Center for Jewish History

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The Center for Jewish History
Center for Jewish History NYC 14.JPG
Center for Jewish History is located in Manhattan
Center for Jewish History
Location within New York City
Established 2000
Location 15 West 16th Street, Manhattan, New York, USA
Coordinates 40°44′17″N 73°59′38″W / 40.738047°N 73.993821°W / 40.738047; -73.993821Coordinates: 40°44′17″N 73°59′38″W / 40.738047°N 73.993821°W / 40.738047; -73.993821
Public transit access Subway: 14th Street – Union Square
Website The Center for Jewish History

The Center for Jewish History is a partnership in New York City of five Jewish history, scholarship and art organizations: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, New York, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. It is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.[1]

Collection[edit]

The Center is a 125,000 square feet (11,600 m2) facility created from four existing buildings and two new buildings. The partners' collections include more than 100 million documents, 500,000 books and thousands of art objects,[2] most of which had been poorly housed in the member institutions and were at risk of damage or destruction.[3] The Center is heavily involved with the preservation of records that define moments in Jewish immigration to New York City.[4] A $670,000 grant awarded in 2007 helped with the cataloging of these materials.[5]

The partners' collections include the original handwritten copy of Emma Lazarus' 1883 "Give me your tired, your poor" poem that was later inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty; Sandy Koufax's Brooklyn Dodgers jersey;[6] a letter from Thomas Jefferson to New York's oldest Jewish congregation; and the first Hebrew prayer books printed in America. The collections range from the early modern era in Europe and pre-colonial times in the Americas to present-day materials from across the globe. The Center provides access to a comprehensive collection of historic archival materials, including Franz Kafka, Theodor Herzl, Moses Mendelssohn, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein. [7]

History[edit]

The Center officially opened in Manhattan's Union Square in 2000 after six years of construction and planning with a goal of creating synergy among the five member organizations, each offering a different approach to Jewish history, scholarship and art. This was one of the first attempts at uniting differing views on Jewish culture[8] and resulted in the largest repository documenting the Jewish experience outside of Israel[1] leading some to refer to it as the Jewish Library of Congress.[6]

When it opened its doors to the public in October 2000, the Center struggled with financial problems. In 2007, there were preliminary talks about a partnership with NYU's Skirball Department for Hebrew and Judaic Studies to the benefit of both organizations.[9] In the end, the Center and Skirball decided not to move forward. In 2010, the Center for Jewish History was able to raise $30 million to retire its construction debt.[10] The amount was raised and donated by the chairman and founder of the center, Bruce Slovin; co-chairmen William Ackman and Joseph Steinberg; the Fairholme Foundation; and 19 other donors.[11] In 2012, the Center received a top rating of four stars from the Charity Navigator non-profit evaluation service.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Smithsonian Affiliations". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  2. ^ Ralph Blumenthal (2000-10-26). "A Museum Wing to Bear Witness to Jewish Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  3. ^ "On 16th and 17th Streets, between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas; New Center for Jewish History". The New York Times. 1998-02-15. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  4. ^ Nina Bernstein (2008-03-09). "After a Fight to Survive, One to Succeed". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  5. ^ "Leon Levy Foundation Awards $670,000 Grant to Center for Jewish History for Cataloging of Archival Materials". PR Newswire. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  6. ^ a b Julie Wiener (2000-10-24). "New History Center Touted as Jewish 'Library of Congress'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  7. ^ JTA Article on Capital Campaign
  8. ^ Richard F. Shepard (1997-04-28). "Archives of Jewish History, Now Under One Roof". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  9. ^ Jennifer Siegel (2007-09-26). "NYU Courts Center for Jewish History". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  10. ^ Stephanie Strom (2011-01-21). "Finding Deep Pockets to Help a Jewish Center". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  11. ^ Tamar Snyder (2011-01-25). "History Center in the Black". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  12. ^ "Charity Navigator Rating for the Center for Jewish History". 2012-12-20. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 


External links[edit]