The Jews of Washington, DC Get Their Own Museum

February 26, 2024 | Gabby Deutsch
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Last summer, the Capital Jewish Museum opened in the District of Columbia to showcase the history of the city’s Jews. Gabby Deutsch writes:

The story of the building, which was the original home of Adas Israel Congregation, is distinctly Washington. The guest of honor at its grand opening was President Ulysses S. Grant. . . . Later, when a group of Jewish Washingtonians wanted to purchase the building back in the 1960s for historical preservation purposes, they had to lobby Congress to approve the sale. Now, for the first time in more than 100 years, that building is again a gathering place for Washington’s Jews.

A small exhibit now on display is one of the first at a Jewish museum to deal with the October 7 terror attacks in Israel and their aftermath in the U.S.

Like others who move to the nation’s capital, Jews came to Washington to work in the government. That meant wars brought Jewish population booms—first the Civil War, and then both world wars. Jews faced fewer restrictions when seeking jobs in the federal government than when looking for jobs in fields such as law and medicine. Many other Jews arrived in Washington to work as merchants, or in family-run businesses. Often, they already had relatives in DC.

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