Museum Matters: December 2014

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by

Wrapping Up a Great Year

If you weren’t able to make it to the opening weeks of the A-Mazing Mendes Cohen because of the busy High Holiday season or the start of school, if you couldn’t come in October because you wanted to enjoy fall foliage, if you didn’t visit us in November because of the Ravens games – stop procrastinating!  There couldn’t be a better time of year to renew your acquaintance with our one-of-a-kind museum.  Outstanding exhibits, specialty tours of the synagogues at 3pm on Sundays and Mondays, dollar days, family concert, messing with olive oil and  best of all – last minute/belated holiday gifts hand-selected by Esther, our maven of good taste.

On these shortest days of the year, we’re still open 10 to 5 on Sunday through Thursday (except for Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 – close at 3; Dec. 25 – close at 4; and Jan 1 – closed).  Still plenty of time to bring out-of-town relatives to see this Baltimore highlight.  We’ll have a warm welcome waiting.

~Marvin

Upcoming Programs

Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org.

 

bandwagon01_hi - 2013Downtown Dollar Day

A Family Chanukah Concert with Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights

Sunday, December 7, 2:30pm

Admission: $1

Set the Chanukah mood with a rocking family Chanukah concert with Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights! Bring home a piece of the festivities with Chanukah themed crafts.

A versatile artist, Joanie Leeds is a gifted musician with a soulful voice that ranges from low and bluesy to high, light, and breezy.  In addition to her secular popularity, Joanie tours the country playing synagogues, Jewish day schools and Jewish museums. Her Jewish music can be found on the PJ Library’s compilation.

 

books imageMaryland Jewish Book Festival

Sunday, December 14, 11am to 4pm

Included with museum admission

Join us for a day of book talks and author signings. Meet some of the region’s best Jewish authors and maybe find the perfect Chanukah gifts to finish your shopping! Authors will be talking about a fascinating range of topics including Jewish resistance in the Shoah, Sephardic history in the Caribbean, Baltimore’s wicked history and a reflection on a life spent giving back to the city.

We also have readings for the youngest members of the family with Chanukah selections, plus plenty of arts and crafts to keep everyone entertained.

Schedule:

11:00am: Wicked Baltimore: Charm City Sin and Scandal with author Lauren Silberman 

As home to Edgar Allan Poe’s body, the acerbic wit of H.L. Mencken and Fells Point’s nest of pirates, Baltimore revels in the deliciously dark side of its history. Local author Lauren R. Silberman leads readers through the horrors of slave pens, the chaos of the Pratt Street Riots and the backroom speakeasies of Prohibition to reveal the sinister and scintillating face of Charm City. 

12:00pm: Interview on Measure of a Life with author LeRoy Hoffberger 

Writing “Measure of a Life” started out as a test of the author’s long term memory. Hoffberger, through his philanthropic activities has had a significant impact not only in the Baltimore community, but worldwide. He has tremendously influenced the arts field as co-founder of American Visionary Art Museum and MICA’s LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting. His efforts, through a Johns Hopkins scientific community based study program have helped make possible huge strides in Alzheimer’s and Dementia care. He established the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Studies, which has advanced the understanding of Hebrew scripture around the world. Hoffberger has shaped the events of his life into a resonant and inspiring narrative. 

1:00pm: To Save a Life: Jewish Humanitarian Resistance in France during the Shoah with author Nancy Lefenfeld

Until recently Jewish resistance during the Shoah has received little attention. Even now, images in popular culture focus almost exclusively on armed resisters but unarmed Jewish resisters thwarted the objectives of Nazi oppressors not by striking back at them physically but by saving Jews targeted for arrest, deportation, and death. Less easily recognizable than their armed counterparts, these humanitarian resisters worked illegally, clandestinely, and at the risk of their own lives. Many lost their lives because of the work they did and had no opportunity to tell their stories after the end of the war. This brief presentation introduces the concept of Jewish humanitarian resistance and features archival black and white photos preserved in the collection of the Mémorial de la Shoah.

1:00 p.m.  CJE Library Story Time 

CJE librarian Rebecca Levitan will be joining us for a specially themed Chanukah story time. Plus join us before and after for some great arts and crafts suitable for any age. 

2:00pm Hanukah Moon with author Deborah da Costa (children’s book) 

When Isobel is invited to Aunt Luisa’s for Hanukkah, she is not sure what to expect. Aunt Luisa has recently arrived from Mexico. Isobel’s days at Aunt Luisa’s are filled with fun and surprises a new camera, a dreidel piñata filled with sweets, and a mysterious late night visit to welcome the luna nueva, the new moon that appears on Hanukkah. An unusual Hanukkah story with a multi-cultural focus, this title celebrates a little-known custom of the Latin-Jewish community. 

3:00pm 500 Years in the Jewish Caribbean: The Spanish & Portuguese Jews in the West Indies with author Harry A. Ezratty

Long before the Jewish settlements in North America, Sephardic Jews came to the Caribbean, first as crew members on Columbus’s ships. By the 1600s, they had commercialized the sugar, rum and tobacco industries and won civil liberties that became the standards aspired to by colonial North American Jewry. This is their story, island by island, in Volume I of the author’s trilogy, The Jews in the New World.

 

olive oilLate Night on Lloyd Street: DIY Olive Oil? ImPRESSive!

Thursday, December 18, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

With Kayam Farm at Pearlstone Center

Venue the Jewish Museum of Maryland

FREE

 

The miracle of Chanukah: Oil for one day of lighting the ancient temple lasted a full 8 days!… but why did it take 8 days? Get excited for a night of pitting, pressing and processing olives into olive oil with the Pearlstone Center Farm staff. Bring “Olive” your questions… Like why is olive oil so important to the Jewish community? And is olive oil really good for you? What can I do with it besides light ancient Menorahs and fry latkes? Finally, have the chance to make your own olive oil creations such as infused oil using herbs from Pearlstone’s farm, or dyed decorative Channukiah oil to take home. They also make great gifts!

As with all late nights we will have plenty of food and drink available. Please be aware this event has a maximum number of places available so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Contact Trillion Attwood at 410-732-6402 x215 or by email at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org with questions!

 

Mitzvah Day

Thursday, December 25

10:00 a.m. to 1:00pm: Mitzvah activities

1:00 p.m: Speaker, Gilbert Sandler

Program Free with Museum Admission

Join us again this year as we participate in Mitzvah Day, where we will be helping to make life a little easier for some of the children in our community. Mitzvah activities will be suitable for all ages and is a great way to bring the family together!

Following the Mitzvah activities we welcome Gilbert Sandler who will discuss Becoming American in Jewish Baltimore. Mr. Sandler will share the story of how Jewish Baltimore got started. Exploring the institutions the earliest immigrants founded that helped bring them into mainstream of America. Then how those institutions leaders arose from the newly-formed Jewish community to wider leadership and prominence and wealth and influence—and at long last become American!

 

January

The Sephardic Atlantic: Mendes I. Cohen and the Story of Early American Jewry

Speaker Dr. Ronnie Perelis, Yeshiva University

Sunday, January 18th at 12 p.m.

Included with Museum Admission

Before there were thriving Jewish communities in cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Charleston and Savannah, most Jews in the Americas lived in the Caribbean. They were part of a dynamic Sephardic network of trade and culture which connected major metropolitan centers such as Amsterdam and London to colonial ports such as Curacao and Kingston. The first American Jews were connected through their Atlantic connections. We will explore how early American Jews such as Mendes I. Cohen were a part of this global Jewish community.

Ronnie Perelis is the Chief Rabbi Dr. Isaac Abraham and Jelena (Rachel) Alcalay Chair and Assistant Professor of Sephardic Studies at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University. His research explores the connections between Iberian and Jewish culture during the medieval and early modern periods.

 

70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz Memorial Program: A Town Known As Auschwitz: The Life and Death of a Jewish Community

Speaker Shiri Sandler, Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

Sunday, January 25th at 1:00 p.m. 

The town of Oświęcim – today in Poland – has been called by different names, in different languages, at different times. Though it has a long and varied history, the town is known for one thing: Auschwitz. Yet for centuries prior to World War II, Jews and non-Jews lived side by side in Oświęcim and called it home. Join Shiri B. Sandler, U.S. Director the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, Poland, to gain insights into the history of the formerly Jewish town that has become known as the symbol of the Holocaust.

Shiri Sandler runs the AJC’s programming for American students, including Holocaust and ethics programming for US military students. Formerly Shiri was the Manager of International Programs at the Museum, where, in addition to being the liaison for the Auschwitz Jewish Center, she coordinated the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics, a series of ethics programs for law, medical, business, seminary, and journalism students. Shiri received a Master’s degree in Modern European History from Brown University and her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

 

February

Ladino, a language of the Jewish Diaspora

Speaker Dr. Adriana Brodsky, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Sunday, February 8th at 1:00 p.m.

Included with museum admission

Explore Ladino, a Jewish language that developed in the wake of the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 as new Jewish communities settled in the Ottoman Empire. Professor Brodsky will introduce the history of this language, and present examples of the Ladino in early 20th Century America, as well as old and modern ladino songs.  Although many argue that Ladino is ‘dead,’ especially after the extermination of entire ladino-speaking Sephardi communities during the Holocaust, this talk shows that, in fact, this Jewish language is alive and well.

Adriana M. Brodsky, Associate Professor of Latin American History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, obtained her PhD from Duke University in 2004.  She has published on Sephardi schools in Argentina, and on Jewish Beauty Contests.  Her new project explores the experiences of Argentine Sephardi youth in the 1960s-1970s.

 

Help Make a Museum: Audience Workshop for the Core Exhibition of DC’s New Jewish Museum

Sunday, February 8th, 2:00 p.m.

Zachary Paul Levine, Curator at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington

Included with Museum admission

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) needs input from as many people as possible on our new regional Jewish museum (projected opening 2020). As part of that process, we are turning to the community for thoughts on stories for the new museum’s core exhibition.  This workshop will include a series of activities designed to get participants thinking, talking, and sharing their counsel for this new project.  We’ll look at a handful of objects and stories, and discuss how, together, they tell the unique story of Washington’s Jewish community.

 

More Programs

The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org.  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook. www.facebook.com/groups/biyabaltimore

 

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland December Meeting

Ellis Island and the Immigrant Experience

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Pikesville Library’s Meeting Room (1301 Reisterstown Road)

Program is free for JGSM members; $5 for non-members

For more information, check out www.jgsmd.org

 

Exhibits 

Exhibits currently on display include The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (on display through June 14, 2015), Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks!

 

Hours and Tour Times

The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm.

Combination tours of the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue and the 1876 Synagogue Building now home to B’nai Israel are offered: Sunday through Thursday at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm.  We will offer tours focused on the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Sunday through Thursday at 3:00pm and on Sunday at 4:00pm.  On November 9 we will introduce a new Lloyd Street “1845: Technology and the Temple” tour at 3:00pm and the tour will be available every Sunday and Monday at 3:00 until The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen closes next June.

Please note our holiday hours are as follows:

  • Wednesday, December 24, Museum closes at 3:00pm
  • Thursday, December 25, JMM is OPEN from 10am-4:00pm
  • Friday, December 26, Museum is closed
  • Wednesday, December 31, Museum closes at 3:00pm
  • Thursday, January 1, Museum is closed

 

Get Involved

The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or icohen@jewishmuseummd.org.

 

Membership 

Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.

All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street.

Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchased online! http://jewishmuseummd.org/get-involved/museum-membership/ For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org.

 

Gift Shop: Chanukah Madness 

Joseph's Coat MenorahChanukah is around the corner!  First candle is lit December 16, 2014…and we have an amazing selection of candles, all made in Israel, and a gorgeous range of colors. We have Menorahs for the young, and the young at heart; a magnificent hand-blown menorah, Israeli stone and crystal imports, fun and funky menorahs.  Our dreidle collection is known for its variety of choices, from sterling to hand-painted wood, to fine china. Games and books for all ages!  Our jewelry is chosen with care for the discriminating buyer; we cheerfully gift-wrap and will mail your purchases for you.

Electric Menorah, Low VoltageMerchandise purchased in the Museum Shop directly benefits the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Members receive a 10% discount on JMM Shop purchases.

For information, call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email at eweiner@jewishmuseummd.org.

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Museum Matters: August 2014

Posted on August 8th, 2014 by

How to Avoid Regret

Next week you will receive our JMM Insights newsletter.  It will contain photos of the great activities, artifacts and speakers we had during the five weeks of Electrified Pickle.  Some of you will look at the newsletter and think, “gee, I really wanted to see that.”

Well, here’s my tip:  it’s not too late.  We have one more week of the Electrified Pickle, and we are going out with a double-header.  Come by this Sunday and enjoy “Code This!”, and, as Hercule Poirot would say, “exercise those little grey cells” – ciphering, deciphering and bar coding.  We will have an enigma machine on site and an expert on WWII codes, Dr. David Hatch, who will speak at 3pm on “Kosher Cryptology”.  On next Wednesday night we torture our pickles one last time for your education and enjoyment – electrifying them, freezing them and who knows what else.  It’s mad science night at JMM.

Don’t wake up next Friday with post-Pickle remorse.   Be a part of this one-of-a-kind tech fair.

And for even less regret – mark Sept 14 on your calendar now.  You have the chance to be among the first to “lose yourself” in the Mendes Cohen maze and discover a whole new world of 19th century Maryland.

Upcoming Programs

Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org.

Code This!
Sunday, August 10, 11:00am – 3:00pm

Explore the secret world of coding and decoding past and present.  Learn about encryption, decryption, bar codes and ciphers. We will be welcoming Barcoding Inc. who will reveal the secrets of barcoding and teaching us how this common but mysterious code works. Then create your own secret code and deliver messages with invisible ink.

We also welcome the National Cryptologic Museum and Dr. David Hatch who will demonstrate the uses of the Enigma Machine used in the twentieth century for enciphering and deciphering messages.

Eavesdropping On Hell
Sunday, August 10, 3:00pm
Speaker Dr. David Hatch

From Navajo Windtalkers to the women of Bletchley Circle, the mysterious world of codes, ciphers and those who make and break them has proven fertile ground for the imagination, inspiring authors, filmmakers, and television producers to tell their stories. This Sunday join us at the Jewish Museum of Maryland as Dr. David Hatch shares some of the true stories about the minds behind America’s efforts in cryptology surrounding World War II.

 

Late Night on Lloyd Street: After Hours Mad Pickle Science!
Wednesday, August 13th, 6pm -9pm

If you still haven’t visited the Electrified Pickle this is the perfect opportunity! Come and visit the museum after hours, explore the experiments in the exhibit and play with some of our favorite experiments from our Sunday programs. This of course includes electrifying Pickles! We will also be welcoming Mad Science, with their show Bubbling Potions, essentially lots of dry ice plus freezing pickles.

As with all late nights we will have plenty of food and drink available. Please be aware this event has a maximum number of places available so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Book Talk: The Jewish Daughter Diaries
Sunday, August 24th, 1:00pm
Author Rachel Ament

The Jewish Daughter Diaries: True Stories of Being Loved Too Much By Our Moms is a hilarious, and heartfelt essay collection about Jewish mothers, featuring essays by prominent writers and entertainers including The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik. Whether the essay features a mom impersonating her daughter on Jdate, a mom who makes half her daughter’s bed while her daughter is still sleeping in the other half, or a mom who takes her camp‐hating daughter on a visit to a “summer camp consultant,” the book is sure to strike a familiar chord in anyone who has been loved too much by their moms.

SAVE THE DATE

Members Opening: The Making of The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen
Sunday, September 14, 5:00pm

MC_Exhibit Assets_v2Just for members of the Jewish Museum of Maryland and members of our partner The Maryland Historical Society we have a special insider’s evening at the maze.  This will be a chance to not only meet our living history character and explore the exhibit, but also to here from the creative voices who turned a little-known 19th century soldier, businessman and adventurer into a physical experience.  Our panel of experts will delve into the decisions that drove the development of the maze and character – and reveal some of the stories and anecdotes that had to be sent to the “cutting room floor.”  It’s a chance to go behind the scenes of the exhibit process for people who love museums.

 
MENDES COHEN WAS THERE:

At Ft. McHenry when the bombs were bursting in air; at the Supreme Court when states rights were at stake; in Paris when the people prepared the barricades; at the Vatican for the installation of a new pope; down the Nile to collect artifacts; in Jerusalem as the first American tourist; in Annapolis when arguments raged over fugitive slaves; on the board of the nation’s first railroad.

But who was Mendes Cohen?

A soldier, a banker, an adventurer, a politician, a philanthropist… a member of the elite, a member of a persecuted minority… a son of England, a son of Germany, an American patriot, a proud Jew?

Come meet the most interesting person you have never heard of! The Jewish Museum of Maryland and The Maryland Historical Society invite you on a journey to put together the puzzle of one man’s identity and in the process discover something about identities we share.  It’s a journey full of twists and turns and missing clues.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland is offering a very different perspective of the Battle of Baltimore and its aftermath.  A new exhibit opening September 14 follows the life of one of the most interesting characters in the fort, artilleryman Mendes I. Cohen.  The museum has turned the many twists and turns of this real life adventurer into a maze.  Visitors follow Cohen from his rescue of the gunpowder during the battle, to his life in the family lottery business (did you know that the Washington Monument was built with funds from lottery sales?), to the struggle to give Jews the right to hold office, to his visit with the Pope, to his journey down the Nile and his status as the first American tourist in Palestine.  That’s just the first half of his life!

The exhibit connects Cohen’s journey to what was happening to Jews across America, Europe and the Middle East in the early 19th century.  It explores how Cohen, as one individual, created a personal identity and it allows visitors to reflect on how they are forming their own identities.  Younger visitors will enjoy a series of hands-on experiences, but older visitors will also appreciate some of the new discoveries they will make about the 19th century and authentic artifacts and letters from the Cohen family that are embedded in the maze.

The maze exhibit will be open through June 14, 2015. 

Citizen Stand: Battle for Baltimore 1814
Sunday, September 21st, 1pm
Performed by Baltimore School for the Arts

Help us welcome BSA to the JMM for a performance of their latest student production, Citizen Stand: Battle for Baltimore 1814. Students have worked with Maryland Historical Society and National Park Service to develop three short plays about the battle that led to the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.  The plays explore different experiences for Baltimoreans in the lead up to war. One play is especially important to us as there is a character not dissimilar from Mendes Cohen. September 14 to June 14 2015 – The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen
 
More Programs
The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org.  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook.

The Jewish Genealogy Society of MD will hold its next program in the Pikesville Library’s meeting room on Sunday, August 24, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Refreshments will be available. Throughout the past year, we’ve featured entertaining and informative presentations by speakers, but now it’s time for our group members to take a turn. Please join us at the meeting and bring something to share! For more information contact contact Susan Steeble at ssteeble@gmail.com

Exhibits
Exhibits currently on display include The Electrified Pickle through August 15, Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, The Synagogue Speaks!

Hours and Tour Times
The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm. We offer tours of our historic synagogues each day at 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00.

Get Involved
The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or icohen@jewishmuseummd.org.

Membership
Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.

All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street.

Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchased online! http://jewishmuseummd.org/get-involved/museum-membership/ For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org.

Gift Shop
After you visit The Electrified Pickle, keep the experiments going! Check out our new additions in the shop.

On the Blog:

Here’s some great posts you might have missed on the JMM blog!
Top 3 Things – Summer Intern Arielle shares her favorite JMM experiences. 
Volunteer Spotlight – this month we profile volunteer Robyn Hughes!
The War to End War” Marvin Pinkert on the anniversary of World War I.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




JMM Insights, July 2014: Where Culture Meets Science

Posted on July 18th, 2014 by

This week I have invited curator Karen Falk to share her recent research for the exhibit Jews, Health and Healing.  The exhibit is scheduled to open at JMM in the fall of 2015.  I think you will agree that Karen has uncovered some compelling insights.

~Marvin

karenOur upcoming exhibition about Jews and medicine has required a revolution in my consciousness, one that has brought me new awareness of the medical professions, the history of medicine, and the impact of medicine on Jewish identity.  So a request to share some insights gained while working on this exciting project was a welcome assignment.

Perhaps the most enduring lesson I learned—to my surprise, I admit— was just how absorbing it is to study the history of medicine! Other surprises, from each section of the exhibition, include:

 

Caliphs, princesses, popes and saints.

Many people have noted with a sense of irony that even while Jews were persecuted in medieval and renaissance Europe, rulers seeking medical advice often turned to Jewish physicians. Turns out there’s a lot of fact underpinning this conventional wisdom. Baltimore ophthalmologist Harry Friedenwald thoroughly documented this history in his collection of books and manuscripts produced by Jewish physicians from the fourteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Among them: a 14th century manuscript of works by Isaac Israeli (c. 850-950; yes, he is said to have lived 100 years!), who was court physician to the Fatimite Caliph Obaid Allah; several works by Maimonides, philosopher and physician to Saladin, first sultan of Egypt; a full set of the  700 case histories written up by  the 16th century physician Amatus Lusitanus, who treated Pope Julius III but spent his life outrunning the Inquisition; a letter from the physician Felipe Rodriguez (Elijah) de Luna Montalto to his patient, Queen Marie (de Medicis) of France (wife of King Louis XIII);  even a 1487 woodcut depicting a 4th century scene in which the Jewish physician Ephraim attends the ailing St. Basil. Friedenwald’s collection became the first-ever exhibition about Jews and medicine, shown at Johns Hopkins University in 1943.

The Jewish physician is shown in 15th century German clothing, including distinctive headwear.

The Jewish physician is shown in 15th century German clothing, including distinctive headwear.

“Never admit more than five Jews…”

The number of Jewish doctors in Europe in the early twentieth century was astounding. Almost half the physicians in Berlin were Jewish; in Vienna, it was about 60%, and in Warsaw it was 70%. As the children of immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe began to enter colleges in the first decades of the twentieth century, similarly high percentages were aiming for medical school. All across the country, university and medical school deans were alarmed, and began to put into place measures that limited Jewish enrollment. The University of Michigan, for example, used interviews to determine a candidate’s “personal acceptability and magnetism” (many Jews failed this test). Many schools determined Jewish heritage based on last names, and when that failed because of the growing practice of Americanizing one’s name, they asked for the applicant’s mother’s maiden name.  What is perhaps most surprising about this situation is the response of some Jews. Milton Charles Winternitz, the Jewish dean of Yale Medical School, was complicit. “Never admit more than five Jews, take only two Italian Catholics, and take no blacks at all,” Winternitz told his admissions officers. Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s Rabbi Morris Lazaron did a national study of medical school admissions practices in 1934, and concluded that Jews were admitted at a rate of about 20% of the student bodies. He felt he had documented discrimination, but advised accommodating the quotas. He never published his report, afraid it would make things worse. Leon Sachs, longtime head of the Baltimore Jewish Council, negotiated with both Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland medical schools in the 1940s and 50s over the numbers of Jewish students admitted each year. Documents in the JMM collection show that Hopkins claimed that 75% of its applications came from Jewish students. The university began with a 10% quota on Jewish admissions, and thanks to Sachs, raised it first to 14% and then to 17% in subsequent years. [Credit goes to Antero Pietila for making these documents public in his book Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City (2010, Ivan Dee, Inc.)]

2006.013.1224  Leon Sachs was executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council from 1941-1975.

2006.013.1224 Leon Sachs was executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council from 1941-1975.

“Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews.”

Jewish hospitals surprise people today, possibly because the maintenance of a hospital seems like a daunting project for a tiny minority community. They were founded by necessity. As places of danger and death throughout most of the nineteenth century, hospitals were the stamping grounds of missionaries hoping to save the souls of the sick and dying and Jewish patients were their prime targets. Baltimore’s Hebrew Hospital and Asylum (now Sinai Hospital and part of Lifebridge Health, a sponsor of our exhibition) was built in 1868, one of many founded in cities across the country to alleviate this pervasive problem. The practice of proselytizing in hospitals was global and persistent. Henrietta Szold and the women of Hadassah founded Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem in 1902 as a specific response to this issue.

1991203003

1991.203.003. An early view of the Hebrew Hospital and Asylum.

“They wanted to make ladies of us.”

The alumni of Sinai Hospital’s training program for nurses, which closed in 1975, have been valued supporters of the JMM, sharing memories and donating uniforms, caps, tools, photos, and documents from their years as students and on the job. We were completely agog, however, when they brought in an elaborate silver tea set, with matching candelabra.  How was this unexpected set of objects part of a nursing curriculum? “Tea” was held every Friday afternoon. “They wanted to make ladies of us,” Bobbie Horwitz told us. It appears that Jews—along with most Americans—had very different ideas about the ways in which men and women could be involved in medicine. Parents were sometimes hesitant to allow their daughters to go to nursing school. “My older sister broke them down. She was the first to become a nurse,” Myra Framm told us. Young women might face harassment in the workplace. Toby Mower recalled, “The doctors used to kid around with the new nurses that were rotating through the operating room: ‘Oh would you run to central supply and get me a fallopian tube?’ and we would run off to the central supply to get these fallopian tubes. They would have a laugh and we would wind up being embarrassed.”

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2010.020.027 Nurses enjoy Friday afternoon tea at Sinai hospital.

 

Garcia da Orta: Converso, physician, plant hunter.

Born in Portugal just a few years after the Jews were expelled from Spain, Garcia da Orta was a Converso physician in Lisbon and professor of medicine at the Lisbon University. As the Inquisition in Portugal became more repressive, he signed on as a ship’s doctor with the Portuguese navy and soon found himself in India, where he began a thriving medical practice, and learned about the curative properties of the sub-continent’s botanicals. His book, Conversations on the simples, drugs and medicinal substances of India (1563) introduced many new remedies to the European material medica. The Inquisition finally caught up with him and his family. Da Orta died in 1568, but his sister was burned as a heretic in 1569, and da Orta’s remains were exhumed and burned in 1580. Still, he is remembered as “the most illustrious representative of the Portuguese spirit in the natural sciences.”

 

Doctor, scientist, entrepreneur.

Dr. Morris Abramovitz came to Baltimore from Lithuania in 1901, had completed his medical studies at University of Maryland by 1906, and was a special student taking classes at Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1907. He opened a practice in East Baltimore, tending to a diverse immigrant neighborhood as well as sailors on leave in Baltimore’s harbor. Although a practitioner with a humble neighborhood practice, Abramovitz represented the scientific sprit of his time. Observing that many sailors among his patients suffered from syphilis, he was intrigued with the opportunities and problems of a new chemical treatment from Germany, known as Salvarsan. Unstable and difficult to prepare as a solution for injection, a more stable compound called Neo-salvarsan came out in 1912. Neo-salvarsan was less effective against the disease, however. Abramovitz developed and marketed an apparatus to administer both drugs at once, minimizing the problems of preparing Salvarsan while boosting the effectiveness of its replacement with some of the original. Side effects were unpleasant, and the treatment was replaced by penicillin in the 1940s.

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2001.026.062.006 Marketing postcard from Dr. Morris Abramovitz, showing the “Combined Method Apparatus,” c. 1915.

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