Posted on October 11th, 2013 by Rachel
Tomorrow night is the member’s preview for Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War. It is one of those times when exhaustion meets elation. I wanted to take a moment to make an observation on how this exhibit has changed my perspective on this period of history and to thank a few of the people who made it possible.
Looking through my old e-mails I recently realized that I had been working nearly continuously on Civil War themed exhibits (first at the National Archives and now at JMM) for about five years. I have to point out that this is longer than the war itself!
This has been an unexpected journey. I don’t consider myself a Civil War aficianado. I was never a reenactor. Growing up in Chicago ,I wasn’t exactly surrounded by Civil War sites. My first historical passions were cowboys and tales of the wild west (when the occasion is right, I might share a copy of the photo of me in my pajamas and my Davy Crockett “coonskin” cap).
Now I’m not saying I had no connection with Civil War history. I did own a copy of the 1961 How and Why Book of the Civil War. Though I think that the book was a lot stronger on the “how” than on the “why”…not atypical of its time. In that same year the National Archives produced a centennial exhibit that never mentioned the word “slavery.”
How and Why, 1961.
As a kid I also enjoyed climbing up to the dome of the Chicago Public Library to visit Grand Army of the Republic Hall – my favorite artifact was the century-old hard tack.
But I had no real passion for the topic. When I finally did get to tour the battlefields, it seemed that every visitor center’s exhibit boiled down to two uniforms, three rifles and interminable details about troop movements.
I certainly felt no personal connection. When people would speak of ancestors as Union or Confederate, my response was that mine were all “anti-Czar” at that time. The Civil War, and all its horrors, were someone else’s struggle.
While working on my National Archives project, Discovering the Civil War, substantially raised my interest in the topic it really didn’t change my level of personal detachment.
The last six months have been different. Looking at the war through a Jewish lens has really helped clarify the connection that all of us have to these events – even the folks who arrived 40 or 50 years later. The “battles” of the Civil War weren’t just at Gettysburg, Antietam and Manassas but also on Baltimore Street. This was a fight for hearts and minds as much as for territory. Embedded into the conflicts of the early 1860s were struggles over acceptance and assimilation which profoundly shaped the American Jewish experience. The Civil War is part of my history because the social justice oriented, pluralistic Jewish community that I live in was built out of the events of those years.
As for my ancestors being far away in Poland and Lithuania… consider the following thought: I recently looked up the front page of the New-York Daily Tribune for October 12, 1863 – 150 years to the day before our exhibit opening. As it happens the headline article for that day was about the arrival of the Russian warship Alexander Nevsky at the port of Baltimore. The article contained a resolution from the mayor and city council conveying “the high respect of the authorities and citizens of Baltimore for the sovereign and people of Russia” and thanking the Russians for abstaining from any effort to give aid to the “Rebels of the South”. Over on the left column of the same day’s paper is a much smaller notice reading “the chief rabbi of Warsaw had been arrested”, followed by the curious comment “Continental news is unimportant”. With a little more research I learned that Dov Ber Meisels, the Chief Rabbi of Warsaw had become involved in a Polish uprising in 1863. Russian authorities imprisoned the rabbi as part of their effort to put down the rebellion. Britain and several other Western nations were outraged by Russia’s suppression of the Poles and threatened to “de-recognize” Russia’s acquisition of the territory. America, by contrast, was silent – after all, Russia’s neutrality in our Civil War was an important diplomatic objective. Perhaps my ancestral shtetl was not as far from Gettysburg as I originally thought.
A blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts by Marvin, click here.
Posted on October 4th, 2013 by Rachel
Explore the Civil War You Never Knew
Opening October 12-13!
It’s almost here. The Feldman Gallery is bustling with exhibit installers, the packages of education props arrive daily, the docents are learning new scripts and the store is getting new bunting. In just nine days, Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War opens at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. But as a JMM member you only have eight days to wait! Our exclusive member’s preview starts at 7:30pm on Saturday night, October 12. The evening features period music by the 2nd South Carolina String Band, along with tours of the exhibit and an “1861 Tour” of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
Ken Burns tells us that “the Civil War was fought in 10,000 places.” This fall we remind visitors to Baltimore (and residents alike) that one of those places where the battle of ideas took place 150 years ago was right here. In the Jonestown neighborhood, in a deeply divided Jewish community, there was an epic struggle for hearts and minds. Through the lens of our Jewish experience will be casting a new light on the debate over slavery and indeed, on the impact of the entire conflict.
The core exhibit comes to us from the American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University Museum. These organizations gathered and curated an extraordinary collection of rarely seen Civil War artifacts, documents and images drawn from the Jewish community. The exhibit also features interviews with leading scholars on the important trials for Jewish values, before, during and after the War.
JMM has augmented the exhibit with evidence of the Maryland story and new family activity stations. We are also incorporating our largest Civil War artifact, the Lloyd Street Synagogue and we will be offering special daily tours of that building that focus on life in the Baltimore Jewish community in the 1860s and the way in which the War changed the future of Jewish life here.
The exhibit, which will be on view through February 28, 2014, will also be a jumping off point for a great program schedule. In addition to Jonathan Karp (opening day, Oct. 13) and Barry Steelman (in conjunction with Free Fall Baltimore, Oct. 20), each of the subsequent months will feature a program subtheme. In November we’ll have programs on the role of women; in December on the impact of the chaplaincy controversy and Jewish-Christian relations in the War; in January our focus will be on immigration and the Civil War; and in February we celebrate the Jewish relationship with Abraham Lincoln (and honest Abe, himself, will be joining us). Even our December 25th Mitzvah Day activity – honoring veterans – draws its inspiration from the exhibit.
This is a great exhibit to share with neighbors or co-workers who may have a passion for American history but are unfamiliar with Jewish participation in that history. If your level of membership entitles you to free passes to the exhibit, it’s time to pull those passes out of the junk drawer and invite your friends to join you for a visit. You both can explore the Civil War you never knew.
Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / email@example.com. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org.
Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War
Exclusive Members Only Preview – FREE for all current JMM members
Saturday, October 12, 7:30 – 10:00pm
Members are treated to an exclusive first look at our brand new exhibit. Featuring live performances of Civil War music by 2nd South Carolina String Band, special Curator Tours of the exhibit and debuting our new “1861 Tour” of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
The 2nd South Carolina String Band
Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War
Public Opening – Free with Museum Admission / Members are Free
Sunday, October 13, 10:00am-5:00pm
Special Guest Speaker Jonathan Karp , 1:00pm
Join us as for the grand opening of Passages Through the Fire. Special appearances by Civil War reenactors. Featured guest speaker Jonathan Karp of the American Jewish Historical Society offers his insights into the topic with “The War that Helped Make Jews Americans”. “1861 Tour” of the Lloyd Street Synagogue offered at 11am and 3pm.
Standing By Their Flags
Speaker Barry Steelman
Sunday, October 20, 1:00pm
This is a FREE FALL BALTIMORE event – Admission is FREE.
No war in American history has divided the Jewish people as did the Civil War. There were civilian and military Jewish leaders on both sides of this conflict. In some cases, families were split with brothers and fathers fighting against one another. In his talk, Barry Steelman will explore the response of the Jewish communities of America, both North and South, including those that fought to protect THEIR FLAG as well as the individuals and groups that made other significant contributions to their side of this bloody four year period in our history. Learn how Jews fought proudly and with dignity and valor to protect their personal ideals throughout this major struggle.
Let’s Talk About It
This is a Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War partner program! Making Sense of the American Civil War, a reading and discussion series, is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. Additional support has been provided by the Maryland Humanities Council.
This is a Free Fall Baltimore event! Admission to the Museum and this program are free. Remember, members are free everyday – become a member today!
Late Night on Lloyd Street: The Story of Alan Schafer: Complicating the Jewish Southerner
Author Nicole King, Ph.D. Department of American Studies, UMBC
Wednesday, October 23, 6:00pm
At this month’s Late Night on Lloyd Street learn about Alan Schafer. This Baltimore born Jew led a fascinating life and left the popular attraction South of the Border, with its record breaking sombrero, as part of his legacy. As with all Late Nights there will be plenty of beer, wine, snacks and conversation.
Nicole King author of Sombreros and Motorcycles in a Newer South: The Politics of Aesthetics in South Carolinas Tourism Industry will be on hand to tell us about Alan Schafer and the significance of his legacy, including how he came to create both South of the Border and Confederateland.
Generously supported by the Grandchildren of Harvey M. and Lyn P. Meyerhoff Philanthropic Fund.
Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage*
Speaker Doris Hamburg
Sunday, October 27, 1:00pm
Program FREE with Museum admission
The JMM is pleased to host National Archives’ Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg who will speak about NARA’s latest exhibition Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage. The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. Government efforts to preserve and make these materials available online.
*Please note if the government shutdown is still in effect at this time the program will be canceled.
It All Started with a Deli: the Attmans of Lombard Street with author M. Hirsh Goldberg
Sunday, October 27, 4:00pm
Program FREE with Museum admission
Join us at to hear from M. Hirsh Goldberg, award-winning author of five nationally published books. His latest book It All Started with a Deli, tells a remarkable story of business and family success. The Attmans name is synonymous with Jewish Baltimore, their deli one of the last remaining on Corned Beef Row, just across the street from the JMM.
It All Started With a Deli charts the history of the Attman family from when the first deli was opened in 1915 by Harry Attman. It shows how the values of hard work, ethical conduct, religious principles and concern for others, instilled by Harry Attman and his wife Ida, into their three sons and future generations have created an astonishingly close, vibrant family whose members have founded major businesses while always giving back to the community.
”Few families have contributed so much to our City and State… The Attman story is one worth telling and sharing.” -Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland.
Following the talk, M. Hirsh Goldberg will sign copies of his book which will be available for purchase in the JMM gift shop.
The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation.
FAMILY BBQ with B’NAI ISRAEL
Sunday, October 20th, 11am-1:30pm
Riverside Park Pavilion (1800 Covington St.)
Suggested donation: $5/person, $10/family
Join B’nai Israel: The Downtown Synagogue for a fun and relaxed family BBQ at the Riverside Park Pavilion. Kosher food for you, moon bounce and more for the kids! Rain or shine! Please RSVP here by Tuesday Oct. 15.
This program is generously supported by The Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund of The Associated.
B-more Shabbat with Dr. Dan Gincel
B’nai Israel: The Downtown Synagogue (27 Lloyd Street Baltimore MD)
Friday, Oct 18, 6:30pm
What is Shabbat without friends and community? Come help us welcome Shabbat, students back to Baltimore, the new Repair the World Community Fellows to Baltimore, and all of our new residents to the awesome community that is BIYA and city that is Baltimore with special guest speaker Dr. Dan Gincel. More info here on Facebook.
This program is funded in part by a grant from The Louise D. & Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education through its Jewish Education Enhancement Project.
Thursday, Oct 24 6:30PM-9:00PM
B’nai Israel: The Downtown Synagogue (27 Lloyd Street Baltimore MD)
FREE to attend
Come join BIYA as we explore the new Joy of Kosher Cookbook on Thursday, Oct 24 and try a few of the recipes to prepare for Shabbat. Space is limited to 10! RSVP to Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot!
BIYA BOOT CAMP
Every Sunday in October, 10:45-11:30am
The Pagoda in Patterson Park
Cost: $5/class, pay in advance here.
Be sure to fill out this online assessment form before your first class!
For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org. For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook.
Exhibits currently on display at the JMM include Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore and The Synagogue Speaks! Our newest exhibition, Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War opens Sunday, October 13 and is on display through February, 28, 2014.
Jews on the Move: Baltimore and the Suburban Exodus, 1945-1968 travels next to the Ben and Esther Rosenbloom JCC (3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue, Owings Mills, MD 21117) where it will be on display October 21 – November 15. This exhibition explores the suburban exodus of the Baltimore Jewish community and has been created through a partnership with Johns Hopkins University’s Program in Museums & Society through a generous grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Hours and Tour Times
The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm. We offer tours of our historic synagogues each day at 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00. We are delighted to announce the debut of a new themed “1861 Tour” of the Lloyd Street Synagogue that focuses on Baltimore’s Jewish community during the Civil War. Beginning on October 14, this tour will be offered Sunday-Thursday at 3:00pm (in place of the regular tour).
The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or email@example.com.
Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.
All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street. Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchase online! http://jewishmuseummd.org/get-involved/museum-membership/ For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Civil War Memorabilia has taken over the JMM Museum Shop! In preparation for the opening of Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War, we have books, games, and historical items for visitors of all ages.
Coming November 3, 2013! Mark your calendars for our Special Chanukah Sale!
All members of the JMM receive a 10% discount in the Museum Shop.
Proceeds from the sale of merchandise in our shop support the mission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.
Esther P. Weiner
Museum Shop Manager
410-732-6400, ext. 211 / email@example.com
Posted on October 3rd, 2013 by Rachel
Mounting an exhibition about the Civil War requires strategy, leadership, and forethought—not unlike planning for an actual battle. Fortunately for us, there is no bloodshed or casualties. Here’s a quick look at our “troops” behind the scenes of the installation process of Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War.
It all starts with an empty gallery and a ladder.
Blue painters tape is a great way to mark the spacing for the temporary walls.
A scale model of the gallery allowed Karen and Mark to “hang” the exhibition before the artifacts arrived on site.
Cases are installed and painted. We let them “off-gas” and completely dry over the weekend before we even think about putting artifacts inside.
Rachel captured the artistic side of a bucket of screws that was on hand to install the walls and cases.
While “the guys” (Pete, Scott, John, Stoney, and Paul) were setting up the walls and cases in the gallery, I was busy with the delivery of the exhibition.
The objects arrived in clearly numbered boxes, which made it easy for me to check them off my packing checklist. This system was also very helpful for condition reporting each object. (See last post about condition reporting )
Nothing beats an old fashioned hand-lettered colored piece of paper to designate the various exhibition sections.
Karen and Scott go through a bunch of artifacts that will be installed in one section.
A slightly nervous executive director wanders into the gallery and wonders (aloud) whether we are still on target to open the show on time.
Karen assures him that we are much further along than it looks.
Mounting the dramatic three-part entrance panel really sets the stage for this exhibition.
An image of The Pratt Street Riots makes another dramatic statement at the opposite end of the exhibition.
Rather than drilling holes directly into the large graphic, the guys map out the weapons case with blue tape.
Since the length is the same as the wall, you can play with measurements on the floor without making unnecessary holes in the wall. Trust me, there was a lot of tweaking and re-aligning!
Once the measurements are adjusted, its time to put the exhibit on the wall.
Karen uses an empty case as a temporary shelf for items that will eventually go on the wall.
Many smaller artifacts will go into cases. We always keep a protective layer between the artifacts and the painted surfaces.
The dashing Joshua Lazarus Moses and the sword of his brother, Perry Moses are mounted.
Paul ponders the spacing on another wall, and wonders if the carefully measured pieces will “read” to the public. Believe me, this important step can make or break the continuity of the exhibition story.
Can you guess what is going to be over here? Hint: It’s shaped like a triangle and has doors.
There is still a lot going on in the gallery, but things are really shaping up! Come to the museum on October 13, 2013 and see the complete transformation!
A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink. To read more posts by Jobi click here.