Last week a container arrived at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Inside was the newest piece in the museum's permanent collection, and, in a sense, the newest physical object of Official Jewish History.
Shira Goldstein, the museum's exhibitions coordinator, opened it up and pulled out the poster it held. As far as art goes, the poster wasn't much -- text on a white background. But what it said and where it had been imbued the poster with some greater significance. In bright rainbow letters it proclaimed: MAZEL TOV (to EVERYONE!). Three weeks earlier, on June 26, 2013, it had been outside the U.S. Supreme Court, held up in celebration as the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
That the poster had arrived at the museum at all was a bit of a miracle in itself, a small miracle, facilitated by the formal structure Facebook gives to the social networks we are all a part of.
A colleague of Goldstein's had first noticed the poster in an image on the New York Times's website, part of a gallery the newspaper ran covering the day. "We immediately knew it represented a wonderful Jewish response to the Court's decision and thought it would be a great way to tell the story of this historic moment," Goldstein wrote to me. But how would they find it? Who had the poster?