Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center Memorial (Еврейский музей и центр толерантности Мемориал)

Orange brick facade of the Jewish Heritage and Tolerance Center

Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center Memorial (Еврейский музей и центр толерантности Мемориал) is in Moscow, Russia and it is the nation’s first state support Jewish heritage museum. It originally opened in 2012, when the museum initially opened it was opened privately – to the presidents of Russia and Israel and opened to the general public in 2013.

The history of the building starts in 1926 as the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage. In the 1990s a fire broke out leaving the site completely dysfunctional. In 2008 following mass restoration efforts reopened as the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture. In 2012 it reopened once again as the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center.

The main focus of the museum was to create accurate content so Russians and people from around the world could get real facts and information about Jewish heritage instead of popularized beliefs. It focuses on being a large and engaging museum dedicated to the complex history of Russian Jewish history with a modern approach. The content of the museum favors personal testimony, archival video footage, and interactive displays—all translated into Russian and English, exhibitions are divided chronologically, and helping visitors to understand the life of Jewish communities as they traveled across medieval Europe, settling in shtetls before moving to the cities while not ignoring atrocities committed to the Jewish people – life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is particularly well presented as is the fate of Soviet Jews and the role of Jewish soldiers during World War II. Those expecting to find just a stark representation of pogroms, Holocaust, hardships, and suffering will be pleasantly surprised to find Russian Jewish history presented as something much more complex, filled with both struggles and achievements.

Some of the problems that museum and public history face are a troubled and conflicted past, widely divergent popular memories, and national narratives.

 

 

 

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Works Cited:

 

Redoshi – The Last African Slave

Photo of Redoshi and her husband William Smith
Redoshi and William Smith circa 1900 | Courtesy of Wikipedia

Zora Neale Hurston located and interviewed Redoshi, known as Sally Smith,  in 1927, while doing research on slave stories for a novel.  Hurston never published Redoshi’s story but wrote to Langston Hughes about her, saying Redoshi would be their secret.  However, Redoshi was found by others writing  slave stories and she appeared in an interview in 1932, an educational film in 1938, and was referenced in a memoir in 1979.  By doing a search of these sources and census information we can piece together a picture of Redoshi’s life.

We know Redoshi was kidnapped by Dahoman warriors when she was 12 during a night raid.  She was transported in 1860 to Mobile Bay, Alabama on board the Clotilda, the last known slave ship from Africa.  Redoshi was married off to another slave and sold as a couple to Washington Smith.  She remained a slave for 5 years when the 13th amendment was passed.  After that she remained with her husband and daughter on the Smith plantation working as tenant farmers.  Eventually she moved with her family to a community known as Bogue Chitto in the Black Belt region of Alabama where they lived in a 1-room shack.  Redoshi died in 1937 at approximately 90 years old.

Screen capture photo of Redoshi from the film The Negro Farmer
Redoshi | Courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture National Archives

Redoshi is important not because she was the last surviving slave from Africa, but because we have her story.  Because Redoshi resisted white assimilation, we can learn about the culture, spirituality, and language of her West African heritage that she passed on to others.  Redoshi provided a deeper understanding of what it was like to be an African during that time in American history.  She also serves as a source of potential new information.

The Yellow Brick House

Yellow facade of the brick house with winter snow.

Originally built in the 1920s by a family out of Grosse Pointe, Michigan this home has had a long series of owners but has always remained a symbol of longevity to the residents of Lighthouse Road in Port Hope, Michigan.

Old back and white photo post card of the house.

Old postcard of the house’s hotel days circa in 1940s. Courtesy of Jane M. Guzman.This three-story home of yellow brick was not always a single-family home and throughout the 1940s and 1950s served as a hotel to families visiting Lake Huron in the summer months, only a block down from the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse. The current owners have owned the home since 1993 and have strived to maintain its original architecture.

 

Survivor Tree

photograph of Survivor Tree from the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC
Survivor Tree at World Trade Center Memorial Park in New York City | Courtesy of Tyler Sleeter

Found burnt and damaged in the rubble of the World Trade Centers, Survivor Tree survived the terrorist attacks on 9-11-2001 and later survived Hurricane Sandy.  The tree was removed, nursed back to health, and returned to Trade Center complex as part of the memorial.

Standing near the two memory pools, the tree serves as a symbol of life and strength in the wake of all the death and destruction of that day.   It is a reminder of the strength of all those affected by that day.

Surveying the Past

Small old wooden building with porch and wheelbarrow to the left.
The original office of Wheaton with the wheelbarrow to the left. Currently Patrick Engineering Company. Courtesy of Alicia A. Guzman.

While the former mining community set in the quiet hills of Julian, California may be small in size its main street tells the vast tales of its community’s history while still having that turn of the century gold rush charm.

Wheelbarrow with historical marker
The wheelbarrow with a plaque commemorating Wheaton’s feat. Courtesy of Alicia A. Guzman.

In 1894 Porter Perrin Wheaton left a legacy lasting beyond a lifetime simply by using a wheelbarrow fitted with an odometer, clinometer, and compass. As a civil engineer and surveyor Wheaton was able to survey over 2,328 miles allowing for the first map of San Diego County to be charted it out in 1900; forever changing the county.

Little Chapel on the Border in the Path of the Wall

photo of La Lomita Chapel
La Lomita Chapel | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

At 170 years old, La Lomita Chapel near Mission, Texas, sits on land that is embroiled in the battle for the Border Wall.  Located near the border, the chapel continues to provide mass and other religious services to it’s congregants on both sides of the border.  The local Roman Catholic Dioceses is fighting the government’s right to eminent domain based on religious freedom.  The dioceses claims the land is sacred and that any wall would require the cemetery to be relocated.  The dioceses is prepared to fight to prevent any changes to the land as it now stands, beginning with preventing government surveyors from having access.  Church officials are worried about the effects of the 150 foot perimeter required on both sides of the wall, stating it would leave very little land for the chapel and its congregants to celebrate their religious beliefs as they have since the chapel was first built.

Photo of interior of La Lomita Chapel
La Lomita Chapel is still used for weekly masses | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

La Lomita Chapel has been serving the people of the Mission area since the area was still part of Mexico.  The people in this area have deep ties to the church and to the cemetery.  A border wall and it’s required perimeter would be a detriment to the people of this community and their right to religious freedom.  It would turn their sacred ground with all its meaning into a uninhabitable and unusable space.  La Lomita Chapel deserves to be left alone and to remain the religious and historical landmark it is today.

 

Public History in the Wild: Little Bighorn Battlefield

The author standing in front of the monument to the 7th Cavalry
This is the monument for the men of the US Army’s 7th Cavalry who fought and died at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Famously known as General Custer’s Last Stand, the battle famously saw the total annihilation of the famed general and his men by a combined force of several Native American tribes led by Chief Sitting Bull. The monument stands roughly where historians believe Custer fell on Last Stand Hill. While visiting the battlefield I was taken aback by the feeling of knowing I was walking on the same ground where warriors from both sides fought and fell.

Up in the Air: Who is Wright?

Photograph of Airplane Crash

Where on earth did the birthplace of aviation occur? North Carolina boasts “First in Flight” license plates as well as Ohio boasting plates that state, “The Birthplace of Aviation”. Is either of these states WRIGHT? It is debated by some historians whether this feat was truly first done by the Wright Brothers. German immigrant and Texas Hill Country resident, Jakob Brodbeck, is debated to have been the first man in flight over four decades before the Wright Brothers even attempted their own flight. The only problem with Brodbeck being the first man to flight, is that there is a lack of blueprints and firsthand witness accounts but there seems to be compelling some of the documents in his favor.

Black and white; Newspaper article
Picture File Equipment and Furnishings Transportation Airplanes 14120 [Airplane crash] Courtesy of DRT Documents Collections
This image shows a republished copy of the Galveston’s Tri-Weekinlg News from 7 August 1865. The point of the article was to find investors for the actual constructions and development of his air-ship.

Damaged stock certificates
Certificates for shares of stock, Jacob Brodbeck to Ferdinand Herff, 1865 June 27 Courtesy of Collection: DRT 9 Documents Collection

These stock certificates indicate that there were in fact investors in Brodbeck’s “air-ship”. Investors even included that of Ferdinand Herff, a San Antonio physician.

Document with specifications
Specifications are written by Jacob Brodbeck for his airship, 1863 Collection: Courtesy of DRT 9 Documents Collection

This image a six-page document translated by Brodbeck’s granddaughter from German to English detailing the specifications of Brodbeck’s “air-ship” that could be used to fly from the Texas Hill Country to New York City then to Chicago.

Official TSHA Marker
TSHA Marker. Courtesy of Findagrave.com

In 2017, the Texas State Historical Association established Jokob Brodbeck as a historical figure with an official marker highlighting his work as a teacher, public servant, innovator, and “the father of aviation”.

Despite the lack of firsthand witness accounts, it seems that the idea that Jakob Brodbeck was the first man in flight, not the Wright Brothers, does not appear to be completely implausible.

 

 

 

Sources:

Was a Texan the First Man to Fly an Airplane?

Brodbeck, Jakob

Wright Brothers

JakobBrodbeckand the Flying Texas Machine

St. Louis Hall

St. Louis Hall was the first building added in the modern-day St. Mary’s campus; construction of the building was finished in 1894. St. Mary’s initially established near the San Antonio River walk. St. Louis Hall was originally named St. Louis College and started as an all boys boarding school. In 1904 a full college-curriculum was added and later in 1927 the name officially was changed to St. Mary’s University.  Finally, during the 1960s St. Mary’s University became a co-ed campus.Photo of a building

The Crossroads: Texas’ First LGBTQ Historical Marker

During the 1900s, being anything other than heterosexual was illegal in Dallas, Texas. Members of the LGBTQ community were ghettoized in an area called

Buildings in intersection
Dallas’ Historic Gayborhood | Courtesy of Dallas News

Oaklawn – otherwise known as Dallas’ Gayborhood. In the 1930s gays would meet in secrecy between the Magnolia Petroleum building and Commerce and Arkard streets, what was better known as “Maggie’s Corner.” The area was lined with bars that required a gestured code to enter – and it faced continued prejudice. In 1964, hundreds were arrested and deemed “perverts.”

Although there were years of perpetual social isolation for gays across Texas, along with many areas of the United States, their march towards justice persisted. Today, the gay bars have now been replaced with restaurants and apartments that are occupied by heterosexuals and LGBTQ members alike. This a representation of today’s progressive millennial climate and their desire to achieve a more diverse society.

Historical marker draped with scarves.
Texas’ first LGBTQ historical marker draped with colorful scarves before its initiation |Courtesy of the Dallas Way.

In October of 2018, the roots of Texas’ gay community were granted a marker to recognize their struggles towards societal inclusion in the South. It is fair to say that Texas has not yet reached equal historical representation for the LGBTQ community – considering that there are over 27,000,000 million LGBTQ+ members and one historical marker – but I think this will alert Texans of the need to urge local and state historical commissions to share LGBTQ history and other less-known stories.

Texas has often been reluctant to incorporate different perspectives into its history, so this marker not only serves as justice for the Texas LGBTQ community, but also as a triumphant symbol for Texas History.