Fostering Empathy and Understanding at the JMM

Posted on November 30th, 2016 by

In this time of divisive politics and hateful language, I would like to highlight a few of the educational programs at the JMM in the past few month that I believe encourage dialogue and foster empathy and understanding. I would also like to share a few thoughts about how the Museum community as a whole can respond to our recent election.

I have always found the JMM to be a very welcoming and inclusive place that also aims to encourage dialogue on contemporary issues. In our mission, we strive to be a site of discourse and discovery, where individuals and groups are encouraged to draw connections to “events and trends in American History, to contemporary life, and to our hopes and aspirations for the future.” JMM Mission and Vision

Vanguard students in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Vanguard students in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Through our education programs, we strive to teach students about Jewish culture and traditions as well as work to find connections with their own stories and heritages.  Last month, a class of English as a Second Language students, including several refugees from Syria, visited from Vanguard Collegiate Middle School. We also had middle school students from Baltimore International Academy visit earlier this month.  I have been lucky enough to facilitate education programs in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit for several of these schools. I have found it very rewarding sharing the stories of Baltimore’s Jewish immigrants to a younger generation of immigrants.

Lessons of the Shoah

Lessons of the Shoah

Earlier this month, about 275 students and 25 teachers participated in Lessons of the Shoah, a high school interfaith program, this year held at John Carroll High School. The theme of this year’s program was No Asylum: the Plight of the Refugees. One of the goals of this program is to use the Holocaust as a starting point to promote tolerance, understanding and respect among students of diverse backgrounds. From all accounts, it sounded like a powerful program which included film screenings, musical selections, hearing from a Holocaust survivor and discussions about current refugee issues.

ICJS Teacher Workshop

ICJS Teacher Workshop

I also attended a teachers workshop a few weeks ago called Jewish and Muslim Refugees: Connecting the Past to the Present where we watched the film “Lives Lost: Lives Found” about Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1945, took part in a gallery walk activity to raise awareness of Islamophobia and heard from an Iraqi Muslim refugee currently living in Baltimore.

Teachers work in groups at the ICJS workshop, hosted at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Teachers work in groups at the ICJS workshop, hosted at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

While I am very proud of the work we do at the JMM, I was also glad to read that other Museums have recently reaffirmed their their roles as safe and open spaces. Laura Lott, the President of the American Alliance of Museums, also offered insightful comments in response to the election. She wrote that “Our institutions are uniquely positioned to listen, learn, and educate; to give historical context; and to foster empathy and inclusion by sharing the stories and perspectives of all people.” To sum up, museums are more important than ever now and I believe they can play a role in helping the nation heal and move forward by serving as safe spaces to have difficult conversations. Museums can model a kinder, emphatic and tolerant society. If you would like to promote the work Museums do everyday, I would encourage you to participate in Museum Advocacy Day on Feb. 27-28 in Washington D.C.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

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Once Upon a Time…03.11.2016

Posted on November 29th, 2016 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church by email at jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

20060131855Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  March 11, 2016

 

PastPerfect Accession #:  2006.013.1855

 

Status: Unidentified! Do you recognize any of these actors in the JCC production of “Incident at Vichy,” 1979?

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Whose Wedding?

Posted on November 28th, 2016 by

In our Hendler family collection we have two nearly identical photo albums, each containing a series of images taken at a wedding; there is also a set of loose wedding photographs.  As is often the way – even with carefully prepared albums and scrapbooks – the original album creators left no identifications, dates, or notes to help later historians figure out what’s going on.  We presumed that the people pictured were related in some way to the Hendlers, and I could tell by the clothing and styles that these were 1930s events, but the question remained: whose weddings are they, anyway?

Two albums, two weddings. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63-.85 and 1998.47.4.37-62

Two albums, two weddings. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63-.85 and 1998.47.4.37-62

Happily, there were enough clues for yours truly to tackle the issue. First, it was necessary to sort out which photos went with which event, and how many weddings were actually shown (after all, the Hendlers had four children, three of whom married in the 1930s).  The initial JMM catalogers had discarded the album covers, noting that they were too deteriorated to preserve, but naturally they kept the original order of the pages and filed each album separately. Fortunately one ceremony took place indoors and one outdoors, making it fairly easy to confirm that the two albums showed two different events. A quick comparison of the loose photos showed that they were a match for the outdoor wedding: the same floral chuppah, the same elderly ladies dressed in their finest, the same waiters carrying the same fish.  So we had only two weddings to worry about, after all.

Two of the loose photos next to their matching album photos. Success! Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.34 and .74; 1998.47.4.30 and .85

Two of the loose photos next to their matching album photos. Success! Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.34 and .74; 1998.47.4.30 and .85

Now for the actual details of who, where, and when. L. Manuel Hendler was the founder of the Hendler Creamery, a very successful ice cream business in Baltimore. He and his wife Rose had three daughters:

>Flora Bernice (1909-1990), who married Joseph Kolodny on August 27, 1931 at “Harlequin on Severn,” the Hendler country estate.

>Florence (1913-1994), known as “Tootsie,” who married Howard Caplan on January 21, 1932 at the Southern Hotel.

>Naomi (1917-1994), who married Leslie Legum on June 20, 1939, at the Hendler home near Druid Hill Park.

Elsewhere in the JMM collections we have invitations to the weddings of Florence and Naomi, including a pair donated by their cousin Naomi Biron Cohen:

Invitations to Florence’s 1932 wedding (left) and Naomi’s 1939 wedding (right). Gift of Naomi Biron Cohen. JMM 2009.58.9

Invitations to Florence’s 1932 wedding (left) and Naomi’s 1939 wedding (right). Gift of Naomi Biron Cohen. JMM 2009.58.9

These invitations are so carefully, exactly matched – the Hendler parents were clearly concerned about sisterly parity – that I made the initial mistake of assuming the matching albums were from the same sisters.  However, thanks to the Hendler family’s prominence and the searchable Baltimore Sun database, I soon realized that the outdoor wedding was not Naomi’s but Bernice’s. As newlyweds of local importance, Bernice and Florence were featured in the Sun and the Jewish Times, with – conveniently for me – bridal portraits published in the former. The Sun’s photos of Bernice’s pearl crown (hard to see in the album photos, admittedly) and Florence’s medieval-style gown and sassy little veil matched nicely with the formal portraits in each album, as did the newspaper reporters’ breathless descriptions of each ceremony. Thank goodness for the society page!  (And no, that’s not the first time I’ve had occasion to say that.)

Bernice with her attendants, and in her Baltimore Sun feature. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63

Bernice with her attendants, and in her Baltimore Sun feature. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63

Florence, introspective from every angle. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.58

Florence, introspective from every angle. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.58

The Jewish Times provided detailed descriptions of both sisters’ weddings (quoted below); in addition, Florence’s wedding was reported in the Sun – which lingered lovingly on the fact that the governor and the mayor were in attendance, and that the reception included “a bridal table with dishes and cups of solid gold” which had to be guarded by a police detail – and in the New York Times. (Evidently Florence chose to announce her engagement at Bernice’s wedding, which every older sister totally appreciates.) Florence, it seems, did not pull her punches.

The Jewish Times, August 28, 1931: Kolodny-Hendler:

Miss Bernice Hendler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Manuel Hendler, was married on Thursday, August 27, at the country home of her parents, Harlequin-on-the-Severn, to Mr. Joseph Kolodny of Boston.  The ceremony was performed by Rabbis Adolph Coblentz [sic] and Morris Lazaron. The bride was attired in a gown of ivory satin and a veil of rose point, and carried a prayer book used by her mother at her wedding.  Miss Florence Hendler, sister of the bride, was maid of honor and Mrs. Milton Silberman was matron of honor. They wore gowns of Chartreuse satin.

The Misses Rose Silberstein, Helen Fish, Florine Duke and Mrs. Abram Kenigson were bridesmaids. They were attired in yellow satin and wore Empress Eugenie hats] and carried bouquets of yellow roses. Mr. Albert Hendler was best man, and the ushers were Messrs. Howard Caplan, Milton Silberman, Bernard Hendler, Harry Hendler and Albert Duke.  Mrs. Hendler, mother of the bride, was gowned in black lace trimmed in rose point, and Mrs. Kolodny, mother of the groom, wore a gown of Patou beige satin. After the ceremony a reception was held for more than four hundred guests.  Mr. and Mrs. Kolodny will sail on Saturday on the S.S. “Kungssholm” for Norway and Sweden. During the evening announcement of the engagement of Mr. and Mrs. Hendler’s younger daughter, Florence, to Mr. Howard M. Caplan, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Caplan, was made.

Joseph and Bernice under their floral chuppah with Cantor Weisgal and Rabbi Coblenz, 1931. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.83

Joseph and Bernice under their floral chuppah with Cantor Weisgal and Rabbi Coblenz, 1931. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.83

The Jewish Times, January 22, 1932: Caplan-Hendler:

One of the most outstanding weddings of the season was that of Miss Florence Hendler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Manuel Hendler and Mr. Howard M. Caplan, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Caplan, who were united in marriage on Thursday at the Southern Hotel.

The ceremony was performed by Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron, Rabbi Adolph Coblentz [sic] and Cantor Adolph J. Weisgal. The bride was attired in a gown of antique velvet, trimmed in pearls, and a rose point veil worn by her mother, and again last summer by her sister at the time of her marriage to Joseph Kolodny. She carried a bouquet of white orchids and her mother’s prayerbook.  She was attended by Miss Elizabeth Ullman, who wore pale gold taffeta, and carried roses and a prayerbook. The matrons of honor were Mrs. Joseph Kolodny, sister of the bride, and Mrs. David Silberman, sister of the groom; their gowns were gold lace over taffeta. The bridesmaids, the Misses Naomi Hendler, Lorraine Katz and Dorothy Kemler, wore dresses of deep gold taffeta, carrying roses. The best man was Mr. Albert Hendler, brother of the bride, and the ushers were Messrs. Joseph Kolodny, David Kaufman, Mendel Silverman, Albert Duke and Irving Blaustein. After dinner and reception Mr. and Mrs. Caplan left for New York, sailing for Europe on the Europa on Friday. They will spend three months in travelling, after which they will return to the city, where they will make their home.

Florence smiles at the photographer while Howard greets a guest, 1932. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.62

Florence smiles at the photographer while Howard greets a guest, 1932. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.62

And what about the third sister? Though we have a few lovely wedding souvenirs donated by Naomi herself, the only information I can find about the ceremony comes from the invitation in our collections, and brief engagement notices in the Sun and the Jewish Times.  Unlike her elder sisters, Naomi’s wedding – though fancy and fashionable, as best I can tell from the pieces in our collection – was not featured prominently in the press.  I suspect that this was a least in part due to the fact that in late 1932, brother Albert Hendler was kidnapped and held for ransom. (He was rescued, and went on to celebrate his own marriage to Peggy Siff in 1943.)  The Hendlers faced other extortion threats during the 1930s. This could make any family shy away from publicity, and I completely understand it… but I do wish that I had a description of Naomi’s ceremony.  Did she wear the her mother’s veil, and carry her mother’s prayerbook, as her older sisters did?  We sorted out the mystery of the photo albums, but there are still a few pieces of the sisters’ story missing.

Bride and groom dolls used on the wedding cake of Naomi Hendler and Leslie Legum, 1939. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Legum. JMM 1991.156.3a-b

Bride and groom dolls used on the wedding cake of Naomi Hendler and Leslie Legum, 1939. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Legum. JMM 1991.156.3a-b

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