Posted on September 28th, 2016 by Rachel
Last week I observed a beautiful moment for the Jewish Museum of Maryland and we are not ready for the Festival of Lights yet! For the past 10 years there was no mezuzah affixed to the doorpost of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. When the building went under renovations roughly 10 years ago, the mezuzah that had been on the building had been misplaced. The beautiful moment I witnessed was the mezuzah being affixed once again to the building- or a Hanukkat (Dedication) of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
The Lloyd Street Synagogue
The mezuzah is of biblical origin and there is reference to it in the Torah or Five Books of Moses. “And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts (mezuzot) of our house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:9, 11:20). What is to be inscribed? The passage reads, “The words that I shall tell you this day”: that you shall love your God, believe only in Him, keep His commandments, and pass all of this on to your children.
An important part of the mezuzah refers to the parchment inside, or klaf, on which the verses of the Torah are inscribed. The klaf must be hand-lettered by a kosher scribe — one who is observant of halakha (Jewish law) and who qualifies for the task. The scroll is rolled up from left to right so that when it is unrolled the first words appear first. The scroll is inserted into the container but should not be permanently sealed because twice in seven years the parchment should be opened and inspected to see if any of the letters have faded or become damaged.
A mezuzah serves two functions: Every time you enter or leave, the mezuzah reminds you that you have a covenant with God; second, the mezuzah serves as a symbol to everyone else that this particular dwelling is constituted as a Jewish household, operating by a special set of rules, rituals, and beliefs.
Rabbi Mintz speaks about the scroll inside the mezuzah.
Rabbi Eitan Mintz helped us with the dedication ceremony and shared with us some interesting facts about the placement of a mezuzah. Many Jews tilt the mezuzah so that the top slants toward the room into which the door opens. This is done to accommodate the variant opinions of the great Jewish thinkers Rashi and of his grandson, Rabbeinu Tam, as to whether the mezuzah should be placed vertically (Rashi) or horizontally (Rabbeinu Tam). The compromise solution (top slant) was suggested by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher.
Rabbi Mintz and Marvin shake on a job well done!
JMM Executive Director, Marvin Pinkert held the mezuzah against the spot upon which it is now affixed, and we all recited the blessing in Hebrew…
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשַׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לִקְבּוֹעַ מְזוּזָה
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‘olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu liqboa‘ mezuzah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.
We hope that you will come down to the JMM to see our new mezuzah in the Lloyd Street Synagogue and other recent additions to the space.
A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.
Posted on September 27th, 2016 by Rachel
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: January 15, 2016
PastPerfect Accession #: 2011.029.112
Status: Unidentified! A Levindale resident participates in occupational therapy, 1963
Posted on September 26th, 2016 by Rachel
As a former arts-and-crafts camp counselor, and someone who takes art classes for fun, I’m really excited about our new sketching workshops. Earlier this summer we hosted artists both inside and outside the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and in November we’ll bring people into B’nai Israel for the chance to draw the sanctuary.
Rabbi Mintz and his family at our plein air workshop in July.
Participants drawing the inside of the Lloyd Street Synagogue in August.
Last night’s program focused on our collections, so I not only had the fun of participating, I also had the pleasure of choosing a variety of artifacts to create a challenging still life. This required a lot of over-thinking on my part – after all, we have over 11,000 objects to choose from! – and not everything made the cut this time, but it came together into a nice display, with an assortment on one pedestal and a single item – a Russian samovar, which was one of the first things that came to my mind when this program was first mentioned – on another.
Claire Tesh, her daughter Lena, and facilitator Matt Adelberg discuss technique.
Doesn’t my still life look nice? I know you all wish you had the chance to draw that fantastic hat.
Thanks to our wonderful workshop facilitators, Matt Adelberg and Christen Chiori, JMM staff have had the chance to relax and participate, taking some time to really look at and enjoy our buildings and collections.
Facilitator Christen Chiosi works with three of our summer interns in the Lloyd Street Synagogue during the August workshop.
Tracie Guy-Decker took a few minutes to join the artists inside the Synagogue in August.
At yesterday’s workshop I attempted to draw my challenging still life, and it was challenging… but my samovar came out much better. Gift of Hadassah Greater Baltimore. JMM 1979.34.1
We welcome artists of all ages at these events, as the young ladies below attest. After all, our collections – from small wooden blocks to the buildings themselves – are held in the public trust, for research and study as well as preservation and exhibition. Whether you have mad skills with a pencil or just want to give it a try, we hope you take these opportunities to closely examine, with an artist’s eye, our fabulous pieces of history.
Two young artists and their work.
Next workshop: Sketching inside B’nai Israel – Sunday, November 6th at 10:30 a.m.
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.