A blog post by shop manager Esther Weiner.
One of the best parts of my job at the Jewish Museum of Maryland is meeting the people who take the time to come and visit the museum. Granted, it is a very special place, or so we think (those of us that work and spend a great deal of time there)…so I have always felt that visitors deserve to see our “best face forward”. After all, in a way, they are our guests in a unique kind of way.
Managing the Museum Shop has its share of difficulties, which I won’t touch on now, but my favorite thing is to be in the shop and meet and greet our visitors. Our special volunteers are most often there, but when they cannot come, that means I get to talk to the children, their parents, the visitors from California, France, Israel, Brazil, and most of the states all across the country. So now I can show off our hand-picked pieces of jewelry, menorahs, seder plates, artwork, listen to music on our CD player, and make the visitor feel comfortable and at home.
Let me tell you about a recent visitor to the museum who moved to the Baltimore area from Raleigh, North Carolina. As she looked at the merchandise in the shop we started to chat. I told her that I was born in Raleigh, and that my father started his rabbinical career in Raleigh. She told me about an exhibition in Raleigh at the North Carolina Museum of History called Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina. Interesting, I thought.
In about two weeks, an envelope arrived from my new friend from North Carolina, with a brochure from the exhibition. I read it with much interest, then on the very last page of was a small picture of a group of children, standing on steps with adults in the last row. The picture was labeled “Raleigh Sunday School, 1928”…..I could not believe my eyes, there was my father, the future Rabbi Isidore Printz, standing in the very last row of the picture! I had never seen that picture, in fact, I knew very little about my parents life in Raleigh.
I phoned the museum in Raleigh and spoke with a really helpful Education Chief, who turned out to be Jewish, and when I asked if it would be possible to get a reprint of the picture, he made it possible for that to happen. I was thrilled, and so was our family.
Finally, to round out this incredible tale, there were oral histories taken of people who lived through the time period when my father was the rabbi of the House of Jacob. I was able to read those stories, read what the congregants thought of my father, and how much they respected him, and the work he did while he served the people of Raleigh. I felt so good about it, my father would have been so pleased to read these comments. Our family’s history has been enriched by this experience.
All this because a visitor came to the Museum Shop of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. And we made her feel welcome. Because that’s what we do.
I love it.