Breaking the Sound (and Cultural) Barrier

Posted on July 16th, 2015 by

Music has been prominent in my life as long as I can remember. My parents would blast Led Zeppelin, Yes, and Rush in through the speakers of our sensible navy-blue Honda Odyssey when I was a young kid, and when I’d jump out of the backseat, pull closed the sliding door, I’d walk into a preschool whose naptime soundtrack often was the light indie-beat of Sixpence None the Richer. As I got older, I’d beg for an hour before I started my homework after school to cultivate the perfect playlist, and the following day at school my friends and I would lean against the lockers like we’d seen cool kids do in the movies and synchronize our iPods so that we could sing together whatever Rihanna song we were listening to. And the more I learned about my own American-Jewish culture and the cultures of others, I took an interest in the music of a people, specifically my own people, and the equation of beats +melodies = connection.

A familiar melody

A familiar melody

Lately, at the JMM, with preparations for the upcoming Paul Simon: Words and Music exhibit and general immersion in American-Jewish news, I’ve found a surprising amount of Hava Nagila covers, whose performers run the gamut of cultural diversity. I’ve sifted through some of my favorites for your viewing pleasure, and in my humble opinion, they combine the the roots of the Jewish folk song itself with the rhythm of the traditions its performers cherish, giving the song a whole new meaning, but not one any less familiar or beautiful.


Performed by the Indian band Amrutam Gamaya, their only song so far is this version of Hava Nagila, debuted on an Indian music television channel viewed in English, Hindi, and Tamil.


Violina, a female trio from Tallinn, Estonia, performing the entire song on electric violins.


Andre Rieu, the famous Dutch classical violinist and conductor, performs his rendition of Hava Nagila with his Johan Strauss Orchestra in Maastricht, Netherlands


Gad Elbaz, a Sephardi Jewish singer of Moroccan heritage from Israel, has a well-known pop-dance cover of the folk song, with a few of his own lyrics thrown in as well. And the video includes a flash mob in Jerusalem, which is always a bonus!

IMG_1605A blog post by Museum Intern Rachel Sweren. To read more posts by interns click HERE.

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Once Upon a Time…11.21.2014

Posted on July 14th, 2015 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 at 410.732.6400 x236 or email jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

 

1980029027bDate run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  November 21, 2014

PastPerfect Accession #:  1980.029.027b

EDIT Status: Identified! Goucher College girls basketball team, 1915. Forwards: Sylvania Nagle, Eline Von Borries; Centers: Lucille Liberles, Evelyn Martine (Captain); Guards: Ruth Hayden, Caroline Diggs; Manager: Virginia Merritt.

Special Thanks To: twitter user @impresservation and to Goucher Libraries for having a fully digitized copy of the 1915 Donnybrook Yearbook!

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Fragments of Movie Posters; Or, Why Collections Managers Like to Save Things

Posted on July 14th, 2015 by

One lovely thing about social media is that it gives me the opportunity to talk about artifacts that didn’t quite make the grade for an exhibit. Though we did not have any of our own movie posters to add to Cinema Judaica, researching the loaned posters reminded me of these two items in our collections: fragments of movie posters, put to a new use some 80 years ago.

Two movie poster fragments, printed on cardboard. Donated by Bernard Levin, 2014.44.2, 2014.44.4

Two movie poster fragments, printed on cardboard. Donated by Bernard Levin, 2014.44.2, 2014.44.4

First, a little background. Bernard “Bucky” Levin was born in 1911 to Max and Sarah Levin, Latvian immigrants who settled on E. Baltimore Street in Butcher Hill. Max went into the real estate business, and oldest son Bernard attended City College and the University of Maryland Pharmacy School, graduating with his pharmacist degree in 1933.

Like many of us do, Bernard Levin proudly framed his diplomas and certificates for display. As best I can tell, he framed most of them himself. By the time the items came to us at the JMM, they were in poor condition and we decided the papers could be best preserved if they were taken out of their frames. Sometimes this process reveals hidden bits of information, and in this case I discovered two entertaining, if not exactly earth-shattering, surprises.

Front and back of Bernard Levin’s 1933 First Aid certification, in original frame. Donated by Bernard Levin, 2014.44.2

Front and back of Bernard Levin’s 1933 First Aid certification, in original frame. Donated by Bernard Levin, 2014.44.2

The 1933 Red Cross First Aid Certificate (shown above) was supported in its frame by a corner of a cardboard window card for the 1930 Wheeler and Woolsey comedy “Hook, Line and Sinker,” while a 1933 Certificate of Honor from the University of Maryland Pharmacy School was backed with a piece of window card advertising the 1933 horror film “Murders in the Zoo.”  Both movies opened at Keith’s, a theater at Lexington and Park.

Researching a corner of a poster is a little trickier than when you have the whole thing, but thanks to the internet, and the many poster collectors who make use of it, I was able to identify the movies. (Well, “Murders in the Zoo” was pretty easy, since the title is right there; but Wheeler and Woolsey made a lot of pictures.) More useful internet searching, this time using the Baltimore Sun archives via the Baltimore County Public Library, told me where these films showed in the city. Ancestry.com gave me a few additional hints about the Levin family home and careers. But that’s where the magical internet stopped its assistance; I haven’t been able to prove my pet theory, which is that student Bernard had a part-time job at Keith’s, and he snagged some leftover publicity material for his framing project.  Or perhaps he, or another friend or family member, was an avid moviegoer and incipient collector.  If anyone remembers Mr. Levin – or worked at Keith’s – and can shed some light, please let me know!

Here’s what the full posters look like. Window cards were designed with blank space at the top, where theaters could post showtimes (as has been done for “Hook, Line and Sinker” here). What I took to be a villainous eyeball in the corner of the Wheeler and Woosley fragment proved to be simply a lecherous eyeball, aimed at Dorothy Lee; hmmm.  And I must point out that “Murders in the Zoo” actress Kathleen Burke was, for good or ill, billed as “The Panther Woman.” Images from emovieposter.com and moviepostershop.com.

Here’s what the full posters look like. Window cards were designed with blank space at the top, where theaters could post showtimes (as has been done for “Hook, Line and Sinker” here). What I took to be a villainous eyeball in the corner of the Wheeler and Woosley fragment proved to be simply a lecherous eyeball, aimed at Dorothy Lee; hmmm. And I must point out that “Murders in the Zoo” actress Kathleen Burke was, for good or ill, billed as “The Panther Woman.” Images from emovieposter.com and moviepostershop.com.

In most circumstances, these leftover, recycled posters would be little more than a sidenote in our collections catalog; after all, the reason we accepted the certificates was to help tell the story of Mr. Levin’s education and career, not his skill in amateur framing.  Thanks to the fragments’ condition (and the fact that the represented movies did not fit into the theme of our exhibit), they did not end up on display in “Cinema Judaica.” Nonetheless, they represent another way to show the connections between movies, theaters, and Maryland audiences, on an individual scale. Sometimes the historical sidenotes prove to be more interesting than you expect.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

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