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Center for Jewish History

“A Very Ticklish Problem”: The AJC Response to the Rosenberg Trial & Execution

Convicted of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed 70 years ago on June 19, 1953, the first and only American civilians to face the death penalty for espionage. At the time, many believed the Rosenbergs to be innocent victims of antisemitism and Cold War hysteria, or at the very least that they had received an overly harsh…

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Kosher Food Production in the United States and the Manischewitz Empire

The Jewish population in the U.S. currently makes up just under 2.5% of the total population, with an even lower percentage keeping kosher. Yet, over 40% of the packaged food produced in the U.S. is labeled as kosher, and American food production companies dominate the global kosher market. Many of the brands that we see on the shelves, such as Coca Cola, Kraft, and…

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Sermons of Thanksgiving

It is widely believed that the Pilgrims modeled their Thanksgiving feast after the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. In its modern incarnation as a secular festival focusing on gratitude, an appropriately Jewish concept, Thanksgiving has been observed by American Jews from its earliest days. When George Washington declared a non-denominational National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, American Jews eagerly joined the celebration. Gershom Mendes Seixas…

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The Jews of Harlem

When thinking about the historically Jewish neighborhoods in New York, the Lower East Side or Williamsburg are likely the first to come to mind. What many do not know is that Harlem was at one point the home of the second largest Jewish population in the country. From the 1870s into the 1900s, there was a migration of Jews into Harlem from the Lower…

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Struggling Against Tyranny: The Gertrude Goldhaber Collection

“The vicious cycle which was originally created by the overt exclusion of women from mathematics and science must be broken… [I]t is of the utmost importance to give a girl at a very early age the conviction that girls are capable of becoming scientists.” Gertrude Scharff Goldhaber (1911-1998) was a German Jewish nuclear physicist who made several significant discoveries in physics, particularly in the…

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A Survivors’ Haggadah

“And the khaki-clad sons of Israel commanded by Lt. General Truscott gathered together as was the custom in Israel, to celebrate the Passover festival.” So begins the preamble to the so-called Survivors’ Haggadah (left), published for the first Passover after Liberation by the U.S. Army of Occupation in Bavaria, a copy of which was donated to the American Jewish Historical Society by CJH and…

An Unlikely Journalist: Emile Bocian in Chinatown, Part 3: ACTIVISM

This is a series of blog posts about the upcoming exhibition An Unlikely Photojournalist: Emile Bocian in Chinatown, a joint project of The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) and Center for Jewish History. For an overview of the exhibition and its origins, read this post first.  Among the 120,000 items in the Emile Bocian collection at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) can be found numerous photos…

An Unlikely Journalist: Emile Bocian in Chinatown, Part 2:
A NEIGHBORHOOD IN TRANSITION

This is a series of blog posts about the upcoming exhibition An Unlikely Photojournalist: Emile Bocian in Chinatown, a joint project of The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) and Center for Jewish History. For an overview of the exhibition and its origins, read this post first.  Emile Bocian (1912-1990), son of Eastern-European Jewish immigrants, photographed Chinatown from 1974 to 1986, a period of…

UPCOMING EXHIBITION | An Unlikely Photojournalist: Emile Bocian in Chinatown

Emile Bocian (1912-1990), son of Eastern-European Jewish immigrants, was perhaps the only non-Asian resident of Chinatown’s iconic Confucius Plaza apartment complex at the intersection of Bowery, Doyers Street, and Division Street in the 1970s and 80s. Through a series of chance encounters, he was employed as a photojournalist for a New York-based Chinese-language newspaper, The China Post. [Left: A section showcasing one Chinatown journalist per week featured…

Yiddish Wall Newspapers

“Wall newspapers”—large, hand-lettered or typed newsletters posted in a shared communal space—have their roots in Soviet propaganda. Among the rich historical resources available through the Center for Jewish History’s digital collections are wall newspapers that form a portion of YIVO’s Displaced Persons Camps and Centers Poster Collection, RG 294.6. Created in the aftermath of World War II, these fragile documents provide a vivid glimpse…

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