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Travels in American Jewish History

Travels in American Jewish History

Travels in American Jewish History 2011, Savannah

Travels in American Jewish History, a biennial program, is one of the AJA's most unique and popular study programs. Participants travel to American cities to study the region's Jewish history with outstanding scholars of the American Jewish experience. Travels programs have taken groups to Charleston, Albuquerque, Curaçao, Richmond, and Denver.

In June of 2011, the sixth biennial "Travels" program convened in Savannah, Georgia. Participants visited historic sites such as the Old Jewish Cemetery (dedicated in 1772), the historic district, city market, the cobblestone riverfront, and historic Congregation Mickve Israel, the third oldest Jewish congregation and only neo-Gothic Jewish sanctuary in the United States.

Travels in American Jewish History: A Study Mission to Historic Philadelphia, PA

Tentative schedule

Jacob Rader Marcus, The Jews of Pennsylvania, reading

On May 1-5, 2013 take a Jewish tour of Philadelphia which will include tours of the historic congregations: Mikve Israel, Keneseth Israel, Rodeph Sholom and the "Frank Lloyd Wright" congregation Beth Sholom. We will also visit the Rosenbach Library and the Krauskopf Library and National Farm School at Deleware Valley College.

  • Explore the National Museum of American Jewish History and receive a VIP tour!
  • Visit some of the famous sites of Philadelphia including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
  • Participate in interactive study session featuring historical documents with renowned scholars and fellow participants.

Program Highlights

Rosenbach Library & Museum
The Rosenbach Library collection is remarkable even in a city replete with libraries and museums. The rare book and manuscript collections are particularly strong in American history and British and American literature. The Rosenbach brothers prided themselves on acquiring works of great rarity including Jewish texts and objects (paintings and furniture) from the Gratz family. While at the Rosenbach, we will get a "sneak peak" of their upcoming exhibition: In the Beginning: Three Jewish Firsts. Spanning five centuries, objects in this collection celebrate the rich and storied heritage of the Jewish people.

Historic Congregations of Philadelphia
Philadelphia boasts some of the oldest congregations in America. We will visit Mikve Israel (1740), the second-oldest surviving congregation in the United States; Keneseth Israel (1847) orthodox in observance at first, adopted Reform in 1855; Rodeph Shalom (1795) whose current building is of the Byzantine-Moorish style; and Beth Sholom (1919) their building is the only synagogue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Krauskopf Library & National Farm School at Delaware Valley College
Joseph Krauskopf, one of the first class of ordained rabbis from Hebrew Union College, moved to Philadelphia in 1887 to become rabbi of Congregation Keneseth Israel and assisted in the organization of the Jewish Publication Society of America. In the spring of 1894, when the stream of immigration of Russian Jewish exiles into the United States was at its fullest, Krauskopf resolved to visit Russia. He made a study of the condition of the Jews within the agricultural colonies in the interior. One of the institutions Krauskopf visited was the Jewish Agricultural School at Odessa which so impressed him that immediately after his return to the United States he set to work to establish a National Farm School, at Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Krauskopf was president of that institution, now called Delaware Valley College.

Program Schedule

The program will begin on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. and conclude Sunday at 12:00 noon. A detailed schedule will be available on the AJA website (see below) in January 2013.

Featured Scholars

Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna is Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and Chief Historian of the new National Museum of American Jewish History, Dr. Sarna has written, edited, or co-edited more than thirty books, including the new When General Grant Expelled the Jews. He is best known for the acclaimed American Judaism: A History. Winner of the Jewish Book Council's "Jewish Book of the Year Award" in 2004, it has been praised as being "the single best description of American Judaism during its 350 years on American soil."

Dr. Lance J. Sussmanis Senior Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel (Elkins Park, PA). He is author of Isaac Leeser and the Making of American Judaism (1995) and a major historical study of "Reform Rabbis and Mixed Marriage" (2006). Sussman served as chair of the Judaic Studies Department at Binghamton University and has taught at Princeton and Hunter College. He is a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and currently is national chair of the CCAR Press.

Dr. Gary P. Zola is the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) and Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion. In his academic capacity Dr. Zola specializes in the history and development of American Reform Judaism. His published volumes include The Americanization of the Jewish Prayer Book, Isaac Harby of Charleston. He is currently completing a forthcoming volume, We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, A Documentary History.

Program Registration and Fees

Fees for the program are $485.00 per person and include all tours and meals beginning with dinner on Wednesday and concluding with brunch on Sunday except for one evening that participants will have a free evening to explore on their own.

PLEASE NOTE: Participants will be responsible for their hotel expenses and travel to and from Philadelphia. Accommodations will be handled in a different manner in Philadelphia than in years past. We have negotiated a group rate at the Sheraton Society Hill, One Dock Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Participants should call 1-800-325-3535 to make their own reservations. You should be certain to tell them that you are with the "American Jewish Archives Group." The rate is $199/night which the hotel will honor if you want to stay an extra night before or after our tour.


All meals served on the trip will be "Kosher Style" – no milk & meat together; no shell fish or pork.


Ms. Lisa B. Frankel, Director of Programs
Tha Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
3101 Clifton Ave
Cincinnati, Ohio 45223
(513) 487-3218