Just weeks into her new job as director of the Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Archives for Southern Jewish History at The William Breman Museum, Casey Fishman acknowledges that she still has a lot to learn.
“I’m in the beginning stages of learning myself, so I can’t make any assessments,” Fishman said of her tenure at the Breman, which is considered the largest repository for Jewish history in the region. The archives, which contain manuscripts, photographs and unique objects from the Southeast, provide a particularly focused look at the history of Atlanta’s Jewish community. For Fishman, that’s important.
The Florida native moved to Atlanta with her husband, Emory University chaplain Rabbi Jordan Braunig, and their three children in September 2020, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic. She spent much of that first year helping her children “attend” school virtually.
Prior to the move, Fishman was an art therapist who also did archival work at The Jewish Museum in New York, Boston’s Carter School and the Archives of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
“We are excited to have Casey join The Breman at a key time in our evolution and growth, as we embark on our next 25 years,” said Breman Executive Director Leslie Gordon. “Casey brings a fresh approach and seasoned experience along with a desire to help move the archives at The Breman into a bright future.” Gordon joined the Breman in 2019, after serving as the director of the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University since 2003.
Fishman pointed out that the museum world is still emerging from the pandemic. “People are starting to come back. We’ve had some groups, including from schools and some virtual tours.” During the past year, she said, the Breman staff “worked to digitize the collection to make it more accessible online. We want to continue to make it even more accessible to researchers, authors, scholars and people wanting to know family histories.”
Fishman said that many people used the isolation of the pandemic to research their own family histories. Genealogy became a passion, as did DNA testing. Some used the Cuba Archives to learn about their own families, while others researched former owners of their Atlanta homes.
The museum’s website states that individuals can “explore thousands of manuscript and photograph collections, and hundreds of artifacts, textiles and oral histories” within their archives, which were named after a Georgia couple, Joseph Cuba — a native Atlantan — and Ida Pearle Miller Cuba, a native of Cordele.
Fishman, who studied art history at Columbia University, Jewish art and literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary and art therapy at Lesley University, said her interest in archives is punctuated by the realization that “objects — both sacred and mundane — have a way of telling a story” about the Jewish people and the wider societies in which they live. Objects and stories “tell who we were and who we are now. I believe that opening doors to a deeper understanding of the nuance and texture of the Jewish story is a benefit not just to the Jewish community, but to the wider world,” she said.
“I’m excited to delve into the history of the community. The work of The Breman Museum, connecting the public to Jewish history, art and culture, is a mission that is very dear to my heart.”
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- Breman Museum
- Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Archives for Southern Jewish History
- Casey Fishman
- jewish history
- Emory University
- chaplain Rabbi Jordan Braunig
- The Jewish Museum
- Carter School
- Archives of the Jewish Theological Seminary
- Leslie Gordon
- rialto center for the arts
- Georgia state university
- DNA testing