Sands of Time: The Oregon Coast

By Alexa Bryn

Published August 07, 2007, issue of August 10, 2007.
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An Ocean View: Vacations at the Oregon Coast, an exhibit running until September 23 at the Oregon Jewish Museum, transports the viewer to the sun-streaked Oregon shores, where American and Jewish cultures have long converged. Inspired by the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s 2005 installment, “The Other Promised Land: Vacationing, Identity, and the Jewish-American Dream,” the OJM staff decided to explore its own Jewish community’s vacation ethos through more than 200 photographs, artifacts and anecdotes from the beginning of the 20th century until today.

Different beach experiences surface, and together they paint an intimate portrait of communal life in Oregon, where what it means to be Jewish and what it means to be American seem somehow intertwined. As Oregon Jews recount their leisure experiences of years past — bowling, swing dancing and sun tanning, all while trying to keep kosher, participating in B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and attending their small, makeshift synagogue — they also reveal modern Jewish predicaments: the generation gap between immigrant elders and American youth, multiple identities and the balance between the religious and the secular.


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