Off (Geographical) Topic -- American Jewish Heritage Guide

Historical marker at the B'nai Abraham synagogue, Brenham, Texas. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

This, as I indicated in the title, is off topic -- geographically. In honor of May -- American Jewish Heritage Month -- Moment Magazine has published the first of what it says will be an annual Guide to Jewish Heritage in its current issue, which is also available online.

The average American knows more about the Jews who left Egypt 3,000 years ago than about the Jews who came to America over the past 355 years. When American history textbooks mention Jews, it’s often in connection with the Holocaust. But as the presidential proclamation makes clear, Jews have been part of the fabric of American life since their first steps on American soil in 1654. Jews have extended the boundaries of American pluralism, serving as a model for other religious minorities and expanding the definition of American religious liberty so that they and others would be included as equals. Jewish American history offers us the opportunity to explore how Jews have flourished in a free and pluralistic society where church and state are separated and religion is entirely voluntary. The institutions listed in this guide—archives, historical societies, museums and more—have taken the lead in preserving and recounting that story. Thanks to them, people here and abroad are becoming versed in the American Jewish experience. During Jewish American Heritage Month, in particular, we owe these institutions our gratitude.

The list includes Jewish Museums, Archives, Historical Sites and Historical Societies in North America and the Caribbean. Moment posts the following as a sample selection:
Washington, DC

Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington/Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum
701 4th St., NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 789-0900

New York City

Museum of Jewish Heritage
Edmond J. Safra Plaza
36 Battery Pl.
New York, NY 10280
(646) 437-4200

Tenement Museum
108 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 431-0233


National Museum of American Jewish History
Independence Mall East
55 North 5th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 923-3811


Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life/Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience

213 South Commerce Street
Natchez, MS 39120

3863 Morrison Road
Utica, MS 39175

(601) 362-6357

Miami Beach

Jewish Museum of Florida
301 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 672-5044


Janice Charach Gallery
D. Dan and Betty Kahn Building
6600 West Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
(248) 432-5448


Spertus Museum
610 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 322-1700

Berkeley, CA

Judah L. Magnes Museum
2911 Russell St.
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 549-6950


Mizel Museum
400 S. Kearney St.
Denver, CO 80224
(303) 394-9993


Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art
2021 East 71st St.
Tulsa, OK 74136
(918) 492-1818

Los Angeles

Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance
9786 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 553-8403

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 North Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-4500


Beth Tzedec Reuben & Helene Dennis Museum
1700 Bathurst St.
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5P 3K3
(416) 781-3511

Virgin Islands

Weibel Museum/St. Thomas Synagogue
Originally built in 1796 by Sephardic Jews who migrated as a result of the Spanish Inquisition, the synagogue is one of the New World’s oldest.
15 Crystal Gade Charlotte Amalie
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
(340) 774-4312


Jewish Women’s Archive
The archive functions as an online “Museum of the Jewish Woman.”

Kudos to Moment and to the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, which sponsored the guide.