National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) Grand Opening

The National Museum of American Jewish History will celebrate the opening of its new national destination museum on Independence Mall with a Grand Opening Weekend, Nov. 12-14, headlined by entertainers Bette Midler and Jerry Seinfeld at a Saturday night Gala on Nov. 13.

In addition to the Gala, the three-day celebration will include a symposium on Friday and a Grand Opening Dedication Ceremony on Sunday with participation by prominent elected officials, national communal leaders and distinguished dignitaries.

“This landmark event is a signal achievement for the American Jewish community and all Americans,” said Michael Rosenzweig, the Museum’s president and CEO. “With the help of generous supporters across the entire country, we have brought to life one of the nation’s finest and most important museums, a place for all Americans to explore, offering a highly engaging and thought-provoking look at one ethnic group’s experience with freedom.”

The Museum’s Grand Opening Weekend begins Friday, Nov. 12 with a symposium featuring two panel discussions. The first, from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., titled “Jewish Encounters with Freedom: Snapshots from the American Past and Present,” is co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program of the University of Pennsylvania and the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History at Temple University. The second panel, “Crafting American Public Space,” from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., is the Murray Friedman Memorial Roundtable, co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.

Festivities continue with a Grand Opening Gala starting Saturday at 6 p.m. with a reception in the Museum followed by a dinner and special performances by Midler and Seinfeld under the stars in a clear-top tent on Independence Mall.

Midler is still going strong after a career of more than 40 years, four Grammys, four Golden Globes, three Emmys, a Tony Award and tons of record-breaking performances. This past January, Midler concluded her critically acclaimed Vegas extravaganza “The Showgirl Must Go On” at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Critics raved the show was a “razzle-dazzle spectacular” and “a fresh, sinfully satisfying distillation of her career.” The show played more than 200 performances and was seen by over a half-million people in two years.

Seinfeld is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner, stand-up comedian, actor and writer best known for the television comedy Seinfeld (1989 – 1998), which he co-created and co-wrote.

The Grand Opening Weekend will serve as the official opening of the National Museum of American Jewish History’s new $150 million, 100,000-square-foot building in the heart of historic Philadelphia. It will be the only museum in the nation dedicated solely to telling the story of Jews in America.

The Museum’s new five-story building on Independence Mall was designed by renowned architect James Stewart Polshek, founder of Polshek Partnership Architects (now Ennead Architects).

Encompassing 25,000 square feet of gallery space on three-and-a-half floors, the core exhibition will explore the challenges faced by Jews since their arrival on this continent in 1654, celebrating their experiences in every facet of American life and throughout every phase of the country’s history. Featuring more than 1,000 artifacts, as well as films and state-of-the-art technology, the exhibition will showcase how an immigrant population flourished under freedom and will highlight the diverse backgrounds and experiences of Jews over a period of more than 350 years. An additional 5,000 square feet will be used for changing exhibitions.

The new building will also feature an Education Center, the 200-seat Dell Theater, a multipurpose event space with capacity for 600 on the fifth floor overlooking Independence Mall, a café and a Museum store.

Image: Night rendering of the new National Museum of American Jewish History, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects.

The National Museum of American Jewish History ( is located at 101 South Independence Mall East, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Telephone is 215-923-3811. Email is [email protected]

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