Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Residents connect to Jewish Washington

This post is by JHSGW's new archival intern, Rachel Mauro. In addition to her internship here, she runs a blog about Jewish life in Washington.

Barely three hours into my internship at the Jewish Historical Society, I suddenly found myself heading out to the Five Star Premier Residences in Chevy Chase, Md., to assist with a talk given by Interpretive Programs Manager David McKenzie.

Residents filled up the community hall to hear about local history. David’s talk, aided by a PowerPoint presentation of archival images, touched upon broad events, like the founding of the first synagogues in the District, and profiles of esteemed Jewish Washingtonians. It was a great way for me, personally, to get a scope of what the Society is all about.

For residents who lived through much of what David talked about, the talk was noticeably more personal. We learned as much about them as they did about us. One woman relayed that her husband’s grandfather was Moshe Yoelson, cantor at Talmud Torah Congregation at 467 E Street, SW, from 1892 to the 1920s, and entertainer Al Jolson’s father.

We quickly ran out of copies of the accompanying book, Jewish Washington: Scrapbook of an American Community, which is available for sale. To view the online exhibition, click here

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Rachel, for a great blog post. What a nice, whirlwind way to "ease" into your new job! If I remember the family stories correctly, Cantor Yoelson was the mohel for both my grandfather, here in Washington, and--is this possible?--for my father, in Woodbine, New Jersey. That would have been in 1901.