Posted on April 18th, 2014 by Rachel
Above the Sea
Each year the Jewish Museum of Maryland offer a major presentation on immigration made possible through the generous support of Frank and Helen Risch. Frank’s parents, Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch, sought refuge in Baltimore in 1937, fleeing the storm of Nazi persecution.
In the first seven years of this program, we have focused on the experience of emigration and exile in America, offering performances, stories and lectures on immigrant populations from the great wave of Eastern European Jews of the late 1890s to the most recent arrivals from around the globe. This year we are offering insights into another way station of refuge, thousands of miles from our shores. Shanghai, whose name literally means “above the sea” was high ground for thousands of Jews escaping from the same forces that brought the Risch family to Baltimore.
Mark Your Calendar!
Helping us explore this topic is an exceptional expert, Rabbi Marvin Tokayer. Rabbi Tokayer previously served as United States Air Force Chaplain in Japan. Upon his discharge he returned to Tokyo to serve for eight years as rabbi for the Jewish community of Japan. In addition to numerous Japanese-language books and contributions to the Encyclopedia Judaica, Rabbi Tokayer is the author of The Fugu Plan, and co-author of the newly published Pepper, Silk and Ivory: Amazing Stories about Jews and the Far East.
Additions for the “to be read” pile!
Rabbi Tokayer has entitled his talk: “From Poverty to Culture: The Refugee Community in Shanghai During World War ll.” This will be a powerful evocation of how the 20,000 Jews of Shanghai struggled against impossible odds to not only survive, but thrive in this unexpected refuge. The program will be held Sunday, May 18th at 2:00pm and will take place at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, located 7401 Park Heights Ave, Baltimore, MD 21208. The program is free to the public – so be sure to invite all your friends!
To coincide with the Risch Memorial Program we are putting together a small lobby display using materials from our collections, which will be on view during the month of May. It turns out that Baltimore and the Jewish Museum of Maryland both have some strong connections to the Jews of Shanghai. You may have noticed the photograph used in this year’s Risch Memorial Program publicity, which pictures a couple sitting in a rickshaw. We would like to introduce you to that couple: Wilheim Kurz and Selma (Hirschfeld) Kurz. Wilheim and Selma were both Holocaust survivors. They met as refugees and theirs was the first Jewish wedding in the Shanghai Jewish colony! They moved to Baltimore in 1947 and Wilheim was kind enough to bequeath his Jewish materials (including photographs and archival documents) to the Museum. We are hard at work transcribing an oral history done with Wilheim in 1979 and look forward to sharing more of Wilheim and Selma’s story with you as it is revealed.
Wilheim and Selma Kurz, 2004.43.4.
We know there are more legacies of the Jewish Colony in Shanghai out there! We’ve identified at least two other individuals associated with the city who now reside in the metro area. We encourage you to contact us with your stories and your materials. And if you know anyone who lived in Shanghai, we would love to invite them to the program – please send us their contact information. If you have any information to share, contact Trillion Attwood at firstname.lastname@example.org /410-732-6400 x215.
Shanghai Ghetto in 1943
If you’re interested in learning more about the Jewish Colony of Shanghai, there is actually a pretty good start at Wikipedia, but we know our JMM explorers will want to go further. If you are seeking a list of the numerous books and memoirs about the experience, including Rabbi Tokayer’s The Fugu Plan, you can find a great collected list here at the The Shanghai Jewish Tours website. If you happen to be traveling, you might want to stop by China’s Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum – last year they sent their “Jewish Refugees in Shanghai (1933-1941)” exhibit on a three city tour of the US. There’s even a Chinese animated family film (and graphic novel) called A Jewish Girl in Shanghai – and you can rent a streaming copy here.
Check the JMM website for an upcoming blog post on Jewish-Chinese connections and if you are looking for the lighter side of that connection – find a foursome and visit (or revisit) Project Mah Jongg.
Posted on April 14th, 2014 by Rachel
Part 1 of a 3 part series on using the JMM On-line Database!
Q: What is the first step in conducting research on Jewish history in Maryland?
A: Checking out our free, searchable on-line database, of course! With 74,753 collections records on-line, you can get a good sense of what we have in our collection. Members and non-members currently have access to the database at jmm.pastperfect-online.com or from the collections-research page on our website.
We have just shy of 11,000 three-dimensional objects in the database, ranging from archaeological sherds in the Lloyd Street Synagogue mikveh, to stained glass windows, track trophies, National Bohemian advertising ephemera, beautiful dresses and military uniforms. I am delighted that nearly 89% of the objects in our collection have been photographed!
One of two stained glass skylights from the Komar Building, Baltimore. The skylights were removed from the balcony of the old theater and from the main stairwell of the building. The design of each skylight contains a central medallion featuring a Star of David. The lights are made of opalescent and cathedral glass. The theater skylight has a cartouche and fan motif surrounding the central medallion, the other skylight medallion is flanked by stylized floral emblems set in a geometric field; both lights c. 1915. 1993.038.002
In just one year we have added 11,851 photograph records to our database, bringing us to 60,692 cataloged photographs! With images attached to 73% of these photographs it’s like going through a gigantic photo album. Hopefully, you will find the images you are looking for. I would like to thank volunteers Marvin Spector and Dana Willan who have scanned and cataloged the lion’s share of those new photos.
Volunteer Marvin Spector scans photos faster than we can attach them!
Our 20,459 archival records, however, pose a little bit more of a challenge to researchers looking for immediate (and complete visual) results. That is because our archival records are not digitized. Further, a single catalog record might describe one piece of paper or an entire manuscript collection filled with hundreds of folders filled with information. Don’t despair! Our finding aids can help you narrow down your archival search. Once you’ve identified which records you are interested in looking at in person, you can contact email@example.com or call 410-732-6402 ext.213 and set up a research appointment. Researching at the JMM is free for members and $8/visit for non-members.
Some of our collections are rather extensive! Become a member of the JMM and your research fees are waived.
Q: What if the first step of your research project hasn’t yielded the results you were hoping for?
A: This doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t have what you are looking for, especially if you are searching for specialized biographical information. While they aren’t in our collections database, we do have birth and death records, cemetery records, ship manifests, genealogies (family trees) and vertical files for many Jewish Marylanders who are not listed in our database.
A researcher works in our library.
The family history resource page of the JMM website has many sources that can help you out. We’ve just updated the links to the spreadsheets, so the information is current. You can also contact our volunteer genealogist at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-732-6402 ext.224. Please have patience as it may take up to two weeks for someone to respond to your inquiry (remember, they are volunteers)!
Q: Still having trouble finding what you are looking for?
A: Think about the specific question you are looking to answer. Write it down and read it to yourself. If the question doesn’t make sense when you read it aloud, try to refine the question. Once you’ve formulated your question – or maybe broken down your question into several components—give it a try. You can always send the question to email@example.com or call 410-732-6402 ext.213, but it may take us a while to get back to you.
A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink. To read more posts from Jobi, click here.
Posted on April 8th, 2014 by Rachel
The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: September 27, 2013
PastPerfect Accession #: 1972.036.001.062
Status: Partially Identified. Left to Right: 1. Mr. Brown (Supervisor from Bureau of Recreation) 2. unidentified 3. unidentified 4. unidentified 5. H.S. Callowhill (Director of Bureau of Recreation) 6. unidentified 7. unidentified 8. unidentified Photo taken at Latrobe Homes of the Bureau of Recreation’s open house. August 22, 1958. Do you recognize anyone in this photo?
Special Thanks To: Zelda Schwartz