By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The National Museum of American Jewish History, on Independence Mall, today marked Martin Luther King Day in several ways.

The museum, usually closed on Mondays, was bustling today with a crowd taking advantage of free admission in honor of Martin Luther King Day.

Museum president Michael Rosenzweig says visitors today are paying special attention to civil rights parallels.

“One thing they’ll see, of course, is the partnership between the Jewish and African-American communities during the civil rights struggle.  It’s well known that the American Jewish community played a very important role in that,” Rosenzweig tells KYW Newsradio.  “It’s one that American Jews are very proud of having played.”

Rosenzweig says a pamphlet given to guests today highlighted areas of Jewish contributions to 20th Century civil rights, but other exhibits predated that.

“We have a piece of legislation, for example, from the State of Maryland in 1819 that repealed the prohibition in that state — and one that many states had at the time — against non-Christians holding public office,” he said.

(Tyler Weiss shows his painting. Credit: John Ostapkovich)

Little kids, including seven-year-old Tyler Weiss (right), took part in a Fleisher Art Memorial watercolor project on the meaning of freedom.  Tyler describes it as “a guy walking out of his house and he’s holding the American flag.”

Tyler was a little vague, though, on how Dr. King fit in to all that.  Still, his mom, Joanne Weiss, was pleased.

“I wanted my seven-year-old to learn about what Martin Luther King represents, and we’re very fortunate they offered some family activities at the Jewish History Museum,” she said.

Top Content On CBSPhilly