During the summer of 2009, the public voted online for eighteen individuals to be included in the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame. This website includes brief biographies of the 218 candidates for the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame included in the 2009 public ballot. Nearly 210,000 votes were cast from 56 countries through the Museum's Only in America® website. The Museum selected the person who received the most votes in each of eight categories for inclusion in the gallery. In addition to the public's recommendations, the Museum's historians and curators selected 10 individuals for inclusion, working to ensure that the inductees reflected the full spectrum of Jews' 350 years of life in the United States, the important achievements of American Jewish women and men, and the diverse fields in which Jews have been involved.
The first inductees are: Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Mordecai Kaplan, Sandy Koufax, Estée Lauder, Emma Lazarus, Isaac Leeser, Golda Meir, Jonas Salk, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Rose Schneiderman, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Henrietta Szold, and Isaac Mayer Wise.
Through the lives of real people—some well known, others less so—the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame weaves compelling stories from the past and present with the larger themes of the Museum's core exhibition. The extraordinary individuals featured in the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame illustrate that a hallmark of the American Jewish experience has been an unparalleled opportunity to aspire, achieve and possibly change the world. The Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame is an innovative combination of multimedia, original artifacts and interactive experiences.
Located on the first floor of the Museum, the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame illustrates the choices, challenges and opportunities eighteen Jewish Americans encountered on their path to remarkable achievement. Admission to the Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame is free any day that the Museum is open to the public! And, visitors to the Museum can continue to cast votes for future inductees at interactive touchscreens in the gallery, an ever-growing database that now includes over 300 individuals.
The Jewish Exponent and the JTA are media partners for the Only in America® project