Once Upon a Time…08.19.2016

Posted on May 16th, 2017 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

 

2005036118Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  August 19, 2016

 

PastPerfect Accession #:  2005.36.118

 

Status: Unidentified! Members of the Jewish War Veterans Maryland Free State Post 167, 1991.

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Family Fare: Baltimore Jewish Food Businesses Part 3

Posted on May 15th, 2017 by

Article by Jennifer Vess. Originally published in Generations 2011 – 2012: Jewish Foodways

Part III: Learning the Trade: “Baking was the only trade he knew.”[1]

Miss parts 1-2? Start here.

Why choose to sell food?  In an oral history, Seymour Attman, whose father started Attman’s Deli, described each and every store that lined Lombard Street when he was a child in the 1930s.  Again and again and again he mentioned stores that sold food.  In fact, except for an occasional hardware store or clothing store, every business sold food.  Delis, bakeries, butcher shops, and confectionaries packed the blocks.  The heart of the East Baltimore Jewish community seemed to be all about food.

1900 U.S. Census, Baltimore. This census page shows Isaac Hendler, occupation dairyman, and his son Manuel, who later started Hendler’s Creamery.

1900 U.S. Census, Baltimore. This census page shows Isaac Hendler, occupation dairyman, and his son Manuel, who later started Hendler’s Creamery.

Part of the reason so many shops could exist side-by-side was because they sold different kinds of food.  The early twentieth century was characterized by specialization.  As Seymour Attman said, “In those days…everything was a specialty.  You went to the grocery store to buy your groceries, you went to the dairy store to buy your dairies, you went to…the butcher shop, or whatever, everything was their own characteristic store.”[2]  This allowed a long string of stores to share the same block without directly competing.

The nature of food service at that time created the ‘bakery on every corner’ phenomenon (and the deli on every block, the butcher shop just across the way, etc.).  People functioned largely within their neighborhoods.  Not everyone owned cars, so people relied on public transportation or walking to get to work or do their shopping.  Also, families didn’t have a way to store large quantities of food in their kitchens so they shopped more often, making short frequent trips to local markets necessary.  This meant that most of the stores they wanted were on the street where they lived, a block or two over, or a short trip on the street car.   The community could support a large number of small food businesses, many within walking distance of each other as well as the homes of their patrons.

Herman Wartzman and his niece Esther Levin outside the Wartzman Bakery at 913 E. Lombard Street. Wartzman learned to be a baker in the Russian Army. Courtesy of Paul Wartzman. JMM CP14.2007.1

Herman Wartzman and his niece Esther Levin outside the Wartzman Bakery at 913 E. Lombard Street. Wartzman learned to be a baker in the Russian Army. Courtesy of Paul Wartzman. JMM CP14.2007.1

But why did the store owners choose to make their living from food?  One simple answer is – they chose what they knew.

A business owner’s familiarity with food influenced his or her decision to open a shop.  Many proprietors had learned their trade in Europe, sometimes from their family (as Solomon Rodbell had), sometimes from apprenticeships, sometimes in the army.  Bessie Bluefeld, the founder of Bluefeld catering, had grown up in Russia with parents “who were really, if you want to say caterers, they were caterers in Russia, because when people came from one shtetl to the next, prominent people, they would say, ‘Where shall we stay?’ and, of course, they were told to go to the Biskers.”[3]  Both the founder of Pariser’s bakery and Herman Wartzman of Wartzman’s bakery had learned to be bakers in the European armies in which they served before leaving for America.  Immigrants brought their skills with them to the United States and often passed those skills on to their American-born children.  Selling food has not always been a highly lucrative business, but it earned a living for families and though money may not have been plentiful, food was.

Continue to Part IV: The Ma and Pa Shop: “My mother did all the cooking. We did all the rest.”

Notes:

 [1] Arnold Zerivitz quoted in: Gil Sandler, “Titans of Taste,” Baltimore Jewish Times, August 22, 2003.

[2] Seymour Attman interview, September 20, 1982, OH 0162, JMM.

[3] Louis and Phlip Bluefeld interview, August 6, 1979, OH 75, JMM.

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A Beautiful Day in Our Neighborhood

Posted on May 12th, 2017 by

Have you seen our sign?

Have you seen our sign?

I admit that when I first applied to work for the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I had no idea where “Jonestown” was. I wasn’t alone. Regular fans of JMM may remember the articles we saw in surrounding the unveiling of the Jonestown vision plan. Through the creation of that plan, we and our partners learned that many residents and business-owners in Jonestown didn’t know where Jonestown was. Not anymore.

Today, Jonestown (JMM’s neighborhood, bounded to the north by Orleans Street, the east by Central Ave, the west by Fallsway and the south by Pratt Street) is on the brink of a true renaissance.  This “Performance Counts” newsletter often regales you with numbers and metrics. This month, I am only thinking about one number: seven. It’s a number important in Jewish culture, and it happens to be the number, by my count, of significant improvements and developments—recent or forthcoming—in our changing neighborhood.

Breaking ground

Breaking ground

1. I recently had the privilege to attend the official groundbreaking for the new Ronald McDonald House, which will have an Aisquith address, but will fill the much of the block between Fayette and Baltimore Streets a stone’s throw to our northeast. The groundbreaking was educational and emotional for me, as I learned with some heartache about the hope and care that RMHC provides for children suffering from serious illness and their families.

Check out that snazzy entrance!

Check out that snazzy entrance!

2. Just west of the soon-to-be RMHC on Fayette, you’ll find a huge brick structure, painted with jaunty gray diagonal color blocks. This facility, the newly-opened UA House of Living Classrooms, provides support, smiles, activities and an inviting and safe place before and after school for neighborhood children and youth.

3. Also on Fayette, the National Aquarium is working on renovating a 50,000 sq foot property that will serve as an animal care and rescue facility. We understand from our colleagues at the Aquarium that the new space will allow them to properly quarantine and care for animals, and that they do have plans to make it available to visitors on a limited basis.

Hendler Creamery Corporation

Hendler Creamery Corporation

4. A little closer to the Museum, on Baltimore Street, the long-vacant and historic Hendler Ice Cream factory is soon to be converted into both retail and luxury apartments. The developer’s plans include nearly 300 apartments, two floors of parking, and 20,000 square feet of retail. (We have heard through the grapevine that the developers are hoping to incorporate several café-style restaurants in the retail portion. Needless to say, JMM staff is excited!)

The McKim Center

The McKim Center

5. The McKim Center, the Lloyd Street Synagogue’s older sister, will soon be situated right between the new Hendler Creamery development and the new Ronald McDonald House. Its new neighbors, recognizing the historic, cultural and emotional impact of this community anchor, are each planning to help improve the center’s immediate surrounds, with RMHC creating a new park and playground as a part of its plans and the Hendler project adding a façade clean-up and repair of the 184-year-old building.

The JEA

The JEA

6. Speaking of old buildings with Jewish history, the Helping Up Mission recently acquired the former home of the Jewish Educational Alliance (the precursor of the JCC) at 1216 E. Baltimore Street. (My colleagues blogged about their recent visit there.) Helping Up Mission has big plans for the site, which they plan to use to expand their residential work therapy services so that they can help women as well as men.

Helping Up Mission

Helping Up Mission

7. Helping Up Mission, in addition to being our neighbor, is also our tenant. In the middle of last year, they rented 5 Lloyd Street from the JMM. Per our agreement, they’ve done considerable work on the property as a part of their rent. They have been such good tenants at 5 Lloyd Street, that when they expressed interest in the property we own on Lombard Street, formerly Lenny’s Deli, we were eager to listen. As of this month, and until the end of November, Helping Up is renting the Lenny’s property. They’re doing a lot of work on it this month, getting it ready for their needs—to serve as their cafeteria for the residents of the mission while their own kitchen facilities are completely renovated. We are currently reviewing our options for the use of the site past November.

So what about the Jewish Museum of Maryland amid these seven key changes in Jonestown? Fear not, dear reader, we have plans that will make you proud! We are refining a vision for our future that will create a Center for Discourse and Discovery at JMM – with a special focus on Holocaust/genocide education in the 21st century, reposition the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue as a landmark of religious liberty, and add improved program and exhibit space to our main museum building.

These are exciting times! I hope to see you around the Museum and in the neighborhood soon!

Jonestown: Proudly we hail.

Jonestown: Proudly we hail.

A blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

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