Women, Theatre, and the Holocaust

Theatrical Excerpts, Launch of Educational Unit & Panel Discussion

Monday, April 13, 2015, 7:00 pm
Ticket Info: $10 general; $7 AJHS/CJH members, seniors, students

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.