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Museum Musings

A Hole-in-One for Our Collection

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The Museum’s collection numbers over 25,000 artifacts, ranging from 18th-century documents to theater costumes to turn-of-the-20th-century Yiddish typewriters. It includes objects marking events of national significance, as well as those that tell the personal stories of everyday American Jews. This past year we had the honor of enriching our collection with truly a one-of-a-kind artifact that artfully, playfully, and touchingly represents those everyday stories.

golfAdorned with a silver Kiddush cup, golf balls ornamented with Jewish stars, and plaques bearing Yiddish nicknames—all perched upon 4 dreidels—“De Yiddishe Kup” was brought to our attention by Arnold Kaplan, a connoisseur and collector of American Judaica and a friend of the Museum. Arny encouraged 4 friends in his Lakewood Ranch, Florida retirement community to donate this beloved golf trophy to the Museum. For Arny, and for us, this piece of American Jewish folk art represents the camaraderie of one group of golf buddies who have been “experimenting with the social adventure of retirement that included the challenge of meeting new friends in a new environment and hoping along the way to enjoy life while embracing and fulfilling their Jewish heritage and social traditions.”

As each golfer spoke at the presentation of the “Kup” to the Museum, it was evident to all those in the room—spouses, family members, staff, and one member of the team joining via Skype—just how much the friendship that developed on the golf course rekindled and encouraged the team members’ and their wives’ Jewish identities, brought to life around the many Shabbat dinners they shared with “De Yiddishe Kup” at the center of the table.

We promise to lovingly and respectfully refer to our artifact by its formal name, “De Yiddishe Kup,” and we are so thrilled to exhibit it in our lobby this month, as the US Open comes to Merion Golf Club. So if you’re in town for the tournament, stop by and see it!

Contributed by Ivy Weingram, Associate Curator

Remembering Senator Frank Lautenberg

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The leadership and staff of the National Museum of American Jewish History join me in mourning the loss of Senator Frank Lautenberg, who passed away on Monday at the age of 89. The first generation American, WWII veteran, and five-term New Jersey senator was a tireless champion for many of the values we treasure at the Museum—freedom, equality, hard work, leadership, service, imagination, and tradition. His leadership was critical to passing the 1990 law providing refugee status to people from historically persecuted groups and opening our doors to those who experienced religious persecution in their native lands, including an estimated 350-400,000 Soviet Jews. His legacy will live on in the hundreds of thousands whose lives he has positively impacted. We remember him fondly with a video that he recorded in our It’s Your Story booth in 2010. May his memory be a blessing.

-Ivy Barsky, CEO and Gwen Goodman Director