Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Schwartz on National Museum of Jewish History

I had no idea any of this was happening. Must be behind on my reading.

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz delivered the following speech today on the floor of U.S. House of Representatives in support of a resolution she introduced along with Rep. Bob Brady recognizing the National Museum of American Jewish History as the only museum in the country dedicated exclusively to exploring and preserving the American Jewish experience. The resolution was passed by a voice vote earlier this afternoon.

The new museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently building a 100,000-square-foot, 5-story, state-of-the-art museum on Independence Mall in Philadelphia and will serve as a cornerstone of the American Jewish community and a source of national pride.

The National Museum of American Jewish History was founded in 1976 by members of historic Congregation Mikveh Israel and is the repository of the largest collection of Jewish Americana in the world, with more than 25,000 objects. The museum has attracted a broad audience to its public programs, while exploring American Jewish identity through lectures, panel discussions, authors’ talks, films, children’s activities, theater, and music.

“Madame Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of H. Res. 1381, which recognizes the National Museum of American Jewish History, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, as the only museum in the Nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and preserving the American Jewish experience.

“As the museum completes its new, expanded facility on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, the Museum will continue to inspire in people of all backgrounds a greater appreciation for the diversity of the American Jewish experience and, more broadly, the freedoms to which all Americans aspire.

“Freedom, liberty and the opportunity to thrive here in America will be the Museum’s overarching theme that will appeal powerfully to people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. It will tell the American immigrant story of challenges and fulfilling the American values of self-determination, equality and opportunity.

“This Museum will highlight the great contributions that Jewish-Americans have made throughout American history through the sciences, public service, sciences, and the arts. I encourage all of my colleagues to visit this remarkable institution when it opens on November 14, 2010.

“However, for me, the significance of the National American History Museum is marked by the remarkable yet familiar story of one immigrant to America.

“Over 60 years ago a young woman, named Renee Perl, was forced to flee Austria to escape the Holocaust. She arrived alone on the shores of America as a 16 year old, without family or friends. She arrived after years of fear and uncertainty deeply grateful for the security America offered and hopeful about her future. She relished her freedoms as an American.

“Renee Perl was my mother.

“She instilled in me a deep love for this country and its capacity to provide not only a safe harbor, but also freedom and opportunity. Her story is a constant reminder for me of the importance of our democracy and our shared responsibility to meet the goals and ideals of our great nation.

“The National Jewish American History Museum, a new American in its new location honors the stories of Jewish Americans like my mother – both ordinary – extraordinary which make up the fabric of our nation.

“I am proud to honor the occasion of the opening of the new facility and look forward to the role the museum will play in telling a part and for me a very personal part of our country’s history.”

No comments: