Once Upon a Time…12.16.2016

Posted on September 12th, 2017 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 jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

JMM 2012.108.116

JMM 2012.108.116

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  December 16, 2016

 

PastPerfect Accession #:  2012.108.116

 

Status: Unidentified – do you know anyone from this wedding held at Har Sinai, c. 1975?

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How Many Degrees of Separation?

Posted on September 7th, 2017 by

A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Over the holiday weekend, my husband and I went “Biking Beyond Borders,” meaning we biked outside of the state, north of the Maryland Dixon-Mason Line.  We found ourselves in the southern part of Pennsylvania on what is now the York County Heritage Rail Trail, which connects to a similar hike/bike trail in Northern Maryland down to Baltimore named the Torry C. Brown Rail Trail (also known as the  NCR Trail or the Northern Central Railroad trail).

While on the trail we came across the Howard Tunnel which I learned has been in operation since 1838 and is the second oldest tunnel rail bridge that exists in the United States.

Howard Tunnel

Howard Tunnel

Originally constructed by the York and Maryland Line Rail Road, the Northern Central Railroad was a subsidiary of the B & O Railroad.  It formed a critical link in the north-south line assembled by the Northern Central Railway.  As we kept riding, I was determined to go back and find the degrees of separation between this very cool tunnel and my work at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Have you ever played the game to see how many degrees of separation?

First Degree

One of the founding members of the B & O Railroad was Solomon Etting, an early businessman and civic leader in Baltimore.  He lived in York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania until he moved to Baltimore in 1791. Etting was active in the Jewish communities in York, Lancaster and Baltimore. He trained as a shochet, or kosher butcher, in 1782, possibly the first native-born American to do so.

Solomon Etting

Solomon Etting

In 1801, Solomon and his uncle purchased the “Jew’s Burying Ground,” the cemetery used by Baltimore’s Jewish community.  At the time, there were not any incorporated congregations, so they purchased this land as individuals. The Etting Cemetery is located on North Avenue.

Etting Cemetery

Etting Cemetery

Etting also lobbied extensively to end Maryland’s exclusion of Jews from elected office. He and his father-in-law Bernard Gratz petitioned the Maryland House of Delegates in 1797, asking that Jews “be placed upon the same footing with other good citizens,” but were rebuffed that year. He submitted a similar petition in 1802, and again in 1824, which ultimately led to the final passage of the “Jew Bill” which was passed in 1826.

The Jew Bill, JMM1987.082.001

The Jew Bill, JMM1987.082.001

Second Degree

I searched even more to see what kinds of things were in our collections about trains and the railroad. One of the first things I found was some tickets from the B & O Railroad. This string of tickets from Baltimore & Ohio Railroad printed as a souvenir traces the history of the B&O Railroad from 1830 to 1889. These 13 tickets represent stages in the development of the B&O railroad.

 

B & O Railroad Ticker Souvenirs, JMM1991.147.034

B & O Railroad Ticker Souvenirs, JMM1991.147.034

My favorite object that I found was a wonderful comic book published by Hochschild Kohn called Rails Across America.  As soon as I saw it I wanted to break out my crayons!

Hochschild Kohn Book, JMM 2000.150.001

Hochschild Kohn Book, JMM 2000.150.001

A Winning Game!

The game was fun and as you can see, our little bike ride over the holiday weekend, was really only two degrees of separation from my work at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Next time, see if you can play the game too!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




A “Just Married!” Extra – An Artistic (and Popular) Ketubah

Posted on September 7th, 2017 by

Curators have to make choices: not everything can make it into an exhibit, and there’s seldom enough space to share every interesting fact about the things that are on display. That’s where social media comes in! Here’s a closer look at another “Just Married” story from JMM collections manager and Just Married! curator Joanna Church. To read more “Just Married!” extras, click here. To read more posts from Joanna, click here.


 

One of the joys of exhibit research is discovering unexpectedly-related artifacts, documents, and photos across the full spectrum of the collection; it’s like finding new pieces to a puzzle you didn’t even realize was incomplete.  Such was the case with Samson Margolis’s “Artistic Ketubah,” designed in the mid 20th century.

Margolis (1897-1972), a Baltimore artist and calligrapher, shows up frequently in our archives: we have a nice collection of his business files, printing plates, and tools, donated by his son and daughter-in-law, and in addition his work can be found on many certificates, awards, and posters from a variety of sources. These include original, hand-inked pieces as well as printed documents available for purchase and customization. Popular items were his memorial book, a family history book, and – relevant to my exhibit research – an illuminated marriage certificate.  His ketubah is bright and colorful, with text in English and Aramaic, as became common for most movements in the mid 20th century. It is suitable for framing, but can also be folded into a booklet; some versions included a keepsake envelope for storage.

Margolis ketubah, front and back when folded into a booklet. From wedding of Rose and Morton Miller, 1952. Gift of Rosedale Cemetery Association. JMM 1996.25.2

Margolis ketubah, front and back when folded into a booklet. From wedding of Rose and Morton Miller, 1952. Gift of Rosedale Cemetery Association. JMM 1996.25.2

A blank copy of this ketubah was included in the Margolis files along with other examples of his work, but digging deeper I found another unused copy, from the collection of Dr. Louis L. Kaplan (who performed many marriages in 20th century Baltimore), and this one, from the wedding of Rose Siegel and Morton Miller, married by Rabbi Samuel Vitsick on February 21, 1952.

Margolis ketubah used by Rose and Morton Miller, 1952. Gift of Rosedale Cemetery Association. JMM 1996.25.2

Margolis ketubah used by Rose and Morton Miller, 1952. Gift of Rosedale Cemetery Association. JMM 1996.25.2

After taking a close look at these various copies, I started spotting it in photos.  A 1979 snapshot (showing Jesse Hellman signing his Margolis ketubah, watched by his bride Debby Salganik and their officiant Dr. Kaplan) is included in the “Just Married!” exhibit, along with the fresh copy donated by the Margolis family; but eagle-eyed visitors might have noticed that in the 1994 wedding video in the exhibit entrance, Shurron Ann Shapiro and Andrew Carpel sign a Margolis ketubah under the guidance of Rabbi Morris Kosman of Beth Sholom, Frederick.  So far, the earliest photographic evidence of this ketubah can be found in the wedding album of Barbara Sue Levy and Bernard Dackman, who were married April 4, 1951 at Beth Tfiloh.

Bernard Dackman signs his ketubah, 1951. Photo by Bradford Bachrach. Courtesy of Ilene Dackman-Alon.

Bernard Dackman signs his ketubah, 1951. Photo by Bradford Bachrach. Courtesy of Ilene Dackman-Alon.

The last piece of the puzzle (so far) is this marketing letter written by Margolis himself, hoping to get Maryland’s rabbis to invest in a supply of his work for use in any and all weddings they might perform.

Undated letter from Samson Margolis, touting his new “Artistic Ketubah” and offering local rabbis special introductory rates for bulk purchases. Gift of Aaron and Dorothy Margolis. JMM 1994.193.60

Undated letter from Samson Margolis, touting his new “Artistic Ketubah” and offering local rabbis special introductory rates for bulk purchases. Gift of Aaron and Dorothy Margolis. JMM 1994.193.60

Dear Rabbi:

I am taking this privilege of sending you two copies of the new Artistic Ketubah which I have designed and published in five colors, A Marriage Certificate to be kept and cherished for generations.

As you will note, particular attention has been paid to the space allowed for inscribing the names in Hebrew and English. The original texts which are hand-written, are both clear and legible.

Only through the new process in Lithography and the use of fine quality durable papers, could this artistic feat have been accomplished.

Considering the labor, ingenuity, and the skillful production of this Art Ketubah, it should sell for more than a dollar at wholesale, but in order to introduce it to the public and make it popular, I have decided to market it at the following prices:

100 copies for $35.00, 50 copies for $20.00

12 copies for $5.75, single copies at 1.00

As an introductory offer you may have the enclosed two copies for only one dollar.

In the event that you are not able to use these Art Ketubahs, please return them in the same envelope, using the enclosed label for the return address.

Remittance should accompany the order or, we may, upon your request, send C.O.D.

Thanking you for your kind cooperation, and hoping to be favored with your order, I am,

Respectfully yours,

Samson Margolis

I particularly like this letter because it helps explain how Margolis’s ketubah enjoyed such a long career – still in use in some congregations into the 1990s, as evidenced by the video from Beth Sholom.  If a rabbi or congregation took Margolis up on his special introductory rates and laid in a goodly stock of documents, one might well expect to still be using them some 45 years later. I’m sure Margolis would be glad to know his “artistic feat” had a lasting impact.

Detail of unused ketubah, showing Samson Margolis’s printed signature. Dr. Louis L. Kaplan Collection, gift of Efrem M. Potts. JMM 1995.192.124

Detail of unused ketubah, showing Samson Margolis’s printed signature. Dr. Louis L. Kaplan Collection, gift of Efrem M. Potts. JMM 1995.192.124

Help us track the Margolis ketubah! If you, or someone in your family, chose one, let us know the date and place!

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