return to Home page  The Story of the Yizkor Plaque in the Auditorium
of the Maltz Performing Arts Center

Did you know there was a Zionist Pavilion in the 1939 Worlds Fair?

The New York World's Fair, which opened in 1939 and closed in October 1940, had a Jewish Palestine Pavilion. The exhibit, whose presence had been opposed by many, told the Zionist story to four million visitors. It was nearly a decade before the State of Israel was recognized by the world.

In 1941 a precious remnant of that exhibit was installed in the Silver Sanctuary of The Temple - Tifereth Israel in University Circle. It remains there today, now part of the auditorium of the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center of Case Western Reserve University.

It is very appropriate for it to be there in the place where Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver preached, for it was Silver who led the mobilization of American and world support for the founding of the State of Israel.


Walk through the lobby of the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center of Case Western Reserve University and enter the auditorium. Then look to your right. On the wall in the back (southeast) corner of the room you will see a basalt plaque with the Hebrew word "Yizkor" (Remember) above the words IN MEMORIAM. 

Below this plaque was once the memorial book in which Temple members would have inscribed the names of deceased family members. The book, enclosed in a glass case for protection, would be open to the page for the current day. At services each week the names of those who had died that week in past years ("yahrzeits") would be read.

The Memorial Book is now at The Temple - Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, but the plaque remains. It is embedded in the wall of the sanctuary and could not be moved safely.

The plaque with its Eternal Light had been crafted in Israel and had been on display in the Jewish Palestine Pavilion in the 1939 - 1940 World's Fair in New York.

Minnie Klausner, mother of Temple member Nathan Klausner, a manufacturer and Zionist leader, died in June 1940. The Worlds Fair closed on October 27, 1940. Nathan obtained the plaque and donated it in memory of his mother. Nathan Klausner died in 1945.

The dedication under the Yizkor plaque reads as follows:

1864 - 1940

Looking for more on the plaque at the Worlds Fair  

Fortunately the 144 page souvenir book has been preserved online. We show at the right the cover of the souvenir book.

Two parts of the souvenir book are shown below. First is the artist's rendition of the entrance where, also at the right of the entrance, the Yizkor plaque would have hung. Second is the book's text which tells of a Hebrew inscription (Yizkor) and an Eternal Light, but there is no picture of the Yizkor plaque. The last image is a photo taken at the opening of the Jewish Palestine Pavilion. We see the Hechalutz Zionist youth dance troupe and behind them the first visitors to the Pavilion. Unfortunately the photo does not show the wall with our Yizkor plaque.

How did Nathan Klausner learn that the Yizkor plaque was available? When was it installed? We worked with many Klausner family members when developing this site's section on the family of Sam and Minnie Klausner. Perhaps one of Nathan's descendants can tell us.

Arnold Berger, editor



Below: the Memorial Plaque as visitors saw it

In May 2001 Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, a scholar of Yiddish and Jewish studies, posted a page about the Jewish Palestine Pavilion on the New York University website. Somehow the page survived and at last we can show an image of the Yizkor Memorial Plaque as visitors would have seen it in 1939 and 1940.


When was the plaque installed?

The October 19, 1941 issue of The TEMPLE BULLETIN in its GIFTS and BEQUESTS column mentioned the gift of the Memorial Plaque in what it called "the Memory Corner". As the Bulletin did not publish in the summer months, we assume that the plaque was installed some time during the summer of 1941.


To learn more, visit these pages:

Thanks to Jordan Davis (Maltz Performing Arts Center), to Nate Arnold (leader of tours of old Jewish Cleveland), to Lanny Yelsky (Maltz Museum docent) for the photo of the Yizkor memorial plaque and to Professor Kirshenblatt-Gimblett for not taking down her page on the pavilion.
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