Volunteer Spotlight on: Naomi Harans!

Posted on October 6th, 2014 by

Naomi greets visitors with a smile!

Naomi greets visitors with a smile!

Naomi Harans has been volunteering at the JMM for almost 7 years.  She came to her position as a Front Desk Receptionist with plenty of work experience.  She previously did temporary employment as an office worker and volunteered as such at the JCC.  Her favorite part about greeting visitors to the JMM is learning about them.  She is a good listener and has always been interested in people.  She has met folks from many different countries who have searched out the JMM, and is always surprised when local Baltimoreans come in for the first time and say, “I never knew this place was even here.”  She also enjoys learning about the information presented in our temporary exhibits.

In her spare time she’s enjoyed bowling with Beth Tfiloh and the Covenant Guild.  She was fond of traveling with her husband and since he passed away she enjoys traveling with her two daughters, son, their spouses, and her grandchildren.  Some of her favorite destinations have been Spain, Hawaii, Israel and the train ride across Canada.  Next on her agenda is a cruise from Shanghai to Sydney – she departs next week!  We wish Naomi a bon voyage and look forward to welcoming her back to the JMM in November and learning about her latest travel experience.


ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday(ish) of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at icohen@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

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Museum Matters: October 2014

Posted on October 3rd, 2014 by

“Don’t be frightened!” cried Tevye as he started to explain his nightmare of Fruma Sarah.

JMM is feeling ever so slightly ghoulish these days as we invite back Dr. Arnold Blumberg to speak about zombies and prepare for the return of the ghost of Mendes Cohen in early November.  Maybe it’s the “haunting” music in The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit or the creaking of the pirate ships on the Oct. 19 Chesapeake program.

But I can assure you that these are all friendly ghosts, so don’t resist.  Come join us at an upcoming event.  Also be sure to check out our NEW tour hours below and note our November opening of yet another specialty tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue – this one looking at the building from the vantage point of 1845.

Get into the spirit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland this October.


Upcoming Programs

Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org.


A Star-Spangled Banner New Year: Author Tova S. Yavin

Sunday, October 12, 1:00pm

Program Free with Museum Admission


Explore the Jewish experience at Fort McHenry with children’s author Tova S. Yavin. Yavin, received the 2008 Notable Book Award for her novel All Star Season, has been developing an article for Highlights Magazine for Children on the Jewish experience of the War of 1812. Learn how the events inspired Francis Scott Key and what his famous poem meant to America’s Jewish community.


All-Star Season will be available for purchase in the JMM Museum Shop during the program.  


In Full Glory Reflected: Author Dr. Ralph Eshelman

Sunday, October 19, 1:00pm

Program Free with Museum Admission

The book will be available at the Museum gift shop!

In Full Glory Reflected, co-authored by Dr. Ralph Eshelman and Burt Kummerow, will be available for purchase in the JMM Museum Shop.

Dr. Ralph Elsheman, co-author of In Full Glory ReflectedDiscovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake, will be standing in for his writing partner Burt Kummerow.  Eshleman, a historian who helped develop the “Star Spangled Banner Historic Trail” will share gripping tales of devastating raids, heroic defenders, gallant privateers, fugitive slaves and threatened lands from his treasure chest of Chesapeake tails.


Free Fall Baltimore

The Golem: A Horrific Hero with Feet of Clay: Speaker Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg

the-golem-aka-der-golem-wie-er-in-die-welt-kam-1920Sunday, October 26, 1:00pm


Where are the Jewish zombies? For this year’s Free Fall Baltimore program at the JMM, we welcome back Dr. Blumberg as he reveals the background of the mythical Golem and its place in contemporary pop culture.

Arnold T. Blumberg teaches courses in zombies in popular media (Univ. of Baltimore) and comic book literature (UMBC).

FFB Logo. 2014

Mendes’ Baltimore: The Industries that Built a City

Sunday, November 9th, 1pm

Speaker Jack Burkert


Jack Burkert, a museum educator at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, will discuss the industries and technology that played a vital role in the growth and development of Baltimore during Mendes Cohen’s lifetime. Plus after join us for our newest synagogue tour Technology in the Temple.

Jack joined the Baltimore Museum of Industry as a Museum Educator in 2010. Through this employment, he offers educational programs and information to both adults and young people. Jack has made a specialty of adding content and background to his work through research into the history of Baltimore, its port, businesses, people and immigration. A 1969 graduate of the University of Maryland, Jack graduated with honors with a degree in history and education. His working life, some 40+ years, was spent in various educator roles, beginning in the Baltimore City School system, then as a staff member at the Pennsylvania State University, through private employers and then until his retirement a few years ago, in his own consulting firm.


Mendes Cohen Living History Performance

Sunday, November 16, 1:00pm

Program Free with Museum Admission 

The Ghost of Mendes Cohen

The Ghost of Mendes Cohen

See history come alive with this performance of our newest Living History character and subject of our recently opened exhibit, performed by actor Grant Cloyd. Learn more about this fascinating character as he recounts some of his most captivating anecdotes, including his experience as a defender at Fort McHenry and his time spent traveling throughout Europe and the Middle East.  This will be the first full performance of “the ghost of Mendes Cohen” at the JMM.


More Programs

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. 



Exhibits currently on display include The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (on display through June 14, 2015), Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks!


NEW – Hours and Tour Times

The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm.

Starting October 5 we will offer combination tours of the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue and the 1876 Synagogue Building now home to B’nai Israel, Sunday through Thursday at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm.  We will offer tours focused on the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Sunday through Thursday at 3:00pm and on Sunday at 4:00pm.  On November 9 we will introduce a new Lloyd Street “1845: Technology and the Temple” tour at 3:00pm and the tour will be available every Sunday and Monday at 3 until The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen closes next June.

Please note we are closed for the Jewish festivals on October 9, 10, 16 and 17.


Get Involved

The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or icohen@jewishmuseummd.org.



Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.

All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street.

Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchased online! http://jewishmuseummd.org/get-involved/museum-membership/ For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org.


Gift Shop

Get mugged….get lost…..get burned!.. 

Baltimore is buzzing for our A-Mazing Mendes MUG! (and dishwasher safe!)

Baltimore is buzzing for our A-Mazing Mendes MUG! (and dishwasher safe!)

Lost in the Maze, but you can be found in the JMM Museum Shop!

Lost in the Maze, but you can be found in the JMM Museum Shop!

Only Candles burn and oh so brightly on our Fire Engine Menorah!

Only Candles burn and oh so brightly on our Fire Engine Menorah!

To round out our fantastic and A-Mazing shop, look at this gorgeous dish!

To round out our fantastic and A-Mazing shop, look at this gorgeous dish!


Merchandise purchased in the Museum Shop directly benefits the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Members receive a 10% discount on JMM Shop purchases.




For information, call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email at eweiner@jewishmuseummd.org.



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Gaining Perspective from 1,000 Miles Away

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by

St. Paul

A beautiful shot of the St. Paul Skyline!

A week before Rosh Hashonah, Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon and I attended the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) conference in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The trip had many virtues – a chance to see some truly innovative museums, a chance to renew and develop acquaintances with colleagues and collaborators, and perhaps, most important, a chance to think about the directions we are taking at JMM through the lens of innovations happening elsewhere in the country.


What a great conference poster – does anyone know the artist?

The tone for the conference was set by keynoter, Garrison Keillor.  He peppered his folksy (and irreverent) stories of the history of the state with observations about the museum enterprise.  Paraphrasing Tip O’Neill, he observed that “all history is local” and that those who try to sweep human experience into great global generalizations are probably sharing as much fiction as truth.  “The 60s may have been about drug, sex, and rock ‘n roll in parts of New York or San Francisco”, he noted, “but in small town Minnesota the 60s was all about moving into the middle class.”  I reflected on our Mendes Cohen exhibit at JMM and thought, actually “all history is biography” and every human life has the potential to illuminate its times.

Feature exhibit at the Minnesota History Center:  Toys of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Feature exhibit at the Minnesota History Center:
Toys of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

I attended 7 workshops and presentations during my two and a half days in St. Paul.  These included:

“Creating Connections:  Integrating STEM Learning into History Exhibitions and Programs” – a collaboration of the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Conner Prairie historic village outside Indianapolis.  Conner Prairie recently took a big leap outside its comfort zone, training its history docents to facilitate visitor-driven exploration of historic technologies.  We worked in groups to develop model exhibits.  Ilene’s group was turning architecture into an engineering lesson.  My group worked on letting visitors “put together” a 1910 electric car.

Workshop at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Workshop at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Directors Breakfast – turned out to be a perfect complement to the session above.  The focus of the breakfast was “how do we build a political coalition strong enough to promote history in the way that scientists promote STEM?”  They had some interesting ideas and I expect that I will participate in future forums on this topic.

My favorite artifact - We definitely need something like this in our collection.

My favorite artifact – We definitely need something like this in our collection.

“Blurred Lines:  Museum as Community Center” – This session looked at four specific program innovations at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle (outdoor film festival, evening socials for young adults, yoga in the museum and after school tech clubs).  They talked about successes and failures, but even more interesting, the process of assessing successes and failures.  I think that as we increase our community outreach there is much to be learned from the experience of others.

“Seeing the Forest: A National Perspective on History Organizations” – this was a straightforward (and slightly depressing) set of research results from NEA and AASLH.  It told a story that was not terribly surprising – after holding their own through the first electronic revolution (the Internet of the 1990s and early 2000s), museums were now experiencing a significant decline in attendance during the period 2005 to 2013 (the era of the smart phone and social media) – actually all physical contact with the arts – attending concerts, art galleries, dance performances as well as participating in creative arts activities are declining.  The only uptick in “arts” creation was a boom in photography (perhaps those smart phones).  Of course, these are averages – and any individual institution can figure out a way to buck the trend.

Paul, Babe, me and Mendes at Minnesota History Center. One way to get people to recognize the front of the museum!

Paul, Babe, me and Mendes at Minnesota History Center. One way to get people to recognize the front of the museum!

“Blink” – Local Baltimore/DC consulting group QM2 was invited by the Massachusetts historic properties trust to perform an activity inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink.  They were given 36 hours at each of three historic sites to assess and suggest new directions for reawakening public interest and growing attendance.  The idea was to not get bogged down in all the impediments of “we’ve tried that before” or “management won’t let us do that” and make constructive snap judgments.  It seemed like an interesting experiment.

“Talking about Religion in History Museums” – Three speakers looked at the challenges that the topic of religion generates, not only in public museums, but even in religious-sponsored institutions.  There was discussion of why most museums are willing to host exhibits on religious practice but few are willing to have any discussion of religious belief.  Even small differences of opinion on belief can easily escalate into institution-threatening conflict.   The panelists had some great examples.

“Support Young Children, Grow Future Audiences” – our own Ilene was joined by speakers from the Smithsonian’s Center on Early Learning, a museum in San Antonio and the still-to-be-built National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.  The topic was how history museums could relate to our youngest visitors (ages 3 to 7).  Call me prejudiced, but I thought Ilene’s presentation was outstanding and really reminded me that we can hold our own even with much larger institutions when it comes to educational innovation.

Mill City Museum: The ruins of a flour mill destroyed by fire are transformed into a first-rate history experience.

Mill City Museum: The ruins of a flour mill destroyed by fire are transformed into a first-rate history experience.

Living History Actress plays 1940s "Anne Pillsbury" at Mill City Museum

Living History Actress plays 1940s “Anne Pillsbury” at Mill City Museum

Lest you think I spent all my time in sessions, some of the highlights of the trip are documented in the photos below.  I had the chance to explore the beautiful Minnesota State Capitol building, the first major project of architect Cass Gilbert, now under restoration.  I went back to the Minnesota History Center, on everyone’s short list of the best history museums in the US and also had the chance to visit their newest project, the Mill City Museum.  In 1991 an abandoned flour mill, once the largest in the world, was nearly destroyed by fire.  Instead of tearing the building down the folks at MNHS turned into an extension site and, in my opinion, perhaps the finest single topic museums ever.  Combining clever exhibit design (an elevator ride that seems to owe a lot to MSI’s Coal Mine and Disney’s Tower of Terror), extensive research, live performance, great use of artifacts and the ruins of the building and some great exhibit filmmaking – I would rate this as a “must see”, even if you never thought you had an interest in making flour.

Detail from the ceiling of the Minnesota State Assembly - it was breathtaking.

Detail from the ceiling of the Minnesota State Assembly – it was breathtaking.

And of course I brought my trusty Flat Mendes with me!

And of course I brought my trusty Flat Mendes with me!

If I had to describe the conference in one word, it would be: “inspiring”.  I am glad I could take you along for a little bit of the ride.

Marvin PinkertA blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts from Marvin click HERE. Interested in knowing more about AASLH? Check out their website, http://www.aaslh.org/ or follow them on Twitter!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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