Museum Matters: August 2015

Posted on August 7th, 2015 by

“Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moonlight…”


This Sunday night’s forecast is a few clouds, a crescent moon and delightful temperatures in the 70s… a perfect night for an outdoor movie.  So bring a folding chair and come join us on Lloyd Street.  Better yet, make a day of it – arrive at 3pm for the lecture; get take-out for a picnic in our courtyard and join us for the movie at 8pm. After 5pm, admission to the Museum, the courtyard and the films will be FREE.  If you miss this Sunday we have the same game plan for Sunday the 23rd.

And you can use some of your savings on theater tickets to purchase some great cinema related merchandise in our Museum Shop.  We’re featuring the wonderful catalog of the Cinema Judaica exhibit by Ken Sutak and a number of film classics on DVD, including Exodus and The Ten Commandments.  Have a memorable evening on us, and take home something to remember.


Upcoming programs

All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact Trillion Attwood at / 410-732-6400 x215 with any questions or for more information.


Sundays in August are double features at JMM – lectures by day and related films at night.  In between take a short walk to Little Italy or Harbor East with their selections of great restaurants, or bring a picnic that you are welcome to enjoy in our outdoor courtyard or our slightly cooler lobby.

There will be plenty of free parking available for the evening films, including the parking lot at Lenny’s next door.  The show will go on rain or shine, for this exciting series, though it looks like “shine”. In the event of inclement weather, screenings will be moved to inside the JMM.


Charlie Chaplin in The Great DictatorCharlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator:” Fighting Fascism with a Movie

Sunday, August 9th at 3:00 p.m.

Dr. David Ward, University of Pittsburgh

Charlie Chaplin was the most important film maker in Hollywood, when he decided to parody Adolph Hitler in The Great Dictator.  Little did he know that he was entering into the most controversial chapter of his life, a controversy that would eventually drive him from the United States.

Dr. Ward graduated from Hanover College in southern Indiana and holds an MA and PhD from the University of Tulsa.  He has taught film and Literature in both Oklahoma and Pennsylvania for over 40 years and is now happily retired.


The_Great_DictatorJMM Features: The Great Dictator

Sunday, August 9, 8:00 p.m.

Location: Parking lot across the street from the JMM entrance


In connection with our latest exhibit Cinema Judaica we bring you JMM Features, a series of free movie screenings. Our first movie is The Great Dictator, a Charlie Chaplin classic featured in Cinema Judaica. Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel’s regime.


Fievel MousekewitzDrawing Fievel and Friends

Sunday, August 16, 3:00 p.m.

Included with museum admission 

Even more fun than a lecture … get ready for the movie by drawing your own scenes of Jewish cartoon characters.


An American TailJMM Features: American Tail

Sunday, August 16, 5:30 p.m.

Location: JMM orientation space


Second in our movie series is American Tail. This classic animation follows the story of Fievel, who while emigrating to the United States, as a young Russian mouse, gets separated from his family and must relocate them while trying to survive in a new country. Featuring Dom DeLuise, Christopher Plummer and Nehemiah Persoff, directed by Don Bluth.


Jazz Singer movie posterFrom The Jazz Singer to Alvy Singer: The Depiction of Jews in Hollywood Film from Al Jolson to Woody Allen

Sunday, August 23, 3:00 p.m.

Dr. Greg Metcalf, University of Maryland

Included with Museum Admission

Greg Metcalf is an artist and a scholar who teaches film, television, literature, modern art history, cultural history, and their relationship to each other at the University of Maryland and the Maryland Institute College of Art. He is the author of The DVD Novel: How The Way We Watch Television Changed the Television (2012).


Gentleman's Agreement OS, NMJMM Features: Gentleman’s Agreement

Sunday, August 23, 8:00 p.m.

Location: Parking lot across the street from the JMM entrance


Join us for the last feature in our movie series. First released in 1947, Gentleman’s Agreement follows a reporter (Gregory Peck) who pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred. Based on Laura Hobson’s novel of the same name. Also featuring Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield and Celeste Holm, directed by Elia Kazan.


Jewish Mad Men book coverJewish Mad Men: Advertising and the Design of the American Jewish Experience 1939-1971

Sunday, August 31, 3:00 p.m.

Dr. Kerri Steinberg, Otis College or Art and Design

Included with Museum Admission

In a commercial society advertising can provide a fascinating insight into social values. Dr. Steinberg’s talk explores how advertising in the 1950s and 60s shed light on the social position of Jewish Americans.


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  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit or check out BIYA on facebook.

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland July Meeting

Sunday, August 16, 1:30pm, Hadassah meeting room (3723 Old Court Road, Dumbarton Offices Entrance)

Jewish Genetic Genealogy – A Family Study

Speaker: Israel Pickholtz 

The program is free for paid members and $5 for non-members. Refreshments will be available. Go to for more information.



Exhibits currently on display include Cinema Judaica (on display through September 6, 2015), Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks!


Hours and Tour Times

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

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.  We offer tours focused on the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Sunday through Thursday at 3:00pm and on Sunday at 4:00pm.


 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



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! For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or


JMM Museum Shop

The Museum Shop is running a very special bust-out and take-out end of summer sale!  All Rosh Hashanah merchandise receives 25% off the retail price….a honey of an opportunity for your home and for possible gifts! 

Note:  Above discount not to be combined with your membership discount.

Every purchase made in the JMM Museum Shop supports the mission and programs of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

JMM Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases, except as noted. 

For further information, please call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211.




Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Manuscript Collection 1: Dr. Stephen Laufer Papers

Posted on August 6th, 2015 by

Dr. Stephen (Schulim) Laufer (1894-1983) Papers


MS 1



The Dr. Stephen Laufer Papers were donated by Dr. Stephen Laufer and Mrs. Wilma Laufer Gabbay, a longtime resident of Baltimore, as 1983.5.  The collection was processed by Dr. Laufer, Mrs. Gabbay and Anne Turkos in 1982. Further information was added in 2003 by Robin Waldman with the assistance of Wilma Gabbay.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures. 



Dr. Stephen Laufer was born in Bolechow in East Galicia on January 6, 1894, the first son and second child of Israel and Golda (Diengott) Laufer. He attended school in Bolechow until the age of twelve and then left for the neighboring town of Stryj to continue his education, as at that time Bolechow did not have a gymnasium. When World War I broke out in 1914, the Laufer family moved to Budapest, and Stephen obtained work in a leather factory. As he had only completed the seventh grade of gymnasium, he petitioned to take the examinations for the eighth grade and the matura. He successfully did this in 1915, returning to Stryj for the tests.

Stephen (Schulim) Laufer, far right, with friends David Kreppel and Abraham Hruszowski.  The three boys were in the same fourth year high school class in Stryj, Pland, 1910-1911. JMM 1983.5.6

Stephen (Schulim) Laufer, far right, with friends David Kreppel and Abraham Hruszowski. The three boys were in the same fourth year high school class in Stryj, Poland, 1910-1911. JMM 1983.5.6

In 1915 Laufer registered with the Austro-Hungarian authorities and was found fit for army service; he was exempted, however, on the basis of necessary work. In 1918 all exemptions were cancelled and he was drafted into the army but peace was declared before he saw combat.

After the war, Stephen’s family returned to Bolechow and he decided to continue his education in Vienna in 1918. He earned a degree in agricultural engineering and also a doctorate in agricultural chemistry at the Hochschule fur Bodenkultur in 1922. For one year he served as the director of an orphanage farm in Stanislawow, then as a teacher of science in a Jewish gymnasium in Kalisch, Poland, from 1923-1925.

Black and white copy print of the Streifer family from left to right:  Henry Streifer, Joseph Streifer, Miriam Streifer, Aron Streifer, Wolf Streifer, and Ann Streifer, 1902-1905.

Streifer family from left to right: Henry Streifer, Joseph Streifer, Miriam Streifer, Aron Streifer, Wolf Streifer, and Ann Streifer, 1902-1905.

In 1920 Laufer married Anna (Chana) Streifer, daughter of Wolf and Miriam (Pomerantz) Streifer, also of Bolechow. They had three children: Ruth, born in 1923, who married Jerome Morton; Irma, born in 1935, who married Jack Katz; and Irma’s twin, Wilma, who married Albert Gabbay.

Dr. Laufer had been active in the Zionist movement as a teenager. In fact his studies were designed to prepare him for work in Palestine. In September 1925, he left for Haifa with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law. While in Palestine they had no luck finding permanent employment. When their money ran out, the family decided to move to America as relatives of the Streifers were already living there. In February 1929 they sailed on the Alesia, a French ship, from Haifa to Providence, Rhode Island. They lived briefly in Jersey City and Brooklyn and the Bronx for several years, and then bought a home in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, in the summer of 1942, where they lived until 1982.

Dr. Laufer’s first position in the United States was as a chemist for Schwarz Laboratories, a consultant for the brewing industry. He stayed with the company for 46 years, retiring in 1975. He advanced to director of research, director of laboratories, and vice-president. He was in charge of the United States Brewers Academy, which was run by Schwarz Laboratories. Dr. Laufer published closed to 100 articles in the fields of food and fermentation. In 1936 he was honored with the Cincinnati Achievement Award of the Master Brewers Association of America. He is listed in American Men and Women of Science. Dr. Laufer died on October 4, 1983, in New York.



The Laufer Papers consist primarily of reminiscences, miscellaneous documents from his years spent in East Galicia, World War I money, receipts and correspondence. Also included are publications pertaining to the brewing industry.

The reminiscences written by Dr. Laufer cover his early years in Bolechow and Stryj until the outbreak of World War I. A cousin of Mrs. Laufer’s, Frymka Brawer-Pordes, wrote a recollection in German about a school excursion also prior to 1914. This is an amplified version of a chapter in Memorial Book for the Martyrs of Bolechow.

Dr. Laufer’s strong interest in Zionism is represented by receipts for contributions made to various organizations and correspondence. The letters (written in German and Hebrew) are regarding possible employment in Palestine during the years 1922-1928.

Reminisces  of Stephen Laufer, written 1977-78.

Reminisces of Stephen Laufer, written 1977-78.

The papers are divided into three series.

Series I. East Galicia, consists of Dr. Laufer’s and Mrs. Brawer-Pordes’ reminiscences as well as the Bolechow memorial book. Also included are report cards from high school in Stryj; miscellaneous documents pertaining to school, army and citizenship in Polish and German; and Ukranian and Austrian money. Each category is arranged chronologically.

Series II. Palestine, contains receipts for contributions to Zionist organizations, letters from facilities in Palestine regarding employment, handbills concerning the opening of Dr. Laufer’s school in Haifa, and the plan of the ship Alesia. The arrangement in each category is chronological. 

Series III. United States, consists of some of Dr. Laufer’s publications, a bound monograph and several articles.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Missing Mendes Cohen

Posted on August 5th, 2015 by

I love walking into the Feldman Gallery and looking at so many movie posters from the past .  I love the way that Joanna and our interns have delved into research to seek out the images of the movie theaters that actually showed the movies during the 1930-1960’s.  I have enjoyed listening to our visitors reminisce of the past but I do have to admit….I am missing the Amazing  Mendes Cohen!   I miss not seeing Mendes’ face in the Feldman Gallery, both donning a turban and also posing  as a young man in the early 19th century.  I miss not hearing the piano music of Charles -Valentin Alkan, as you enter the gallery; one of the first Jewish composers to incorporate Jewish melodies to his music.  I miss the puzzle pieces and watching groups of students working together to put puzzle pieces in place.  I see Flat Mendes every day- but I still miss the Amazing Mendes Cohen in my life at the JMM.

This past weekend- my hubby and I decided to play tourist in Baltimore in the hope that I could get “my fix” of Mendes Cohen. On Sunday we started our day at the Farmer’s Market underneath the Jones Falls Expressway.  After buying two coffees, pastry, and two kinds of string beans; we headed north to Mount Vernon.  In particular, I wanted to climb the Washington Monument which was rededicated on July 4, 2015; 200 years after the initial cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1815.  I wanted to see the building where Mendes and the famous Cohen brothers were instrumental in the state – funded lottery business that helped to raise the money to build the first monument dedicated to the first President of the United States, George Washington. I wanted to see some sort of mention of Mendes Cohen at the monument.

Washington Monument, 1890

Washington Monument, 1890

Robert Mills is credited with the design of the structure of the Washington Monument.  I understood that the citizens of Baltimore were particularly proud to erect this monument to Washington in light of their recent role in securing American liberty during the Battle of Baltimore, a turning point in the War of 1812.  Baltimoreans were also proud that the monument was built of local white marble, from quarries north of the city.

I was excited to begin my 160 foot climb to the top.   I thought it was interesting to see how the bricks were laid on their sides in a circular ring as we hiked up the steps.

Washington Monument bricks - circular staircase

Washington Monument bricks – circular staircase

I also thought it was interesting  to see how narrow the space was and I understood that the staff at the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy only allows five people to climb the monument at any given time during tours.

As we continued our climb up the narrow steps,  I was happy to see a marker dated 1818 noting that we had climbed 106 feet.

1818 marker denoting 106 feet

That’s a lot of steps!

I also noticed some graffiti where someone had written “1908” in black on the walls.  By 1829, the main column of the monument was completed, and the statue of Washington, sculpted by the Italian artist Henrico Causici, was raised to the top.  As we were getting closer to the top, I was excited to see the view- and I wondered if Mendes ever climbed the steps to the top and saw the spectacular view of Mount Vernon Place.

When you get to the top of the monument, you do get a chance to see Baltimore from all directions north, east, west and south.  However, you must stay inside and behind the glass to take your pictures….. a bit disappointing.   At the top, you begin to understand how the Washington Monument quickly became an important symbol of the city and state of Maryland.  President John Quincy Adams, who assisted in composing the text of the bronze inscriptions on the monument’s base outlining the key events in Washington’s life, dubbed Baltimore “The Monumental City.”

Images taken at the top of the Washington Monument

View From the Top

As we climbed down, I realized how lucky we were to have had the opportunity to climb to the top.  I am certain the citizens living in Baltimore  in the early 19th century  were in awe of this impressive structure built and dedicated to the nation’s first president. It was fun to imagine Mendes Cohen wandering the grounds where the monument was built in the early 19th century. The structure is a wonderful testament to the builders of Baltimore and a beautiful place for citizens to gather and enjoy all that Baltimore has to offer.

Kelly Suredam Potter poses at the Washington Monument

The wonderful Kelly Suredam Potter

I want to thank JMM Museum Educator, Kelly Suredam Potter, who also works at the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy for telling me about the opportunity to climb the monument.  It was a lot of fun to climb this iconic landmark as well as try to appease my longing to connect with the Amazing Colonel Mendes I. Cohen.  Long Live Mendes!

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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