In 1654, after Portugal recaptured Brazil and expelled its Jewish settlers, a group of 23 Jewish refugees arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York City) seeking a safe haven and ultimately made a home for themselves and their descendants in the New World.
In May the Library of Congress marked 2009 Jewish American Heritage Month with several lectures sponsored by the Hebraic section of the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division, and a collaborative web presentation.
Aviva Kempner discussed her forthcoming documentary “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg” on May 5. Through clips from the film, Kempner explored how American radio and television personality Gertrude Berg drew on her cultural heritage to pioneer a new medium.
Gershon Greenberg delivered the 10th Annual Myron M. Weinstein Memorial Lecture on the Hebraic Book on May 13. His lecture was titled “Breaking the Holocaust Silence: A Hidden Hasidic Text of 1947—and Elie Wiesel.” Gershon is a professor of philosophy and religion at American University. The lecture series honors Myron M. Weinstein (1927-1998), whose 29-year tenure at the Library was spent in the Hebraic Section. (A webcast of Greenberg’s lecture may be viewed on the Library’s website at www.loc.gov/webcasts/).
On May 19 Laura Cohen Apelbaum and Wendy Turman of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington discussed the historical society’s new exhibition and companion book catalog titled “Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City.” The exhibition, which was on display Feb. 13 through May 31 at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C., explores the Jewish community in Washington and Alexandria during the Civil War. It will be on view at Beth El Hebrew Congregation Sept. 11 through Dec. 31.
The Library’s extensive holdings include numerous items pertaining to Jewish history and Jewish Americans. Some of these items were featured in a Library exhibition titled “From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America,” which is accessible online at www.loc.gov/exhibits/haventohome/, and in a companion publication that can be ordered at www.loc.gov/shop/.
A Jewish American History Month website is accessible online at www.jewishheritagemonth.gov.
This web portal is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.