Tag Archives: National Museum of American Jewish History

A Foray into Philly

This week brings the second blog-a-day challenge, category: maps. Come along for some cameos of our recent trip to New York and Pennsylvania. If you missed yesterday’s post, catch up here.

Moving back a day or so from Pittgsburgh found us in Philly for my husband’s 40th reunion from Penn’s Law School. Sheesh we’re getting long in the tooth!

Although the reunion was the reason for the ride, I have been eager to visit The National Museum of American Jewish History since I learned it was underway. It’s located in the most American of sites — right on Independence Mall, directly across from the Liberty Bell and down the block from Independence Hall.

The museum, which opened last November, presents educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore and celebrate the history of Jews in America. From the website: “Our purpose is to connect Jews more closely to their heritage and to inspire in people of all backgrounds a greater appreciation for the diversity of the American Jewish experience and the freedoms to which Americans aspire.”

It was a fabulous experience! We spent four hours there and barely nicked everything we could have seen. First surprise was to see a work of art by our friend Lynne Avadenka right there on the main floor! The museum’s exhibits cover the entire sweep of American Jewish life from the 1600’s to the present day. Walking through the beautifully curated exhibits, we both felt as if we were reliving so many experiences from our past as well as learning about the genesis and growth of the country’s earliest Jewish communities.

A lot of effort went into making the museum deeply interactive. Visitors were invited to become part of a photo exhibit on Jewish identity, participate in a contemporary issues forum, share Jewish camp experiences and even tuck into a sound booth and relate personal experiences various topics of Jewish life. You can even visit the museum’s website and share your own stories. As opposed to the feelings of devastation that cling to me whenever I visit Holocaust museums, I left NMAJH feeling uplifted and grateful to be a Jew in America.