The New York Jewish community could well be considered one of the greatest centers of Jewish living, intellectual and cultural achievement, and participation and contribution to our home country as any community in the entire 5,000 year history of our Jewish civilization.
Incredibly, this local history has never systematically been put in place for Manhattan (in the past decade, local Jewish historical societies have been established for Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island).
This is a legacy project, and one that could not have been accomplished in the planned scope until now. The new technological age creates the possibility to use website and social media to integrate information, including pictures, neighborhoods, stories, oral and video histories, among so many other things.
The outreach to the local, national and international community, Jewish and non-Jewish, is now self-evident.
Through the Manhattan Jewish Historical Initiative, the story of the Jewish community can be marketed to the world, serving as a means by which the life, institutions, and cultural activities of the New York Jewish community can be defined, and marketed for the purpose of giving due recognition to its great achievements, and its role in fostering the Jewish religion, Jewish cultural life and thinking, and Tikkun Olam, in its contribution to the greater multicultural community it has lived with in Manhattan, NYC, America, Israel and the world.
Quarterly meeting have been held since July, 2012, bringing together leaders representing the broad spectrum of the Jewish community of Manhattan, including the Jewish cultural institutions and organizations, Jewish elected officials, religious community, educational institutions, and others.
Initially there has been an exploration of resources in the community. The Manhattan Jewish community has vast resources to call upon, whether it be collections, research and histories already in place at the museums and organizations, city and organizational archives, and so forth, whether it be in terms of the technical expertise of those involved, or the outreach to young people.
This needs to be collected and coordinated, and added to with the collections and stories of the Jewish community at large. Additionally, as an example, the coordination of MJHI with elected officials in their districts for stories of neighborhoods and personal stories would be a boon to everyone involved.
As to the direction for the Initiative, initially it will be low-budgeted, with not much more than a consultant to establish a website, which will be necessary as the backbone and vehicle for this project. The website will be sophisticated, and in many ways be structured similar to the model that has already been created by the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative.
Target date for a MicroSite was suggested for late, 2013, with full Website projected for late Spring, 2014. An initial event was planned, and held in Fall, 2013 to showcase the Initiative, and also let the community participate directly.
Clearly the project will need funding, although this Initiative is not conceptualized to create a significant overhead, as the bulk of the effort will be community and technologically driven. Social media campaigns will be incorporated in all planning, both for marketing and fundraising, as that is today’s outreach.
Larger take-on’s will be conceptualized as the Initiative progresses, including the possibility of using the Initiative as a vehicle for increasing Jewish culture tourism to NYC.
MJHI is conceptualized to not be competitive with any current organization in the Jewish community, and to be supportive of a longer-term legacy project of the entirety of the Jewish community.Manhattan Jewish Historical Initiative (MJHI), Jewish Hall of Fame , Class of 2020, took place on Tuesday May 5th 2021, at the Bryant Park , 42nd St Between 5th and 6th Avenues.