By David Myers, President/CEO of the Center for Jewish History
The final song of the smash Broadway hit Hamilton asks with great poignancy: “Who will tell
your story?” The line is a telling
reminder that those who lack power or fail to live long enough, such as
Alexander Hamilton, often don’t get to leave behind their own version of the
The task of the Center
for Jewish History is to guarantee that the story of Jewish history will be
told. That’s why I came to the Center as
President/CEO. I had spent my entire
twenty-five year career teaching Jewish history at UCLA, where I had the
opportunity to expose students to the fascinating journey of the Jews
And yet, it is at the
Center that the story of the Jewish past is written. It is here that the
unparalleled archival resources of our distinguished Partners—
American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi
Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute
for Jewish Research—can be found. It is here that scholars come from around the
world craft those archival documents into first-rate research. And it is here that we translate the work of
historians into meaningful public programs available to wide audiences.
That’s why I came
to the Center for Jewish History: to work with our wonderful professional staff
and Partners to ensure that the story of Jewish history continues to be written.
This is a story of stunning cultural vibrancy and achievement, as well as of
persecution and murderous assault. We
must tell the story of vitality and, alas, of tragedy. And we must tell the
story of the daily lives of Jews that stretches from Cairo to Chicago to Cochin.
The ancient Jewish
sages reminded us that we are not obligated to complete the task. But neither, we might add, are we permitted
to break the chain of historical transmission.
The story of the Jews’ march through history is compelling and relevant to all, Jews and non-Jews, young and old.
And so, in response to Lin Manuel Miranda’s final
question in Hamilton, we answer that the Center for Jewish History will
tell the story. This is our
mission. I invite you to join in this seminal
work by donating to the Center.