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AJHS and ASJM Join to Bring Historic Jewish Music to Public

Beth Israel Hospital, circa 1917, the eventual home of the Jewish Memorial Hospital, Roxbury (Courtesy Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Ruth Freiman, Archivist)

The American Society for Jewish Music (ASJM), founded in 1974, has joined with the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) to preserve and perform traditional and contemporary Jewish music. “One of our most fruitful areas of ongoing cooperation will be the presentation of Jewish music usually accessible only to scholars and professionals in the field,” said Hadassah Markson, president of the ASJM.

The first such joint effort between the two institutions took place in December 1999, when AJHS and ASJM presented a highly successful Chanukah concert at the New-York Historical Society. The program included Yiddish and Ladino songs, and featured Paul Schoenfield´s “Tales from Chelm,” narrated by the well-known performer Mike Burstyn and played by the da Salo Quartet.

In May 2000, the two organizations presented an all-American Jewish composers´ concert, which included works by previous winners of ASJM´s international competition for new Jewish music.

Commenting on the collaborative effort, Dr. Michael Feldberg, executive director of AJHS, stated that in working together, “Our institutions have an opportunity to retrieve the Jewish music housed in our archives and bring it to life in performances for a wide audience. Music is central to Jewish history and culture. Our mission is not merely to preserve that historic culture, but to give it a meaningful future.”

Society´s Academic Council Co-Sponsors Fourth Scholars Conference on American Jewish History

In its continuing efforts to spotlight new and important research in the field of American Jewish history, the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, in co-sponsorship with the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society and Beck Archives, Center for Judaic Studies and Penrose Library, University of Denver, will once again sponsor the Scholars´ Conference on American Jewish History.

The conference, which will be held from June 4-6, 2000, at various sites in the Denver, Colorado area, is the fourth to be co-sponsored by the Academic Council.

Conference sessions will include scholarly panels on new oral traditions for and by Jewish women, Jewish communities in the American West, the limits of Jewish dissent in America, the Jewish dimensions of religious, social and political reform, and a session dealing with “smugglers, soldiers and symbols.”

A special highlight of the conference will be a round-table discussion and analysis of the late Irving Howe´s classic work, World of Our Fathers, a quarter of a century after it was published. In addition, Marvin Kalb, an internationally-known news correspondent and analyst, will speak on the topic “Journalism of Freedom : From the First Commandment to the First Amendment,” at the conference banquet dinner.

The Presidency and American Jewry is Focus of AJHS Annual Lecture Series

The relationship of the American presidency to the American Jewish community was the focus of the 1999-2000 American Jewish Historical Society Annual Lecture Series at its New York and Waltham centers.

Michael Feldberg, the Society´s executive director, lectured on “The Presidency and the Jews : The Early Years,” in a program cosponsored by Congregation Shearith Israel of New York.

Melvin I. Urofsky, professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and director of the University´s Doctoral Program in Public Policy, spoke about his forthcoming book on Jefferson, the Levy Family, and Monticello. The lectures were cosponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation.

Eli N. Evans, president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation and a noted scholar of the Southern Jewish expe-rience, delivered the Bernard Wax Endowment Lecture on “Jefferson Davis, Judah P. Benjamin and the Jews of the Civil War…” Evans´ lecture reminds us that the Confederacy also produced an American president. The series will continue next spring with lectures on Lincoln, FDR and Kennedy and their relationships to the American Jewish community.

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