Many years ago, when your blogger was about 13 years and 1 month old, your blogger’s grandmother, to mark the recent occasion of his bar mitzvah, took him to Israel. On that trip, he remembers, they visited the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, in Tel Aviv, and—a cultural critic even then—your blogger was unimpressed. The museum, it seemed to him, was a well-presented, carefully displayed, sometimes-interactive version of sitting around with a bunch of kibbitzing alter kockers in Boca: Benjamin Disraeli was Jewish, you know! And Albert Einstein! And Sandy Koufax, too! And so on. It was, it seemed to your young nascent blogger, simply a collection of narcissistic boosterism, and, as such, more than a little bit distasteful. All of which is a roundabout way of saying that they’re building a National Museum of American Jewish History on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, and they’re letting people vote on which 18 Jewish Americans should be included its “Only In America Hall of Fame” gallery, a sort of Cooperstown of American Jewry. (That Sandy Koufax—such a ballplayer!) So go vote. We’re rooting for Emma Lazarus.
Only in American Hall of Fame [NMAJH.org]
Jesse Oxfeld, a former executive editor and publisher of Tablet Magazine, is a freelance theater critic. He was The New York Observer’s theater critic from 2009 to 2014.