Congratulations to Capital Jewish Museum on Groundbreaking Festival

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, RRCHNM has been collaborating with a series of partners on its Pandemic Religion and American Jewish Life project. We have been very fortunate to have had the chance to work with these partners to collect and preserve sources about the impact the pandemic is having on American religion.

One of our partners—and neighbors—is the Capital Jewish Museum, which has also accepted a GMU student as an intern. But the Capital Jewish Museum is not even officially open yet! The work they are doing is all the more remarkable, then, and we are all the more pleased to share this announcement of their groundbreaking festival, coming up on September 12 to September 18.

These are no ordinary times. And this is no ordinary event! Be a part of an interactive, multi-day virtual festival to celebrate the Capital Jewish Museum breaking ground on what will become our permanent home at 3rd and F Streets, NW in Downtown Washington, DC. Experience a variety of free virtual events celebrating the new museum and its exploration of the intersection of American Judaism and American democracy. As the centerpiece of the festival, we will livestream the historic groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future museum, marking the official start of transforming the space into our permanent home.

The festival will feature something for everyone, from online interactive conversations with top chefs, historians, and musicians, to family programming, a film screening, virtual photobooth, trivia and so much more! Explore the full schedule and register now!

The festival will include a film screening, a Rosh Hashanah concert, a panel on the first LGBTQ synagogue in DC, a food festival, a professional development session for teachers, a session on Jewish refugee scholars at HBCUs, a session on museums as agents of change, a scavenger hunt, and at the center the livestreamed groundbreaking ceremony itself. In addition to registering for these events, be sure to take a look at the plans for the museum and how it incorporates a historic Washington, DC, synagogue.

RRCHNM is thankful to have had the chance to partner with the museum since its outset, and we offer warm wishes and hearty congratulations for the groundbreaking of the Capital Jewish Museum!

Pandemic Religion Digital Stories Fellowship: Call for Participants

Lived Religion in the Digital Age, a project of St. Louis University, in partnership with the Pandemic Religion project at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, welcomes applications for a short-term Digital Stories Fellowship. The Digital Stories Fellow will work from the Pandemic Religion database to create, compose, and/or curate original material for the Digital Stories platform. The fellowship carries an award of up to $1,500.

Digital Stories prioritizes the study and practice of visual, aural, multimodal, and other embodied storytelling techniques, particularly as they are shaped, transformed, or confronted by digital life and cultures. Preferred contributions include visual essays, short documentaries, soundtracks or podcasts, data visualizations, digital exhibits, multimediated content, and short essays, among other possible modes of public scholarship. The Digital Stories fellow will have expertise in religion, theology, American studies, performance studies, visual studies, or related fields or professions and will contribute a series of original entries to the site during the funding period.

This fellowship is expected to begin immediately and be completed by December 31, 2020.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest (1–2 pages), current CV or resume, and brief writing or multimedia sample (links to digital content are encouraged).

Please submit fellowship application materials or general queries to LRDA Administrator Dr. Samantha Arten at livedreligion@slu.edu. Applicants may also apply through this form. Applications received by June 15 will receive full consideration.

In addition to this fellowship, Digital Stories welcomes contributions on a rolling basis. Please contact Digital Stories Editor, Dr. Adam Park (adam.park@slu.edu) for questions and submissions.

Download this CFP as a PDF.

Pandemic Religion Project to Document Changes in American Religion

As the world undergoes wrenching changes—some temporary, some permanent—in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, religious communities in the United States have also been deeply affected. Many have hastily moved services online: a change which has been influenced by the hugely varying liturgical, theological, legal, and financial resources available to different groups. Of course a few religious groups have made it into the news by challenging government-mandated shutdowns. Some people are attending online services at communities that are not local and of which they are not members, perhaps to share an experience with family from whom they are distant. Others are finding their religious community in relatively new forms, such as Facebook groups. As the pandemic more seriously affects older people, religious communities have grappled with their ministry to the elderly and to the sick. The pandemic has disproportionately killed racial minorities and left them disproportionately unemployed: Black religious traditions are no exception. These changes have happened at the same time that Jews have celebrated Passover, Christians have celebrated Easter, and right before Muslims celebrate Ramadan.

To document these changes, today the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is launching Pandemic Religion: A Digital Archive. This project will collect and preserves experiences and responses from individuals and religious communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Screenshot of the Pandemic Religion website

We invite contributions from people of any religious tradition, community, or perspective. We encourage contributions either from your individual perspective, or documenting what is happening in your religious community. We hope you will contribute items like these:

  • Stories about how your religious practice has changed
  • Photos of you or your religious community practicing your religion
  • Communications within your religious community
  • Documents about decisions or changes your religious community has made
  • Links, recordings, or screenshots of religious practice moving to online spaces, such as video and social media
  • Stories about how you or your community is helping during, or being hurt by, the pandemic

You may wish to browse some of the items that have already been contribute:

We are undertaking this gathering of materials in partnership with other institutions. The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at IUPUI has generously agreed to partner with RRCHNM to help disseminate the project among their scholarly network. A group of advisors, both scholars and leaders of religious communities, have given counsel and helped share the project. For example, the Rev. Mary Anne Glover of the Virginia Council of Churches has distributed the project to their member churches. We hope to strike up other such partnerships in the coming days.

Collection is only the first stage. As we gather these materials and reach out to religious communities, we will also begin work on interpreting the experiences of American religion during this time. The questions listed above only scratch the surface of what can be learned about American religion during this time. Working with CSR&AC, we will be exploring how best to organize this interpretative effort.

This project stands in a long line of digital history projects aimed at collecting and preserving materials for the use of future historians. RRCHNM pioneered some of these early efforts with the September 11 Digital Archive and the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank. Other institions have often followed this playbook. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, some notable collecting projects have included A Journal of the Plague Year: An Archive of COVID-19 from Arizona State University, COVID-19 Memories from the Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, and many more local projects, such as the COVID-19 MKE: A Milwaukee Coronavirus Digital Archive project from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. Pandemic Religion is RRCHNM’s effort to help preserve the past about an area of study in which we specialize, and by doing so to give back to the scholarly and local communities of which we are a part.

We invite anyone who is interested in the project to make a contribution, or to offer suggestions and raise questions. You can contact John Turner (the project director) and Lincoln Mullen (the project co-director) via email at pandemicreligion@gmail.com.