Meeting Mendes

Posted on August 27th, 2014 by

Our "real life" Mendes Cohen!

Our “real life” Mendes Cohen!

Thursday was the dress rehearsal.  I thought I would be immune to the effects of the performance.  After all, I already knew the Mendes Cohen story.  And I also knew that underneath Maggie Mason’s handsome costumes there was a fine actor, Grant Cloyd.  Yet from the moment Mendes came into the room brandishing his cane I was transfixed.  In the next thirty minutes “our” Mendes captured the spirit of the extraordinary soldier, businessman and adventurer who lies at the heart of our new maze exhibit.

Grant-as-Mendes leads the crowd in a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner!

Grant-as-Mendes leads the crowd in a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner!

There is an old joke in a Herb Gardner play about someone “getting the voices just right” for Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.  It is truly impossible to capture the true sound of even the most famous speakers who lived in the era before sound recording.  For someone like Mendes Cohen, who was not a public speaker, there is no record of any kind of his style, accent or intonation.  But our script writer, Scott Fuqua, drawing on Mendes’ letters and journals, produced a 19th century patter that truly mirrors our character’s own vocabulary and diction.  The fact that Mendes comes across as so plausible is a credit to the talents of Scott, Grant and Baltimore’s premier living history director, Harriet Lynn.

Flat Mendes poses with actor Grant Cloyd, director Harriet Lynn, and writer Scott Fuqua after Thursday's performance.

Flat Mendes poses with actor Grant Cloyd, director Harriet Lynn, and writer Scott Fuqua after Thursday’s performance.

Thursday was just the warm up.  This last weekend I accompanied Mendes on a trip to Bladensburg.  They marked (I think “celebrate” would be the wrong word) the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg, the ignominious defeat and rout that led to the burning of Washington.  In 1814, Mendes had seriously considered joining a unit that came to the defense of Bladensburg, but wisely decided that his talents would be better used at Fort McHenry.  So our journey to the re-enactment was actually Mendes’ first trip to this Prince Georges County town.  We were warmly received despite the rainy weather.

Mendes meets Facebook friend Ranger Abbi Wicklein-Bayne at the Battle of Bladensburg Commemoration.

Mendes meets Facebook friend Ranger Abbi Wicklein-Bayne at the Battle of Bladensburg Commemoration.

This is, of course, just the beginning of travels for our newly revived “ghost” of Mendes – for our younger readers I think I need to point out that ghosts were what people believed in before zombies (a lot cleaner).  Next Sunday, Mendes travels to North Point for the bicentennial ceremonies there.  This will also be the first full performance of Scott and Harriet’s play.  On the 14th we have Mendes hopping – opening the morning with a stop at The Associated’s Super Sunday (after all Mendes was a leading Baltimore Jewish philanthropist in his time) followed by walk-arounds at bicentennial events at Patterson Park and the Inner Harbor.  He will finish his day with a mini-performance at our exclusive members’ opening event on Sunday night.  If you are in the top three categories of membership (the Living History Circle, the Lloyd Street League and the 1845 Society) you will be invited back for the full play at its JMM premiere on October 5th – so wouldn’t this be a great time to upgrade your membership.

Mendes sports a caftan and shares his journey down the Nile.

Mendes sports a caftan and shares his journey down the Nile.

Finally, I want to offer special thanks to those who are enabling this success.  These include the Maryland Heritage Authority and Maryland Humanities Council for their specific grants for the Mendes Cohen character.  And the exceptional work of education director, Ilene Dackman-Alon in shepherding the living history project from the beginning.

The Mendes road tour will continue throughout the year.  To schedule a Mendes Cohen performance for your school or organization please contact Abby Krolik, or 410-732-6400 x234.

Marvin PinkertA blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts related to Mendes Cohen click HERE. To read more posts by Marvin click HERE.


The Mendes Cohen Living History project was made possible in part by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Maryland Humanities Council. This project has been financed in part with State Funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.


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Once Upon a Time…01.31.2014

Posted on August 26th, 2014 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 Deborah Cardin at 410.732.6400 x236 or email


2006013246Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  January 31, 2014

PastPerfect Accession #:  2006.013.246

Status:  From the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore Collection – do you know any of these men?

Back, Left to Right:

1.    unidentified 2.   unidentified 3.  unidentified  4.  unidentified  5.  unidentified

Front, Left to Right:

1.    unidentified 2. unidentified  3.  Bernard “Reds” Smith


Special Thanks To: Ellen Thompson

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Performance Counts August 2014: Top Six Ways YOU Can Help Market the Jewish Museum of Maryland

Posted on August 22nd, 2014 by

You don’t have to be a media mogul to come to our aid this August as we prepare for the launch of Mendes Cohen. Here are six practical things you can do to help us grow our visitor population this fall.

Top Six Ways YOU Can Help Market the Jewish Museum of Maryland

1. Write a review in trip advisor – Many of you know that is one of the most frequently use travel sites on the web. People consult this site in deciding on their trip itinerary. As of this morning we ranked #28 among 158 attractions in Baltimore on trip advisor, not too bad, but we can do better. We have overwhelmingly positive reviews, but to move up the ranks we need to increase the quantity of our reviews. That’s where you come in. A quick description of a recent visit is all that’s needed. Our short-term target is to push up to position #14…one step above the Basilica…we can do it!

Leave a review:

2. Support JMM and public television on the same night! – we have been invited to participate in an upcoming MPT pledge night on Sunday, September 28th . We have been asked to bring 10 to 15 volunteers to MPT studios in Owings Mills. The volunteers simply need to answer the phones when people call to pledge to the station during the reprise of The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama. In return for this service we will have the opportunity to make a live pitch for the Mendes Cohen exhibit. This is in addition to the fact that our promotional fifteen second spots will also run that evening. MPT has said that it will provide kosher meals for all our callers. For more details (and to sign up) contact Rachel Kassman ( and join in on the fun.
Email Rachel to volunteer:

3. Talk to your rabbi – For those of you who are affiliated with a congregation, our upcoming Mendes Cohen exhibit combined with represents a couple of unique possibilities. One is the ability to incorporate some piece of the Mendes Cohen story into an upcoming sermon. This might be something about a time when America was under the barrage of rockets – and the Jewish defenders who came to the aid of their nation. It might be about thriving in a place of refuge, another theme where history and contemporary life come together. Or even something about how all of us try on various identities (professional and personal) and the role that our Jewish identity plays in that development.

While you are talking with the rabbi you might mention that we are organizing a Synagogue Night on November 6, 2014. We are marking the 50th anniversary of the re-dedication of the Lloyd Street Synagogue with a special event for rabbis, synagogue directors and synagogue board leadership from across metropolitan Baltimore.

4. Pass it forward – Don’t be shy. Do you have a friend or relative who shares your interest in Jewish history? Or who loves museums? Or is looking for things to do with their kids? Feel free to take any of the newsletters we send you (or our blog posts at and simply forward it. The newsletters and blog posts serve as terrific conversation starters for old friends who may have once lived in Baltimore but have moved out of town – and, of course, provide valuable information about a great place to visit if they come back to the city.

5. Become a friend – on Facebook. If you are not already a follower of our Facebook page, come join us. And now Mendes Cohen has his own Facebook page too – since the Cohen family home was the first in America to have plumbing for gas lights, it seems only natural to connect Mendes to the latest technology. When you become a friend, you not only improve our web statistics, you raise our overall visibility on the Internet making it easier for potential visitors to find us.

Friend Us

6. Send us a photo with Flat Mendes– when you visit the Mendes Cohen facebook page you will notice that his alter ego, “Flat Mendes”, has really been getting around this summer. We’ve not only spotted Flat Mendes at Locust Point and the Amtrak station, but at the Kennedy Library in Boston and out in San Francisco. Every journey Flat Mendes creates another opportunity to promote our upcoming exhibit. So download Flat Mendes today and don’t forget to pack him on your Labor Day travels.
Download Flat Mendes:

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