21 December 2009

Oregon: Jewish Museum reopens

The Oregon Jewish Museum has moved to a new home in the northwest part of Portland.

Its resources include art exhibits and much more, including the Jewish historical society's archives and library (open by appointment to researchers).

Back in the 1950s, the city's Old South Waterfront was a vibrant Jewish and Italian neighborhood. There is a walking tour of the area.

The opening was on Sunday, and various exhibits included:

The Shape of Time: accumulations of place and memory
Arnold Newman – Street Scenes
The Berger Collection of Ceremonial Judaica
Deanne Belinoff – The Book of Keys
Alex Appella – The Janos Book
Shelley Jordon – Family History
The museum also conducts the Oral History Jewish Cemetery Project and the Oral History Project. Seniors' memories are a precious resource that dwindle over time, and both projects are aimed at saving these memories and archiving them.

The first project takes small groups to Portland's Jewish cemeteries to film and interview the seniors as they walk together and talk about family and friends buried there. Gravestone names trigger memories and conversation. The films will be open to archival research and eventually made public. This project is funded by the Oregon Heritage Commission, the Oregon Cultural Trust and Helen and Jerry Stern.

The second oral history project is part of the museum's mission to preserve the state's Jewish history. The current project expands the Oregon Jewish Oral History and Archive collection begun in the 1970s. Its goal is to collect a wide range of oral histories from community members across the state. Volunteers are trained to to conduct interviews and transcribe tapes.

A third project - Museum in a Suitcase - is an outreach program for elementary school students. The goal is to teach diverse students about the successful integration of the Jews, who were one of the state's earliest immigrant groups. Significant objects including Judaica are included in the suitcase, along with curriculum materials and teaching guide. The museum wants to train docents who will visit schools and organize programs. Funding is via The Collins Foundation, Oregon Heritage Commission and the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland have funded this project.

Go to the museum site (link above) and read all about the exhibit... - Shape of Time - which explores urban landscapes and public memory through the Jewish experiences in the state. It utilizes the museums extensive collection of historic photographs.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Congratulations to OJM on its stunning beautiful beautiful new space...and opening exhibition. OJM and several other Jewish heritage nonprofits -- including OJM tenant The Holocaust Resource Center -- as well as quite a few geneaology societes are part of the Cultural Trust program. When you donate to one or more of them, match it with a contribution to the Trust to earn a 100% tax credit from the state of Oregon. Cynthia Kirk, Communications Manager, Oregon Cultural Trust