Performance Counts: JMM Board of Trustees FY2017

Posted on June 17th, 2016 by


At the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday evening, we reflected on this past year’s successes (and there were so many good things to celebrate), gave our members a taste of some of the exciting events taking place in the year ahead and conducted one of the most important items of business of the year, the election of trustees and officers to the JMM Board of Trustees for FY 17.

Each year, our nominating committee convenes several times to discuss board recruitment and we are most grateful to the members of this committee, under the leadership of JMM past president, Ira Papel, for the many hours they put into their thoughtful deliberations.

Ira Papel takes the stage. Photo by Jim Berger.

Ira Papel takes the stage. Photo by Jim Berger.

We are delighted to announce the results of Tuesday’s board election which included the re-election of all of our officers:

Duke Zimmerman – President

Robert Keehn – Vice President

Toby Gordon – Vice President

Saralynn Glass – Vice President

Bruce Hoffberger – Treasurer

Arnold Fruman – Secretary

Trustees elected to a three-year term include:

Sheldon Bearman

Dr. Neri Cohen

Roberta Greenstein

Nancy Kutler

Suzanne Levin-Lapides

Len Weinberg

We are especially thrilled to invite five new members to our board including Dr. Neri Cohen, Nancy Kutler, Suzanne Levin-Lapides and Presidential appointees, Claire Tesh and Jeffrey Katz. Lee Rosenberg returns to our board as a presidential appointee.

A selection of our wonderful trustees! Photo by Jim Berger.

A selection of our wonderful trustees! Photo by Jim Berger.

Our elected board members bring a diversity of skills and experience to the JMM including marketing, real estate development, program development, fundraising and community relations. They also help us extend our reach into important constituencies and geographic areas such as Howard County and young families living downtown. We enthusiastically welcome our new board members and look forward to working with them, as well as all our returning board members, in the year ahead.

Of course, the Annual Meeting also presents us with the opportunity to thank and extend our deepest appreciation to those whose terms are ending. This year Robert Keehn, speaking on behalf of the Board, paid tribute to departing members, each of whom has contributed so much to our institution.

Robert Keehn sings the praises of our departing trustees. Photo by Jim Berger.

Robert Keehn sings the praises of our departing trustees. Photo by Jim Berger.

Jennie Gates Beckman – Jennie served as a member of our board for three years and provided much valuable guidance as a member of our marketing committee. We were so sorry to say goodbye to Jennie and her family who have recently moved to Nebraska.

Beth Blauer – Beth chaired our marketing committee for several years and also played an important role advocating on behalf of the JMM with our state legislators in Annapolis.

Irene Russel – As a member of the JMM board for six years, Irene has provided valuable input on our collections committee. An avid mah jongg player, Irene was a terrific resource when we hosted the mah jongg exhibit.

Aimee Adashek – Thanks to her day job at the Baltimore Office of Promotions, Aimee has been a strong advocate on behalf of the JMM in Baltimore’s arts community. We are grateful to Aimee for her two years of service.

Jay Goldscher – As chair of the JMM’s Marketing Committee, Jay took a leading role in helping the JMM raise our visibility through a variety of new initiatives. Jay also served as a Museum ambassador helping spread the word about our exhibits and programs to fellow Howard County residents.

Patti Neumann – As a board member this past year, Patti, too, provided much needed support on our marketing committee, and helped us increase our social media presence.

Barbara Katz – It is truly not possible to acknowledge all of Barbara’s many contributions to the JMM these many years. A past board president, Barbara has filled just about every important role. We were so delighted when Barbara rejoined our board in an active capacity several years ago and we have greatly benefited from her renewed engagement and support. While we take comfort in knowing that her legacy lives on with the election of her son Jeffrey to our board, there is no replacing Barbara.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to our board members, past and present, who work tirelessly on our behalf for all their work developing policies, overseeing our finances, raising much needed funds, providing counsel and promoting JMM events, exhibitions and membership within our community.


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Small Improvements, Big Impact: Reshaping the JMM Visitor Experience

Posted on May 12th, 2016 by

Performance Counts May 2016

Many years ago I heard a joke: A very creative man, Moshe, was asked by his more run-of-the-mill friend, Joe, what Joe might do to help him be more like Moshe. Moshe replied, “sometimes, the smallest change makes a big difference in the way that you see the world. Try putting your pants on each morning with the other leg first. It will adjust your whole outlook on things.”

Joe thought Moshe might be crazy, but he tried it anyway. The next time he saw Moshe, he heartily thanked him, “I tried it, I put my pants on left leg first now, and since I started, I’ve been able to come up with creative solutions to problems that once seemed intractable.”

“That’s great!” said Moshe, “but what happened to your face?” referring to the large bruises on Joe’s cheeks and eyes.

“I fall on my face every morning, because I’m putting my pants on the wrong leg first.”


For whatever reason, and despite the punchline, that joke has really stayed with me. Mostly, I guess, because I believe it to be true: small changes, when they’re the right changes, can lead to big differences in individuals, organizations and cultures.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Since I started at the JMM about a year ago, we’ve begun collecting small changes:

*We started accepting credit cards at the front desk, so that our visitors don’t need to interrupt their entry experience to pay with card.

*We’ve moved more shop merchandise into the lobby, and have re-organized what’s in the shop, grouping items by theme, allowing us to make the shop experience also educational.

*Our front doors now feature handicap accessible paddles and power-assist opens.

*We brought in a company to power-wash the scaling from the portico that marks our entrance, and we re-landscaped the beds right out front.

*We’ve worked to stabilize the projector in our orientation space so that it no longer wobbles with the HVAC system’s operation.

*We retired the old Tzedakah box into our Institutional Archives, and had fabricated a new acrylic collection box that allows visitors to see others’ donation and encourages greater giving (the money collected this way has markedly increased!).

Our nifty new donations box.

Our nifty new donations box.

And we’re not done! In the coming weeks and months you can expect to see:

*A new phone system (it’s being installed this week) that will allow direct dial to all JMM staffers

*A new software package that will streamline the visitor entry transaction, and will allow us to better understand our visitors – who they are, where they come from, when they visit, etc.

*A facelift for our public bathrooms, including new lighting, sinks and mirrors

*A refresh of our lobby and orientation space, including fresh paint, new furniture and improved donor recognition panels

Taken together, as we move forward into fiscal year 2017 and beyond, these small changes are really starting to add up to positive developments at the JMM. I hope that you’ll agree, and will join me in celebrating the changes we’ve already made and share with me your ideas about how we can improve the visitor experience at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Tracie Guy-DeckerA blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.




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Performance Counts, July 2015: Education at the JMM – A Year in Review

Posted on July 10th, 2015 by

The beginning of summer marks the end of the school year- the time when the education department reviews its activities of the past year to see how our programs and resources have the impacted students, teachers and adult audiences.  We wanted to take the opportunity to share some of our accomplishments with you.

Number of Students:   We are pleased to report that we had a successful year serving close to 4600 area school students from Maryland public, independent, and parochial schools (including Jewish day and congregational schools).  Our breakdown of school attendance is as follows:

Public Schools

District Students Served Number of Schools
Baltimore City 1855 16
Baltimore County 134 4
Frederick County 76 1
Howard County 23 1
Montgomery County 42 1
Prince Georges County 42 1


Independent and Parochial Schools and Others**

District Students Served Number of Schools
Anne Arundel County 47 1
Baltimore City 855 19
Baltimore County 37 2
Carroll County 5 1
Frederick County 31 1
Harford County 250   1*
Montgomery County 15 1


*Outreach program at John Carroll High School where area high school students from more than a dozen schools participated in Lessons of the Shoah.


** We had visitors from Central High School –Philadelphia, PA  and Stockton University-  Galloway, NJ


Jewish Day and Congregational Schools 

District Students Served Number of Schools
Anne Arundel County 44 1
Baltimore City 124 4
Baltimore County 561 5
Harford County 14 1
Howard County 124 5
Montgomery County 67 3
Prince Georges County 28 1
Other*** 82 4


*** Visitors were from Washington DC, Forest Hills, NY, and Diller Teens from Ashkelon, Israel

Educational Programs and Activities

T he JMM education department continues to provide high quality educational resources that align with Common Core goals and objectives that enhance the social studies curriculum. Education programs include field trips and tours of our historic synagogues and changing exhibitions, and  outreach programs in the classroom such as our successful Immigrant’s Trunk living history program (students learn about immigration history through dramatic one-person plays based on the real lives of real life immigrants  who settled in Baltimore in the early 20th century). Other programs include enrichment activities such as art projects and creative writing workshops.  We also have History Kits and archival explorations on a number of topics available for school groups.

The Amazing Mendes Cohen Education Activities

Using puzzle pieces as the motivation and hook for students- the education department created two separate activities for both elementary/middle school and high school groups using puzzle pieces to engage students.  Our younger visitors were given blank puzzles and explored their own identity using the puzzle pieces from the exhibition describing different attributes of Mendes Cohen.  How was Mendes Cohen a family man?  How are you part of a family?  How was Mendes Cohen a patriotic American?  How are you a patriotic American? Where did Mendes Cohen travel?  Where have you travelled?  How was Mendes Cohen a civic advocate? What are some ways that you demonstrate being a civic advocate?  The students loved filling in their puzzle pieces and then putting the actual puzzles together and sharing with their friends and family.

The older students were also given an activity that involved looking at the puzzle pieces describing the attributes for Mendes Cohen.  They were challenged to find the supporting evidence in the text panels of the exhibit to help them understand the many facets of Mendes Cohen.  In addition to these activities, all of the students enjoyed the interactive activities in the exhibit- especially the powder magazine and the world map stringing activity.

Students loved racing against the clock to ensure that the powder magazine did not explode and learning about the names of countries and cities throughout Europe and the Middle East where Cohen travelled. Another exhibit highlight for students was the section of the exhibit where they learned about the story of Cohen creating a flag for his trip down the Nile, viewing the actual flag he created and then making their own flag to hoist up the mast. In addition, to these activities done in conjunction with the exhibit, the education staff put together  a curriculum for teachers that includes lesson plans for elementary , middle and high school audiences.

Living History Performances:

Both school and adult groups scheduled living history performances both on-site at the Museum and at offsite venues throughout the year.  These living history performances, portrayed by professional actors, tell the story of actual Jewish immigrants to Baltimore.  Below is a breakdown of performances this year.

Living History Character Number of Performances Audience
Ida Rehr 18 790
Bessie Bluefeld 5 322
Mendes Cohen 16 836
Saul Bernstein 1 26


Professional Development for Teachers and Museum Professionals

Professional development for teachers continues to be an important component of our educational program. We served more teachers this past year than in FY 14 (503 in FY 15 as compared to 439 in FY 14) with workshops devoted to topics including immigration and American history, world religions, Holocaust, and working with primary sources. Our annual Summer Teachers Institute remains a popular professional development opportunity for teachers. Below is the breakdown of districts and those served.


District Number of Workshops Audience
Baltimore City 3 90
Baltimore County 1 40
Harford County 4 157
Prince Georges County 2 170
Montgomery County 1 45


In addition to these workshops, the JMM education staff attended and facilitated two workshops at the AASLH – American Association of State Local History Museums in St. Paul, MN and also the MSCSS – Middle States Council for Social Studies in Gettysburg, PA.

Kudos to our Volunteer Docents and Museum Educators:

The education department has been privileged to work with committed volunteer docents and museum educators throughout the year in an effort to facilitate our education programs.  Kudos and thank you to  volunteer docents  Barbara Cohen, Harvey Karch, and Lois Fekete in working specifically with our school age audiences.  Special thanks to the amazing museum educators who have also helped promote our education programs. … Virginia Steiner, Jessie Gordon, Arielle Kaden, Emma Glaser, Sean Schumacher, Carolyn Bevans, Kelly Suredam, Abby Krolik and Graham Humphrey.

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