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The Museum is located on the sacred ground of Independence Mall in the heart of the most historic square mile in America.
Covering 25,000 square feet and three and a half floors of the Museum’s new building, the core exhibition offers a layered experience through which visitors explore more than 350 years of Jewish life in America through evocative objects, telling moments, and state-of-the-art interactive media. In addition, the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame celebrates the lives and achievements of eighteen Jewish Americans who exemplify a central theme of the Museum—that America has provided individuals with extraordinary opportunities.
Building on the dynamic interaction between the Museum’s location on Independence Mall, the history and traditions of the Jewish people, and the broader national experience, the core exhibition highlights the diverse backgrounds, expectations, and experiences of Jews who came to and made their homes in the United States. Visitors to the exhibition explore how and when Jews immigrated to America, the choices they faced, the challenges they confronted, and the ways in which they shaped, and were shaped by, their American home.
On each floor of the core exhibition, visitors encounter people, episodes, ideas, and experiences that highlight the religious, social, political, and economic lives of American Jews. They see historical objects, enter period environments, and experience cutting-edge interactive technology. Visitors of every background learn about aspects of Jewish religious life, including major holidays, rituals, and lifecycle events.
The core exhibition is the first major exhibit devoted solely to the experiences of Jews in North America, from the 1654 arrival of Jewish refugees from Recife, Brazil, to today. Beginning on the fourth floor of the exhibition, entitled Foundations of Freedom, 1654-1880, visitors examine the democratic principles that early Jewish immigrants embraced and incorporated into their own emerging communities. Foundations of Freedom profiles the earliest Jewish communities and captures the flavor of everyday Jewish life in America from the colonial era through the late 1800s.
Also located on our site is the Statue of Religious Liberty, commissioned by B’nai B’rith in 1876 and dedicated to “the people of the United States” as an expression of support for the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. The Museum shares its current location with historic Congregation Mikveh Israel, established in 1740 and called the synagogue of the American Revolution.