Once Upon a Time…02.10.2017

Posted on November 7th, 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 1993.37.32

JMM 1993.37.32

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: February 10, 2017

PastPerfect Accession #: 1993.37.32

Status:Partially identified – the counselor on the left of this Bais Yaakov Day Camp photo from 1958 is Sandy Blumberg Engelman. Do you recognize any of the campers?

Thanks To: Ilene Singer, Judy Silverstein


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Esther’s Place Goes to Strathmore!

Posted on November 3rd, 2017 by

Museum Matters: November 2017

Just a few of the fantastic items we'll have on sale!

Just a few of the fantastic items we’ll have on sale!

For every visit to any museum, the Museum Gift Shop is a quintessential stop, and for good reason–museum stores have a disproportionate share of surprise and pizazz per square foot compared to other retail establishments.  In fact, a well-appointed museum store becomes a part of the learning experience that is a museum visit.

As we did last November, Esther’s Place: The Shop at the Jewish Museum of Maryland will be taking part in the Strathmore Mansion’s Museum Shop Holiday Market. This 4-day market features the wares of 18 area museum shops. It’s a savvy holiday shopper’s great-gift HQ!

Come see us!

Come see us!

From Thursday Nov 9 through Sun Nov 12, Esther’s Place will have a second location in an upstairs room in the Strathmore Mansion. We will be featuring some great finds for everyone on your list, including some of my favorite items in the shop right now:

>“beanie baby” style stuffies with uniquely Jewish names, like Mooses the moose and Gefilte the fish

>architectural Judaica rendered in chrome and steel

>“fidget-spinner” dreidels

>colorful soup bowls labeled “Jewish Penicillin”

>amazing jewelry from Israeli and American Jewish designers. We have selections from simple and elegant to wow!

Believe me, it will be worth the drive to North Bethesda. I hope to see you there!

–Tracie Guy-Decker
Associate Director

Upcoming programs
All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact Trillion Attwood at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-873-5177 with any questions or for more information.


Sunday at 12pm!

Sunday at 12pm!

Being Jewish in Baghdad
Sunday, November 5th at 12:00pm
Speaker: Maurice Shamash
Get TIckets Now!
JMM Member – Reserve Your Seat

Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, Maurice Shamash has fond memories of growing up in Iraq—until everything changed. Join us as we hear Mr. Shamash’s fascinating story that took him from Iraq to America, via Israel and Britain. This powerful personal testimony will offer unique insight into a once thriving Jewish community that is now virtually extinct.

Free community event

Free community event

Childhood Memories of the Holocaust: A Cantanta
Community Kristallnacht Commemoration
Sunday, November 5 at 2pm
Beth El Congregation, 8101 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, 21208

Co-sponsors: Baltimore Jewish Council; Beth El Congregation; Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, Inc.; Toby’s, Columbia

Baltimore's Storyteller

Baltimore’s Storyteller

Glimpses of Gil Sandler
Thursday, November 9th at 6:30 pm
Free – Let us know you’re coming!

A tribute to Baltimore’s preeminent storyteller for his role in supporting the work of the Jewish Museum of Maryland and preserving Baltimore’s Jewish heritage. Following the presentation please join us for a light reception, dietary laws observed, plus a book signing with Gil Sandler.

Immigrants from Iraq leaving Lod airport on their way to ma'abara, 1951. Via.

Immigrants from Iraq leaving Lod airport on their way to ma’abara, 1951. Via.

Sacred Legacy: The Amazing Rescue of Iraq’s Jews
Sunday, November 12th at 1:00pm
Speaker: Dr. Neil Rubin
Get Tickets Now!
JMM Members – Reserve Your Seat

Join Dr. Neil Rubin as we explore Operation Ezra and Nechemiah. In that stunning 1951-1952 rescue operation, the State of Israel spirited more than 130,000 endangered Iraqi Jews out of their native land to the Jewish state.


Dancing, music, crafts, and food!

Dancing, music, crafts, and food!

Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day
Sunday, December 3, All Day
Featuring: Silk Road Dance Company and Sephardic Heritage D.C.
Included with Museum Admission – Get Your Tickets Now!
JMM Members – Let us know you’re coming!

Experience a multi-sensory exploration of a fascinating culture with a long and often unknown history. Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day promises to engage and delight the whole family.  Celebrate Iraqi Jewish Heritage through fun activities, hands-on crafts, dancing, music, and, of course, food.

This story and more!

This story and more!

Downtown Dollar Day
A Very Sephardic Hanukkah
Sunday, December 10, All Day
Admission just $1 – Get your discount tickets now!
JMM Members – let us know you’re coming!

Perfect for families, this special day will feature kids’ activties throughout the day, including multiple story times and storytellers who will share Sephardic Hanukkah stories. More details coming soon!
>>View the full JMM calendar of events here.<<

Also of Interest
The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org.  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on Facebook.

The following two programs are presented by the Creative Alliance in partnership with B’Nai Israel Congregation and the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Andy Statman

Andy Statman

The Andy Statman Trio
Wednesday, November 8 at 7:30pm
27 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
More Info and Tickets

Beloved as a Klezmer and bluegrass musician, Andy is a virtuosic clarinetist and mandolin player who leads an ace trio.

Judith Berkson

Judith Berkson

Judith Berkson with Frank London and Michael Winograd
Saturday, December 2 at 8:00pm
27 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
More Info and Tickets

Along with trumpeter Frank London and clarinetist Michael Winograd, Berkson’s inventive take on cantorial music is haunting and mesmerizing.

Free program

Free program

My Life as a Nazi-Hunter: Successes, Failures and Insights
Wednesday, December 6th at 7:30pm
Speaker: Dr. Efraim Zuroff
Location: Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School’s Mintzes Theatre
3300 Old Court Road, Pikesville, MD
FREE – Reserve a seat by contacting Mercaz at 410-413-2321 or mercaz@btfiloh.org

For nearly 40 years, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and director of its Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs, has hunted down Nazis and brought them to justice, unveiling the truth of the Holocaust’s horrors and keeping its victims’ memories alive.

Esther’s Place

Host gifts and more!

Host gifts and more!

Whether or not you can visit us at the Strathmore Museum Shop Holiday Market, please come see us as you make your holiday gift lists! We have merchandise from the whimsical to the sublime. You’re sure to find something for everyone on your list.

Ongoing at the JMM


Exhibits on display include Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage, Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks.

Hours and Tour Times

Combination tours of the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue and the 1876 Synagogue Building now home to B’nai Israel are offered: Sunday through Thursday at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm.

Click Here for complete hours and tour times


Make it official! Become a Member of the JMM.
Learn More about membership.
Already ready? Join Here.

Get Involved

The JMM is always looking for volunteers! Click Here to learn more.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Match Point: Fighting Racial Discrimination in Druid Hill Park Pt. 1

Posted on November 1st, 2017 by

generations 2004 copyArticle by Barry Kessler with Anita Kassof. Originally published in Generations – 2004: Recreation, Sports & Leisure. This particular issue of Generations proved wildly popular and is no longer available for purchase.

Part I: Everyone for Tennis?

Glancing back at the hundreds of spectators surrounding the clay tennis courts in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park that blazing Sunday afternoon in July 1948, Mitzi Freishtat grabbed her racket and began to volley, getting ready for a game of doubles along with seven other dedicated young people. But Mitzi wasn’t warming up for a tournaments; before long the park police arrived, ordered the players to desist, and placed them all under arrest when they refused. Their crime: playing tennis together, whites and blacks, in opposition to the Parks Board policy of strict racial segregation.

The festive atmosphere at the tennis courts that morning belied the serious intent of the players and their backers. They were taking on Jim Crow, the repressive practice of keeping whites and black apart in public facilities of every kind that had pervaded the American South, including Maryland, since the late 1800s. They were taking a stand on the thorniest issue facing Baltimore’s parks and recreation system in the twentieth century, and their courageous action was one of the earliest and most effective protests against segregation in Baltimore.

Although theoretically “open to all persons upon absolutely equal terms,” most of Baltimore’s parks had been restricted largely to whites for half a century under the pretense of “separate but equal.” A few years after the 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which sanctioned states’ prohibition of the social intermingling of blacks and whites in public places, the Maryland Assembly enacted segregationist laws. This created a convoluted, divisive, and ultimately unworkable system which only disappeared with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education.

Racial segregation in the parks was never legislated, but the Parks Board and its police enforced a “separate but equal” policy. In 1905 the Afro-American newspaper protested unsuccessfully to the Board that blacks were being steered to separate picnic groves and excluded from the tennis courts in Druid Hill Park. By 1915 the Board had equipped a room in the basement of the Druid Hill Park Mansion House “for the special accommodation of negroes,” noting that the park was being used increasingly by blacks. For the most part white Baltimoreans vociferously insisted on the practice of segregation in a continuing attempt to keep blacks out of “their” parks, especially in facilities used by people of both sexes, such as dancing pavilions, golf courses, and swimming pools.

Due to intimidation from hostile whites elsewhere, Druid Hill Park became the only large park where Baltimore blacks felt comfortable. All the facilities set aside for blacks, except for the golf course in Carroll Park, were located in a single area in the west-central portion of Druid Hill: by 1909 there was a playground for black children; by 1919, tennis courts; and in June 1921 a swimming pool opened as well.

In the 1930s attempts to change the Parks Board policy centered around the Carroll Park Golf Course, which was obviously inferior. But in 1948 activists began to attack segregation on several fronts. The Easterwood Progressive Club sponsored an interracial basketball team, which it proposed to enter in Bureau of Recreation league play. Black golfers won an order in federal court to open all the municipal courses to blacks on designated days. But the most explosive action of the uneasy summer of 1948 was the interracial tennis match that Mitzi Freishtat, now Mitzi Swan, had a hand in: it was part political stage show, part frustrated outburst, and part pioneering non-violent civil disobedience.

Jewish boys playing softball in Druid Hill Park, c. 1938. JMM 1987.19.5 Pictured are: Eddie Schunick, Melvin Kerber, Stanley Berngartt (Stanford Reed), and Robert Blaney.

Jewish boys playing softball in Druid Hill Park, c. 1938. JMM 1987.19.5
Pictured are: Eddie Schunick, Melvin Kerber, Stanley Berngartt (Stanford Reed), and Robert Blaney.

The protest was organized by the Young Progressives of Maryland, an interracial political group that included many Jews living near Druid Hill Park. The group was a branch of the left-liberal Progressive Party, supporting its strong civil rights platform and its candidate for President, Henry Wallace. The Freishtat parents were Progressive Party members, and passed along their liberal principles and activist impulse to their teenage daughter.

The Young Progressives sought out members of the black Baltimore Tennis Club in order to stage a match protesting the segregation rule. The masterminds were Harold Buchman, an attorney connected with the Progressive Party, Stanley Askin, state director of the Young Progressives, and Maceo Howard of the Baltimore Tennis Club. While the Young Progressives were motivated by the opportunity to fight injustice, express their ideology, and promote the party agenda in an election year, the Tennis Club members simply felt the continuing frustration of confinement to a few overcrowded and dilapidated courts.

Mitzi Swan is one of the few still bearing witness to the event: her recollections, transcribed in the accompanying interview, describe the match and its legal aftermath in vivid detail. The case of the protestors was appealed all the way to the United State Supreme Court, which, however, refused to hear it. The Druid Hill Park tennis courts remained segregated for several more years, but the situation did prompt H. L. Mencken to write his final and oft-quoted column denouncing the Park Board rule as “irrational and nefarious” and a “relic of Ku Kluxery.”

For her part, Mitzi Swan continued to join civil rights protests, oppposing segregated seating at Ford’s Theater and the Lyric. “I have always done something,” she says of her lifelong activism. She worked on getting out the urban vote during the presidential election of 1952 and remained involved in civic affairs and progressive causes even after her daughters were born in 1954 and 1957. After her husband died in 1982 (He had also been arrested in connection with the 1948 tennis court protest), she threw herself into electoral politics and then became the paid director of a statewide advocacy organization for the poor and disadvantaged. She has also served on the boards of organizations providing temporary shelter for abused children and fighting for better services for city neighborhoods.

Continue to Part II: An Interview with Mitzi Freishtat Swan

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

« Previous PageNext Page »