First suggested by the Jewish War Veterans (JWV) Association, NMAJMH's creation was part of the organization’s move to Washington, DC, from New York.
The Museum opened in 1954 at the JWV’s new building on New Hampshire Avenue. At that time, it was known as the National Shrine to the Jewish War Dead, and it was mostly a repository for documents and memorabilia. Four years later, the Shrine became a full-fledged museum when it was granted a Congressional charter. In 1983, the museum and the JWV moved to their current location on R Street (NW), a dignified brick edifice that houses two floors of permanent and special exhibit space.
NMAJMH does more than just house and display Jewish military memorabilia, it is also an excellent research resource.
Permanent exhibits include displays on known Jewish war heroes, such as Major General Julius Klein, who served in both World Wars. Special exhibits focus on important matters for Jews in the military, tributes to the supporting family members of those in the military and on specific historical figures like Uriah Levy.
In addition to their exhibits, the museum reaches out over the internet to educate people about the role of Jews in the military, to fight anti-Semitism and to advocate for veterans in general. The online undertaking is known as the American Jewish Military Heritage Project.
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