Archive for September 29, 2011

“Making a Jewish Home” Opens Oct. 11 at the History Center

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment
Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center

Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. staff photo.

By Amy Lamb
Indiana Historical Society

Indianapolis, Indiana. — The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) will tell a family’s story of tragedy, courage and new beginnings with You Are There 1950: Making a Jewish Home, which will be open Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, through Sept. 29, 2012. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of the IHS and its Indiana Experience, is located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.

The You Are There element of the Indiana Experience allows guests to step through–and into–an IHS collections photograph that has been recreated three-dimensionally. In Making a Jewish Home, guests can visit Berek (Benny) and Frania (Fanny) Kaplan’s Union Street home in a southside Indianapolis neighborhood on April 5, 1950, just a year after their resettlement from a post-World War II displaced persons camp.

The recreated scene at the History Center features Fanny ladling soup to serve for a family meal. In the new experience, guests will join Mrs. Kaplan as she prepares a kosher meal and learn how Hoosier hospitality helped the Kaplans create a new home.

Having known of one another as distant relatives before the war and after having lost most of their families during the Holocaust, Benny and Fanny reconnected and married in Poland after the liberation. They then spent three years in a displaced persons camp in Germany after the end of World War II. Jewish Social Services in Indianapolis financed the family’s relocation, including their two young children, to the United States in 1949 and helped them settle in.

The authenticity of the You Are There recreations hinge on not just the development of the physical space, but also on the real-life characters (portrayed by interpreters) who could really have been present in that particular place at the time the photograph was taken. Guests will have a chance to meet not only the Kaplans, but also Nathan Berman (head of Indianapolis’ Jewish Social Services), Tekla Wolf (a leader in the United Services for New Americans), Charlotte Epstein (an English translator/tutor), Rosemary Marie Hessman (a Catholic neighbor and Shabbas helper) and Carolyn Tucker (a census worker from the area).

The William H. Smith Memorial Library is home to an extensive collection of archival materials that detail the story of Jewish communities in Indianapolis and around the state, including more than 40 manuscript collections and more than a dozen printed collections. In addition to invaluable assistance from many local individuals and organizations, Rosie Kaplan (daughter of Benny and Fanny) was instrumental in bringing the scene to life-from anecdotes about her childhood to sharing the ladle and dishes featured in the photograph for exact reproduction.

Beyond an exhibit, Making a Jewish Home will serve as a meaningful humanities resource and a launching platform for a variety of contemporary discussions on Hoosier philanthropy, humanitarian outreach and Indiana’s diverse cultural heritage. IHS will host programs that connect the themes of this You Are There to contemporary issues.

You Are There 1950: Making a Jewish Home is being presented with support from The Ackerman Foundation, Citizens Energy Group, and Indiana Humanities in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information on this and other IHS programs, call 317-232-1882 or visit