Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

NEH Scholar-in-Residence To Explore 'Lost' Jewish Museums

These include institutions shut down because of political upheavals—most notoriously, the dismantling of museums in European cities under Nazi control.

NEH Scholar-in-Residence To Explore 'Lost' Jewish Museums

The Center for Jewish History has announced its NEH Scholar-in-Residence for the 2021-2022 academic year. Dr. Jeffrey Shandler, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, will spend a year at the Center for Jewish History (the Center) as its most esteemed scholar in residence, drawing on the collections available only in the Center's reading room for his research.

Generously funded through a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant for Fellowship Programs at Independent Research Institutions, the Center hosts one acclaimed scholar annually who conducts intensive research at the Center and contributes to its vibrant intellectual community. Shandler is the Center's tenth NEH Scholar.

Shandler's project, Jewish Museums Lost and Found, explores the history of "lost" Jewish museums. These include institutions shut down because of political upheavals-most notoriously, the dismantling of museums in European cities under Nazi control-as well as the relocation, dispersal, or reconstitution of Judaica collections, plus the planning of Jewish museums that were never realized.

This promises to be a timely research topic in the wake of COVID-19. Beginning in spring 2020, museums around the world closed their doors to the public due to the pandemic. As closures wore on, questions arose about the future of many institutions.

"In an unexpected way, the closing of museums during the pandemic foregrounds questions central to my research," Shandler explains, "What role do museums play in Jewish life today? What practices have museums instituted that have become part of contemporary Jewish culture?"

"The Center is the perfect place for this research," says Rachel Miller, Chief of Archive and Library Services, "In our reading room, scholars can access such a wide range of relevant materials, from rare books once part of libraries that were dissolved to archives that amazingly survived destruction in Europe in World War II thanks to people who risked their lives to save and hide them. Considering the collecting organization itself is a new focus for our NEH Scholar. We are thrilled to have Jeffrey here doing this work, and we cannot wait to hear what insights he can offer."

"Like so many cultural organizations, the Center has gone through a lot over the past 18 months," says Bernie Michael, President and CEO of the Center, "Jeffrey's research comes at a perfect time as we emerge from such a challenging moment and reopen the Center's doors to the public with renewed energy."

The Center for Jewish History illuminates Jewish history through archival preservation, public engagement, and digital access to the largest archive for the Jewish experience in the world outside Israel. The collections of the Center's five in-house Partner organizations - the American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research - comprise over five miles of archival documents in dozens of languages and alphabet systems, over 500,000 volumes of books, 7.2 million digital items, and thousands of artworks, ritual objects, textiles, and recordings, all spanning 5,000 years. The Center opens these collections to the public and activates the stories they hold.a??

Photo credit: Etty Lassman

Related Stories

More Hot Stories For You

SELENA MARIA SINGS Returns to the Herberger Theater, October 22
August 12, 2022

Childsplay Theatre, a pioneer in theatre for youth since 1977, brings Selena Maria Sings back to the theater in its 46th season.

Contemporary Circus World Premiere I HEAR YOU AND I'D LIKE TO RESPOND Comes To Cannonball Festival, September 8-18
August 12, 2022

“Fringe favorites” Almanac Dance Circus Theatre are back with their first full production since 2018, I Hear You and I'd Like to Respond.

Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus Presents LIFE IS A CABARET Concert, September 10
August 12, 2022

Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus (FTLGMC) will present “Life is a Cabaret” on Saturday, September 10, at 8 p.m. at United Church of Christ (2501 NE 30th Street in Fort Lauderdale).

AVENUE Q, THE PRODUCERS and More Announced for Music Theater Works 2023 Season
August 12, 2022

Music Theater Works, currently presenting the regional premiere of Zorro: The Musical through August 21, is proud to announce its 2023 season of productions at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts In Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd.

South Orange Performing Arts Center Announces Fall 2022 Comedy Lineup
August 12, 2022

A clean comedian, “the funniest woman in the world,” an SNL veteran and a 90s sitcom star walk into a bar, well, performing arts center.