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Museum Musings

Women Rabbis Curate The Contemporary Issues Forum

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 SassoIt was my honor to work with America’s first four women rabbis to curate our Contemporary Issues Forum gallery for the month of June, in recognition of the 40th anniversary of women’s rabbinic ordination in America. Rabbis Sally Priesand, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, and Amy Eilberg, and Rabba Sara Hurwitz, each wrote a question on the topic of their choice and answered it as well—opening up a dialogue between visitors and some of today’s most groundbreaking Jewish leaders.   

 Rabba 

Their questions address social media, female spiritual leadership, Israel, and the connection between morality and religion. Visitors are responding in interesting ways every day. For example, to Rabbi Sasso’s question, “Do female spiritual leaders make a difference in religious communities?” a visitor named Sammie answered, “No, because men and women are equal.”  

  

I have to say that I was a little nervous that our “guest curators” would form questions out of statements they already agreed with—it can be tough to compose yes-or-no questions that elicit meaningful answers, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of writing a question you already believe to be a true statement.  But in the end, only one answered “yes” to her own question, and all of them are receiving tremendous attention and thoughtful feedback in the gallery.  It is rewarding to see our visitors so engaged with these topics, and I would welcome these women back as guest curators any time! 

 

-Contributed by Ivy Weingram

Assistant Curator

 

De Yiddishe Kup

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The Museum’s collection numbers over 25,00 artifacts, ranging from 18th century one-of-a-kind documents to YiKupddish theater costumes to turn of the 20th century typewriters. Our collection includes artifacts of national significance, as well as those that tell the personal stories of everyday American Jews just being American Jews. Today we had the honor of enriching our collection with a one-of-a-kind artifact that artfully, playfully, and poignantly represents the latter.  

 

Adorned with a silver Kiddush cup, golf balls bearing Jewish stars and plaques with Yiddish nicknames, all perched on 4 dreidels, “De Yiddishe Kup,” as it is known, was brought to our attention by Arny Kaplan, a connoisseur of American Judaica and a collector and friend of the Museum. Arny encouraged 4 men in his Lakewood Ranch, Florida retirement community to donate to us their beloved golf trophy—an understatement in every way. For Arny, and for the Museum, this piece of American Jewish folk art represents the camaraderie of one group of Jewish golf buddies “experimenting with the social adventure of retirement that included the challenge of meeting new friends in a new environment and hoping along the way to enjoy life while embracing and fulfilling their Jewish heritage and skup2ocial traditions.”  

  

As each man spoke at the presentation of the “Kup” to the Museum, it was evident to all those in the room—spouses, family members, staff, and one member of the team participating via Skype—just how much the friendship that developed on the golf course rekindled and encouraged the team members’ and their wives’ Jewish identities, brought to life around the many Shabbat dinners they shared with “De Yiddishe Kup” at the center of the table.  We at the museum promise to lovingly and respectfully refer to our new artifact by its formal name, “De Yiddishe Kup,” and we are so grateful to be its new home. 

 

-Contributed by Ivy Weingram

Assistant Curator