Public Programs: America's Historical and Cultural Organizations: Implementation Grants

Period of Performance

4/1/2015 - 4/30/2017

Funding Totals (outright + matching)

$300,000.00 (approved)
$300,000.00 (awarded)

Jews, Health, and Healing

FAIN: GI-228510-15

Jewish Museum of Maryland (Baltimore, MD 21202-4606)
Karen Falk (Project Director: August 2014 to November 2017)

Implementation of a traveling exhibition examining how medicine has shaped the way Jews are perceived and the way they see themselves.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM), requests NEH support for the implementation of "Jews, Health, and Healing," a major exhibit with related publications, programs, website, and outreach. For centuries, Jews have considered medicine a calling--an occupation of learning and good deeds, vital to all communities and worthy of high respect. At the same time, Jewish bodies and behaviors have been the subject of medical scrutiny and debate. Some experts diagnosed the entire community as diseased, while others held it up as a model of health. The exhibit will examine how medicine has shaped the way Jews are seen, and see themselves. Building on recent developments in the medical humanities, "Jews, Health, and Healing" is the first exhibit to use the social and cultural history of medicine as a window into the Jewish experience in America. The exhibit will show how medicine has been, by turns, a vehicle for marginalization, acculturation, and the strengthening of Jewish identity.

Associated Products

Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America (Catalog)
Title: Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America
Author: Dr. Deborah R. Weiner, editor
Author: Karen L. Falk, editor
Author: Alan M. Kraut
Author: Mitchell B. Hart
Author: Cara Rock-Singer
Author: Ted Merwin
Abstract: An exhibition on Jews and medicine presented us with an ideal opportunity to apply a historical perspective to illuminate how scientific and cultural concerns have intertwined to shape not only the American Jewish experience, but an important field of human endeavor. Moreover, because our museum is based in Baltimore and surrounded by world-renowned hospitals and medical schools that are at the forefront of medical innovation, the topic offered a chance to connect with our community’s heritage and to draw on our rich collection of materials dealing with the local experience of Jews in medicine. While packed with information and insights, the Beyond Chicken Soup exhibit necessarily leaves out a great deal. To extend our investigation, this catalog features essays by four distinguished authors who delve more deeply into the exhibit’s themes. In the opening essay, “Strangers and Healers: The Jewish Immigrant Body and Healthcare’s Role in the American Assimilation Experience,” Alan Kraut examines how medicine served as a vehicle for assimilation and acculturation for American Jews. Kraut contends that the campaign to encourage Jewish immigrants to adapt a healthy and fit lifestyle, based on American standards, was a response to antisemitic characterizations of the Jewish body as diseased and weak.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Catalog Type: Exhibition Catalog
Publisher: Jewish Museum of Maryland