Posted on January 13th, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink
I know it’s the New Year and everyone is going to expect this to be a saccharine sweet post about family, traditions, and food. And I have plenty of entertaining stories about my family—and my family’s traditions with food! Just ask Karen Falk what she learned about the Okin clan’s food traditions during her research for Chosen Food. But that will have to be another post.
And this isn’t a post about a girl from Kansas with some sparkly shoes, either.
This is really about the satisfaction of crossing something off my to-do list and feeling like I’ve done a mitzvah at the same time. Now Avi would joke that crossing anything off my to-do list is a mitzvah since the list is currently about 26 pages long. He might be right: I think that this was actually one of the very first things that I put on my to-do list when I started as a part-time curatorial assistant over a decade ago.
A sample page from my to-do list of epic proportions.
In 1998 The Jewish Museum of Maryland purchased a pinkas (congregational record book) belonging to the Kesher Israel Congregation of Harrisburg, PA.For a brief history of the congregation click here: http:///www.kesherisrael.org/index.php/shul/C15/
As evidenced by the cover of the pinkas, the book is from the congregation’s 15th anniversary
Shortly thereafter acquiring the pinkas, the Museum revised its mission statement with a clear concentration on the history, traditions and culture of Jewish life inMaryland, rather thanMaryland and its surrounding areas. The book was never approved for accession, and in 2001 I tried to find a suitable repository for it. My calls, letters, and pleas brought no response from any of the institutions I contacted.
The book remained in its acid free box on the shelf downstairs. The collections staff would look at it and sigh. Every few years I (or my interns) would try again to find a home for it, but never with any luck. But this year an e-mail was answered: the congregation wanted it back!
So on a cold, rainy Tuesday before Thanksgiving I drove up to Harrisburgto hand-deliver the pinkas. When I arrived, a Thanksgiving dinner was in full swing! It was a wonderful to see the members enjoying their extended family. I didn’t have a chance to meet Rabbi Akiva Males, but he’s assured me that when the book is translated he will share the information with the congregants.
The Collections Staff is thrilled that the pinkas has finally found its way home.
Posted on January 26th, 2011 by Rachel
18 Stones is hot off the press. Illustrated by local artist Nancy Patz and written by Susan L. Roth, this beautiful book imagines the story of a Jewish family living in Holland before the Holocaust.
Patz and Roth were inspired by a series of photographs belonging to Chaja Verveer, who was born in the Netherlands and who lost many relatives in the Shoah. Originally, Chaja’s photos were to serve as visual reference for a children’s book about Dutch Jews.
But as Nancy and Susan studied the images, they became intrigued by the people in the photographs. The images inspired Susan to conjure an imaginary constellation of family relationships and dramas that, in fact, bear no resemblance to the Verveers’ pre-war experiences. Nancy used big, bold strokes to render these mysterious characters in oil pastel. Like Susan’s poems, Nancy’s lush drawings reflect her own very personal, visceral, and emotional response to the Verveer photos and to the characters Susan had evoked.
The result is a series of 18 prose poems and accompanying oil pastels that, in Nancy’s and Susan’s words “honor, respect, and remember Chaja’s family and all families whose histories were lost in the Holocaust.”
We’re honored that Nancy and Susan—both of whom have published widely elsewhere, and have earned awards for their work—chose the Jewish Museum of Maryland to publish 18 Stones. The book grows out of Nancy’s exhibition, Her Inward Eye, which opened at the JMM in April 2010. The 18 Stones drawings and poems were part of that show. Response to Her Inward Eye was so positive that Barbara Katz—a former JMM president—urged us to create a publication to extend its reach. She and others generously funded the publication.
Susan & Nancy
18 Stones is available in the Museum Shop or by visiting our website:
And please plan to join us on Thursday February 24, from 5-7 p.m. for a book signing and reception, as we honor Nancy’s and Susan’s wonderful achievement. For more information, visit: http:///www.jewishmuseummd.org/event/upcoming-events