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Current Exhibitions

Commonwealth and Community: The Jewish Experience in Virginia

The history of the Jews of Virginia is detailed in this comprehensive exhibition. It begins with the Jews who accompanied Sir Walter Raleigh on his expeditions, and follows the stories of Jews who lived in Virginia during the Colonial period, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, enduring two World Wars and rejoicing in the founding of the State of Israel.

This exhibition was originally mounted in cooperation with the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond and the Virginia Historical Society. It was later updated and reinstalled at Beth Ahabah Museum & Archives.

That You'll Remember Me: Jewish Voices of the Civil War

This exhibition tells the story of the Richmond Jewish experience during the American Civil War.

“There may perhaps in such a scene some recollection be, In such a moment I but ask that you’ll remember me.” In 1863, the future sculptor, Moses Ezekiel, a student at the Virginia Military Institute, occasionally left his barracks to attend theater in Richmond. These lyrics resonated with him and were recorded in his memoirs. It is through diaries, memoirs, photographs, letters and notes that we learn what the Jewish people in Richmond were doing and thinking as they lived through the turbulent years of the Civil War.

The Jews of Richmond came from a variety of backgrounds.  Some were descendants of Jews who came to America prior to the American Revolution. Others had come from Germany in the 1840’s and had established homes, families and businesses in their new country. And some had just arrived from Europe, penniless and alone, with the drive to create a better life for themselves and their families. Opinions about the social and political problems of the day were as varied as the people who held them. In this exhibition you will see their photographs and possessions, and learn about the lives of Richmond’s Jews during the difficult days of the war.

The Other Side of the Curtain: Soviet Jews Create New Lives in Richmond, Virginia

Beginning in the late 1970’s, and continuing from the late 1980’s through 2001, the Richmond Jewish community united to help Jews from the former Soviet Union adjust to their new lives in America. A broad coalition of organizations, synagogues and volunteers raised funds, donated a great deal of time and provided support for the acculturation of these New Americans. Original documents, photographs and artifacts illustrate personal accounts of their lives behind the Iron Curtain, their experiences, impressions and expectations upon arriving in Richmond and their reflections after 25 years or more.

This exhibition is the final component of “Draw Back the Curtain”, a multi-year project created through the generosity, cooperation and coordination of the University of Richmond, Jewish Family Services, the Richmond Jewish Foundation, University of Richmond Hillel and the Beth Ahabah Museum & Archives.  Exhibitions at the University of Richmond, a symposium held on campus and the documentary film “Draw Back the Curtain” were all part of the project.

Count Me In! Richmond's Jews Respond to World War I

With the country at war, Richmond answered the call. There were 234 Jewish men from the area who served in our armed forces. The community contributed both time and money to the war effort. This exhibit honors the Richmond Jewish community’s support for the war effort – from those who volunteered at home to those who fought abroad for justice and freedom in service to their country.

Previous Exhibitions

The Entertaining Mrs. Calisch

This mini-exhibition focused on the extraordinary career of Edith Lindeman Calisch. From the 1940’s through the 1960’s she was a wife and mother, the drama and movie critic for the Richmond newspapers and , in her spare time, the lyricist for songs composed by musician Carl Stutz. Two of their biggest hits were the award-winning “Little Things Mean a Lot,” sung by Kitty Kallen and “The Red-Headed Stranger,” made famous by singer Willie Nelson.

Answering the Call: Prayer, Patriotism, Service & Sacrifice

With a history of devotion to freedom, Jewish Richmonders responded to times of crisis with prayer and a patriotic spirit, knowing they would be called to serve and to make sacrifices along with their fellow citizens. As civilians or on active duty, they stepped forward to protect and defend the blessings of liberty and freedom both at home and abroad.

This exhibition opened in August of 2006 and was dedicated in honor and in memory of Charles Millhiser, II, pictured during a radio broadcast on Armed Forces Network in 1943.

Tue, January 22 2019 16 Shevat 5779