Weekend Roundup for Independence Day


In Philadelphia, the history doesn’t end over at Independence Hall — and many Jewish organizations are getting into the festivities.  


In a year of competitive presidential elections, blockbuster movie sequels and the Hamilton phenomenon, America has a lot to look back on over its 240 years.

In Philadelphia, the history doesn’t end over at Independence Hall — and many Jewish organizations are getting into the festivities.  

For Independence Day this year, several museums and exhibits will showcase their own Fourth of July history alongside that of the Jewish community.

Starting June 27, museums are providing free admission in honor of the holiday. On June 30, the National Constitution Center will give its patrons a free day, which includes Freedom Rising, a live 17-minute theatrical performance, the “Story of We the People” exhibit, and Signers’ Hall.

The African American Museum will have free admission July 1, followed by another free opportunity at the NCC on July 2, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation July 3, and the National Museum of Jewish American History on the Fourth.

Although normally closed on Mondays, the NMAJH will stay open for this special holiday.

The museum features an original letter by George Wash-ington to the Jewish community of Newport, R.I., as well as other interactive tours, story times and Independence Day arts and crafts projects for children.

Down the road from Independence Mall, the Old City Jewish Art Center will be debuting its “American Dreams” exhibit July 1 through the rest of the month.

The pieces are interpretations of the subject by ARTsisters, a group of female artists — some of whom are Jewish — which also intersect with the upcoming Democratic National Convention from July 25 to 28.

An artists’ reception will be held July 1 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Over in Stone Harbor, N.J., Peter Max will return to Ocean Galleries from July 1 to 4.

The Jewish artist and pop culture icon will be showcasing his newest pieces and a collection of his most popular work over his five-decade career.

The free weekend event, “Peter Max Celebrates America the Beautiful,” will have art available for acquisition, and guests will have the opportunity to meet the artist and get pieces signed on July 2 from 7 to 10 p.m. and July 3 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Kim Miller, owner of Ocean Galleries, said Max has been coming back to Stone Harbor every other year for the past 15 years.

The event will be full of excitement, she said, from the loud rock and roll music to his colorful art, and, of course, Max actually being there creates a big stir.

“It just brings back a lot of the past; a lot of the ’60s, a lot of bell-bottoms and Beatles, that type of thing that a lot of people, at least my generation, can relate to,” she said. “It just hits heartstrings. He’s the most famous living pop artist, so people do flock to see him.”

Visitors definitely appreciate his attendance as well for “just being the person that he is.”

“[He’s] being forthright with who he is,” she said. “Overall, he stays true to himself and people respect that.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without fireworks, and Philadelphia has several opportunities to see the sky light up.

The Wawa Welcome America Party on the Parkway is the best place to celebrate America’s birthday. From noon to 10 p.m., the free concert will feature R&B artist Leon Bridges and two Philadelphia natives, Hamilton’s Tony Award-winning Leslie Odom Jr. and Yazz The Greatest (Bryshere Gray) from Empire.

If you want to get a head start on your Fourth of July festivities, the Philadelphia Orchestra will give a free performance July 1 at 8 p.m. at Penn’s Landing, followed by fireworks.

And on July 2, the U.S. Army Band also will give a performance at Penn’s Landing starting at 8 p.m.

So however you celebrate your Fourth of July, remember to be grateful for all these holiday opportunities and that we’re not in the European Union.

Contact: rkurland@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0737


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