Posted on December 21st, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin.
The end of the month is quickly approaching which means many things – my kids are counting down the minutes to winter break; I’m getting awfully tired of Christmas music; and everyone at the Museum is scrambling to meet end of the year deadlines. The end of December also signals one more important event – the closing of Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture, and American Jewish Identity. This original JMM exhibition which opened in October 2011 has proven quite popular with visitors and staff and has inspired a variety of food-related conversations, blog posts, partnerships, and programs. It has truly been a year filled with food, food, and more food!
Here in no particular order are some of the highlights of this past year’s exhibition-related activities:
Iron Chef Passover
In 2011 we launched a new program initiative supported by the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education designed to attract young adults to the JMM for evening programs featuring speakers, exhibit tours, hands-on demonstrations, and workshops. We couldn’t have picked a better time to begin this program series as we themed many of our programs on the topics of food, gardening, and sustainability. Based on the popular Food Network show, we held two Iron Chef competitions (in celebration of Passover and Sukkot). Here we see a team participating in the Iron Chef Passover competition working to incorporate horseradish (the secret ingredient) into their dishes. One of the evening’s winning dishes was a surprisingly delicious horseradish ice cream.
The JMM’s own amazing Esther Weiner hosted EstherFest! a celebration of Chanukah complete with latke making, joke telling, and story sharing. This program proved so popular, we repeated it again this year. Esther’s fame has traveled wide and far and she has been featured on WYPR’s The Signal. We cannot understand why Esther does not have her own cooking show on the Food Network!
Joe Regenstein – Everything You Wanted to Know about Kosher and Halal
Chosen Food highlights the ways in which Jewish food traditions have absorbed the customs of other ethnic and religious groups as well as the extent to which Jewish food culture has impacted mainstream American culture. We continued to explore these cross cultural comparisons through many programs. One program featured Dr. Joseph Regenstein, Professor of Food Science at Cornell University and head of the Kosher and Halal Initiative, who facilitated a fascinating discussion about the similarities and differences between kosher and halal dietary regulations.
Michael Twitty/Kosher Soul
What do you get when you mix Jewish and African American culinary traditions? Kosher Soul, a program featuring culinary historian, Michael Twitty, who demonstrated how he has incorporated his adopted Jewish faith into traditional African American recipes. The results were such tasty dishes as black bean hummus, collard green pastrami soul rolls, and sesame hamantaschen. Audience members loved tasting his dishes.
participants sampling knishes
So many Jewish delicacies to explore in such a short period of time. Knish lover, Laura Silver, provided a fact-filled lecture about the history of knishes followed by a sampling of many of Baltimore’s best home-made and store bought versions.
Chosen Food travels to the White House
Not all of our related programs took place on-site. In April we were invited to travel to DC to participate in a Passover program at the White House. Cookbook author Joan Nathan and White House pastry chef Bill Yosses led a hands-on cooking demonstration of traditional Passover dishes while JMM staff members Karen Falk and Rachel Cylus shared holiday stories.
Food-related programming also proved popular with families. This summer, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Hendler Creamery (a Jewish-owned ice cream company that was located just across the street from the JMM on Baltimore Street), we held several ice cream making (and eating) programs.
Celebrating the connection between Jews and Chinese food and games was the theme of our 2011 annual Christmas Day program, Chanukah, Christmas, and Everything Chinese. Thanks to the assistance of Lois Madow of the American Mah – Jongg Association we were able to provide mah jongg lessons for our visitors along with crafts, games, and tasty Chinese food sampling.
Join us again this year as we continue to celebrate the Jewish/Chinese connection at Dragons and Dreidels on Tues. December 25. [More info can be found at http:///www.jewishmuseummd.org/event/dragons-and-dreidels-%E2%80%93-christmas-day-jmm-special-guest-jennifer-8-lee or call Rachel Cylus at (410) 732-6400 x214]
City Springs school children visiting the exhibit
The exhibit proved popular with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Thanks to the efforts of our education staff, we developed a range of activities for visiting school groups to enhance their tours through the exhibit with art projects, scavenger hunts, and small group discussions.
Chosen Food also served as inspiration for a year-long partnership project with students from nearby Commodore Rodgers Elementary/Middle School. Students toured the exhibit and then met regularly with JMM staff to gather family recipes and create a classroom cookbook. This year’s partnership project involves the creation of a school community garden.
JMM staff members learning about Jewish agricultural practices
One of our most rewarding partnerships has been with the staff at Kayam Farms at the Pearlstone Center. In addition to facilitating several Brews and Schmooze programs (and supplying the secret ingredient at our Iron Chef Sukkot competition), JMM education staff participated in two workshops at Pearlstone Center where we learned about traditional Jewish farming practices and how to lead related activities for school groups. In this photo you see us participating in an activity designed to teach children about the importance of poly-culture agriculture as opposed to mono-culture. Our group split into two teams, one representing pests and the other crops. As you can see, Elena and I had a great time pretending to be pests!
lining up for gefilte fish corn dogs at GefilteFest
Our culminating event took place this past October as we celebrated perhaps the most Jewish of Jewish foods at GefilteFest. Activities included fish themed activities, specialty tours of the exhibit, snacks, and a gefilte fish making competition featuring Liz Alpern of Gefilteria in Brooklyn; Dave Whaley, first cook at the Four Seasons; and the JMM’s own Susan Press. Believe it or not but top honors went to Chef Whaley’s deep fried gefilte fish corn dog!
Amazingly, this list is not at all comprehensive and only covers a sampling of what we offered this year. Other programs explored borscht making, pie making, bee keeping, canning demonstrations, and more.
If you still have not made it down to visit Chosen Food, do not despair. You still have time…but not much. The exhibit’s last day is Sunday, December 30. It then travels to Atlanta where it will be on view at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.
Posted on November 5th, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik.
As Hurricane Sandy finally left us, we welcomed in the cold weather with D.C. food blogger, Olga Berman, who showed us how to make her family’s recipe for warm borsch (beet soup). Her recipe can be found if you search “borsch” on her blog at www.mangotomato.com.
Olga Berman tells us the importance of adaptability and improvisation in cooking (note her improvised pot lid!)
Potatoes and beets cooking side by side.
Olga tastes each one to make sure the seasoning is just right.
The best part—we get to eat it!
Be sure not to miss our next LATE NIGHT ON LLOYD STREET program: ESTHERFEST! on December 6th, 6-9pm.
ESTHERFEST is also the second program in this year’s Brews & Schmooze Young Adult Series.
Posted on October 31st, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by Curator Karen Falk.
We are getting ready to say farewell to our exhibition, Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture, and American Jewish Identity. After 14 months on display in the Feldman Gallery, it will be moving in January to The William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta. You have two more months to get in that visit you planned—make sure to see it before it goes!
In its place, we will be displaying Zap! Pow! Bam! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950, a wonderful look at Superman’s and Batman’s Jewish roots in an exhibition created by the Breman Museum.
Zap! Pow! Bam! will open at the JMM on January 27 and remain on display through August 18. With it, this curator will have to turn her attention from food to a different kind of fun. And just as I began the Chosen Food project with little knowledge of culinary history (other than the ability to cook a Jewish holiday meal for my family—received wisdom I used to take for granted), I begin this new project by studying whole new subject. As a kid, I didn’t pay much attention to the superheroes (I liked the social dramas of Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica), didn’t need to hide them from my parents, didn’t know Marvel from DC, wasn’t spending my allowance on the newest issue. So now I’m catching up, and I don’t mind it one bit!
What have I learned so far? First, that most of the writers, artists, and publishers of the early superhero comics were Jewish. Actually, Michael Chabon introduced most of us to that idea years ago in his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Picador, 2000). I’ve also learned that many writers on the topic, and the Zap! Pow! Bam! exhibit, take as given that these Jewish artists and writers couldn’t help but inject their Jewish concerns into their stories: fighting for the downtrodden, helping the cause of justice, seeking an America where they could feel at home. Finally, I’ve read that many of these same writers and artists denied that they deliberately populated their stories with crypto-Jews. Most simply wanted to tell a great story.
Detective Comics #71. Cover art by Jerry Robinson. © 1942 DC Comics. Batman, Robin & The Joker ™ and © DC Comics. All rights Reserved. Used with Permission. From the collection of Jerry Robinson.
At the JMM, we hope that the story told by Zap! Pow! Bam! —which was curated by the late Jerry Robinson, who conceived and drew Batman’s nemesis, The Joker, and the artist after whom Batman’s sidekick, Robin was named—will surprise you. But even if you are an educated aficionado of Golden Age comics, it is sure to entertain you and your family, with a drawing studio where you can try your hand at cartooning, take a ride in a child-sized Batmobile, and watch clips of superhero TV and movies. We look forward to seeing you at the museum!