From Laying the Foundation to Forging Ahead: Jewish Contributions to Syracuse & Onondaga County

The exhibit, located on the first floor of the Onondaga Historical Museum, emphasizes the Jewish role in advancing the social, religious, economic, and political fabric of Syracuse and Onondaga County, and is divided into four sections: Community, Business, Entertainment, and Athletics. For instance, Community focuses on the old Jewish neighborhood, synagogues, and people. Business concentrates on small to large Jewish-owned retail stores, factories, and other businesses such as Flah’s, Fleischman’s, SYROCO, Oberdorfer Foundry, and United Radio.  Entertainment highlights the local and nationally-known song and comedy writers, authors, actors, and singers such as Harold Arlen who wrote Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Sime Silverman who founded Variety magazine, and the Shubert brothers who amassed the largest theatrical empire in America.  Athletics features several local Jewish athletes and sports teams such as Dolph & Danny Schayes, Myer Prinstein, Dave Brodsky, and the Young Men’s Hebrew Association’s championship basketball team.

Since there is limited wall space to present the extensive story of the Jewish community, the exhibit also offers three touch-screen computer-monitors to browse additional images, text, and audio/visual interviews.  The content is expandable, so current members of the Jewish community may contact OHA’s exhibit staff with requests to add other images, text, or audio/visual presentations to the touch screen monitors.

OHA would like to thank Howard Port, Mike Moss, and Linda Alexander for their knowledge of the content and much-welcomed assistance, Ann Eppinger Port for her proofreading skills and editorial comments when reviewing the exhibit text, and everyone from the Jewish community who contributed photographs and text for the exhibit.  OHA also would like to thank Alex Lyon & Son, Inc.; The Jerome & Phyllis Charney Foundation; Arlene & Jerome R. Gerber Foundation; The Dorothy & Marshall M. Reisman Foundation; Mara & Mark Charlamb; Arnold & Libby Rubenstein; Philip Rubenstein & Cami Riley; Alexander & Charlotte Holstein; and David & Jeanne Holstein for their financial support of the exhibit.  Without the assistance of all these people, this exhibit would not have come to fruition.