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The Weitzman Museum of American Jewish History is a highly regarded institution located in historic Old City Philadelphia

Its mission is to educate visitors and online audiences about the history, culture, and contributions of Jewish Americans

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-25), Mike Turner (R-OH-10), Brendan Boyle (D-PA-2), and Max Miller (R-OH-7) introduced legislation to take a critical step in transferring the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, a highly regarded museum dedicated to the history, culture, and contributions of Jewish Americans, to the Smithsonian Institution. The Weitzman, if transferred, would serve as the Smithsonian’s only museum dedicated specifically to the stories of Jewish Americans.

“Integrating the Weitzman with the Smithsonian would pay tribute to the role that the Jewish American community has played in the progress of America,” said Senator Casey. “With antisemitism on the rise, the Weitzman Museum stands as an opportunity to educate the next generation on the contributions Jewish Americans made to our Nation and help stem the tide of hate.”

“Jewish communities have made astounding contributions to America’s noble experiment in building a more perfect union. Sharing those achievements with everyone is what the late Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and I had in mind when we created Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) nearly two decades ago. Educating all Americans, from all over the country, about these amazing Jewish impacts on our nation’s history, not only raises awareness but helps dispel harmful prejudices about our community,” said Wasserman Schultz. “Taking this critical step to welcome the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History into the larger Smithsonian family would bring that vision closer to reality. This powerful institutional integration signals a strong commitment to address the dramatic rise in antisemitism by helping amplify the myriad ways Jewish Americans enriched a nation who’s very founding, fittingly, traces back to Philadelphia, the Weitzman Museum’s home city.”   

“The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia serves as a powerful reminder of the contributions that Jewish Americans have made to the fabric of the United States,” said Congressman Mike Turner. “By bringing this museum and its collections into the Smithsonian Institution, Congress will ensure that the story of Jewish Americans is shared with the widest possible audience. I am proud to join my colleagues in supporting this effort to preserve and tell the story of such an important community in America.”

 “The Weitzman Museum is the only museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and interpreting the American Jewish experience,” said Congressman Boyle. “The Weitzman's role in telling the tale of our nation’s history is significant. Bringing the Weitzman Museum fully into the Smithsonian family would give it expanded access to not only artifacts and documents, but robust educational resources, expertise and staff training to aid in the ongoing mission to preserve and promote the culture of American Jews.”

“With the recent rise in antisemitism, now more than ever it is imperative that Jewish-American Heritage be celebrated and exhibited at the world's largest museum, education, and research complex, the Smithsonian Institution,” said Representative Max Miller.

“The Weitzman's trustees and I take seriously our responsibility to educate a broad American public about the contributions of American Jews to our nation, the gratitude American Jews have for what America has made possible, and the inextricable links between American history, culture, and society and its Jewish communities,” said Dr. Misha Galperin, President and CEO of The Weitzman. “It would be our honor to integrate the Museum into the Smithsonian Institution for the American People.”

The Commission to Study the Potential Transfer of the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History to the Smithsonian Institution Act would create a commission to study the potential transfer of the Weitzman Museum to the Smithsonian Institution, which is the necessary first step to put the Weitzman Museum on a path toward acquisition by the Smithsonian. Specifically:

  • The commission will consist of nine members, with two members appointed by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber, and one nonvoting member appointed by the board of the Weitzman Museum.
  • The commission will write a report to Congress with a recommendation on whether the Weitzman Museum should be transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. The report will also detail the current collections of the Museum; the impact of the Museum on educational and governmental efforts to study and counter antisemitism; the financial assets and liabilities of the Museum and costs of operating and maintaining the Museum; the governance and organizational structure of the Museum should it be transferred; and the impact such a transfer would have on the Smithsonian Institution.
  • The commission will not receive any federal funding and will accept private contributions to pay for its expenses.

“Amidst rising antisemitism, it is more important than ever to celebrate the inspiring history of the Jewish people in America, educate diverse public audiences about Jewish culture, and spark conversations about the American Jewish community present and future,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We thank Senator Casey (D-PA) and Representatives Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Turner (R-OH), Boyle (D-PA), and Miller (R-OH) for leading the effort to create a commission to study the transfer of the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History to the Smithsonian.”

“Jewish Federations of North America are proud to support a commission on including the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History among the rarified museums in the Smithsonian Institution,” said Karen Paikin Barall, Vice President of Government Relations for the Jewish Federations of North America.

In addition to Senator Casey, the bill is also cosponsored by Senators John Fetterman (D-PA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Susan Collins (R-ME). The bill is endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Read more about the Commission to Study the Potential Transfer of the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History to the Smithsonian Institution Act here.