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New exhibit probes ‘Exclusionary Measures’ against Milwaukee Jews
August 1st, 2012
Brynwood Country Club and Mount Sinai Hospital had vastly different purposes. Yet they were founded for fundamentally similar reasons.
The above article from the May 25, 1928, Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle told how some Milwaukee Jews accused a local country club of anti-Semitic discrimination.
As Kathie Bernstein, executive director of the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, pointed out in a conversation on July 12, the one may have a been a social, the other a healing organization. But both were created in response to discrimination faced by members of Milwaukee’s Jewish community.
That commonality inspired the creation of the next Jewish Museum Milwaukee exhibit: “Exclusionary Measures: Mount Sinai Hospital and Brynwood Country Club.” It will openAug. 19, and will run through Nov. 25.
This exhibit is curated in-house by JMM staff, using materials loaned by Aurora Health Care, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and members of Milwaukee’s Jewish community, as well as from the museum’s archives.
Bernstein explained that the original idea was to focus on Brynwood, which was founded in 1929. She said that soon after the Wisconsin Club acquired Brynwood in 2009, Barbara Blutstein, a Brynwood member, expressed concern that photographs and other documents of the club might be lost.
Blutstein gathered such materials with cooperation of Wisconsin Club people and brought them to the museum, said Bernstein. That gave rise to the idea that “it might be nice to have a summer exhibit” about Brynwood.
However, members of the museum’s exhibits committee began to recall how other institutions discriminated against Jews besides social clubs. That brought to mind the Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1903 in part because Jewish physicians found they couldn’t practice at many local hospitals.
Moreover, said Bernstein, many Jewish people were active in both organizations, and the hospital held fund-raising events at the country club. The result has become “a very different exhibit” from the original idea, Bernstein said.
“Exclusionary Measures”was made possible with support from Aurora Sinai Medical Center, Wisconsin Humanities Council, Bob and Mimi Habush, Woman’s Club of Wisconsin, Sally Waters Exhibit Fund, and Penny and Jim Deshur.
In addition, JMM will offer programs in connection with this exhibit (all events held at Jewish Museum Milwaukee):
• “Looking Back at Brynwood” Community Reception: Thursday, Sept. 6, 5:30 p.m. $5 members, $10 non-members.
Brynwood Country Club, designed as a private golf course and club, became a social hub for the Jewish community. This event will feature reminiscences, stories, pictures, friends, food, and docent-led tours of the exhibit.
• “Immigration and Labor Unions in Jewish America”: Thursday, Sept. 13, 11 a.m. Free for members; $5 for non-members.
Professor and scholar Tony Michels of the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will explore issues surrounding immigration and labor unions in mid-19th century Jewish America. Michels is the author of “A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York” (2005).
• “Excluded or Excluders”: A three-part lecture/discussion series.
Jewish educator Sherry Blumberg, Ph.D., Jewish studies lecturer at Sacred Heart School of Theology and 2012 Milwaukee Jewish Educator of the Year, explores topics related to the exhibit:
• Thursday, Oct. 11, 11 a.m. — “No Dogs, Colored or Jews”
A look at the concept of exclusion within hospitals and country clubs and from the perspective of religious tradition, ethnicity and social status, centering on the question: Which comes first — being excluded or excluding others?
• Thursday, Oct. 25, 11 a.m.— “To Hold our Heads High”
A discussion of issues surrounding advocacy and organizations such as the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, law firms and Fair Housing Commissions, addressing questions such as: Who are the defenders, and who are the defended? Why don’t laws change attitudes?
• Thursday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m. — “What now? New Problems, New Solutions”
Current societal views of exclusion, looking to new topics such as Israel’s issues surrounding immigrants from Africa and the responsibility of fighting for others while addressing the question: Where do we go from here?
Admission to these sessions is free for members; $6 per session or $15 for the series for non-members.
For information on these programs and events, call 414-390-5730 or visit the JMM website, www.jewishmuseummilwaukee.org.
The museum is open Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Sundays, noon-4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for students, free for children under age 6, and $15 for families; museum members are admitted free.