July 15 , 2001
Jewish-American Hall of Fame Becomes Division of American Jewish Historical Society

Mel Wacks, Founding Director of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, is pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees of the American Jewish Historical Society has voted to accept the Jewish-American Hall of Fame as an operating division commencing July 15, 2001.

These two organizations, with similar goals, have worked together over the years. The American Jewish Historical Society has supplied copies of unique photographs from their collection that have aided sculptors who created medals for the Jewish-American Hall of Fame (i.e. for Commodore Uriah P. Levy and Emma Lazarus), and the Hall of Fame has supplied medals which are used as major awards by the Historical Society (i.e. the Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award). Michael Feldberg Ph.D., Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society has expressed his hope that all of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame medals will be placed on exhibit in the near future in the Society's New York home in The Center for Jewish History at 15 West 16th Street.

The American Jewish Historical Society was founded in 1892. Their goal is "the collection, preservation, exhibition, publication, and popularization of material of every kind having reference to the settlement, history, and life of Jews on the American continent." The Society sponsors numerous educational projects, including the encyclopedic "Jewish Women in America" (1998), which contains an entry on Olympic medal winner Lillian Copeland by Mel Wacks.

The Jewish-American Hall of Fame was authorized in 1969 as an educational project of the Magnes Museum by its Director Seymour Fromer. Over the next three decades, the project raised nearly $200,000 for the Museum. However, the Museum's changing goals and its imminent merger with the Jewish Museum of San Francisco led to an amicable separation from the Jewish-American Hall of Fame. Present Magnes Museum Director Susan Morris and JAHF Director Mel Wacks expect to continue their friendship and work in behalf of their mutual interests (i.e. the Mel and Esther Wacks Educational Fund).
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