I brought my class to an exhibit at Oregon Jewish Museum. It was a super way to get my kids engaged in the issue of tolerance and to examine the Oregon's history of diversity and intolerance. The conversations extended for days after our visit, thanks to the great presentation by the director, Judy Margles, and the thorough exhibit. It was presented in an attractive, accessible manner that the kids could understand and appreciate - and I could too!
When I was doing research on Portland history in the early 1900s, Oregon Jewish Museum provided me with many excellent first-hand accounts and photos - they really rounded out my knowledge of the period.
I am pleased to share my experience with OJM over the past many years and highly recommend it. OJM plays a unique and important role in the Portland/Oregon Jewish and non-Jewish communities. It serves those who are looking to understand the Jewish experience, both locally and nationally; to experience an art museum show in an intimate setting; and to use valuable research resources. Those who work and volunteer at OJM bring a high level of enthusiasm and commitment -- and the upcoming move to a new space will only enhance the many things OJM provides to the community.
I am a writer and I have been blessed to use the human and archival resources of the Oregon Jewish Museum for a range of projects including a book, "The Spark and the Light: The Leo Adler Story" (which led to the Oregon Public Broadcasting Oregon Experience Program "Leo Adler"). I continue to use their resources for a variety of other research projects on Jewish families in Oregon. I could not do my work without them. When I started work on the Leo Adler project, I was unsure about what resources might be available in Portland. Leo Adler (1895-1993) lived all of his 98 years in Baker City in the eastern part of our state. When I went to the Museum and told the Director Judy Margles what I was doing, she smiled and said "Yes, we have a few things" and introduced me to Anne Levant-Prahl. Scrapbooks were pulled out, oral history transcripts were presented to me and boxes and photograph came down from shelves. Broad pieces of the Adler family history could be found from a range of sources, but the resources of the Oregon Jewish Museum allowed me to weave those pieces together. I had the thrill of looking at family letters from Jacob Adler (Leo’s grandfather) to his son and daughters in Oregon (who emigrated from Germany in the 1870s) telling them when they should observe the anniversary of their mother’s death. Many of the letters were written in German and the folks at the Oregon Jewish Museum put me in touch with translation services that allowed me to dig deeper. There are other museums in Oregon with larger archives, bigger facilities, and more staff, but for me the Oregon Jewish Museum has always been the best “connector” museum. It opens up questions for me and helps me blaze a trail toward answering those questions. I always feel welcome when I come to do research and I value the interest of the staff in my work. Since I am not Jewish, I appreciate the staff’s willingness to answer my questions about areas that I am unfamiliar with. I truly value the ways that the Oregon Jewish Museum has helped me to connect with a range of different worlds and I hope your assistance will help them connect with even more.