Volunteer Spotlight: Betsey Kahn

Posted on November 4th, 2013 by

It’s time to highlight another volunteer at the JMM:

Betsey

Betsey

Betsey Kahn has been a volunteer at the JMM for close to 20 years.  Her interest in the JMM came as a natural progression in her family.  Her father, Moses W. Rosenfeld was a founding member of the Jewish Historical Society.  He handled the legal work; Betsey is of the belief that he offered his services pro-Bono.  She remembers him putting in a lot of effort and the entire family became very familiar with the place.  Betsey is a long-time Baltimore Hebrew Congregation member.  She and her sister, her daughters, and her granddaughters were all confirmed at BHC.
When she first began volunteering at the JMM she worked on photo projects.  She admits it wasn’t the best fit.  So, she became a Docent, which she loved.  Unfortunately, due to mobility issues, she’s no longer able to take visitors on tours.  Now, she greets visitors and answers the telephone as a Front Desk Receptionist.
It was a particularly good fit for Betsey to act as a docent as she taught Social Studies and English to middle school students for many years.  In addition to volunteering at the JMM, Betsey volunteers twice a week in the Ophthalmology department at Sinai Hospital.  She also likes to spend time knitting and needle pointing, plus, some of her very favorite activities are cooking and entertaining as well as flower arranging.  She and a friend formed a garden club years ago, which came with the added bonus of flower arrangement lessons by her co-chairman.
Betsey has had a positive impact on the JMM in her many years of involvement.  She is often willing to answer a last-minute plea for extra volunteer shifts.  She ‘s proud to share that she contributes financially to the Museum in addition to her donating time.  She is a wonderful role model for our entire volunteer corps.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at icohen@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

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Experience the Lloyd Street Synagogue you never knew!

Posted on September 17th, 2013 by

Coming Soon!

Opening October 13th!

Everyone at the JMM is very excited for our upcoming exhibit, Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the American Civil War.  Karen and Jobi are preparing the gallery while Rachel and Trillion are putting together the advertising and logistics for our various programs, and Ilene is creating new curricula and activities for the schoolchildren to do, and Esther is buying all the Civil War tchotkes you could ever want to buy. Meanwhile, Marvin has been developing a brand new tour of a very familiar space: the Lloyd Street Synagogue circa 1861, at the beginning of the American Civil War.

Docent training begins.

Docent training begins.

The new tour will enable our visitors—especially our return visitors—to see the Lloyd Street Synagogue through new eyes. The extension of the synagogue in 1860 isn’t only significant because it covered up the original mikveh, but, more importantly, it demonstrates just how quickly the city of Baltimore—and by extension, its Jewish population—was growing. However, that same growth of the Jewish community created new problems that came to a head during the Civil War, as our visitors will learn on this tour. Visitors will also gain an intimate understanding of how Jews justified taking either the Confederate or the Union side of the conflict by hearing excerpts from contemporary writings by two prominent Baltimore rabbis (Rabbis Illoway and Einhorn, of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and Oheb Shalom, respectively).

Marvin holds up one of our cast of characters!

Marvin holds up one of our cast of characters!

It won’t be easy for us and our volunteer docents to learn a whole new tour in just a few weeks, but we’re all eager for the challenge! Last week, we invited our docents to see the new tour, and we received some excellent constructive feedback in return. Marvin led us through the synagogue, giving us tips on how to guage the knowledge and interest of our groups by using a Civil War-era kepi as a shibboleth, and showing us how different parts of the synagogue illustrate the various issues that were important to the Jewish community here during the Civil War.

Marvin with the docents.

Marvin with the docents.

We will be premiering the 1861 Tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue when we open the new exhibit on October 12th for the Members Preview and on October 13th for the Public Opening. At the openings, the tour will be offered twice, and after that it will offered once a day in the place of the regular 3pm tour (all other daily tours will be the regular overview tour of the two synagogues).

We encourage you to come and “experience the Lloyd Street Synagogue you never knew!”

abby krolik copyA blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts by Abby, click here.

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A Day in the Life of a JMM Docent

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by

By JMM Volunteer Harvey Karch

One of the best parts of being a docent at a museum, especially, I think, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, is that one never knows what is going to happen on a tour.  The unexpected is almost to be expected every tour.   It certainly was the case on Tuesday, January 15, during the one o’clock tour.

Harvey leads a tour outside the Lloyd Street Synagogue

No one was in the Museum for the eleven o’clock tour, and that was not a surprise given the cold and damp weather.  As one o’clock came and went, I wasn’t shocked that there was no one for the tour either.  However, at about 1:10 a woman entered the museum asking whether she was too later for the one o’clock tour.  Since no one else was there, I gladly stepped up to the counter and told her that I would be happy to show her the sights of the Museum.

Describing the matzoh oven in Lloyd Street Synagogue.

As is my habit, after introducing myself, I asked the where she was from and what had brought her to the Museum today.  She told me that her name is Deb, Deb Miller, and she has lived in Boston since arriving to attend graduate school there some forty years ago.  However, she added that she had grown up in New York City, but that her roots run deep in Baltimore.  Her grandparents had lived in Baltimore, and her mother had grown up here before going to live in New York after her marriage.  She also explained that her family members were among the founders of Chizuk Amuno Congregation.  As we walked toward Lloyd Street Synagogue, she went on to say that her grandfather had attended Shomrei Mishemeres, and I told her that mine had also.  I explained that one of my family’s stories is that my grandfather had come from Volnya and had come to Baltimore because there was a group from his home area living in the city.  Ms. Miller suggested that perhaps our grandfathers had known each other, and perhaps had even prayed together.  We both chuckled and went on with the tour.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue in 1962, shortly after the Jewish Historical Society acquired it from the Shomrei Mishmeres Congregation. IA 1.0005

Once inside of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, it was obvious from the look on her face that being in this synagogue was a particularly emotional experience for Ms. Miller.  She asked me a lot of questions about Shomrei Mishemeres and the building itself as she looked around, taking in everything about the place.  It was at the point where I started telling her about why there are no regularly held services anymore in the building that it suddenly occurred to me that this was no ordinary visitor, and I asked her if she was related to Tobias Miller, one of the last members of Shomrei Mishmeres and part of the group who sold the building to the Jewish Historical Society.   She told me that he was her grandfather, and I had the pleasure of telling her that the man I had always heard referred to as “Tuffsy” Miller was the reason that my grandfather had come to Baltimore from Volnya, since Miller was one of my grandfather’s best friends from the old country.  We both realized at that point that not only had our grandfathers prayed together, but had been very good friends as well as “landsmen”.  Ms. Miller later asked what my grandfather’s name was, and thought that it sounded familiar.  We both wondered what our grandfathers would have thought of two of their grandchildren meeting so many years after their deaths (1961 and 1970) at the Lloyd Street Synagogue?

We even have a picture of Tobias Miller signing the deed of the LSS over to the Jewish Historical Society. IA 1.0944

Ms. Miller and I parted ways, but this is one tour that I will remember for a long, long time.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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