Upcoming Events

Apr 17th – May 19

On Display: The Sanctity of Others

The Sanctity of Others

Photographs by Jeremy Kargon and Poems by Zackary Sholem Berger

 

From the Artist:

In the summer of 2012, I had the good fortune to visit Istanbul, a center of world politics for almost 1700 years. The city is also famous, of course, for its religious monuments. Since its founding as the capital of the first Christian empire, Istanbul (then Constantinople) has been the site of diverse religious enthusiasms, each vying for patronage or protection according to the fluctuating circumstances of power, wealth, and demographics. The city’s material record, including buildings and monuments, is outstandingly intact. In a related fashion, Istanbul’s spiritual record is acutely legible to residents and visitors alike.

Not surprisingly, the amazing diversity of Istanbul’s religious history challenges everyone’s own religious identity: to be Christian in the seat of Muslim power, to be Muslim among (until recently) a Christian majority, or to be Jewish in the residual spaces between those larger communities. Religious belief appears to exist in relation to others’ beliefs – to understanding of them, partial or full; to accommodation of them, genuine or tactical; or to rejection of them, in the traditionally exclusive spirit of all three Abrahamic faiths, not to mention secularism. Theologians of all stripes demand their audience’s full spiritual focus, but Istanbul (more than other cities) inspires spiritual diffraction.

Asked plainly, what does one “see” when one experiences the holy site of a faith not one’s own? How can one experience the “sanctity” of another? Can we perceive others’ religious faith in the materials, colors, and acoustics of their environments? Can we sense foreign spiritual aspiration in the weight of stone or loft of space? Do we measure others’ beliefs against our own, or do we exclude one or the other in our ecumenicalism? For a secular person, do these questions even matter?

These questions are different but related. They lie at the core of multicultural sensitivity and, more importantly, civic coexistence. This is as true abroad as in Maryland, where the British colonies’ second religious toleration act was passed in 1649 (and revoked in 1654). To live together we may need not shared beliefs but a common willingness to see ourselves and others with openness. But categorical observations about faith – about our own or about others’ – are rarely mutually satisfying. Accordingly, this modest exhibit explores such themes elliptically, through allusive words and fragmentary images. In complementary ways, Dr. Zackary Berger and I have hoped to illustrate (with healthy self-consciousness) the Sanctity of Others.

— Jeremy Kargon, April 2016


May 1st

All American Synagogue

Sunday, May 1

Included with Museum admission 

Get Your Tickets Now!

 

All American Synagogue

 

Join us as we mark the start of our All American Synagogue celebrations, in association with the MADE: In America and Carroll Mansion, this years’ All American Home. Throughout the day enjoy hands-on activities and exploration examining the skills and techniques used in the construction of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Activities will be perfect for the whole family to enjoy together.

 

Bell, Book and Candle: At 3pm become a JMM history detective! Explore the material culture of Maryland’s oldest synagogue including some unanswered questions about its most important ritual objects.

 

 


May 1st

Vilna to New York, Jewishkayt and Yiddishness, Abraham of Ur and Avrom Sutzkever Meet in One Baltimorean

Sunday, May 1st at 4:00pm

Speaker: Zackary Sholem Berger, author of One Nation Taken Out of Another 

Included with Museum admission

One Nation book cover

As the author of two books of poetry which combine English, Yiddish, and Hebrew, written from the point of view of the poet himself; Biblical characters; dead literary titans; and [batting cleanup] The Almighty, Berger presents a one-of-a-kind monologue-cum-performance, a polylingual ventriloquy bringing the past and present together for a dance to the music of language.

His newest book, One Nation Taken Out of Another, is a joyride through the Five Books of Moses on the back of a strange chimeria — with an American head, a Yiddish heart, and all manner of multicultural, bassackward, and wandering limbs grafed on to the whole. It’s midrash and whimsy, Bible, tradition, exile, and mystery.
On the way, many questions will be asked – and some of them even answered. How does a non-ultra-Orthodox guy from a Conservative Jewish background come to be a Yiddish poet and translator? Is he a complete fluke, or a harbinger of some baffling microtrend? How did Baltimore become an unlikely mini-capital of secular Yiddish culture? And is it true what they say about Old Bay?

 

Zackary Sholem Berger is a poet, translator, and short story writer in Baltimore. He writes in Yiddish and English, and sometimes Hebrew, appreciating the fruitful predicament of being a minority-language poet very late (or surprisingly early) in Jewish history. He speaks Yiddish to his wife and three children. And sometimes they answer.