Past Events

Jewish Centerville at the Turn of the Century
On December 11, 2022, the IJHS hosted Rabbi Mark Sameth virtually to share his new research on Jewish Centerville at the turn of the 20th Century. Rabbi Sameth questions how and why did Jewish immigrants make their way to southern Iowa at the turn of the century. The presentation includes rarely seen photographs and stories of live just before the arrival of the Jews. Rabbi Mark Sameth is the great-grandnephew of one of Iowa’s first rabbis. Named “one of America’s most inspiring rabbis” by The Forward, Rabbi Sameth is an author and his books and essays can be found on his website,

Michael Bornstein & Debbie Bornstein Holinstat Presentations
On September 15 and 16, 2019, the IJHS hosted public events with Michael Bornstein and his daughter Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, authors of the New York Times bestseller Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz. Michael Bornstein is one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz death camp, having been hidden for seven months before being carried out in his grandmother’s arms. In sharing Michael’s story, the presentations connected Iowans to local, national, and international events that still shape our future and help ensure that the personal stories of the Holocaust continue to be heard.

Celina Karp Biniaz, A Schindler Juden, Returns to Des Moines
From September 10-13, 2017, the Iowa Jewish Historical Society had the distinct honor of presenting a series of programs featuring Celina Karp Biniaz, one of the last survivors from Schindler’s List—and the only one to graduate from an Iowa high school and college. Celina captivated students and the general public alike with her story of surviving the Holocaust and her message of hope and forgiveness. Watch Celina’s presentations.

Memories and Melodies of Auschwitz
On April 1, 2009, the “Memories and Melodies of Auschwitz” event at Tifereth Israel Synagogue featured Celina Karp Biniaz, one of the last living survivors from Schindler’s List, and Alex Biniaz-Harris and Ambrose Soehn, pianists and composers of Melodies of Auschwitz.

A Taste of Jewish Cooking
With the publication of our cookbook in 2015, Beyond Matzo Balls: Celebrating 100 Years of Jewish Cooking, we launched the Food in Jewish Life exhibit and held a sold-out event, A Taste of Jewish Cooking. The evening featured recipes from the book and preceded a Windsor Heights “Music in the Park” concert by the Java Jews playing Klezmer music.

Dr. Emile Schrijver
On Sunday, December 3, 2018, Dr. Emile Schrijver, General Director of the Jewish Historical Museum and the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam as well Professor of the “History of Jewish Cultural Heritage, in particular of the Jewish Book” at the University of Amsterdam, presented a program on Amsterdam’s Jewish Golden Age.  

Dr. Schrijver is an expert of Jewish cultural history and Jewish book history who has published and lectured extensively in Europe, Israel and North and South America.  He is the executive editor of an Encyclopedia of Jewish Book Cultures, which is scheduled to be published in 2020 and serves on boards and advisory committees of numerous Jewish cultural organizations in- and outside the Netherlands. 

The Jewish Cultural Quarter also includes the Children’s Museum, the Portuguese Synagogue, the Holocaust memorial site Hollandsche Schouwburg and the National Holocaust Museum, which is in development.