Ten in the Twentieth: Baltimore Jews and Social Justice 1930s

Posted on February 15th, 2017 by

Article by Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations 2009-2010: 50th Anniversary Double Issue: The Search for Social Justice.

The Baltimore Jewish community has produced many leaders who have worked to make the world a better place. The range of issues they have addressed is impressive: from women’s suffrage to civil rights, labor relations to helping the elderly, refugee resettlement to eliminating poverty, and much more.

This chronology traces the careers of ten Baltimoreans who stood up for social change, with each person’s entry revolving around a turning point—one for each decade of the twentieth century. This is by no means a “Ten Best” list. The people included here are remarkable for what they accomplished, but others, equally remarkable, could have been chosen as well. These profiles should be seen as representative of a larger group of Baltimore Jews who have made major contributions to their communities and to the broader society in myriad ways.

The 1930s: Lee Dopkin

Click here to start from the beginning.

1935: Through the efforts of Lee Dopkin (1895-1968), the Maryland legislature passes the Old Age Pension Law, a model for the Social Security Act that FDR would sign later that year. Chairman of the state’s Old Age Pension Commission, Dopkin helped draft the legislation and campaigned strenuously for it, mounting petition drives, giving speeches and radio broadcasts, and lobbying legislators. It was the crowning achievement of a life in communal and public service.

Lee. L. Dopkin, 1955, photo by Blackstone Studios. JMM 2004.63.3

Lee. L. Dopkin, 1955, photo by Blackstone Studios. JMM 2004.63.3

As a young man, Dopkin had served as advisor to the JEA Champion Club, mentoring boys who, like himself, came from struggling East Baltimore immigrant families. After joining the board of the Hebrew Home for Incurables (a predecessor to Levindale), he became interested in the problems of the elderly. Believing that seniors who could live on their own should not be institutionalized solely because of financial need, in 1931 he began speaking out in favor of government-funded pensions. He served as Levindale’s president from 1931 to 1934.

The Jewish Educational Alliance Champion Club, with advisor Lee Dopkin standing in the center, c. 1920. JMM 1992.231.95. Click here for more information about this photo.

The Jewish Educational Alliance Champion Club, with advisor Lee Dopkin standing in the center, c. 1920. JMM 1992.231.95. Click here for more information about this photo.

After passage of the pension law, Dopkin continued his involvement with Levindale and other communal organizations, while also serving on government commissions to establish unemployment insurance and to develop the federal social security system. A Republican-turned-New Dealer in reaction to the devastation of the Great Depression, he came to believe that security was the cornerstone of public welfare.

Continue to The 1940s: Rose Zetzer

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Once Upon a Time…05.20.2016

Posted on February 14th, 2017 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 Joanna Church by email at jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org


1984211024Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  May 20, 2016

PastPerfect Accession #:  1984.211.24

Status: Partially Identified! We’d love to get more names for the Tau Beta Sigma sorority sisters at this 1954 reunion. We believe Elaine Applebaum is somewhere in this photo.

 Thanks to: Judy Culliner


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Volunteer Spotlight on Shelly Mintz!

Posted on February 13th, 2017 by

Shelly Mintz has been a Front Desk Volunteer for about a month at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. While growing up in New Jersey, Shelly has spent most of her life in Maryland. Shelly shared with me that her mom worked in Stone’s Bakery which was right around the corner from the JMM. After becoming a member of B’nai Israel Synagogue three years ago, she took a docent led tour of our two historic synagogues. It was there that she found out about volunteer opportunities at the JMM. Shelly decided to join our volunteer corps because she loves museums and was also looking to meet people with similar interests. While she is not related to Rabbi Mintz of B’nai Israel, she thought the fact that they shared the same last night was also a good sign to become involved at our museum.

Shelly Mintz

Shelly Mintz

Shelly works as an Assistant Attorney General and represents the Department of Juvenile Services. When she is not at the JMM, she ushers at local theaters, volunteers at the Walters Art Museum, travels to exotic locations like New Zealand and Australia and is a passionate animal rights activist.

Although Shelly has only volunteered a few times so far, she has quickly learned our new ticketing system and has been very good with our visitors. She also helped us by conducting evaluations of our last exhibit, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America. As it has sometimes been difficult finding volunteers for Sundays (one of our busiest days), we were particularly excited that Shelly was interested in volunteering on that day. While at the JMM, Shelly likes how people often start talking to her about their lives and experiences. Whether it was a genealogy researcher who was thrilled to explore the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and see where his family came from or visitors who come back with joy in their eyes after going on a Synagogue tour, Shelly has found the JMM to be a unique museum that allows people to reconnect with their heritage on both an intellectual and emotional level.

If you know of anyone else who would like to volunteer with Shelly at the Front Desk (or in any other area of the Museum), please contact Sue Foard at sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org.

GrahamPost by Visitor Services Coordinator Graham Humphrey. Every month we highlight one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, send an email to Sue Foard at sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x220! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

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