What does your job involve? Essentially to convey the history of the local Jewish community, and that includes Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, to the broader public through a wide array of exhibitions, tours, lectures and educational programs.
What is important to note about the Jewish community in D.C.?
It is tucked in everywhere around the area. The Jewish community in the Washington area has grown from around 200 people from the beginning of the Civil War to 215,000 today.
What about their impact on the city?
There are a lot of different things. This spring, a lot of our public programs will be focused around the Civil War. Most people don't realize that the Jewish population grew 10 times during the Civil War, from 200 to 2,000.
What caused the population surge?
A large part of it was that some Jews came as soldiers. Others came as civil servants. ... At one point, there were six kosher restaurants in the city. The Jewish community in the Washington area is the sixth-largest in the country.
Why is it so important to highlight Jewish heritage in the Washington area?
It's important to give people a sense of history of the Washington area and its particular groups within it. Many Jewish businesses, for instance, were the go-to stores, such as Hecht's, and smaller mom and pop stores. It gives people a sense of the city's past and the continuity of the metropolitan area.
- Susan Ferrechio