"You Are There 1950: Making a Jewish Home" brings visitors into a specific historic place and time. But it’s not a frozen moment. Rather, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center’s latest installment in its "You Are There" series — which has included 1945 and 1968 editions — presents a dynamic, interactive opportunity to explore and engage with personal — and, perhaps, universal — family stories.
Indianapolis and Indiana residents generally are part of a mobile society — many of us have come from someplace else, recently or a generation or more ago. The uniqueness of this new exhibit is the circumstance under which the Kaplan family immigrated to Indianapolis. In 1949 Berek and Frania Kaplan and their two young children were part of the international resettlement of displaced persons who had been rescued from Nazi concentration camps.
Before we enter the reconstructed kitchen of their new home on Union Street on Indianapolis’ south side we are able to trace the back story of Berek and Frania’s life in Europe before, during and after the Nazi regime, and to learn about the ways this family of four made a home, found work, developed friendships and set down roots within a year of their arrival. We equally learn about philanthropy in Indianapolis and the role of neighbors who reached out to help the Kaplans learn English and navigate around a new place.
The Indiana Historical Society exhibit team has created an amazingly accurate reproduction of the kitchen from a photo published in the May 5, 1950, issue of Jewish Chronicle. As an example of mid-20th century material culture we recognize some of the icons of family life, particularly the ‘hominess’ of sitting around the kitchen table, the place suffused with the aroma of food cooking. The thoroughness of research and attention to detail earns applause.
A free Indiana Town Hall program on Nov. 10 at the Glick History Center will examine “the idea of social justice from the refugee perspective.”