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The Milkhik State: The Surprising Jewish History of Wisconsin

  • Jewish Community Library 1835 Ellis Street San Francisco, CA 94115 (map)

Free admission with free garage parking on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy streets.

Jews have lived in Wisconsin almost continuously since 1793, when Jacob Frank established a fur-trading outpost in Green Bay. Wisconsin’s Jewish population peaked at more than 39,000 preceding World War II before dropping to approximately 26,000 today.

Still, Wisconsin Jewry has contributed much to the world: an Israeli prime minister, the world’s greatest escape artist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, elected officials (including two U.S. senators), an All-Star baseball outfielder, artists, activists, farmers, rabbis, and an honorary Winnebago tribal chief. Wisconsin also is a national center for Jewish summer camps and home to two university Jewish studies departments. In this illustrated presentation, Andrew Muchin will detail Wisconsin Jewry’s remarkable individual, family, and community histories.

Hyman and Ben Pittelman on their family farm in Arpin, Wisconsin (1909). Courtesy of American Jewish Historical Quarterly, September 1964.

Hyman and Ben Pittelman on their family farm in Arpin, Wisconsin (1909). Courtesy of American Jewish Historical Quarterly, September 1964.

Andrew Muchin is program coordinator at the Jewish Community Library and host of the Sounds Jewish syndicated weekly radio show airing on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. From 2003-2010, he was director of the Wisconsin Small Jewish Communities History Project, a non-profit research effort. He has written about Jewish life for the Forward, Moment magazine, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, J Weekly, and other publications. He wrote the Wisconsin entry for the Encyclopaedia Judaica, Second Edition (2007).

Co-presented by KlezCalifornia, Lehrhaus Judaica, and the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.