Oregon Jewish Museum

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Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
Oregon Jewish Museum, PDX, 2018 - 1.jpg
The museum's entrance, 2018
Oregon Jewish Museum is located in Portland, Oregon
Oregon Jewish Museum
Location within Portland
Location724 NW Davis St, Portland, Oregon

The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education is the largest museum dedicated to the documented and visual history of the Jewish people of Oregon, United States. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation, research, and exhibition of art, archival materials, and artifacts of the Jewish people.[1]

The museum's archival collection contains records of its various community-based and traveling exhibitions, cultural programs and events, and educational outreach about Jewish identity, culture, and assimilation.[2]


The Museum began in 1989 when a Portland rabbi, Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, invited members of Portland's Jewish community to a meeting at his synagogue to explore the idea of creating the first Jewish museum in the Pacific Northwest.

Some of the exhibits the museum sponsored in their first years include: The Jews of Greece; In the Footsteps of Columbus; The Legacy of Bezalel; Jews, Germany, and Memory, among others. These early exhibits were hosted in a variety of spaces including the Central Library, art galleries, other libraries and synagogues.

In 1996, the Museum merged with the Jewish History Society of Oregon and acquired their archives, comprising major collections of organizational records, family papers, photographs and ephemeral materials dating from 1850 to the present—the largest collection of the documented and visual history of Oregon's Jews. The Oregon Historical Society provided a small office in which to store and process these papers. Today this collection forms the core of the museum archives.

In July 1998, the hired its first director. At the same time, the museum moved into a donated office suite at Montgomery Park in Northwest Portland.[3] When OJM left Montgomery Park in October 2000, the museum moved to a storefront location elsewhere in Northwest Portland.

In 2001, the museum moved to a storefront in Old Town and opened its first major community-based exhibition, A Call to Serve: Oregon Jews in the Armed Services, which examined the experience of Oregon Jews who served in the United States Military.

In 2009, the current building in Northwest Portland was identified. Within five months, the board raised funds for the architectural makeover of the former commercial film building and the museum opened to the public on December 20, 2009.

Interior, 2018

The Museum continues to provide opportunities for Jews and non-Jews alike to understand the Jewish experience as a paradigm both for cultural survival and inter-cultural understanding.

For nearly four years OJM and OHRC worked physically alongside each other. This physical proximity first stimulated conversation between Judith Margles, OJM’s Director and Sonia Marie Leikam, OHRC’s Director, who began talking together about their organization’s respective missions and roles in the community and how they might deepen the collaborative aspects of their work. These conversations were coupled with a growing sense of responsibility that OJM itself needed to include a curriculum about the Holocaust in its education programs.

The conversation moved quickly to the Board level and a merger transition committee was constituted to see if merging the two organizations made sense. After full commitment by both organizations in December 2013, the remaining legal and logistical details were worked out over the next six months.

Previous exhibitions[edit]

  • "Illuminated Letters: Threads of Connection" by Sara Harwin. February - May 2014. [1]
  • Settling In. May–September, 2013.[2][4]
  • Pictures of Resistance: The Wartime Photographs of Faye Schulman. February – April, 2013.
  • Oregon or Bust: 1936, Arthur Rothstein photographs. Spring, 2013.
  • In the Game. May–September 2012.[3]
  • Transport: Works by Henk Pander and Esther Podemski. January–March, 2012.
  • 48 Jews Works by Abshalom Jac Lahav. June-September, 2009. [5]


  1. ^ Meringolo, Denise D. 2010. "Oregon Jewish Museum. Portland, Oregon. Judith Margles, director; Anne LeVant Prahl, curator. Opened December 2009. www.ojm.org". The Public Historian. 32 (4): 141-144.
  2. ^ "Oregon Jewish Museum". Ojm.org. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  3. ^ deca architecture. "Oregon Jewish Museum finds spacious new home". The Jewish Review. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  4. ^ Haught, Nancy (2013-07-05). "Oregon Jewish Museum explores two immigrant waves". oregonlive.com. The Oregonian. Retrieved 2013-07-13.
  5. ^ The Oregon Jewish Museum exhibiting the works of Abshalom Jac Lahav

External links[edit]