How to organise Open Jewish Homes?
Begin to set up a work group with other private individuals and/or local organisations in your place of residence. Subsequently map out, with the work group, as much information as possible about Jewish families in your town or village. How many residents were there, where did they live? What is known about them? Who could tell more about these families? If you know where they lived, you can contact the present residents. Sometimes, they are already exploring the history of their house and the former Jewish residents. "When I rang the doorbell of a ‘Jewish house’ for the first time, I found it difficult”, says Natasja de Boo of the work group for Haarlem: "(...) but I soon noticed that people are usually open to this way of commemorating and that they often know some details about the history of their house already."
What does a work group do?
A work group makes an inventory and makes contacts (see above). As soon as it is clear which addresses will participate in the event on 4 and/or 5 May, and the substantive programme has been established with the participants, the work group sets up an Open Jewish Homes programme. The organisation involves some practical matters as well, such as setting up a schedule, taking care of public relations and printing, fundraising and approaching of volunteers for the support of the location holders during the Open Jewish Homes day(s).
In downloads you will find among other things a manual, tips and sample letters that can be used in organising Open Jewish Homes.
The substantive programme
The first designees to tell the story of the Jewish residents on location during Open Jewish Homes are the witnesses thereof or their descendants. But also collectors of stories, such as (amateur) historians, can be suitable storytellers. In the Manual in downloads we give some tips for finding storytellers. If you are the ‘location holder’, you can also choose to make your search into the Jewish history of your house the subject of the story and talk about that.
In addition to the stories, music, reading of letters or poems or fragments from books and other expressions may be appropriate for the atmosphere of commemoration and the story of the house. Not only residential properties, but also other places that played an important role in the Jewish life can serve as location for the commemoration. Think for instance of (former) libraries, (book) shops, schools, synagogues and hospitals.
The Jewish Historical Museum likes to be kept informed. Let us know that Open Jewish Homes is also being organised in your place of residence. And do not hesitate to contact the Jewish Historical Museum when you have any questions.