The Enquirer, Cincinnati.com
Bringing home Jewish history in America
Hebrew Union to dedicate its seven-year, $7M expansion and renovation
By Maggie Downs
Enquirer staff writer
The sleek glass door at the new education center opens to a treasure trove of history.
A large gallery boasts a yellowed ketubah (marriage contract) from the early 19th century. A fading World War I poster bellows a message in Yiddish. A curling green cover contains a guide to the United States for Jewish immigrants.
The gallery is just one element of a recently completed renovation and expansion at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
The seven-year, $7 million project will be dedicated from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday on the campus.
The project includes expanded research facilities at the American Jewish Archives, founded in 1947 by Jacob Rader Marcus.
The archives - including manuscripts, journals, documents, photographs, posters and audiovisual equipment - take up four large floors in space-saver shelving units.
The storage space is gray and metallic, with everything maintained at a 65-degree temperature.
The Malloy Education Building, a brand-new facility that sits close to Clifton Avenue on the edge of campus, houses the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati International Learning Center for the Study of the American Jewish Experience.
The center consists of high-tech classrooms and lecture halls.
"This brings the riches of the entire campus to the rest of the world," Zola said, gesturing to a tiered room that seats 80 and has satellite transmission and receiving capabilities, video projection and sound systems, video monitors and high-speed internet.
Also in the center is the gallery, which features items from the Celebrate 350 exhibit that commemorates 350 years of Jewish life in America. The place will offer up a slice of history for the 15,000 mostly non-Jewish students who visit the campus every school year, Zola said.
"We've had this amazing resource here, but we've never had anything to see," he said.
Making the archives more accessible to the community is the goal of the project, said Frederic J. Krome, managing editor of the American Jewish Archives Journal.
"One of the problems we have as historians is that we're talking to the choir," he said. "But American Jewish history isn't just for the scholarly elite. It's for the rabbis, the students, the community in general."