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Melissa Martens Yaverbaum


. . . thoughts
of a
thousand
thunders

Executive Direction

Jewish cultural institutions are at a crossroads. Museums are equipped o overcome boundaries of all kinds and adapt to changes, but as

CAJM Executive Director Melissa Martens Yaverbaum

explained, “Museums can no longer simply be the collectors and keepers of our heritage; they must also be dynamic environments and centers for cultural exploration.”

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Melissa 
J.
Martens

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PRESSHERE

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Melissa 
Martens
Yaverbaum

Pro Ject Mah Jongg
Shun Lee West Launch
Par Tea

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In a fascinating
introductory essay,

Melissa J. Martens,

who curated the exhibit, writes that almost as soon as mah jongg was introduced to the Jewish community in New York, around 1923, it became a women’s game, and throughout the nineteen-thirties it was “played regularly at sisterhood gatherings and benefits.” By the nineteen-forties, the Mah Jongg League had made the game inseparable from philanthropy (a portion of members’ funds were donated to charity), and “what had been a Jewish trend was now a Jewish phenomenon.”

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Join us for the Grand Opening of our latest exhibit Project Mah Jongg, developed by Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York.
Curator

Melissa Martens Yaverbaum

 will trace the evolution of the mysterious Chinese game that became an American sensation in the 1920s and today remains a beloved institution in Jewish communal, personal, and cultural life. Explore the exhibition and even play a game of mah jongg. Staff will be on hand to explain the rules or any novices (table space is limited).

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Melissa Martens,

senior curator of exhibitions
at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, recently sat down in the Forward studio with Sisterhood contributor Elissa Strauss to discusses the game’s history, its rituals, and its 21st-century following. Martens served as a curator for the museum’s newest exhibit, “Project Mah Jongg,” which opens May 4 and runs through January 2, 2011, at which time it will begin traveling to other arts spaces.
Read more: https://forward.com/culture/127709/mah-jonggs-jewish-journey/

On Liberty; Of Exiles

Author Edward Berenson,
Professor of French History, New York University,
and
Melissa Martens,
Director of Collections and Exhibitions, Museum of Jewish Heritage
and curator of Emma Lazarus: Poet of Exiles,

discuss the background of liberty from more than one angle.


First Aired May 2, 2012

A Song For The People

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“Everybody knows ‘Hava Nagila,’ yet few people know the song’s long journey — from Sadigora, to Palestine, to the global jukebox,”

said Melissa Martens,

the exhibit’s curator and the museum’s director of collections and exhibitions. “Its familiarity since the ’60s positioned it for new uses: as comedy, protest, politics and parody. Today the song is still often played with a purposeful nod and wink to the listener. New versions surface daily on YouTube from people all over the world who find pride, humor, nostalgia, identification or momentum in the melody we know as ‘Hava Nagila."

Mobirise

Join us for the Grand Opening of our latest exhibit Project Mah Jongg, developed by Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York.
Curator

Melissa Martens Yaverbaum

 will trace the evolution of the mysterious Chinese game that became an American sensation in the 1920s and today remains a beloved institution in Jewish communal, personal, and cultural life. Explore the exhibition and even play a game of mah jongg. Staff will be on hand to explain the rules or any novices (table space is limited).

Drop the blocks into the page, edit content inline and publish - no technical skills required.

Mobirise

A new exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage charts the surprising history of the universally familiar, if not universally popular song, "Hava Nagila."

Melissa Martens,

curator of the exhibit
"Hava Nagila: A Song For the People," shares the story of the Jewish tune, and its journey from Ukraine to YouTube.

"Hava Nagila" has been performed by a surprisingly diverse collection of musicians from Harry Belafonte to Celia Cruz to Girlyman and more. Listen to a playlist of some of our favorite versions, and be sure to read about John Schaefer's vain attempt to keep the wedding music staple out of his own reception.