Posted on April 16th, 2014 by Rachel
Part of my role at the museum is to handle the reservations of one of our travelling exhibits, Jews on the Move: Baltimore and the Suburban Exodus, 1945 – 1968. The exhibit has been in storage for several months but is currently on display until April 14th at Beth Israel Synagogue.
In addition to displaying Jews on the Move, we also had an evening lecture there last week about some of the themes it highlights. The lecture, titled Jews on the move: A Conversation, was led by Dean Krimmel, a museum consultant who was a member of the team that developed the exhibit. The talk gathered a great audience and created a huge amount of conversation.
Dean Krimmel at Beth Israel
Dean started the lecture by asking a few questions, and he asked those who answered “yes” to stand. We were asked:
- Were you part of the suburban exodus?
- Were you born here in Baltimore?
- Have you lived here for your adult life?
- Are you a newcomer?
Getting some exercise at Beth Israel!
Unsurprisingly, the first two questions had a huge response, with most of the room standing. The final question, received a much smaller response, but it was interesting to see what people considered a newcomer to be. I knew I certainly would fit within this category, having only been here for a year. What surprised me was that people who had lived here their entire adult life still considered themselves newcomers! However, I quickly learned that, unless you went to high school in Baltimore, some will consider you a lifelong newcomer. This also led to another interesting point: this city is unique in that, when asked “what school did you attend?” you are not being asked about college but rather about high school.
The high point of the evening was hearing all of the conversations that were inspired by the program, both during the lecture and after, around the exhibit. People discussed their memories of moving to the suburbs, the reasons for doing so and some of the restrictions that they faced. Many people had similar experiences with regards to their suburban exodus, especially relating to their experiences with real estate agents.
We were also treated to a little of the history of Beth Israel and its movements by Bernie Raynor.
There was also plenty of reminiscing prompted by images in the exhibit, especially regarding schools and shopping centers.
We also looked at some of the original advertisements for the newly built homes during the suburban exodus.
Overall, everyone had a lovely evening. The chatting continued for an hour after the lecture finished. Everyone shared memories and even remembered some things thought long forgotten.
Blog post by Program Manager Trillion Attwood. To read more posts from Trillion, click here.