Living History at the Jewish Museum of Maryland


Over the past dozen years, the Jewish Museum of Maryland has developed significant expertise in the creation of compelling living history characters and a national reputation for excellence in this medium.  In consultation with a team of professional historians, script writers, directors, and actors, we have created historical performances based on extensive research. These performances illuminate key themes of American Jewish history in an accessible and personal manner. The performances incorporate reproductions of artifacts, photographs, and documents from the JMM collections and include opportunities for audience interaction. For many viewers, living history performances resonate in powerful ways and the feedback we receive is universally positive.

Harry Houdini, Henrietta Szold, and Ida Rehr.

Today the Jewish Museum of Maryland has several living history characters. These characters perform around the state for students and adult audiences alike. The Living History program at the Jewish Museum of Maryland teaches about Maryland history and illuminates the Jewish experience in America in previous eras by introducing audiences to a real person who lived it.

Ida B. Rehr – a Ukrainian immigrant who worked in the garment industry

Henrietta Szold – a Baltimorean educator and activist

Houdini’s Trunk – the story of how Erich Weiss became Harry Houdini 

These living history characters were developed with the generous support of the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund of The Associated. Additional funding provided by the Kolker-Saxon-Hallock Family Foundation and the Leo V. Berger Fund. 

Living History Performances for Schools

Offered For: 2nd to 12th Grade

Length: 1 hour

Delivered: At the Museum or in your Classroom

Connect with the true stories of Jewish American, both born and made, through dramatic living history performances. Available characters include:

Immigrant’s Trunk: Ida Rehr – a Ukrainian immigrant who worked in the garment industry.

Henrietta Szold – a rabbi’s daughter who impacted Jewish immigration to Baltimore and Israel in the 20th century.

Houdini’s Trunk – Before he was the world’s most famous magician, he was Erik Weisz, a Hungarian immigrant.

Living History Program performances are available for schools, public and private events and can take place at the Museum or outside venues.

There is a fee associated with living history performances. Ask us about our school rate discount!

To schedule a Living History Performance for your class, click here. Question? Contact Marisa Shultz at

We can offer this program for free to our Partner Schools. If you are interested in becoming a Partner School, please contact Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Education, at (443) 873-5178, or email her at

Immigrant’s Trunk: Rental Option

Teachers can also rent a trunk based on the life of Ida Rehr. Each trunk contains reproduced photographs, documents, letters, and objects from the Museum’s collection that students explore. A curricular guide within the trunk provides teachers with instructions for classroom facilitation.

The cost of a three-week rental is $60 per trunk, which includes one-way shipping to your school. There is an additional $25 fee for a staff facilitator plus round-trip mileage reimbursement. Each school is responsible for the cost of return shipping.

Immigrant’s Trunk

Offered For: Preschool to 1st Grade

Length: 1 hour

Delivered: At the Museum or at your location

Through the use of immersive storytelling, visuals, and music, preschoolers learn the story of a teenage girl, Ida Rehr, who makes a big journey all by herself from her parents’ home in the Ukraine to her new home in Baltimore. The trunk includes photo reproductions, props, and song sheets. This program can also be sent to your classroom (Please see Immigrant’s Trunk: Rental Option).

The cost of this program is $25. If the program is delivered offsite, there is an additional mileage reimbursement of $0.50/mile.


Katherine Lyons as Ida Rehr.

Katherine Lyons as Ida Rehr.

For more information about educational opportunities related to our Living History Program, please head over to our Educational Programs Page.