It is the time of the year to reflect upon those people and events that made the year special. At the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, we have so many people to thank: visitors, educators, docents, artists, members, donors, board and committee members.
Foremost, I am thankful every day that the Jewish Museum Milwaukee exists. To the people and staff who put the Museum together – thank you. I am excited to come to work to learn, explore, contemplate and share. It is a rare day indeed when I do not learn a new fact or am challenged to think about a topic in a different way. Museums are places of exploration and learning, and JMM is incredibly fortunate to have curious staff, volunteers, visitors and supporters.
With the rise of violence and hate speech, I feel extremely privileged to work at an institution that at its heart, shares its history of discrimination, intolerance and hate, and connects the Jewish story to other peoples’ stories. Such work promotes empathy, new ways of looking at situations, and cements human bonds. I know I speak for the entire staff when I say this work is meaningful, important and deeply gratifying.
This past year JMM had four exceptional special exhibits. We are extremely grateful to the artists and supporters who made them possible. Once and Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman explored this exceptional artist’s photography and glass sculptures. Beth’s creativity, openness, intellect, and talent made the exhibit and her programs rich, thoughtful and compelling.
Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz touched the lives of everyone who saw the exhibit; from school children to seniors; from the many repeat visitors to new audiences drawn to her use of needle and thread to tell her remarkable story. We are ever indebted to Esther’s daughter, Bernice Steinhardt, who ensured her mother’s story could be shared with the world.
Moments & Markers: An Adolph Rosenblatt Retrospective enabled JMM to share this remarkable artist’s stories of Milwaukee with a broad audience. We are grateful to the Rosenblatt family, who used their considerable skills and time to clean, conserve and move the art, share stories of Adolph with the staff and visitors, and share their unique talents with program attendees.
The Seventh Day: Revisiting Shabbat allowed JMM to look at Shabbat observances in a traditional sense and through a contemporary lens that addressed a continuum and connection between art and the science of mindfulness. The exhibit and related programs explored spirituality, relaxation techniques, diverse ties that bind, and, importantly, looked at tools to remain connected to those things and people that are truly important.
Family donations made JMM what it is, and families continue to think of us when distributing family heirlooms, photographs and documents. We received many donations this year and all are special. I do want to highlight two donations that will be exhibited in 2018. Louise Stein generously donated two remarkable pieces of Judaica by Yossi Swed that will become part of the permanent exhibit. Edie Shafer donated her family’s documents and photographs of their flight to Shanghai in order to escape Nazi Germany. Her extraordinary story will be shared with the public during the Stitching History From the Holocaust exhibit next spring.
Members are the lifeblood of any museum. We are exceptionally privileged to have loyal members who come to many of the over 40 programs per year, offer us feedback, and support in so many ways. JMM is fortunate to have corporations, foundations and individuals who support the work we do. Their financial support allows for a robust special exhibit schedule and dozens of programs. We in Milwaukee are extremely fortunate to have donors who want to make a difference in the lives of others.
JMM depends on docents and volunteers to carry out its mission. Our docents are simply amazing. They learn about each new exhibit and work with age groups from elementary school to senior citizen. They work weekdays, weekends and evenings. Without this core group of devoted individuals, JMM would not be able to touch so many lives. We are truly grateful.
Volunteers help with each exhibit, with raising funds, reaching diverse audiences, and determining programs. They give their time, ideas, and passion. Each exhibit is better because of your input. When there are so many places you could spend your time, we realize you chose to spend it with JMM and we are very appreciative.
Finally, to the staff and board of JMM – thank you for your vision, your hard work and your support. The Museum is only as informative as your creativity and intellect, only as welcoming as your graciousness, and only as engaging as your openness. Your commitment to our mission, to the public and to our members is noteworthy.
Thank you to one and all for all you do and bring to Jewish Museum Milwaukee. May the coming year treat you and yours with kindness, health and happiness.