Schafer to continue to ‘push boundaries’ at Maltz Museum – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on July 25, 2017

For David Schafer, the new managing director of the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood, a good exhibit explores a component of the past that causes visitors to think about and discuss its relevance to present day and the future.

He pointed to the recent This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Era, exhibit, which showcased African-Americans fighting for voting and civil rights in the 1960s an example of a historical happening which connects to the present at a time when voting rights are still inaccessible for many.

Each and every day, the museum educates visitors about the past, informs them how it has shaped the present and inspires them to be part of a hopeful future, Schafer said.

Schafer took over in the top-level role at the museum about a month ago a position that was newly created after former Executive Director Ellen Rudolph resigned. Schafer was previously director of development since 2010.

I have incredible colleagues, an incredible board of trustees, and I sometimes pinch myself with realization that I walk through the door everyday in a community thats extraordinary, he said.

Schafer is a graduate of the College of Wooster in Wooster. He then worked for the city of Portland, Ore., for a couple of years and then lived in Israel for two years, after extending a trip that was supposed to last only a couple months.

That kindled the spirit of wanting to connect and work in the Jewish community, said Schafer, a Mayfield Heights resident and member of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike.

Prior to coming to the museum, Schafer was executive director for 11 years for the Development Corp. of Israel/Israel Bonds and was responsible for operations and campaign results conducted in Ohio and Kentucky.

Schafer said in his new position, he hopes to continue to push boundaries, and for the museum to increase its prominence as a Cleveland cultural institution for tourists and residents to visit and have conversations of consequence. He noted an exhibit that is being developed to immerse people to understand the state of Israel and its people, beyond the politicized lens in which everyone views the state. It will open in June 2018.

Diaspora and the general public likes to package things in black and white terms we will present Israel through an honest and scholarly lens while celebrating the many achievements of a still young and vibrant nation, Schafer said. The takeaway will hopefully be people leave the exhibit with a lot of questions, wanting to seek additional information, and a small goal is some people actually buy a plane ticket to go to Israel.

Schafer and the museums staff also are working toward an upcoming fall exhibit Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, that delves into Cleveland-centric figures and developments that fit into a larger story about Jews in medical history.

Moreover, Schafer discussed the museums emphasis on telling a Jewish story within a lens of tolerance, diversity and the greater American story. He said Maltz exhibits and programs seek to discuss adversity felt by anyone including Jews who has ever been an outsider.

Through our exhibitions we are bringing to light peoples biases, conscious and unconscious, he said.

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Schafer to continue to 'push boundaries' at Maltz Museum - Cleveland Jewish News

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