With an estimated 7.6 million US citizens being Jewish (which amounts to around 2.5% of the population), you won?t be surprised that there are plenty of Jewish heritage sites dotted around the country. If you are a member of the Jewish faith and you?re visiting the US, these are perfect places to celebrate your history and commemorate the endeavours of your ancestors.
With the Jewish religion revolving largely around community, it is important to take the time to look back and appreciate the Jewish people of the past. This is especially true when it comes to art and creative success. With the amount of tribulations that the Jewish people have gone through, it is incredible that there were people who could fight through it all and still find the ability to be creative and tell their story.?
There are many things you can take away from your travels to America. Of course, Jewish holiday gifts for the family back home are a given, but a newfound understanding of the Jewish past is also just as easy and important to procure. Here are the places that can give you that:?
Jewish Museum, New York
You cannot talk about Jewish heritage without mentioning the Jewish Museum in New York. Complete with a number of famous Jewish art pieces, this is a great place to celebrate creativity and beauty. One of the things you should look out for here is the Marc Chagall exhibition. As one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century, Chagall?s art is both moving and important to the Jewish faith, making it a must-see for any visitor. There is also a pretty good gift shop,
Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York
Sticking to the Big Apple, the Tenement Museum is a part of the city which will put you back into a time long past. This site can show you how your ancestors lived in New York, with a narrow, five-story apartment building still managing to preserve the era when hundreds of thousands of Jews arrived in the country. The museum has also restored the apartments within this building, showing the poverty and struggle that would have been faced at the time.
Temple Beth Sholom, Pennsylvania
Off to Pennsylvania now, the Temple Beth Sholom synagogue is both an emotional and beautiful site. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (coincidentally the first and only synagogue he ever designed) and it takes the form of a futuristic, pyramid-esque building reaching all the way up into the sky. It was also the emblem of Jewish turmoil during and after World War II, as they migrated to the country and attempted to assimilate into middle-class America.
Bob Dylan?s Childhood Home, Minnesota
This is one for the music lovers out there. Bob Dylan is an iconic Jewish songwriter who has had an illustrious career, with famous songs that will undoubtedly live on forever. In Minnesota, you can visit the place where it all began, taking a moment to witness the context behind his upbringing and grow more familiar with the human behind the music. Just be aware the house is now privately owned, so it?s best not to take any pictures!
Weitzman National Museum, Philadelphia
To round off the list, the Weitzman National Museum is one of the best places to really steep yourself in the story of Jewish immigrants in America. With a wide historic collection, you can not only familiarise yourself with the context but also take in the atmosphere that the museum helps to recreate. Moving, emotional and informative, this is a perfect place to celebrate your faith and everything that your ancestors went through.