he Wisconsin Historical Museum, at 30 N. Carroll Street, hosted the Minnesota Historical Society’s traveling exhibit “Unpacking on the Prairie: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest” from Dec. 16, 2002 through March 1, 2003.

The exhibit explores the experiences of immigrant Jewish women and how they interacted with their neighbors, maintained Jewish homes and created Jewish communities in a region with relatively few Jews. Women had a two-fold task: to adapt their heritage in an effort to remain religiously distinct and yet to fit into the secular life of their surroundings.

Through 27 panels that include text, video presentations and interactive messages, the exhibit shows the process of transporting, transmitting and transforming Jewish religion and culture. It is divided into three broad sections. The first is Packing Up and Unpacking, which focuses on women’s experiences in Europe and their adjustment to new settings and new neighbors in the Upper Midwest. The second, Women in the Jewish Home, explores women’s roles in maintaining and transforming domestic religious culture in the Upper Midwest and women as the keepers of family memories and mementos. The third section, Women in the Community, focuses on women’s experiences and changing roles in the workplace, the synagogue and in voluntary organizations of the region.

The exhibit, which is based on the book “And Prairie Dogs Weren’t Kosher: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest Since 1855,” is traveling throughout the U.S. through March 1, 2003. The Minnesota Historical Society and the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest organized the exhibit. Locally, exhibit programming is in collaboration with Madison Public Library and the Jewish Women’s Network.


Web Page Design: Julie Franki, Paul Hedges
Museum chief curator: Paul Bourcier
Museum Director: Ann Koski

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