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Museum Musings

Interns' Favorite Objects

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This past summer, NMAJH had a large and diverse intern class, each of whom made unique contributions to the Museum.  All of us have been impacted in some way, shape, or form by the Museum. And as such, each of us also has an artifact that we have connected with. Some of the interns have shared what their favorite objects are and why the objects left impressions on them.

Let’s get started with my favorite object…




Hannah Zuckerman - Marketing & Communications
Favorite Object:  Solidarity Sunday poster in the Soviet Jewry case

"I like the poster because it represents the American Jews in the 1970s who fought for the rights and freedom of Jews in the Soviet Union. Also, my mother was a participant in many of those types of rallies and, cheesy as it may be, when I pass by the poster I feel proud to have a mother who was one of the many young people in the 70s who chose to help the international Jewish community."



Alida Jekabson – Education
Favorite Object: 1909 Rosh Hashanah card located on the 3rd floorrosh hashanah card  

“I like it because the card wished a happy New Year to the person receiving it, and also illustrates a new beginning for this immigrant family. The imagery is very much of its time, as it represents America as an allegorical figure who welcomes all.”



Jen Rosen - Academic Liaison
Favorite object: Model of Touro Synagogue located on the 4th floor

“I have been to Touro Synagogue many times, as my family frequently visited Newport on summer trips so it was very exciting to see it reproduced here, and to learn more about how it fits into the early history of Jews in America.”  



Nora Katz -Education
Favorite object: Irving Berlin piano in the Museum’s Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame

“I grew up with his music and songs, and I love seeing an object on which he used to write some of my favorite music.  Irving Berlin is an extremely important part of American history, and his piano is a wonderful symbol of his contributions to our culture.”


purim gownLauren Wachspress - Museum Store
Favorite object: Purim gown located on the 4th floor

“I love the room with the festive masks and the fun lighting. These charity balls were thrown by Jewish Americans such a long time ago, shortly after the Civil War. The dress really helps you imagine what those balls would be like.”



Aaron Madow - Administrations
Favorite Object: Arthur Szyk’s print, “Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of Israel” located on the 2nd floor

“The work encapsulates the combination of the ancient and modern, and militarism and agriculture that so appealed to Zionists. In particular, this shows the imaging of Israelis as brawny men, showing the amplified resonance of the muscular Jew in post-Holocaust Jewish-American culture.” 



Lauren Shapiro – Curatorial
Favorite object: Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique located on the 2nd floor 

“The author is Jewish and I find its content fascinating. It seems that many notable feminist activists of the 1960s and 70s were Jewish. There was Friedan, of course, but also the artists of Womanhouse, Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro, and many more. Influential women like Betty Friedan, Judy Chicago, and Miriam Schapiro make me proud to call myself a Jewish American feminist. When I look at The Feminine Mystique, I think about how the status of women has progressed in many branches of Judaism. I am grateful that so many Jewish communities embrace progress and equality.”    





teddy bearKaisha Lourens - Group Services
Favorite object: Helga Weiss’s teddy bear located on the 3rd floor

“I like the teddy bear. It is a symbolic item of Helga Weiss's life which represents a child saved in the Kindertransport. This subject deeply interests and moves me.”



Cat Cleveland –Curatorial
Favorite Object: Leslie Schaffer’s gum wrapper located on the 2nd floor

“When I was a kid my mother told me about her high school trip to the USSR. Every student was instructed to bring American gum to trade with the Russian kids because the USSR had banned the sale. As a kid, the idea that there were children who couldn’t get Wrigley’s from the store helped me conceptualize the all-encompassing control that the Soviet Union had over people. To me the message of the gum wrapper represents the steps so many took to undermine that suppressive authority and to ultimately challenge both the persecution of Soviet Jewry and the general restrictions of the Soviet Union.”



 Jacqueline Stevens - Development intern
Favorite Object: Karen Strausfeld’s Bat Mitzvah dress located on the 2nd floor

“I like it because it is a beautiful dress showing the fashion of her time. I like the dress because it tells a story—it is the dress she decided to wear on one of the most important days of her Jewish life. It displays a piece of her personality.”  





batAlex Coffey – Curatorial
Favorite Object: Hank Greenberg’s baseball bat located on the concourse level 

“I like it not only because I’m an obsessive baseball fan, but also because he broke barriers for Jewish American baseball players everywhere.”



Sam Crystal -Curatorial
Favorite object: Gerhart Riegner’s telegram located on the 3rd floor

“Having learned about this telegram and having recently written a research paper discussing the lack of American influence during the Holocaust, it is fascinating to be able to see the actual telegram that warned of Hitler’s plans of extermination.”



Elliana Rao – Curatorial
Favorite Object: Menu from Hebrew Union College’s Trefa Banquet located on the 4th floor

“As a Reform Jew, I find it really interesting to learn about the movement’s history, and this artifact is an interesting part of that. It also helps me learn more about my own identity, which I think is an important part of the Museum’s mission.”




PassportsJulie Cronan - Education
Favorite object: Passports in the “Dreams of Freedom” gallery on the 3rd floor 

“The wrinkles and tears on the passports give a real sense of the difficult journeys immigrants experienced. Their textures bring the history to life. I am compelled to return again to look at these passports because immigration is still a huge issue today.”


















If you’re interested in the internship program at NMAJH, or know someone who may appreciate the opportunity, please click here.



 -Hannah Zuckerman



Please note that some of the objects in our permanent collection rotate on and off view for conservation purposes. Therefore, some of the objects mentioned in this story may not be on view when you visit the Museum. You can always contact Visitor Services at 215.923.3811 x160 to find our whether a specific object will be on view during the time of your planned visit.