Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

"Peter Geffen to head Center for Jewish History"

by Gad Nahshon

Peter A. Geffen is the new director at the Center for Jewish History. Geffen, the founder of the magical school, Hechel, is more than the right person in the right place. Peter Geffen is a professional doer. He can find the right solution to the problems of this Center. Just give him the power of decision. The following is taken from the Center's new press release:

I have a friend who lives on French Hill in northeast Jerusalem, and each day he commutes to work in Abu Tor, on the opposite, southwest end of the city. Winding around the walls of the Old City, he says that he travels three thousand years every morning! Although my new daily journey is chronologically shorter, I feel the same way. Walking through the Center for Jewish History is an excursion through the hills and valleys of the Diaspora Jewish experience. It is a place filled with tragedies and triumphs, with suffering and celebration displaying the breadth of a universal human experience along with the unique story of the Jewish people. Its walls contain a vast territory of culture, scholarship, and history, and it is a pleasure, and an education, to traverse it each day.

I am honored to have been selected to lead this distinguished institution at this critical juncture in its history. The building is brimming with the creativity and competence of those who dedicate themselves to the preservation and presentation of the collections of the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Their archives are impressive. Yet we must guard against the stereotype that history is composed of dry dates and facts, while its humanistic energy - the faces and stories and passions that make up the past - lies untapped.

"Our goal should be to make it possible for every Jewish person, child or adult, to be exposed to the mystery and romance of Jewish history," challenged Professor Isidore Twersky. The Center for Jewish History is poised to take up this challenge, and to bring its unique resources and scholarship to the North American Jewish community and beyond. We will do this through massive improvements to the collections' online accessibility; through high-quality digitization of photos, documents, and artifacts; through the presentation and publication of works of young scholars; and through videoconference presentations of the Center's superb program of lectures, music, art, and theater to communities across the country.

Our plans for the commemoration of the 350th anniversary of Jewish settlement in North America will begin in April 2005 and create at the Center the single largest exhibition of the American Jewish experience ever assembled and presented to the public. Next spring the Center will be a place of unparalleled vitality and excitement.

The Center located at 15 West 16th Street (New York, NY 10011) or Tel: Box Office, 917-606-8200; Reading Room 917-606-8217; Genealogy Institute 212-294-8324; General Information 212-294-8301; Group Tours 917-606-8226

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