Posted on February 17th, 2017 by Rachel
Opening March 5
The smell of fresh paint wafting from behind the closed gallery door is a tell tale sign marking the transition from one exhibit to another. In January we said goodbye to Beyond Chicken Soup, returned many of the artifacts and crated the text panels and interactives for shipment to its next venue. As soon as the gallery was empty, Mark Ward and his incredible crew were hard at work prepping for our next exhibition, Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity which is set to open on March 5.
This landmark initiative brings four separate exhibit projects together for the first time, each of which explores a facet of Holocaust history and commemoration. Together they shed light on the significance of Auschwitz – the town and the camp – and how it has endured as a symbol of the Holocaust for more than 70 years after its liberation. With three main camps and more than 40 sub-camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest camp within the Nazi prison system and served as the site where approximately 1.1 million people were murdered included nearly 1 million Jews.
Hotel Schmeidler, 1912. Courtesy of Miroslaw Ganobis. Image from A Town Known as Auschwitz.
Our exhibit takes visitors through a multidimensional tour of Holocaust history beginning centuries prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland. A Town Known As Auschwitz: Life and Death of a Jewish Community from the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust reveals 400 years of the vibrant Jewish history of Oświęcim, Poland —the town the Germans called Auschwitz. Told through photographs, maps and oral history interviews, the exhibit focuses on friendships between Jewish and non-Jewish residents of the town and how the Jewish community flourished for centuries.
Architecture of Murder
Construction of the camp known as Auschwitz I began in 1940 in an abandoned Polish military barracks on the outskirts of the town. Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz Birkenau Blueprints developed by Yad Vashem and on loan from the American Society for Yad Vashem, explores this darker period in the town’s history through blue prints, architectural drawings and other documents. To provide further visual evidence of the camp, the exhibit also features a model of the camp created by local high school student, Andrew Altman, to honor the experiences of his great-grandfather, Edward (Yehuda) Biderman who was sent on a transport to Auschwitz in August of 1944 from the Lodz Ghetto in Poland.
Image combining the train station at Buhosovice, near Terezîn (left) and Auschwitz (right). Image from Loss and Beauty by artist Keron Psillas.
Today, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum is visited by millions of visitors each year. Loss and Beauty: Photographs by Keron Psillas provides a contemporary perspective on the experience of visiting and documenting Auschwitz and other camps today. Psillas’s beautiful and haunting works consist of layered photographs that seek to commemorate and honor the lives of those murdered during the Holocaust. A catalog of her work that includes her poetry as well as her reflections on each photograph on display in the exhibit will be available for sale in our gift shop.
A collage made to honor and remember Gitta Nagel.
The Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project is an original art installation developed in partnership with The Human Element Project that adds the voices and stories of Maryland’s community of Holocaust survivors. The plaques on display feature the collages that were created during the many different workshops that we held this summer and fall for Holocaust survivors and their families and highlight incredible stories of survival.
We look forward to marking the opening of Remembering Auschwitz with a special pre-opening brunch and tour for Holocaust survivors and their families in the morning on Sunday, March 5. We will then open the exhibit to the public at 12:00 that day. At 2:00, we have invited artists Lori Shocket of the Human Element Project and Keron Psillas to talk about their experiences documenting the Holocaust and other tragedies through the medium of art. We hope you will join us for what will surely be a moving experience. The exhibit remains on display through May 29.
A blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.
Posted on February 16th, 2017 by Rachel
A difficulty of working in such a large and varied collection as ours is that it’s very easy to find yourself on a research tangent, leading off into ever-branching questions that take you further and further from your original point… or, occasionally, lead you right back to it. When looking through my list of “this might make a nice blog post” catalog records, I hit upon this photo of the Washburn Club, about which we know very little other than that, according to the donors, it had one Jewish member: Hiram Herman of Baltimore.
The Washburn Club, circa 1900. Each member is holding an instrument, primarily strings; their logo, featured in the cardboard cut-out in the center front, consists of a mandolin, guitar, and banjo within a lyre. Bonus: spot the disembodied hand holding on to the backdrop in the upper left. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morton K. Sugar. JMM 1987.193.2
This seemed like a pleasant, and quick, research tangent for today’s blog… but, as can be expected, it wasn’t quite that simple. After spending some time on it, I must report that the club itself – not to mention which musician pictured is Mr. Herman – is, alas, still a mystery. However, a little research into the Herman family revealed the bones of an interesting wedding story. And, conveniently, weddings are what much of my non-tangential time has been spent on, thanks to this summer’s “Just Married!” exhibit. Newspaper wedding descriptions are a favorite of mine, and this photo led me to some nice ones.
Hiram himself was fairly easy to track, but – tangent alert! I wanted a bit more. The photo was donated to us by Mr. and Mrs. Morton K. Sugar; a few other Herman family books were donated by Judith Senker Wise. Curious as to how these donors – and the Senker family material donated at the same time – were related to the childless Mr. Herman, I poked around a bit in newspaper archives, state marriage records, and ancestry.com. If this were a clever modern PBS mystery show, you would now see census listings and web links and gravestones floating about my head while I frowningly piece together the various bits of evidence (who am I kidding; I am absolutely a Watson, not a Holmes) but in the absence of those graphic representations of deductive reasoning, suffice it to say that I eventually came up with this story:
In 1905 Hiram Katz Herman, age 27, and Sarah Whitehill, age 23, were married by Rabbi Guttmacher in Baltimore. After the marriage, Hiram worked as a grocer, and eventually went into real estate. Unfortunately, he died in late 1921, leaving Sarah a childless widow.
“HERMAN-WHITEHILL. Miss Sara [sic] Whitehill, daughter of Mr. Albert Whitehill, 431 North Broadway, was married to Mr. Hiram K. Herman Sunday night at the Lyceum Parlors [1109 N. Charles Street] by Rev. Dr. Adolph Guttmacher, of Madison Avenue Temple [Baltimore Hebrew Congregation]. The bride was attired in a white lace robe over taffeta and carried a shower bouquet of Bride roses. Mr. Solomon Whitehill, brother of the bride, was best man. The ushers were Messrs. Jerome Meyer, Justin Rosenthal, Samuel Fernheimer and Lester Marx, of Washington. A reception followed, after which Mr. and Mrs. Herman left for Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York. They will reside at 431 North Broadway.” From the Baltimore Sun, August 22, 1905.
Meanwhile, Hiram’s sister Beulah Herman married Solomon Senker in 1910. (The Herman and Senker families were probably neighbors or friends; for example, a list of the attendees of the Majestic Assembly’s first monthly dance of the 1903 season includes Hiram, Beulah, and Solomon’s sister Maud.) Solomon worked for Strauss Bros. clothing as a bookkeeper and office manager; he and Beulah had four children, and lived on Menlo Drive in Park Heights. Beulah died, age 45, in 1932.
“Senker-Herman. Miss Beulah Herman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Herman, was married to Mr. Solomon Senker at her home, 616 East Baltimore street, at 6 o’clock last evening. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Dr. S. Schaffer [of Shearith Israel], assisted by Rev. Dr. E. Jaffe. The couple stood under a canopy of smilax. The bride wore a hand-embroidered marquisette gown over white satin with a yoke and sleeves of lace. She wore a tulle veil draped with orange blossoms, and carried sweetpeas. A reception followed the ceremony, after which Mr. and Mrs. Senker left for a trip to Atlantic City and the North. They will live at 1717 West North avenue and will be at home to their friends after August 1.” From the Baltimore Sun, July 8, 1910.
Ancestry.com is a helpful creature, and it kept linking the various records for Sarah and Beulah as if they were the same person, despite the fact that each has her own gravesite in Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery; the connection seemed to be Solomon, I checked the obituary of Solomon Senker and discovered that when he died in 1948, his surviving wife was named Sarah Whitehill. Thus, sometime between Beulah’s death in 1932 and the recording of the 1940 census, Hiram’s widow and Beulah’s widower had married each other. (Unfortunately, unlike the original marriages, this one was not described in the Sun.)
Thanks to Solomon Senker’s obituary, we know that Hiram Herman’s photograph and books were donated by his sister Beulah’s children, Harriet Senker Sugar and Judith Senker Wise. From the Baltimore Jewish Times, October 22, 1948.
Without more information, we can only guess at the specific circumstances that would flesh out their history; though useful, wedding notices and census records and obituaries can only tell us so much. Nonetheless, the story of Hiram and Sarah and Beulah and Solomon is a lovely addition to my wedding research, and one that’s a little out of the ordinary. On the other hand, I’m still left with the unsolved problem of the mysterious Washburn Club….
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.
Posted on February 15th, 2017 by Rachel
Article by Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations 2009-2010: 50th Anniversary Double Issue: The Search for Social Justice.
The Baltimore Jewish community has produced many leaders who have worked to make the world a better place. The range of issues they have addressed is impressive: from women’s suffrage to civil rights, labor relations to helping the elderly, refugee resettlement to eliminating poverty, and much more.
This chronology traces the careers of ten Baltimoreans who stood up for social change, with each person’s entry revolving around a turning point—one for each decade of the twentieth century. This is by no means a “Ten Best” list. The people included here are remarkable for what they accomplished, but others, equally remarkable, could have been chosen as well. These profiles should be seen as representative of a larger group of Baltimore Jews who have made major contributions to their communities and to the broader society in myriad ways.
The 1930s: Lee Dopkin
Click here to start from the beginning.
1935: Through the efforts of Lee Dopkin (1895-1968), the Maryland legislature passes the Old Age Pension Law, a model for the Social Security Act that FDR would sign later that year. Chairman of the state’s Old Age Pension Commission, Dopkin helped draft the legislation and campaigned strenuously for it, mounting petition drives, giving speeches and radio broadcasts, and lobbying legislators. It was the crowning achievement of a life in communal and public service.
Lee. L. Dopkin, 1955, photo by Blackstone Studios. JMM 2004.63.3
As a young man, Dopkin had served as advisor to the JEA Champion Club, mentoring boys who, like himself, came from struggling East Baltimore immigrant families. After joining the board of the Hebrew Home for Incurables (a predecessor to Levindale), he became interested in the problems of the elderly. Believing that seniors who could live on their own should not be institutionalized solely because of financial need, in 1931 he began speaking out in favor of government-funded pensions. He served as Levindale’s president from 1931 to 1934.
After passage of the pension law, Dopkin continued his involvement with Levindale and other communal organizations, while also serving on government commissions to establish unemployment insurance and to develop the federal social security system. A Republican-turned-New Dealer in reaction to the devastation of the Great Depression, he came to believe that security was the cornerstone of public welfare.
Continue to The 1940s: Rose Zetzer