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An Historic Tour, 1984

Posted on April 27th, 2017 by

It isn’t only our historical collections that contain intriguing images. These three come from our institutional photo archives, showing a group of young students in costume at the Lloyd Street Synagogue in 1984.

IA 1.0873

IA 1.0873

IA 1.0874

IA 1.0874

They’re identified simply as “children from School #139 at the Lloyd Street Synagogue for Historic Baltimore Day, May 6, 1984.” A little research into City history shows that Historic Baltimore Day was held in May for about ten years, starting in 1980, with local students serving as tour guides at historic sites around Baltimore. According to the Sun, May 6, 1984 was the fourth annual event, sponsored by Baltimore Council of Historic Sites (later years were sponsored by the Peale Museum), with seventeen sites participating.

IA 1.0875

IA 1.0875

Public School #139 was also known as Charles Carroll of Carrollton Elementary School, located a few blocks away from us at Central and Lexington.  It closed at some point recently; I haven’t pinpointed exactly when.  Alas, our files don’t contain any further information about the event, the student participants, or their work. They clearly prepared themselves well, for they’re wearing name badges and carrying booklets, and look more than ready to tell visitors about our historic synagogue. Do any of our readers remember attending this event, as a visitor or a guide? Can anyone identify any of the young docents shown here?

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Processions, Debates and Curbstone Encounters: The Struggle over Kosher Meat in Baltimore, 1897 – 1918 Pt. 3

Posted on March 13th, 2017 by

Article by Avi Y. Decter. Originally published in Generations 2011 – 2012: Jewish Foodways

The boycott of 1910 was one dramatic episode in a twenty-year struggle over kosher meat that engaged meat wholesalers, retail butchers, shochets (ritual slaughterers), the Orthodox rabbinate, and thousands of ordinary Jews, especially in East Baltimore. In the first decades of the twentieth century, conflict over kosher meat was a familiar topic. Today, that contestation is little remembered and poorly documented. However, sufficient evidence survives to give us access to the trajectory and meaning of the protracted struggle over kosher meat. Here is that story.

Part III: The Butchers Go on Strike

Missed parts 1-2? Start here.

 Nathan London in the doorway of his kosher butcher shop on Lombard Street, early 20th century. JMM 2001.90.1

Nathan London in the doorway of his kosher butcher shop on Lombard Street, early 20th century. JMM 2001.90.1

For a decade, contestation over shechita appears to have abated in Baltimore. But in March 1907 the Baltimore Sun reported a conflict between the large meat wholesalers and the kosher meat retailers they supplied. The retailers claimed that the wholesalers were charging excessive prices for kosher meat and refused to purchase their locally slaughtered kosher beef. After a few days, the retail butchers went a step further, agreeing to buy all their kosher meat exclusively from two small slaughterers who offered more favorable prices. A week later, the Sun reported the dispute was still in progress.[1]

Among those affected, of course, were the consumers, who, the Sun reported, were “much wrought up over the situation.” In fact, the butchers’ strike bore most heavily on the poorer members of the community, who “are the most Orthodox [and who] have not been able to get their customary rations of this important article of food.” With Passover drawing near, the butchers relented, agreeing “to provide meat the old price until after the Passover. Then the strike will begin again.”[2]

Although the temporary cessation of the butchers’ strike was cited by the Sun as “an inspiring example of race co-operation,” the Orthodox congregations soon felt it necessary to again take decisive steps to regulate the making and sale of kosher meat in Baltimore. In July 1908, twenty-eight Orthodox congregations in East Baltimore organized the Federation of Orthodox Jewish Congregations to “advance every interest affecting Orthodox Jews.” One of the purposes cited was to protect consumers from unscrupulous dealers who falsified seals of kashrut, thus casting doubt on the ritual purity of all meat sold as kosher.[3]

The kosher butchers’ strike and its immediate aftermath point to a complex collision of interests. The wholesalers were trying to raise the price of kosher meat; shochets were seeking higher pay; consumers were balking at paying higher prices; the rabbinate was asserting its authority over shechita; and kosher butchers at the retail level were caught in the cross-currents.

Continue to Part IV: Another Controversy over Kosher Meat


[1] “Kosher Butchers Accept,” Baltimore Sun, 23 March 1907, p. 11. “Ghetto Sees a Truce in Kosher Butcher’s Strike,” Baltimore Sun, 31 March 1907, p. 12.

[2] “Ghetto Sees a Truce in Kosher Butcher’s Strike.”

[3] “For Pure Kosher Meat,” Baltimore Sun, 25 July 1908, p.6.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Winter Weather vs. Wedding, 1928

Posted on January 29th, 2016 by

This cute, spring-like little chiffon dress seems like an unlikely avenue for talking about a snowstorm, but a search of our collections for the word “blizzard” offered it up nonetheless.

Flower girl dress, donated by Bernice Weinstein. JMM 2003.63.1

Flower girl dress, donated by Bernice Weinstein. JMM 2003.63.1

The dress was made by Etta Cohen Adelberg for her young daughter, Eva, to wear in Etta’s brother Ben Cohen ’s wedding to Zelda Greenberg.  The ceremony was held at Shaarei Zion on Park Heights Avenue on January 29, 1928 … in the aftermath of a city-crippling blizzard that had hit the day before.

Though it does not appear in “Worst Storms” lists today, the January 28, 1928 blizzard was a major one for Baltimore.  The summary article in the Sun, published on the 29th, was dramatically headlined:


Only Annapolis and Frederick Arteries Open After Blizzard.


15-Inch Fall Recorded, Autos Stranded, Cars Delayed, Ships Halted.

It was the first big storm of the season for the east coast, with the Washington-Baltimore area being the worst hit; the infamous Knickerbocker Storm of 1922, in which 98 Washingtonians died when the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater collapsed, was fresh in the minds of Maryland residents.  Thankfully, though the 1928 storm was “rather unexpected,” the Sun reported only one death in the area, an elderly woman in Frederick.

“A hundred snow plows sent out by the State Roads Commission were unable to cope with the drifts which in some paces rose to a height of ten feet,” the Sun reported on the 29th, and automobile traffic was essentially halted – but streetcars and buses were able to operate by the next day, and the city directed some post-storm efforts toward  “[blocking off] some roads through Baltimore’s parks … to allow children to sled in safety.”

And in the meantime, some events went on as planned – like a wedding in Park Heights.

Though Ben and Zelda Cohen were well-known in Baltimore society in the 20th century, in part because of their involvement with Pimlico Raceway (Ben was a co-owner of the track, and they both owned and raced thoroughbreds), I’ve not found any info about the wedding itself, other than the story about the blizzard that came with little Eva’s flower girl dress. I’m dying to know more – were most guests able to get in, thanks to cleared sidewalks and the still-running Park Heights streetcar?  How did Zelda and Ben feel on the 28th, watching the progress of nature’s wedding present?  And was Eva warm enough??

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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