he new Albuquerque
Jewish Community Center was the setting for the NMJHS' Annual
Archive Reception on May 10th. The highlight this year was a
stimulating discussion on "New Mexico Jewish Artists and
Writers -or- New Mexico Artists and Writers Who are Jewish."
The panel was moderated by Stuart Ashman,
former director of the New Mexico Fine Arts Museum and current
head of the new Santa Fe Museum of Spanish Colonial Art. Ashman,
who grew up in Cuba, charmed the audience with his amusing and
insightful introductions of the participants.
The panelists were internationally known feminist
writer and activist, Margaret Randall, New Mexico Fine Arts Museum
Contemporary Art, Aline Brandauer, artist
and Santa Fe notable, Jo Basiste/Eli Levin, and historian Henry
Tobias. Their backgrounds and individual stories were as fascinating
as the participants themselves.
Randall read moving passages from "Coming
Up for Air," her latest book of memoirs, poetry, essays
and photographs. Tobias, author of the classic "The History
of the Jews of New Mexico," and co-author of the new "Santa
Fe: A Modern History, 1880-1990," gave an historical overview.
Basiste/Levin gave a lively description of the Santa Fe art
scene drawing on his many years of experience and Aline Brandauer
offered intriguing insights from both her personal and professional
The fascinating discussion ranged from the
belief that Jewishness is only apparent when it's
consciously invoked to the idea that it subconsciously
infuses everything the artist/writer creates. During the question
and answer session, members of the audience furthered the dialogue
with their own reminiscences and excellent queries.
The afternoon event, that was free and open
to the public, began at noon with a delicious buffet luncheon.
There was time to socialize while looking over the many books
on display and for sale. Margaret Randall had graciously donated
five of her books to the NMJHS. Also on display and for sale
were beautiful artworks by Ira Moskowitz on Jewish and southwestern
themes. Richard Lampert of Zaplin-Lampert Gallery, Santa Fe,
generously donated 25 percent of all sales to the NMJHS.
Heartfelt appreciation to Shirley Jacobson
for expertly coordinating the entire event.
he NMJHS presented
the Fourth Annual Dr. Allan Hurst Award to Melanie LaBorwit,
Director of the Las Vegas City Museum, as its Annual Meeting
on June 10. The award, named for one of the Society's founders,
was established in 1998 to recognize the efforts of individuals
who contribute significantly to New Mexico Jewish history and
Since her arrival in New Mexico five years
ago, Melanie LaBorwit has worked tirelessly to preserve the history
of the Jews of Las Vegas, which was once the largest and most
active Jewish community in New Mexico.
In addition to her efforts to collect documentation
and cultural materials for the City Museum, she also gathered
objects to be considered for inclusion in the Museum of New Mexico's
exhibit, "Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico," which opened
last year. Moreover, she has researched and prepared presentations
on the history of the Jews of Las Vegas and New Mexico.
She has played a pivotal role in the re-formation
of the Jewish community of Las Vegas organizing observance of
Jewish holidays, and leading religious services. Thanks largely
to her efforts, Shabbat services are held on a regular basis,
once a month, at the old Congregation Montefiore synagogue, on
the corner of Eighth and Columbia. In
addition, she has been active in the Congregation
Montefiore Cemetery Association. Melanie served as Chair of the
New Mexico Jewish Historical Society's 2000 Annual Conference,
where she presented a paper.
is currently Director of the Las Vegas City
Museum, in Las Vegas, NM. She holds a Masters degree in Folklore
from Indiana University, and has successfully completed all coursework
and examinations toward her Ph.D. from the same institution.
Prior to her tenure at the Las Vegas City Museum, she performed
museum work in South Dakota, worked at the Smithsonian Institute
in Washington, DC and taught at the University of Maryland.