Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New exhibition: "Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays"

As we approach Erev Rosh Hashanah, it seems an appropriate time for the Museum to announce the "opening" of its newest exhibition, "Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays."

One of the many pleasures of building a website about Jewish history is having the opportunity to go back in time and share with our many "Museum visitors" the wonderful, the beautiful, aspects of Jewish culture and tradition. Surely the celebration of Shabbat, and such holidays as Rosh Hashanah, Purim and Passover, as well as our other Jewish holidays, has often been a source of much "simcha" and family togetherness. Whether an individual or family lived in a town in pre-war Europe, or on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the celebration of Shabbat and the Jewish holidays has always been an integral way in which we've expressed our "Jewishness" and reinforced our Jewish identity.

In this nearly forty-page exhibition of photographs and text, two aspects predominate. First, for Shabbat and for ten other Jewish holidays, a simple explanation of each is presented. Secondly, personal stories from the United States and Europe have been interspersed among the explanations, which make the exhibition even interesting and moving.

Many of us have never had the experience of living in Europe within the first half of the twentieth century. We can only imagine what it was like to live in a shtetl or town where Jewish tradition and rabbinical authority was such an integral part of Jewish daily life. Within "Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays," you will be able to read many personal stories as told by those who lived through and recall these times. You may wish to imagine that you were there....

There is so much more than can be said about this exhibition, but perhaps it is best for you to just visit the exhibition and see what it has to offer you.

Perhaps you will find some material within the exhibition that you'd like to share or read together with your spouse, your parent, your grandparent, your child or grandchild. Such stories are often rare opportunities to pass down family stories--here about the gatherings of families around holiday time. Maybe it will stir up some conversation and some telling of what occurred in your own home growing up when you were a child.

You can find the exhibition "Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays" by clicking on the following link: To best navigate this large exhibition, you can simply use the links within the Table of Contents. Alternatively, you may use the "next" links at the end of each page's text (to go from page to page within a particular holiday section), and use the links at the top of the page to go from holiday to holiday.

I hope that you enjoy the exhibition!

May you have a happy and a healthy new year! L'Shana Tova!

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