New Exhibition opens July 15 at Congregation Emanu El
Jewish Veteran’s Mother Wants the World to Know: “We Fought Too”
HOUSTON, TX (July 7, 2011) – Ellen Trachtenberg, a longtime supporter and volunteer at Holocaust Museum Houston, wants the world to know that Jewish soldiers have been fighting in American wars for more than two centuries.

Ellen Trachtenberg

 Ellen Trachtenberg, who is curating the new exhibit “We Fought Too – Jewish Soldiers in America’s Wars,” holds a United War Work campaign poster from 1918, one of the more than 90 artifacts that will be featured in the exhibit.

The mother of a Jewish veteran is curating the upcoming exhibit, “We Fought Too — Jewish Soldiers in America’s Wars,” opening July 15 at the Robert I. Kahn Gallery at Congregation Emanu El, 1500 Sunset Blvd., which will feature more than 90 artifacts from seven American wars, beginning with the Civil War and ending with the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She has been researching and collecting the items, donated by her friends and acquaintances in the Jewish community, since last fall as part of a personal mission to express her appreciation and understanding for members of the United States armed forces and military families.

“I can identify with soldiers and their families and really appreciate what they go through,” Trachtenberg said, adding that her son, Sgt. David L. Trachtenberg, served a tour in Iraq in 2004-05 and her cousin, Dr. Ronald Rabin, served as a combat surgeon in Vietnam in 1971-72.

Trachtenberg, who assisted with the creation of the Museum’s Permanent Exhibit, “Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers,” as co-chair of the content and scope committee in the 1990s, is underwriting the exhibit along with her husband, Dan.

She began working on her upcoming exhibit after asking for a new project from Susan Myers, the Museum’s executive director, last fall. Myers described the summertime World War II-centered exhibit, “Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War,” which opens on July 15 at the Museum and was curated by the Museum of Jewish History in New York City, and asked Trachtenberg if she wanted to curate a companion exhibit that explored the Jewish role in other American conflicts.

Trachtenberg agreed to take on the project, turning to her network to locate the artifacts.

A member of the Museum’s advisory board, Gregg Philipson, whose personal collection of Jewish artifacts has been featured in museums across the nation, contributed a large portion of the items in the new exhibit. He said it is imperative for people to understand the extent of Jewish involvement in the U.S. military.

“I think it’s important that people understand that Jewish people have been here from the get go and have participated in every major military conflict, as well as in many other ways,” Philipson said.

Trachtenberg, who is also a member of the Museum’s advisory board, has been heavily involved in the Jewish community for most of her life. Driving this has been her interest in the Holocaust, in which approximately 6 million Jews were systematically exterminated by the German Nazi regime during World War II.

She has spent more than 15 years working with archives at Holocaust Museum Houston and assisted the Museum’s librarians on a number of shows. She created her own exhibit focusing on the World War II-era letters received by her mother-in-law from her family in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Her latest exhibit, which can be viewed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Dec. 31, includes photographs, medals, books and religious items from major American wars.

“She has played an incredible role in creating this exhibit and has been a longtime supporter of the Museum and its mission,” said Myers, the Museum’s executive director.

The show opens with a preview reception at Congregation Emanu El from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on July 14, immediately following the opening reception at Holocaust Museum Houston for “Ours to Fight For.” Admission is free, but advance registration is required. Visit http://www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online for both events. For more information, call 713-942-8000 or e-mail exhibits@hmh.org.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.
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