Spotted in Jewish DC – National Museum of American Jewish Military History

Memorial Day, when America remembers men and women who died serving our country in the U.S. Military, is this coming Monday.  In honor of this, our #SpottedinJewishDC this week goes to the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, located in Dupont Circle. We sat down for an interview with Michael Rugel, the museum’s Program and Content Coordinator to learn more about the museum’s history and what you can find within its walls.

How did the museum come to be?
The museum was founded by the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. The JWV originated in 1896, when a group of Civil War Veteran in New York formed the Hebrew Union Veterans Association. One of the organization’s goals was to disprove the anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews don’t serve in the military. When JWV moved their headquarters to DC, they created the National Shrine to the Jewish War Dead. In 1958, the museum was created by a Congressional Charter as the Jewish War Veterans National Memorial, Inc. In 1984, under the Reagan administration, the museum opened at its current location. George H. W. Bush nailed the mezuzah to the doorpost at the building dedication.

Why do you think it’s important to focus on Jewish, U.S. military members?
It’s important to show that Jews participated in virtually every aspect of American history. In my opinion, the stereotype of the American Jew as intellectual nebbish is still alive today. We want to show that Jewish Americans are very accomplished in a field that some might not expect. When Americans think of Jews in the military, they often immediately think of Israel. People lose sight of how many Jews have contributed to the American military, going back to the colonial era. Over 500,000 served in World War II. These are important stories.

Most of the time, the stories of Jewish service members are the same as service members of any other religion or ethnicity. But there are times when it was very significant that these men and women were Jewish.This includes Jewish brother fighting against brother in the Civil War, Jewish immigrants who left Russia specifically to escape military service – but came to America and volunteered to join the Army, and Jewish American soldiers who liberated concentration camps during WWII.

How long has the museum been at the Dupont Circle location?
Since 1984.

Any tips for our readers who may want to visit?

There are three good upcoming opportunities to check us out:

Friday, May 26th – We’re sponsoring a Memorial Day Shabbat service at Sixth and I (not at the museum). A representative will read the names of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sunday, June 4th – During the Dupont-Kalorama Museums Consortium Walk Weekend, we’ll be open from 11 am – 4 pm, along with 4 other museums in the neighborhoods: Anderson House, Dumbarton House, The Phillips Collection, and the President Woodrow Wilson House. All of us are open free of charge, with special programming. We’ll have a genealogy expert on hand to answer questions.

Sunday, July 16th – At 1:00 pm, we’re having a talk on Jews and Baseball.  Phil Wood is the host of Nats Talk Live and a long-time radio personality in the D.C.-Baltimore area. He’ll join us to discuss the history of Jews in baseball including Hank Greenberg and others who served in the military.

What do you think the most interesting things to see are in the museum?
That’s hard because there are so many, but I’ll list them!

  • A trepanning kit used by a Civil War surgeon to cut into skull and bone.
  • A WWII POW diary kept by Louis T. Wigdortz while a prisoner at Stalag Luft III. It prompts the question of what it was like to be a Jewish prisoner of the Nazis.
  • A listening station with a first-hand account of liberating concentration camps. Many of the American Jewish soldiers were Yiddish speakers and the only ones who could communicate with the Holocaust survivors.
  • Fallen Heroes – a touchscreen display listing the identified American Jews killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
  • A portable ark and altar created by Chaplain Martin Weitz to honor the “swords into plowshares” theme. The ark and altar used artillery shells and other elements of war to create the ark. He used it to lead Jewish services in the Pacific
  • Hall of Heroes – Features the 17 identified Jewish recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, dating from the Civil War to Vietnam.

The museum is open Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. Memorial Day (5/29) hours are 1pm – 5pm. The museum is open Sundays by appointment for groups of 6 or more, and the museum also hosts Sunday and weeknight programs on a regular basis.

Spot something particularly Jewish in DC? Let us know about it by emailing or snapping a photo and posting it on social with #SpottedinJewishDC. You may see it here!

Spotted in Jewish DC – On Rye’s Awesome SWAG

Whether you’ve tasted their modern take on Jewish deli food or not, you’ll certainly have a craving for On Rye‘s creative piece of SWAG, which happens to be our #SpottedinJewishDC feature this week.

This awesome design that pays homage to the Helvetica List shirts of 2012.  It makes your mouth water on the front and then sports an “On Rye” logo on the back. While this beauty only comes in a sweatshirt (not ideal for summers in DC), pick up one now either in store on online. Or, enter to win one through our contest!

We asked Co-Owner, Ilyse Fishman Lerner, about the sweatshirt’s origin. She said she wanted to create something modern but comfortable. Comfortable it is, made from Bella + Canvas fleece, which is super wearable and soft.

 Want to win a sweatshirt of your very own! Enter the contest! We’ll announce the winners Friday!

Spot something particularly Jewish in DC? Let us know about it by emailing or snapping a photo and posting it on social with #SpottedinJewishDC. You may see it here!

Spotted in Jewish DC – The Den’s Cookbook Recipe of the Month

Depending on your interest, The Den is either the coffeehouse/wine bar in Politics and Prose, or the coffeehouse/wine bar with Politics and Prose in it. Wherever your loyalties, chances are you’ve been to bothand love them for the community and cultural epicenters they are.

This week, we’re spotlighting The Den’s ‘Cookbook Recipe of the Month’ for our #SpottedinJewishDC feature. If you’re not familiar with this fun monthly menu special, the chefs at The Den select a recipe each month from a cookbook that Politics and Prose sells, and adds it to their menu. This month, they’re featuring the Cauliflower Salad from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook.

The recipe features celery, parsley, hazelnuts, pomegranate, spiced vinaigrette on a bed of local greens and is $9.50 before tax. This is not a bad price considering buying all of the ingredients to make it at home will be at least that. They will be featuring it for a limited time only, so hurry in!

Spot something particularly Jewish in DC? Send it our way via email or tag it on social media with #SpottedinJewishDC. You may see it here sometime soon.

 

 

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