The Temple Emanu-El is home to one of the most historic congregations in New York and its massive Fifth Avenue synagogue rivals the great synagogues of Europe in size and stature. In a small entrance off of E. 65th Street, the Temple also houses three small gallery spaces, set apart to showcase the history and variety of the Jewish experience. While there are several other places in the city dedicated to the history, culture and creative output of the Jewish community, each, including the Bernard Museum of Judaica, contributes a perspective unique to the others.
Art is the Soul of the Nation
What You Will See
Though small, the museum has a varied and deep permanent collection of historical artifacts from Jewish communities across the globe. Ultimately, it tells the story of the diaspora and how the same basic traditions and practices differed among countries and continents. Clothing, decorations, menorahs, and documents demonstrate at once the continuity and diversity of the Jewish experience across the globe. The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions with topics central to Jewish life, but accessible and relevant to everyone. Exhibitions tend to be historical, rather than contemporary, but bring fresh eyes to old topics.
Why You Should Go
With larger institutions like the Jewish Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage bearing the responsibility of telling the story of the Jewish experience on a grander scale, the Bernard Museum of Judaica is free to explore niche topics in greater detail. Previous exhibits included topics as specialized and varied as a look at Wedding Gowns design for Jewish brides, Graphic Arts posters calling Jewish people to social action and a photographic tour of Jewish Cemeteries across Europe. As with other Jewish Museum spaces, there is something here of interest to everyone. And while a visit does not include a broader tour of the synagogue, it does get you closer to one of the most impressive sacred spaces in the city.
The museum is not the synagogue (though an easy pairing). Enter off 65th Street, not 5th Avenue.