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Carole Mikita ReportingThe Jewish experience in our state is now the focus of a new exhibit at the Museum of Utah Art and History. Their stories are told with 120 black-and-white photos and accompanying oral histories. The idea is to broaden cultural awareness in our state.
The wide-open wild West appealed to people of all cultures, all faiths. Such was the case with the first Jews to live in the Utah territory, they too were seeking a better life.
Anne Dolowitz: "They fell in love with the west. They wanted to move away from the ghettoization in New York City and they were adventurous."
How they lived, their challenges and successes, are all documented in an exhibit at the Museum of Utah Art and History.
Eileen Hallet Stone, Curator, 'Utah Jews Remember': "One of the best way that people can understand other people is to use their eyes to see, to use their ears to listen, and hopefully use their hearts to open up to people who are different."
So many Jews say being different in Utah was difficult for the first immigrants and remained so for a long time.
Eileen Hallet Stone: "When my son was in the fourth grade, he came running home because there were kids going after him with sticks and nails in the sticks and they said that he, Adam, had horns."
Anne Dolowitz: "We put the first one into a neighborhood school and he was called 'dirty Jew'. And our second son we sent to a different elementary school and he was called 'a dirty Jew' and 'a Christ killer'. Our daughter went to the same elementary school and heard the same rhetoric."
Attitudes changed when Jewish mothers went to the schools and took their faith and culture to their children’s classmates.
Gail Bernstein Ciacci: "I had a painful childhood here, being Jewish, and I didn't want my children to have that. All the kids in Bonneville Elementary had dreidls and dreidl games and how to make potato latkas, that we made in the classroom."
The exhibit "A Homeland in the West:Utah Jews Remember" at the Museum of Utah Art and History goes through May 16th. It's located at 125 S. Main and open Tuesdays thru Sundays 11 - 3.