The Iowa Jewish Historical Society Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary with Gift of $1 Million from Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan in Memory of her Mother, Melva Bucksbaum

On September 18, people from a three-state region enjoyed an elegant dinner and a thought-provoking, inspirational speech by Rabbi Barry Cytron to celebrate the Iowa Jewish Historical Society’s 20th anniversary.

Rabbi Cytron, who served as the congregational rabbi at Tifereth Israel from 1972-1983, spoke on the importance of preserving the nearly 200 year-old history of Iowa Jewry. He personalized the meaning of that history through people he knew whose stories are preserved in the museum—Irvin, Phyllis, and Celina Karp, who survived the Holocaust by being placed on Schindler’s list and came to Iowa “for a better tomorrow,” David Belin, a member of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy, and many more.

Capping the evening off was the announcement of a gift of $1 million made by Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan in memory of her mother, Melva Bucksbaum.

Mary has long been a major supporter of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society and the Federation, having previously given the funds to create and endow the Martin Bucksbaum Arts Wing.

In making the gift, Mary said: “I made this gift in memory of my mom to honor her love of Des Moines and all of her wonderful friends who are part of this Jewish community. No matter where she was, this was always the place she considered her home. This gift will help preserve the history of Des Moines and the statewide Jewish community that she loved.”

In recognition of Mary’s extraordinary gift, the Martin Bucksbaum Arts Wing is being renamed the Melva and Martin Bucksbaum Arts Wing.

Mary’s gift was made to kick off a year-long $1.5 million fund drive to ensure that the Historical Society has a solid base for ongoing preservation and education projects as well as special projects that the board and staff identify in the coming years.

Co-President Robbie Winick expressed the Historical Society’s appreciation for Mary’s generosity:

All of us on the board of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society and everyone who enjoys visiting the museum and participating in its programs are so thankful to Mary for this gift. She has helped us kick off our $1.5 million fundraising campaign that will secure the future of IJHS and enable us to connect with new audiences, provide even better care of the treasures in our collection, and preserve the history of the Jewish people in Iowa for future generations.

The interest from Mary’s gift will help with annual projects and staffing. We must raise the additional $500,000 to complete the special projects that will enable us to create exciting new exhibits, build specialized storage areas for our collections, record new oral histories of our statewide Jewish community, and so much more.

The IJHS is very grateful to everyone who attended this event or supported it financially and Rabbi Cytron, the IJHS Board and staff, the Federation staff, and Susan Madorsky, all of whom worked so hard to make this event such a success.

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As we celebrate nearly 200 years of Jewish life in Iowa, your support of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society can make a very real difference. Without your help and financial support, the stories of Jewish life in Iowa and the documents and artifacts that we preserve could be lost to future generations. Your tax-deductible membership enables us to continue this important work. Members are crucial to the Iowa Jewish Historical Society’s success.

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