American Jewish Museum

My Voice, My Memoir, My Pittsburgh
Congregation B’nai Abraham, New Light Congregation, Temple Sinai and Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Congregation
Robinson Gallery
October 20–December 30, 2014
Opening Reception: Monday, November 3, 6-8 pm

My Voice, My Memoir, My Pittsburgh is a community-wide Six-Word Memoir project with Congregation B’nai Abraham, New Light Congregation, Temple Sinai and Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Congregation. The 78 memoirs they submitted make up the exhibition. The congregations’ meaningful memoir-writing activities and conversations led to stimulating six word stories. Together, the
Six-Word Memoirs add to the constellation of narratives that relate a personal, yet collective account about Jewish life in Pittsburgh today.

Ours is a community made up of Jews representing the entire Jewish spectrum. We may see ourselves in some memoirs and appreciate the plucky humor of others. Some may challenge our individual values that stimulate discussion, test our tolerance, conjure old memories or make us laugh. Seen together, the memoirs narrate the multiple ways we express, define, interpret, and celebrate our Jewish beliefs. 

SMITH Magazine launched this literary genre in 2006. It called these succinct life stories “Six-Word Memoirs,” a reinvention

of the form that, according to literary lore, Ernest Hemmingway engaged in after his colleagues challenged him to write a story in six words. Hemingway wrote: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”

Over the last eight years the Six-Word Memoir project has taken on a life of its own. It has become a bestselling book series, board game and a popular teaching tool used across the world to help foster self-expression.

Visit for resources about devising your own memoir-writing project.


Emily Newman and the New Chelyuskinites
Fine Perlow Weis Gallery
November 10, 2014–January 8, 2015
Opening Reception: Wednesday, November 12, 6-8 pm

Emily Newman’s The New Chelyuskinites is equal parts social documentary, tableaux and oral history. Modeled after the calamitous 1933-34 Russian sea expedition that trapped 111 people on arctic ice for two months after their ship—the Chelyuskin—sank, The New Chelyuskinites draws upon the collective memories of the event and its aftermath.

Participants from different generations worked together with Newman to represent the expedition, its shipwreck, what it took for people to survive, the expedition’s rescue and their ceremonial decoration. The exhibition includes video and print documentation of participants recreating various stages of the expedition and a small-scale model of the Chelyuskin just before its demise. Built for children to climb and play on, the ship’s model aims to prompt the JCC’s Russian-American community to relate childhood stories and talk more about Russia and the Soviet Union with AJM visitors.

While a disastrous expedition that occurred 80 years ago in the Arctic Sea might seem a remote topic for consideration today, the launch of the Chelyuskin was an historic undertaking. It signaled noteworthy scientific achievements and beckoned toward unprecedented commercial opportunities. Although technically a failure, the expedition’s tenacity and successful rescue shocked the world. Strangely, it was victory of sorts for communism, which was claimed to have been the secret explaining their survival.

The New Chelyuskinites creates a platform for current-day Russians, both here and abroad, to share memories from the Soviet era. Based on two years of collaboration between Newman and participants from Pittsburgh’s Russian community, and one year working in St. Petersburg, Russia, the project intertwines individual voices with broader truths about this period in world history.


Upcoming Exhibits

Louise Silk: BubbeWisdom
Fine Perlow Weis Gallery
January 19–April 17, 2015

Louise Silk: BubbeWisdom features Silk’s work and celebrates her 65th birthday. 

The exhibition includes 18 quilts, a children’s spiritual tent, and a quilt that will be made in collaboration with participants at the JCC. Yiddish for grandmother, a bubbe possesses simultaneous pushiness and affection because she has seen it all and knows what’s best. Silk expertly combines her identity as a bubbe with quilt-making and storytelling. Keenly interested in politics, the environment, women’s issues and culture, Silk—an artist for nearly 40 years—has a lot to express through her quilts.

Silk ties the threads of philosophical values, physical consciousness, psychological emotions and ephemeral spirit in combination with moral knowledge and common sense. Guiding Silk is a lifelong effort to enhance kavanah, the intentional and conscious living of precise action in the correct way in the appropriate time. As her third AJM exhibition, following I Was There; I am Here: The Illumination of a Soul, 1994, and Pieces of Memory, 2000, BubbeWisdom displays the evolution of Silk’s quilting practice and creates a sense of shared history around her artistic and personal experiences. 

Louise Silk: BubbeWisdom is made possible, in part, by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.


Israelite Samaritan Benyamim Tsedaka in conversation with Dale Lazar
Monday, November 24
7 pm

Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
Levinson Hall, Kaufmann building
This event is free and open to the public

Join us for a conversation with noted historian, author and elder of the Israelite Samaritan community, Benyamim Tsedaka, facilitated by photographer Dale Lazar. Mr. Tsedaka’s visit, his first to Pittsburgh, introduces the upcoming exhibition.

For more information contact Melissa Hiller at 412.697.3231. 

The Israelite Samaritans and the Festival of Unleavened Bread: Photographs by Dale Lazar
Fine Perlow Weis Gallery
May 4–July 24, 2015

Dale Lazar’s striking photographs of the Israelite Samaritans during the festival of Unleavened Bread convey the small, yet persistent community during one of their most important annual events. Each of the photographs in the exhibition depicts moments captured by Lazar during a single day; the festival of Unleavened Bread, which began at 1:00 am.

The community, known as Israelite Samaritans, is similar to but distinct from Judaism. Samaritans believe they are the inheritors of the covenant between God and Moses’s Israelites and that their Torah is the oldest bible in existence. They believe they are the remnants of the Israelites that remained in the Northern Kingdom after the Assyrian (Babylonian) conquest around 722 B.C.E. Accepting the Five Books of Moses and their account of the Book of Joshua, they consider their version of the Torah as authentic. 

The Samaritans are unique, traditional and deeply religious. There are approximately 750 Samaritans in the world today. Being among, if not the smallest, religious groups in the world, the Samaritans are confronted by an incredible number of challenges, including extinction.



American Jewish Museum Partners

Please visit the web sites of the organizations that generously support the American Jewish Museum and its exhibitions.

Jewish Healthcare Foundation - JCC Pittsburgh

General support for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ 90.5 FM.