New York, NY (August 17, 2023)
Unleashing its superpowers, the Center for Jewish History (CJH) opens its new exhibition, JewCE! The Museum and Laboratory of the Jewish Comics Experience, on October 9, 2023. Presented in conjunction with JewCE: The Jewish Comics Experience, a Jewish comic book convention, that takes place on Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12, 2023, the exhibition is a thrilling journey through the vibrant world of Jewish comics, showcasing the powerful fusion of Jewish culture, history, and artistic expression.
JewCE! The Museum and Laboratory of the Jewish Comics Experience brings together an impressive collection of original artworks, historical artifacts, and interactive installations celebrating the rich tapestry of Jewish narratives depicted through the lens of comics and graphic storytelling.
“This initiative is meant to capture a historic moment in Jewish comics,” said Dr. Miriam Mora, Director of Academic and Public Programs at CJH and Co-Creator of JewCE. “The recognition of the Jewish roots of comics and the entry of Jewish diversity into comics and popular culture have tremendous potential to increase awareness and understanding of Jewish life, and there is no greater antidote to antisemitism and fear of the ‘other’ than education and understanding.”
The dynamic exhibition features the works of renowned Jewish comic writers and artists across the generations, illustrating the evolution of Jewish themes in comics over time. From classic newspaper comic strips to contemporary graphic novels, visitors can explore the evolution of Jewish representation in this popular art form. Highlights include original Captain America artwork by co-creator Joe Simon, the rare 1933 “Reign of the Superman” story by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and the comics of Holocaust survivor Lily Renée, one of the earliest women in the comic book industry.
JewCE! The Museum and Laboratory of the Jewish Comics Experience comprises five micro-exhibits from the CJH Partner organizations, with themes like the Jewish origins of the comic book industry and the Jewish response to fascism in comics. It runs through December 2023 in the Rosenberg and Winnick Galleries.
The exhibition aims to engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds, providing an immersive experience that connects visitors with Jewish history, culture, and identity, as well as comic book lore, in a new and exciting way.
“Superheroes are a Jewish invention. Comic books are a Jewish invention,” said Roy Schwartz, a CNN pop culture historian and critic, author of Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero, and co-curator at the exhibition. “They’re the biggest thing in showbiz today, but their historical origins and their themes are rooted in Jewish culture. It’s a fascinating story, every bit as colorful and exciting as the comics and movies. I’m thrilled visitors will get to experience it, including never-before-seen artifacts, images, and art.”
JewCE: The Jewish Comics Experience is an all-encompassing full-day event that celebrates the Jewishness of comics and graphic narratives, highlighting the diversity of Jewish stories, characters, and creators. JewCE is designed to be an inclusive and vibrant gathering, welcoming to all fans and creators.
The convention includes multimedia exhibits, family-friendly activities, panel discussions and workshops by a who’s who of comics creators and scholars, a large Artist Alley, an exhibit hall filled with vendors offering comics, graphic novels, and merchandise inspired by Jewish culture, an array of kosher food trucks, and lots more.
Guests can also attend a special preview night on Saturday, November 11 after sundown, featuring an exclusive look at the convention and the inaugural JewCie Awards ceremony. The JewCie Awards honor outstanding achievements in Jewish comics, celebrating the best creators, stories, and artworks in the industry.
“The history of the comics industry is a largely Jewish story, one which should be recognized as part of the industry itself, but which should also be celebrated as a part of Jewish literary history,” said Dr. Mora.
JewCE! The Museum and Laboratory of the Jewish Comics Experience is made possible with generous support from the Jesselson Family and Marty Peretz.
About the Center for Jewish History
The Center is the collaborative home of five in-house Partner organizations (American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research) whose collections comprise over five miles of archival documents in dozens of languages and alphabet systems, over 500,000 volumes of books, 9.1 million digital items, and thousands of artworks, objects, textiles, and recordings. Significant scholarship is regularly published using these materials, including award-winning studies that would have been impossible to write without access to them. The Center opens the collections to the public and democratizes access to them through exhibits, events, fellowships, and a host of free public archive and library services—including the archival preservation efforts of its laboratories.