Once Upon a Time…05.13.2016

Posted on February 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


2003053045Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  May 13, 2016


PastPerfect Accession #:  2003.053.045


Status: Unidentified! Recognize this Kraus-family friend? The photo was taken at Clindinst, Baltimore around 1890.



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The President and the Wall

Posted on February 6th, 2017 by

45 years ago this month the big news around the globe was about the President and the Wall.  President Richard Nixon was going to visit the Great Wall of China.  Sitting around the JMM lunchroom the other day I realized that many staff were too young to remember this historic event.  Moreover, given the way that Asian history is so often ignored in school, many were unfamiliar with the history of the Wall itself (Mulan doesn’t count as a documentary).

President and Mrs. Nixon visit the Great Wall of China, February 24, 1972. Photo by Byron E. Schumaker. NARA 194421

President and Mrs. Nixon visit the Great Wall of China, February 24, 1972. Photo by Byron E. Schumaker. NARA 194421

Brushing off my textbooks from my days as an East Asian Studies major, I thought I might share some basic facts.  The Great Wall of China was a project started in 220 BCE by China’s first unifier, Qin Shih Huang Ti to keep out Hsiung-nu tribesmen to the north.  The Great Wall was built at a great cost, many of the corvée laborers and convicts who built the wall lie buried inside it.  The Wall was improved by various dynasties over the next 2,000 years.  The majority of the existing wall is less than 600 years old.  Over the centuries the Great Wall was a tremendous symbol of Chinese pride – but perhaps not such a success in achieving its original purpose.  Time and again, northern invaders ended up controlling territory on both sides of the Wall – most famously the Mongols, but also the Liao, the Jin and eventually the Manchu.  The so-called “barbarians” often benefited from civil strife and corruption within China – the Wall offered absolutely no protection against these ailments.  When China is finally carved up by the “Western barbarians” and later Japan, the Great Wall was totally useless.  The Wall was a defensive barrier against a singular threat, when in reality China, like all nations, actually faced multiple, evolving threats across its long history.  It turns out that China was strongest during periods when it had adaptive strategies to a changing environment.

The Great Wall of China, 1907. Photo by Herbert Ponting.

The Great Wall of China, 1907. Photo by Herbert Ponting.

In researching the topic on the Internet, I also found this rather intriguing quote from Nixon’s conversation with reporters at the Great Wall on February 24, 1972.  Nixon said:

What is most important is that we have an open world. As we look at this Wall, we do not want walls of any kind between peoples. I think one of the results of our trip, we hope, may be that the walls that are erected, whether they are physical walls like this or whether they are other walls, ideology or philosophy, will not divide peoples in the world; that peoples, regardless of their differences and backgrounds and their philosophies, will have an opportunity to communicate with each other, to know each other, and to share with each other those particular endeavors that will mean peaceful progress in the years ahead.

If you had asked me in February 1972, sitting in my dorm room at Brandeis, whether I would ever write a blog post favorably quoting Richard Nixon, I would first have asked, “what’s a blog post?” and then I would have responded “are you crazy?”

From Jericho to Venice to Warsaw, Jewish history too has had its share of experience with walls – perhaps enough to join former President Nixon in questioning their efficacy.

MarvinBlog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts from Marvin click HERE.

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Never Groundhog Day

Posted on February 3rd, 2017 by

Museum Matters: February 2017

For many of us today is indelibly marked by the curmudgeonly newscaster portrayed in the movie by Bill Murray.  The protagonist is condemned to relive the same day – a truly awful day – over and over again.

I am happy to report that at JMM there is no Groundhog Day.  Even on a grey morning in February there is the bright promise of new exhibits ahead. This week we’ll be working behind the scenes on five different exhibit projects!  First on our list is Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity, opening on March 5 (public opening begins at noon). Look for a complete list of related programs in our March 2 Museum Matters newsletter.

But even as we prepared to install Remembering Auschwitz we are also measuring the walls for our next project, Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland, scheduled to open June 18.  We have something very special planned for our exhibit opening (details next month) but now is the time to renew your membership to make sure you can join us.

We are also making final arrangements to host Discovery and Recovery: The Iraqi Jewish Archives Project – our opening events for this exhibit are on October 15.  But our team isn’t just working on 2017.  In this week’s Baltimore Jewish Times look for an article about the Scrap Yard national traveling exhibit we’re creating for next fall.  Last but not least, we just completed the conceptual phase for our new core exhibit Belonging(s): What Connects Us.

So no matter what you hear today from Punxsutawny Phil, our winter break will be short – and we won’t be sleeping through it!


Upcoming programs
All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact Trillion Attwood at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-8735177with any questions or for more information.

Movie Screening – Bal Ej: The Hidden Jews of Ethiopia
Sunday, February 12th at 1pm
Included with Museum Admission – Buy Tickets Now!

Join us for the Maryland premiere of Bal Ej: The Hidden Jews of Ethiopia. Following a one-hundred-year-old account of the prominent Jewish Polish scholar Jacque Faitlovich, the film-maker travels to discover and explore a sect of secret Jews in Ethiopia. Named Bal Ej, “craftsmen”, for their artisan skills, they have been persecuted by their Orthodox Christian neighbors who slandered them as “evil-eyed” and “hyena-people.” They have been deprived of basic rights, including ownership of land.

Following the screening we will be talking with the director Irene Orleansky live from Israel via Face Time.

The Balkan Sephardim: Their Stories, Our Heritage
Sunday, February 19th at 6:30pm
Speakers: Edward Serotta and Dr. Joseph Benatov
FREE – Reserve Your Seats Here

In 1492, when the Jews of Spain—the Sephardim–were expelled from their home of a thousand years, they sought refuge in many lands. In what became modern-day Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia, Jews lived alongside their Muslim and Christian neighbors. For 400 years, the lived peacefully suffering neither ghettos nor pogroms. But as the Ottomans withdrew and the ugly 20th century took shape, they were marked for destruction.

Join us for a screening of multimedia films and conversation with Dr Joseph Benatov of the University of Pennsylvania, and Edward Serotta, director of Centropa. We will discuss the tragedy and the resilience of the Balkan Sephardim, their role in the broader story of Sarajevo, and how Centropa uses the story in schools throughout the world.
More info here.

Got Shabbat in Federal Hill!

Friday, February 24, 5:45pm
Location: 1530 Battery Avenue Baltimore, 21230

Join Beth El Federal Hill and B’nai Israel with the Jewish Museum of Maryland and DBJCC for a fun-filled family Shabbat. Questions? Contact Lara Nicolson | 410.559.3532 | lnicolson@jcc.org


Auschwitz through the Lens of the SS
Wednesday, March 1st at 7:00pm
Speaker: Rebecca Erbelding, Museum Archivist
Location: Chizuk Amuno Congregation
FREE – Registration is Required

Shortly after World War II, an American intelligence officer living in Germany made a surprising discovery—a personal album of photographs chronicling SS officers’ activities at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Learn how this unique collection made its way to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the detective work undertaken to identify those pictured. More info here.

Artist Insights: Lori Shocket and Keron Psillas
Sunday, March 5th at 2:00 pm
Included with Museum Admission – Buy Your Tickets Now
Museum Members – Reserve Your Seats Here

We are very pleased to welcome two wonderful artists  whose works are featured in Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity: Lori Shocket (The Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project) and Keron Psillas (Loss and Beauty: Photographs by Keron Psillas) to discuss their art, their inspiration and what they have learnt through their work exploring the Holocaust. More info here.

Stories of Survival: Bluma Shapiro
Featuring a live Crankie performance by Maura Roth-Gormley
Sunday, March 12, 1:00 pm
Included with Museum Admission – Buy Your Tickets Now
Museum Members – Reserve Your Seats Here

Bluma Shapiro is a Polish Holocaust survivor whose Holocaust experiences included confinement with her family in a ghetto, slave labor and deportation to several concentration and death camps including Auschwitz.  Ms. Shapiro’s testimony will be illuminated by Crankie artist Maura Roth-Gormley. More info here.

A Cabaret Evening
Sadie B. Feldman Family Lecture
Presented by The Jüdische Kulturbund Project
Wednesday, March 22nd at 7:00pm
Included with Museum Admission – Buy Your Tickets Now
Museum Members – Reserve Your Seats Here

An evening of learning and music with the team behind The Jüdische Kulturbund Project.  Gail Prensky, executive producer, will enlighten us about the history of the Nazi-era group. Vocalist Sarah Baumgarten and pianist Patrick O’Donnell will present a number of pieces previously performed by the Jüdische Kulturbund. More info here.

The Auschwitz Birkenau Blueprints: Facts and FAQs
Speaker: Marlene Yahalom
Sunday , March 26th at 1:00 pm
Included with Museum Admission – Buy Your Tickets Now
Museum Members – Reserve Your Seats Here

Marlene Yahalom Director of Education of the American Society of Yad Vashem will speak about the Auschwitz Birkenau blueprints which are on display in “The Architecture of Murder” section of Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity. More info here.

Movie Screening: Bogdan’s Journey  
Wednesday, March 29th at 7:30 pm
Special Guest: Anna Sommer Schneider, Georgetown University
Location: The Gordon Center
Ticket Information Here

Maryland premiere of Bogdan’s Journey: Bogdan Bialek, a Catholic Pole, launches a crusade to persuade the people of Kielce, Poland, to confront the truth about the darkest moment in their past: Kielce was the site of Europe’s last Jewish pogrom. More info here.

Esther’s Place: the Shop at the Jewish Museum of Maryland

Esther’s Place is heading to New York City this month for the annual NY NOW show – the premier market for all that’s new and on trend in specialty retail.  We expect to bring back lots of unique merchandise for the shop, so to make room on the shelves, we’re offering a special discount of 10% off the medically-themed Beyond Chicken Soup exhibit merchandise.

The first night of Passover is Monday, April 10, so you have just enough time to stop by and pick up a new Seder plate (or two!).  We’re also adding more pieces to our collection to coincide with our upcoming exhibit Remembering Auschwitz (opening March 5). You can look forward to seeing products that help us remember, including memorial candles, beautifully crafted picture frames and new book additions to our Holocaust-related reading section.

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.

Ongoing at the JMM


Exhibits currently on display include 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

Please note that the JMM is open on Sunday, December 25 from 10am-5pm and on Sunday, January 1, from 10am-5pm.


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.
Click Here for complete hours and tour times


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