Mapping Jewish Community – A Hopkins Mini-Course

Posted on January 13th, 2014 by

Back in late November, I received an intriguing email from a history Phd candidate from Johns Hopkins University. She and another history grad student were putting together a mini course for JHU’s intercession, in which undergraduate students can take 3-week courses in a wide variety of topics that they wouldn’t necessarily get to explore in the normal semester. This particular mini course was to be about mapping Jewish community in Baltimore—and what better place to start then the Jewish Museum of Maryland?

New facade!


The three of us and Ilene Dackman-Alon met to discuss the scope of the course and to see where we could help out.  It was ultimately decided that the class would have their first meeting here at the museum, where they would tour the synagogues and exhibits, and later on, back in their classroom, our living history character, Ida Rehr (played by Katherine Lyons), would come visit them.

Cover of the Voices of Lombard Street brochure

Voices of Lombard Street

Last Tuesday, the class arrived, eager to learn about the roots of Jewish Baltimore. Before beginning the tour, they took turns introducing themselves and explaining why they had signed up for the course. Many of the students came from mixed backgrounds—one Jewish parent—and so were curious about the history and culture from which they came. When the instructors—the grad students—introduced themselves, they talked about how their identities weren’t shaped just by their religion, but also by where in the country they grew up. One, who grew up in Viriginia, said she felt that she had the very specific identity of being a Southern Jew, while the other, who grew up in New York City, related strongly to the cultural identity of being a New York Jew. Listening to this conversation, Ilene and I couldn’t help but wish that the Chosen Food exhibit were still here!

LSS by Jono David

LSS by Jono David

The students enjoyed seeing the two historic synagogues and learning about the migration of the Jewish community within Baltimore. It’s great to see so many people who are interested in learning about the Jewish American experience and identity and that the JMM is viewed as an invaluable resource for schools of all kinds!

abby krolik copyA blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts by Abby, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Dear Abby 1.5

Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by

Dear Abby is at it again!


Dear Abby,

My dear friend, “S” has put himself into a bit of a pickle. He has a reputation for being a know-it-all, and now he’s made an ill-advised bet with his archenemy (let’s just call him “M”) that he knows everything about the Jewish Museum of Maryland. He even wagered his prized violin! There’s only one problem: “S” has never been to the JMM! Obviously, he needs to visit the museum as soon as possible. When is the soonest that he can go on a tour? Do your tours cover the whole museum? Another potential problem is that “S” has lived a long, full live, and his knees just aren’t what they used to be, so he is not comfortable using stairs—even with railings. Will this be a problem?


Dr. W. 

Dear Dr. W.,


A wager is very serious business, so I will try to do everything I can to help your friend learn what he needs to know in order to keep his violin! First of all, we offer five tours a day, Sunday through Thursday, so there are plenty of opportunities for “S” to go on a tour. These tours go out at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm, and 4:00pm. I would recommend that he come for the tours earlier than 3:00pm because the 3:00pm tour talks more about the Civil War than about the history of the synagogues, and the 4:00pm tour is abbreviated because we have to close up the synagogues at 4:30pm. For future reference, you can always find our tour schedule on our website, here:

The tours do not cover the entire museum. They only cover the two synagogues—Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel Synagogue. The exhibits inside the museum, and in the basement of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, are all self-guided.

Unfortunately, while the main museum building is handicap accessible, both synagogues require our visitors to climb a lot of stairs, and because they are historic buildings, it’s very difficult to install ramps or elevators that still comply with the historic trust’s rules. Hopefully, in the near future, we’ll have a solution to the problem of ensuring access while preserving the historic character of these buildings, but for the time being, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.

Generally, I assume that each visitor knows his or her own abilities best, but if “S” is uncomfortable with stairs, even when they have railings (as ours do), then he will not be able to see the sanctuaries of the synagogues…in person. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t go on a tour! Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we have a DVD version of the synagogues tour that we can set up in as little as five minutes! If “S” asks for it at the front desk, we will have him set up in no time at all.

Yours Truly,



abby krolik copyHave a question of your own for Abby? Click HERE to email her! Make sure to put “Dear Abby” in the subject line! 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Dear Abby 1.3

Posted on November 21st, 2013 by

Dear Abby gives some solid advice for what to do with the family on Thanksgiving weekend in this installment!


Dear Abby,

Because of “Thanksgivvukah”, the entire family is descending on our house for the holiday this year for a whole five days. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, and I’ll be happy to see them on Thursday, and maybe Friday. But by Sunday, there’s no doubt that our house will be a wreck and my husband and I will be certifiably insane! Please tell me that your museum will be open the Sunday after Thanksgiving and that there will be things to interest all ages! My daugher-in-law doesn’t think this is a good idea because she thinks her kids are too young to learn about the Holocaust. I reminded her that this is not the Holocaust Museum, but she insisted that I write to you to ask—just in case. That’s mechotenem for you, right?

Anyway, it’d be great to know that, any time the family comes for a too-long visit, we have a place to which we can reliably turn for entertainment.


B-more Bubby Gone Bonkers


Dear B-more Bubby,

A Bubby gone bonkers can’t make the batches and batches of latkes that are needed for Chanukkah, and we can’t have that! It’s exactly for that reason that the JMM is always open on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. In fact, it’s usually a special Family Day Sunday, with activities for kids and adults. This year is no different; we will be having a “Civil War Photography Family Day” in honor of our Civil War exhibit. For the kids, we’ll have hands-on activities that will allow them to learn about photographic processes that don’t involve pixels—including making their own stereoscopes to view 3D images! For the adults, there will be a lecture at 1:00pm by Russ Kelbaugh, an expert on early photography and Jewish photographers during the Civil War. To find more information about these and upcoming programs, you can always check out our events calendar online here:

Just one of the many child friendly activities in our exhibits!

Just one of the many child friendly activities in our exhibits!

Although we don’t have Family Day every day, we do always have activities for all ages. Each of our exhibits—besides being fascinating in and of themselves—contain stations that provide hands-on engagement for children as well as those who want an immersive experience of the exhibits. From listening in on conversations through the ages in “Attman’s Deli”, to understanding the physical evolution of the Lloyd Street Synagogue through movable wooden blocks, to creating your own care package for a wounded Civil War soldier, there are so many ways for people of all ages to learn together and to partake in the Jewish Museum of Maryland experience!

I hope this is enough information to convince your daughter-in-law that it is always a good idea to bring the family to the Jewish Museum of Maryland, no matter the age or occasion!

Yours Truly,


Have a question of your own for Abby? Click HERE to email her! Make sure to put “Dear Abby” in the subject line! 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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