MS 202 Hymen Saye Collection 1922-1989

Posted on May 10th, 2012 by

Hymen Saye (1907-1993) Collection


MS 202

The Jewish Museum of Maryland

Accession and Provenance

The Hymen Saye collection was donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Hymen Saye as accession 1991.7.  The collection was processed byRebeccaLouderback in March 2012.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.  Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.

Hymen Saye teaching at Talmud Torah, 1928. 1991.7.13

Biographical Sketch

Hymen Saye was born in Baltimore in 1907.  His father Louis Saye, arrived in Baltimore from Latvia, in 1904.  Once he had a job as a tailor and a place to live, Louis sent for his wife and two daughters.  Growing up in a Yiddish only household, Hymen and his sisters spoke English only to each other and outside the home.  Louis Saye would eventually learn English, however Hymen’s mother never made the attempt.

Saye attended public schools # 73 on Aisquith and Orleans and school # 40.  Saye’s father made sure he attended Talmud Torah (later Talmudical Academy) in the evenings,.  Hymen participated in a junior congregation where he was the chazzan on shabbos.  At 14 or 15 he was given a class to teach at Talmud Torah on the condition that he would attend Baltimore Hebrew College (later Baltimore Hebrew University).  By age twenty four he was teaching forty hours a week.

Baltimore Hebrew College faculty. Featured include: Hymen Saye (6th from left), Harry Teback (5th from left), Bill (William) Furie (8th from left), and Leon Rivkin (far right). n.d. 1991.7.17

While still learning at Baltimore Hebrew College, Hymen attended City College and graduated in 1926. He stayed at City College for five years because he changed his courses from commercial to academic.  He received a teaching degree from Baltimore Hebrew College, which he attended in the evenings.  During the day he attended classes at Johns Hopkins.  In 1931, he became the principle of Chizuk Amuno Congregational School and received his M.A. from Johns Hopkins University.  Hymen retired from Chizuk Amuno in 1971.

Laura S. Saye. 1991.7.36

In 1931 Hymen married Laura Seidman, whom he had met at a picnic when he was about 14 or 15.  She was also interested in education and became a public school teacher after getting her degree at Towson Teacher College(now Towson University).  Early on Laura taught in East Baltimore, but because of her superior performance she was transferred to Mount Washington. She was the first Jewish teacher on the Mt.Washington facility. Laura shared similar interests with her husband, travel, Jewish ceremonial objects, Jewish art, languages, and pro-Israel activities.  Hymen Saye died in 1993.


Saye, Hymen. Interviewed by Gertrude Nitzberg , 10 & 16 March 1983.  OH 183, Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore MD.

“Chizuck Amuno School Director Retiring,” The Baltimore Sun, June 28, 1971, B6.

Hymen Saye teaching an Introduction to Hebrew at the College of Jewish Studies, November 1947. 1991.7.30

Scope and Content

The Hymen Saye Collection contains materials related to his personal life and his education.  This collection contains letters, invitations, programs, a bulletin, a yearbook, a manuscript translation, testimonials, speeches, a membership card and a loan contract. This collection is divided into two series: name series. Series I. Personal Papers, 1922-1989 and Series II, Professional Education, 1922-1985.  Series I. Personal Papers, 1922-1989 includes letters to and from Hymen and Laura Saye, as well as correspondence from various familial relations and friends.  The series is organized chronologically. Series II. Professional Education, 1922-1985 consists of materials relating to Hymen’s job as a Jewish educator and professional interests.  The materials have been organized alphabetically by folder.
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The 613th Commandment

Posted on April 11th, 2011 by

One of the most popular features of our Introduction to Judaism educational program is when our docents take off the cover of our small model Torah in the Lloyd Street Synagogue and unroll it so students can examine it. There’s usually a collective sound of “Ooohh” and “Ahhhh”, as students jostle for position so that they can see the Torah and touch it (because it is not an authentic Torah scroll, kids can handle it). As they look at it closely, they wonder out loud, “How do you read that? It looks like Chinese to me?” and before the docent starts a response, other kids have chimed in with questions, “How is it made?” “How long is it if you completely unroll it?” “Can you read to us from it?”

Deborah shows a school group a Torah.

Students examining a Torah.

Explaining the significance of the Torah is one of the highlights of the program, as we give non-Jewish students an overview of Jewish history, traditions, and culture. We talk about how the Torah is written by hand by a scribe and the importance of writing each and every letter exactly as they have been written for thousand of years as a means of preserving the integrity of this sacred text. (Check out http:/// to learn more about the writing of a Torah)

Having facilitated many Introduction to Judaism programs over the years, and talked about the importance of the Torah to hundreds of students, I have never actually had the opportunity to see an authentic Torah scroll up close, much less had the chance to touch its parchment. I was, therefore, thrilled to receive an invitation to fulfill the last commandment of the Torah, participating in the actual writing of a Torah. The synagogue where I belong, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, has recently commissioned the writing of a new Torah scroll and has invited congregants to participate in this act.


When we arrived at the synagogue, we were ushered into the chapel, where we met Rabbi Schulman and Rabbi Wechsler and washed our hands while reciting a special blessing. We wondered aloud about which Hebrew letter we would receive as ours to inscribe. Would it be a Mem (for Michal – my older daughter’s Hebrew name)


or a Yud (for Yael, my younger daughter’s Hebrew name)


or perhaps an Aleph (the first letter of the alphabet) ?


(To learn more about the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, check out http:///

We waited anxiously for our turn to meet Rabbi Moshe Druin, the sopher (scribe) who brought us over to the prepared parchment (made from deer skin, a kosher animal) upon which he was working. We got to touch the parchment which was incredible soft and smooth and looked at the many different letters that had already been completed. While technically we were invited to help write the Torah, all of the letters were outlined by Rabbi Druin and congregants were invited to hold onto the feather plume of the ink pen while he filled it in. I breathed a sigh of relief not having to worry about messing up the entire scroll by inking outside the outlines.

Image courtesy of Chizuk Amuno website


Image courtesy of Chizuk Amuno website.

We learned that we were about to inscribe a letter Vav.


Not just any Vav, but a Vav that appeared at the top of a column of text. We learned from Rabbi Druin that each column in the Torah begins with a Vav (which means “and” when placed in front of a word) as a way of connecting the beginning of the column to all that comes before and all that comes after. Furthermore, we learned that this function of the Vav has the simultaneous function of emphasizing the importance of the word it’s modifying while also reminding the word that its significance is only in relation to the words that come before and after. In essence the word is part of a larger text that only makes sense when you read the whole story. Certainly a lesson we can all take to heart about our relationship to family members and community! To make our letter even more special, we learned that our Vav started the last line of the book of Genesis – not too shabby!

(To learn more about the significance of individual Hebrew letters, go to http:///

I look forward to sharing my newfound knowledge with my next group of students!


A blog post by Education Director Deborah Cardin.

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