What counts as "Jewish art" is a debate as old as Judaism itself -- do we mean art by Jewish people, art with Jewish themes, or both? And Jewish culture? Which one? Jews have as many cultures as we have communities in which we've lived, from the Ashkenazi world of klezmer music and Yiddish stories from Eastern Europe, to the rhythmic music of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda, to the spicy foods of the Mizrachi communities in the Middle East. The following is a list of family-friendly places to go and explore.
Museums & Exhibits
National Museum of American Jewish History
The National Museum of American Jewish History’s mission is to present educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore and celebrate the history of Jews in America. Our 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.
Rosenbach Museum and Library
The Rosenbach Museum & Library seeks to inspire curiosity, inquiry, and creativity by engaging broad audiences in exhibitions, programs, and research based on its remarkable and expanding collections.
Borowsky Gallery at the Gershman Y
Rotating exhibits of special interest to the Jewish community, featuring a mix of regional, national and international artists with four openings a year and related programming.
Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center
Provides educational and community services to teach others about the Holocaust. Primary target age group is children in grades five through 12.
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Among other exhibits of the ancient world is a permanent one titled "Canaan and Ancient Israel," which is the first to focus on the development of cultural identity in ancient Israel and neighboring lands during the Bronze Age.
Group bringing together young adults from the entire Delaware Valley to perform a diverse and eclectic selection of Jewish music.
Elkins Park Jewish Community Chorale
Comprised of congregants from Beth Sholom, Adath Jeshurun and other singers from the Old York Road community. Performs a wide range of Jewish choral literature, including liturgical, Israeli and American. Appears at Beth Sholom, Adath Jeshurun and throughout northeastern United States. Conducted by Cantor David Tilman.
Nashirah, the Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia
Community-based chorale in the Greater Philadelphia area performing exclusively Jewish and Jewish-themed music. Brings choral music of many lands, languages and cultures together. The chorale-in-residence at the Gershman Y.
Beth Sholom Congregation
Conservative synagogue whose building is the only synagogue ever designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. One of four synagogues designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Visitor Center is open to the public, and tours of the synagogue are offered. The center and design store are overseen by the Beth Sholom Preservation Foundation.
The Frank Synagogue
Modeled after first- and second-century synagogues discovered in the Galilee region of north central Israel, this small, historically certified synagogue was originally dedicated in 1901, and reflects the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network's cultural heritage.
Hebrew Mutual Burial Association Cemetery
Founded in 1857 by a group of Dutch Jews, the site contains about 440 graves of Dutch Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews, including many Civil War and Spanish American War veterans.
Congregation Mikveh Israel
Spanish-Portuguese synagogue founded in 1740. Located on Independence Mall. Entrance is through the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Congregation Mikveh Israel Cemetery
One of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the United States, with graves dating from 1740. Interred here are Haym Solomon, Rebecca Gratz and 21 veterans of the American Revolution. Mikveh Israel has two other cemeteries with historical significance: 11th and Federal Streets, which dates to the Civil War, and 55th and Market Streets.
Monument to the Six Million Martyrs
This memorial sculpture was the first public Holocaust monument in the United States.
Ann Frank Theater Project
Provides theater pieces that educate viewers about prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry, and heighten awareness that moral courage can move one to action and assist in improving the lives of others. This educational theater program offers two plays dealing with the Holocaust and how everyday people were affected by the Nazi regime. Each performance is followed by a facilitated discussion.
Teatron Jewish Theatre
Established in 1992 to provide an opportunity for the advancement of Jewish theater on Penn's campus and to provide a means for Sabbath-observant Jewish students to actively participate in theater. Teatron provides a forum for free discussion and interpretation of Jewish themes that is applicable to the Penn Community at large. Teatron is open to all members of the University Community.
Brings Jewish theater to synagogues, schools, conferences, community centers and organizations. Innovative, entertaining and educational productions enable audiences to explore Jewish stories/texts, history, identity, culture and ethics. Touring repertoire includes productions for children, families, teens and adults. Special programs include ARIELPROV, an improv troupe, as well as readings of new works.
Samuel L. Paley Library at Temple University
The Main Stacks (open) house a large collection of Judaica, including collections which document aspects of American Jewish history. There are also minor collections supporting Hebrew literature and Jewish religious works. In addition, The Urban Archives house the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center which documents the history of the Jewish community in the greater Philadelphia area, including southern New Jersey and as far west as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The collection includes inactive records of Jewish organizations, families and individuals, including photographs, oral histories, minutes and correspondence.
The Free Library of Philadelphia
A 3,000-volume Moses Marx Collection of Judaica and Hebraica has been integrated into the central collections. Covers history and liturgy, with some books on philosophy, religion, the Bible and the Talmud. Passover Haggadahs. Open to the public. Russian-language collection available at Northeast branch.
Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center
Documents the history of the Jewish community in the greater Philadelphia area, including southern New Jersey and as far west as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The collection includes inactive records of historical importance of Jewish organizations, families and individuals, including photographs, oral histories, minutes and correspondence. PJAC also offers a fee-based genealogical searching service using specialized resources.
Tuttleman Jewish Public Library
Specialized library of Judaic and Hebraic studies. Multilingual collection of approximately 1000,000 books, periodicals, music and audiovisual materials. Rare-book room, a music library and and a Holocaust oral-history archive. Open to the public.