May 2007

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David Ben-Gurion declares the creation of the State of Israel. 

Jewish American Heritage Month
National Museum of American Jewish History and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia celebrate this May.

The National Museum of American Jewish History and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia are uniting to coordinate "American Jewish History Through the Arts," a series of free programs on consecutive Sundays in May, which has been named Jewish American Heritage Month. These programs will highlight the American Jewish experience through an exhibition, theater, and film.

Jewish American Heritage Month enables the exploration of the meaning of religious pluralism, cultural diversity, and participation in American civic culture. Many Americans have little understanding of Jewish culture simply because the majority of Americans have few interactions with Jews or Jewish traditions. The lack of knowledge surrounding Jewish culture can lead to prejudice and discrimination. Jewish American Heritage Month provides an opportunity to educate all Americans about Jewish culture and traditions and highlights the many positive roles Jews have played in American history and culture. May 2007 marks the second annual Jewish American Heritage Month.

Programs kick off on May 6 with the annual Israel Independence Day celebration. This year, the celebration will be held in a new location, the Horticulture Center, and the theme will be Israel In Our Hearts, which promises to be a unique experience for the entire family. From historical characters to wine tasting, outstanding musical performances to Israeli food, and a craft fair to sporting activities, Israel In Our Hearts will bring our community together through its expressions of love for and solidarity with the State of Israel. Following the program, the month-long celebration will shift to the National Museum.

On May 10, the Museum will hold its annual Only in America Gala. The theme is "Collections," and the Gala and Album will feature the Museum’s artifacts, which help comprise the cultural heritage of the Jewish people in America.

On Sunday, May 13, the Museum will present A Taste For... in conjunction with the exhibition Forshpeis! A Taste of the Peter H. Schweitzer Collection of Jewish Americana. A Taste For... is a dramatic presentation of interactive storytelling that engages visitors of all ages and connects them to the themes, environments, eras, and artifacts of Forshpeis!. Forshpeis! looks at food in a range of settings and explores themes of identity, immigration and cultural expression. Performances will be repeated from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

On Sunday, May 20, the public can enter the world of the Jewish immigrant through first-person historical readings with HIStories, HERstories, YOURstories, and OURstories. Performances will be repeated from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

American Jewish Heritage Month concludes at the Museum on Sunday, May 27 with the screening of two films. At 1:00 p.m., enjoy Gentleman’s Agreement, the classic film, starring Gregory Peck, about a journalist who discovers what it is like to be a victim of religious intolerance. The 118-minute film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Following this, there will be a second film screened at 3:30 p.m. Matzo & Mistletoe, by Kate Feiffer, explores issues of religious and ethnic identity with heart and humor.

The National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall East in Philadelphia presents educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore, and celebrate the history of Jews in America. Its 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 experience and the freedoms to which Americans aspire.

The Museum is in the midst of a $148 million Capital Campaign to raise the funds for a new Museum at 5th and Market streets on Independence Mall in Philadelphia (across from the Liberty Bell and less than a block from Independence Hall). The new site is a block south from the Museum’s current location.

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