Calendar of Events

Feb 22nd

How Jews Entered American Politics: The Curious Case of Maryland’s “Jew Bill”

During Maryland’s first decades, a “Christians Only” policy applied to those seeking public office. Dr. Rafael Medoff, a noted scholar of Jewish involvement in American politics, will take a candid look at the Maryland legislature’s debates in the early 1800s over political rights for Jews and other non-Christians –a controversy that sheds fascinating light on the process by which Jews entered the American political arena.

Jew Bill image

Feb 15th

Climbing the Ladder of Success in a Nineteenth-Century Boomtown: The Cohen Family in Early Baltimore


Sunday, February 15th, 1:00 P.M.


Tina Sheller, Goucher College



When Israel I. Cohen died in Richmond, Virginia in 1803, his wife, Judith, packed up her belongings and moved herself and her children to Baltimore.  Why Baltimore?  That is the question that this talk will explore.  It will examine the eighteenth-century roots of the city as well as the people and events that made Baltimore one of the fastest growing cities in the United States by 1800. Early Baltimore was a bustling port town of merchants, shopkeepers, skilled craftsmen, workers, and slaves.  How did these groups contribute to  the dynamic expansion of the city’s antebellum economy? Who were the people that populated the growing port town, and how did the Cohens and other Jewish families adapt to life in a city soon to be known as “Mobtown?”  All of these questions and more will be answered as we journey back in time to a very different era in the city’s history, the era of the Cohen family and Boomtown Baltimore.



Tina H. Sheller is an assistant professor of History at Goucher College where she teaches courses in American history and Historic Preservation.  She has taught classes on the history of Baltimore for many years, and has published essays on early Baltimore history.   She is currently involved in two research projects with her students at Goucher.  One is focused on the history of Epsom Farm, a nineteenth-century farm situated on the land currently occupied by Goucher College; the second project involves research on a World War II diary written by a Maryland soldier who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.


Image: View of Baltimore by William Henry Bartlett (1809–1854)

Feb 8th

Help Make a Museum: Audience Workshop for the Core Exhibition of DC’s New Jewish Museum


Sunday, February 8th, 2:00 p.m.


Zachary Paul Levine, Curator at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington


Included with Museum admission



The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) needs input from as many people as possible on our new regional Jewish museum (projected opening 2020). As part of that process, we are turning to the community for thoughts on stories for the new museum’s core exhibition.  This workshop will include a series of activities designed to get participants thinking, talking, and sharing their counsel for this new project.  We’ll look at a handful of objects and stories, and discuss how, together, they tell the unique story of Washington’s Jewish community.


Image: President Calvin Coolidge spoke during the cornerstone laying ceremony of the 16th and Q Street building on May 3, 1925. JHSGW Collections.