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Bat Mitzvah

Produced by Karen Smyles

August 2011

The National Museum of American Jewish History here in Philadelphia has a mission to present educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore and celebrate the history of Jews in America. The purpose is to connect Jews more closely to their heritage and to inspire in people of all backgrounds a greater appreciation for the diversity of the American Jewish experience and the freedoms to which Americans aspire.

This segment goes behind the scenes to learn how the museum acquires objects to display. The museum put out a call in their monthly newsletter for Bat Mitzvah dresses from the period of about 1945-1970. For preservation purposes, the dress currently on display needed to be rotated out. Karen Hoffman of Penn Valley, PA saw the notice and submitted a photo of her dress from 1970. The museum thought it was perfect.

Friday Arts spoke with the museums curators about why Hoffman's dress was chosen from the many submissions, and we learn how this service came about and how it has been received by the various Jewish denominations. We also hear from Hoffman who shares why her Bat Mitzvah day was so special and how it impacted her life, and her faith.

Extended interview with Michael Rosenzweig | Edited by Bill Hilferty
Michael Rosenzweig, President and CEO, tells more about the museum's mission and what visitors will see.