The Whole Spiel

Gichner Iron Works

This past February, I started digging into the history of Maryland iron furnaces, a quest that has led us into the woods and next to streams in search of the towering brick structures I’d never noticed in the landscape before. To be honest, before February, I didn’t even realize that Maryland had much of an Read More

Food for Through: Congress Food Market

Congress Food Market at 5th and East Capital Streets, NE, was owned by the Gimble family, one of many small Jewish-owned grocery markets in DC. A century later, there are still food markets on these busy corners. The Lee family, immigrants from Korea, purchased Congress Food Market in the 1980s.     Authors: Lisa Del Read More

Food for Thought: The Lost Souls of Comet Liquor

Comet Liquor was opened by Oscar Gildenhorn at 18th And Columbia Rd, NW in 1940 and became an institution in the neighborhood. In the 1980s, new owner Sidney Drazin added a deli counter and seating, transforming it into what the Washington Post called a “kind of plastic-chaired neighborhood salon.” A diverse band of “regulars” spent Read More

Time is Running Out

If you’ve checked your email lately, and if you’ve ever given money to a political party or a candidate, you’ve surely noticed a lot of requests for volunteers and increasingly desperate calls for money. I was on vacation last week, not checking email—something I highly recommend, incidentally—and came back to approximately 40,003 emails from the Read More

8 Day Challenge

Take the 8 Day Sukkot Challenge!  Sukkot simultaneously commemorates the forty years that the Jewish people wandered the desert and marks the end of the harvest when people come together to share their abundance with one another and ensure everyone has enough to sustain them.   Sukkot is a time to think about how we Read More

The Origin of Honeyed Chicken

Join us at the Capital Jewish Food Festival for Michael Twitty’s analysis of the origin of a recipe drawn from our collection.   Recipe: Honeyed Chicken, Ruth Sackadorf Image: “Jewish Creative Cooking: 200 years of Jewish Cooking in American” compiled by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, 1975. Capital Jewish Museum collection. Gift of Read More

Photo of a woman's back, at a rally, with a large poster hanging from her backpack. Sign reads: "Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice / Mind Your Own Business." Washington, DC; May 2022

Second Verse, Same as the First

My first abortion clinic escort job was in Madison, Wisconsin, where I grew up—my best friend’s mom was an abortion provider, and we would sometimes volunteer at her clinic on the weekends. Not that often—it was high school, I was very important and had things to do–but it was a crash introduction into some good, Read More

Washington Hebrew Congregation's first confirmation class in 1901

Washington Hebrew Congregation: The Early Years

To mark the 170th anniversary of the founding of Washington’s first Jewish congregation, Washington Hebrew Congregation, their archivist wrote about the highlights of the early years in their April 2022 Journal. We are pleased to share the article here with appreciation for their generous contribution. “It is said the Hebrews, or Jews, are going to establish Read More

Let’s Talk About Sex

It’s probably not true that all museum curators think about sex all the time (at least not at work). However, if we’re doing our jobs right, certainly it is important to talk about sex, sometimes. (But only when appropriate, in case my boss is reading this). As an avid museum visitor, I can probably count Read More

Excerpt of a photo of a typed recipe.

A Fishy Story 

After two years of Zoom Passover, it was a delight to gather—after double-boosting and rapid-testing—for a family Seder (traditional ceremonial dinner). What was I most excited about, though? That this year, my mom would be in town to deal with the fish heads.  Buy as much very fresh whitefish as you can afford. Now, mind Read More

Ukrainian Connections

Author: Esther Safran Foer Ukraine, where my family lived for generations and where most of them were murdered, is in its fight for survival.  These past weeks I have been glued to our TVs watching history’s sad drama playout in real time. For me this is personal. My mother and father were born here, so Read More

Transplants Welcome

Being from Houston, Texas, I didn’t grow up with much concern about history. After all, when a building was about 30 years old, it’d be torn down for a “better” one. It was 1995 before Houston had its first historic preservation ordinance, so while my lack of curiosity about history is not defensible, it is Read More

Scale Model of the Historic 1876 Synagogue, ca. 1968. Capital Jewish Museum Collection

Small Scale Restoration

In 1967, DC’s Jewish community rallied together to relocate and save the historic 1876 Adas Israel synagogue. Over the next few years, a local fundraising and publicity campaign was undertaken to restore the first purpose-built synagogue in our nation’s capital. As part of the campaign, a scale model of the building was created to show Read More

Storytime among the sukkot at Sukkah City x DC community day, Sep 2021

Highlights from Sukkah City x DC’s Community Day

Sukkah City x DC‘s Community Day, on Sunday, September 19, featured more than ten community partners, two artists, seven participating architects/architecture firms, and more than 500 visitors. Following are descriptions of the activities presented by our partners who helped make the day a resounding success. Thank you to everyone for their interest, support, and participation. Read More

Avi West, circa 2019

Everyday Heroes

This summer (2021), we lost a special advisor to the museum, Avi West, a generous and respected educator in the greater Washington Jewish community. I learned many lessons about Judaism and Jewish values from Avi in the few years I knew him, but one stands out. We were discussing how to tell the stories of Read More

Stuart Zuckerman, Adam Rubinson, Howard Morse, Albert H. Small, Jr., Ernie Marcus, and Albert H. Small pose in front of the historic synagogue at the 2016 moving of the synagogue.

Remembering Albert H. Small (1925-2021)

Remembering Albert H. Small Please join us in extending condolences to the family of Albert H. Small (1925-2021), son of the museum’s namesakes Lillian and Albert Small. Among his many accomplishments, we remember his tremendous legacy of leadership in philanthropy, and his long support of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) and Lillian Read More

Aeral photos of Minyan sukkah by Esocoff & Ng Architects, on the steps of the Edlavitch DC JCC, September 2021

Plan Your Visit to Sukkah City x DC

Sukkah City x DC features seven sukkahs on view at two locations–the National Building Museum and Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center. To help plan your visit, read on for directions, parking tips, refreshments, and more.   Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th Street, NW On view through Sunday, October 3 Both sukkahs are located Read More

The History of Sukkah City

This holiday season, we hope you will join us for Sukkah City x DC (September 18─October 3, 2021), an installation of whimsical and creatives sukkahs designed by notable architects from the region. Inspired by the theme ‘welcoming the stranger,’ the sukkah designs explore contemporary challenges while celebrating the traditions of Sukkot. Every fall, as the air grows cooler Read More

Angels in the Architecture

A few weeks ago my family and I drove to Wisconsin to visit my parents. It’s a long drive, and we stopped a lot along the way. On a hot afternoon in Sandusky, Ohio, we did what we always do when we walk through any American downtown: look up, and play “spot the Jewish name on a building.” It always works, although sometimes we need Google to help Read More

History In Our Neighborhoods

In the spring of 2017 when my now husband and I began looking for houses, we came across a neighborhood neither of us had ever been to called Congress Heights.  Congress Heights is a tiny neighborhood in Southeast below Anacostia, the last DC stop on the greenline metro before you cross into Maryland.  We fell in love Read More

A Witness to History – 145 Years in the Making 

Historic sites don’t just teach us about history, they allow us to experience the past. By walking through the doors stories come to life, you become a character and you’re witnessing history through the eyes of the building. The walls with their layers upon layers of paint were backdrops and rugged floors have the memories of the past ingrained into them. All Read More

A Historian in a Museum Moment

I’m a history professor, not a museum professional. My work advising and writing for the Capital Jewish Museum has provided daily lessons on the differences – on the differences between writing history books and making exhibits (fewer words!), between teaching students and reaching visitors (less time!), between arguing the finer points among academics and clarifying messages for the public (maybe Read More

Connect, Reflect, Act! The Act of Tzedakah 

Image credit: Capital Jewish Museum Growing up in the suburbs of Boston in the late 70’s early 80’s, I recall looking forward to Friday night Shabbat dinners in our wood paneled kitchen with macrame plant hangers, which by the way, are now all the rage again!  Somehow, my mother managed work, rushed home and pulled together a festive shabbat meal, where we regularly welcomed friends to join us. A blue and white Jewish National Fund Tzedakah box like one pictured to the Read More

Washingtonians Bond over Beer

I am excited by the recent explosion of craft brewing. During Covid it has been fun to visit small breweries in the DMV area, trying new flavors and outdoor establishments. Beer brewing has been known to happen at my house every so often, and in the past (before this museum project) I even tried to Read More

My Mezuzah

All of the places we live have a history. When I joined the staff of the Capital Jewish Museum this year, I started thinking about what kinds of Jewish histories are embedded in my own house and my own neighborhood, and how my own story intersects with the museum’s stories.   I have lived in Silver Spring for 20 Read More

Renovation study to identify light fixtures in the historic synagogue.

Decisions, Decisions…

1903 interior of the Synagogue Our starting point is a grainy black-and-white photograph of the historic Adas Israel sanctuary circa 1903. If you squint hard enough, you can make out the rows of pews leading to the holy ark, barely visible in the background. Twin balconies run down either side of the room, held aloft by a Read More

Judith Martin's 1967 press ID

Judith Martin, a Reporter in a Party Dress 

Judith Martin is a journalist who was a writer for the women’s section of the Washington Post, an early version of what is now known as the Style Section. She started writing an advice column for the Washington Post in 1978 and continues to write about etiquette today in online articles, books and more. Judith Martin was one of the women reporters for the women’s section under Marie Sauer.  Judith Martin’s Read More

Racial Equity and Anti-Racism work in Museums

Photo courtesy of CJM Museum Educator Stephany Fry. Over the summer of 2020 it became impossible for museums to ignore calls for racial equity.  There have been efforts for years to push museums to reckon with the historic centering of white stories and white visitors.  While efforts for racial equity should have always been an aspect of museum culture, many museums are using this Read More

Black and white photo of the Freedom Sunday rally in Washington DC, featuring a crowd of mostly caucasian participants dressed in winter clothing. Center of the photo is a protest sight that reads: Gorbachev, LET MY PEOPLE GO

Freedom Sunday and Activism Today 

The streets of Washington D.C. are not unfamiliar to the feet of protestors and activists who have assembled upon them for years to fight for what they believe in. People from around the country have gathered in the city that houses the government of the United States of America to participate in political and social activism and countless demonstrations. While D.C. is a national gathering point for people from all Read More

Sacred Spaces are Where the Heart is 

As we approach month ten of quarantine, we also approach the end-of-year holiday season. For most Americans this means Christmas; but for those of us who identify with Judaism, Chanukah is right around the corner.   1991.02.1 Hanukiah, CJM collections Over the past few months Jewish people across the United States had to quickly adapt to Read More


Following shortly after Thanksgiving, it feels like the right time of year to share appreciation and gratitude. I feel an immense sense of gratitude and purpose when I think about the past three years, working in partnership with an incredible team of brilliant colleagues and lay leadership to raise the  philanthropic funds to build this new museum for the nation’s capital at such Read More

Political buttons for Elizabeth Warren using Hebrew

Political Pins and Jewish Voters

In this current election cycle (Nov 2020), I miss seeing people display their candidate pins on their clothing or backpacks and shoulder bags. We are all staying home more, and wearing a pin is not our first choice to share thoughts about candidates and issues. I am seeing many more graphics, memes and slogans these days on social, digital, streaming and print media on Read More

A Life of Service

The core exhibition in our new museum will invite visitors to consider how we make meaningful change in our community, our city, and our country. We will share stories of how Jewish Washingtonians have taken on the role of civic actors and hope our visitors will connect to the personal stories and objects we show, reflect about the meaning and purpose of Read More

Groundbreaking Festival Round-Up

Earlier this month we “broke ground” at 3rd and F St NW, the home of the future museum. To celebrate this moment, we hosted a weeklong festival of virtual events and worked with local community partners to put together a suite of programs for our future visitors. With these unique collaborations we were able to explore identity, community and storytelling as we thought about how we are Read More

Inclusive Cultural Museums

When I tell people where I work I get one of two responses depending on the audience.  If the audience is Jewish I am immediately asked if I am Jewish.  On the other hand, if the audience is not Jewish I am immediately asked why I work at a Jewish museum if I myself am Read More

Jewish Learning 

When I first heard that the Capital Jewish Museum was going to be built, I was, like many, elated. It felt wonderful to know that something that I had considered to be one of the focal points of my identity was going to be represented in a museum that would be visited by thousands of Read More

Why I Love What I Do

In a recent exhibition research conversation with a key local and international leader from the Greater Washington Jewish community, I was reminded of the word Kehilla (community). Kehillah speaks to my heart. It is why I decided to pursue Social Work and Jewish Communal Service 25 years ago.  The model I embraced at the time consisted of three concentric circles. The inside circle was the Read More

Museum-Building from Home

I have to admit, I was skeptical. It was March 13, and the world was shutting down around us. After nearly a decade of work, we had planned to distribute our construction documents to general contractors on March 16, soliciting bids to build the new museum. But schools and offices were closing, gatherings were forbidden, and the status of construction work in the city was one more big question Read More

Remembering the Freedom Seder and Looking Ahead  In the spring of 1968, a now-familiar scene befell the city of Washington. In the aftermath of the assassination of MLK on April 4th, the pain and frustration of African-Americans reached a boiling point. Decades of unfair treatment in the areas of housing, education, and employment — compounded by the murder of an innocent man — resulted in Read More

Making a Collection

I have been thinking this past week about what makes a collection.  This question was sparked because our Museum Educator, Stephany, is putting together some exciting do-it-yourself ideas for families, and she asked us to send examples of something we would put into a collection about ourselves.  While I thought for a while about what my most Read More

Making Meaning in Times of Constant Change 

Fourteen hundred days ago when I packed up my desk I thought it was for two weeks, a month at the most and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I wasn’t prepared for the monotony of computer screens and the blurred lines between work and personal time; but most of all I wasn’t prepared for how the next few months would impact Read More

Action. Emotional Connection. Humor. Community. 

The Capital Jewish Museum has started asking Jewish Washingtonians to help us with Covid Collecting of digital items during this pandemic. These Jewish Washingtonians are creating art in the age of Covid. I interviewed the founders of Viral Art to learn more.    The Viral Art Project is an all-volunteer project launched by Ben Ostrower of Wide Eye, and artist Mark Kelner and curator Zachary Paul Levine. They partnered with the Artist Read More

My Jewish Identity

I tie my Jewish identity to places. From where I grew up to places I’ve only heard stories of. From Lithuania to Japan to Russia to Ontario to DC. That’s the journey my family has taken, and the places that define who I am as a Jew. My family packed up their bags and were able to Read More

Telling the Stories of Jewish Philanthropy

This year marks the 25th anniversary of a pivotal time in my life when I was living in Israel as a college student and made a commitment to myself to return to the United States to pursue a career in raising funds to build the American Jewish community. I had seen firsthand how international donations were making Beersheva bloom with critical infrastructure for olim (new immigrants) and I wanted to help Jewish organizations thrive at home. This has Read More

The Synagogue That Could

I just got an email saying our historic synagogue has a case of the COVID. Or at least, it’s been exposed. So its brick walls and pocked wood floors are getting a good cleaning, which it needed anyway. And we’re to stay clear for now.  To be sure, we haven’t spent much time inside its walls for the past few years. Our relationship with Read More

Local Heritage Tourism as a Tool for Jewish Engagement 

The Jewish world has been stunned by the successes of international heritage programs, like MoL and Birthright, in strengthening Jewish identity. The principles of these programs’ successes, however, like inspiring place-based rootedness and a sense of belonging to Jewish history, have yet to be embraced at the local level. Across America, the landscape of Jewish programming is Read More

A Powerful Tool Against Hate

In recent years, the flames of antisemitism in America have been reignited. From Charlottesville to Pittsburgh, Jews in America face hate in new and unprecedented ways. How are we to fight against this? How can we teach truth in the face of such ignorance? In an age where the internet is used as a tool of hate, and facts are seen as fiction, Read More

Who Remembers Gichner Ironworks?

What makes Washington D.C. — and the stories of Jewish life in the nation’s capital – unique?  What kinds of surprising stories can we share to help illuminate the past and bring the rich stories of our community to life?     That’s a question we’re continually exploring while we collect the objects and stories we will Read More

Meet the 2019-2020 Teen Council!

The Capital Jewish Museum began a teen council in September 2019 in order to incorporate the teen voice into all aspects of the museum as we build! We know that teens are big stakeholders, so we take their inputs seriously. In the five months that we have been working with our teen council they have Read More

Teen Council

CJM has officially launched our Teen Council.  With two meeting under our belts, we have worked with the teens to discuss the meaning of physical space, what a museum can do, and what they want to get out of a museum exhibit.  We were all wowed by the thoughtful, diverse, engaged group of teenagers that Read More

Exhibition Development

We had a fun, interactive workshop with our exhibition design team of Evidence Design and Potion in September. As we begin to build physical prototypes of the exhibition elements to test with all of you, we tried out some approaches for the lower-level synagogue gallery, city mapping interactive and conversation table!

May 2019 Updates

Exhibition Planning Huge milestone! We’ve just put the finishing touches on our exhibition concept design for the new museum. In the coming weeks, we’ll welcome input and advice from our historians, museum experience advisors, and educators! The exhibition approaches are energetic and highly interactive. The images here give just a flavor of what is to Read More