A Busy Week for Education at the JMM!

Posted on March 15, 2013 by

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon.

The JMM’s education program provides high quality experiential education experiences for students of all backgrounds in grades PreK-12. Education is an integral part of the Museum’s mission, and we consider school groups to be our highest priority audience.  Each year we serve approximately 7,000 students and teachers from public, private, and parochial schools through on-site field trips and outreach services. The majority of participating students are not Jewish, and our educational programs introduce students to Jewish history, traditions, and religion as a means increasing their awareness and appreciation of the culture and experiences of a minority group.   front

All JMM educational programs align with the Maryland State Curriculum’s social studies and English language arts goals and standards. Our resources also align with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy. Furthermore, the JMM is a member of the Maryland State Department of Education’s prestigious State Aided Educational Institutions (SAI) program, a testimony to the high quality of our educational programs and their relevance to classroom learning state-wide.

Because we believe in the importance of cultural enrichment programs for all children, regardless of income or background, the JMM has invested heavily in subsidized programming for students in City schools. We are proud of our track record of providing free field trips and outreach activities to all participating Baltimore City schools including unlimited admission and program fee waivers and transportation subsidies. For many schools, this valuable financial assistance is needed in order to make field trips possible.

This past week has been a wonderful example of our education department in action.  Our Museum educators welcomed adult and school groups everyday this week (including Sunday) from all part of the State of Maryland and beyond.

This past Sunday, we welcomed an adult group from Tiferet Israel, a synagogue group from  the Washington D.C. area that was interested in learning about the history of Jewish life in Maryland – and in particular The Jew Bill.  The group met with JMM’s Executive Director, Marvin Pinkert about one of Maryland’s most important bills in early American life in this country.  With the adoption of the federal Bill of Rights in 1787, which ensured freedom of religion to all American citizens, such restrictions on the holding of public office in Maryland–including military service and the practice of law–became blatantly unconstitutional to the Jewish people, as it required that public office holders to swear an oath of allegiance to Christianity. Not until the Maryland legislature passed the “Jew Bill” in 1826, Jewish public officials were allowed to swear a substitute oath, and Jews achieved full civic equality in the state.

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On Monday, we welcomed Israeli teens from Ashkelon (our sister city in Israel) that are participating in the Diller Baltimore Teen Fellows, a leadership program of the Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) through THE ASSOCIATED.   This innovative program for 11th graders is designed to inspire leadership among Jewish youth in our community. Focusing on social action, community involvement and Jewish learning, this year-long program includes a three-week summer seminar in Israel. These teens and their Baltimore counterparts visited the JMM to learn about the history of the Jewish life in Baltimore and to see the travelling exhibit, Zap, Pow, Bam: The Superhero: Comic Books from 1938-1950.

On Tuesday, the entire student body of the Baltimore Hebrew Day School came to see the exhibit, Zap, Pow, Bam and learned about the Jewish creators and illustrators of the early comic book heroes.  The students also learned about the hero’s journey and compared that journey to heroes mentioned in the Bible.

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On Wednesday, we welcomed high-school students from St. Francis Academy who came to participate in one of our core-programs – Introduction to Judaism – an exploration of Jewish history, religion, and culture that takes place in the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue (Maryland’s first synagogue, built in 1845) along with The Immigrant Experience – A tour of both the Lloyd Street and B’nai Israel (1876) Synagogues that focuses on Baltimore’s role as a vibrant gateway for Jewish immigrants and how these buildings are reflections of the diverse immigrant communities – including a Lithuanian Catholic congregation – that occupied them.

On Thursday, we welcomed a small group from the Calvary Christian Academy located in Cumberland, Maryland who also came to the JMM to participate in our Introduction to Judaism program and to learn about the creators and illustrators of the comic books of the Golden Age. Following their visit, to us, the group travelled over to the other side of the Inner Harbor to explore the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Finally, on Friday, we welcomed over 100 fourth graders from Hamilton Elementary who also come to the JMM to learn about the synagogue buildings and the immigrant groups that used them.  After their experience at the Museum, the students and their teachers walked over to one of the local delicatessens to enjoy a good old corned beef sandwich on Lombard Street!  All in all over 250 students and adults visited the JMM to participate in our education programs!

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