Discover American Jewish history using the links below. Keep scrolling for more information about each exhibition floor. Here are some helpful tips!
Made possible by generous support from George S. Blumenthal
Photography by Ardon Bar-Hama
Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War,
19th century religion
Foundations of Freedom depicts how a tiny number of Jews living in the American colonies sought, defended, and tested freedom—in political affairs, in relations with Christian neighbors, and in their own understanding of what it meant to be Jewish. It explores issues like establishing new communities, intermarriage, preserving faith, and maintaining Judaism in the absence of formal institutions or leaders.
Mass immigration, the Great Depression, immigrant’s lives, WWI & II, the Holocaust
Dreams of Freedom chronicles how millions of Jewish immigrants came to the United States around the turn of the 20th century, drawn by the hope for better lives for themselves and their children—sustained by economic opportunity and political and religious freedom. This exhibit continues with American life after Congress legislated the end of free and open immigration in 1924 through the lenses of the performing arts, political activism, and religious expression. It concludes with World War II.
Postwar immigration, the suburbs, the State of Israel, summer camps, social movements, early 21st century
Choices and Challenges of Freedom begins in the immediate postwar period with stories of migration from war-torn Europe. It follows more than a third of American Jews who, between 1945 and 1965, found new homes in suburban and Sun Belt communities. Artifacts and films illustrate what the creation of the State of Israel meant to American Jews, the impact of the Cold War on Jewish identity, and the fight for civil rights, women’s rights, and the movement to free Soviet Jews. The experience finishes with Jewish life in the early 21st century.
Through the lives of real people—some well known, others less so—the Ed Snider Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame weaves compelling stories from the past and present with the larger themes of the Museum’s core exhibition. The extraordinary individuals featured in Only in America® illustrate that a hallmark of the American Jewish experience has been an unparalleled opportunity to aspire, achieve, and possibly change the world. Only in America® is an innovative combination of multimedia, original artifacts, and interactive experiences.