Museum Appoints Senior Judaic Advisor

Nationally-recognized Jewish educator Rachel Stern to help craft unique gallery in the Museum’s soaring atriums.

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience has contracted Rachel Stern to serve as its Senior Judaic Advisor to provide expertise and guidance in the presentation of Jewish beliefs and practices throughout the Museum’s exhibits.

Rachel Stern holds master’s degrees from Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion in Jewish Education and Jewish Non-Profit Management. She has worked in the Jewish non-profit world for over twenty years serving federations, synagogues, seminaries, and beyond. Rachel most notably served as the first full-time Director of Education for the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life for over 13 years and recently became the Inaugural Director of the Rapoport Center and the Chief Learning and Engagement Officer for Shalom Austin. Rachel and her husband Scott are parents of four college students, Gabe, Lainey, Maddie, and Charlie.

“I can think of no better person to help us interpret the religious aspects of exhibits,” said Museum Executive Director Kenneth Hoffman. “Rachel has such wonderful experience creating educational curricula that is not only informative, but accessible and engaging.”

“As a Jewish educator I’m always looking for new ways to connect people to Judaism,” said Stern. “I’m thrilled to be part of this project and utilizing the museum as a platform to teach and celebrate Judaism.”

Many of the Museum’s exhibits will be historical in nature, tracing Southern Jewish involvement in local, regional and national events. The Museum is also planning a unique gallery where visitors can explore Judaism—its fundamental beliefs, branches, life cycle events, and holidays—using a rich collection of artifacts that were used by Southern Jews over the past two hundred years. Highlighted items will include a Torah from El Dorado, AR, a seder plate recovered from a Hurricane Katrina-flooded home, tefillin (phylacteries) from Demopolis, AL, a ketubah (marriage certificate) from Portsmouth, VA, and a 19th century chevrah kedusha ledger (burial society) from Vicksburg, MS. Visitors will also be able to learn about Jewish practices and even quiz themselves through an interactive multimedia display.

The gallery will be housed in the Museum’s soaring four-story atrium showered with natural light. The setting will be both beautiful and contemplative. “The purpose of this gallery is not only to display many of our beautiful ceremonial objects,” Hoffman explains, “but to give our many non-Jewish visitors a ‘Judaism 101’ lesson in customs and beliefs.”