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Welcome to the Jewish Museum, a museum in New York City at the intersection of art and Jewish culture for people of all backgrounds. Whether you visit our home in the elegant Warburg mansion on Museum Mile, or engage with us online, there is something for everyone. Through our exhibitions, programs, and collection of nearly 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects, and media, visitors can journey through 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture from around the world.


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The Jewish Museum is dedicated to the enjoyment, understanding, and preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the Jewish people through its unparalleled collections and distinguished exhibitions. Learn More

History

The Jewish Museum was founded in 1904 in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where it was housed for more than four decades. Located along New York's Museum Mile, this elegant former residence has been the home of the Museum since 1947. Learn More

Stories

Stream these Passover Picks Read More

A popular theme in television and film, holidays provide the opportunity to explore situations that many of us can relate to. Passover begins on March 27 this year, and the Jewish Museum has put together an eclectic selection of television episodes and movies that feature Passover scenes. Enjoy these selections — from comedies to dramas — available to stream on various platforms.

Image of Andrea Martin in “Difficult People”: Hulu/Photofest ©Hulu

Difficult People
“Passover Bump”
Season 3, Episode 1, 2017
For some, seeing family members at the Seder can be as dreadful as it is delightful. When Julie fails to get antidepressants to get through her family’s dinner, she finds herself armed with only a meditation app against her garrulous aunt.
Watch on Hulu

Curb Your Enthusiasm
“The Seder”
Season 5, Episode 7, 2005
Tensions run high when Larry invites the neighborhood pariah to his home for the Seder, putting Passover hospitality to the test.
Watch on HBO Max or Prime Video with HBO Max

GLOW
“Outward Bound”
Season 3, Episode 6, 2019
On a camping trip during Passover, a group of young women unpack their own encounters with oppression and racism over a retelling of the Exodus story.
Watch on Netflix

High Maintenance
“Elijah”
Season 1, Episode 9, 2013
Featuring bacon-infused matzoh balls, dinner by a Top Chef reject, and a bike-riding marijuana delivery guy, this episode has everything for the perfect Seder disaster.
Watch on HBO Max or Hulu with HBO Max

The O.C.
“The Nana”
Season 1, Episode 23, 2004
When Nana comes to the Seder and has nothing to complain about, everyone knows something is up. As it turns out, she’s keeping a secret — one that causes strife before the Seder.
Watch on HBO Max

Transparent
“Life Sucks and Then You Die”
Season 3, Episode 7, 2016
Preparations for a Seder lead to a dispute between Rabbi Raquel and the religiously clueless Sarah about the purpose of the holiday and faith.
Watch on Prime Video

https://medium.com/media/0aa2bc25cc9b03ccb16da589008533fc/href

Saturday Night Live
Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy on Passover,” 2013
Watch on NBC.com
“Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy Explains Passover With His Dad,” 2015
Watch on Youtube
Curious what a recent Bar Mitzvah boy has to say about the Passover? Young Jacob thoroughly explains Passover traditions while having a little fun in these short, charming sketches starring Vanessa Bayer.

Documentary

https://medium.com/media/e32a62a180d7ee0fbbfc17bb09f86b66/href

Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream
2015
An enjoyable documentary about the last family-owned matzo operation in America, and how one family held onto tradition against all odds. A story as much about matzo as the history of the Lower East Side, this story pays homage to a cornerstone of the neighborhood in its last year in NYC.
Watch on ChaiFlicks (with bonus content) or Prime Video

Movies with notable Passover scenes

https://medium.com/media/ed338ee9d39fdea8c406da36e0652641/href

Europa Europa
Directed by Agnieszka Holland
1990
In the midst of a dire crisis, scenes from a Passover Seder surface in the dreams of a young Jewish man hiding as a non-Jewish German orphan in Nazi Germany.
Watch on Criterion Channel

https://medium.com/media/03fd85c36d3179edba780270f303d638/href

Uncut Gems
Directed by Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
2019
This film touches on elements of a contemporary Jewish American Seder: the kids’ table, the photocopied Haggadahs, the post-dinner lounging around. Add in an NBA playoff on the same day and a sports gambling addict played by Adam Sandler, and you have an edgy picture of an American suburban Seder.
Watch on Prime Video or Netflix

Family friendly

https://medium.com/media/98ed114f5fb71a61cbb41cf82874d867/href

Rugrats
“Passover”
Season 3, Episode 23, 1994
Watch on Hulu or Prime Video
When the kids tell Grandpa that they think Passover is a boring holiday, Grandpa tells them the story of the Exodus, and the kids realize how exciting the story is through their own reenactment.

— Aviva Weintraub, Director of the New York Jewish Film Festival and Chie Xu, Intern


Stream these Passover Picks was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Collars Read More

The Jewish Museum highlights Elinor Carucci’s photographs of the iconic collars worn by the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the anniversary of her birthday.

Today we honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg on what would have been her 88th birthday. After the late US Supreme Court Justice passed away in September 2020, TIME magazine commissioned Elinor Carucci to photograph her celebrated collection of collars. The resulting suite of intimate still life images, “The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Collars,” is now part of the Jewish Museum collection.

Elinor Carucci, “South African Collar: Ginsburg’s favorite collar, worn in her official portrait,” 2020.

This South African beaded collar was Ginsburg’s favorite. She wore it often, including in her official court portrait. The necklace is so iconic that its geometric pattern — which gleamed white against her black judicial robe — is now synonymous with the late Justice herself.

Ginsburg, who was the second-ever woman to sit on the Supreme Court, wore these collars not just to emphasize the overdue feminine energy she brought to the court, but also to encode meaning into her dress — a sartorial strategy practiced by powerful women throughout history. Her early penchant for traditional lace jabots later gave way to necklaces made of beads, shells, and metalwork from around the world, many of them gifts from colleagues and admirers. Seen as a whole, the photographs offer a collective portrait of the late Justice through these objects imbued with Ginsburg’s personal style, values, and relationships.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Born in 1933 to an immigrant Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, Ginsburg was one of nine women in a class of 500 when she enrolled at Harvard Law; she later graduated first in her class from Columbia Law in 1959. Despite her exceptional academic record, as a woman and a mother, she was unable to find a law firm that would hire her at a fair salary. She turned to teaching, becoming the first female professor at Columbia to earn tenure. As director of the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU during the 1970s, she led the fight against gender discrimination and successfully argued six landmark cases before the Supreme Court. In 1993, she was appointed to the Supreme Court herself.

Elinor Carucci, “Majority Collar (2012),” 2020

As a Justice, Ginsburg continued her lifelong advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality. She often noted how the Jewish principle of tikkun olam (repairing the world) guided her work. Over nearly 30 years, she wrote many notable majority opinions that reflected quintessentially liberal views of the law. On the days that these were announced from the bench, she wore this gold and yellow sunburst collar to celebrate her victories.

Elinor Carucci, “Dissent Collar (2012),” 2020

Carucci’s photographs of Ginsburg’s collars serve as a reminder of the late Justice’s determined spirit, as well as an undeniable record of her absence. Nowhere is this tension felt more keenly than in this image of the bejeweled collar Ginsburg famously wore on the days she passionately argued her dissents. This necklace was her battle armor, meant symbolically to protect her, and by extension, the marginalized groups — women, minorities, immigrants, the queer, and disabled — whose rights she championed for over six decades.

The still life series of Ginsburg’s collars is something of a departure for Carucci, an Israeli-American artist whose photographs typically examine intimacy, family, motherhood, and women in moments drawn from her own life. “Yet,” Carucci says, “I still see this project as being just as personal as any of my other work. Ruth Bader Ginsburg held special significance for Jewish women like me who dreamed of living a life that combined career success with tikkun olam. She represented my identity, values, and connection to America. She represents the values I hope to one day hand over to my daughter, [who, like Ginsburg,] is an American Jew, the child of an immigrant.”

Rebecca Shaykin, Associate Curator, the Jewish Museum


The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Collars was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

New York Jewish Film Festival 2021: Shorts Q&A Series Read More

Part 5: Discussion with Emily Cheeger, director of “Holy Woman” (2020)

Presented virtually by the Jewish Museum and Film at Lincoln Center, the 2021 New York Jewish Film Festival offers a selection of films from around the world that explore the Jewish experience. This year’s program of shorts features works by directors Harvey Wang, Miriam Luc-Berman & Panda Shi Berman, Dhimitër Ismailaj-Valona, Emily Cheeger, and Arkadij Khaet & Mickey Paatzsch. The Jewish Museum caught up with each filmmaker for a brief Q&A.

Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.

Holy Woman
Emily Cheeger, 2020, USA, 20m
Yiddish with English subtitles

The Jewish Museum: Holy Woman is the result of years of you have spent writing stories about the Hasidic world in Borough Park, Brooklyn, but I understand that you are not from an ultra-Orthodox household yourself. How did you get involved in this community?

Emily Cheeger: In 2013, I moved to New York City to attend the NYU Graduate Film Program. I lived in Brooklyn, where I soon became starkly aware of the deep cultural rift that existed between my neighborhood, Greenpoint, just north of Williamsburg, and the Hasidic community only a few blocks away.

One night after a film shoot, I encountered a stranger who asked for directions to a bar. He had clearly escaped his Hasidic neighborhood of South Williamsburg for a few hours, and our ensuing conversation turned out to be a portentous crossroads for me. I felt a deep need to understand this person and the world he came from. I could tell he was running away from something, but I had no idea what. I wanted to know.

Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.

I went home and googled “rebel Hasidim” and fell down a rabbit hole. I discovered a whole new world where integrity and personal freedom were questions of life and death. I decided that I wanted to write screenplays about people such as the person I had just encountered and would never see again. I also knew that in order to do so effectively, I would need to spend years learning about the community, the culture, the language, and the experiences of the people therein. It was a huge commitment, but I pursued it. So, I spent the next several years doing everything I could as an outsider to get to know the community better. I corresponded with people at first, semi-anonymously, and within about a year, started to get to know people in person, particularly those on the fringes of the community. They became some of my closest friends — and many of them still are.

Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.

JM: The film is entirely in Yiddish. Did you work exclusively with actors who grew up speaking the language?

EC: Yes, almost exclusively. It was really important to me to cast people who grew up in the culture, speaking the language and wearing the clothing, so that they could make up for any gaps in my knowledge. There are so many nuances to Hasidic culture that the accent with which you speak can vary even from block to block within a neighborhood. So can the details in your garb or head covering.

I also really wanted my actors to be already intimately familiar with the customs, prayers, and the body language that the characters would have, without my having to instruct them. As an outsider, I was committed to bringing in people who would help me to create something that was greater than the sum of its parts. A lot of films have been made in pseudo-Hasidic settings and the lack of attention to detail in those films always felt exploitative to me. Over the years, I have worked to build the capacity to tell these stories as authentically as I can.

Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.

JM: You’ve said that one motivation for making Holy Woman is that you find representations of Hasidic culture in film and media to be overly monolithic or reductive. With that in mind, what were some of your goals with this particular film, narrative or otherwise?

EC: It boils down to me wanting to be a worthy mouthpiece for the stories of these people that I have been so involved with over the years. The goal of any good film is to create deeper compassion for humanity; to spend time in another’s shoes; to communicate something truthful. The twist is that after writing a whole feature script that was dogmatically realistic, I decided to tell a shorter story that could be truthful in its essence, while also being fantastical.

JM: Once the protagonist Neshama begins her mystical transformation, she is caught in a bind: she presents as both a man and a woman, but she lives in a conservative society that makes this seemingly impossible (her husband even refers to her, quite cruelly, as a “mixed up mish-mash of a creature”). I wonder if there are discussions about feminism and gender in Jewish Orthodoxy — whether more theoretical, or anecdotal — that have influenced you.

EC: There are a lot of religious legal traditions and paradoxes that influenced the development of Holy Woman, as well as some more personal spiritual questions I was interested in about the nature of the soul, identity, and consciousness. One of the core Talmudic concepts of the story is that of kol isha b’erva — the nakedness of a woman’s voice. This notion dictates that the singing voice of a woman, heard in public, is the equivalent of seeing her naked. It is unchaste, unseemly, perhaps even obscene.

In the Hasidic community, where the singing voices of men are ubiquitous, dominant, exalted, and inescapable, this double standard is heightened. As such, the female voice is a powerful tool and metaphor through which to explore integrity and identity in the Hasidic world. As a singer myself, one of the hardest things for me to reconcile with Orthodox law is the conflict I felt around this concept. But I was more interested in asking questions than offering answers.

Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.

JM: Could you talk about the role of humor as a device in your storytelling process?

EC: I think humor is a great way to talk about difficult things in a way that makes them approachable. Humor is also a huge part of Jewish culture — whether you grow up secular or religious — so it was an instinctive choice. It’s a great unifier, and an inextricable element of satire, which plays a big role in this film, which I think of as an affectionate satire. Aside from that, I’m also deeply influenced by the Modernist humor of authors such as Mikhail Bulgakov, Vladimir Nabokov, and Gary Shteyngart and there’s a long tradition of magical realist satire in the Judeo-Slavic diaspora. It must be in my blood.

Emily Cheeger is the director of Holy Woman. This year’s program of shorts is available Jan. 20 at noon ET to Jan. 23 at noon ET: Get Tickets

Madeline Weisburg, Curatorial Assistant, the Jewish Museum


New York Jewish Film Festival 2021: Shorts Q&A Series was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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