November 24, 2010 (New Orleans, LA) – The Museum of Jewish Heritage’s award-winning exhibition, Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War, is now on display at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans through April 24, 2011. Ours to Fight For examines how the war was experienced by Jewish men and women who served in America’s Armed Forces, on and off the battlefield. The voices of soldiers and sailors, airmen and marines, WACs and WAVEs drive this exhibition. Presented in video, audio and as written “labels,” these testimonies become, in a sense, exhibition artifacts that place letters, documents, military paraphernalia and images into a human context.
The voices are drawn from more than 400 interviews the Museum of Jewish Heritage conducted with Jewish servicemen and women throughout the country. Ours to Fight For powerfully illustrates what it was like to be American – and Jewish – in a time of war. Those interviewed describe their motivations for joining the fight and the shock and horror that swept through U.S. forces upon discovery of the concentration and death camps.
“This is one of the more extraordinary exhibits we’ve had the pleasure of hosting and it highlights an essential part of the war effort,” said Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of The National World War II Museum. “The work of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in gathering oral histories parallels our Museum’s ongoing effort to interview veterans and make excerpts available for public viewing. The traveling exhibit’s blending of personal reflections and other artifacts—including an amazing collection of uniforms from Jewish veterans, gathered as if hanging in a closet—gives emotional heft to this window into the War experience.”
In an effort to honor Jewish World War II veterans, The National World War II Museum is seeking portraits of these veterans for display on a Wall of Honor during the run of the exhibit. For more information and portrait specifications, contact Curator Kim Guise at 504-528-1944 x 530 or email@example.com. The Museum requests that the public not mail or drop off portraits without first speaking to a curator. Only World War II era portraits will be displayed on the Wall of Honor but the Museum welcomes additional types of photos of Jewish veterans in World War II for its permanent collections.
Ours To Fight For was named Grand-Prize winner of the Excellence in Exhibition Competition at the American Association of Museums annual meeting in New Orleans in 2004. Citing the exhibition’s use of the first-person narrative, the judges felt this approach engaged museum visitors and allowed them to make connections with the experiences of soldiers 60 years ago and those of troops serving today. This is the second stop of a national tour for the exhibit, which was originally presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York from November 11, 2003 through December 31, 2006.
An accompanying publication, Ours To Fight For: American Jewish Voices from the Second World War, presents twelve longer narratives of servicemen and women. With an introduction by former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, who served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, and an afterword by Tom Brokaw, the companion book is divided into three thematic sections that explore motivations for fighting and the Jewish experience of military life, the discovery of the concentration and death camps, and the state of American racial and ethnic relations in the pre- and post-war periods. Copies of Ours To Fight For: American Jewish Voices from the Second World War can be purchased at the Museum Store.
Exhibition materials include two guides — one for students and one for teachers. The guides include suggested questions and activities for the classroom that will enhance the existing World War II curriculum. All of Ours to Fight For: Americans in the Second World War is a student workbook for grades 7-12 that explores American involvement in the Second World War from the home front to the front lines. The workbook includes a chronology, timeline, glossary, and activities for students. All of Ours To Fight For: Americans in the Second World War Teacher's Guide consists of two sections that augment and extend the exhibition workbook and visitor experience. To request a copy of supplemental materials, contact the Museum’s Education Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504-528-1944 x 229.
A companion website, www.ourstofightfor.org, features a short film about the exhibition, and allows visitors to explore artifacts and testimony in a way not possible through the physical exhibit. Visitors can listen to a recording of a “Letter on Record” from a GI, and watch video clips of veterans’ stories. The website includes a special teacher’s section with a downloadable teacher’s guide.
Funding for the development of this exhibition was provided by Jack and Susan Rudin and Family in memory of Lewis Rudin; by Irving Schneider in memory of his friend, Lewis Rudin; and by Irving and June Paler in memory of June's father, Duncan Robertson, who fought in both World Wars.
Ours to Fight For at The National World War II Museum is sponsored by New York developer Peter S. Kalikow, in dedication to his father, Harold J. Kalikow, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II. The exhibit is also sponsored in part by AT&T Advertising Solutions. “In 1990, Peter Kalikow was the first donor who funded our initial feasibility study that launched the original National D-Day Museum in New Orleans,” Mueller said. We are most appreciative of his continuing support.”
To schedule a reunion, church, school or other tour group visit to the Museum, call 504-528-1944 x 222 or go to the Plan a Visit section of www.nationalww2museum.org.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City’s Core Exhibition educates people of all ages and backgrounds about the rich tapestry of Jewish life over the past century—before, during, and after the Holocaust. Special exhibitions include The Morgenthaus: A Legacy of Service, on view through September 5, 2011; Project Mah Jongg, on view through February 27, 2011; and Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh, on view through August 7, 2011. It is also home to the award-winning Keeping History Center, an interactive visitor experience, and Andy Goldsworthy’s memorial Garden of Stones. The Museum offers visitors a vibrant public program schedule in its Edmond J. Safra Hall and receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The National World War II Museum in New Orleans tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.