Posted on July 20th, 2011 by

A blog post by associate director Anita Kassof.

1. It’s Colorful.

Photo by Will Kirk.

In Each Other’s Shoes, our exhibition of artwork by Loring Cornish, has been extended until September 15. There’s still plenty of time to come down and see these intricate, evocative, and inspiring works.

2. It’s open late.

We’re open until 9pm on the first Thursday of every month, with special programs, food, drink, and entertainment. Next up: “Oy Bay! Celebrating Baltimore’s Favorite Spice,” Thursday August 4 from 6 to 9pm.

3. It’s free.

Enjoying their free admission!

Okay, not all the time, but we do offer complimentary admission on First Thursdays. It’s a great time to check us out.

4. It’s accessible.

We’re right on the Circulator route. Take the orange line, get off at the “Jewish Museum of Maryland” stop (Lombard and Lloyd), and we’re only steps away.

5. It’s on sale.

Now through the end of July, all merchandise in the Museum shop (excluding consignment items) is 40% off. Yes, you read that right: 40% off. Come in now to stock up on bar and bat mitzvah gifts, wedding presents, and a little something for yourself.

6. It’s historic.

Our synagogues are star attractions on Heritage Walk, a pedestrian trail that winds through the neighborhood and includes sites such as the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, the McKim Center, and the Friends Meeting House. Free guided tours depart from the Inner Harbor Visitors Center 7 days a week: weekends at 10 and 1 and weekdays at 10.

7. It’s kid friendly.

Voices of Lombard Street and The Synagogue Speaks are family-friendly exhibitions, with plenty of things to touch and explore. Hands-on history kits add another layer of fun for young visitors.

8. It’s air conditioned.

Even our historic synagogues are nice and cool at this time of year. Thanks to generous support from the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, Save America’s Treasures, The Associated, and others, we updated all the systems in the Lloyd Street Synagogue in 2009.

9. It tells a story.

Our latest publication, The Synagogue Speaks, tells the story of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and the three congregations that worshipped there. Beautifully illustrated by Jonathan Scott Fuqua, it will delight readers of all ages. Come down to buy your copy today.

10. It comes to you.

Still not convinced? Then let us come to you. The JMM Speakers Bureau brings speakers to your group or event. Check out our website for a list of topics: http:///

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A Visit from the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington

Posted on June 13th, 2011 by

Last week, our colleagues from the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington visited the JMM to learn more about what we do and how we do it, and to talk about potential collaborations between our two institutions. Laura Cohen Apelbaum, the JHSGW’s director, brought a group of trustees, staff members, and interns to meet with Duke Zimmerman, JMM vice-president and chair of our collections committee, Deborah Cardin, and me.

After a morning spent touring the Lloyd Street and B’nai Israel Synaogogues and our “Synagogue Speaks” exhibition, the group settled down to chat with us over lunch. We talked about plans, challenges, and common interests.

The JHSGW and the JMM have a lot in common. Like the JMM, their museum chronicles the story of a Jewish community (in their case, Jews living in the greater Washington, DC area) through collections, publications, programs, and exhibitions. Like the JMM, they are stewards of an historic synagogue—though our Lloyd Street Synagogue (1845) has their Adas Israel Synagogue (1876) beat by 31 years! And like us, they were founded by volunteers in 1960. We’ve grown in similar directions since, with a shared commitment to preserving and interpreting Jewish history and culture in a meaningful way for both Jewish and general audiences.

Visit the JHSGW’s website (http:/// for a look at their many exciting programs and initiatives, and plan to pay them a visit next time you’re in Washington.

Here we are with our visitors from the JHSGW (Duke Zimmerman, never without a camera, snapped the picture). The group including several trustees and most staff members—like our staff, many JHSGW staffers wear multiple hats and produce an impressive number of high quality programs considering their size.

Here we are in the B'nai Israel Synagogue. One thing the JHSGW did with their synagogue that we didn’t: they moved it! In 1969, volunteers arranged to have Adas Israel relocated about three blocks from its original site in order to save it from demolition.


A photo from the move. You can check out more by clicking the picture!

Laura Apelbaum and I stand in front of our computer animation of the Lloyd Street Synagogue sanctuary, showing how it changed over time. This was a big hit with our visitors.


A blog post by Associate Director Anita Kassof.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

The Birth of an Exhibition…

Posted on April 29th, 2011 by

What was Lombard Street like in the early 1900s? When did Jews establish communities in Cumberland and Frederick? How do we memorialize loved ones who are no longer with us? Why do some Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair? This is just a sampling of the kinds of question the Museum’s exhibitions seek to answer. So how do we come up with the ideas for all the exhibitions we create?

The answers are as varied as our exhibitions.

Voices of Lombard Street

Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore (2007), our exhibition about the old Jewish neighborhood, was inspired by residential redevelopment around the Museum. Back in 2000, the public housing hi-rises were imploded and replaced with new townhouses suggestive of the old row houses that lined the neighborhood’s streets in its heyday. We thought it might be a good time to explore how the area has evolved over the years.

We Call This Place Home

We’ve also looked beyond Baltimore. We Call This Place Home: Jewish Life in America’s Small Towns (2002) was a topic suggested by a Museum trustee from Frederick, who encouraged us to explore Jewish life outside Baltimore’s borders. The result was an exhibition that not only traveled to venues around the state, but also helped us build our collections of photographs and artifacts depicting Jewish life in small towns.

The Other Promised Land

Some of our exhibitions are suggested by our more junior colleagues: Over lunch one day in about 2000, an intern from Beth Tfiloh Day School started musing about what Jews do when they go on vacation. The result? The Other Promised Land: Vacationing, Identity, and the Jewish American Dream, a major exhibition that opened in 2005 in Chicago, came back home to Baltimore, and then traveled to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

Intimacy. Image. Identity.

Intimacy. Image. Identity, which also opened in 2005, featured a series of photographs by intern Zoë Reznick, who shot the images as an undergraduate project. Her photographs explored the practice, among many Orthodox women, of covering their hair when they marry. Zoë wrote that her inspiration was to “examine the personal, material, and social implications of a tradition . . . and to capture the fine textures of scarves, the shapes of hats, the peculiarity and glamour of wigs.”

Nancy Patz: Her Inward Eye

Then there’s our more recent exhibition, Her Inward Eye (2010), which brought together three suites of work by local artist Nancy Patz. The germ of that exhibition was a conversation I shared with Nancy, Curator Karen Falk, and Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink. One morning, we sat in Nancy’s lovely, sunny studio discussing “18 Stones” a series of drawings and poems imaging Dutch Jewish lives before the Holocaust. Nancy told us that the works were traveling to Holocaust Museum Houston and asked if we’d like to host the show at the JMM before it headed out west. Unfortunately, the grouping was too big for our lobby and too small for one of our galleries. Then inspiration struck: Why not combine “18 Stones” with two other series of Nancy’s work? Like “18 Stones,” her illustrations from “Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat” were inspired by the tragedy of the Holocaust and explored the realm of imagined memory. The two series naturally complemented a group of works Nancy had created about her mother, who died prematurely. The portraits of her mother evoked a relationship re-imagined and reclaimed. Together, the three series examine the meanings of memory and imagination, exploring their role in the creative process.

Some of our farthest reaching exhibitions have the humblest beginnings. Our former curator, Melissa Martens, once observed that every time the staff got together, we seemed to talk about food. She figured that any topic that engaged us all that fully had to be worth an exhibition. The result of Melissa’s observation is Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture, and American Jewish Identity, opening here this fall and then traveling nationally. Chosen Food will be a vibrant, interactive exhibition that uncovers and interprets the many meanings of Jewish food. It’s a new way of looking at the old adage: You are what you eat!

Most recently, I’ve been thinking about developing an exhibition about nostalgia. The idea for the exhibition grew from a simple premise: Our visitors want to see themselves in our exhibitions, so why not give the people what they want? Obviously, nostalgia has some negative connotations—for many historians, it’s a “dirty word”—but it also has its place in history exhibitions. I want not only to display objects of nostalgia but also to plumb the meaning of the term and tell people something about individual and collective memory, constructed memory, longing, and their place in historical discourse. Plus, the material culture of nostalgia is practically endless. Just think of all the Superman lunchboxes, Sandy Koufax baseball cards, and Pimlico Restaurant menus we can display—all that, with an Allan Sherman record playing in the background.


A blog post by Associate Director Anita Kassof.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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