A cup and a chair will tell a profound story at the Philly Jewish museum

Police stage in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. A man held hostages for more than 10 hours Saturday inside the temple. The hostages were able to escape and the hostage taker was killed. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Police stage in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. A man held hostages for more than 10 hours Saturday inside the temple. The hostages were able to escape and the hostage taker was killed. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia is getting ready to re-open after more than two years closed.

The museum will include new material reflecting the last two years of American life during the pandemic.

In particular, a teacup and a chair.

In January, a stranger entered the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, where out of hospitality they offered him a cup of tea. That stranger turned out to be a gunman, who took four people hostage for more than 10 hours and demanded the release of a federal prisoner.

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Ultimately, the synagogue’s rabbi hurled a chair at the man to distract him as the hostages fled to safety out the back door. The man was then shot dead by police.

The Jewish museum sought those objects to include them in its permanent exhibition.

“As a national museum, it is our job to raise consciousness and raise alarm when these types of violent events are happening to Jews, and to many communities around the country,” said curator Josh Perelman.

Perelman says the items tell more than just the story of the standoff.

The teacup and chair that were involved in the hostage situation at the Texas synagogue in January are now at the Weitzman Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of the Weitzman Museum of American Jewish History)

“A teacup as a symbol of hospitality, which is an endemic Jewish value dating back to biblical times,” he said. “The chair a symbol of liberation, which is part of the ongoing Jewish story. The flight from places where one may be in danger and the seeking of refuge in new homelands, new communities; in this particular case: refuge from an attacker.”

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The museum has been closed for two years due to both the pandemic and bankruptcy reorganization. It plans to open later this spring.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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