Upon entering, a visitor to the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County will now see a bronze plaque on the wall and a “Heritage Tree” painting (by local artist Joey Hachtman) surrounding it as part of the Genesis Garden. Both are symbols to the strength and continuity of the Greater Monmouth County’s Jewish community.
This past October 14, 2012, the Museum honored the visionary people who generously provided the seed money for its beginnings by ceremonially unveiling the painted Genesis Garden and plaque. Rabbi Brooks Susman of Congregation Kol Am, Freehold, a Founding Trustee, briefly spoke about the history of Jews of Monmouth County beginning with the first settlers in 1720. The Rabbi ended with a benediction that the Museum serves as a testament to “who we were, why we were exiled, and how we have survived.”
By making its home in the barn of the Levi Solomon farmstead, the Jewish Heritage Museum established a direct connection to one of the earliest Jewish residents of the County, Jonas Solomon (Levi’s father), a Freehold Colonial merchant and tavern keeper. This history was on the minds of former board trustees Linda Friedman and Joan Fischer in 2008 when they formed the committee that so successfully secured Genesis Garden funding. From 2010 to 2012, Helene Cohen (Board Trustee) reactivated the effort to create a fitting ceremonial and artistic tribute to the donors so that the Garden would continue to bear fruit.
While she was not able to attend the Dedication ceremony, Co-Founder Charlotte Kruman later shared by phone that she has been very pleased with all the friends and capable people who pitched in serving the Museum. Furthermore, one of her special joys is to have her family continue the legacy of service, including her son-in-law Gil Newman (Board Trustee) and grandson Daniel Newman who began the Museum web site as a bar mitzvah project under his father’s guidance, and her son, Glen who served as Founding Honorary Trustee.
Co-Founder Jean Klerman also spoke with gratitude of the role that the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County played in the Museum’s genesis.
Co-President Michael Berman likened the genesis of the Museum to the journey that the first Jews took as pioneers trying to forge a home in a strange land and added that he hopes the Museum continues as a vibrant, “living space” to connect Jews and the general public to the Jewish story of Monmouth County.