Center for Jewish History In New York City

by Denise Marie

The Center for Jewish History is one of the most cultural institutions in the world for Jewish research. It is located at 15 West 16th Street New York, NY serving more than 100 countries and millions of people. The Center is home to more than one organization, there are five in total that include American Sephardi, American Jewish Historical, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Leo Baeck Institute and Yeshiva University Museum. Combined there are more than 500,000 volumes and more than 100 million documents that include recordings, photographs, and artwork of the 600 plus years of Jewish history. The center is affiliated to the Smithsonian Institute as well.

History of the Center
The Center first opened in 2000 in the Union Square located in Manhattan. With the five organizations coming together and after six years to complete the planning and construction the goal to offer a different angled approach to the Jewish History was underway. The center itself features two stories of imagery resembling inlaid symbols on the floors and the Talmud. Creating the center was the very first attempt to bring together different view on the Jewish culture and was a huge success in becoming the largest cultural library of congress so to speak. Today there are six buildings total with four existing and two new.

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Collections and Exhibits
There is more than 120,000 square feet of exhibits, galleries and collections. There is around 500,000 books, many thousands of pieces of art that all pertain to Jewish heritage from historic pieces to current and more than 100 million documents. Included in the documents is the records of immigration to New York and a collection of poem that is displayed on the Statue of Liberty by Emma Lazarus “Give me your tired, your poor” and a letter from Thomas Jefferson from the one of the oldest Jewish Hebrew congregations.

There are many rotating exhibits by all organizations except for the Yeshiva University Museum. Scholarships, lectures, programmes, and performances are also offered to discover and experience the international artifacts of Judaic art.

Online exhibitions consist of an archive program vault offering live streaming video and audio of top programmes that have been a part of the center.

The Permanent Center Installations consist of Paul S and Sylvia Steinberg Great Hall. This is a transformative imagery that shines with containing rich dialogues with artwork and learning tools to explain the complex history of biblical times.

Visiting the Center
Tours are offered by the center hosted by the Yeshiva University Museum that lets visitors learn about the richness of Jewish culture and heritage on a daily schedule. Other designed tours provide viewing of the exhibitions for all partners in the organization for visitors to enjoy the top leading Jewish museum in New York and around the world. Each tour is divided into two parts with each one led by a different docent.

Free Gallery Spaces have its own schedule as well as the Yeshiva University Museum. Detailed information on the center can be found on the official website or by contacting the center itself.


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