Weekly Report 2.26.10
Put on your party clothes and head down to the Museum for our fourth annual Purim Pandemonium party on Saturday night from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. This year’s theme, Mystery! Suspense! Danger! A Night in Noir, is inspired by legendary Noir films like The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity. The festivities will include DJ dance music, refreshments, and an open bar. Tickets are $20 at the door. The sidewalks are sanded and the streets are finally plowed so you’ll be able to find plenty of free parking.
We’re continuing to gear up for our Fiftieth Anniversary commemorations and festivities. Simone Ellin is working on plans for the rededication of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and publicity for the 50th anniversary celebration, related programs, and exhibitions. The Baltimore Jewish Times and WYPR-FM have signed on as media sponsors for the 50th anniversary year. I’ve been invited for an interview on Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast during the week of 15 March, when I’ll talk about the upcoming Synagogue Speaks exhibition. The development of the JMM’s new website continues, and the site will likely launch in the beginning of March just in time for the kick-off of 50th anniversary festivities.
This past week Jobi Zink worked with consultant Jayne Guberman to prepare for the “Telling Time” oral history training scheduled for noon to 4 on Sunday at the Museum. Forty people have signed up so far. “Telling Time” is a major oral history initiative in honor of the Museum’s fiftieth anniversary. Volunteer interviewers will help us collect fifty interviews in 2010. The completed interviews will become a permanent part of the Museum’s archive.
On-site fabrication of The Synagogue Speaks in the lower level of the Lloyd Street Synagogue began this week. Xibitz, a local fabrication firm, constructed most of the (beautiful) exhibitry and cabinetry in their shop, so we anticipate that installation will go quickly. It’s very exciting to see things take shape after years of research and preparation! Responses are pouring in for our re-opening events at the LSS from members, benefactors, volunteers, colleagues, community leaders, and public officials. We are looking forward to the kick-off for our Anniversary year.
Although planning for the Chosen Food exhibition continues at a steady rate, we officially closed the books on the NEH Planning Grant that supported this phase of the project by submitting our final narrative and financial reports. We also took our first “refrigerator portrait” on location, photographing the stocked fridge of Liala H., who insists “this is only half full since I’m not cooking for Shabbos dinner—only for lunch—this week.” Her freezer was also bulging, filled with home-baked rugelah she will be giving out for Purim shalach manos.
Karen Falk picked up loaned artwork from the Special Collections division of the Goucher College Library for the exhibition Nancy Patz: Her Inward Eye, opening 18 April.
PROGRAMS AND EDUCATION
On Sunday 21 February, the JMM welcomed Harvard Professor Elisa New to speak about her recent publication, Jacob’s Cane, a memoir of her family’s journey from Lithuania to Baltimore and London. Trustee Sarah Manekin delivered greetings on behalf of the JMM to a crowd of 40 people. The program was co-sponsored with the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
On Friday, the JCC and the JMM partnered for a Hands-On Holiday program for Purim, geared for downtown families of very young children. Young children, along with their parents, caregivers, and grandparents were actively engaged in craft activities, songs, and stories in connection with the upcoming festival. Hands-On Holiday programs and Tot Shabbat programs are part of the JCC’s program, “JCC Beyond the Borders” funded by the The Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education.
After two weeks of canceled group visits due to the snow, it was wonderful to see groups back in the Museum. On Sunday, 21 February, a group of Russian teens toured our historic synagogues. Fifth graders from Callaway Elementary (Baltimore City) visited on Tuesday, 23 February. In the morning they toured the Reginald F. Lewis Museum and then participated in an Introduction to Judaism program at the JMM in the afternoon. On Thursday, 25 February, 8th graders from Maiden Choice, a Baltimore County public school for students with special needs, visited for an Introduction to Judaism program and a tour of Voices of Lombard Street. We are working hard to reschedule many of the groups that had to cancel because of school closings and delays.
On Wednesday, 24 February, students participating in the “Lessons of the Shoah” high school interfaith program had the opportunity to listen to Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholtz, who described his incredible experiences in Austria, France, Belgium, and Switzerland during the Holocaust. They also heard from David Walczak, who shared the experiences of his parents who joined the partisans during the Holocaust. For many students and parents, this was their first opportunity to hear firsthand testimony from a Holocaust survivor.
In spite of the snowy weather, the JMM Speakers Bureau, sponsored by Attman’s Delicatessen, has been very active. Harvey Schwartz, JMM docent and Fort McHenry volunteer, presented The Jews of Fort McHenry to a Baltimore Lodge of B’nai Brith. On Sunday, 20 February, Esther Weiner presented her talk, The Jewish Kitchen: A Link Between the Generations, to 25 members of the Bet Aviv Men’s Club in Columbia. The topic so intrigued a non-member that she came to hear the talk and join in the conversation. The audience was very engaged in the presentation, interrupting frequently to add to what turned out to be an interesting and moving discussion. Esther reports that this was one of the most warmly and enthusiastically received presentations she’s ever given.
Deborah Cardin attended an Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Monday, 22 February in support of educational funding. Many thanks to Baltimore Museum of Industry Executive Director (and JMM trustee), Roland Woodward for providing testimony on behalf of the Greater Baltimore History Alliance museums at this hearing.
Next Tuesday 2 March, from 5 to 8 p.m., is Annapolis Advocacy day for the Maryland Jewish Community. Advocates will hear from Gov. O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Brown and meet with state legislators. This is a wonderful way to make your views known to our leaders in Annapolis. To register of for more information visit www.baltjc.org or phone 410/542-4850.
We welcomed two new student interns this week. Douglas Winters and Kyle Wittman are volunteering in the Education and Program department. They are both juniors at Loyola University where they are majoring in Christian theology and world religions.
Lauren Silberman attended the Small Museum Association Annual Conference in Ocean City. After serving for two years on the Conference Committee, Lauren has been elected to the SMA Board. The conference was a big success with more than 200 attendees.
The JMM Board of Trustees, chaired by President David Liebman, convened on Monday for its quarterly meeting. A highlight of the meeting was a presentation on the Museum Shop by our estimable shop manager, Esther Weiner. She even made a couple of sales!
On Thursday, 25 February, the Board Development Committee, chaired by Past President Jim Rothschild, met to prepare a slate of nominations for the FY11 Board.
The Museum has had the privilege of participating in an Organizational Review sponsored by the Associated. This rigorous self-study process has proven to be productive and enlightening, and we are grateful to the staff and lay leadership of the Associated for providing this opportunity and sharing their wise counsel.
Best wishes for a (warm and sunny?) weekend.