Posted on September 16th, 2015 by Rachel
Warren Clayman is a Diversity Consultant. As such, he was invited to a Leadership Luncheon at the JMM in 2008. What he learned about the Museum that day convinced him that it would be a good place to volunteer. The blend of his professional skills and his interest in Judaism were a good combination of qualities that resulted in him becoming a Museum Docent. His family emigrated from Russia to Ohio. His grandfather was a rag merchant who traveled to Hagerstown and Frederick, Maryland. He has always been impressed with the courage of immigrants, especially with the fact that they preserved their religion in their new home and established synagogues like the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
Doesn’t Warren have a great smile?
Before coming to the JMM, Warren was a Director of Planning with HUD in Baltimore. While working in the neighborhood in the 1970’s he noticed the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and watched the renovation of the building years later. He currently works in Workforce Diversity. He works with corporations to ensure ethnic and civil rights. He enjoys traveling around the country and partners with a person of color, to give his work legitimacy. He still likes walking around the neighborhood and often does so between his scheduled tours. While traveling, he likes to visit Jewish museums and synagogues.
His favorite aspect of volunteering at the JMM is meeting the fascinating visitors. He recalls people who came from as near as the Baltimore Convention Center, to the Caribbean Islands, from Russia, and in particular an Asian woman who had a Jewish boyfriend and wanted to learn about his religion. One group of Russian immigrants came with an interpreter. He understood that the Jewish religion had passed a lot of the visitor’s right by but they seemed fascinated nonetheless. When he opened the ark in the Lloyd Street Synagogue, two visitors ran up and had tears in their eyes as they looked at the Torah’s up close. He endeavors to focus each tour on the relationship of the visitors to the synagogues, in a warm and friendly way. He learns as much as he can about their connection (or not) with Judaism and sets the tone of the tour from that. He says it has been a great volunteer experience so far. His favorite part of Docent training is getting to know the other volunteers and the staff of the JMM. He recalls the storytelling sessions facilitated by Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff as a “phenomenal” experience.
A blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday(ish) of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at email@example.com or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.
Posted on September 11th, 2015 by Rachel
De-installing Cinema Judaica
This week at the JMM we bid a fond farewell to Cinema Judaica. The exhibition of film posters and memorabilia, developed by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, was on display from July 1-September 6. Thanks to the creativity and hard work of JMM collections manager, Joanna Church, with assistance from exhibit designer and fabricator, Mark Ward, the exhibition also featured a local tie in through the addition of the wonderful photographs by Amy Davis of local movie houses (many of which have long been shuttered) and documentation about local film screenings of movies on display.
Cinema Judaica proved to be a summer blockbuster, drawing unexpected crowds and press attention. In total, during the nine weeks the exhibit was on display we welcomed 9% more visitors in comparison to same period last year. This was, in large part, thanks to the very successful events planned by JMM Programs Manager, Trillion Attwood.
Jewish Movies 101
Cinema Judaica was an excellent inspiration for the nine programs that took place during the exhibit’s run. Many programs were lectures, with speakers from California, New York and Pennsylvania. Topics varied from an exploration of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, to a brief history of Jewish movies and even an exploration of what remains of Baltimore’s movie theaters.
Fighting Fascism with a Movie
We also presented JMM Features, a series of three free movies screenings inspired by the exhibit. Two of the movies were screened outside in the lot across from the JMM entrance and one was shown in the JMM lobby. The movies were a huge success attracting great crowds including lots of new faces. Unfortunately we lost count of how many bags of popcorn we served but we did see the largest audience for An American Tail.
Outdoor film screenings of The Great Dictator and Gentleman’s Agreement
In total the programs attracted 612 attendees, it is interesting to note that almost all of the programs attracted an above average audience. However the most popular program was Amy Davis’ lecture Flickering Treasures, which explored Baltimore’s historic movie theatres. If you missed any of our programs we recorded the audio of three lectures which will soon be available on our website.
A variety of poster sizes on display
“Cinema Judaica” included 61 movies, which were represented by 66 different posters, lobby cards, pressbooks, trade advertisements, and the like. The images ranged in size from an 8”x10” still photo of Claude Rains (in character as Haym Salomon from Sons of Liberty) to a “six sheet” poster for The Ten Commandments measuring almost 7’ square.
An Amy Davis photo
To put a local spin on these posters, we researched the Baltimore-area movie theaters at which the films played. Thus, we were able to namecheck over 50 theaters, with eight significant venues shown in photographs. Many of the comments made by visitors focused on memories of their favorite movie houses in and around the city.
The #GoldenTevye voting box.
In the hope of engaging audiences even further, we asked visitors to vote for their favorite poster in the exhibition. During the course of the exhibit 164 votes were cast, with visitors choosing 35 of the included movies (sorry, The House I Live In and your unloved friends). The winner by a landslide was The Ten Commandments, with 22 votes (just over 13% of the total); Exodus came in second with 10 votes, followed closely by The Diary of Anne Frank and The Great Dictator, which garnered 9 votes each.
A selection of posters
In the course of researching and installing the exhibit, a number of entertaining facts came to light. For example, as I typed the cast lists of all 61 films I noticed that several actors appeared twice in this exhibit, including Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, and Haya Harareet. However, two actors managed to sneak in as the accidental stars of the exhibit: Character actor Hugh Griffith appears in four of the films (and won an Oscar for his role in Ben-Hur), and supporting actor George Sanders (shown here in Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent) appeared in five.
George Sanders in Foreign Correspondent
In the end, my favorite tidbit from “Cinema Judaica” is the fact that this was likely the most exclamatory exhibit we’ve ever had the honor of displaying. …Sorry, I should say: the honor of displaying! Superlatives, adjectives, and !s abounded. This is only to be expected, of course, when your gallery includes “The thrill spectacle of the year!” (Foreign Correspondent), “The mightiest motion picture ever created!” (Solomon and Sheba), and “A story timeless, tumultuous, overpowering!” (Samson and Delilah). Though only two movies had exclamation marks in the actual title (Operation Eichmann! and I Accuse!), most of the posters availed themselves of the chance to proclaim the movie’s stars, plot, or general wonderfulness with great excitement. The most excessive use was on Sodom and Gomorrah, which had 11… but lest you dismiss that as B movie excess, I’ll point out that the runner-up in the contest was the prestigious Judgement at Nuremberg, which scattered 10 exclamation marks across the poster. Through the entire exhibit, I counted 117 exclamation marks total!
Don’t be too sad – we’ll have plenty more movie action this Fall with our Folk Film Festival, Tuesday evenings in November!
Posted on September 10th, 2015 by Rachel
Our Education summer intern, Falicia Eddy transformed the Immigrant Trunk outreach program into a new program for the Girl Scouts of Maryland called Immigration: Past and Present. One part of the program is the Immigrant Trunk which tells the story of Ida Rehr, an immigrant from Ukraine who came to Baltimore for a better life in the late 19th century. She worked in a factory and took night classes in order to learn English. In the trunk, the Girl Scouts will be able to look at photographs of Ida and her family and use critical thinking skills to answer questions. They will also be able to interact with objects such as a cast iron pan, a menorah, and an iron.
A photograph of Ida Rehr and her family
To update the Immigrant Trunk, Falicia researched contemporary immigration. The Girl Scouts will answer questions and participate in a Q&A from a refugee from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) of Baltimore. This discussion will enable the Girl Scouts to learn about the true struggles of an immigrant today. The Girl Scouts will also visit our historic synagogues and participate in a scavenger hunt in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit.
Here I am at the Girl Scouts of Maryland headquarters waiting to talk with troop leaders.
Falicia has since returned to school (We miss you Falicia!) and as an educator at the JMM, I took on her project. On Saturday, August 29th I traveled to the Girl Scouts of Maryland headquarters. In a quick thirty minutes, I met with troop leaders who were very interested and excited to learn about Immigration: Past and Present. There were some leaders who had never heard of our museum, but were excited about the opportunity to their troops here. The Jewish Museum of Maryland is participating with the Girl Scouts for the first time this year. We are thrilled to educate, inspire, and encourage the Girl Scouts to take on this relevant topic of immigration and hopefully this program with encourage them to research their own immigration story or help their community.
A blog post by Museum Educator Kelly Suredam Potter. To read more posts about our education programs click HERE.