Happy Mother’s Day

Posted on May 10th, 2013 by

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I decided to take a trip through our collections to see what kinds of things I could find that related to the topic of mothers. I started by typing in the word “mother” into our collections database. 1,087 records appeared. And with that I was off and running as I pulled up record after record of objects, photographs, and archival documents that captured an array of fascinating stories.

So what wonderful treasurers did I unearth? Many letters written from family members (usually sons) documenting travels and other important news such as engagements and births. I found one letter from “Mosie” (Moses Rosenfeld) to his mother written in July 26, 1899 (1968.22.13) and postcards from artist Reuben Kramer sent to his mother while he was traveling in Greece (1994.84.224). Some letters document sadder occasions reflected in one (1963.43.3) sent to Jacob Moses in October 1921 from the Keren Hayosod Committee offering condolences on the loss of his mother.

Mothers also show up in our art collection as the artist’s subject including works by noted Baltimore artist, Herman Maril. One painting, “My Mother’s Bread” (1955) (1989.125.1) depicts a glass of wine and loaf of challah. Another work, an ink drawing “Mistress of the House,” (1992.279.1) is of his mother Cecilia Maril Baker.  Clearly his mother was influential in his life!

[photo of lithograph – 1975.022.002 - My search also turned up a beautiful lithograph that was used as an advertisement for Vienna Yeast from around 1897 and shows a mother, father, and son gathered around the Shabbat table.]

Looking through the object records, I found many artifacts that paint a story of women’s domestic life in the early 20th century including sewing machines, dishes, and silver. They also reflect the importance of objects owned by mothers as family heirlooms such as the silver Kiddush cup brought to the US that belonged to her mother by Rose Goldberg after World War II (1988.77.1). One of the more poignant items in our collection is a tombstone from Russia and dates to around 1910 that has this inscription, “In memory of dear mother, Mrs. Yutta, daughter of Reb Pinchas Kashan, passed away on the 18th of Elul, 5667 (August 28, 1907). I’d love to learn more about the journey of this object from a western Russian cemetery to the JMM’s storage room!

Much of my time, of course, was spent looking through our photograph collection. Here are some of my favorites:

1985.046.003 – Two women standing in front of cherry blossoms in Druid Hill Park, 1953 with the inscription “mother and Irene”

1985.046.003 – Two women standing in front of cherry blossoms in Druid Hill Park, 1953 with the inscription “mother and Irene”

1987.019.038 – Phil and Ralph Levin standing with their mother

1987.019.038 – Phil and Ralph Levin standing with their mother

1988.075.009 – the Katz Family – mother is on the far right

1988.075.009 – the Katz Family – mother is on the far right

1988.12.9 – I love this photo – Miriam Rothschild her daughter Edith on a ship wearing pirate costumes

1988.12.9 – I love this photo – Miriam Rothschild her daughter Edith on a ship wearing pirate costumes

By the time I had finished (and I have to confess that I did not actually have the time to look through all 1,087 records), I felt as though I had come away with a crash course on the impact of women in the lives of Maryland Jews spanning a course of two centuries and running the gamut from birth to death. Plus a much better understanding of the breadth and variety of our collections!

To learn more about our collections, feel free to check out our free on-line database!

So to all the mothers out there, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




The Power of Personal Voice

Posted on March 18th, 2013 by

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin.

On Monday, March 18, JMM staff members and volunteers gathered for an oral history training workshop.

The training session was led by senior collections manager Jobi Zink.

The training session was led by senior collections manager Jobi Zink.

An eager group of students gathered in the board room for the workshop.

An eager group of students gathered in the board room for the workshop.

With more than 700 interviews in our collections, oral histories form an important part of the JMM collections. Like the artifacts in our collections, JMM oral histories are eclectic in nature and range in topic from major historical events like the Holocaust and civil rights era to more mundane subjects such as shopping in Jewish owned businesses and daily life in Maryland’s small towns.

The goal of this workshop was to teach proper techniques for conducting interviews as well as the mechanics of using our recording equipment.

 Esther Weiner practices how to properly use the digital recording equipment.

Esther Weiner practices how to properly use the digital recording equipment.

When I first started working at the JMM, we used cassette recorders that were considered top of the line when they were originally purchased. Today we use digital equipment that allows for greater flexibility in how interviews can be used. While the new equipment produces interviews that are higher quality than the older models, the technology can also be intimidating to volunteers (and to staff as well).

Here you see Jobi “patiently” answering a question posed by curator Karen Falk with one of her trademark stink eyes!

Here you see Jobi “patiently” answering a question posed by curator Karen Falk with one of her trademark stink eyes!

Hence the importance of our training.

Oral history interviews provide listeners with the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of specific historical events. As listeners of the acclaimed Story Corps project are aware, the subjects of interviews do not need to be famous – nor do the topics under discussion need to be momentous events from long ago – in order for the interview to be compelling.  (To learn more and to listen to archived interviews, visit storycorps.org/)

A search through our oral history database turns up interviews with Jewish business owners, former residents of East Baltimore (whose memories can be found in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit),

Three separate oral history quotes greet visitors as they enter the exhibit gallery and help set the exhibit’s tone.

Three separate oral history quotes greet visitors as they enter the exhibit gallery and help set the exhibit’s tone.

This colorful quote helps bring the Lombard Street market section to life.

This colorful quote helps bring the Lombard Street market section to life.

and food mavens (whose favorite Jewish food traditions and recipes helped inform the recent Chosen Food exhibit.) We also have on file interviews with Jacob Beser who discusses his World War II military career that included  flying in both missions that dropped atomic bombs on Japan (OH 0141 and OH 0331)and Mitzi Swan (OH 0658) who participated in the protest to integrate the tennis courts at Druid Hill Park.

Excerpts from Mitzi Swan’s interview can be found in the 2004 edition of Generations that focused on the theme of Jews in sports.

Excerpts from Mitzi Swan’s interview can be found in the 2004 edition of Generations that focused on the theme of Jews in sports.

Oral history interviewees are sought as part of the research for each new exhibit. Some of my personal favorite interviews were conducted with young campers, whose enthusiasm for their camping experience helped shaped the look and feel of Cabin Fever: Jewish Camping and Commitment (2005).

At the entrance to the exhibit, visitors encountered a quote expressing the magical feeling that campers experienced as the camp bus approached the entrance to camp.

At the entrance to the exhibit, visitors encountered a quote expressing the magical feeling that campers experienced as the camp bus approached the entrance to camp.

Exhibitions, programs, and publications are all enriched thanks to our vibrant oral history program. We are so excited to have a new corps of trained oral history interviewers who are now capable of collecting new fascinating stories to add to our collections.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Jews on the Move is on the Move Again!

Posted on February 6th, 2013 by

A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin.

After a successful installation at Chizuk Amuno’s Hendler Learning Center, the JMM’s traveling exhibit, Jews on the Move: Baltimore and the Suburban Exodus, 1945-1968 has a new temporary home. On January 28, my colleague Rachel Cylus and I made the reverse commute from the suburbs to downtown as we installed the panels at the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Library (400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201)

The exhibit looked absolutely beautiful in its new location in the library’s main lobby beneath its soaring ceilings and in the midst of the hustle and bustle of library traffic.

Many curious visitors stopped by to check out the exhibit before we even completed the installation and we look forward to engaging many new individuals in the story of the Jewish community’s move to the suburbs. A setting like the Pratt Library is perfect for us to learn the stories of others and to place the Jewish experience within a broader context.

Jews on the Move will be on view at the Pratt Library though March 10, 2013.

To learn more about the Jews on the Move exhibit, check out our website: http:///www.jewishmuseummd.org/jewsonthemove

If you are interested in learning more about how to host this exhibit, contact Rachel Cylus at (410) 732-6400 x215 / rcylus@jewishmuseummd.org.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




« Previous PageNext Page »