Happy Birthday, Israel!

Posted on April 23rd, 2015 by

On April 23, 2015 Jews throughout the world celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaot, Israel’s Independence Day.  In honor of Israel’s 67th birthday, today’s blog post highlights the contributions of Harry Greenstein who was involved in the resettlement of European Jews in Israel after the Holocaust. Thanks to the efforts of many, including Greenstein, Israel lived up to its mandate of serving as place of respite and shelter for Jews in need of a homeland.

Harry Greenstein was the Executive Director of the Associated Jewish Charities (today known as The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore) for 37 years from 1928-1965. His involvement in providing assistance to European Jewish refugees in the 1940s led to a federal appointment as the head of the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) for Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia. (For more information about the UNRAA, check out this article.)

In 1949, the Secretary of War appointed Greenstein Advisor on Jewish Affairs in post-war Germany. Part of his duties included assisting the United States Army in closing the Displaced Persons (DP) Camps in Germany and Austria, helping to rehabilitate Jewish life in Europe and aiding in the resettlement of Jewish refugees in Israel.

Harry Greenstein speaking in Munich on the first anniversary of Israel’s establishment, 1949 JMM 1971.20.156

Harry Greenstein speaking in Munich on the first anniversary of Israel’s establishment, 1949 JMM 1971.20.156

In 1971 the JMM received a donation of Greenstein’s papers and photographs (MS 80). The collection includes photos from his visits to Israel and Europe on behalf of UNRRA as well as his efforts to resettle Jewish Displaced Persons in Israel in the late 1940s. The following is a selection of photos documenting his work:

Photo of document checking station taken during UNRAA trip to Middle East, 1944. JMM 1971.20.155

Photo of document checking station taken during UNRAA trip to Middle East, 1944. JMM 1971.20.155

Photo taken during UNRAA trip to Middle East, 1944. JMM.1971.20.159

Photo taken during UNRAA trip to Middle East, 1944. JMM.1971.20.159

Jewish Displaced Persons board an airplane from Munich to Haifa, September 1948. JMM 1971.20.175

Jewish Displaced Persons board an airplane from Munich to Haifa, September 1948. JMM 1971.20.175

Young Jewish refugees who had been resettled in Holland by the JDC, on board the SS Negbah, on their way to Israel, Dec. 15, 1945. JMM 1971.20.176. For more information about the “Apeldoorn children” check out http://www.jhm.nl/culture-and-history/the-netherlands/gelderland/apeldoorn]

Young Jewish refugees who had been resettled in Holland by the JDC, on board the SS Negbah, on their way to Israel, Dec. 15, 1945. JMM 1971.20.176. For more information about the “Apeldoorn children” check out this article.

Greenstein was a recognized leader of the local, national and international Jewish community. The photos taken of him with Israeli dignitaries speak to his prominence on the global stage.

Greenstein (right) visits with President Chaim Weitzman at the President’s home in Rehovot, Israel, 1949. JMM 1971.20.233

Greenstein (right) visits with President Chaim Weitzman at the President’s home in Rehovot, Israel, 1949. JMM 1971.20.233

reenstein receiving a book from Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, 1949. JMM 1971.20.192

Greenstein receiving a book from Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, 1949. JMM 1971.20.192

Sixty-seven years later, Israel continues to serve as a homeland for Jews from all over the world.

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Exploring Open Source in San Francisco

Posted on March 16th, 2015 by

I was delighted to have the opportunity to take part in this year’s Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) conference taking place March 8-10 in San Francisco. Attended by more than 100 Jewish museum professionals from all over the US, Canada and Europe, this year’s conference theme, Open Source: Jewish Museums and Collaborative Culture was particularly appropriate for its setting in the Bay Area.

CAJM Conference 2015

CAJM Conference 2015

What a pleasure it was to leave gray, bleak and snowy Baltimore and to emerge from the BART station on Mission Street in San Francisco to a beautiful sunny day. Things only got better from there. Our first day was spent at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, one of our conference hosts.

exterior, The Contemporary Jewish Museum

exterior, The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the Museum’s design incorporates Jewish symbols and is a striking presence in the heart of a bustling commercial and cultural district. (Visit www.thecjm.org/about/building to learn more about the building)

The CJM provides many wonderful opportunities for community engagement. I was drawn to its warm and welcoming education center featuring an abundance of creative hands-on activity stations that encourage exploration.

The CJM provides many wonderful opportunities for community engagement. I was drawn to its warm and welcoming education center featuring an abundance of creative hands-on activity stations that encourage exploration.

The conference kicked off with a lively keynote address by Nina Simon, executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. Simon is known for her audience-centered approach to museum design and programming and she challenged CAJM participants to remove barriers of access that often prevent people from visiting their institutions. Her talk was one of the highlights of the conference as she presented a model for museums as participatory and experimental sites that engage in social bridging by bringing together people of different backgrounds. (You can read more about Simon’s groundbreaking views about the role of museums in her Museum 2.0 blog.)

One of my favorite aspects of CAJM conferences is the opportunity to visit other museums and San Francisco did not disappoint. Kudos to conference organizers for casting off the tradition of using buses as the primary mode of transportation and instead relying on public transportation. It was quite a feat that they managed to successfully herd dozens of conferees up and down subway platforms and onto the appropriate trains!

Sites visited included the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life where we had the chance to view Gourmet Ghettos: Modern Food Rituals, the California Historical Society and the Oakland Museum of California. Visiting the recently restored core exhibition galleries of art and history at the Oakland Museum provided inspiration for thinking about the concept of core exhibits as did a related session held that afternoon, “Getting to the Core: Options and Models”. The Museum’s executive director, Lori Fogarty, talked about the history of the project as well as its development process that actively included feedback from a wide range of community members.

A display exploring the gold rush from the new core exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California

A display exploring the gold rush from the new core exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California

One of my favorite labels ever marked the entrance to the art gallery explaining to visitors the symbols on works of art and asking that they refrain from licking the paintings!

One of my favorite labels ever marked the entrance to the art gallery explaining to visitors the symbols on works of art and asking that they refrain from licking the paintings!

By the end of the conference on Tuesday afternoon, I was simultaneously exhausted and energized and looking forward to sharing what I learned with my JMM colleagues.

Learn more about the conference HERE.

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Studying the Legacy of the Holocaust

Posted on February 4th, 2015 by

Lessons of the Shoah, a high school interfaith program, took place on February 3 at John Carroll High School in Harford County. Designed as a day of exploration, dialogue and commemoration using the Holocaust and its lessons as a starting point to promote tolerance, understanding and respect among students of diverse backgrounds, the program featured workshops, survivor testimony and student presentations and reflections.

Lessons of the Shoah, 2015

Lessons of the Shoah, 2015

More than 250 students and 30 teachers representing 21 schools participated in the day long program that was spearheaded by John Carroll teacher Louise Geczy and co-sponsored by the JMM and Baltimore Jewish Council. Participating schools included public (from Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County), independent and parochial (Jewish and Catholic) schools.

After an opening program in which students watched a video produced by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous documenting a reunion between a Holocaust survivor and the non-Jewish family that rescued him (learn more about the JFR at www.jfr.org), students attended two workshops of their choice. Options included genocide prevention led by Warren Marcus of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Collaborators and Bystanders facilitated by Poly High School teacher Josh Headly, and a history of antisemitism by Father Bob Albright.

The JMM also lead a breakout session using our Lives Lost, Lives Found history kit to engage students in critical thinking as they analyzed photographs exploring the experiences of German Jewish refugees who found safe haven in Baltimore in the 1930s.

As part of the activity students worked in small groups to explore photos that were part of the exhibit.

As part of the activity students worked in small groups to explore photos that were part of the exhibit.

As a culminating activity, students create a timeline of photos.

As a culminating activity, students create a timeline of photos.

Teachers and students split up during lunch giving students the chance to get to know one another while teachers networked and listened to a panel of Holocaust educators who shared their tips for teaching the topic.

After lunch the entire group gathered for the most moving part of the program to hear Holocaust survivors Esther and Howard Kaidanow share their stories of survival.

Esther Kaidonow speaking.

Esther Kaidanow speaking.

Students gathered with the Kaidonows to express their appreciation.

Students gathered with the Kaidanows to express their appreciation.

Following the testimony, students worked in small groups to share reflections of the day.

Students working in small groups.

Students working in small groups.

They were asked to write down their final thoughts about the lasting legacy of the Holocaust on index cards that they posted for all to read.

Students posting their comments.

Students posting their comments.

Sample reflections

Sample reflections

Lessons of the Shoah is a program that the JMM and BJC have facilitated for several years in several different iterations. This was the second year that we have used the format of a day long program for students from many different schools. The impressive turnout of students and teachers from such a diverse group of schools and the beautiful reflections shared by students at the end of the day reflect the importance of providing opportunities for teens to learn from one another using the lessons of the Holocaust as inspiration for discourse.

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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