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OJM CURATOR Anne Prahl and Leah Faw, the NCJW-Portland Section education coordinator for the museum look over some of the NCJW archives donated to the museum.

Museum accepts NCJW gift


article created on: 2009-03-15T00:00:00

On March 3, the Oregon Jewish Museum publicly accepted at gift of $450,000 from the National Council of Jewish Women, Portland Section, that will help fund a core exhibit about the Oregon Jewish experience.

NCJW Portland President Meryl Haber said the section chose the museum for the grant raised by the 2000 sale of NCJW’s Neighborhood House because the museum fit into the group’s mission statement focusing on education, advocacy and community service.

Part of the exhibit, which will eventually be housed in a gallery to be named the NCJW Portland Section Regional History Gallery, will feature items the section donated to the museum reflecting it’s 113-year history in Portland.

Thanking NCJW for the gift, OJM President Craig Wollner said that while people think of museums as repositories of the past, “museums are all about the future … and preserving our cultural heritage for those who come after us.”

Beth Wenger, associate professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, who was in town to present the Gus Solomon Lecture (see story below), spoke about the importance of such an exhibit both regionally and nationally.

“This is a great gift being given to this institution to work toward preserving the archives and providing a legacy to future generations,” she said.

Wenger, who is helping develop the National Museum of Jewish History scheduled to open in 2010, said that by and large national Jewish history is that of the eastern seaboard with a bit of Chicago thrown in. She said established institutions in those areas provide artifacts and archives for the national story.

“You are creating a story of your own that will … help fill out the mosaic of our national story,” she said. “With this exhibit, you become part of the national story of Jewish life.”

Thanking NCJW for its “extraordinary gift,” OJM Executive Director Judith Margles said, “In this era of recession economics and cutbacks, the support of NCJW to the future of the Oregon Jewish Museum is about as good as it gets.”

The core exhibition will reflect OJM’s mission to focus on the regional story of Oregon’s Jews, within a broader context of West Coast, national and international significance.

Featuring items from the Museum’s rich archives and artifact collection, as well as objects that will be acquired in the near future, this core exhibition at the Pacific Northwest’s only Jewish museum will present an artifact- and document-driven story of regional history.

In addition to creating the exhibit, a small portion of the donation will fund a part time educator to develop and implement educational programming to augment the core exhibit. OJM has hired Leah Faw as the NCJW-Portland Section Education Coordinator.

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