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Voter Education: Museum Advocacy

Posted on May 29th, 2020 by

The Jewish holiday of Shavuot is today, and it’s considered the date that the Israelites received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Traditionally, this holiday is spent eating delicious dairy-based foods, like cheesecakes and blintzes, and studying together as a community. Some people even hold all-night study sessions, as they read medieval poetry and the Book of Ruth.

Here at JMM, we deeply value the power of sharing stories with the community. We want our stories to inspire learning, growth, and inspiration. We’re doing our best to offer these stories virtually, through programs and digital tours for adults and classrooms, but it’s hard to not be able to welcome you all to celebrate these stories and holidays together. As we look towards the future, we want to ensure that we can continue to offer the opportunities to learn from each other and to do so, we need your support.

Many Jewish communities host all-night study sessions on Shavuot. This year, many groups are hosting these sessions online. In this image, three young, Jewish men sit a table, studying together.

Building on your advocacy skills from last week’s blog post, we ask for your help in protecting museums and other similar cultural institutions. This uncertain time has placed a strain on all community services, including museums. As our JMM community knows, museums are an essential place for everyone. They provide the opportunity to learn about people different from our own, inspiring compassion and empathy. Museums collect and preserve history, allowing us to reflect on the past and imagine a better future. Museums are hubs of culture, education, financial growth, and togetherness, and we need you to share the necessity of their existence.

First of all, learn more about the essential nature of museums through these reports on Museum & Public Opinion and Museums as Economic Engines. Let these reports just be the start of your learning into how museums have a huge, positive impact on their community and on the nation.

The American Alliance of Museums, or AAM, has tons of resources on how to support and advocate for museums across the country.

Then, visit the American Alliance of Museums’ website on museum advocacy to find resources like advocacy ideas, videos to share, form letters to send to legislators, and social media packs to help you spread the word that museums need to be protected.

There are lots of ways to help: calling and emailing your representatives, writing op-eds, and sharing the information on your social media to encourage others to participate.

Help us to save American museums so that we can still offer programs, school groups can still visit, and we can continue to preserve and share stories for everyone.


 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Fostering Empathy and Understanding at the JMM

Posted on November 30th, 2016 by

In this time of divisive politics and hateful language, I would like to highlight a few of the educational programs at the JMM in the past few month that I believe encourage dialogue and foster empathy and understanding. I would also like to share a few thoughts about how the Museum community as a whole can respond to our recent election.

I have always found the JMM to be a very welcoming and inclusive place that also aims to encourage dialogue on contemporary issues. In our mission, we strive to be a site of discourse and discovery, where individuals and groups are encouraged to draw connections to “events and trends in American History, to contemporary life, and to our hopes and aspirations for the future.” JMM Mission and Vision

Vanguard students in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Vanguard students in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Through our education programs, we strive to teach students about Jewish culture and traditions as well as work to find connections with their own stories and heritages.  Last month, a class of English as a Second Language students, including several refugees from Syria, visited from Vanguard Collegiate Middle School. We also had middle school students from Baltimore International Academy visit earlier this month.  I have been lucky enough to facilitate education programs in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit for several of these schools. I have found it very rewarding sharing the stories of Baltimore’s Jewish immigrants to a younger generation of immigrants.

Lessons of the Shoah

Lessons of the Shoah

Earlier this month, about 275 students and 25 teachers participated in Lessons of the Shoah, a high school interfaith program, this year held at John Carroll High School. The theme of this year’s program was No Asylum: the Plight of the Refugees. One of the goals of this program is to use the Holocaust as a starting point to promote tolerance, understanding and respect among students of diverse backgrounds. From all accounts, it sounded like a powerful program which included film screenings, musical selections, hearing from a Holocaust survivor and discussions about current refugee issues.

ICJS Teacher Workshop

ICJS Teacher Workshop

I also attended a teachers workshop a few weeks ago called Jewish and Muslim Refugees: Connecting the Past to the Present where we watched the film “Lives Lost: Lives Found” about Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1945, took part in a gallery walk activity to raise awareness of Islamophobia and heard from an Iraqi Muslim refugee currently living in Baltimore.

Teachers work in groups at the ICJS workshop, hosted at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Teachers work in groups at the ICJS workshop, hosted at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

While I am very proud of the work we do at the JMM, I was also glad to read that other Museums have recently reaffirmed their their roles as safe and open spaces. Laura Lott, the President of the American Alliance of Museums, also offered insightful comments in response to the election. She wrote that “Our institutions are uniquely positioned to listen, learn, and educate; to give historical context; and to foster empathy and inclusion by sharing the stories and perspectives of all people.” To sum up, museums are more important than ever now and I believe they can play a role in helping the nation heal and move forward by serving as safe spaces to have difficult conversations. Museums can model a kinder, emphatic and tolerant society. If you would like to promote the work Museums do everyday, I would encourage you to participate in Museum Advocacy Day on Feb. 27-28 in Washington D.C.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

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