningful counterparts represented are those of past and future. “That equilibrium is a sign of a healthy community,” observed Paul Goldberger, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who moderated a panel discussion of architects on the occasion of the Museum’s opening. The Museum has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors through its doors over the past five years, and it continues to flourish as a sanctuary for all people to appreciate the ongoing story of Jewish life in America.

Note: In honor of the fifth anniversary of the new building’s opening, the Museum had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Polshek. Additional references and notes were obtained from Mr. Polshek’s memoir, Build, Memory, and from 0618, a book published by Ennead Architects on the design of the Museum. Both books are available at the Museum Store. —— Founded in 1976 in a 15,000-square-foot building shared with the Congregation Mikveh Israel synagogue, the Museum now occupies a building on the former site of the KYW News Studio. That structure was razed, and in its place the Museum erected this 100,000-square-foot, glass-and-terracotta-cloaked monument, designed by James Stewart Polshek and Ennead Architects. A timelapse video of the building’s construction and additional architectural photos can be found at

Every December, the Museum provides a special opportunity for families to celebrate some of the themes brought to life in its exhibitions: freedom, inclusiveness, and building community. Museum trustee Ira Saligman believes strongly in these ideals—and in passing them on to the next generation. “Jews have always been very patriotic in the United States; it comes from our values,” says Ira. “We pay respect to the idea that here, we’re not oppressed. That’s worth something that most of us will never know, and hopefully never have to know. Our children should know how important that is, too, and not take it for granted. The Museum helps us do that.” Alice Saligman, Ira’s mother, has been a devoted supporter of the Museum since its earliest days and previously held a position on its Board. “Creating and offering events and programs so families can better know the Museum and feel part of its welcoming community is—and has been—very important to my family. December 25 provides an excellent opportunity to bring people together with these goals in mind,” says Alice. Launched more than 30 years ago Ira Saligman, Museum trustee. and celebrating its sixth year this Christmas at the Museum’s current site, the event provides families with a day of fun that includes an array of activities. Drop-in art with the Clay Studio, an internationally recognized arts organization, is a perennial favorite for kids who like to get their hands dirty working clay into hamsas, Stars of David, or snowflakes. Music—live or with a DJ—always gets the entire family dancing. Story times with docents and staff, quieter games, and performances round out the day. “It’s fun and feel-good with tons of kids running around,” says Emily August, the Museum’s director of public programs. “It’s great to have something that’s both enjoyable and educational for the kids and adults, especially on a day when most if not all other cultural institutions are closed,” says Elana Shaw of New Jersey, who has attended the event for many years with her young daughters Hannah and Gavi. “[The day] also lets us connect with friends we don’t see otherwise.” Elana’s parents, George and Debbie Stern, often join their daughter and grandchildren.

Photo: Mario Manzoni

From Generation to Generation

Gavi Shaw takes a break from the dance floor to show off the snowman painted on her face.

“Families like the Shaws truly honor the spirit of l’dor v’dor, or passing on our values from one generation to the next. We’re proud that the Museum offers them a venue to do that—and that they can have fun at the same time.” — IRA SALIGM AN The event, sponsored by the Robert Saligman Jewish Heritage Fund, in memory of Alice’s husband and Ira’s father, has been one of the busiest days of the year, bringing in new faces and old friends. As such, the Museum wanted to make sure this signature event reflected the Museum’s open and welcoming spirit, so three years ago, the staff changed the name from Being Jewish at Christmas to Being _____ at Christmas. “The ‘blank’ is crucial; we wanted to reinforce that we have an open door for all—for Jews, non-Jews, interfaith families, anyone—however they identify,” explains Emily August. FALL 2015



Jewish Comedy: A History in Five Jokes

Sunday, January 31 • 4 pm How do you talk about Jewish humor? With jokes. Prof. Jeremy Dauber of Columbia University discusses two millennia of comedy—including the greatest Jewish joke in history. In partnership with Penn’s Katz Center.


Calendar of Events The Young Friends Tu B’Av Host Committee poses before the yearly party celebrating love and life.


Young Friends “Ryes of the Bootlegger: An Evening with Author Dan Okrent & WhistlePig Whiskey”

Wednesday, November 4 • 6 pm $55/$50 for Young Friends Members

Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival

November 7 – 21 • Tickets at We are proud to co-sponsor the 35th season of the Gershman Y’s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festivals and to host the following screenings at the Museum: • Projections of America (USA, 2014, 52 min.)

Wednesday, November 11 • 5 pm • The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists (USA, 1980, 55 min.)

Wednesday, November 11 • 8 pm • The Outrageous Sophie Tucker (USA, 2014, 96 min.)

Sunday, November 15 • 11 am Members’ Private Tour of Visions of Place, an Exhibition of Israeli Art at Rutgers-Camden Sunday, November 8 • 2 – 4 pm Includes reception, $36 for Members Dreamers and Doers: Dr. Ruth

Monday, November 16 • 6 pm $25/$18 for Members Advance registration strongly encouraged. Media Sponsor:


Telling It the Way It Was with Arlene Alda

Wednesday, February 3 • 7 pm $15/Free for Members In partnership with the Jewish Book Council.

Holiday-themed Art-making Workshop

Presidents’ Day at NMAJH

Sunday, December 6 • 11 am – 2 pm


$45/$35 for Members, registration required

Young Friends Cocktails and Candle Lighting Hanukkah Celebration

Monday, February 15 • 10 am – 5 pm Young Friends Curated Cocktails

Thursday, February 18 • 6 – 8 pm $12/Free for Members

Thursday, December 10 • 7 – 10 pm $30/$20 for Members

Members’ Trip to the Walnut Street Theatre Becoming Dr. Ruth

Tuesday, December 15 • 7:30 pm At the Walnut Street Theatre $50/$40 for Members After meeting Dr. Ruth at Dreamers and Doers in November, join us for a night at the theater to see her life on stage.


Martin Luther King Jr. Family Day

Monday, January 18 • 10 am – 5 pm Free


Wednesday, November 18 • 6 pm Tree of Life, the 2015 Only in America Gala, chaired by Gennifer and Elijah Dornstreich, will celebrate the Museum’s fifth anniversary on Independence Mall. For more information or to RSVP, please email Julie Howard Taylor at

Second Sunday Family Activities

November 8, December 13, January 10, and February 14 • 10 am – 3 pm Free with Museum admission.

Young Friends Krav Maga Class

Tuesday, January 26 • 6 – 8 pm $20/$18 for Members

Members’ Curator Tour 3rd Floor—Dreams of Freedom: 1880 – 1945

Thursday, January 28 • 10 am – 12 pm Free for Members at the Patron Level ($360) and above

Friday, December 25 • 10 am – 5 pm $12 Adults / Free for Members $5 Children 12 and younger / Free for kids of Family Level Members+ This event is sponsored by the Robert Saligman Jewish Heritage Fund.

Check for additional details and to purchase tickets. Advance registration is highly recommended for both free and ticketed programs. Students always get the Member price.





Photo: Ilana Blumenthal

Chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections Josh Perelman and Dr. Ruth Westheimer at the Museum.

Dreamers and Doers Speaker Series Museum Welcomes Dr. Ruth Westheimer In her 37th book, The Doctor Is In: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre, Dr. Ruth Westheimer writes, “People who learn about my life wonder how I can have so much positive energy.” On the book’s cover, the 87-year-old psychosexual therapist and American Jewish immigrant dons a fuchsia blazer against a fuchsia backdrop, smiling warmly. If joie de vivre were a color, it would be fuchsia. If joie de vivre were a person, it would be Dr. Ruth. The Museum is thrilled to welcome the cultural icon to speak as part of its Dreamers and Doers series in November. The annual series shares stories of those who embody the values critical to the success of American immigrants— courage and imagination, aspiration and hard work, resilience, leadership, and service. Dr. Ruth personifies these values. “There is no one quite like Dr. Ruth,” says Lisa Popowich, Museum trustee and chair of the Public Programs Committee. “She is a survivor, a visionary, and a role model as an American, as a Jew, as a woman—and as a human being! The Museum is thrilled to celebrate her, among so many other pioneering American Jews.”

Dr. Ruth was born Karola Ruth Siegel into an Orthodox home in Germany in 1928. The year before World War II began, the 10-year-old was sent to an Orthodox children’s home in Switzerland, which became an orphanage for her and most of the children sent there to escape the Holocaust. At 17, she moved to Israel and fought as a sniper in the Haganah, Israel’s freedom fighters; later she lived in France before immigrating to the United States in 1956. At the end of the arduous crossing of the Atlantic, she recalls seeing the Statue of Liberty welcoming the ship’s passengers.

“We Americans always have hope that no matter what is going on today, tomorrow will be better.” — DR. RUT H Here, she has built herself numerous better tomorrows. Her career spans the academic, entertainment, entrepreneurial, and publishing gamut, earning her numerous awards and honorary degrees. Dr. Ruth attributes her achievements to “chutzpah,” shaped by the experiences of her early life— “some of it is European; some, my Jewish upbringing; and some, the American spirit.” The sharp businesswoman is also committed to keeping Jewish culture alive. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, in New York, because she hopes to “educate young people so that they will be able to withstand the attitude that the Holocaust never happened,” she says. Dr. Ruth observes that while the American Dream focuses on getting ahead, “we also have to … act in the spirit of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world … While 1.5 million Jewish children died in the Holocaust, I was saved. I have an obligation to stand up and be counted.” Dr. Ruth is the Museum’s third Dreamer and Doer. In 2013 shoe designer Stuart Weitzman kicked off the program. Last year’s Dreamer and Doer was Kim Ng, the most senior female executive at Major League Baseball. —— This series has been anonymously endowed by a friend of the Museum and admirer of all Dreamers and Doers.

FALL 2015


REFLECTING on SUCCESS A N N UA L R E P O R T • F I S C A L Y E A R 2 0 1 5 ( J U LY 1 , 2 0 1 4 , T H R O U G H J U N E 3 0 , 2 0 1 5 )


10,000 students

More than from public, independent, parochial, and Jewish day schools engaged with the Museum last school year, and

of our members live outside of a 50-mile radius of the Museum, across 49 states, speaking to our true national presence.

more than 1,800 experienced our new Traveling Suitcase

program in their classrooms.


The exhibition generated a high degree of visibility, a significant increase in attendance over the same period last year, and glowing press coverage.


800 objects

were accessioned into our collection, expanding our ability to tell the stories of more than 360 years of Jewish life in America through the use of 2D and 3D examples of ritual and everyday objects.

A remarkable 37,000 hours of service were contributed by our more than

130 volunteers and docents.

On Deck: Chasing Dreams will travel to:

The Museum EXPANDED ACCESSIBILITY and made visiting easier than ever in the following ways: Granted free or reduced admission to nearly 5,000 students, a 20% increase compared to the previous year.

Partnered with area museums and agencies to make the Museum as open and accessible as possible.

47 8 5

THE MUSEUM WAS AWARDED A $250,000 ONE-FOR-T WO CHALLENGE GRANT FROM A NATIONAL FOUNDATION. Step up to this challenge and support one or more of these important Museum initiatives: The National Educators Institute

Internship Program

Digitization of Collections

The exhibition has already traveled to four states: California, New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio.

SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER, LOS ANGELES, CA April 6 – October 30, 2016 The pop-up version of this exhibition will be at Temple Israel in Memphis, TN, through November 22, 2015; the Historical Society of Palm Beach County in Palm Beach, FL, from December 14, 2015, through March 24, 2016; and the Skirball Museum at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH, from April 14 through July 7, 2016.

THE DIRECTOR’S F UND Richard Witten, Museum board member, and his wife Lisa, of Mamaroneck, New York, have established The Director’s Fund and have committed to match up to $250,000, dollar for dollar, in new commitments. The fund will enable the Museum director to designate resources toward the most cutting-edge and creative opportunities, as well as ongoing institutional priorities.

For more information contact Cobi Weissbach, director of development, at or 215.923.3811 x131.







$100,000 to $1,000,000+

NMAJH Officers

Anonymous Rhonda and David L. Cohen Betsy and Philip Darivoff The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Bennett S. LeBow David z”l and Velda Levitsky The William Penn Foundation Robert Saligman Charitable Foundation Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation, Inc.

$50,000 to $99,999 Charina Foundation Robin and Brad Klatt Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

$25,000 to $49,999 The David Berg Foundation Lynne and Harold Honickman Samuel P. Mandell Foundation The Neubauer Family Foundation Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation Susan and Evan Ratner Lyn M. Ross Marcia and Ron Rubin The Snider Foundation The Winnick Family Foundation Lisa and Richard Witten Marian and Norman Wolgin

$10,000 to $24,999 The Abstraction Fund Hallee and David Adelman Susanna Lachs Adler and Dean Adler Harold and Renee Berger Foundation Deanna and Jordan Berman Roberta and Stanley Bogen Nancy Brinker E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Christie’s D. Walter Cohen Sandy and Steve Cozen The Cozen O’Connor Foundation, Inc. Renee and Lester Crown Roberta and Carl Dranoff Abbie G. Friedman Gagosian Gallery, Inc. Hess Foundation, Inc. The Andrew R. Heyer and Mindy B. Heyer Foundation Julie Goldman and Alan Hoffman Marjorie and Jeffrey Honickman

Independence Foundation Liz and Matthew Kamens The Eleanor M. and Herbert D. Katz Family Foundation, Inc. Elissa and Thomas Katz The Sylvia Kellem Memorial Fund The Kestenbaum Family Foundation Macy’s Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation John P. and Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation Hilarie and Mitchell Morgan Morris Morgenstern Foundation Paul S. Nadler Foundation Ellen and Mark Oster Barbara Spiro Ryan and Robert Ryan Alice Saligman and Klaus Brinkmann Susan and Clifford Schlesinger Schwartz Foundation Seed the Dream Foundation Barry & Judy Silverman Foundation, Inc. Connie Smukler Carol and Mark Stein Louis & Bessie Stein Foundation Fund #2, Audrey Merves Trustee Robbi and Bruce Toll The Weinberg Family Internship Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation Debra and Glenn Weinberg Estate of Mildred Weinstock, z”l Roy J. Zuckerberg Renée and Joseph Zuritsky

$5,000 to $9,999 Catherine and Frederick Adler Joseph Alexander Foundation, Inc. Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of Hartford as recommended by Linda and David Glickstein Miriam G. Bernstein Helen and Jack Bershad Blank Rome, LLP Boyds Philadelphia Solomon & Sylvia Bronstein Foundation Canada Dry Clayman Family Foundation The Abby and David Cohen Family Foundation Cindi and Glenn Cooper Electchester Jewish Center, Inc. EisnerAmper, LLP Executive Protective Services

Annette Y. and Jack M. Friedland Estate of Benjamin Garsten, z”l Myrna and Steve Greenberg Insperity Michelle and Joseph Jacobs Barbara Kay Estate of Naomi Klein, z”l Sidney Kohl Family Foundation, Inc. Jane and Leonard Korman Family Foundation Barbara and Larry Magid The Malkin Fund, Inc. Beatrice and Larry Metzman Parkway Corporation PECO University of Pennsylvania The Philadelphia Cultural Fund Jill and Jon Powell Norman Raab Foundation Barbara and Richard Rothschild Selma and Samuel Savitz Roberta and Ernest Scheller, Jr. Family Foundation Shirley and Albert H. Small Diane and Marc Spilker The Allen A. Stein Family Foundation, Inc. Sidney J. Stein Foundation Sidney Stern Memorial Trust Harriet and Larry Weiss Jane and Stuart Weitzman Erving and Joyce Wolf Foundation The Elaine Wolk Kaufman Charitable Fund

$2,000 to $4,999 Anonymous Tracy and Dennis Albers Bank of America Elyse Barroway Cecilie and Eugene Block Beth and David Blum Louis N. Cassett Foundation Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region Mitzi & Warren Eisenberg Family Foundation, Inc. The Fine Foundation Phyllis and Gary Finkelstein Firstrust Bank The Edwin M. Gilberg Family Foundation Gwen and Alan Goodman Richard J. Green Harriet and Bernard Gross Hinda and Eric Haskell Flora P. Heilweil Foundation HUB International Jamie and Warren Klein

Chip Kurtzman Elaine and Manny Landau Estate of Hadassah R. Levin, z”l Fran and Leon Levy Christopher Ludwick Foundation Elaine and William Miller Eunice and Melvin Miller Linda and H. Laddie Montague Alicia Felton and Sherrill Neff Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Daniel Promislo Sherri and Michael Ross Melissa and Douglas Sayer Miriam and Allan Schneirov Segall Family Foundation Rebecca and Daniel Shapiro Avi Silberstein Marsha and Stephen Silberstein The Paul and Emily Singer Family Foundation Tracey and Shanin Specter Jo and Robert Steinhart Leon C. Sunstein, Jr. Eileen Heisman Tuzman and Marty Tuzman Nancy and Gary Veloric Constance and Sankey Williams

LEGACY SOCIETY Our Legacy Society is growing thanks to individuals who have named the Museum in their estate plans. We are deeply grateful to the following Legacy Society members and their families whose bequests were realized this year. May their memories be a blessing. Benjamin Garsten Naomi Klein Hadassah R. Levin Mildred Weinstock Join the dozens who are committed to sustaining the Museum’s future as members of the Legacy Society. For more information, please contact Ilana Dean-Schmidt at 215.923.3811 x111 or

Philip M. Darivoff, Co-Chairperson Ronald Rubin, Co-Chairperson Lyn M. Ross, Honorary Chairperson Stephen Cozen, First Vice Chairperson Andrew R. Heyer, Vice Chairperson Matthew Kamens, Vice Chairperson Thomas O. Katz, Vice Chairperson Miriam Schneirov, Vice Chairperson Richard E. Witten, Vice Chairperson Joseph S. Zuritsky, Vice Chairperson Ira Saligman, Treasurer Lisa B. Popowich, Secretary George Ross z”l, Founding Chairperson

Trustees Susanna Lachs Adler Hon. Harold Berger Elijah S. Dornstreich Carl E. Dranoff Alec Ellison Abbie Green Friedman Alan J. Hoffman Sharon Tobin Kestenbaum Seymour Mandell Anne Welsh McNulty Mitchell L. Morgan Mark Oster Raymond Perelman Marc Porter Daniel Promislo Richard Rothschild Daniel A. Shapiro Shanin Specter Barbara Spiro Ryan Lindy Snider Robbi Toll

Emeritus Members D. Walter Cohen, Chairman Emeritus Gwen Goodman, Executive Director Emerita Ruth Sarner Libros, President Emerita Samuel J. Savitz, Trustee Emeritus Ivy L. Barsky, CEO and Gwen Goodman Director

National Leadership Council Charles Bronfman (New York, NY) Betsy Z. Cohen (New York, NY) Ambassador Edward Elson (Palm Beach, FL) Milton Fine (Pittsburgh, PA) Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg (Bronx, NY) J. Ira Harris (Palm Beach, FL) Senator Joseph Lieberman (Hartford, CT) Newton Minow (Chicago, IL) Albert Small (Washington, DC) Edward Snider (Philadelphia, PA) Fred Wilpon (New York, NY) Roy Zuckerberg (New York, NY)

For a donor listing including all member levels, please visit FALL 2015


101 South Independence Mall East Philadelphia, PA 19106-2517 215.923.3811 •

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Photo: Karl Seifert

Beacon © 2015 National Museum of American Jewish History

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Profile for National Museum of American Jewish History

Beacon, Fall 2015  

Beacon is the bi-annual donor and member magazine of the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Beacon, Fall 2015  

Beacon is the bi-annual donor and member magazine of the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Profile for nmajh