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Museum Musings

8.24.17: Interns' Favorite Objects, Part 2

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By Lila Currie, NMAJH Summer Intern

This summer, college and graduate students from across the country came to the Museum to gain valuable experience in a variety of departments. It’s safe to say each intern left their impression on the Museum in some way, and certain Museum objects left an impression on our interns! Below is Part 2 of the interns’ favorite objects, along with how and why they were moved by them…

Lila Currie, Marketing/Communications Intern:Trefa menu

My favorite object is the menu from the Trefa Banquet in 1883 located on the 4th floor. I’m a history major, and I love finding funny and interesting events from history to bring a broader historical period or trend into perspective. The Trefa Banquet, the infamous dinner where a meeting of Jewish congregations and graduates from a Hebrew college was celebrated with entirely non-kosher foods, is such an odd and intriguing indicator of the course that American Judaism has taken.

Jacqueline Bein, Curatorial Intern:

My favorite object in the Museum is the poem in Hebrew commemorating Abraham Lincoln, written by Isaac Goldstein in 1865. Located on the 4th floor, the poem spells out Lincoln’s name as an acrostic in the style of some Jewish liturgy still recited today. The Civil War era is a part of American history that I enjoy studying but had never thought about from the perspective of Jews who lived through it, and I loved making that connection.

Alana Khaytin, Public Programs/Group Services Intern:

My favorite object in the Museum is the Rebecca Rubin American Girl Doll released in 2009. Rubin is a first generation 9-year-old girl living on the Lower East Side in 1914 with her Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. This object is especially meaningful to me, because my father emigrated from Russia when he was 20 years old. This doll is important not only to Jewish people but can also be relatable to anyone who is a first generation US citizen.

Koufax baseballChelsea Herron, Applebaum Family Intern for Curatorial Collections:

I grew up watching baseball and going to games. I have always wanted to catch a baseball and get it signed, but it’s never happened. Every time I see Sandy Koufax’s signed baseball in the first floor Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame, it makes me think of my childhood and going to games with my dad!

Connie Chen, Development Intern:
I love Hutzler’s handbag and boots on the 3rd floor mainly because I really love the fashion trend back in the beginning of the nineteenth century. I actually love all of the objects in the “Business of Business” case in the 3rd floor gallery! I love that every object here—even a small mirror or box—is full of history.

Rachel Kline, Education Intern:

My favorite item in the Museum is the dress in the Purim Ball gallery on the 4th floor. I love looking at costumes from bygone eras because it humanizes people from the distant past. Women wore dresses just like I do today, but they were much more elaborate than the simple sundresses I wear during the summer. Costuming is also an important indicator of the social status of its owner and can tell the viewer a lot about the life of the woman who once wore the dress.

Janie Kline, Education Intern:

My favorite “object” in the Museum is the interactive touchscreen in the “Camping” gallery on the 2nd floor that allows you to look up photos from various Jewish summer camps. I went to Jewish sleepaway camp for many years and was also a camper/counselor at my local Jewish community center. Going to summer camp was always something I looked forward to, and if you look up my old sleepaway camp (Capital Camps) on the screen, you can even find a picture of me from when I was younger!

Sage Magee, Museum Store Intern:

MenorahMy favorite object is the small silver “couch” menorah on the 4th floor. It has a lovely simple design, and when separated, looks like a tiny couch. I love that someone created an item like this that was intended to be used on-the-move but also incorporated a whimsical design component.

Stephanie Bitman, Education/Group Services Intern:

My favorite object in the Museum is the display of the Brooklyn Jewish Center on the 3rd floor. The miniature display features a basketball court, synagogue, and ballroom. It really interests me to see that this Jewish Center served as a precedent of sorts for Jewish community centers that followed.

Interested in interning at the Museum? Visit for more information.

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.

Images, top to bottom:
1) Menu for the “Trefa Banquet,” Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1883. The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.
2) Baseball signed by Sandy Koufax. National Museum of American Jewish History, 2004.1.2, Gift of George Blumenthal
3) Go to Camp! Interactive
4) Compact, portable silver Hanukkah lamp with hinged bottom and removable oil reservoir tray, Caribbean (Curaçao or Jamaica), early eighteenth century. National Museum of American Jewish History, 1981.1.1a

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