Programs @AJHS

Programs@AJHS offers something for everyone, inviting you to take part in unique, entertaining, and thought provoking themed programs, film screenings, panel discussions, book talks, performances, and more. Our programs either relate directly or contribute in adding to AJHS's established archival collection on American Jewry. Programs@AJHS works to build a diverse and curious community around cross-cultural exchanges and multi-disciplinary research interests while expanding the conversations on American Jewish history, cultures, identities, and the arts.

Fall Program Series

Not Just Funny Girl: A Program Series on Jewish American Women in Comedy

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Stories of New York: City College | Part I - The "Jewish Harvard" and a World of Ideas

Keynote, Panel Discussion, and Film Screening/Discussion

Sunday, February 2, 2020, 10:00 am
Ticket Info:

Ticket Info: $15 general; $12 CJH/Partner members, seniors, students at


This February and March, join historians, writers, filmmakers, and alumni for a series of discussions and films about City College, its rich Jewish history, and its transformative role in the lives of so many.

Part I: The “Jewish Harvard” and a World of Ideas

“From first day to last I felt privileged to be a student at City. I experienced City first with awe, then with pleasure, and finally with love.” Vivian Gornick, CCNY 1957

Its dazzling list of alumni includes playwrights and poets, politicians and journalists, scientists, teachers, and Nobel Prize winners. The City College of New York was established to provide children of working class and immigrant families access to a tuition-free, merit-based higher education. For many years, its student body was largely Jewish and for most it was “City College or nothing” at a time when quotas and cost kept Jews out of more prestigious institutions. Join Professor Jeffrey Gurock, journalists Joseph Berger and Ralph Blumenthal, writer Vivian Gornick, filmmaker Joseph Dorman and others for Part I: The "Jewish Harvard" and a World of Ideas. Program schedule below.

10:00am Coffee in the Great Hall
10:30am Welcome
The Rank and File of Sturdy Sons and Eventually Daughters
Jeffrey S. Gurock, Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University, CCNY 1971
11:15am An Engine of Transformation 
CCNY alumni panel discussion including:
Joseph Berger, CCNY 1966
Ralph Blumenthal, CCNY 1963
Vivan Gornick, CCNY 1957

Collecting the Stories
Dr. Vincent Boudreau
President, The City College of New York

Dr. Lev Sviridov, CCNY 2005
Assistant Professor Chemistry; Director, Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College

12:45pm Light Lunch
Galleries Open
Center Tour
1:45pm Arguing the World
Film screening and talkback with filmmaker Joseph Dorman, Princeton Professor David Bell, University of Oklahoma Assistant Professor, Ronnie Grinberg. Moderated by Barry Gewen.


Co-sponsored by Center for Jewish History and the City College of New York

Stories of New York: City College | Part II: The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team

Book Talk with Matthew Goodman and Clyde Haberman

Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 7:00 pm
Ticket Info:

Ticket Info: $15 general; $12 CJH/Partner members, seniors, students at

This February and March, join historians, writers, filmmakers, and alumni for a series of discussions and films about City College, its rich Jewish history, and its transformative role in the lives of so many.

Part II: The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team

At a school better known for intellectual achievement than athletic prowess, the 1949-1950 City College Beavers were the unlikeliest of champions.  An unheralded group of Jewish and African-American city kids, the Beavers stunned the basketball world by becoming the only team in history to win both the NIT and NCAA tournaments in the same season. But the next year, the starting five were arrested, charged with point shaving, and engulfed in a scandal that would affect the rest of their lives. Bestselling author Matthew Goodman discusses his critically acclaimed new book, The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team, with Clyde Haberman, CCNY 1966. They are joined by former City College basketball co-captain, Ron Nadell, CCNY ’51.

Co-sponsored by Center for Jewish History and the City College of New York

Stories of New York: City College | Part III: Cinema and Sanctuary

Film Screening and Discussion

Monday, March 16, 2020, 7:00 pm
Ticket Info:

Ticket Info: $15 general; $12 CJH/Partner members, seniors, students at

This February and March, join historians, writers, filmmakers, and alumni for a series of discussions and films about City College, its rich Jewish history, and its transformative role in the lives of so many.

Part III: Cinema and Sanctuary

It was the first documentary film school in the United States and it began in 1942 at the City College of New York. Led for many years by the German filmmaker and refugee, Hans Richter, the school guided working-class students into prestigious film careers. The Institute of Film Techniques lasted a little less than two decades but its stunning success and lasting influence has been called one of the best-kept secrets in film history. Award-winning director and CUNY Professor Dave Davidson tells this remarkable story in Cinema and Sanctuary, a documentary he produced with current CUNY film students. Discussion with Professor Davidson, legendary filmmaker Manny Kirchheimer, and CUNY students follows the screening.

Co-sponsored by Center for Jewish History, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the City College of New York

Straight into the Lions' Den: The Left, Zionism, and Antisemitism

Join us as Bari Weiss, author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism, and Susie Linfield, author of The Lion's Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky, tackle these urgent questions, moderated by Nextbook's Jonathan Rosen.  


Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 6:30 pm

How do we distinguish between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism?  How have thinkers on the Left wrestled with Zionism with and the actual State of Israel - sometimes championing it as a progressive cause, at other times seeing it as a racist or colonialist enterprise?   

Join us as Bari Weiss, author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism, and Susie Linfield, author of The Lion's Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky, tackle these urgent questions, moderated by Nextbook's Jonathan Rosen.  Natan named both books Fall 2019 Natan Notable Books, and this is the first time the authors will be in conversation. 

This program is in partnership with The Natan Foundation.

An Appetizing Gala - 2019 Emma Lazarus Dinner

This year AJHS honored two generations of the Russ Family of Russ & Daughters along with our Next Generation Honoree- Mikey Pasek. Niki Russ Federman, Josh Russ Tupper, Mark Russ Federman, and Maria M. Federman will be honored for keeping the appetizing tradition alive through their legendary Russ & Daughters store, restaurants and bakery.

The Russ family serves as informal historians, figuring out which traditions to keep, which to adapt, and infusing Jewish life cycles and holidays with tradition. We are especially honored that they’ve entrusted us with their archive, from which we created a new exhibit: “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story.” The AJHS also honored Mikey Pasek, who discovered his great grandfather’s family history book, and has pledged to further the writing of the family’s history through subsequent generations. All of our honorees value history and family, and their donation of family papers to the AJHS enables us to fulfill our mission of connecting past to present.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019, 6:30 pm

This year AJHS honors two generations of the Russ Family of Russ & Daughters along with our Next Generation Honoree- Mikey Pasek. Niki Russ Federman, Josh Russ Tupper, Mark Russ Federman, and Maria M. Federman will be honored for keeping the appetizing tradition alive through their legendary Russ & Daughters store, restaurants and bakery.

The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia with Unorthodox Podcast Hosts

Thursday, November 21, 2019, 7:00 pm

Deeply knowing, highly entertaining, and just a little bit irreverent, The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia is an unputdownable encyclopedia of all things Jewish and Jew-ish covering culture, religion, history, habits, language, and more. Readers will refresh their knowledge of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the artistry of Barbra Streisand, the significance of the Oslo Accords, the meaning of words like balaboosta,balaganbashert, and bageling. Understand all the major and minor holidays. Learn how the Jews invented Hollywood. Remind themselves why they need to read Hannah Arendt, watch Seinfeld, listen to Leonard Cohen. Even discover the secret of happiness (see "Latkes"). Join two of the authors, Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz, for the newish-Jewish story behind this concise compendium. Reception and book signing follow the program.

Co-sponsored by Center for Jewish History, Jewish Book Council, and Tablet Magazine



History Behind the Headlines: Socialism

Part of the Soapbox Talks series

Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 7:00 pm

Embraced by some, deplored by others, misunderstood by many, socialism is back and it’s a hot topic in presidential politics. With younger voters increasingly supporting socialism, the growing movement is changing the national conversation and potentially, the Democratic party. But when a recent Gallup poll asked Americans what the word actually means, answers varied wildly. Veteran journalist, and former editor-in-chief of the Forward Jane Eisner sits down with an all-star panel to discuss socialism today, its complicated past, and the movement’s deep Jewish roots. She is joined by University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of American Jewish History, Tony MichelsWashington Post columnistCatherine Rampell; New York Post columnistKarol Markowicz; and former Deputy Director of the Democratic Socialists of America, David Duhalde.

Part of the Soapbox Talks series, History Behind the Headlines: Socialism is the first in a series of panel discussion leading up to the 2020 elections designed to bring historical perspective to today’s pressing issues.

Co-sponsored by Center for Jewish History

CJHTalks: Phil Rosenthal in Conversation with Marjorie Ingall

Monday, November 4, 2019, 7:00 pm

Everyone knows Phil Rosenthal loves to eat. The star of the hit series, Somebody Feed Phil, and co-creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, travels the world to taste the best local cuisine. So, what will we feed Phil at the Center for Jewish History? With hundreds of vintage Jewish cookbooks here in the archives, we have a few recipes in mind. (Crisco Recipes for the Jewish Housewife, anyone?)  Tablet’s Marjorie Ingall joins Phil for a mouthwatering conversation about his fabulous food forays, his German-Jewish family, and his hilarious memoir, You’re Lucky You’re Funny. Book signing to follow.

Bonus! Phil loves Russ & Daughters and we do too. See our fabulous new exhibit about this iconic eatery before or after CJHTalks!

Co-sponsored by Center for Jewish History, Leo Baeck Institute, Tablet Magazine, and Russ & Daughters

Soapbox Walks: African American History

Neighborhood Walking Tour Series

Sunday, November 3, 2019, 10:30 am

Union Square's soapboxes drew socialists, suffragists, anarchists who energized crowds with ideas about America. This series pairs a wonderful roster of scholars to co-lead tours with AJHS ED Annie Polland. This installment of Soapbox Walks features Professor Leslie Harris and illuminates how African American history and US history intersected on Union Square, from Civil War demonstrations, Frederick Douglass’s 1878 Memorial Day Speech, and early 20th century socialism.

The Soapbox Walks Series has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.



Prose & Pose: Soapbox Yoga

A New Family Program Series!

Sunday, October 27, 2019, 10:30 am

This series invites families to get up and participate in uncovering the story of Emma Lazarus, her work, and the neighborhood she called home. Join us as we connect past and present through poses inspired by the stories of Emma Lazarus and the soapbox speakers of Union Square. This program uniquely blends storytelling and  physical movement and each session will feature a new story from PJ Library’s collection!


 This program is geared towards families with children age 4 to 7 years old.

The Prose & Pose family program series has been made possible in part by PJ Libray.


Soapbox Walks: Jewish Radicals

Neighborhood Walking Tour Series

Sunday, October 20, 2019, 10:30 am

Union Square's soapboxes drew socialists, suffragists, anarchists who energized crowds with ideas about America. This series pairs a wonderful roster of scholars to co-lead tours with AJHS ED Annie Polland. Co-sponsored by Jewish Currents, this installment of Soapbox Walks features Tony Michels and traces how the Yiddish socialist movement inluenced NY politics and culture. 

The Soapbox Walks Series has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People

Film Screening & Interview

Thursday, October 17, 2019, 6:30 pm

Join AJHS for a film screening followed by a conversation with Director Oren Rudavsky about the fascinating life, accomplishments, and legacy of Joseph Pulitzer.

This event is Co-Sponsored by The Center for Jewish History.

Soapbox Walks: Overlooked Landmarks

Neighborhood Walking Tour Series

Sunday, October 6, 2019, 10:30 am

Union Square's soapboxes drew socialists, suffragists, anarchists who energized crowds with ideas about America. This series pairs a wonderful roster of scholars to co-lead tours with AJHS ED Annie Polland. This installment of Soapbox Walks, featuring professor of historic preservation Andrew Dolkart, explores the architecture and development of the surrounding neighborhood. 

The Soapbox Walks Series has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Soapbox Walks: Firebrand Women

Neighborhood Walking Tour Series

Sunday, September 22, 2019, 10:30 am

Union Square's soapboxes drew socialists, suffragists, anarchists who energized crowds with ideas about America. This series pairs a wonderful roster of scholars to co-lead tours with AJHS ED Annie Polland. Lara Vapnek features the powerful women speakers--Elizabeth Gurley  Flynn, Harriet Stanton Blatch, Emma Goldman--who captured audiences atop the soapboxes of Union Square.

The Soapbox Walks Series has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Opening: Russ & Daughters, An Appetizing Story

Exhibition Opening Event

Thursday, September 12, 2019, 6:30 pm

Join AJHS for an appetizing evening of stories and noshes as we celebrate the opening of our new exhibition “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story”.

Hamill & Haberman | Stories of New York

Conversation with Pete Hamill and Clyde Haberman

Sunday, September 8, 2019, 3:00 pm

Growing up in Brooklyn, legendary journalist Pete Hamill was an altar boy in church and helped out a rabbi on Saturdays in a nearby synagogue. "He tried to teach me Yiddish," Hamill remembers, "and I did my little part trying to explain to him that the Cincinnati Reds were not Socialists. They were a baseball team." The experience shaped a credo the renowned reporter and best-selling novelist lives and writes by. "New York City," Hamill says, "is the capital of people who are not like you. Absorb as much as you can."

In a career spanning six decades, Pete Hamill has absorbed his city, written its stories, and imagined still more in his eleven novels. On September 8th at 3 pm at the Center for Jewish History, the celebrated storyteller sits down with another notable New Yorker and his former New York Post colleague: Bronx native and acclaimed New York Times reporter Clyde Haberman. Both sons of immigrants, Hamill and Haberman will talk about the Irish and Jewish neighborhoods they came from, the immigrant experience then and now, the tabloid that launched their careers, and the ever-changing city that continues to inspire.

Program will be followed by a reception.

Presented by Center for Jewish History, American Jewish Historical Society, Irish American Writers and Artists, American Irish Historical Society & Glucksman Ireland House NYU

DATE ADDED: Happy Birthday Emma Lazarus!

Walking Tours with Annie Polland (Executive Director, AJHS)

Co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Thursday, August 8, 2019, 6:30 pm

Emma Lazarus' birthday tour on July 22 has sold out-so we are giving a reprise tour and celebrating it again on August 8th! Born on July 22, 1849, Emma Lazarus is best known for writing The New Colossus, the poem emblazoned on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.  Friend to Ralph Waldo Emerson, cousin of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, Emma Lazarus grew up in a prominent Sephardic-Jewish family, was educated by private tutors, and called Union Square home. Our twilight tour will pass by the gorgeous brownstone home where she wrote her most famous poem, the art studios and publication houses of her literary friends, and the almost-hidden cemetery of her family's congregation. Along the way, Annie Polland, Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society will tell the story of this gifted and fascinating woman and the changing city that inspired and motivated her. Meet at the Center for Jewish History's lobby at 6:30pm. We will end at the Center for Jewish History, where we will see Emma Lazarus’ handwritten manuscript of the New Colossus—that inspired the tour.

Exploring Ladies Mile: A Look at the Merchants Who Built the City's Grand Emporiums and the Fashionable Women Who Shopped There

A Walking Tour with Esther Crain

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Thursday, August 1, 2019, 6:00 pm

Our popular walking tour is back!  Enjoy a storied stroll along Ladies Mile, a nine-block stretch once known for posh department stores and architectural grandeur. Join Esther Crain, writer of the award-winning Ephemeral New York blog, and author of The Gilded Age in New York, 1870-1910, as she weaves in Jewish stories and Gilded Age tales about the people and places that once populated these historic blocks.

Happy Birthday Emma Lazarus!

A Walking Tour in Celebration of Emma Lazarus' 170 Birthday

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Monday, July 22, 2019, 6:30 pm

Born on July 22, 1849, Lazarus is best known for writing The New Colossus, the poem emblazoned on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.  Friend to Ralph Waldo Emerson, cousin of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, Emma Lazarus grew up in a prominent Sephardic-Jewish family, was educated by private tutors, and called Union Square home. Our twilight tour will pass by the gorgeous brownstone home where she wrote her most famous poem, the art studios and publication houses of her literary friends, and the almost-hidden cemetery of her family's congregation. Along the way, Annie Polland, Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society will tell the story of this gifted and fascinating woman and the changing city that inspired and motivated her. We will end at the Center for Jewish History, where we will see Emma Lazarus' handwritten manuscript of The New Colossus, and celebrate her life with birthday cake.

An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

Book Talk with Author Julie Salamon and Warren Bass (Senior Editor, the Wall Street Journal)

Co-Sponsored with The Village Temple

Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 7:00 pm

This talk with author Julie Salamon and Warren Bass, Senior Editor at The Wall Street Journal, revisits the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro and the brutal murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer, which became a flashpoint in the intractable struggle between Israelis and Palestinians. Come learn about the geopolitical and personal consequences flowing from this shocking act of international terrorism that thrust an ordinary man into history and reshaped the destiny of three families.

AJHS is home to the Klinghoffer Family Papers. The collection contains papers of the Klinghoffer family related primarily to the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship, Leon Klinghoffer’s murder, and the aftermath of these events.






This Land is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto

Book Launch and Talk with Author Suketu Mehta (NYU) and Nancy Foner (CUNY Hunter College)

Thursday, June 6, 2019, 7:00 pm

There are few subjects in American life that prompt more discussion and controversy than immigration. But do we really understand it? In This Land Is Our Land, the renowned author Suketu Mehta attacks the issue head-on. Drawing on his own experience as an Indian-born teenager growing up in New York City and on years of reporting around the world, Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny. As he explains, the West is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants. Mehta juxtaposes the phony narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of laborers, nannies, and others, from Dubai to Queens, and explains why more people are on the move today than ever before. As civil strife and climate change reshape large parts of the planet, it is little surprise that borders have become so porous. But Mehta also stresses the destructive legacies of colonialism and global inequality on large swaths of the world: When today’s immigrants are asked, “Why are you here?” they can justly respond, “We are here because you were there.” And now that they are here, as Mehta demonstrates, immigrants bring great benefits, enabling countries and communities to flourish. Impassioned, rigorous, and richly stocked with memorable stories and characters, This Land Is Our Land is a timely and necessary intervention, and a literary polemic of the highest order.

Currently on display at the Center for Jewish History, the exhibition When The Door Closed, They Carried the Torch addresses advocacy in the age of Immigration restriction, exploring how Jewish individuals and organizations continued to help immigrants in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition showcases unique materials from the Max James Kohler Papers, the collection of the National Council for Jewish Women, and more. The AJHS has recently finished processing the records of the organization HIAS – The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the organization that helped families, both Jewish and non-Jewish, immigrate and resettle in the US since 1881.

Out of the Box: El Torero de la Torah or the Bullfighter from Brooklyn

A story from the Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society Honoring Pride Month

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Monday, June 3, 2019, 7:00 pm

A story from the Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society

Stepping into a bullfighting ring in Mexico for the first time in 1923, Sidney Franklin launched a decades-long career as the world’s first Jewish matador. Secretly gay, celebrated and befriended by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and starring alongside Paulette Goddard and Eddie Cantor, “El Torero de la Torah” traveled a long way from his upbringing as the fifth of nine children of Russian-born, Orthodox Jewish parents in Brooklyn. Rachel Miller, Director of Archive and Library Services at the Center for Jewish History, brings Franklin’s fascinating story Out of the Box.

About the Series
At the Center for Jewish History, there are tens of thousands of boxes in our partners’ archival collections. Boxes filled with photographs, journals, letters, and documents. Boxes filled with stories. Come see what we find! Join us for our new series, Out of the Box.

A Dad's Mission After Parkland

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Thursday, May 23, 2019, 7:00 pm

Fred Guttenberg never planned on leading a public life. He didn’t envision himself giving interviews on national news programs or announcing legislation on Capitol Hill. “I was not a politically involved person before February 14th,” Fred said. But that day in 2018, his 14-year-old daughter Jaime was one of 17 people killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fred is now devoting his life to urgently advocating for stricter gun control and public safety laws. A native of Long Island, Fred says his Jewish upbringing instilled in him a commitment to family, service, and standing up for others. Matt Gutman, an ABC News Chief National Correspondent joins Fred for a conversation about speaking out, fighting back, and challenging elected officials to do more.

ASL interpretation will be provided at this event.

Bucharest Diary: Ambassador Alfred H. Moses in Conversation with Senator Joseph Lieberman

A Book Talk

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Monday, May 20, 2019, 7:00 pm

In the 1970s, American attorney Alfred H. Moses was approached on the streets of Bucharest by young Jews desperate to emigrate from Communist Romania to Israel. Helping them became his mission. In recognition of his work, Moses was appointed President Clinton’s first ambassador to Romania in 1994. In his compelling memoir,  Bucharest Diary Romania’s Journey from Darkness to Light, Moses writes about his fascinating career and the previously untold story of the exodus of Jews from Communist Romania to Israel. Senator Joseph Lieberman joins Ambassador Moses to discuss his historic work and key diplomatic role in Romania’s transition from its Communist past to democracy - and from “darkness to light.”  Book sale, signing and reception follow the program.

Antisemitism, Identity Politics, and American Identity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Panel Discussion with Christina Greer, Tony Michels, and Eric Ward

Part of the Jack Coleman and Lawrence Kanter, MD Lecture Series

Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 7:00 pm

 “Antisemitism, I discovered, is a particular and potent form of racism so central to White supremacy that Black people would not win our freedom without tearing it down.”

 –  Eric Ward, “Skin in The Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism” (Political Research, 2017)

Eric Ward is a long time civil rights strategist and the Executive Director at Western States Center. In 1990, Ward documented his first White Nationalist Rally, and since then has been working to expose and respond to bigoted violence across the country through empowering community organization. Ward emphasizes that in order to understand the threat posed by the rapidly growing white nationalist movement in the United States today, we must first come to terms with the centrality of antisemitism to white nationalist ideology.

Joining Eric Ward in conversation is Tony Michels, a professor of American Jewish History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. Together these panelists will pull on the threads that connect past and present, and help us begin the process of unraveling the prevalence antisemitism, and bigotry more broadly, in America.

Dear Erich: A Jazz Opera to Commemorate the Holocaust

Live Opera Music and Q&A Dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance Day with Ted Rosenthal

Wednesday, May 1, 2019, 7:00 pm

Dear Erich is inspired by 200 newly discovered letters written in Germany between 1938 and 1941 by Herta Rosenthal to her son Erich, the composer's father.  Dear Erich tells a refugee story for our times.  How can a family cope as the walls of their nation's hatred close in around them? For those who escape, what lies ahead?  Even in the land of the free, are they ever really free?  What if they never learn the fate of loved ones left behind and the communications just stopped? What does closure mean, why does remembrance matter, where does hope come from?

Erich, a Jewish academic, escaped Nazi Germany to the U.S. shortly before Kristallnacht. The opera tells the story of a family's dual fates. Erich's journey to a new life in the new world - his studies, jazz and love -  while the situation deteriorates in Germany and his family ultimately meets their cruel demise at the hands of the Nazis. Frustrated and powerless to help them emigrate, Erich must live with deep survivor guilt which affects him in his relationships with his wife and children.

Dear Erich addresses these themes – walls and wars, refugees and immigrants, survivors and victims, the promise of a new world. Dear Erich asks what is found when a survivor forms a new family, and what gets lost when the next generation is untethered to the past?  The opera's scenes of immigration and refugees in crisis raise moral dilemmas that resound to this day.  Finally, Dear Erich stands for the power of remembrance, not just to honor the past but also to root us in the present and chart our future.

From Swastika to Jim Crow

Film Screening and Discussion

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History and the Leo Baeck Institute


Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 7:00 pm

The recent uptick in antisemitic, anti-immigrant, and racist rhetoric have created a burst of new interest in the acclaimed documentary, From Swastika to Jim Crow.  Based on the book by Gabrielle Simon Edgcomb, the film tells the little-known story of two very different cultures, sharing a common burden of oppression. In the 1930s, German universities were some of the first targets of Nazi activity.  Jewish professors and intellectuals who were able to immigrate to the United States faced an uncertain future.  Confronted with antisemitism at American universities and a public distrust of foreigners, a surprising number sought refuge in a most unlikely place – the traditionally black colleges in the then- segregated South.  Securing teaching positions, these scholars came to form lasting relationships with their students, and went on to significantly impact the communities in which they lived and worked.

Nineteen years after the film was originally released, the filmmakers, Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher, feel its message –that more binds us together than separates us - must be heard.  They passionately believe that as long as racism and inequality exist in our society, there will be a compelling need to bring From Swastika to Jim Crow to a wider audience. One-hour screening followed by Q&A with the filmmakers.

Iranian Jews Between Iran, Zion, and America

Talk with Leah Mirakhor (Yale University) and Lior Sternfeld (Penn State University). Moderator: Atina Grossman (Cooper Union).

Co-sponsored with the American Sephardi Federation, the Center for Jewish History, and HIAS: The Hebrew Immigration Aid Society.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 7:00 pm

This talk celebrates the new groundbreaking work of two social historians on Iranian Jewish life and community in the 20th century between immigrations and diasporas in Iran, Israel, and the US, and paying tribute to the work of HIAS in helping Jews immigrate and resettle in the US in the years post the 1979 revolution in Iran.

Leah Mirakhor is Lecturer in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration (ER&M) and in American Studies at Yale University. Mirakhor’s writing has appeared in The Yale Review, BookforumThe Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, African American Review, The James Baldwin Review, and Studies in American Jewish Literature. Mirakhor’s essays  “After the Revolution to the War on Terror: Iranian Jewish American Literature in the United States,” and A Problem Shared: Feeling Jewish examine Jewish American & diasporic literature and identities.

Lior Sternfeld is a social historian of the modern Middle East with particular interests in Jewish (and other minorities’) histories of the region. Sternfeld teaches at the Jewish Studies Program at Penn State University. Sternfeld’s new book, Between Iran and Zion: Jewish Histories of Twentieth Century Iran, examines the integration of the Jewish communities in Iran into the nation-building projects of the twentieth century. This book examines the development of the Iranian Jewish communities vis-à-vis ideologies and institutions such as Iranian nationalism, Zionism, and constitutionalism, among others.

The AJHS has recently finished procesing the records of the organization HIAS – The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the organization that helped families Iran, both Jewish and non-Jewish, immigrate and resettle in the US since the 1970s.


A Rosenberg by Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America

Book Talk with Author Kirsten Fermaglich and Jennifer Mendelsohn (Resistance Genealogy)

Co-sponsored with the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute at the Center for Jewish History

Thursday, April 4, 2019, 7:00 pm

Join us for a book talk with author Kirsten Fermaglich and Jennifer Mendelsohn (Resistance Genealogy) to celebrate the publication of A Rosenberg by Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America. A groundbreaking history of the practice of Jewish name changing in the 20th century, this book showcases just how much is in a name. This first history of name changing in the United States offers a previously unexplored window into American Jewish life throughout the twentieth century. A Rosenberg by Any Other Name demonstrates how historical debates about immigration, antisemitism and race, class mobility, gender and family, the boundaries of the Jewish community, and the power of government are reshaped when name changing becomes part of the conversation.

AJHS is home to multiple records referring to name changing by Jews in the US. For example: the AJHS holds a “distinctive Jewish name” (DJN) list (Box 82).  It’s a list of 106 Jewish surnames (like Cohen and Goldberg) that the National Jewish Welfare Board developed during World War II to help count the Jewish community. Read more about this in the AJHS blog.

First Person: Jason Stanley in Conversation with Peter Beinart

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History and the Leo Baeck Institute

Monday, April 1, 2019, 7:00 pm

As a professor of philosophy at Yale, a scholar of propaganda, and the child of World War II Jewish Refugees, Jason Stanley understands how democratic societies can be vulnerable to fascism. Alarmed by the pervasive rise of fascist tactics both at home and around the globe, Stanley set out to analyze the language and beliefs that separate people into an “us” and a “them.” In his new book, How Fascism Works, The Politics of Us and Them, Stanley knits together reflections on history, philosophy, sociology, and critical race theory with stories from contemporary Hungary, Poland, India, Myanmar, and the United States, among other nations. In a fascinating First Person conversation, Stanley speaks with journalist Peter Beinart about the ten pillars of fascist politics, the recurring patterns he sees, and how his own family history influences his world view today.

Immigration Matters: Jews, Other Immigrants and America

All Day Conference

Co-sponsored with the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History at New York University

Sunday, March 31, 2019, 11:00 am

Join us for an all-day conference on immigration in historical and contemporary perspectives. Immigration made America and its Jews. The move towards restriction and the aftermath of the 1920s legislation left long shadows across the history of both the nation and the Jews of the world. This day-long symposium will examine the efforts exerted by American Jews to prevent, roll-back, and resist immigration restriction. Beginning in the early twentieth century, as the forces in favor of restriction began to gather political clout, American Jews, on their own and in conjunction with allies, including other immigrant groups, sought ways to protest and soften restriction. After 1924 they likewise attempted to circumvent and then rewrite the racially-based laws. Historians will explore the Jewish stake in immigration as an historical matter and will in the course of that exploration ask about the contemporary moment as immigration once again roils the political landscape. Speakers include: Maddalena Marinari, Joel Perlmann, Randi Storch, Libby Garland, Geraldine Gudefin, Heather Lee, Hasia Diner, and Carl Bon Tempo.

See the Full Conference Schedule Here.

Currently on display at the Center for Jewish History, the exhibition When The Door Closed, They Carried the Torch addresses advocacy in the age of Immigration restriction, exploring how Jewish individuals and organizations continued to help immigrants in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition showcases unique materials from the Max James Kohler Papers, the collection of the National Council for Jewish Women, and more. The AJHS has recently finished processing the records of the organization HIAS – The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the organization that helped families immigrate and resettle in the US since 1881.

Searching for Survivors: the Fate of the St. Louis Passengers

A Talk by Scott Miller

Co-Sponsored with The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 2:00 pm

On the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the St. Louis’ fateful voyage from Hamburg, Germany, the JDC Archives and the American Jewish Historical Society invite you to a special public program:

Eighty years ago, in early June of 1939, the St. Louis, a passenger ship carrying 937 people – almost all of them Jews fleeing Nazi Germany – was denied entry into both Cuba and the United States. With no refuge in sight, the St. Louis was forced to sail back to Europe. The fates of its passengers, however, remained an unsolved mystery for over sixty years.

Scott Miller, former Director of Curatorial Affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will discuss his decades-long search to uncover the fate of every passenger from this tragic journey and JDC’s historic role in striving to rescue them.

Scott Miller was a founding staff member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he worked for 30 years and now serves as a consultant on special acquisitions for the Holocaust Museum’s National Institute for Holocaust Documentation. He is the co-author with Sarah Ogilvie of Refuge Denied – The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust, the story of their search for the St. Louis passengers.

Credit: Mary Anderson

Spies of No Country: Matti Friedman in Conversation with Lucette Lagnado

Part of the Series First Person

Co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 6:30 pm

Matti Friedman’s new book, Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel tells the unknown story of four of Israel’s first spies. Recruited by a rag-tag outfit called the Arab Section before the 1948 War of Independence, they assumed Arab identities to gather intelligence and carry out sabotage and assassinations. At the height of the war the spies posed as refugees fleeing the fighting, reached Beirut, and set up what became Israel’s first foreign intelligence station. Spies not only tells a breathtaking and true espionage story, it also explores a different story about how the state was founded and raises many questions that are relevant today.

In a wide-ranging First Person conversation, Matti Friedman speaks with author Lucette Lagnado (The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit) about his journalism career, researching and writing his new book, and what Spies of No Country reveals about Israel in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Matti Friedman has reported from Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Moscow, the Caucasus, and Washington, DC. A former Associated Press correspondent, he is a contributor to The New York Times Op-Ed Page, and his writing has appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Tablet. Matti’s 2016 book Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War was chosen as a New York Times’ Notable Book and as one of Amazon’s 10 best books of the year. Pumpkinflowers was selected as one of the year’s best by Booklist, Mother Jones, Foreign Affairs, the National Post, and The Globe and Mail. It won the 2017 Vine Award for Canadian Jewish literature, the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for memoir, and was shortlisted for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize, the Writer’s Trust Prize, and the Yitzkak Sadeh Prize for military writing (Israel). Matti’s first book, The Aleppo Codex, an investigation into the strange fate of an ancient Bible manuscript, won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize, the ALA’s Sophie Brody Medal, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for history. It was translated into seven languages. Matti was born in Toronto and lives in Jerusalem with his family.

Born in Cairo, Lucette Lagnado is a cultural and investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where she has received numerous prizes for her work. She and her family left Egypt as refugees when she was a small child, an experience that helped shape and inform her recent memoirs, The Arrogant Years and The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit (Ecco/HarperCollins). In 2008, she was the recipient of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit. She is also the coauthor of Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz, which has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Lagnado resides with her husband, journalist Douglas Feiden, in Manhattan and Sag Harbor, New York.

America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

Book Talk and Panel with Author Pamela Nadell and Jane Eisner

Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 7:00 pm

On the day of its publication, join us in launching Pamela Nadell’s America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today. A groundbreaking history of how Jewish women have maintained their identity and influenced social activism as they wrote themselves into American history. What does it mean to be a Jewish woman in America? In a gripping historical narrative, Pamela S. Nadell weaves together the stories of a diverse group of extraordinary people—from the colonial era’s Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter Emma Lazarus to Bessie Hillman and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to scores of other activists, workers, wives, and mothers who helped carve out a Jewish American identity. The twin threads binding these women together, she argues, are a strong sense of self and a resolute commitment to making the world a better place. Nadell recounts how Jewish women have been at the forefront of causes for centuries, fighting for suffrage, trade unions, civil rights, and feminism, and hoisting banners for Jewish rights around the world.

The AJHS is home to key collections of Jewish American women’s movements and organizations and feminist leaders working in the US and abroad, including the National Council of Jewish Women – the NY Section, Hadassah – the Women’s Zionist Organization, The Bnai Brith Women, the Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations, and more.

Happy Birthday, Molly! Celebrate East and West and the Other Migrating Identities

Live Score and Film Screening of East and West (1923) starring Molly Picon, featuring composer of the 1991 score Pete Sokolow and Michael Winograd (Sandaara)

Part of the Program Series Not Just Funny Girl: Jewish American Women in Comedy

Co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History, YIVO, The Forward, the Jewish Women's Archive, the National Center for Jewish Film, and the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History

Sunday, March 3, 2019, 4:00 pm

Join us for a live score and film screening of the silent film classic East and West (1923) presented with live music by Pete Sokolow and Michael Winograd (Klezmer Trio, Sandaraa) performing a score written by Sokolow and Henry Sapoznik in 1991. This rare/important/delightful film was restored by The National Center for Jewish Film ( with new English intertitles. This program celebrates the 121 birthday of the star of East and West, Molly Picon, highlighting her talented bridging of multiple geographies and identities in her performances, prompting us to consider today’s concepts of East versus West, immigration, diaspora, and identity.

This delightful comedy that scholar Jeffrey Shandler famously called “anti-nostalgic”, East and West opens as Morris Brown, a New Yorker better acquainted with his checkbook than his prayerbook, returns to Galicia with his very American daughter, Mollie, for a family wedding. The bride, daughter of his traditionally observant brother, and Mollie, whose exuberant antics fill the film, could not be more different. But Mollie unexpectedly meets her match, an engaging young yeshiva scholar who forsakes tradition and joins the secular world to win her heart. East and West features classic scenes of Molly Picon lifting weights and boxing, teaching young villagers to shimmy and stealing away from services to gorge herself before sundown on Yom Kippur. Underlying these hijinks is filmmaker Goldin's affectionate appreciation of the differences and tensions inherent in immigration.

AJHS is home to records on prominent Jewish women actors and comedians, including the Molly Picon Papers, the Adah Isaac Menken Papers, Papers of Sara Adler, photos and records on Sophie Tucker, and more.

Is America Different? Anti-Semitism in the United States

Panel Discussion with Lila Corwin Berman (Temple University), Tony Michels (UW Madison) and Jonathan Sarna (Brandeis University). Moderated by Samuel G. Freedman (Columbia University).

Co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 7:00 pm

In the wake of the murderous attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, anti-Semitism in America fosters debate. To what extent is America different from diaspora countries? Do more recent events warrant a change in our understanding, or is this part of longer patterns? Join award-winning historians Lila Corwin Berman, Tony Michels and Jonathan Sarna for a conversation that covers recent events but is also rooted in history. Documents and images from the AJHS archives will punctuate the conversation.

Aside from numerous correspondence about Anti Semitism in the US, AJHS is notably home to The Anti-Semitic Literature Collection, documenting journalistic source materials (newspapers, newsletters, and illustrations) regarding views of anti-Semitism in the United States during the 20th-century and recent early 21st century.

Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures

Book Talk with Author Adina Hoffman and Phillip Lopate

Co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 6:30 pm

Pauline Kael called him “the greatest American screenwriter.” Jean-Luc Godard said he was “a genius” who “invented 80% of what is used in Hollywood movies today.” With credits that include ScarfaceTwentieth Century and Notorious, novelist, reporter, and playwright Ben Hecht also emerged during WWII as an outspoken crusader for the imperiled Jews of Europe and later became a fierce propagandist for pre-1948 Palestine’s Jewish terrorist underground. Adina Hoffman speaks with Phillip Lopate about her new biography of this charismatic and contradictory figure, who came to embody much that defined America—especially Jewish America—in his time. Book sales and signing follow the program.

Adina Hoffman is the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood, Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City, and My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century, which was named one of the best twenty books of 2009 by the Barnes & Noble Review, one of the top ten biographies of the year by Booklist, and won the UK’s 2010 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize. She is also the author, with Peter Cole, of Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, which was awarded the American Library Association’s award for the Jewish Book of the Year. Formerly a film critic for the American Prospect and the Jerusalem Post, she is Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and was named one of the inaugural (2013) winners of the Windham Campbell prize for literature. She lives in Jerusalem and New Haven.

Phillip Lopate has written four personal essay collections, two novels, a pair of novellas, and three poetry collections, among many other published works. His latest book is the memoir, A Mother’s Tale, (OSU Press, 2017). Mr. Lopate has received numerous awards including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. A Brooklyn native, he is a professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches nonfiction writing.

Love and Strife: A Celebration of Saul Bellow's Life and Storytelling

Book Talk with Zachary Leader (Author, The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965-2005) Interviewed by Mark Cohen (Author, Not Bad for Delancey Street: The Rise of Billy Rose)

Monday, February 4, 2019, 7:00 pm

“This is a superb biography,” The New York Times.

Please join us for a discussion of the newly released second and final volume of The Life of Saul Bellow, the monumental biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Jewish-American novelist.

Zachary Leader’s Love and Strife, 1965-2005, has been hailed as “top-notch,” “compulsively readable,” and “the definitive account,” which description means this will likely be the last chance for Bellow readers – fans and foes as well as the curious and ambivalent – to publicly gather, learn, and wonder about the writer who more than any other captured American and Jewish-American life in the second half of the 20th century.

There is a lot to wonder about. When this second volume of the biography opens, Bellow, at forty-nine, is at the pinnacle of American letters - rich, famous, critically acclaimed. But he also is increasingly embroiled in controversy over 1960s youth culture, the anti-war and civil rights movements, Israel, anti-Semitism, and Jewish identity. His private life offers no respite, as he regularly marries and divorces, carries on multiple love affairs, juggles relationships with his three sons and, at age 84, fathers a daughter.

Mark Cohen is the author of the new biography, Not Bad for Delancey Street: The Rise of Billy Rose, which was inspired by The Bellarosa Connection, Saul Bellow’s fictional account of the mid-20th century producer, songwriter, nightclub and theater owner, syndicated columnist, art collector, tough guy, and Jewish philanthropist who rescued a Jewish refugee from Nazi Europe.

AJHS is home to the papers of great Jewish New York novelists housed in our collections, such as the Abraham Shoenfeld Papers, the Henry Roth Papers, and the Walter Hart Blumenthal Papers – all masterfully narrating themes of immigration, identity, and the American Jewish experience.

Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s

Panel with Author Marc Dollinger, Including April Baskin (The Union for Reform Judaism), Cheryl Greenberg (Trinity College), Ilana Kaufman (The Jews of Color Field Building Initiative) and Rivka Press Schwartz (Associate Principal, SAR High School and Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America)

Co-sponsored with The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

Thursday, January 31, 2019, 7:00 pm

Join us for a panel to celebrate the publication of Marc Dollinger’s Black Power Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s with the author and special guests. In this book, Marc Dollinger charts the transformation of American Jewish political culture from the Cold War liberal consensus of the early postwar years to the rise and influence of Black Power-inspired ethnic nationalism. He shows how, in a period best known for the rise of black antisemitism and the breakdown of the black-Jewish alliance, black nationalists enabled Jewish activists to devise a new Judeo-centered political agenda—including the emancipation of Soviet Jews, the rise of Jewish day schools, the revitalization of worship services with gender-inclusive liturgy, and the birth of a new form of American Zionism.

AJHS is home to the records of the American Jewish Congress, where numerous photos trace the participation of Rabbis and other prominent Jewish leaders in the 1963 March on Washington, the 1965 March from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama, and other events and causes of the Civil Rights movement era. AJHS is also home to the collection of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews, which helped Ethiopian Jews receive recognition, aid, and refuge as they were trying to flee Ethiopia since the 1970s.    

The Shalom Hartman Institute is a leading center of Jewish thought and education, serving Israel and North America. Our mission is to strengthen Jewish peoplehood, identity and pluralism and ensure that Judaism is a compelling force for good in the 21st century


Queer Expectations: A Genealogy of Jewish Women's Poetry

Book Celebration and Poetry Reading with Author Zohar Weiman-Kelman, Irena Klepfisz, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum (Congregation Beth Simchat Torah), Sarah Chinn (Hunter College, CUNY), Roni Mazal (NYU).

Co-Sponsored with the Jewish Women's Archive and YIVO.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 7:00 pm

Jewish women have had a fraught relationship with history, struggling for inclusion while resisting their limited role as (re)producers of the future. In Queer Expectations, Zohar Weiman-Kelman shows how Jewish women writers turned to poetry to write new histories, developing “queer expectancy” as a conceptual tool for understanding how literary texts can both invoke and resist what came before. Bringing together Jewish women’s poetry from the late nineteenth century, the interwar period, and the 1970s and 1980s, Weiman-Kelman takes readers on a boundary-crossing journey through works in English, Yiddish, and Hebrew, setting up encounters between writers of different generations, locations, and languages. Queer Expectations highlights genealogical lines of continuity drawn by authors as diverse as Emma Lazarus, Kadya Molodowsky, Leah Goldberg, Anna Margolin, Irena Klepfisz, and Adrienne Rich. These poets push back against heteronormative imperatives of biological reproduction and inheritance, opting instead for connections that twist traditional models of gender and history. Looking backward in queer ways enables new histories to emerge, intervenes in a troubled present, and gives hope for unexpected futures.
Queer Expectations is one of the most original books of literary analysis, historiography, biography, and queer theory I have ever read. Its originality and its methodology turn traditional ways of thinking about literary analysis, questions of influence, and what queer can mean upside down. This is a truly brilliant book.” — Evelyn Torton Beck, editor of Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology, Revised and Updated Edition
Zohar Weiman-Kelman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Literature and Linguistics at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

AJHS is home to the Emma Lazarus Papers, famously including a handwritten version of Lazarus’ The New Colossus.

From Jean Carroll to Mrs. Maisel: Jewish women comedians as inspiration

Talk with Noah Gardenswartz (writer for the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and Grace Overbeke (Northwestern University)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 7:00 pm

A talk with Noah Gardenswartz, writer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Grace Overbeke, Dramaturg currently at Northwestern University. Join us for an evening of conversation, film clips, and good laughs as we discuss the life and work of comedian Jean Carroll, and how the character of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was inspired by Carroll, Joan Rivers, and other Jewish women comedians.

AJHS is home to records on prominent Jewish women actors and comedians, including the Molly Picon Papers, the Adah Isaac Menken Papers, Papers of Sara Adler, photos and records on Sophie Tucker, and more.

Photograph: courtesy of Amazon.

Neither Egg, Nor Cream: The Extraordinary Histories of Seltzer and the Egg Cream

Premiere NY Screening of Short Film & Book Talk

Thursday, November 15, 2018, 7:00 pm

Join us for a NY Premier screening of the short documentary Egg Cream (Peter Miller, 2017) and a celebration of the publication of Seltzertopia: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary Drink (Barry Joseph, 2018). Featuring a talk with Peter Miller and Barry Joseph and followed by tastings of competing recipes of the Egg Cream.

Featuring photos from the AJHS archive, Egg Cream is a 15-minute short about the histories, various recipes, and enduring meanings of the Egg Cream, a chocolate soda drink born on the Jewish Lower East Side of New York City. Seltzertopia: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary Drink is the story of the modern pioneers of seltzer, loyal to and passionate about the crisply carbonated, who wrangle centuries-old machines to fill siphons with sparkling water, keeping alive a craft that is centuries old. Using their stories to consider the social, cultural, and economic impacts of seltzer, Seltzertopia tackles the question: What is it about this simplest of concoctions that has allowed it to make a difference to so many people, in such different ways? Based on more than fourteen years of original research and interviews, the extraordinary story of this ordinary drink can finally be told.

A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture

Book Talk with Author Shachar Pinsker

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Sunday, November 4, 2018, 3:00 pm

Shachar Pinsker (University of Michigan) provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of the coffeehouse and its role in shaping modern Jewish culture. He uncovers a network of interconnected cafés that were central to the modern Jewish experience in a time of migration and urbanization. Pinsker follows coffeehouses in Odessa, Warsaw, Vienna, Berlin, New York City, and Tel Aviv, from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. These cafés fostered a modern Jewish cultural ferment, an exchange of philosophical ideas and political ideologies, as well as a new Jewish literary culture. The mix of the national and transnational characteristics of the coffeehouse, and their "otherness" explain why many of these cafés were owned by Jews, why Jews became their most devoted habitués, and how cafés acquired associations with Jewishness. Drawing on stories, novels, poems, newspaper articles, memoirs, archival documents, photographs, caricatures, and artwork, Pinsker shows how Jewish modernity was born in the café, nourished, and sent out into the world by way of politics, literature, art, and theater. What was experienced and created in the space of the coffeehouse touched thousands who read, saw, and imbibed a modern culture that redefined what it meant to be a Jew in the world.  Pinsker will be joined for a lively discussion with author Ruby Namdar and Anita Norich (2018-19 NEH Senior Scholar at CJH, University of Michigan).

Lake Success

A Book Talk with Author Gary Shteyngart and Suketu Mehta

Co-Sponsored with HIAS: The Hebrew Immigration Aid Society.

Thursday, November 1, 2018, 7:00 pm

Join us for a book talk celebrating the publication of Gary Shteyngart’s new novel Lake Success. Shteyngart will be in conversation with Suketu Mehta, NYU Professor of Journalism. Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded, and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his three-year-old son’s diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart. Meanwhile, his super-smart wife, Seema—a driven first-generation American who craved the picture-perfect life that comes with wealth—has her own demons to face. How these two flawed characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is at the heart of this piercing exploration of the 0.1 Percent, a poignant tale of familial longing and an unsentimental ode to what really makes America great.

AJHS is currently processing the records of the organization HIAS – The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the organization that helped families from the former Soviet Union immigrate and resettle in the US. AJHS is also home to the records of several committees and movements working with and for Soviet Jewry since the 1960s.

First Person with Jamie Bernstein

Conversation and Performance with Jamie Bernstein and Alexandra Silber

Co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Sunday, October 28, 2018, 2:00 pm

Leonard Bernstein’s eldest daughter, Jamie Bernstein, shares a rare and intimate look at her father on the centennial of his birth in her new memoir, Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein.  Join Jamie and Broadway performer Alexandra Silber (Fiddler on the Roof) for conversation and a selection of the Maestro's most famous songs. Book signing follows the program.


The Man who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox

Book Talk with Author Vanda Krefft, Dave Kehr (Curator, MOMA) and Professor Frederick Wasser (Brooklyn College)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 7:00 pm

Join us for a panel discussion to celebrate the publication of Vanda Kreft’s The Man who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox. A riveting story of ambition, greed, and genius unfolding at the dawn of modern America. This landmark biography brings into focus a fascinating brilliant entrepreneur—like Steve Jobs or Walt Disney, a true American visionary—who risked everything to realize his bold dream of a Hollywood empire.

AJHS is home to records on prominent actors and other figures of the film industry in the US, including Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, and more.

We Are Going to be Lucky

Staged Reading feat. Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black) and David Basche (The Exes), Post-Reading Q & A with Lisa Ades, Liz Fox, and Amy Fox

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 7:00 pm

What happens when WWII separates a young, idealistic American Jewish couple? Find out when actors Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black) and David Basche (The Exes) read the couple’s letters from the new book We Are Going to Be Lucky. Lenny and Diana Miller were married just one year before America entered World War II. They vowed to write to one another daily after Lenny enlisted in 1943. As Lenny made his way through basic training in Mississippi to the beaches of Normandy and eventually to the Battle of the Bulge, Diana struggled financially, giving up her job as a machinist to become a mother. Their contributions to the war effort—Lenny’s crucial missions as an Army scout and Diana’s work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard—are the backdrop to their daily correspondence, including insightful discussions of democracy, politics, and economic hardship. Elizabeth Fox, the couple’s daughter, edited and introduced the book and joins her own daughter, Amy Fox, in conversation with Film Director Lisa Ades (GI Jews) after the reading.

Elizabeth L. Fox has served for more than twenty years in a leadership role on the National Board of Hadassah, where her responsibilities include writing, training, and public speaking. AJHS is home to the records of Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America (on long-term loan). AJHS is also home to the records of Jewish soldiers who participated in WWII as part of the Jewish National Welfare Board.

Amy Fox is an acclaimed screenwriter, playwright and educator, and a passionate advocate for elevating women’s voices in the arts and the workplace. Most recently she wrote the screenplay for Equity, the female-driven Wall Street film which premiered at Sundance 2016 and was released by Sony Pictures Classics. Amy's previous feature screenplay, for the Merchant Ivory film Heights, starring Glenn Close and Elizabeth Banks, also premiered at Sundance (2005) and was released by SPC. Amy teaches screenwriting at NYU ‘s Graduate Film Program.

Restoring Tomorrow

NY Premiere Screening with Filmmaker Aaron Wolf

In Partnership with the Leo Baeck Institute and the Center for Jewish History

Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

Director Aaron Wolf’s personal journey of rediscovery comes alive in Restoring Tomorrow, the story of how a treasured local temple near demise is lifted up by a community’s determination. Wolf’s documentary explores how, when any community puts their mind to it, the impossible becomes possible. Wilshire Boulevard Temple, a Los Angeles treasure built by the original Hollywood moguls, needs to raise millions to restore its majesty and vibrancy, thus also restoring the future of the American Jewish community, the greater LA community, and on a personal level – Wolf himself.

AJHS is home to full records, books, and original ground plans of various synagogues such as the Eldridge Street Synagogue, Congregation Shearith Israel, Kehillath Israel Synagogue, and many more. Check out the Center for Jewish History's Early New York Synagogues Archive.

Celebrating 20 Years of the Straus Historical Society

Panel Discussion

Co-sponsored with the Leo Baeck Institute 

Sunday, October 7, 2018, 1:30 pm

The German-Jewish family that built Macy’s into an iconic retailer also left an indelible legacy in American politics and society. After the morning walking tour of Union Square and a pop-up exhibition of artifacts from Macy’s, the Titanic, and more, AJHS Executive Director Annie Polland will moderate a panel including Hasia Diner (NYU), Rabbi Joanna Samuels (Educational Alliance), Paul Kurzman (Straus Historical Society), and Niki Lefebvre (Natick Historical Society and Museum) will discuss the journey of Jewish immigrants like the Straus family from peddlers to public servants and philanthropists.

The Legacy of Joan Rivers

Panel and Performance with Judy Gold and Caroline Waxler

Part of the Series Not Just Funny Girl: Jewish American Women in Comedy

Co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History, The Forward, and the Jewish Women's Archive

Wednesday, October 3, 2018, 7:00 pm

Joan Rivers’ pioneering work as a female comedian left an indelible impression on the field and on the collective memory of America. From her breakthrough on the Johnny Carson show in 1965, she challenged us to think about gender roles, all the while making us laugh. Come watch highlights of her work, and hear from Rivers’ niece, Caroline Waxler, and comedian Judy Gold, on how her work continues to inspire the field today.

AJHS is home to records on prominent Jewish women actors and comedians, including the Molly Picon Papers, the Adah Isaac Menken PapersPapers of Sara Adler, photos and records on Sophie Tucker, and more.


“Give Me Your Tired..” : Poem, 135 years old, Makes Waves

Panel Discussion and Poetry Reading featuring Esther Schor, Murad Awawdeh, Christina Greer, and Amy King

Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 7:00 pm

Emma Lazarus’s sonnet, “The New Colossus,” is perhaps this country’s most famous poem, and recent immigration policies and controversies have thrust both statue and poem into the headlines, from Stephen Miller’s press conference to recent Independence Day protests. Esther Schor, Princeton Professor of English and author of Emma Lazarus, analyzes the recent wave of media attention. To what extent is the Statue of Liberty under fire, and to what extent is she inspiring poetry and actions that uphold her ideals? A panel of respondents include: Murad Awawdeh, Director of Political Engagement at the New York Immigration Coalition, Christina Greer, political scientist, commentator and author of Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration and the Pursuit of the American Dream, Amy King, poet and co-curator of the Guardian’s “”Huddled Masses…” feature.

AJHS is home to the Emma Lazarus Papers, famously including a handwritten version of Lazarus’ The New Colossus.

Love, Gilda: the Eternal Spirit of Gilda Radner

Film Screening

Part of the Series Not Just Funny Girl: Jewish American Women in Comedy

Co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History, the Jewish Women's Archive, and The Forward.

Thursday, September 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Love Gilda: the Eternal Spirit of Gilda Radner (2018, 90 minutes) lets us reconnect with the beloved comedian. The film beautifully weaves together recently discovered audiotapes of Radner, interviews with her friends, rare home movies and diaries read by comedians—Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudoph and Cecily Strong—who derive inspiration from Gilda. Produced and Directed by Lisa D'Apolito. Post-screening Q&A with Lisa D'Apolito and Dan Friedman (The Forward) will follow.

AJHS is home to records on prominent Jewish women actors and comedians, including the Molly Picon Papers, the Adah Isaac Menken Papers, Papers of Sara Adler, photos and records on Sophie Tucker, and more.

Art Deco New York: The Architects Speak

A Talk by Anthony W. Robins

Co-sponsored by the Art Deco Society of New York and the Center for Jewish History

Thursday, September 13, 2018, 7:00 pm

While socially prominent architects designed New York's most iconic Art Deco skyscrapers, a generation of Jewish architects - new to the profession and often new to the country - helped spread the Art Deco style from the Garment District to the Grand Concourse. Between them, Israel Crausman, Louis Allen Abramson, and Marvine Fine designed the first Deco apartment house in the Bronx, notable Horn and Hardar Automats, as well as restaurants in the Longchamps chain. Architectural historian Anthony W. Robins shares rare recorded interviews with these three visionaries and explores how they helped to transform the face of New York City in the 1920s and 30s.

AJHS is home to records on architects, real estate entrepreneurs, and other major contributors to the shaping of the urban landscape of New York City such as Norbert L. Troller, Adolph S. Ochs, and the Rose Family.


The U.S. Supreme Court with Linda Greenhouse and David Cole

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Part of the series Short Talks on Big Subjects featuring writers from the Oxford University Press Very Short Introductions books

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 6:30 pm

Linda Greenhouse’s 30-year tenure covering the U.S Supreme Court for The New York Times was longer than any sitting justice except for John Paul Stevens. She wrote more than 3,000 articles, won a Pulitzer Prize, and drew on her deep knowledge of how the court works to write The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction. Now, as justices prepare for the 2018-19 term and a pivotal seat remains to be filled, Linda is joined by ACLU National Legal Director David Cole to discuss recent and historical decisions, how cases are chosen, the relationship between the court and the public, the controversy over term limits, and this critical moment in the court and the country’s history. Book included with admission and a book signing to follow.

Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices from the Women's Liberation Movement

A book launch and panel featuring author Joyce Antler, Judith Rosenbaum (Executive Director of the Jewish Women's Archive), Nona Willis Aronowitz (Splinter), and Dahlia Lithwick (Newsweek, Slate).

Presented in partnership with the Jewish Women’s Archive and the Center for Jewish History.

Thursday, May 31, 2018, 7:00 pm

Jewish women were undeniably instrumental in shaping the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, yet historians and participants themselves have overlooked their contributions as Jews. This has left many vital questions unasked and unanswered—until now. Delving into archival sources and conducting extensive interviews with these fierce pioneers, Joyce Antler’s Jewish Radical Feminism has at last broken the silence about the confluence of feminism and Jewish identity.

The AJHS is home to key collections of Jewish American women’s movements and organizations and feminist leaders working in the US and abroad, including the National Council of Jewish Women – the NY Section, Hadassah – the Women’s Zionist Organization, The Bnai Brith Women, the Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations, and more.

Rupture and Renewal in American Jewish History

Professor Jonathan Sarna (Brandeis University) in conversation with Jane Eisner (Editor, Forward)

Presented by the Center for Jewish History in partnership with the American Jewish Historical Society

Made possible by the generous support of Dina and Jonathan Leader

Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

History Matters brings prominent historians to the Center for Jewish History to reflect on the importance of the study of the past for understanding the present. Each evening of the series offers rich conversation between a leading historian and a moderator about how that historian’s research illuminates timely issues. In putting historical scholarship into dialogue with present-day concerns, this series will highlight the importance of history — and especially Jewish history — in public discourse.

This History Matters evening features Professor Jonathan Sarna in conversation with Forward Editor Jane Eisner about past and present examples of renewal and vibrancy in American Jewish life. Professor Sarna will speak about his life and how it led him to study history, central themes in his prolific scholarship on the American Jewish past, and what studying American Jewish history can reveal about major issues confronting American Jews today.

20th Century American Jewish Stardom: Between Eddie Cantor and Sophie Tucker

Book Launch and Talk with Authors Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff and David Weinstein, Moderated by Professor Hasia Diner

This event is generously co-sponsored by the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History at New York University

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 7:00 pm

Join us to celebrate the publication of two new essential books about two Jewish stars of 20th century US popular culture: Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff's book on Sophie Tucker and David Weinstein's book on Eddie Cantor.

Featuring materials from the AJHS collections pertaining to Eddie CantorThe Eddie Cantor Story: A Jewish Life In Performance and Politics chronicles the life and work of one of the most important entertainers of the 20th century. Eddie Cantor (1892-1964) starred in theater, film, radio, and television. His immense popularity across a variety of media, his pride in his Jewish heritage, and his engagement with pressing political issues of his time distinguished him from other headliners of his era. Paying equal attention to Cantor’s humor and politics, Weinstein documents his significance as a performer, philanthropist, and activist.

Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff’s entertaining biography, Red Hot Mama: the Life of Sophie Tucker, reveals how the “Last of the Red Hot Mamas” Sophie Tucker became one of the most powerful women in show business, blazing a trail for performers such as Judy Garland, Carol Channing, and Bette Midler. The AJHS is home to key collections of Jewish American actresses such as Molly Picon and Adah Isaacs Menken.

Broadway the Jewish Way

A Celebration of Fran Leadon’s New Book, Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles

Featuring the author in conversation with Professor John Reddick

Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 7:00 pm

Please note the change of date (formerly April 26th, 2018)

Join us for the book talk and the launch of Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Milesand hear from author Fran Leadon about the extraordinary ways in which American Jews contributed to making Broadway the iconic street that it is today. 

Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles takes us on a mile-by-mile journey that traces the gradual evolution of the seventeenth-century’s Brede Wegh, a muddy cow path in a backwater Dutch settlement, to the twentieth century’s Great White Way. We learn why one side of the street was once considered more fashionable than the other; witness the construction of the Ansonia Apartments, Trinity Church, and the Flatiron Building; and discover that Columbia University was built on the site of an insane asylum. Along the way we meet Alexander Hamilton, Edgar Allan Poe, John James Audubon, Emma Goldman, “Bill the Butcher” Poole, “Texas” Guinan, and the assorted real estate speculators, impresarios, and politicians who helped turn Broadway into a living paradigm of American progress, at its best and worst. With maps and more than forty black-and-white photos throughout, Broadway tells the vivid story of what is arguably the world’s most famous thoroughfare.

This program is inspired by the many collections housed at the AJHS that tell the stories of Jews’ involvement in the history, nurturing, and everyday life of Broadway in commerce, activism, and entertainment, effectively making it into the iconic street we know it to be today. Such are: the Molly Picon papersthe Garfunkel-Trager Family Papers, and the UJA-Federation of New York Collections.

We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust

A Book by Neal Adams, Rafael Medoff, and Craig Yoe

Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 7:00 pm

Classic comic book stories about the Holocaust and interviews with their artists and writers, with a cover drawn especially for this book by Neal Adams. An amazing but forgotten chapter in comics history! Long before the Holocaust was taught in schools or presented in films such as Schindler's List, the youth of America was learning about the Nazi genocide from Batman, the X-Men, Captain America, and Sgt. Rock.

In this talk, comics legend Neal Adams, Holocaust scholar Rafael Medoff, and comics historian Craig Yoe bring together a remarkable collection of comic book stories that introduced an entire generation to an engaging and important subject. We Spoke Out is an extraordinary journey into a compelling topic.

To commemorate Yom Hashoah as well as the upcoming Memorial Day, this program pays homage to the Jewish American heroes who fought with the US Army to defeat Nazism in WWII. AJHS is home to many collections detailing their life stories, such as the National Jewish Welfare Board, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, the Louis H. Tankin World War II memoirs, the Milton Weill papers, and many more.

GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II

A Documentary Directed by Lisa Ades, Produced by Amanda Bonavita, and Written by Maia Harris
Featuring a post-screening Q&A with Lisa Ades, Professor Deborah Dash Moore, and Elihu Rose

AJHS is proud to present this special NYC Premiere Screening prior to its national distribution on PBS

Please Note: The Auditorium seats for this event have sold out. Tickets currently available are for a full-quality simulcast in the Great Hall, at discounted rates. The Q&A following the screening will be simulcast as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 7:00 pm

GI JEWS: Jewish Americans in World War II is a feature-length documentary for national public television that tells the profound and remarkable story of the 550,000 Jewish Americans who served in World War II.

These brave men and women fought for their nation and their people, for America and for Jews worldwide. Like all Americans, they fought against fascism, but they also waged a more personal fight—to save their brethren in Europe. After years of struggle, they emerged transformed, more powerfully American and more deeply Jewish, determined to continue the fight for equality and tolerance at home.

The stories of these brave men and women, told onscreen, can also be discovered in the AJHS Archives. One such collection, the National Jewish Welfare Board-Bureau of War Records, tracks Jewish soldiers and sailors who served in World War II. It also includes surveys of Jewish doctors, dentists, farmers and refugees who served in the United States Armed Forces.

From 1968 to 2018: A Fifty Year Perspective on the American Left

A History Matters Evening with Todd Gitlin and Annie Polland
In Partnership with the Center for Jewish History

Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 7:00 pm

Todd Gitlin (Columbia University), in interview with AJHS Executive Director Annie Polland, will speak about how his scholarship on the 1960s and the fracturing of the American Left informs contemporary debates. A Q&A session with the audience will follow.

The AJHS is home to collections representing diverse voices within the American Jewish left, including The Jewish Counter Culture Collection and records of organizations like North American Jewish Students' AppealTrees and Life for Vietnam, and New Jewish Agenda

Triangle Fire: See You in the Streets

Commemoration of the Triangle Fire

Monday, March 26, 2018, 6:30 pm

A Talk by Ruth Sergel and Nick Salvatore
In partnership with the Center Jewish History and the Jewish Studies Program of Cornell University

Presentation and discussion with author/artist Ruth Sergel and Cornell Professor Nick Salvatore. In its day, the worst industrial disaster in New York history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, spurred labor organizers and others to enact progressive legislation. A hundred years later, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is inspiring a new generation of activists to organize against sweatshops on a global scale. Learn about how Lower East Side Jewish and Italian immigrants lived and worked together in 1911. Hear about the annual commemoration that honors the loss and empowers the living through the memorial act of sidewalk “CHALK.”

This program is inspired by the many collections held by AJHS pertaining to the history of Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 20th century, and by such organizations as the National Council of Jewish Women and the Jewish Labor Committee

March Mash-Up: A Family Festival

A morning of activity and cultural immersion for children of all ages!

Sunday, March 4, 2018, 11:00 am

Family Program in partnership with the YIVO, the Center for Jewish History, the Leo Baeck Institute, and Yeshiva University Museum

So many Jewish traditions under one roof, we’re kvelling! Join us as the American Jewish Historical Society teams up with YIVO and other partners at the Center for Jewish History for a Purim-themed March Mash-Up of family fun. Laugh along with a puppet show, enjoy storytelling from many lands, make colorful craft projects, sing-along to classic Jewish songs, and experience the delightful diversity of Jewish culture from countries around the world – right here on West 16th Street. Plus family friendly gallery tours of our new exhibitions Jews in Space and Hey, Wow! The Art of Oded Halahmy and delicious holiday treats too!

Featuring The Gefilteria’s Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, Singer Eléonore Biezunski, Storyteller Shane Baker, and the Yiddish puppet theater troupe Great Small Works.

Pictured: A Purim party at the YWHA of Kansas City, MO, 1929 - from the AJHS Archives.

Cuba’s Forgotten Jewels: A Haven in Havana

A Film by Judy Kreith and Robin Truesdale

Thursday, February 15, 2018, 7:00 pm

NY Premiere Screening, post-screening Q&A featuring the filmmakers and a special performance of Cuban music from the film by The Pablo Moya Trio

In partnership with the Leo Baeck Institute

Please Note: The Auditorium seats for this event are sold out. The tickets currently available are for the full-quality simulcast in the Great Hall, at discounted rates. The Q&A after the film will also be simulcast, followed by a reception in the Great Hall for all attendees featuring the Pablo Moya Trio and a special rum tasting. Simulcast tickets are available here and at the above links.

Cuba’s Forgotten Jewels was born of the tales Marion Kreith told her daughter, co-director Judy Kreith. Marion escaped war-torn Europe as a young girl with her family, evading Nazi capture and crossing the Atlantic to a tropical paradise. In this film, her story mingles with the personal accounts of other refugees who recall their escape to Havana and the challenges they faced in the exotic and unfamiliar land. With a stunning musical score of Jewish melodies and the pulsating music of Havana, the film merges the realities of two vastly different yet intermingled cultures, bringing this colorful and uplifting piece of history to light.

AJHS is home to collections from the Joint Distribution Committee and the National Refugee Services- both involved in various negotiations with the Cuban government to help rescue Jews fleeing Germany in the late 1930s. AJHS is also home to the papers of the volunteer organization Machal, whose founder, Si Spiegelman, fled Nazi Europe and spent time in Cuba before arriving in the US in the 1940s. This program is inspired by these and other related collections housed at AJHS.

East West Street: Personal Histories of Genocide and Raphael Lemkin’s Thought

A Book Talk by Philippe Sands followed by a Discussion with Douglas Irvin-Erikson

Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 7:00 pm

Featuring remarkable materials drawn directly from the Lemkin Papers, housed at the AJHS archive, human-rights lawyer and author Philippe Sands will explore how personal lives and history are interwoven in his book East West Street, which received the 2016 Baillie Gifford (formerly Samuel Johnson) prize for nonfiction. The story – part family history and part legal thriller – connects to Sands’ work on crimes against humanity and genocide as well as to an untold story at the heart of the Nuremberg Trial that pitted lawyers Raphael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht against Adolf Hitler’s former lawyer – Hans Frank.

A conversation with Douglas Irvin-Erikson, author of Raphäel Lemkin and the Concept of Genocide, will follow and focus on the consequences of the concept of genocide from the Armenian killings of 1915 – which inspired Lemkin’s work – to the atrocities perpetrated on the Yazidi community a century later.

From Brooklyn to Beirut

A film by Rola Khayyat followed by a discussion with Regine Basha

Thursday, December 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

In From Brooklyn to Beirut, Rola Khayyat explores the landscape of belonging for the community of Lebanese Jews in New York – along with the fragilities and complexities associated with their complex identity. Jews have lived in what is today Lebanon since Biblical times. As internal and regional tensions tore Lebanon apart, Lebanese Jews began to emigrate and settle abroad in countries such as France, Israel, Brazil, and the United States. In their new homes, Lebanese Jews, like other Lebanese emigrants, have formed vibrant communities where Lebanese traditions and values are maintained; Arabic language, music, and cinema are used and celebrated; and memories of Lebanon are constantly recalled and shared.

AJHS houses the records of hundreds of Jewish aid and charity organizations which aided and resettled Jewish immigrants and refugees from the Middle East; particularly Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS) Collection, which is currently being processed by AJHS archivists. These collections tell the stories of thousands of Middle Eastern Jewish and non-Jewish immigrant and refugees as they traveled to and settled in the United States. 

The Ruined House Book Launch

Ruby Namdar in conversation with Liel Leibovitz


Thursday, December 7, 2017, 7:00 pm

The Ruined House Book Launch: Presented and produced by American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History and 14th Street Y (Arts + Culture and DJL). Co-sponsored by Consulate General of Israel in New York. Supported by the Jewish Book Council and Tablet Magazine.

In the spring of 2000 Jerusalem-born author Ruby Namdar found himself wandering in the streets of New York, taking in the magnitude and glory of this larger-than-life city. Written in New York, in an unusually rich and complex Hebrew prose, The Ruined House was Namdar’s literary response to this experience, as well as to the experience of living and working outside of the “Hebrew territory”. Winner of the 2014 Sapir Prize, Israel’s most important literary award, the novel describes a year in the life of a university professor whose life begins to unravel as he is visited by a string of inexplicable visions of the Holy Temple in Roman era Jerusalem. A few months after Namdar won it, the Sapir Prize committee changed the guidelines in order to prevent other ex-pat Israeli authors living outside of Israel from submitting their work in the future. This controversial decision caused a lively debate, echoes of which still resonate now and then in the Israeli press.

The conversation between Ruby Namdar and Liel Leibovitz of Tablet Magazine will focus on questions such as: What does it mean to live in one language and write in another? Do language and literature have a territory? What do we mean when we say: “American Literature”, "Israeli Literature" and “Jewish Literature”? The discussion will be followed by a reception, a book sale and signing by the author. 

This is the closing event for the festival THE SEVENTH DAY: ISRAELI LITERATURE FIFTY YEARS AFTER THE SIX-DAY WAR. Festival Director: Hanan Elstein

This program is inspired by the papers of great Jewish New York novelists housed in our collections, such as the Abraham Shoenfeld Papers, the Henry Roth Papers, and the Walter Hart Blumenthal Papers – all, like Namdar, masterfully narrated themes of immigration, identity, and the American Jewish experience.

Before Brooklyn: Jewish Communities in Egypt

A book talk by Najat Abdulhuq followed by a discussion with Joyce Zonana

Thursday, November 2, 2017, 7:00 pm

In the years following Nasser’s rise to power as the second Egyptian President in the 1950s, the demographic landscape and the economy of Egypt underwent a profound change. While these shifts have mostly been discussed in the light of postcolonial studies and the nationalization policies in the wider region, Najat Abdulhuq’s book Jewish and Greek Communities in Egypt: Entrepreneurship and Business before Nasser instead focuses on the role that the Jewish and Greek minorities had in the economy of pre-Nasser Egypt.

Following Abdulhuq’s talk, Joyce Zonana (English Professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College), author of Dream Homes: From Cairo to Katrina, an Exile's Journey, will discuss Abdulhuq’s book comparatively – specifically drawing links between Jewish Egyptian community lives and politics in Egypt and Brooklyn, where many Egyptian Jews resettled after 1952.

Jewish New York, 1917

A panel discussion with Deborah Dash Moore and Ronit Stahl in conjunction with 1917: How One Year Changed the World 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 7:00 pm

When the US entered WWI in the spring of 1917, how did New York Jews respond? What were the key conflicts and creative responses to wartime in New York of 1917? As they faced military service, some Jewish New Yorkers sought to build new institutions to help Jews in uniform while others opposed war and championed peace. This panel explores these questions from the viewpoints of military history and urban history, and celebrates the launching of two new landmark books in the field of American Jewish History. Deborah Dash Moore’s Jewish New York reveals the multifaceted world of one of the city’s most important ethnic and religious groups. Spanning three centuries, Jewish New York traces the earliest arrival of Jews in New Amsterdam to the recent immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Ronit Y. Stahl’s Enlisting Faith plumbs the changes taking place in the US military’s chaplaincy which, upon entering WWI, included only mainline Protestants and Catholics, and until today, when it counts Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Christian Scientists, Buddhists, Seventh-day Adventists, Hindus, and evangelicals among its ranks.

Acts and Intermissions: Emma Goldman in America

A film screening in conjuction with the exhibit 1917: How One Year Changed the World

A film by Abigail Child

Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 7:00 pm

A cinematic collage featuring rare archival footage of NYC from the 1910s, Abigail Child’s new documentary Acts and Intermissions: Emma Goldman in America circles around the life of Emma Goldman and her relationship to the history of protest between then and now. Goldman’s fight for social justice encompassed issues that remain urgent today, and the film’s overlapping of past and present highlights the continuing relevance of her struggle. The film performs a time travel, intercutting moments from Emma’s life with her prescient speeches, weaving industrial era factory labor with computer data centers with Emma’s intimate diaries — to explore human vulnerabilities, compromises and choices. Fervently political, Emma was also passionate and sexual, with beauty/art/humor part of the freedoms for which she was fighting. The film creates a dialogue on individual liberties and anarchism: how we risk and how we are compromised? Questions that have become only more relevant in our current political climate.

The Yiddish Celluloid Closet and the Isle of Klezbos

Music Program in Celebration of Pride MonthIn Partnership YIVO and ASJM

Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 7:00 pm

Isle of Klezbos sextet performs in concert with a panoply of neo-traditional and original repertoire, including highlights from vintage cinema research focused on both musical reverence and unexpected research finds. Despite the taboo surrounding homosexuality, the topic was too intriguing to be left entirely out of the Yiddish picture. The Yiddish Celluloid Closet program presents Yiddish cinema as you’ve never seen it, plus Isle of Klezbos’ loving and live reinterpretations of movie music from the revelatory soundtracks. Drummer/leader Eve Sicular’s six-piece all-gal band -- touring from Vienna to Vancouver -- features multimedia retro treats in a fully 21st century approach. Screen excerpts and lush new arrangements include classics and lesser-known gems from Americaner Shadkhn, Der Vilner Shtot Khazn, and more. Enjoy klezmer, Yiddish swing and tango, in addition to genre-expanding pieces by these adventurous alumnae of Juilliard, Eastman, Berklee and Manhattan Schools of Music as well as Harvard's Russian History & Literature Department (Sicular, an erstwhile curator of YIVO's Film & Photo Archives, also worked on landmark retrospective Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds at MoMA).

Streit’s Matzo and the American Dream

Film Screening and Q&A featuring Director Neil A. Friedman
In Partnership with the Museum at Eldridge Street

Thursday, April 13, 2017, 7:00 pm

In the heart of New York’s rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side stand four tenement buildings that housed the Streit’s Matzo factory since 1925. Streit’s Matzo and the American Dream is a story of tradition, of resistance and resilience, and a celebration of a family whose commitment to their heritage and to their employees is inspiring proof that the family that bakes together, stays together.

Svetlana and the Delancey Five in Concert

Sunday, March 5, 2017, 8:00 pm

Svetlana is a vocalist, songwriter, and arranger based in NYC. With sold shows at such legendary venues, Svetlana has earned accolades from jazz musicians, audiences and press alike with her poised and charming stage presence, enchanting vocals and strong musicianship. 

Festival of Contemporary Russian Jewish American Culture

One Day Conference and
Live Music Performance

Sunday, March 5, 2017, 10:00 am

This first time, all-day Festival of Contemporary Russian Jewish American Culture to launch the special issue of the journal East European Jewish Affairs will feature opening remarks from AJHS executive director, Rachel Lithgow; Genesis Philanthropy Group executive director, Ilya Salita; as well as guest editor Anna Katsnelson (Columbia University) and David Shneer (Louis Singer Chair in Jewish History, University of Colorado and co-editor in chief of East European Jewish Affairs) and panels as follows: Anna Shternshis (University of Toronto and co-editor in chief of East European Jewish Affairs) will moderate a scholarly roundtable on current issues in the field of Russian Jewish American cultural production that will include Baruch Beckerman, Inga Veksler, Jeffrey Taylor, Karolina Krasuska, Anna Katsnelson, and Margarita Levantovskaya.  Anna Katsnelson will moderate a writers’ panel with Ellen Litman, Polina Barskova, Eugene Yelchin, Julia Loktev, and Anya Ulinich. Nick Underwood (managing editor of East European Jewish Affairs) will moderate a visual arts panel including Alina Bliumis, Yuliya Levit, Yevgeniya Baras, Artem Mirolevich, and Michael Korosty.  Following a dinner break, the festival will culminate with a musical performance by Svetlana and the Delancey Five - see details below. 

For the detailed schedule, click here.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish History, the journal East European Jewish Affairs, and the Louis P. Singer Chair in Jewish History in the Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Bubby: Kosher Love Advice in Unkosher Times

**This event has been postponed to Sunday, February 12th at noon. All previously purchased tickets will be honored.**

Sunday, February 12, 2017, 12:00 pm

Bubby: Kosher Love Advice in Unkosher Times is a fashion photo series that features real bubbies imparting love and life advice. Shot by Los Angeles-based photographer Jackson Davis, the series celebrates the beauty and wisdom that these fashionable bubbies have gained throughout their Jewish life experience.  So come schmooze, get inspired and find out if old world love and romance still exists during these unkosher times. The photo series is a collaboration between fashion brand Unkosher Market and Bubby, a Jewish-inspired matchmaking app. 

Black Panther Got Loose from the Bronx Zoo: an Exhibition by Ido Michaeli

A Black History Month Program
Opening night will feature poetry performances celebrating the incorporation of the Black Panther image across global movements.

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 6:30 pm

Based on an article published in the New York Times in 1902, Ido Michaeli’s work Black Panther Got Loose from the Bronx Zoo,  a hand-woven tapestry and video piece, tell the true story of a panther, who escaped from the Bronx Zoo and, after struggling with the police, dove into the Bronx River and swam to his freedom.

Opening night will feature poetry performances in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. Poetry will comment on Michaeli’s work, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther movement in the US and/or the 45th anniversary of the Mizrahi Black Panther movement, and celebrating the circulation of Black Panther imagery across movements globally. The exhibition will be up through April 2017.

Mariam Bazeed
Michael Brown Jr.
Miri Gabriel
Shlomi Hatuka
Boni Joi
Velina Manolova
Maryam Parhizkar
Jayson P. Smith
Sami Shalom Chetrit
Candace Williams

Photo credit: Christine Fischer

What Does Jewish Look Like To You?

An MLK Program

An Evening of Monologues highlighting Jewish Racial & Ethnic Diversity and featuring Vanessa Hidary and Kaleidoscope

Thursday, January 19, 2017, 7:00 pm

Through extensively crafted, deeply personal storytelling and Spoken Word, Kaleidoscope explores the ever-popular question "What does Jewish look like?" Boldly diverse, distinctly Jewish, Kaleidoscope includes performers of Jamaican, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Yemenite, Libyan and African-American Jewish backgrounds. Directed by Vanessa Hidary. Followed by Q&A with the director and performers.

Ma Nishtana (in the photo)
Leemore Malka
Morr Mazal Barton
Kendell Pinkney
Yoshi Silverstein
Simi Toledano

There Are Jews Here

NYC Premiere Screening featuring filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein  

Thursday, January 12, 2017, 7:00 pm

There Are Jews Here tells the stories of once thriving Jewish American towns that now can barely hold a minyan, focusing on the residents lamenting the gradual disappearance of their communities, and critically examining issues of class, family, and identity. 

Photo by Joan Roth

Sigd: An Ethiopian Jewish Celebration

Live Music from Anbessa Orchestra, Display from the Collection, Special Reception featuring Ethiopian food
In partnership with the Ethiopian organization Chasida Shmella

Sunday, December 18, 2016, 5:00 pm

According to Jewish Ethiopian custom, Sigd commemorates the giving of the Torah and the ancient communal gatherings on Mount Sinai. Thousands of Jews traveled on foot every year from Gondar Province to the village of Ambober where the joyous celebration included prayer and fasting.
Each year, the Sigd celebration offers a unique experience. This year, Chassida Shmella partners with AJHS to celebrate a display of selected items from AJHS’ American Association for Ethiopian Jews collection, a ritual led by the Kessoch (Ethiopian spiritual leaders akin to rabbis.), music performance, and special reception.

The Ted Rosenthal Quintet Presents: The Great Jewish American Songbook

Music Program featuring Ted Rosenthal (piano), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Joel Frahm (saxophone), David J. Grossman (bass), and Tim Horner (drums) in partnership with ASJM and YIVO

Thursday, November 17, 2016, 7:00 pm

The Great Jewish American Songbook program will offer Jazz interpretations of famous Jewish composers including George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern. Trio will feature Grammy Award winner, trumpeter Randy Brecker. The concert will be followed by a conversation with Ted Rosenthal about the experience of Jewish immigrants Jazz musicians, their contributions to the American Jazz Repertoire of the 20th century, and their relationship to the African American Jazz musicians they were working with. 

"Exquisite interpretations of some of The Great American Songbook's most beloved compositions" -

Benghazi Bergen-Belsen

Staged Reading and Talk with La MaMa Theater, No Visa Productions, and Author Yossi Sucary
In partnership with the American Sephardi Federation

Monday, November 14, 2016, 7:00 pm

Join AJHS and ASF in celebrating the publication of the English translation of Benghazi-Bergen-Belsen: the first novel about the Holocaust of Libyan Jews. Featuring a staged reading of scenes from the upcoming theater production, adapted by Lahav Timor, that is premiering at La Mama Theater March 2017, and meet author Yossi Sucary and No Visa Production Director Michal Gamily for post-reading Q&A.

Silvana Haggiag is a brilliant and beautiful young woman in her early twenties, dismissive of the patriarchal norms that govern her Jewish community in the Libyan city of Benghazi. When Silvana’s family is violently uprooted from its home and homeland, she is taken along with other Libyan Jews through the blazing Sahara Desert and war driven Italy to freezing Germany. Benghazi-Bergen-Belzen, the first novel about the Holocaust of Libyan Jews, brilliantly depicts the transformations and tribulations this intriguing community has undergone during the Second World War.

Young Jewish American Composers

Music Program in Partnership with ASJM and YIVO 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 7:00 pm

A concert featuring new classical works by young and emerging Jewish American composers: Lainie Fefferman, David Hertzberg, Julie Hill, Adam Roberts, Alyssa Weinberg, and Alex Weiser. Performances by Violin and Viola duo andPlay (Maya Bennardo and Hannah Levinson), Brigid Coleridge, Julie Hill, Lee Dionne, Pat Swoboda, and Meaghan Burke will feature various combinations of piano, string quintet, and singer. The concert will also feature conversations with the composers exploring the question of how Jewish history and identity informs the creation of new works of art.

Fünf Kleine Klavierstücke – Lainie Fefferman (1982- )
Méditation boréale – David Hertzberg (1990- )
Dreaming of Love – Alex Weiser (1989- )
Meditation – Alyssa Weinberg (1988- )
Shift Differential – Adam Roberts (1980- )
Over the Waters – Julie Hill (1988- )

How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses? Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs

Book Talk by Tahneer Oksman. Special guest: New Yorker contributor Liana Finck  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 7:00 pm

American comics reflect the distinct sensibilities and experience of the Jewish American men who played an outsized role in creating them, but what about the contributions of Jewish women? Focusing on the visionary work of seven contemporary female Jewish cartoonists, How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses? with Tahneer Oksman and Liana Finck draws a remarkable connection between innovations in modes of graphic storytelling and the unstable, contradictory, and ambiguous figurations of the Jewish self in the postmodern era. 

Sweet Noshings

Book Launch and Food Tasting with Amy Kritzer in partnership with CJH

Thursday, October 6, 2016, 6:30 pm

Between Rosh Hashana’s meals and Yom Kippur’s fasting, join AJHS and the Center for Jewish History for a book launch and food tasting in celebration of the publication of Sweet Noshings, a new cookbook by popular blogger Amy Kritzer (“What Jew Wanna Eat”). Come hear Amy talk about blogging and cooking, learn from her baking demonstration, and try out some of her delicious desserts!

“Sweet Noshings is for cooks of all religions who love to eat, try new recipes, and cook for others. It’s just the best thing ever when someone takes a bite of my rugelach or brisket and you can see the joy on their face. Pure delight. I’m overjoyed to say each one of these recipes does that!” -Amy Kritzer.   

Purchase one ticket and save 10% for shopping at Modern Tribe with a coupon code. 

Holy Trash: My Genizah

Exhibition Opening and Performance by Rachel Libeskind

Thursday, September 22, 2016, 6:30 pm

According to Solomon Schechter, Genizah is “the storeroom or depository in a synagogue a cemetery in which worn-out and heretical or disgraced Hebrew books or papers are placed. In medieval times…their sanctity and consequent claim to preservation were held to depend on their containing the "names" of God.” What’s between the Genizah and today’s Jewish archive?

Holy Trash: My Genizah is a new project by fine arts and performance artist Rachel Libeskind created especially for the AJHS exhibition space in the great hall of the Center for Jewish History. My Genizah presents a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Genizah. Crafted with texts and objects formerly belonging to the AJHS collections, My Genizah is a hardedge, personal commentary on the making of the Jewish archive from the documents of the Genizah, and on today’s archival procedures of sorting, cataloguing, and organizing history.

Libeskind will perform her own original piece on opening night.


Jews and Racial Shifts in Early America

A Lecture by Laura Leibman 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 7:00 pm

Today, multiracial Jews make up 12% of U.S. Jewry, with nearly 87,000 nonwhite, Hispanic, or multiracial Jewish households in the New York area alone. The history of multiracial Jews, however, has often been presented as occurring primarily after the Vietnam War. This emphasis ignores the wealth of resources available regarding early multiracial Jews in the Americas.

In the talk Jews and Racial Shifts in Early America, praised literary, race and Jewish studies scholar Laura Arnold Leibman will discuss how definitions of race have changed between the colonial era and today and how this impacts what types of sources you will find, strategies and resources for locating primary sources related to family histories of Jews of mixed African and Jewish descent in the early United States and Caribbean with attention to family history resources prior to 1840, and strategies for interpreting primary sources. Hands-on examples of sources will be included.

A Family Fun Night of Baseball

In Celebration of the Pop-Up Exhibition Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American

Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 5:30 pm

Join us a special event for all ages: A Family Fun Night of Baseball, in celebration of Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American, a pop-up exhibition from Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) that will be on display here on 15 West 16th Street from April 14 through July 31, 2016. 

The exhibit weaves together America’s favorite pastime and national identity with the story of American Jewish immigration and integration. Both educational and entertaining, the event will feature a Family Guide developed by NMAJH exclusively for the exhibit and have a fun baseball-park theme (hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, etc.). It will also include distinguished speakers on baseball who will discuss the close ties between Jews and the sport, AJHS archivists who will explain the significance of the baseball items in the AJHS collection, and some exciting activities for kids of all ages! 

This special program will feature a Family Guide developed by NMAJH exclusively for the exhibit, and a fun baseball-park theme, with exciting games and activities for kids of all ages, courtesy of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees and a variety of baseball related raffle items from New York area teams!

We are delighted that Art Shamsky from the 1969 Miracle Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones Vice President Steve Cohen, and Staten Island Yankees team owner Glenn Reicin will be in attendance that night and expect more special guests to confirm shortly. Please check back regularly at for updates.

A Forbidden Conversation: Speaking, the Unspoken, and the Conversations on Israel in America

A One-Act Play and Conversation 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 7:00 pm

Join us for a groundbreaking program on a difficult topic we all want to talk about. A Forbidden Conversation — from actor Gili Getz — presents a new and personal nonfiction monologue about the heated arguments that his family had during the recent war in Gaza. Post-performance, Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein (14th Street Y Executive Director) and Steven M. Cohen (Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College) will lead a thought-provoking discussion.

Kosher USA: How Coca-Cola Came to the Passover Seder and Other Tales of Modern Kosher Food

Book Talk and Food Tastings

Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 7:00 pm

Come hear about Roger Horowitz’s new book Kosher USA, and taste some trendy boutique kosher food at this special program, Kosher USA! The book Kosher USA follows the journey of kosher foods through the modern industrial food system. Drawing on episodes in the lives of the author’s own family, it traces how iconic products such as Coca-Cola and Jell-O tried to become kosher, and what made Manischewitz wine the very first kosher name-brand product to gain a wide non-Jewish audience.

Jews on First (aka The Right Pitch)

A Jewish Musical about More than Getting on Base Play and Discussion

Monday, April 11, 2016, 7:00 pm

Jews on First, adapted from Larry Ruttman’s award winning book American Jews & America’s Game — is an exploration of Jewish assimilation, identity, and guts viewed through the lens of America’s favorite pastime. It tells the story of Myron “Butch” Cedarbaum as he faces the biggest crisis of his life: to pursue his dream or the path his loving parents have sacrificed so hard to ensure —law school. The play is a dramatic examination of Jews’ enduring and mysterious love of baseball.

Yearning to Breathe Free: The Jewish Response to the Global Refugee Crisis

A Roundtable Discussion presented in partnership with the Museum at Eldridge Street,  The Anne Frank Center USA, and the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA). 

Thursday, April 7, 2016, 7:00 pm

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the number of refugees and internally displaced people has reached nearly 60 million people — the highest point since World War II. What can we do in response to this refugee crisis?

Yearning to Breathe Free is a special roundtable program hosted by and held at the Museum at Eldridge Street, speakers from AJHS, The Anne Frank Center USA, MFA, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and others will discuss the mounting crisis and the American Jewish response to it.

France, Jewish Identity, and the Holocaust: Yellow Stars of Tolerance and Cojot

Film screenings

Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 7:00 pm

Join AJHS as we present new documentary work, one complete and one in production, by American filmmakers, who examine Jewish identity in France today, revisiting holocaust memory and commemoration in France in the late 20th century/early 21st century. Highly relevant given recent occurrences in France, the two documentaries look at various ways of addressing and reclaiming the ongoing genocide trauma and resisting and combatting violence.

Yellow Stars of Tolerance (Curt Fissel and Ellen Friedland, 28 mins) documents a project to preserve yellow stars that were painted during the Holocaust in World War II on a synagogue exterior wall in Normandy, France to terrorize the local Jewish community. A testament to that terrible chapter of history, he preservation project emerges against the backdrop of the 70th anniversary commemoration of D-Day in Normandy in June 2014.

Cojot (In production, Boaz Dvir, 20 mins preview)

A suspenseful character study, COJOT tells the mostly unknown story of a Parisian banker catapulted twice onto history’s stage in 1975-­‐76. His journey begins during World War II in Nazi-­‐occupied France. It hits a fork in the road in Bolivia=when he hunts down ex-­‐Gestapo Commander KLAUS BARBIE. It peaks in Entebbe, Uganda when Cojot plays a pivotal role in the 20th century’s most daring hostage-­‐rescue operations. 

Carvalho’s Journey

Film Screening and Conversation with the FilmmakerPresented by AJHS and ASF as part of the Sephardi Film Festival

Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 8:00 pm

A real life 19th century American western adventure story, Carvalho's Journey tells the extraordinary story of Solomon Nunes Carvalho (1815-1897), an observant Sephardic Jew born in Charleston, South Carolina, and his life as a groundbreaking photographer, artist, and pioneer in American history.  A post-screening discussion will feature filmmaker Steve Rivo and distinguished historians on Sephardi American history. 

Flory’s Flame

Film Program in Partnership with the American Sephardi Federation

Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 7:00 pm

Meet Flory Jagoda.  Her trilling voice invokes the soulful musical Altarac family heritage stretching back to pre-Inquisition Spain. Flory’s Flame  introduces us to the legendary Sephardi musician who shares her inspiring life story interwoven with original songs. Post-screening conversation featuring Flory Jagoda.



The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great War Crime Trial

Book Talk

Thursday, February 4, 2016, 7:00 pm

Join us for a book talk with Lawrence Douglas about his new book.


Demjanjuk’s legal odyssey began in 1975, when American investigators received evidence alleging he had collaborated in Nazi genocide. Demjanjuk was twice stripped of his American citizenship and sentenced to death by a Jerusalem court —only to be cleared in one of the most notorious cases of mistaken identity in legal history.


A Modest Suggestion

Theater Program 

Thursday, January 21, 2016, 7:00 pm

Join us for a special theater performance of Amy and Ken Kaissar’s A Modest Suggestion, followed by a panel discussion with the show’s director and actors.  

In an anonymous conference room, in an anonymous city, an anonymous group of businessmen meet to discuss the next item on their agenda.  As the four yes-men weigh the pros and cons of one pretty tough question, A Modest Suggestion asks:  Why do racism and anti-Semitism exist?  What does it mean to be Jewish?  How does racism turn into violence?  And, do Jews eat bacon?

The evening will provide a daring and thought-provoking discussion around some difficult topics – oh, and quite a few laughs too!

Alyad: the Refusnik movement

Screening and Panel. In Partnership with the Moscow Museum.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 7:00 pm

Join AJHS and our friends at the highly praised Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, for a special screening of the documentary film Alyad (Nika Vashakidze, 2015, 60 mins.)

Get to know the personal, previously untold, stories of the Russian Jewish Refusenik activists, as they share their everyday lives and spiritual journeys, across time and various continents, in their own voice. Beautifully tailoring intimate, compelling portraits of former Refuseniks in the aftermath of the migration waves from the former USSR to the US and Israel, Alyad shifts the focus from the political-ideological to the mundane and private struggles and questions of the people who made the movement, offering a fresh perspective about the Refusnik movement as a whole. 


Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 7:00 pm

Opening Night: December 8th 2015, 7:00 PM

Join us to celebrate the opening of Shmattes and the third Hanukah candle!
Special Wine and Lattkes Reception for Hanukah- come schmooze with wine, latkes, and music!
Live T-Shirt Printing = Buy 1 Ticket Get 1Tee Printed for You Onsite FOR FREE! 

A new exhibit surveys the numerous ways in which hip, secular, young American Jews wear their Jewishness on their sleeves, literally speaking. With various contemporary, funny, edgy Jewish-themed T-shirts on display, Shmattes will challenge the common ways we think of American Jewishness today. Featuring t-shirts ranging from celebrated brands as LA-based Unkosher Market, politically savvy independent artists selling their work globally, Shmattes has a special tee for everybody!

“This collection attempts to ‘track’ via t-shirts the ways in which American Jews have creatively dealt with what it means to identify as culturally Jewish.  Self-aware, visually striking, and often funny and provocative, these t-shirts are narratives of wildly divergent culturally Jewish identities.  With their cheeky, status-conscious treatments of what is (and what is not) Jewish, these shirts challenge the myth of a united and dominant American Jewish identity” (Anne Grant,

Legalizing Acts, Illegal Enactments: Historical and Comparative Perspectives About Illegal Jewish Immigration to America in the 20th Century

Panel Discussion

Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 7:00 pm

20th century American history is marked by several key legal acts concerning immigration and nationality, notably those taking place in 1921, 1924, 1946, 1952, and 1965.  While these acts paved the paths of migration for some national and ethnic groups to the US, they also blocked the gates on others – either directly or indirectly – and consequently contributed to personal and collective tactic operations of illegal immigration to the US.

Two occasions inform this special program on immigration: the first being the 50th anniversary of the passing of the 1965 Hart-Cellar Immigration and Nationality Act, and the second, the awarding of the 2015 Viener Prize to Libby Garland for her book After They Closed The Gates: Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965.

Join us as we discuss how contemporary scholarship of American and Jewish-American history challenges the confining and often exclusionary binaries and definitions that these immigration and nationality acts have constructed.  Specifically, we will explore the differences between legal and illegal forms of migration; lines of ethnic, racial, gender, and age identifications; as well as geographic and territorial spatial boundaries.   We are will focus on comparative Jewish-Latino/a studies engagements for this interdisciplinary panel.

Featuring: Libby Garland (CUNY Kingsborough College), Hasia Diner (NYU), Carl Bon-Tempo (SUNY Albany) Dalia Kandiyoti (CUNY College of Staten Island), Joseph Nevins (Vassar College)

Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Murder of Leon Klinghoffer Aboard the Achille Lauro: An Evening of Conversation and Stories

Thursday, October 8, 2015, 7:00 pm

A special program commemorating the 30th anniversary of Leon Klinghoffer's murder during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship featuring Ilsa and Lisa Klinghoffer, Justin Davidson (New York Magazine), Julia Wolfe, filmmaker Carla Singer.

Comics and its Jewish Beginnings

Panel and Auction

Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 6:30 pm

Join us for a meet & greet with the key Jewish figures of the comic industry, a panel on history of Jews and their formative contribution to the establishment of the comic books industry in the US, and a special silent art auction. The panel will feature Karen Green, Danny Fingeroth, Arie Kaplan, and Paul Levitz. The panel will be followed by a special silent auction of a limited edition of a comic book written especially for the event, featuring works by prominent comic writers.

Yitzhak portraying his Grandma Sarina Taragano

Alexandrian Summer

Book Launch & Screening

Sunday, September 20, 2015, 6:30 pm

Learn about transnational and intertwined Sephardi-Mizrahi histories in Israel and the US.

Join us for a reading, panel, and screening to celebrate publication of novelist and playwright Yitzhak Gormezano-Goren’s book Alexandrian Summer in English, and the premiere screening of Alexandrian Summers Again and Forever (working title) by filmmaker Amit Goren. Featuring a panel discussion with Professor Hannan Hever (Yale University) and Joyce Zonana (BMCC CUNY).

Alexandrian Summer is the first translation from Gormezano-Goren’s acclaimed work to English. First published in 1979 in Hebrew, Alexandrian Summer became a milestone in Mizrahi literature and culture in Israel. Gormezano-Goren has written numerous novels, plays, and has founded the groundbreaking academic journal Direction: Eastward. 

Presented by The American Jewish Historical Society and the American Sephardi Federation.

In partnership with the Mizrahi Film Series, the Taub Center for Israel Studies, The Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department, and the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University.

Unanimous Praise for Alexandrian Summer:

"An arresting story .... " - Haaretz
"Brilliant" - New York Magazine
"One of the great triumphs of "Alexandrian Summer" is the richness of its evocation of this city  and the multiple cultures pressed together within it... " - The Forward

More Praise:

"Resurrecting an Extinct Novel: On Rereading 'Alexandrian Summer'"

Book Review - Alexandrian Summer

New York 1, Tel Aviv 0

Book Talk & Signing

Thursday, July 9, 2015, 7:00 pm

"Sharply observed, beautifully rendered stories about gender, sexuality, and nationality by a fresh and original literary voice.”

Join us as we welcome Shelly Oria, a brilliant New York based Israeli author, to read from her best-selling debut New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, and talk to us about writing between the here and there of spaces and languages, about the amalgamating Israeli and American literary influences on her work, and more.  

Enter the world of New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, where the characters are as intelligent and charming as they are lonely. A couple discovers the ability to stop time together; another couple lives with a constant, loud beeping in their apartment, though only one of them can hear it. A father leaves his daughter in Israel to pursue a painting career in New York; a sex worker falls in love with the Israeli photographer who studies her.

Read more:

CBST@40: Living NYC’s LGBTQ Histories

Book Celebration & Talk

Tuesday, June 23, 2015, 6:00 pm

Do you know the histories of LGBTQ Jews in NYC?

Come learn about it with Programs@AJHS, as we mark pride month in the city!

This special program will host two of the foremothers of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBTQ synagogue: the book’s author, Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, and the author of its preface, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, for a stimulating conversation on their longtime work at CBST.

We will celebrate the publication of Changing Lives, Making History: CBST - The First Forty Years – CBST’s 40th Anniversary Book. We will discuss the place, voice, and status of the LGBTQ Jewish community within the NYC Jewish community and the American Jewish community as a whole, the intersection of LGBTQ Jews’ work with other struggles for minority rights in NYC and America.

We will have a special display of AJHS’ archival materials telling the histories of LGBTQ Jews in America up for only one night. Refreshments will be served.

“The story, or rather the stories in Changing Lives, Making History: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah illuminate forty revolutionary and transformative years in the life of New York City. These past forty years have witnessed, among other things, the impact of AIDS, breakthroughs in reproductive technologies and the gay baby boom, the emergence of queer and trans movements, and major Supreme Court decisions in support of equal rights. Through it all, CBST has been at the epicenter.”  

Come learn about it with Programs@AJHS, as we mark pride month in the city!

This special program will host two of the foremothers of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBTQ synagogue: the book’s author, Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, and the author of its preface, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, for a stimulating conversation on their longtime work at CBST.

We will celebrate the publication of Changing Lives, Making History: CBST - The First Forty Years – CBST’s 40th Anniversary Book. We will discuss the place, voice, and status of the LGBTQ Jewish community within the NYC Jewish community and the American Jewish community as a whole, the intersection of LGBTQ Jews’ work with other struggles for minority rights in NYC and America.

We will have a special display of AJHS’ archival materials telling the histories of LGBTQ Jews in America up for only one night. Refreshments will be served.

“The story, or rather the stories in Changing Lives, Making History: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah illuminate forty revolutionary and transformative years in the life of New York City. These past forty years have witnessed, among other things, the impact of AIDS, breakthroughs in reproductive technologies and the gay baby boom, the emergence of queer and trans movements, and major Supreme Court decisions in support of equal rights. Through it all, CBST has been at the epicenter.”

Touchdown Israel, Film Program

Sunday, June 7, 2015, 8:00 pm

Join us for a special screening of Paul Hirschberger’s Touchdown Israel (2015), learn about the Jewish connection to football, and enjoy a fabulous display of some of AJHS’ rare football items, on view especially for the screening night!

America's favorite sport is spreading to Israel and bringing together a diverse cast of characters. Israeli Jews, Muslims and Christians as well as Americans living in Israel, and religious settlers all playing together, shows how sports can be a unifier in a complex, multifaceted society.

In partnership with JCC Manhattan’s 2015 Israel Film Festival.

Watch the Trailer:


Charles Neidich, clarinetist

Music in Our Time: 2015

Sunday, May 31, 2015, 3:00 pm

The program will present highlights from Osvaldo Golijov’s acclaimed chamber work The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind; French double bassist and composer Rémy Yulzari’s Le Grand Méchant, l’Oud and Il était une Fois; Laura Kaminsky’s Duo for Cello and Piano; selections from Gerald Cohen’s compelling opera Steal a Pencil for Me, based on a true story of survival, love and courage during the Holocaust; and, in commemoration of their 100th anniversaries, Ladino songs by Richard Neumann and Irving Fine’s A Short Alleluia.

Performers include renowned clarinetist Charles Neidich; bassist Rémy Yulzari and his ensemble; soprano Ilana Davidson; pianist Laura Leon; mezzo-soprano Donna Breitzer; guitarist Nadav Lev; and Artists from Mannes College The New School of Music.

Film Screening and Discussion: A Wing and a Prayer (Boaz Dvir, 2015)

Director Present for Conversation

Monday, May 18, 2015, 7:00 pm

A Wing and a Prayer tells the virtually unknown story of World War II aviators who risked their lives and freedom in 1948 to prevent a second Holocaust. This hour-long film features exclusive interviews by the operation’s key members, including mastermind Al Schwimmer and chief pilot Sam Lewis.  Written, directed and produced by Penn State University Senior Lecturer Boaz Dvir (Jessie’s Dad, Discovering Gloria), A Wing and a Prayer features firsthand accounts of daring escapes and heart-pounding action by Schwimmer, Lewis, and other members of the group, including Christian radio operator Eddie Styrak, who was arrested by the British for trying to bring Holocaust survivors into the burgeoning Jewish state.

Watch the Trailer:

WING AND A PRAYER clip from Boaz Dvir on Vimeo.

Women, Theatre, and the Holocaust

Theatrical Excerpts, Launch of Educational Unit & Panel Discussion

Monday, April 13, 2015, 7:00 pm

A special evening to launch Women, Theatre, and the Holocaust, Remember the Women Institute’s new on-line educational unit.  The evening features three short dramatic presentations by professional actors and musicians and a panel discussion.

Presented by AJHS, Remember the Women Institute.



'What If' in American Jewish History and Contemporary Jewish Life

Book Talk

Monday, March 30, 2015, 7:00 pm

The Holocaust Averted (Rutgers University Press), a new book by historian Jeffrey S. Gurock, boldly considers an alternate history: What might have happened to the Jewish community in the United States if the Holocaust had never occurred? Join Professor Gurock  in conversation with Rabbi Golub as they explore the implications of this alternative reality.  This program will be broadcast live at 7:30pm on the Jewish Broadcast Service.

Presented by YUM, AJHS, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University, in partnership with Rutgers University Press.

Filming at Imperial War Museum Airfield, Duxford, England

Above and Beyond

Film and Discussion

Monday, March 9, 2015, 7:00 pm

The first major feature-length documentary about the foreign airmen in the ’48 war, this film brings together new interviews with the pilots, as well as stunning aerial footage, to present a fascinating, little-known tale filled with heart, heroism and high-flying chutzpah. The film follows the pilots on their circuitous route from the United States – where they met and trained in secret and struggled to stay two steps ahead of the FBI – to Panama, Italy and Czechoslovakia, where they flew versions of the very Nazi planes they had tried to shoot down in World War II. Machal Veterans will be here along with the film’s producer, Nancy Spielberg.

Presented by AJHS and CJH.

"Roads Taken" cover by Source: Amazon, copyright 2015.

Roads Taken

The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way

Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 6:30 pm

Book Talk

Between the late 1700s and the 1920s, nearly one-third of the world’s Jews immigrated to new lands. This new publication is the first attempt to tell the remarkable story of the Jewish men who put packs on their backs and traveled forth to sell their goods to peoples across the world, propelling a mass migration of Jewish families out of central and eastern Europe, north Africa, and the Ottoman Empire to destinations as far as the U.S., Great Britain, South Africa, and Latin America.  Historian and author Hasia Diner, New York University, tells the story of discontented young Jewish men who sought opportunity abroad brought change to the geography of Jewish history. With Jose Moya, Barnard College.

Presented by AJHS and CJH.

"Mina Bern". Via Google Images.

Mina Bern: A Celebration

Sunday, January 11, 2015, 2:00 pm

Memorial Event

This event marks the 5th anniversary of Mina Bern's passing at the age of 99, the last great star of the interwar European Yiddish stage who was still active. Bern’s absence is felt among the Yiddish and theater communities, who wish to honor her memory and remind the world of her contribution. A wonderful actress and entertainer in her own right, Bern was also mentor to many of those who keep the field of Yiddish theater vibrant. She was also one of the most colorful personalities in a milieu not short on colorful personalities.

The program will feature material associated with Mina Bern, including sketches from the Broadway shows Those Were the Days and Let’s Sing Yiddish; songs that she put her mark on; documentary footage of Bern talking about her life and performing; and of course reminiscences by those who worked with and were influenced by her.

Most importantly, Mina Bern mentored artists of all ages who sought to keep the flame of Yiddish language and theater alive. Among those who worked with and learned from her are the event organizers, Tony-nominated director and actress Eleanor Reissa, Congress director Shane Baker, and photographer Joan Roth; as well as event participants including founding Klezmatics member and world-renowned trumpet star Frank London; Broadway actresses Lori Wilner and Joanne Borts, and Broadway actors Allen Lewis Rickman and Bob Abelson; actresses Yelena Shmulenson and Rachel Botchan; Rabbi Avram Mlotek; Chazzan Shira Flam; actors Sandy Leavitt and Hy Wolfe; pianist and actor Steve Sterner; and stage manager David Rosenberg.

Kosher refreshments will be served.

Presented by AJHS and the Congress for Jewish Culture.


“A Master of Sephardic song”- The New York Times

The Hanukkah Concert

Featuring Gerard Edery and His Virtuoso Musicians

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 3:00 pm

Gerard Edery has a remarkable range of ethnic folk styles and traditions from around the world, including songs from Europe, the Middle East, South America, and ancient Persia.  Collaborating with his virtuoso musicians, Edery energizes this repertoire for contemporary audiences.  Ellen Gould, the Emmy award-winning actress and playwright (Bubbe Meises), will open the program with a story from the pen of a great Jewish writer - a tradition of the annual Hanukkah concert. Plus... Menorah Lighting, Singing, and Refreshments.

Presented by AJHS and ASJM


World War I — Jewish Experiences in the Trenches and at the Home Front Film Series

Monday, December 1, 2014, 6:30 pm

This film was made by Aleksandr Askoldov in 1967, but was banned by Soviet censors for 20 years. The reason is the film’s sympathetic depiction of Jews. Commissar is a heartbreaking story of a Jewish family in backwater Ukrainian shtetl ravaged by war and pogroms. When a female commissar fighting in the Red Army gets pregnant, the Jewish family takes her in, as she is expecting to give birth and to return to the front. The film is remarkable for its beautiful cinematography, contrasting the domestic Jewish life with powerful images of the Russian Civil War. Discussant: Jonathan Brent, Executive Director, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Presented by CJH, AJHS, LBI

Giving Women Their Place in Holocaust History

Panel Discussion

Thursday, November 13, 2014, 7:00 pm

The exhibition October 7, 1944 recognizes and presents an artistic American response to the heroism of four young women whose names are not all well-known. Just as these women’s stories are often left out of the history of Auschwitz-Birkenau, women's experiences have been left out of Holocaust history and history in general. Marisa Fox, Elisa v. Joeden-Forgey, Rochelle Saidel and Rachel Lithgow, moderator, go beyond this specific episode to also discuss integrating women’s stories and experiences into history.




A brivele der mamen (Letter to Mother), Poland/USA, 1939

A Letter to Mother

World War I — Jewish Experience in the Trenches and at the Home Front

Saturday, November 1, 2014, 6:30 pm

This 1939 film is one of the last Yiddish films made in Poland before the Nazi invasion. The plot centers on the story of mother’s persistent efforts to support her family, while her husband moves to America. After her family is pulled apart by severe poverty and the turmoil of WWI, she finally makes her way to New York in hopes for better future. A Letter to Mother was hailed by the New York Times as one of the best Yiddish films to reach America. It was the highest grossing Yiddish film of its time. Discussant: Eric Goldman, Adjunct Professor of Cinema, Yeshiva University.

Presented by CJH, AJHS, and LBI

Event Webpage

Gertrude "Tiby" Eisen. American Jewish Historical Society Photography Collection.

Jewish Women in American Sport: Settlement Houses to the Olympics

Film and Discussion

Monday, October 20, 2014, 6:30 pm

As athletes, administrators and activists, Jewish women have been involved in sports from the settlement houses in the 1880s into the 21st century, confronting ethnic and gender constraints and changing American society. Join us for an evening of film and discussion with historian Linda J. Borish whose recent research sheds additional light on the fascinating and growing historical impact of women in sports.

Presented by CJH and AJHS

La Grande Illusion (The Grand Illusion)

World War I — Jewish Experiences in the Trenches and at the Home Front Film Series

Monday, October 13, 2014, 6:30 pm

In this 1937 French war film directed by Jean Renoir, the story concerns class relationships among a small group of French officers who are prisoners of war during WWI plotting an escape. The perspective of the film is generously humanistic to its characters of various nationalities, a key character among them is Rosenthal, a wealthy French Jew. It is regarded by critics and film historians as one of the masterpieces of French cinema and among the greatest films ever made. Discussant: Stuart Liebman, Professor of the History and Theory of Cinema, CUNY Graduate Center.

Presented by CJH, AJHS, LBI

"Fighting 69th VHS cover" by Source: Amazon, copyright 2000 Warner Home Video. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

The Fighting 69th

World War I — Jewish Experiences in the Trenches and at the Home Front Film Series

Monday, September 15, 2014, 6:30 pm

A 1940 Warner Brothers film directed by William Keighley, the film is based upon the actual exploits of New York City’s 69th infantry Regiment during WWI. The plot centers on misfit Jerry Plunkett (James Cagney), a macho and a coward, unable to fit into the Irish brigade. Among the cast of characters is also Mischa Moskowitz (Mike Murphy for his Regiment friends), who speaks Yiddish, prays in Hebrew, but fights like an Irishman. Discussant: Thomas Doherty, Professor of American Studies, Brandeis University.

Presented by CJH, AJHS, LBI

Luis Moses Gomez: A Pioneer Merchant in Colonial America

Exhibit Opening and Benefit Reception

Thursday, June 19, 2014, 6:00 pm

Benefit for Gomez Foundation for Mill House.
Presented by Gomez Foundation for Mill House in partnership with ASF, AJHS.

Center for Jewish History, NYC

"Zorn@60@Met" by DISEman - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Music in Our Time: 2014

Presented by AJHS & ASJM

Sunday, June 1, 2014, 3:00 pm

The annual Music in Our Time concert features music with Jewish content. This year’s concert features a work by John Zorn (in honor of his 60th birthday), played by his musicians, as well as music by Schoenfield, Fridman, Binder and Bauer, performed by the young artists of the Mannes College of Music The New School, plus Yiddish songs of Lazare Weiner, sung by Cantor Robert Ableson with pianist Laura Leon.

Prayers for Fellow Prisoners

Presented by AJHS and ASJM

Thursday, May 29, 2014, 7:00 pm

Norway’s acclaimed Ullern Kammerkor presents music dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust—“Bøner for medfangar” (“Prayers for Fellow Prisoners”) by Kristian Hernes with a text by Dietrich Bonhoeffer—and music by Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullmann, composers active during imprisonment in Theresienstadt.

Watchers of the Sky

Film and Discussion

Monday, May 19, 2014, 6:00 pm

Join us for a special preview screening of Watchers of the Sky, the Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary that uncovers the forgotten life of Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin coined the term “genocide” and campaigned for international laws that would prevent and punish this crime against humanity. The post-screening discussion will include Philippe Sands, distinguished international criminal lawyer and Professor of International Law at University College London, filmmaker Edet Belzberg, and Donna-Lee Frieze, editor of Lemkin’s recently published autobiography Totally Unofficial.

“Native Genius”: A Night of Entertainment Celebrating the History of Jewish Contributions to American Theatre, 1800-1860

Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 6:30 pm

Join us for an evening of lively and interactive 19th-century theater featuring the drama, comedy, music and poetry of Jewish playwrights and artists from the pre-Civil War period. In conjunction with the exhibition By Dawn’s Early Light: Jewish Contributions to American Culture from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War, on view through August 16, 2014.

Mixing Music: Istanbul Jews and Their Sacred Songs

Lecture with musical examples

Monday, March 24, 2014, 7:00 pm

Dr. Maureen Jackson traces the linked histories of Istanbul and its Jewish community, as well as the historical-musical vestiges of multi-religious music making in Ottoman and Turkish society. She focuses on the Jewish religious repertoire that developed in interaction with Ottoman court music and people, places, and practices that shaped an Ottoman music world and Jewish cultural life to present day. Dr. Munir Beken, ethnomusicologist and oud master, will bring to life the Turkish musical forms at the heart of Dr. Jackson's talk.

Presented by AJHS and ASJM

American Jewish Political Culture and the Liberal Persuasion

Book Talk

Monday, February 24, 2014, 6:30 pm

Henry L. Feingold speaks about his new book (Syracuse University Press, 2013). The sustained loyalty of the Jewish electorate to the Democratic party, while other ethnic voters cast their ballots elsewhere, has long puzzled political pundits and chagrined Republican stalwarts. Yet efforts to turn the Jewish vote have thus far failed. The majority of Jewish voters continue to pull down the democratic voting lever as if guided by some divine force. No Republican presidential candidate has won the Jewish vote since the election of Theodore Roosevelt in 1904.
Since the heady years of the New Deal, Jewish liberalism has found shelter under the left wing of that party and Jewish voters have become some of the most politically engaged citizens of the Republic. American Jewish Political Culture and the Liberal Persuasion searches for the source of such political engagement, exploring the constantly adapting liberalism at the heart of American Jewish political behavior. Drawing on sociology and philosophy to inform his historical synthesis of a centuries-long, transcontinental pattern, Feingold eschews voting statistics and political theory. Instead, he tells the story of three overarching concerns that weave throughout the political priorities of contemporary American Jews: an ever-changing definition of liberalism; the hope and turmoil of Israel; and the obsession with the Holocaust. The resulting tapestry demonstrates a culture of great complexity and a political voice that often lacks coherence despite these consistent threads.
The book begins with the historical background of American Jewish politics before delving into old roots and then moving onto a thematic understanding of American Jewry's political psyche. This exhaustive work answers the grand question of where American Jewish liberalism comes from and ultimately questions whether the communal motivations behind such behavior are strong enough to withstand twenty-first-century America.
Henry L. Feingold is Professor Emeritus of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Baruch College. He is the author of several books, including The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust and Bearing Witness: How America and Its Jews Responded to the Holocaust. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Leo Baeck Institute.

American Jerusalem: Jews and the Making of San Francisco

Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 6:30 pm

Jewish immigrants played a central role in transforming San Francisco from a sleepy village to a thriving metropolis. In the process they reinvented themselves as well, becoming a distinctly new kind of Jew - a San Francisco Jew. Join us for a screening of a new documentary about this transformation, followed by a discussion in which a panel of scholars will explore the intertwined destinies of San Francisco and the Jews who settled there.

America’s Enduring Cantorate: Lecture with Musical Examples

Sunday, January 26, 2014, 3:00 pm

The roles of cantors, and the music they sing, have developed from European heritage and responded to changing aesthetic needs across centuries. Noted scholars Dr. Mark Kligman and Dr. Mark Slobin, and Cantors Jack Mendelsohn and Barbara Ostfeld- Horowitz, will explore the legacies of cantors in America.

David’s Harp Returns! The Hanukkah Concert

Sunday, December 8, 2013, 3:00 pm

Sephardic, Israeli, Turkish, Greek, Egyptian, Ottoman, Bukarian and Yemenite songs will be featured in this thrilling performance byDavid’s Harp. The group returns by popular demand after its sell-out Hanukkah performance in 2011. Its five-piece ensemble will sing and play santouri, darbuka, keyboard, zills, flute, guitar, mandolin, electric bass daf and violin. A special guest will open the program with a story from the pen of a great Jewish writer-a tradition of the annual Hanukkah program. Plus menorah lighting, singing and refreshments!

Unbroken Spirits: Yosef Mendelevich and Soviet Jewry Activists

Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 7:00 pm

Although less well-known than Sharansky, Yosef Mendelevich was one of the boldest and most influential Refuseniks. He will discuss his riveting new memoir and be reunited with prominent veteran activists for an evening of memory, song and inspiration.

German-Jewish Intellectuals in the Old World and the New

Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 6:30 pm

This event celebrates the publication of Against the Grain, Jewish Intellectuals in Hard Times (edited by Ezra Mendelsohn, Stefani Hoffman and Richard Cohen; Berghahn Books, NY)-a volume that reveals how Jewish intellectuals from German-speaking Europe reacted to the multiple crises of the 20th century. It honors the work of Steven Aschheim, esteemed scholar, teacher and mentor of a new generation of researchers in this field, some of whom are represented in the book. With Richard Cohen (Hebrew University), Marion Berghahn (Berghahn Books), Jerry Muller (The Catholic University of America), Adi Gordon (Amherst College), Ezra Mendelsohn (Hebrew University) and Steven Aschheim (Hebrew University).

Stealing Home: The Mystery of Moe Berg

Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 7:30 pm

Be one of the first to enjoy a new play based on the true story (and mystery) of Moe Berg, a professional baseball player and scholar-and one of the nation's first atomic spies. This staged reading of Stealing Home (by Allan Appel, directed by Avram Ludwig) will be performed by members of the Actors Studio.

Archives Week

Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 6:30 pm

Click here for Program

Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War Curator’s Tour

Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 6:00 pm

Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War Curator’s Tour

Music in Our Time: 2013 Concert

Sunday, June 2, 2013, 3:00 pm

The American Society for Jewish Music and AJHS’s annual concert of Jewish music from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Jewish Women and the Civil War

Monday, May 6, 2013, 7:00 pm

Historians and literary scholars discuss whether as volunteers in hospitals and charity groups, proud resisters of military occupation, or even spies, Jewish women played a prominent role in nearly all aspects of the war - some were even important memoirists of the conflict.

Kaddish for Lincoln

Monday, April 29, 2013, 7:00 pm

In this discussion of Jewish attitudes toward Lincoln--and Lincoln’s evolving attitude toward Jews, Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer explores the 16th president’s relations with Jews during the Civil War, and assesses whether the Great Emancipator deserved the name many contemporaries gave to him in the 19th century: American Moses.

An Evening with Ken Burns: Revisiting the Civil War Documentary Series 20 Years on Discussion

Sunday, April 14, 2013, 6:30 pm

Over the course of 5 days in September 1990, Americans were captivated by Ken Burns? master history lesson on America?s bloodiest conflict. This program features the reflections of the Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated filmmaker on the 150th anniversary of the war.

Rescue in the Philippines Documentary Film

Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 6:30 pm

This documentary tells the little-known story of the Philippines’ rescue of over 1,300 Jews from Nazi Europe. Orchestrated by Filipino and American politicians, Colonel Dwight Eisenhower and the Frieder brothers, Cincinnati-based businessmen, this film premiere will feature a discussion with the director, producers, former refugees and Frieder family descendants.

Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War Curator's Tour*

Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 6:00 pm

Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War Curator's Tour*

Louis Marshall and the Founding of Modern American Judaism

Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 7:30 pm

Marshall was a brilliant lawyer and a pioneer of civil rights and environmental causes who exerted a profound effect on the American Jewish community. Yet today Marshall’s memory has faded, even as his legacy lives on. Scholar Matt Silver discusses the paradox of Marshall’s extraordinary career in his new biography. The author in conversation with AJHS Executive Director, Jonathan Karp.

FDR and the Jews

Thursday, March 7, 2013, 6:30 pm

Join Richard Breitman, Allan J. Lichtman and Elizabeth Borgwardt for a discussion of Breitman and Lichtman’s soon-to-be-published book FDR and the Jews, a fascinating new investigation of the machinations, compromises, and dilemmas surrounding the Roosevelt administration's reactions to the Holocaust-- and of the limitations of the presidency.

“A Night of Jewish Baseball”

Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 6:30 pm

“A Night of Jewish Baseball”

The Sixties and Jewish Celebrity: A Conversation with David Kaufman

Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 7:00 pm

Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Sandy Koufax and Lenny Bruce all helped reshape American culture during a revolutionary decade. What role did their Jewish identity play? Join David Kaufman, author and Associate Professor of Religion at Hofstra University, in conversation with AJHS Executive Director Jonathan Karp.