Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War
The exhibition, Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War, opens October 13. It invites visitors to come explore a Civil War they never knew. It tells the story of events of national importance, through the lens of one small group in the American populous. It looks at the ways in which the Civil War was a crucible for American Jewish identity, and how it laid the groundwork for their integration and Americanization on a large scale. It focuses not only on the battlefield, but on the difficult choices made by non-combatants throughout the struggle. The exhibition also looks at the role the conflict played in establishing a framework for the full participation of Jews in American life – militarily, politically, economically and socially – and how it set the stage for massive Jewish immigration decades later.
Passages through the Fire was conceived and organized by the American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University Museum. The Jewish Museum of Maryland has augmented the exhibition with stories and objects reflecting the special challenges faced by the Maryland Jewish community. This groundbreaking exhibition, curated by Ken Yellis, includes the largest and most comprehensive collection of materials relating to Jews and the Civil War assembled in the last 50 years. The core of the exhibition is the unmatched collection of Robert D. Marcus of Fairfax, VA, generally regarded as the world’s most significant collection of Civil War Judaica, which has never been exhibited on this scale, including an incompletely printed Confederate $500 note on whose blank side the Jewish Major Sidney Alroy Jonas handwrote the poem that became the basis for the Southern myth of the “Lost Cause.”