Center for Jewish History in New York City
The Center for Jewish History is a partnership, or consortium, of five Jewish organizations based in Manhattan. It is a partnership of five organizations of Jewish history, scholarship, and art: the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. It is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
The new center was 125000 sqft and was created from four existing buildings and two new buildings. The Center's collections included more than 100 million documents, 500,000 books and thousands of art objects, most of which had been poorly housed in the member institutions and were at risk of damage or destruction. The Center is heavily involved with the preservation of records that define moments in Jewish immigration to New York City. A $670,000 grant awarded in 2007 helped with the cataloging of these materials.
The museum's collection includes the original handwritten copy of Emma Lazarus' 1883 "Give me your tired, your poor" poem that was later inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, Sandy Koufax's Brooklyn Dodgers jersey, and resulted in the largest repository documenting the Jewish experience outside of Israel
Despite a large collection, the Center has struggled with financial problems since it opened in 2000 and there has been some discussion of a partnership with NYU's Skirball Department for Hebrew and Judaic Studies to the benefit of both organizations.
The Center for Jewish History in New York has raised $30 million to retire its construction debt. The amount was raised and donated by the chairman and founder of the center, Bruce Slovin; board members William Ackman and Joseph Steinberg; the Fairholme Foundation; and 19 other donors, the center announced last week in a news release. The center was created 10 years ago after raising $100 million to bring together five historical organizations under one roof: the American Jewish Historical Society; the American Sephardi Federation; the Leo Baeck Institute; the Yeshiva University Museum; and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. It features more than 500,000 books and 100 million documents that include pieces of art, textiles and ritual objects, as well as music, films and photographs. The collections range from the early modern era in Europe and pre-colonial times in the Americas to present-day materials from across the globe. The center provides access to a comprehensive collection of historic archival materials, including from Franz Kafka, Theodor Herzl, Moses Mendelssohn, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein.