by Ozzie Nogg
The entire community is invited to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society on Sunday, Oct. 14, in the JCC Theater. The event runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and includes volunteer award presentations, a retrospective of the NJHS though the words of its founders, plus a time-line exhibit of photographs, documents and other memorabilia from the Carl Frohm Archive Collection. A reception in the JCC Gallery follows the program.
Since its incorporation in 1982, the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society has helped preserve local Jewish history through the collection of artifacts and documents that show the impact Jews have had in Nebraska and Eastern Iowa since the 1850s. The original founders of the organization were Mary Fellman and Dr. Oliver Pollak who — along with Lois (Buck) Friedman, Silvia Roffman and Joie Simon — met in Mary Fellman’s house, intent on preserving our past for the future. “Whenever Mary Fellman said, ‘Sivi, you’re going to help me with…’ I knew I was in for a great project and adventure,” Roffman said. “Our plans and dreams for the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society took place in Mary’s kitchen and dining room, a local version of Golda Meir’s cabinet meetings. We ate Mary’s goodies while we tossed ideas and suggestions back and forth in a lively flow. It was a labor or love and a wonderful experience that led to the important and meaningful organization that the NJHS is today.”
The five Nebraska Jewish Historical Society founders will be recognized at the 30th Anniversary Celebration. Other honorees are Midge Bowers and the late Dr. Ben Nachman. “In 1995, Ben began our Oral History program by interviewing members of our Jewish community,” said Renee Corcoran, Executive Director of NJHS. “Before his death in 2010, Ben had recorded the life stories of over five hundred individuals. We continue to grow the program because we understand how these personal interviews allow the NJHS to preserve the memories of parents, grandparents and family members. The stories that Ben gathered are the foundation for our collective future, and this anniversary celebration is our chance to honor Ben and his contribution to that future through his respect for the past.” Midge Bowers will receive the Shirley Berman Volunteer Award. According to Anniversary Chairman Joanie Bernstein, “Shirley worked quietly behind the scenes with no expectations of recognition. Midge Bowers reflects that same kind of quiet dedication to the organization. She is a Past President of NJHS, creative and innovative, and an outstanding advisor to everyone with whom she works. We hope all of you will come celebrate and honor Ben, Midge, and the founders of the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society on Oct. 14.”
Working with Bernstein on Anniversary arrangements are Bob Belgrade, Midge Bowers, Renee Corcoran, Doug Hartman, and Sue Millward, current NJHS President. Other Nebraska Jewish Historical Society officers are Beth Staenberg, Vice President; Rocky Stern, Secretary; Don Dandy, Treasurer; and Debbi Josephson, Past President.
The Nebraska Jewish Historical Society is privately supported through donations made by families and individuals. “Membership in the NJHS ensures the continuation of our rich heritage and helps us know who we are and where we came from,” said Dick Rochman, NJHS Membership Chairperson. “Your membership helps us plan programs and exhibits and continues our goal of preservation and education, l’dor v’dor — from generation to generation.” Information on how you can support the NJHS is found on the organization’s newly-designed website at http://www.nebraskajhs.com or by calling the office at 402.334.6441.
Upcoming editions of the Jewish Press will carry additional details of the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society’s 30th Anniversary Celebration.