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What better way to celebrate Jewish American Heritage than by diving into some Jewish American history! The Museum holds 10 public programs each month, both in person and virtually, many of which explore what it means to be Jewish in America, from featuring the lives and work of extraordinary Jewish Americans, to examining American antisemitism. Sydney, our Senior Public Programs Producer, shares her top five public programs about Jewish American Heritage and history:

List of Sydney’s top picks

1. Fighting Hate in Billings, Montana

In 1993, Billings, Montana was impacted by antisemitism and racism when white supremacists moved to the town. On the evening of December 2, 1993, someone threw a brick through the window of a 5-year-old Jewish boy, Isaac Schnitzer, who was displaying a menorah. After the Schitzer home was vandalized, and inspired by the story of the Danish Rescue, the Billings Gazette printed a picture of a menorah that many in the town placed in their own windows to show solidarity with the Jewish community. This act fighting against hate received enormous attention and has become an example of how to stand up against prejudice.

2. The History of Antisemitism: The Truths and Mysteries of Leo Frank

Leo Frank was a pencil factory superintendent in Georgia in April 1913 when his coworker, thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, was murdered. Her body was found in the factory’s basement, and Frank was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. Many since have examined the case and posited that Frank was denied a fair trial and unjustly convicted amid a wave of antisemitic fervor – it was this fervor that spurred a mob of people to storm the prison and lynch Frank on August 17, 1915. Frank is the only Jew known to be murdered in this way in American history. Frank’s case has since become the subject of multiple investigations and alleged-coverups, not to mention books, movies, and the current Broadway revival of the musical Parade.

3. “American Prometheus” with Kai Bird and Joseph Kanon

J Robert Oppenheimer, known as the “father of the atomic bomb,” worked with a team of physicists as part of the Manhattan Project, which created the world’s first-ever nuclear weapon in 1945. Essential to the story of World War II and the Holocaust, Oppenheimer is the subject of Kai Bird’s Pulitzer Prize–winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, on which Christopher Nolan based his forthcoming film “Oppenheimer.” Kai Bird was joined in conversation by Joseph Kanon, Edgar Award–winning author of Los Alamos, to discuss the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, context of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War, and how Oppenheimer’s legacy remains relevant today.

4. The New York Librarian Who Spied on American Nazis

Florence Mendheim was a Jewish librarian who went undercover in the 1930s to spy on Nazis around New York City. This program, co-presented by the Museum, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Brooklyn Public Library explores her fascinating life and legacy.

5. Judy Heumann on Disability Justice & the Legacy of the Holocaust

As one of the most influential disability rights activists in U.S. history, Judy Heumann has spent her career fighting to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion. The lawsuits she won, sit-ins she led, and legislation she championed all sparked a national movement that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.