Our Miniature Chanukah Celebration – Part 2

Posted on December 22nd, 2016 by

Following up on last week’s post, here’s a closer look at a few more of the Chanukah programs featured in our mini exhibit in the Lloyd Street Synagogue…

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

First, a nice little souvenir program for a “Grand Chanuka Concert given by Rev. S. Schenberg with a double choir, assisted by the talented violinist, Mr. Charles Weissmann. Given on Sunday December 5th, 1915, 5:30 pm under the auspices of Aitz Chaim Congregation, the Eden Street Synagogue. Dr. Romanoff, Rabbi of the Congregation.”  This is an eight page booklet, with a tasseled cord around the binding. Inside can be found the evening’s musical selections, in both English and [Yiddish], and the event committee is listed on the back cover. In case you’re still planning your own Chanukah concert, you can take some inspiration from the program here:

Music Selection Ida [sic] from Verdi

Brohcos – Grossman

Hanaras H’lolu – Berkowitz

Selection, Israeli – Weissman

Lecture ‘Chanuca’ – Dr. Romanoff

Mismoir Schier Chanukas – Sestofol

Solo Violin – Weissman

Ma Oshiv – Schenberg

Serenad Music – Schubert

Ahavti – Weissman

Loy Omus – Schenberg

 

Most of the booklet, however, is given over to advertisements, in English, Hebrew and Yiddish, for a variety of  businesses:

>J. Castelberg’s National Jewelry Company

>Baltimore Commercial Bank

>Hendler Creamery (“The Velvet Kind”)

>R. Ember Co. – furniture

>Osias Schoenfeld’s New York Dairy Lunch

>Commercial Savings Bank [in Yiddish]

>N. Ginsburg, Dealer in Cigars & Tobacco

>Y. Samuelson – pictures and frames [in Yiddish]

>F. Hurwitz Kosher Delicatessen

>Barney’s Café

>The Capitol Tailoring Co.

>Frank Merin, Contractor and Builder

>Hochschild, Kohn & Co.

>I. Greenhood Ladies’ Tailor

>E. Tamres, Dealer in Leather, Shoe Findings and Shoemakers Supplies

>Old Town National Bank

>Jack Lewis with Robert Kinnier, Hiring and Boarding Stables

>Jack Lewis, Undertaker and Embalmer [in Yiddish]

>Goldenberg Brothers ‘Greater Stores’

>Rev. Samuel Schenberg, Cantor of ‘Etz Chaim,’ First Class Practical Mohel; also does weddings [in English and Yiddish]

>The Reliable Plumbing Co.

>Stewart & Co.

>National Marine Bank

>The Eden Street Synagogue (“Aitz Chaim”)

>B. Mankowitz, Dealer in Delicatessen, Scotch Herring, Sardines

>Schaeffers Orpheum Theater [in Yiddish]

>Bernstein, Cohen & Co., Bankers

>A. Sindler, Furniture and Carpets

>Rev. N. Glazer, Hebrew School (“Special attention given to Bar Mitzvah children with the nicest English and Yiddish speeches”) [in Yiddish]

>Kosher Mikveh for all Jewish Women, with the approval of Baltimore Rabbis [in Yiddish]

>London Fur Mfg. Co.

>Saiontz Fur Co.

>Hackerman’s The Lucky Corner – Hatter and Gent.’s Furnisher

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

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Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

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Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

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Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

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Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

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Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

…Another inside-peek-worthy item in the exhibit is the script for What Happened on Chanuka, by Rabbi G. Lipkind, published by Bloch Pub. Co. in 1924.  According to a note inside the cover, the play was “Presented twice with great success by the Intermediate Adath Boys on Sun. Dec. 13, 1933 (& Dance) & on Tuesday Dec. 19, 1933. Coached by Saul Taragin (15 rehearsals)”.  Taragin (1917-1997), son of a rabbi, emigrated to the US in 1929; he worked as a teacher and, in 1992, helped found Baltimore’s Yeshivat Rambam Day School.  The “Adath Boys” may have been affiliated with Adath B’nei Israel, a young adult congregation founded around 1920, though it could also refer to Adath Israel (now Beth Isaac Adath Israel), founded in 1914.

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

What I’d expected to be a light-hearted story about a family celebration is actually a rather deep examination of assimilation, adoption, intermarriage, and personal religious identity.  (Though I confess I have not read the entire script yet.)  There are a few annotations throughout, with some word changes here and there.  This page spread touches on a few of the play’s themes, as well as the central event of the Gerson family’s Chanukah celebration:

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

The cast list, delightfully, includes the actors’ names in pencil. I’ve not matched all of them up to their histories (and I’m not sure who played young Benno), but the players included Zelda Zafren (later Rivkin), born 1918; Pauline Kurland (later Kramer), born 1918; Beatrice Shoenig (later Krohn) born 1917; and Yetta Townsend, born 1918, who played the role originally written as Louis – it looks as if, for the purposes of Taragin’s production, it was changed to “Rebecca”.

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

Fifteen rehearsals is a lot of work for a bunch of teenagers, especially when their leader is himself only 16. I’m glad that Taragin’s “great success” can be remembered today, thanks to the annotated script.

Saul Taragin, right, with an unidentified friend, possibly at his graduation from Baltimore Polytechnic [link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_Polytechnic_Institute] in the early 1930s. Museum purchase. JMM 2003.83.10

Saul Taragin, right, with an unidentified friend, possibly at his graduation from Baltimore Polytechnic in the early 1930s. Museum purchase. JMM 2003.83.10*

*Saul is standing with his older brother Azreal. The photo is indeed of graduation from Polytechnic Institute, the two brothers graduated together – they then attended Hopkins together as well.. Thank you to Faith Shabat and Sonny Taragin for this additional information!

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

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Our Miniature Chanukah Celebration – Part 1

Posted on December 15th, 2016 by

Nature abhors a vacuum, and collections managers abhor an empty exhibit case. Why not put such a thing to good use? So we moved a spare case to a corner of the basement of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and now we have to make sure it’s filled.  At the moment, we’re featuring a few items from Chanukah celebrations of the past.

Children preparing decorations for a Chanukah party, circa 1980.  Gift of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore. JMM 2006.13.274b

Children preparing decorations for a Chanukah party, circa 1980. Gift of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore. JMM 2006.13.274b

Compiling a small thematic exhibit like this one is fun, because it gives us a chance to pull together just a few related items that might not often get their day in the (metaphorical) sun.  Archives-based exhibits can also be frustrating, however; we get to see all the pages of the booklets and albums, but we know the visitor usually cannot. That’s where the magic of the internet comes in. (The mantra of the completist curator trying to narrow down the exhibit list: “Okay, that could go on the blog instead.”) I think the covers of our Chanukah entertainments are great, but here’s a chance to show you a bit of what’s inside.

Anonymous gift. JMM 1991.222.1

Anonymous gift. JMM 1991.222.1

First off, the smallest piece: A tiny “programme” from the “13th Annual Chanukah Banquet of the Baltimore Talmud Torah Society, Hebrew Free School, 21 N. High Street to be held at Hazazer’s Hall, 111 W. Franklin St. on Sunday, December 4, 1904.” (To see Hazazer’s, scroll down to the Hs on this site.)  Inside, we learn that the banquet featured music, speeches, prayer, and refreshments; several “pupils of the school,” namely Masters Tarshish, Shapiro, Cohen, and Freilichow, had the privilege of addressing the audience.  The Talmud Torah officers, Banquet committee, and “Committee of Appeal” are listed on the inside cover, including a few names familiar to us today such as Harry Friedenwald, M.S. Levy, and Jacob Epstein.

Anonymous gift. JMM 1991.222.1

Anonymous gift. JMM 1991.222.1

Next, an invitational handbill and the formal libretto from the “Grand Chanuka Celebration” held for the benefit of the Hebrew Young Men’s Association on Tuesday, December 9th, 1879 at Baltimore’s Concordia Opera House.

Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.1, .2

Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.1, .2

Although visitors can read the full invitation in the case, I must give a shout-out to the delightful introduction:

“Dear Sir: Amply as we are supplied with Jewish Festivals, there is one still, claiming a share for our rejoicing which of late we have not fully accorded to it. It is the festival of Chanuka, full of the most thrilling events described in the history of the Maccabees, and so beautifully set to music by Handel in the Oratorio of Judas Maccabaeus. Desirous of giving the festival the place due it in our midst, we are now actively engaged in completing arrangements for a  Grand Chanuka Celebration…”

(And only fifty cents admission for ladies! I’m sold.)

The cover of the libretto is informative, but there’s even more detail on the title page inside, namely the fact that the text was written by Miss Henrietta Szold (“all proprietary rights reserved”).  Further in the book, we learn the names of the musical soloists and speechgivers before we are treated to the full text of the address; song lyrics and poetry; and descriptions of each tableau vivant, because yes, like all good Grand Celebrations, there were tableaux.

Then we move on to the sponsoring advertisements, usually my favorite part of this type of document (I wish advertisers still noted “All Orders by Post will be promptly attended to,” as does A. Myers, Cabinet Maker), though the ad for Christmas presents is a tad awkward; I think in this case the tableaux are the winner. Altogether, this is a wonderful document, and I’m glad we can share it with you both in person and in virtual form.

Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

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Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

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Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

1993116002-6

Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

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Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

1993116002-8

Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

1993116002-9

Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

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Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

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Gift of Herbert J. Goldsmith. JMM 1993.116.2

Next week: two (at least) more documents from our mini Chanukah exhibit – tune in!

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

 

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It’s not too late to decorate!

Posted on December 9th, 2015 by

In a previous existence, I was in charge of decorating an historic house museum for “the holidays” every December.  This usually meant Christmas decorations, since it was a house built in the early 19th century for a family of Episcopalians.  However, the house is also the main museum of the Montgomery County Historical Society (Rockville, Md.) so we did our best to change things up, and incorporate the holiday traditions of 20th and 21st century County residents.

Thus, in 2013 we decorated the parlor as if it were ready for a 1960s Chanukah celebration. I borrowed era-appropriate menorahs and dreidels from a few County families, but other elements were harder to come by.  Thank goodness for the internet and the public library, which provided me with some examples of vintage decorations (and the history behind them).  I found several variations (like this one) on bright and colorful “Happy Hanukkah” banners, which would suit the parlor walls – so, being well-versed in having to invent ‘antique’ decorations, I made my own banner.  Here it is, hanging on the wall of the circa 1815 Beall-Dawson House, above an 1840s pianoforte.

Photo courtesy of Montgomery History, Rockville, Maryland.

Photo courtesy of Montgomery History, Rockville, Maryland.

Why am I writing about this now, two years later?  Well, for one thing, it’s a chance to show off my craft skills; for another, it’s an opportunity to encourage you to look for – and make noise if you do not find –  Jewish history within ‘general’ history museums. But really, it’s because some of the sources I used in 2013 came from the JMM collections, via our online database, and last week I came across two of those fabulous images again:

Elayne Fedder, Bernice Friedman, Myrna Cardin, and Belle Legum at the JCC Volunteers’ Chanukah Party, circa 1970.  Donated by the JCC.  JMM# 2006.013.456

Elayne Fedder, Bernice Friedman, Myrna Cardin, and Belle Legum at the JCC Volunteers’ Chanukah Party, circa 1970. Donated by the JCC. JMM# 2006.013.456

Chanukah crafts at the JCC, circa 1970.  Donated by the JCC.  JMM#2006.013.274b

Chanukah crafts at the JCC, circa 1970. Donated by the JCC. JMM#2006.013.274b

These great photos prompted me to delve a little further into the collections, looking for even more holiday decorations.  Alas, we do not have an original paper banner, but I did find some helpful hints for making your own décor.  Many of the contemporary sources advise parents to make Chanukah – though not the most important of holidays – a bright and festive time for their children. Much has been written about the whys and hows of Chanukah celebrations in modern America, and I can hardly hope to cover it all in one blog post; but for now, it’s worth noting that as private and public Christmas decorations became more and more popular in the mid 20th century, so too did Chanukah decorations.

For example, in The Jewish Home Beautiful (The National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America, 1941), the authors advise the liberal use of crepe paper flowers and streamers, or even “a large dreidel made out of parchment or crepe paper of many bright colors;” they continue, “the color scheme should be predominately orange, the usual color of the Hanukkah candles, with green or blue as a complementary color.”

In Happy Chanuko, a 1943 picture book written by Jane Bearman and published by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (our copy was collected by Baltimore educator Louis L. Kaplan), the young protagonists are posed in front of a variety of decorative pieces, like this crepe paper streamer and electric Star of David.

“Happy Chanuko”, 1943. Louis L. Kaplan collection, donated by Efrem Potts. JMM#1995.192.158

“Happy Chanuko”, 1943. Louis L. Kaplan collection, donated by Efrem Potts. JMM#1995.192.158

Holiday decorating is not for everyone, and yes, Chanukah has already begun; but if this post has inspired you, I say it’s never too late to decorate! I’ll leave you with some instructions, and encouraging words, from the 1947 Hanukkah syllabus of the Holiday Institute for Jewish Mothers:

Decoration ideas, including wall streamers and a large star, from “The Holiday Institute for Jewish Mothers: Hanukkah,” (Bureau of Jewish Education, Buffalo, New York, December 1947).  Rabbi Uri Miller Collection, donated by Jerome Kadden.  JMM#1995.173.032

Decoration ideas, including wall streamers and a large star, from “The Holiday Institute for Jewish Mothers: Hanukkah,” (Bureau of Jewish Education, Buffalo, New York, December 1947). Rabbi Uri Miller Collection, donated by Jerome Kadden. JMM#1995.173.032

“There are so few ready-made decorations for Hanukkah one can purchase, and what fun would that be anyway! So with family cooperation, a little creativity and materials such as crepe paper, paste etc., it is surprising how well we can express our ideas. . . . We hope you will enjoy creating Holiday fun.  This is your Decoration Committee signing off and wishing you all a very Happy Hanukkah.

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

 

 

 

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