Museum Matters – December 2013

Posted on December 13, 2013 by

Museum Matters
December 2013

I know you spent the weekend wondering “where is last Friday’s Museum Matters?”  We had a small production glitch,  Thanksgivukkah seemed to create a warp in the space/time continuum, but now we are back on track.

What You Might Have Missed

Three out of the last five Sundays have had programs related to Passages through the Fire:  Jews and the Civil War. We kicked off November’s theme of women in the Civil War, with a presentation by Dr. Lauren Strauss on Yankee Bubbes and Kosher Southern Belles.
A week later we held a living history performance portraying Clara Barton. The character was developed by Maryland Historical Society and performed by Britt Olsen-Ecker. It was an excellent performance charting Clara’s adult life, which enhanced our understanding of a women’s role during the Civil War.

Sunday December 1st was our Civil War Photography Family Day, with a lecture by Ross Kelbaugh. The family activities were enjoyed by all especially the cyanotype paper and stereoscope making. The lecture by Ross Kelbaugh was also fascinating, as he talked about early photographic techniques and photography in Baltimore. Did you know that during the Civil War there were fifty photographic studios in Baltimore? Ross also shared his research about Jewish photographers who were in Baltimore during the war, including the Bendann brothers, a pair of Southern sympathizers who managed to earn quite a reputation during the war.

Unfortunately the talk scheduled for today with Barbara Franco, Founding Executive Director of the newly-opened Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum has been postponed due to inclement weather. The talk will be rescheduled, so you have not missed out. Barbara’s talk will explore how the religious foment, innovation and change wrought by the Second Great Awakening influenced thinking about moral issues of war and slavery, and how Americans of all faiths who met at Gettysburg grappled not only with life and death, but with divergent ideas of faith and freedom that would shape the nation’s future.

In the past month we have also held two Late Night on Lloyd Street events. In November we couldn’t resist the opportunity to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. To celebrate, we threw a Gettysburg-themed night which included a group reading of the address. Inspired by Lincoln’s ability to write so succinctly attendees were challenged with rewriting three other presidential addresses, all delivered in Baltimore, as Tweets. The task proved difficult but fun. See the results on our Facebook page.
Our second Late Night on Lloyd Street in celebration of the last night of Chanukah was our annual Estherfest. As in previous years there was a demonstration of latke preparation and joke telling by Esther Weiner the museum’s gift shop manager. This was followed by a serious amount of latke consumption, as Esther made more than 350 latkes! It was a wonderful night, and the hot apple cider with a drop of rum helped keep us warm.

But December is not over yet!

BUS TOUR: Civil War Sites of Baltimore
Sunday, December 15
Bus departs at 9:00am from the Jewish Museum of Maryland (doors open 8:30am)
Led by Maryland Civil war expert Daniel Carroll Toomey
Cost: $48 / $40 for members


Join the cavalry! (we’ll provide the “horse”)

Learn about Baltimore’s Civil War history first hand with this exclusive bus tour led by prominent Maryland historian and author Daniel Carroll Toomey. We will explore both well-known and forgotten Baltimore sites and discover the ways in which this war has been memorialized in our “Monument City.” The tour will include stops at the JMM and the Maryland Historical Society for guided tours of two special Civil War exhibits.

Daniel Carroll Toomey is the author of several books on Maryland and the Civil War and is currently the Guest Curator at the B&O Railroad Museum.

Tickets for this exclusive, one-time bus tour are $48 a person ($40 for members), which includes entrance to both museums and kosher lunch. Seats are limited, so book your ticket early!

A Rabbi at Gettysburg: Chaplain Ferdinand Sarner, German Jews, and the Civil War
Speaker Rabbi Joseph S. Topek
Sunday, December 22, 2:00pm
Program Free with Museum Admission

Did you know there were no Jewish Chaplains in the American Military before the Civil War? The establishment of a Jewish military chaplaincy was a significant accomplishment for the nascent American Jewish community during the Civil War.  Ferdinand Sarner was the only rabbi to serve as a regimental chaplain on the battlefield.  Rabbi Joseph S. Topek’s exciting talk will explore Rabbi Sarner’s unusual career as well as look at chaplaincy within the context of German Jewish participation in the Civil War.

Rabbi Joseph S. Topek is Director of the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life at Stony Brook University and Jewish Chaplain in the University Interfaith Center, of which he is also the Chairman.  He is also the Jewish Chaplain at the Long Island State Veterans Home in the Stony Brook University Medical Center.

Mitzvahs and Monuments: Remembering Our Veterans at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!
Wednesday December 25, 10am to 2pm

Against the Odds: America, the Monuments Men, and Saving Jewish and European Cultural Heritage
Wednesday, December 25, 1:00pm
Speaker Micheal Kurtz

Both Programs Free with Museum Admission

Community Mitzvah Day, a concept supported by the Jewish Volunteer Connection, is coming to JMM this December 25th.  This is an opportunity for you and your family to spend a part of the day giving back to our community.  Our focus this year is inspired by our new exhibit Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War.  Throughout the morning, you can help us create gift packages for veterans in Baltimore’s VA Medical Center that we will deliver that afternoon.

We will be collecting the following items for the gift packages: long distance phone cards, playing cards, word search books, new socks, knitted hats and gloves. Items can be dropped off through December 25 at the JMM’s front desk.

At 1pm our focus turns to the “monuments men,” the extraordinary story of a WWII platoon assigned to rescuing the world’s art treasures stolen by the Nazis—soon to be a major motion picture!  To offer insights you will never hear in the movie theater, we have invited Dr. Michael Kurtz of the University of Maryland to talk about his book Against the Odds: America, the Monuments Men and Saving Jewish and European Cultural Heritage.

In the long saga of cultural looting and destruction, the Nazi war on the Jewish and European cultural heritage was unprecedented in its ideological ferocity and brutal effectiveness.  Yet, in the midst of the destruction wrought by the Nazis, a band of men and women serving in the U.S. military during World War II, known as the Monuments Men, fought a valiant struggle to preserve what could be saved and to restore precious objects to devastated communities.  This presentation will explore why the Nazis sought to obliterate the cultural heritage of the Jewish people and others who were considered “inferior races.”  Front and center will be the work of the Monuments Men, and others in the Jewish community, who fought to counter Nazi depredations and the successes they achieved.  From the 1930’s through today, the story of cultural restoration continues!

Michael J. Kurtz serves as a Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies. He worked for 37 years as professional archivist, manager, and senior executive at the National Archives and Records Administration.  Dr. Kurtz has published extensively in the areas of American history and archival management, including America and the Return of Nazi Contraband and The Allied Struggle over Cultural Restitution, 1942-1947.
Join us for a day of service given and service remembered.

This program is co-sponsored by B’nai Israel Congregation, Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, the Baltimore VA Medical Center and Jewish Volunteer Connection.
Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / For more information on JMM events please visit

More Programs

The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit or check out BIYA on facebook.

BIYA’s B-more Shabbat
Friday, December 20, 6:30-10:00pm
B’nai Israel, 27 Lloyd Street
That’s right, be more with BIYA!  Because what is Shabbat without friends and community?
Join us for Friday night services and dinner on the 3rd Friday of every month.
Services start at 6:30pm.  Dinner follows.
Cost is $8.00 per person.  RSVPs required to
This program is funded in part by a grant from The Louise D. & Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education through its Jewish Education Enhancement Project.

Exhibits currently on display at the JMM include Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, The Synagogue Speaks! and Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War on display through February, 27, 2014.

Hours and Tour Times
The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm. We offer tours of our historic synagogues each day at 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00. We are delighted to announce the debut of a new themed “1861 Tour” of the Lloyd Street Synagogue that focuses on Baltimore’s Jewish community during the Civil War. This tour is offered Sunday-Thursday at 3:00pm (in place of the regular tour).
Please note that the JMM will close early at 3:00 pm on Tues. December 29 and that we will be closed on Wednesday, January 1 and

Get Involved
The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or

Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.
All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street. Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchase online! For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or

Gift Shop
Hot off the Press…Get your copy of the catalog companion to Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War which includes thought provoking essays by our colleagues who created the exhibit at Yeshiva University Museum and the American Jewish Historical Society. The cost of the catalog is $25 but as always, members receive a 10% discount. For more information and to purchase your copy, call Esther Weiner, gift shop manager, at (410) 732-6400 x211 or email her at

Through the end of December we are offering a special promotion…25% of all Chanukah merchandise! It’s not too early to stock up for next year!

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