Third Thursday Thoughts: Reflections from the Executive Director
“I have nothing to wear!” I wailed. The cobalt blue suit? Too corporate! The studded leather jacket? Too punk! The pink midi dress? Too girlie! I needed just the right outfit with just the right accessories, and my closet might be bursting at the seams, but nothing I owned would do for the occasion.
Nick, my husband, is 6’2 to my 5’0 and has a good 100 lbs. on me, but he was cowering in a corner of the room looking rather terrified as I continued to rant and rave and hurl clothes onto the Tower of Pisa reject pile on my bed. After 20 minutes of watching me decompensate, however, he gathered up his courage and reminded me that this was a PODCAST I was preparing for. And no one, Nick gently reminded me, would see what I was wearing while listening to the podcast.
Okay, okay, the guy had a point, but when Robert Scaramuccia and Stephanie Butnick, the hosts of Unorthodox (the podcast for my fave Tablet Magazine), are coming to the Maine Jewish Museum as part of their “Jew.S.A” Portland tour, you find yourself obsessing over your podcast wardrobe – that podcasts are meant to be heard and not seen is irrelevant. Spoiler alert: in the ultimate irony, when the podcast went live, I was neither heard nor seen, as my seasonal and socially unacceptable allergy cough reared its ugly head and my hacking could not be edited out of the audio. Der mensch tracht, un Gott lacht!
I may not have gotten my podcast moment in the sun, but Across the Jew.S.A., Portland edition (beginning at about the 40 minute mark) makes me Portland proud. I especially love the ending: Portland, Maine may no longer be the Jerusalem of the North. But its Jews have found ways to feel deeply Jewish in their values and in their actions. They feel Jewish in prayer, and in nature, and in helping newer Mainers create homes right alongside theirs. It’s like a paraphrase of the MJM mission statement! Consider:
- But its Jews have found ways to feel deeply Jewish in their values and in their actions: This Sunday, May 21, at our Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, a record number of attendees (we are now sold out!) will be paying tribute to eight Maine Jewish leaders who have brought distinction and honor to the State of Maine and beyond. This year’s inductees reflect the Jewish value of tikkun olam – making the world a better place – through outstanding accomplishments, humanitarian work, and philanthropic endeavors. They include movers and shakers in the fields of entertainment, business, law, politics, community service, environmental affairs, and everyday life.
- They feel Jewish in prayer, and in nature…: Our magnificent Jewish Museum garden is one of only two public gardens in Portland’s East End. This time of year, it is just beginning to burst into glorious bloom, and in the quiet moments after closing, I often find myself sitting among the flowering trees with a view straight to the ocean and spontaneously murmuring the Hebrew blessing, Baruch Atah Adonai, Elohainu Melech Haolam, shekacha lo b’olamo (Blessed are you, Adonai our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who has created such beauty in the world). I encourage you to connect with nature in MJM’s garden when you visit, and I am working on some fun summer programming in the garden, too – which reminds me to remind you to sign up for our mailing list, the best way to stay updated on our upcoming programs and exhibits.
- They feel Jewish… in helping newer Mainers create homes right alongside theirs: At MJM, we believe that reaching out to newer Mainers goes hand in glove with celebrating and honoring Maine’s Jewish immigrants. We are grateful recipients of a grant from the Glickman-Lauder Foundation to provide a welcoming space and programming for new Americans. And on August 10, we will be hosting Fashion, Food, and Fun(d)raiser: A Celebration of Our Diverse Community, our inaugural event featuring finger foods from around the world, entertainment by the Maine Squeeze Accordion Ensemble and Rwandan pop sensation Clarisse Karasira, and a runway show showcasing Maine Jewish, immigrant, BIPOC, and LGBTQ fashion designers and models (there will also be a decadent dessert display and a live auction with drool-worthy items, including a 2-night/3-day stay at Migis Lodge on Sebago Lake, Row AA seats at a Portland Symphony Orchestra performance, dinner at Central Provisions with Portland City Councilor Pious Ali, lots of collectible artwork, and more!). Be there or be square!
Enjoy the Merry Merry Month of May, and give me a holler if you have a favorite local clothing shop – I need a new wardrobe!