Once Upon a Time…11.18.2016

Posted on August 15th, 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

JMM 2000.144.51

JMM 2000.144.51

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  November 18, 2016

PastPerfect Accession #:  2000.144.51

Status: Identified! Joan Diskin, Marcella Glickstein, Nathan Mash, unknown, and Margit Spitzer receiving a check.

Thanks To: Sharon Wolfe, Sileen Frank, Honey Littman, Layne Herman, Bud Koback, Alvin Lapides, Barbara Stadd, and anonymous

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Revolutionizing Experiences: Henrietta Szold’s First Visit to the Holy Land Part 1

Posted on August 14th, 2017 by

Letter by Henrietta Szold. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel


Henrietta Szold (1860 – 1945) has long been celebrated for her role in building a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The founder of Hadassah and the force behind Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, she virtually created the public health system in pre-state Israel and also ran the Youth Aliyah, which safely brought thousands of Jewish youth out of Nazi Germany and into Palestine during the 1930s. Remarkably, all these achievements occurred after Szold turned fifty. Though she had been involved in Zionist circles in her native Baltimore and later New York City, it was not until she traveled to Palestine with her mother in 1909 that she made improving conditions her life’s work.

Henrietta Szold and her mother Sophie, August 1909, visiting friends in England before traveling through Europe to Palestine. JMM 1992.242.7.13

Henrietta Szold and her mother Sophie, August 1909, visiting friends in England before traveling through Europe to Palestine. JMM 1992.242.7.13

Not that Szold was a late bloomer. From 1889, when she became superintendent of the nation’s first immigrant night school in Baltimore, to her many years working as an editor at the Jewish Publication Society of America, she had been an important contributor to American Jewish cultural affairs. But in 1908, when leading Jewish scholar Louis Ginzberg, with whom she had worked closely and fallen in love, rejected her for a younger woman, she suffered an emotional crisis that led her to question her previous twenty years in service to male-run institutions. She needed a new direction, and her trip to Palestine enabled her to find it. She came to see that her longstanding belief in “spiritual Zionism” – the development of Jewish settlement in the Holy Land as a way to bring about spiritual renewal for modern Jewry – could be advanced by encouraging women to engage in practical work to address the dire health conditions she had witnessed during her trip.

This realization did not occur immediately, as demonstrated by the letter printed here, one of the gems of the JMM archives (1995.206.1). Writing to her mentor, Judge Mayer Sulzberger, just after leaving Palestine, she expresses doubts about herself as well as the state of the Zionist movement. But she also vividly describes the transformative effect the visit had on her. Upon her return to America, she embarked on a new path that led to the founding of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, in 1912. Another visit to Palestine in 1920 resulted in her settling there permanently to overs the various projects she had initiated.

Szold did not always agree with the Zionist establishment; in the 1930s and 1940s, for example, she publicly supported a bi-national state. Her strongly independent thought is on display here, in her honest critique of the Zionist project as she saw it “on the ground.” But her belief in the Holy Land as a way to renew the Jewish people shines through as well.

The Letter, page 1

The Letter, page 1

The Letter:

The Mediterranean, between Alexandira and Trieste

November 28, 1909


Dear Judge Sulzberger:

My very indefinite dating of this letter indicates only one thing definitely – that my face is at last set westward and homeward. I feel that this is the time when I may venture to give you a little account of my impressions – don’t be alarmed, I shall not subject you to a catalogue of sights and scenes. This is the proper time because I cannot help believing that Italy, even Italy, which is to fill out the rest of my long vacation, must be in the nature of an anti-climax after my Oriental experiences. If I were younger I should call them revolutionizing experiences. At all events, if I had undergone them earlier in life, they might have had a decidedly shaping influence upon my Jewish attitude and work. As it is, they will probably be a very stimulating memory without much noticeable result in action.

It was not due to any conscious arrangement on my part that my trip abroad arranged itself as it did. I spent the first month in Scotland and England, all the time I was there I tingled with the feeling that I was in my intellectual home. My Anglo-Saxon education announced itself at every step. I had no right to feel that blood was thicker than water, to be sure, but I discovered that brain tissue is not a negligible element in appreciating relationships.

From there we went direct to Vienna and Hungary, my mother’s home, from which she had gone away fifty years to a week when we returned. And there I did learn that blood is thicker than water. I found a really huge circle of relatives, ready-made and ready to receive me as though I had had the same intellectual and sentimental antecedents with themselves. It was as rare an experience as cathedrals and picture galleries to me, for we are a very small family in America and I have never known the pleasure of the intimacy that stands between family ties and friendships. And it was curious to observe how America had done little more than modify external characteristics; the family soul had remained unimpinged by time and distance.

But I feel that my real experiences began when I left Buda-Pest and was whirled through Servia [sic], Bulgaria, and Turkey to Constantinople. Again, in the ordering of my Oriental trip, chance was kind to me. I cannot be sufficiently thankful that I had the opportunity of seeing Constantinople, Smyrna, Alexandria, Beirut, and Damascus before I entered the Holy Land proper.

Also, it was lucky for me that I did not, like most tourists, enter by way of Jaffa and Jerusalem. That was intentional maneuvering on my part. I wanted to see the land with my own eyes, or spectacles if you will, not through the spectacles of the warring factions in the two intellectual centres. The other chance gave me a true Oriental setting for the Holy Land, the proper atmosphere. After seeing half a dozen cities and the country districts, even if only from the car window or the carriage seat, I knew enough to distinguish between what is peculiarly Jewish and generally Oriental. It was eminently useful knowledge. I know it to be such when I remember what other six-weeks-tourists of Palestine on their return.

Continue to Part II: Entering the Holy Land[1]

[1] Interested in more Henrietta Szold history? Check out Henrietta Szold’s Baltimore from 1860-1902, an innovative and interactive mobile tour on the early life of Henrietta Szold, developed by the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Download the free izi.travel mobile app and follow the JMM’s audio tour that will lead you through the progression of Henrietta’s early life, which also tells the story of the German-Jewish immigrants to Baltimore and the Russian Jews that followed decades later. Each stop on the tour includes unique, historical images that will transport you back in time to see Baltimore through the eyes of the Szolds.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Intern Round Up 2017

Posted on August 11th, 2017 by

Our wonderful 2017 Summer Interns

Our wonderful 2017 Summer Interns

I’m so pleased to announce another successful summer of interns! The Museum welcomed six new interns into our intense, ten-week internship program this year, and a seventh intern doing an extended internship through the summer and fall, spread across multiple Museum departments.


This year’s summer interns hailed from 3 different states (Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Ohio). All 7 interns came to us from different colleges and universities and between them they represented 9 different majors (four interns are double majoring!). Over the course of their internships they participated in a combined 2,450 hours of work and learning.

22 Blog Posts: Between their 2 individual blog posts and the weekly series “Intern Thoughts: A Weekly Response,” interns produced A LOT of words this summer! You can check out all the entries in the weekly response series HERE,  and see all entries by (and about) our interns on the blog in the “intern” tag!

The interns also created 5 podcast episodes, exploring topics ranging from collections care to Jewish identity in millennials – we’ll be sharing those over the next few weeks, so keep an eye (and an ear!) out.

 Visiting the MICA art library

Visiting the MICA art library

Once again staff donated their time and expertise to offer 6 professional workshops throughout the summer!

>Object Handling with collections manager Joanna Church

>Introduction to Exhibitions with curator Karen Falk

>Program Planning with program manager Trillion Attwood

>Museum Management with executive director Marvin Pinkert

>Archival Exploration with education director Ilene Dackman-Alon

>Visitor Services with visitor services coordinator Graham Humphrey

We gave Esther’s Place a small face lift this summer in addition to our annual inventory and the interns’ assistance was invaluable, totaling 14+ hours of assistance, inventorying over 1,550 types of items!

Working hard in Esther's Place!

Working hard in Esther’s Place!

Interns were able to participate in 2 off-site fieldtrips over the course of the summer. On Flag Day they enjoyed a 3 part visit to the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House & Museum – first observing the annual flag day ceremonies, then touring the historic Flag House and finally attending the afternoon lecture by K. A. Wisniewski on the story behind the design of the American flag. Interns also enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of MICA’s art library with library director Heather Slania, with a special look at the library’s “artist books” collection.


Saralynn and Sheldon Glass Education Interns:
Erin Penn and Sara Phillipe

Sara and Erin worked on several exciting and interesting projects over the course of this internship. From the start they hit the ground running, as they helped to put the final touches on the opening events for Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland. Also in conjunction with Just Married!, Sara and Erin created a scavenger hunt for the schools and camps which visited over the summer. They even got to lead the students through the exhibit.

They researched and planned upcoming programs for the next exhibit, Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage, contacting artisans, caterers, and even planning fun craft projects. In connection with the new exhibit Sara and Erin helped to organize and create a companion curriculum for all types of students, young and old, Jewish and non-Jewish.

The display they created in the Lloyd Street Synagogue

The display they created in the Lloyd Street Synagogue

Sara and Erin also joined in with Museum Educator Alex Malischostak and Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon on their work for the Henrietta Szold bus tour, lending their voices to the audio recording. The pair of interns also helped with documenting damage at the Lloyd Street Synagogue, assisting in the planning and execution of a city-wide Intern Trivia Night, and organized the handouts and registrations for next week’s Summer Teachers Institute. Lastly, Sara and Erin researched and compiled a mini exhibit celebrating Talmudical Academy’s 100th year which will be displayed in the basement of Lloyd Street Synagogue (where the Academy began).

Education Interns by the Numbers:

>School and camp groups facilitated: 8

>Mailchimp campaigns designed and sent: 4

>Supply and equipment cabinets cleaned and reorganized: 3

>Trips to the Hamden Giant for giftcards: 2

>Calls to Carl Bernstein’s agent: 1 (still waiting for a response…)

Saul L. Ewing, LLC in Memory of Robert L. Weinberg Collections Interns:  
Joelle Paull and Amy Swartz

This summer Joelle and Amy tackled a variety of projects as a team. They began with updating accession files, so that all of the information on our physical files appeared in our digital records. They continued a large inventory of the collections — photographing and measuring objects, and updating existing records.
The imminent opening of Just Married: Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland meant a break from condition reporting to help prepare the exhibit. Amy Swartz helped to steam all of the dresses for the exhibit and prepare them for display, including building pads and arms for mannequins to properly support and display the textiles.

Posing with one of the many wedding dresses for Just Married!

Posing with one of the many wedding dresses for Just Married!

After Just Married opened, they turned their attention to a past exhibit, which is getting ready to travel. Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America will open at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, Ohio this fall. Amy and Joelle gathered the objects from the exhibit, photographed and condition reported them, and packed them so that they would be ready to ship when the time comes.

Collections by the Numbers:

>Beyond Chicken Soup artifacts condition reported and packed: 550

>Artifacts inventoried, photographed and condition reported: 317

>Boy Scout related-items processed in recent donation: 105

>Dresses prepared: 11

>Electrified golden lions collected: 2

>Collections Committee meetings attended: 1

Saul L. Ewing, LLC in Memory of Robert L. Weinberg Exhibition and Oral History Interns: Ryan Mercado, Tirza Ochrach-Konradi, and Jillie Drutz

Ryan’s projects were all in relation to the “Belonging(s): What Connects Us” exhibit which opens in 2019. A long list of topics were given to Ryan and the other interns on subjects pertaining to “belongings” and were tasked with researching the topics and finding out how they can be used in the exhibit. Ryan focused on three topics: researching a character profile on a man named Dr. Samuel Neistadt, a Jewish socialist who immigrated to Maryland in his childhood and thrived in the Jewish institutions here; researched material in relation to the Maryland Jew Bill, particularly about a pilgrimage to the bill’s chief advocate’s grave; and finally, began extensive research and planning on converts to Judaism that may be included in the exhibit. Ryan even used his time abroad in Canada to do side work visiting the Jewish Museum in Montreal and writing for the JMM about it in a blog post. Ryan also donated the first siddur he ever bought during his own conversion to Judaism to aid in the research.

Touring the library with Karen Falk

Touring the library with Karen Falk

Tirza worked as part of the Exhibitions team this summer. She was focused on an oral history collections project that the JMM is collaborating on with Beth Am congregation. The interviews are focused on the founding of Beth Am out of the Chizuk Amuno downtown congregation in 1974 and Beth Am’s growth through the years. Tirza spent the first few weeks doing a lot of background research on the interview topic and working with Karen Falk, JMM curator, and Aaron Levin, the project head at Beth Am, to develop a set of interview questions that fit both Beth Am and the JMM’s goals. She then got in contact with potential interviewees and began conducting interviews in early July. She has also been transcribing, making archive entries, and doing all of the other tasks that go into collecting and maintaining oral histories for the JMM’s collection.

(We’ll hear from Jillie later in the year as she gets closer to the end of her internship!)

Exhibitions and Oral History by the Numbers:

>Interviews transcribed: 10 (totaling 8 hours 22 minutes and 37 seconds of recorded audio)

>Hours spent transcribing: 33

>Interviews conducted: 7 (1 international)

>Research topics: 3

>Trips to Canada: 1

Enjoying a beautiful summer day together (and some delicious gelato)

Enjoying a beautiful summer day together (and some delicious gelato)

Many thanks to all our interns.  We hope they learned as much from us as we learned from them.
– Marvin


JMM in the News!

Our newest acquisition!

Our newest acquisition!

Suburban Orthodox Donates Golden Torah Lions to Jewish Museum in the Baltimore Jewish Times

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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