International Yiddish Conference & Retreat

Dr. Steven Lasky: Optometrist; Founder, Museum of Family History; New York

Dr. Steven Lasky

Dr. Steven Lasky, founder and director of the Museum of Family History, was honored in 2008 with the “Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Genealogy” award by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. The award reads: “Presented to Steven Lasky…. In recognition of his original contribution to the Jewish genealogical community by the creation of an online virtual museum, The Museum of Family History. This impressive and professionally-produced body of work reflects his hard work and dedication in accumulating, recording and sharing an incredible variety of relevant resources. Designed to encourage Jewish families to research and document their own family histories, Steve’s inspiration will continue to benefit future generations.”

Dr. Lasky’s Museum of Family History is an Internet-only, multimedia museum that is dedicated to honoring and preserving the memory of our Jewish families for the present and the future generations. There is a great deal of material on his website, e.g.  regarding Jewish life in Europe and the United States, immigration, the Holocaust, and the Yiddish world. Within the museum there exists an Education and Research Centre, which is dedicated to genealogical research.  In its permanent “Postcards from Home” exhibition, you can find many hundreds of family photographs from pre-war Europe, organized by town and by family surname.  In the museum’s “World Holocaust Memorials” exhibition you can see the largest collection of online photographs of world Holocaust memorials. In its exhibition “The Synagogues of Europe: Past and Present”, you can see dozens of photographs of synagogues that sadly no longer exist. There are very many more online exhibitions for you to visit, so many in fact that in order to make a thorough “visit” to the museum, you would need many days to do it. This you can do at your leisure from the comfort of your own home or office twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

At the museum, there is a special emphasis on Yiddish theatre, e.g. for more than two years, the biographies and histories found within Zalmen Zylbercweig’s “Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre” (1931-1969) are being translated from Yiddish to English, and its translation is  three-quarters complete (volunteers are needed to help the museum complete this task). You can now find the translations of more than 2,100 biographies of Yiddish actors, actresses, playwrights, journalists et al within the museum’sZylbercweig exhibition, which also gives you more of interest about Zylbercweig and his life, his work, and includes in its “On the Air!” program, segments of Zylbercweig’s “Yiddish Radio Hour” which he and his wife Celia broadcast from a studio in the back of their Los Angles home from 1949 to 1969. The museum is “rebroadcasting” these Yiddish radio programs for your listening pleasure – the radio rebroadcasts (filled with world and local news, commentary and song), will be changed every two months or so.

There is much more than can be told to you regarding the content of the museum website, but it is perhaps best to suggest that you visit the Museum of Family Historywebsite and see for yourself – peruse the site’s first page, and then the Site Map page, the page that lists the museum’s current exhibitions, as well as the museum’s four imaginative “floor plans”. If you are a fan of Al Jolson, Richard Tucker, Maurice Schwartz, David Pinski or the artist and Bialystok-native Max Weber, please visit their exhibitions, which can be found within the museum’s “Great Artists Series”.

It is Steve’s wish that you visit thoroughly the Museum of Family History website, and that you will revisit the museum very often and become one of its supporters.

If you wish to become a Museum volunteer, e.g. to help him complete his translation of the “Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre”, or to contribute in some way, please contact Steve Lasky, at steve@museumoffamilyhistory.com.