Jack Weinstein talks about the new exhibits at the Augusta Jewish Museum. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News
Jack Weinstein talks about the new exhibits at the Augusta Jewish Museum. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Exhibits installed at Augusta Jewish Museum

The installation of the long-awaited exhibits at the Augusta Jewish Museum began on April 22, and patrons on Saturday’s portion of the Historic Augusta Loft and Living Tour will be among the first people to see them.

And Jack Weinstein, museum board president, thinks its visionary founder would be pleased.

“It is exactly what Jack wanted; first to save the building and then to educate the people,” said Weinstein, of the late Jack Steinberg, who initially led the effort to save the state of Georgia’s oldest synagogue building from the wrecking ball in 2015

Before his death in July 2019, Steinberg made one request of Weinstein – to not let the dream of a Jewish museum fail. It’s been a long process and isn’t complete, but the museum is now in a position to better tell the stories Steinberg wanted to tell.

Read more: Historic Augusta Loft Tour marks 19th year

Not only did the Jewish Museum effort save the 1869 Greek Revival synagogue, but it also saved another historic building – the court of the ordinary which was a state-of-the-art fireproof structure when it was erected in 1860.

The former court of the ordinary building houses the newly installed exhibitions.

Upon entering the building, guests see a timeline of people and places. The room to the right highlights the accomplishments of Jewish Augustans in many areas including education, the arts and business.

One portion of a wall is dedicated to the Jewish businesses in downtown Augusta and features a map highlighting their location.

 To the left of the main entrance are additional rooms. The room to the immediate left highlights Jewish customs, traditions and food as well as the holidays and an explanation of the Jewish calendar which is a lunisolar calendar with the months typically having 29 or 30 days.

Another room focuses on the nation of Israel, highlighting subjects such as its geography and the accomplishments of its people.

The final section, which is not completely finished, is related to the Holocaust during World War II. Special pieces to be added include a Torah scroll and a Nazi flag with the signatures of soldiers who liberated Jewish people from the concentration camps.

A timeline greets guests as they visit the Augusta Jewish Museum. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“The main thing about this; there were no Jews; the whole town was just wiped out,” said Weinstein of the village where the Torah scroll was discovered.

Weinstein said the exhibit also answers the questions of how millions of Jewish people could be slaughtered and what factors led to it.

 It features sobering photographs depicting the horrors of the Holocaust.

In a related event, at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, May 5, Adas Yeshurun Synagogue, 935 Johns Road, will be the site of a Holocaust Memorial Day, Yam HaShoa, program.

Weinstein said he expects to have a ribbon cutting ceremony in the coming weeks possibly mid-June and is looking ahead to the next phases of the project that include a passthrough from the court of the ordinary into the adjacent synagogue which will one day be an event space.

About $2.5 million is needed to complete the renovation of the former synagogue building.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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