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Aleph Bet Book - Children's Alphabet Book, Berlin, Germany, Gift of Judith Naomi FishThe Museum's Education Department has long worked to invigorate the teaching of modern Jewish history.  The Living Museum was developed by Museum staff to introduce students in Jewish schools to modern Jewish history by showing how it has an impact on the students' own families.  

Young people benefit by obtaining tools to discover and decipher their history and heritage through objects found in their own homes. With the Living Museum, they can use these objects to research key events in Jewish life over the past century (immigration, the Holocaust, and the establishment of the State of Israel, among them) and reflect on the relevance of these events to their families' pasts. More than just learning about their heritage, students come to identify with it, because the past they discover is the story of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Jewish history is lifted from the pages of textbooks and made vibrant and personal. 

Museum and Statue of LibertyThe Living Museum originally began as a partnership between the Museum and Dr. Karen Shawn of the Moriah School of Englewood, New Jersey. The two institutions cooperated in the creation of a museum catalogue for Moriah's "Heritage Fair," which began at the school in 1997. After two successful cooperative years with Moriah, the Museum came to recognize the inherent potential of the collaborative program as a means of introducing students to Jewish history through their own objects.

Over the past few years, Museum staff has implemented the Living Museum in over twenty-five schools throughout the New York tri-state area. In each case, teachers, students, and parents commented on the enthusiasm with which children and adults engaged in the project and the professional feeling of the resulting mini-museum.

In 2002 a CAJE grant provided funds for the development of a Living Museum "kit" prototype which enabled teachers to learn about the Living Museum program in some detail. In 2006 generous funding from The Covenant Foundation allowed the Museum to develop the Living Museum as an online resource.  Through this expansion, the Living Museum is now available to communities across the nation. 

The Living Museum now enriches Jewish communities that might be somewhat isolated by engaging students in the creation of their own Jewish cultural resource. These exhibitions connect Jewish students and communities across the country and provide students with a medium to share what they determine to be the history of their families and their communities.