Dear Jewish History Museum Community,

Thank you to all who attended events and participated in making the Jewish History Museum so alive with conversations, learning, and coalition building in the 2018-2019 season. As the inaugural Zuckerman Fellow, Curator of Community Engagement, I have learned deeply from the audience members who attend our events as well as our invited speakers. With such a supportive staff and a truly collaborative work environment, I strove to respond to the interests and needs of the Southern Arizona Jewish community and its allies. Through an unprecedented number of community partnerships, from the Consulado de México, Judaic Studies, KXCI, MOCA-Tucson, Prince Chapel AME Church, the Institute for LGBT Studies, and Exploded View Microcinema--to name a few--we continue to grow as a hub for education, art and culture in Tucson.

My vision as a curator at the JHM is to support the needs of community members. We gain great nourishment when showcasing art and literature that connects to Jewish themes and values. As I reflect on my year here, one theme has focused  on Jewish feminist intellectuals who have shaped Jewish identity, history and culture. We unveiled a Susan Sontag mural, screened documentaries on Shulamith Firestone as a young art student, featured Chantal Akerman’s film about her mother inside the Holocaust History Center surivor testimony video gallery, presented a lecture series inspired by philosopher Hannah Arendt, and hosted a conversation on poet Muriel Rukeyser’s social documentary style. As a trans and gender-non-conforming museum worker, I held readings to affirm trans and queer resistance and educational workshops for members of the community to learn more about gender.

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With a heavy heart, I say bye-for-now to the vibrant communities that I have been lucky to be a part of and develop relationships within. The experiences I have had this year in the borderlands will stick with me and inform my future writing, curating and teaching work as I return to New York City. I am so thrilled to be working side-by-side in my last week with Josie Shapiro, the next Zuckerman Fellow, who will do a phenomenal job organizing and hosting the public programs and community outreach here at the museum. Back in January, Josie gave a Gallery Chat deconstructing contemporary antisemitism. They have been an attentive and caring member of the Jewish History Museum community, showing up for sign-making and regularly sitting in audiences at events and talking with audience members.

Josie has been actively involved in social movements for over 15 years. They have been a part of resistance in a variety of ways, from community organizing to providing legal support to those who face criminalization for their political activity. Their motivations come from a deep belief that Tikkun olam is a responsibility and that social justice is an integral part of Jewish tradition. As a resident of Tucson, the notion of doykeit, or hereness, is at the heart of their efforts to bring a Jewish perspective to the borderlands.

Please join me in welcoming Josie to the Jewish History Museum. I cannot wait to see the work they do here!

With Gratitude,

Ariel

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