The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County presents a new rotating exhibit, Let’s Dish: Family Histories through Dinnerware. The exhibit, which opened in time for the Museum’s Hanukkah Open House in December, currently features eight sets of dinnerware and a set of silver Kiddush cups used over four generations. In addition, recipes are displayed which may well have been served on these dishes. Admission to the Museum is $3 for members, $5 for non-members.
This exhibit features the histories of the dinnerware’s owners as well as their photographs, which provides a window into family stories, genealogy, and lore. Unearthing dishes and special objects bring to mind the ways in which those items were acquired by families and memories of how they have been used.
“Rituals are incredibly important for creating meaning out of objects,” writes Kate Bernot in an article on the online website, The Takeout. She notes, “Food is a major part of most rituals, so meals and their accoutrement, like china, tend to have serious sticking power when it comes to emotional value.” In addition, displaying these pieces and telling the stories that reflect their heritage, emphasizes why they are also culturally significant.
In the current climate of plastic and disposable everything, it is meaningful to be reminded of a simpler time when china was treasured, used over and over, and washed with care by hand.
The objects displayed in the exhibit are on loan from Board members, a docent, and a member of the Jewish Journaling class which is offered at the Museum on Tuesday mornings.
In true “rotating” fashion, the exhibit may be changed periodically with new items on display as others elect to unearth dinnerware and share their stories.
Visit the Museum to see this latest, enlightening, and heart-warming display!
This exhibit is made possible in part by the Monmouth County Historical Commission through funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.