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Staying Connected with JMM: History is Now

Posted on May 14th, 2020 by

JMM Collects Stories of the Pandemic

Dear Educators,

Take a breath and reflect for a moment. You are an educator teaching and supporting students during a pandemic. History is happening now. You are a part of it and your story is a meaningful one. Have you had a similar conversation with your students recently?

At JMM, we believe in the importance of gathering and preserving personal stories. As a museum, we collect materials related to events, past and present, that impact our communities. This pandemic, which has affected nearly every aspect of daily life, including education, definitely qualifies as one of those events.

We hope that collecting these stories will not only to help the historians of the future understand this moment in time, but also to help people today realize the many different ways the pandemic is affecting our family, classmates, coworkers, neighbors, and ourselves.

We hope you will submit your experiences and stories – through words, images, or objects – to help us preserve our community’s memories and experiences for future generations.


History if Now: JMM Collections Stories of the Pandemic

JMM tells the stories of everyday people – that includes you and your students! There’s no pressure to come up with a unique, Pulitzer Prize-worthy tale, we would just love to hear your memories and experiences. From the students you are missing, to what your workspace at home looks like, to what has surprised you the most about living through our current events, your stories are worth telling and sharing.

We’ve come up with a few ideas to get you started that may help your students reflect and foster conversations with them:

What are some differences between learning in a classroom versus learning at home?

How has your school day routine changed?

What do you miss the most about your school?

What do you like the most about learning at home?

What was the most fun you have had since you’ve been home?

You and your students might be inspired to write a poem, journal entry, letter, an essay, or just some scribbled thoughts. Maybe make a recording (on your phone, with a fancy camera, or maybe through your laptop or tablet) or share photos and drawings to illustrate your experiences.

What else can you think of? We can’t wait to see, hear, and share your stories.

Use this form to easily share your stories with us!

You can also mail your stories, photos, offers of objects to us (we love getting mail!). Please do not send actual objects in the mail. Address your mail to:

Joanna Church, Director of Collections & Exhibits
The Jewish Museum of Maryland
15 Lloyd Street
Baltimore, MD 21202.

Or email Joanna at at!

*Make sure to include your name, hometown or location, and age in your email or letter to us, and let us know how you would like us to attribute and share your work – use the questions on the form as guidance.

Storysharing in Practice

An Afternoon of Storyfinding and Storysharing
Sunday, May 31st at 3:30pmWe’re also hosting some events to help you share your stories! Our first confirmed live program is for the youngest in our community — more information and how to register here.

Hannah Salyer Presents PACKS: Strength in Numbers

Virtual Author Visit
Hannah Salyer Presents:
PACKS: Strength in Numbers
Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 3:30pm

We’re thrilled to host author and illustrator Hannah Salyer for this special live stream reading of her book PACKS, an inspiring celebration of how togetherness helps many creatures thrive, including people! Hannah will also lead a drawing demonstration and share about learning from the togetherness we see in the animal kingdom.

Recommended for ages 5 – 9, or any young artist with a love of animals.

Register for this Live Stream Event here!

We want to support the important work that you do in our community. Invite a JMM Educator into your virtual classroom to facilitate a presentation with your students on topics like:

Jewish Immigration to Baltimore through our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit

Environmentalism through our Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling exhibit

Holocaust Education in our Holocaust Memory Project

Introduction to Judaism with information about our Lloyd Street Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Maryland.

To book a virtual visit, complete our Virtual Visit Request Form. 

NASA’s Space Tourism Posters. Credit:

Vacation Destination: Pluto
Pluto was once the ninth planet from the sun. It was also the smallest planet in our Solar System. But Pluto is now considered a dwarf planet. Blast off into the future where dwarf planet Pluto is a popular vacation destination!

Looking for other hands-on activities related to space? Check out our Wondernauts website.

For more posts from Paige Woodhouse, click here.

For more education newsletters, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

After the Great Baltimore Fire

Posted on May 13th, 2020 by

A blog post by Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

On the morning of Sunday, February 7, 1904, a building near the present-day Royal Farms Arena in downtown Baltimore caught fire. The blaze spread, and despite the efforts of thousands of firefighters and National Guardsmen, it wasn’t until late the next day that the Great Baltimore Fire was conquered, leaving behind a forever-changed downtown (and incidentally leading to the development of standardized firefighting equipment).

In the days following the fire, many Baltimoreans ventured out to take a first-hand look at the damage: over 1,500 buildings destroyed, and nearly as many damaged, across 140 acres of downtown. Today, several local museums and libraries, the Jewish Museum of Maryland among them, are fortunate to have written and photographic evidence of the fire and the devastation it caused. Digital Maryland’s online exhibit uses many of these resources to map the progression of the fire’s destruction, along with before-and-after views of the landscape. In our own collections, photographs taken by several individuals provide additional views of the immediate aftermath.

A crowd of pedestrians viewing the fire’s destruction; the street is still wet from the efforts of firefighters. Part of a set of photos taken by a member of the Friedenwald family in the days following the fire. Gift of Julia Friedenwald Strauss Potts. JMM 1984.23.2090. 

Eli G. Cohen (1877-1943), a twenty-five-year-old cigar factory manager, not only brought his camera downtown to document the fire, he also pasted the prints into a dedicated photo album complete with captions. On this page, Cohen documented the burnt-out shells of the Chamber of Commerce and the B&O Building. Gift of Stella Cohen Gersuk. JMM 1997.116.14. 

See more of Cohen’s album here.

Thanks to the efforts of firefighters (and, some believe, to the prayers to St. Anthony, courtesy of the residents of Little Italy) the fire did not cross over the Jones Falls, thus sparing Jonestown, Little Italy, and points east.  On the evening of February 8th, just as the fire was finally waning, A. Morris Schuman (1891-1975) became a bar mitzvah at B’nai Israel on Lloyd Street, in the heart of Jewish Jonestown, several blocks east of the Falls.  Though the drama unfolding elsewhere in the city may not have impeded the ceremony, its impact was felt; over one hundred years later, Schuman’s descendants still remembered the story of how the smoke from the fire could be seen from the synagogue on that night.

Morris Schuman’s tallit bag, used during his bar mitzvah at B’nai Israel on February 8, 1904. Though of clear importance to the family in and of itself, and technically unrelated to the fire, this object was a token by which the family remembered the Great Baltimore Fire, and it allows us here at the JMM to relate a small slice of history in a personal way. Gift of David M. Schuman. JMM 2006.39.1

This post is part of our History is Now: JMM Collects Stories of the Pandemic collecting initiative. We invite you to submit your experiences – through words, images, or objects – to help us preserve the memories and experiences of Jewish Maryland for future generations. More information here.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Once Upon a Time…07.05.2019

Posted on May 13th, 2020 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 by email at

JMM 2007.1.2

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: July 5, 2019

PastPerfect Accession #: 2007.001.002

Status: Partially identified! Ralph Smelkinson is 3rd from right in the bottom row in this photo of the 1927 graduates of Baltimore Hebrew College! Do you recognize anyone else in this photo?

Thanks To: Judy Smelkinson Schwartzberg

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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