Weekly Report 1.15.10
While the Big Chill was coming down on us this week, things at the Museum were heating up, especially with regard to preparations for our 50th Anniversary year. The steering committee and staff working on Purim Pandemonium (27 February, right after megillah reading) are moving along; plans for the re-dedication of Lloyd Street Synagogue and the opening of The Synagogue Speaks exhibition are gelling; and we are pushing ahead with two new initiatives, Stories We Live By (Video Interviews) and Telling Time (Oral Histories). Stay tuned for more news of our 50th. Meanwhile, here are some other highlights of the week:
HONORS: Carolyn Schorr of Mount de Sales Academy, a 2009 graduate Lessons of the Shoah, the Blaustein-funded, high school interfaith program, sponsored by The Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Baltimore Jewish Council, has applied for a Spirit of Anne Frank scholarship for her efforts in standing up against intolerance. Carolyn was a leader in the class’s team project, Shoes for Darfur, resulting in 125 pairs of new athletic shoes for refugees in Darfur. This year, Carolyn has organized a fundraiser to benefit children in war-torn Uganda through “Invisible Children.” Carolyn will speak to the current class at an upcoming session with suggestions for their team project. Lessons of the Shoah is managed by Deborah Cardin and Jeanette Parmigiani.
OUTREACH: On Thursday, Jobi Zink, Jennifer Vess, and intern Abby Lyons de-installed the Museum’s Hanukkah exhibition at City Hall. This festival display was seen by hundreds of visitors during the past month.
The JMM Speakers Bureau, sponsored by Attman’s Delicatessen, provided four presentations during the past several weeks. On Wednesday 6 January and Sunday 10 January, actress Katherine Lyons portrayed Ida Rehr, in a Leo V. Berger Immigrant’s Trunk presentation, to rave reviews from both the Hadassah Organization of Greater Baltimore and residents of the North Oaks Retirement Community. On Saturday 9 January, Deb Weiner, JMM Research Historian, was featured at Shabbat Services at the Beth Israel Congregation in Owings Mills, where she presented on “Baltimore Jewish Women Building a Vibrant Jewish Community.” More than 200 receptive congregants enjoyed her presentation. On Sunday 10 January, Barry Lever spoke on the Baltimore Ship Exodus 1947 and its Role in the Establishment of the State of Israel, at a meeting of a Baltimore chavurah.
ORGANIZATIONAL REVIEW: The Museum is wrapping up a review of its administrative, business, HR, IT, and other non-programmatic functions in response to an Associated initiative. This self-study offers the Museum a unique opportunity to examine all of our policies and practices and to refine or upgrade any that merit attention. We are very grateful to the Associated and to Trustees David Liebman, Barry Isaac, Jeff Dreifuss, and Nancy Sherman, and to Anita Kassof, Susan Press, and the many staff who contributed to our initial draft report.
SPECIAL GUESTS: On Wednesday, 13 students with the Elijah Cummings Youth Program attended a presentation by Holocaust survivor Livia Shacter, introduced by Martha Weiman. The event was co-sponsored by the Baltimore Jewish Council. On Thursday, 34 4th graders, teachers, and parents from Garrison Forest watched the Leo V. Berger Immigrant’s Trunk: Ida Rehr presented as part of a day-long history program focusing on women. They also visited other historic sites in Baltimore.
COLLECTIONS: This week Archivist Jennifer Vess put the last few touches on the Dr. Herman Seidel Papers (MS 13) which were processed by volunteer Myrna Seigel. Jennifer also wrote the first draft of a finding aid for our newest manuscript collection, MS 181, the Chesapeake Region of Women’s American ORT (WA) Publicity Papers, which should be completed next week. One of our researchers this week was Melissa Martens, our former curator, now on the staff of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.
SECURITY: During recent months, the Museum has completed installation of several new security measures. Jobi Zink, our security czar, has managed the installation of remote controls for the gate at our staff lot and a number of internal security barriers internally. These measures, funded by Homeland Security, are intended to protect the Museum, our employees, volunteers, visitors, and our irreplaceable collections. This has been a very challenging initiative, and we thank everyone involved for their patience and Jobi for her excellent leadership.
STAFF ACTIVITIES: Barry Lever hosted members of the Manekin family on a VIP visit to the Museum. Jobi Zink conferred with Paul Smith of the American Folk Art Museum about open storage for collections. Susan Press and Sue Foard participated in The Write Way to Communicate – Accurately and Efficiently workshop held at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg JCC on 7 January, presented by The Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development at the Weinberg Center. Anita Kassof chaired an Executive Committee meeting of Historic Jonestown.
Karen Falk is working through the nuts and bolts of exhibition development – object checklists, framing estimates, loan agreements, and more – for our spring exhibit, Nancy Patz: Her Inward Eye. Deborah Cardin, Jeanette Parmigiani, and Ilene Dackman-Alon met with Sara Glick to discuss possible future bookmaking workshops in conjunction with upcoming teacher training workshops and family programs. Deb Weiner, Rachel Kassman, and I conferred about the 2009-2010 issue of Generations magazine and commissioned several articles this week. Anita Kassof and other staff members began work on the spring issue of Museum Matters.
Deborah Cardin and Jeanette Parmigiani attended the Association of Holocaust Organizations Winter Conference at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, from 10 – 12 January. Presenters spoke on such topics as the opening of the International Tracing Service, music as a window into the lives of survivors, contextualizing Nazi Propaganda, and current trends in antisemitism. A highlight of the program was a session on the topic of Jewish literary responses to the Holocaust led by former JMM education and program director, Dr. Leah Wolfson, who is a member of the USHMM’s Center of Advanced Holocaust Studies.
I wish everyone a peaceful Sabbath and an enjoyable winter weekend.