Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chanukah with the DC Council

L to R: Laura Apelbaum, JHS Executive Director;
Debbie Linick, JCRC;
Irv Nathan, D.C. Attorney General;
Chairman Kwame Brown
The Jewish Historical Society celebrated the first night of Chanukah at City Hall with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and D.C. City Councilmembers.  Blessings were said, candles lit, colorful dreidels twirled, and best of all, jelly doughnuts eaten.  Attendees had a special opportunity to see two menorahs from our collection up close, including one handcrafted out of tin in Russia and brought to the U. S. in the 1880s.  If you missed your chance to snack on jelly doughnuts, join the JCRC at City Hall on the last night of Chanukah, Tuesday, December 27th, when they'll repeat the festivities.

More photos from the event!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Object of the Month: December 2011

Object #:1998.17.2
Donor: Nancy Bushwick Malloy
Description: Metallic, hinged Chanukah banner, 31" long, 1950s-1960s

Background: This banner, an example of holiday decorations manufactured after World War II, adorned the Georgetown home of Ukrainian immigrants Louis and Rebecca Weinstein, to celebrate Hanukkah. This trend toward observing Hanukkah with songs, gifts, and decorations developed as the 20th century progressed.

Do you have material documenting the local Jewish community that you'd like to donate to the Jewish Historical Society's collection? Please contact us at or (202) 789-0900,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A good cause

JHSGW Board Member, Bill Rice, hands a check to
Michael F. Curtin, Jr., CEO of DC Central Kitchen.
Earlier this year, we collected donations to benefit DC Central Kitchen, located 3 blocks from our office.  DC Central Kitchen provides at-risk individuals meals, counseling services, and job training.  On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, we dropped off a check for $95 and met DC Central Kitchen CEO, Michael F. Curtin, Jr.  We thank everyone who contributed to this good cause.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A homecoming of sorts

When I give a tour of our historic 1876 synagogue, I always like to discuss the entirety of the building's history--its use as a synagogue, a Greek Orthodox church, the three Protestant churches, and the retail stores that have called this red brick building home.

So you could imagine my excitement last week when a member of the archives committee of St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral called me and asked if their group could come visit the building. St. Sophia's used the sanctuary between 1910 and 1919, after Adas Israel had moved out. So, of course I said yes, we'd love to have the group come down!

Six members of the archives committee visited Monday morning. Sadly, all of the early records of St. Sophia's were lost to fire, so the committee is trying to fill in holes in their congregation's history. So, I showed them the pictures we have and told them the stories we know. They also told me some of their congregation's history, giving me new information that I can now use in tours.

My colleague Lisa took this picture (on the right) of the group standing on the bimah at the front (pardon the tarp--we're replacing our windows). When the sanctuary housed St. Sophia's, the same space served as the altar. The only picture we have from the time of St. Sophia's shows a priest--whom our visitors identified as Right Reverend Ioakim Alexopoulos--standing in the same spot!

All in all, it was quite the jovial gathering--a homecoming of sorts.