Inventory and the Crystal Chandelier: A Journey Into Deep Intellectual Thought

Posted on June 18th, 2015 by

The Good Soldier and myself in Przemysl, Poland.

The Good Soldier and myself in Przemysl, Poland.

After spending six weeks abroad in the beautiful country of Poland during my senior year of college, I have embarked on a professional and academic journey into Holocaust studies. While it is clearly not a cheerful topic, it is one that I find to be challenging and interesting. My graduate school experience at the George Washington University, where I am a MA Museum Studies student, has included an internship with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Sociology of the Holocaust and Genocide course, and two Holocaust related classes planned for my final year. I am thankful for my internship with JMM, because through all of the horrors and devastations of the Holocaust which I have studied, this museum is a reminder of the vibrant Jewish culture which managed to survive and thrive after the Holocaust.

One of my primary projects over this summer is to perform the scheduled inventory of the JMM permanent collection. While going through a drawer, I came across two items, a crystal facet and crystal pendant, accompanied by an incredible provenance. Once again, the Holocaust became a focus point for my work.

Crystal Chandelier Facet. JMM 1986.072.032

Crystal Chandelier Facet. JMM 1986.072.032

Crystal Chandelier Pendant. JMM 1986.072.033

Crystal Chandelier Pendant. JMM 1986.072.033

In December of 1938, just a month after Krystallnacht (the systematic burning of Germany’s synagogues by the Nazis) Richard Zurndorfer escaped Germany and traveled to Baltimore, MD. He managed to bring several items with him, including these crystal pieces, belonging to a chandelier from a synagogue in Mhringen, Germany, which was destroyed during Kystallnacht. A census list of European Jews and a Torah were also brought over. JMM is now home to these items.

The story of Mr. Zurnforfer made me think about how important artifacts are. While museums are always evolving to remain relevant to the public, it is crucial to remember the value of artifacts. This collection meant a great deal to Mr. Zurnforfer, who was described as “A man with respect for old traditions, he sticks like printer’s ink to his family artifacts – largely because they are the artifacts of his family,” by reporter Isaac Rehert of The Sun on January 17, 1978. In regards to the objects, Rehert says, “They tell the story of a thriving Jewish community acknowledged and valued by its sovereign, with roots deep down in Germany’s culture, with hardly a hint of the tragedy that was to overtake it.”

Whether coming across these items was strictly a coincidence, or an act of fate, I am again reminded about why I have chosen to work in museum collections. Artifacts facilitate relationships and lead to connections. In this case, the Holocaust becomes more than a Nazi, Jewish, or European issue. It becomes a Maryland, Baltimore, and JMM intern issue. I hope to have more intense thought provoking experiences like this one while I continue to inventory the collection!

IMG_0985A blog post by Collections Intern Kaleigh Ratliff. To read more posts from interns click HERE.

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Once Upon a Time…10.24.2014

Posted on June 16th, 2015 by

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 Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

 

2011029144Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  October 24, 2014

PastPerfect Accession #:  2011.029.144

Status:  Identified! Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Levindale. Left to right: 1) Alan Spector 1.5) [the guy you can barely see] Arnold Eppel 2) Dr. William S. Parker 3) Mel Mintz 4) Stanford Alliker 5) Ron Green 6) Rabbi Nachem ben Natan

Special Thanks To: Rikki Spector; Janet ben Natan; Dr. William S. Parker; Jerry Felsenthal; Barbara Gorban; Moly Smollian; Paula Williams; Phil Shapiro; Jody Blitzer; “Gail from Beth Am”; one anonymous

 

 

112 Tags: 2011029144

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Once Upon a Time…10.03.2014

Posted on June 9th, 2015 by

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 Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

1995142012016Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  October 3, 2014

PastPerfect Accession #:  1995.142.12.16

Status:  Identified! Members of the Associated Women’s Division, Annual Campaigns, circa 1990: back row, L-R: 1. Mahsee Klein 2. Ina Hamburger 3. Joan Gresser 4. Vivian Manekin 5. Ann Kress 6. Elaine Weinstock or Weinstein 7. Alma Bergman. Middle row, L-R: either Sue Hornstein Kohn or Renee Kohn 2. Carol Sibel 3. Barbara Himmelrich 4. Suzi Rotkovitz 5. Sharon Kushner. Front row, L-R: 1. Marcy Kolodny 2. Beverly Crohnthal 3. Nina Rosenzweig

Special Thanks To: Carol Sibel, Jo-Ann Orlinsky, Linda Speert, Beverly Crohnthal

 

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