Once Upon a Time…04.06.2018

Posted on January 23rd, 2019 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 2012.54.59.3

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: April 6, 2018

PastPerfect Accession #: 2012.054.059.003

Status: Unidentified – do you recognize this father and son duo at services, c. 1995? Photo taken by Craig Terkowitz for the Baltimore Jewish Times.

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Travels with Grace: New York, 1919 Part 2

Posted on January 22nd, 2019 by

Welcome to our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Travels with Grace, where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager

November 8, 1919

Stayed in today and received our friends. They have a famous painting in this hotel in the bar which is now closed, it is “Old King Cole and his Fiddlers Three” [1] by Maxfield Parrish. Caruso and wife have an apartment here and I saw June Caprice, the movie star in the Elevator!

November 9, 1919

View of Bronx River, Bronx Park, New York, 1910. Courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library digital collections.

Went to see Uncle Mayer [Heowberger?] nice old man. Took Aunt Julia for a ride. In the afternoon visited the botanical gardens[2][3] in the Bronx Park. This is the prettiest natural park I have seen. The Bronx River runs thru it and forms a series of beautiful cascades. The Guggenheim family have given some new hot houses for orchids and the displays of rare specimens are charming. We then rode thru Van Cortland Park where they have fine golf links free to the public. Saw a new suburban development called Fieldstone but do not think it as pretty as our Balto suburbs. Saw Alice Joyce in movies tonight at the Broadway – The Vengeance of Durand.

Advertisement for the American silent drama film The Vengeance of Durand (1919) with Alice Joyce, on page 82 of the November 1919 Shadowland. Via.

November 10, 1919

Spent this morning at Dr. [Fraueuthal’s] hospital. He is one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in New York and has done some wonderful work. Took dinner at the Plaza. This evening we went to the Plymouth theater to see the Barrymores in “The Jest” a most marvelous play which is the sensation of the present theatrical season. I have never witnessed such wonderful acting.

November 11, 1919

Wannamaker’s Department Store at Broadway and 9th street, 1913. Courtesy of the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library digital collections.

We spent the morning at Wanamaker’s. They have on their pre-xmas toy display and it is fascinating, especially the fairy tales enacted by electrically propelled figures. Stayed here for lunch. This afternoon I was Mrs. [Leerburger’s] guest at the Waldorf-Astoria for a dramatic reading by Jane [Mauners] of Hervieaux’ “The Torch.” This evening the Maas family entertained us at a huge dinner at a Rumanian restaurant in Broom St.

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, 1908. Courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library digital collections.

November 12, 1919

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1910. Courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library digital collections. While the Met was between special exhibits during her visit, check out their 1919 Guide to the Collections for some of what Grace may have seen on her visit! (Thanks to Melissa Bowling at the Met Museum Archives for pointing me to this great resource!)

We devoted the entire day to a tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which was a real revelation to me. Aunts Julia and Henriette joined us there and we had lunch together. Saw so much that I can scarcely remember it all. Only sorry that I cannot come here every day. Tonight we went to see Francine Larrymore in “Scandal” at the 39th St. theater.

[1] Up Close: Maxfield Parrish’s King Cole Bar Mural

[2] New York Botanical Garden

[3] Secrets of the NY Botanical Garden


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Strangers No More: Jewish Life in Maryland’s Small Towns

Posted on January 21st, 2019 by

Written by Karen Falk, former JMM curator. Originally published in Generations – Winter 2001. If you would like to purchase a hard copy of this issue, please contact our shop, Esther’s Place, at 443-873-5179 or email info@jewishmuseummd.org.

Stories about accidental arrival in a small town have the ring of folklore, depicting journeys that changed a family’s destiny. The truth, however, is that a Maryland Jew’s decision to open a business and raise a family far away from the region’s large Jewish communities in Baltimore, Philadelphia or Pittsburgh was usually made with careful consideration. The dreams that brought Jews to small towns and the realities they encountered there describe an important, but underreported, motif in American Jewish history,

Today, 95% of American Jews identify as urban and suburban people.[1] They live in and around cities with thousands of other Jews. An estimated 95,000 Jews, for example, currently live the greater Baltimore area. This large community is articulated into many branches: congregations that offer choices in style of worship; service organizations to assist special populations such as the elderly, new immigrants, and people with disabilities; a variety of educational institutions to instruct children, teens and adults; and an umbrella for them all, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. A large community such as Baltimore’s also supports numerous private businesses that cater to specialized Jewish needs or preferences in food, clothing, and Judaica. Jews who live in this kind of community can choose to be aided in their spiritual, intellectual, and physical pursuits by private and communal organizations at every stage of their lives.

1862 Map of Maryland, Delaware and Washington DC created by Alvin Jewett Johnson. Via.

Jews’ tendency to cluster in urban areas was first documented in 1878, and the lives of urban Jews have been chronicled in literature ever since.[2] The image of the American Jew as an urban dweller is so pervasive, in fact, that most people find it difficult to imagine the existence of the 5% minority of Jews who live in small towns. Small communities, however, are enormously significant in the way they distill our understanding of Jewish identity in America.

It works like this: Jews in small towns must live without the enveloping communal institutions that sometimes insulate the city Jew within a comparatively homogenous group. They embrace participation in local pursuits, but at the same time define and demonstrate their cultural differences from non-Jewish neighbors through Jewish religious observances and cultural practices. These customs set Jews apart, reinforcing heterogeneity in the small town that typical American non-sectarian social and educational activities seek to erase. As citizens of small towns, Jews may feel themselves part of a warm and accepting community; as Jews in those towns, however, they may remain outsiders, strangers. Thus, these small communities provide powerful illustration of the influence of “place” on Jewish identity.

Just how big is a small community? Historian Lee Shai Weissbach, Professor of History at the University of Louisville, has defined small Jewish communities as those in cities and towns that have between 100 and 1,000 Jews. Historically, towns with fewer than 100 Jews (about 20 to 30 families) remain unfocused as communities, usually lacking the resources to build synagogues that become a marker of their presence.[3] Groups larger than 1,000 tend to break up and form sub-communities and begin to resemble the communities of larger cities in function and structure.

This pattern holds true in Maryland, with just a few exceptions. For example, the Jews in Brunswick, a small town on the Potomac that once bustled as an important railroad maintenance center, built a synagogue with fewer than fifteen resident families. At the other end of the spectrum, in Frederick, where the Jewish population has surpassed the 1,000 mark in recent years, the community has not yet subdivided, and gives every indication of continuing unity. Annapolis had a small Jewish community of fewer than 1,000 Jewish residents until the middle of the 20th century, and even today, when the Anne Arundel County community appears to number well over 3,000 Jews and supports several congregations and other Jewish organizations, residents still describe their community as “small town.” As Jewish populations in small towns wax and wane, several other Maryland communities now meet or at one time or another have met Weissbach’s population criterion including Frostburg, Cumberland, Hagerstown, Harford County, St. Mary’s County, Easton, Salisbury, and Pocomoke City.


Continue to Part 2: Jews Migrate to Small Towns (publishing on January 28, 2019).

[1] Marshall Klare, America’s Jews, Random House, 1971, p. 44.

[2] Jewish population date for c. 1878 is from Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Statistics of the Jews of the United States (Philadelphia, 1880). The Union of American Hebrew Congregations fortuitously conducted this survey on the eve of the mass migration of Jews from Eastern Europe, this establishing a benchmark for comparative population studies of Central and Eastern European Jews.

[3] Weissbach discusses his findings in a number of articles. A straightforward explanation of his decision to define as Jewish communities those locations with more than 100 Jews may be found in “Unexplored Terrain: The History of Small Jewish Communities in Western Society,” Shofar 17:1 (Fall 1998), pp. 59-71.


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