Museum Matters, June 2015

Posted on June 5th, 2015 by

Procrastinators beware!

The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit has just one more week on this planet.  If you’ve been reading about this project for the last year and saying to yourself, “I’d really like to see that” – act now.

Before Mendes Cohen’s flag goes back into our vaults we have one more chance to celebrate its miraculous survival on Flag Day (June 14).  Join us in one last hurrah for this American patriot.

Speaking of hurrahs – why not make us a part of your Father’s Day festivities on June 21.  I’ll be leading a special tour at the National Archives at 2pm.  We’re going to visit the exhibit “Spirited Republic” about the government and alcohol (which features a still that belonged to the “father of our country”).  We’ll also take a close look at America’s only copy of Magna Carta which marks its 800th birthday next week –  and won’t that make all the fathers feel young by comparison!  In both instances I hope to add something about Jewish connections that you won’t find in the National Archives’ text labels.  We’re asking those interested to make reservations with Trillion – this program is free and we will be sure to get you out in time for our second option:  A presentation on Jewish distillers and a whiskey tasting back at the JMM (this program will be $10).  So you can make it a double header or a single malt day – the choice is up to you.  But please bring your dad (or your son) and share some holiday cheer with us.



Upcoming programs

All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact Trillion Attwood at / 410-732-6400 x215 with any questions or for more information.


Annual Meeting

Sunday, June 7, 1 p.m.

Samuel Boltansky Memorial Keynote Speaker: Senator Ben Cardin



The JMM is very excited to welcome Senator Cardin as our keynote speaker for our 2015 Annual Meeting. Senator Cardin has enjoyed a long career in American politics. He was the youngest elected speaker in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1979 – 1986 and today serves as one of Maryland’s representatives to the United States Senate.  Senator Cardin will draw upon his personal experiences to discuss what it means to be a Jewish politician today, the significance of his strong Jewish roots and how they have impacted his political career.

The program begins at 1:00pm with a presentation of the FY 15 slate of nominees to the JMM’s Board of Trustees for election by the Museum’s membership. The lecture will follow.

Refreshments will be served following the program. 


Finding Your Unknown Ancestors – and the Living Relatives of Mendes Cohen

Wednesday, June 10th, 6:30 p.m.



Interested in learning more about your family history? Join us as we welcome Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland (JGSM) to the JMM for this exciting program. Learn how to succeed in this fascinating process, where to start, helpful resources and some tricks form the experts! JGSM will demonstrate the process of tracing your family using a very familiar character as inspiration – Mendes Cohen.

Following the presentation JGSM will help several individuals commence their search.


Flag Day

Sunday, June 14

Included with Museum Admission


Help us bid a fond farewell to The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen. We honor one of the first “defenders” of the star-spangled banner, with activities and programs for every age and taste.  Work as a family team to test your knowledge on our state flags, design your own flag and make your own star spangled banner to fly this Flag Day. At 1:00 p.m., Michelle Pagan and Joanna Church will be talking about on the conservation of the flag Mendes Cohen carried on his voyage up the Nile.


Thirteen Paper Stars: What it Takes to Display a Two Hundred Year Old Flag

Sunday, June 14th at 1:00 p.m.

Speakers: Michelle Pagan, conservator and Joanna Church, JMM Collections Manager

Included with Museum Admission


The American flag currently on display at the JMM is unique in several ways: made of Egyptian cotton, at a time when American flags were always made of wool, 13 paper stars, and only 11 stripes, but why?

Explore the story of how this mysterious flag came into the collection of the JMM, and what techniques have been used to exhibit it safely at the Museum. You will have a chance to pose questions to the Collections Manager, and to the Textile Conservator who made this flag to make it available for viewing today.

Michele Pagan is a Conservator in Private Practice, and a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation.  She has been conserving textiles since 1984, with clients such as the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the National Museum of American History, the Valentine Museum in Richmond VA, and the State of Vermont, where she conserved the Civil War Flag collection. She practices conservation in Washington DC and Brookfield Vermont.


Schnapps with Pops

Sunday, June 21st

2:00 p.m. National Archives Tour, 700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC – FREE

6:00 p.m. Schnapps with Pops at the JMM – $10


Join us to celebrate Father’s Day with a two-part exploration of the history of alcohol in America. First, visit the National Archives’ latest exhibit Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History with JMM executive Director Marvin Pinkert. Marvin has been prowling around his former haunts to look for Jewish angles on this national story.  As a bonus he will also be taking you by the only Magna Carta in America as that charter marks its 800th anniversary.  Find out why King Edward removed the clause relating to Jews from this version of Magna Carta – and much more.

Then come back to the JMM for a whiskey tasting and talk, “The Forgotten Jewish Heritage of American Whiskey.”
RSVPs required for the visit to the National Archives and preferred for the evening at the JMM. Transportation is not included. It is not necessary to attend both programs.

To rsvp please contact Trillion Attwood: call 410-732-6400 or email


Schnapps with Pops: The Forgotten Jewish Heritage of American Whiskey

Sunday, June 21st from 6 p.m., lecture at 6:30 p.m.

Speaker: Ried Mitenbuler, author of Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey

Admission $10, includes whiskey tasting


The frontier iconography of countless American whiskey brands, particularly bourbon labels, captures many popular myths about the rise of this nation. Of course, the reality behind these labels is more complicated, and more interesting. Many were started by Jewish entrepreneurs who formed a prominent part of this quintessentially American industry well after the frontier was settled. Their involvement–and occasional efforts to downplay that role for political and economic reasons–is a story that illuminates the American experience as much as any of the marketing myths.

Taste your way through this history, samples of a number of the whiskeys explored are included in the program admission.

Reid Mitenbuler is the author of Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey (Viking). His writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, Salon, and Whisky Advocate, among other publications.



Cinema Judaica: Members opening reception

Thursday, July 2, 6:00 p.m.

Free for Museum members


We invite Museum members to join us for the opening reception of Cinema Judaica. Take the opportunity to explore the exhibit in the company of Ken Sutak, author of Cinema Judaica: The War Years, 1939-1949 prior to his presentation The Great Debate, 1939—1941: How Harry Warner, Ernst Toller, and Alvin York Helped Win “The Great Debate” for American Interventionists.

Cocktails and light kosher refreshments will be served.


The Great Debate, 1939—1941: How Harry Warner, Ernst Toller, and Alvin York Helped Win “The Great Debate” for American Interventionists

Thursday, July 2nd, 7:00 p.m.

Speaker: Ken Sutak, author and curator

Included with Museum Admission

Ken Sutak with book

Ken Sutak, author of Cinema Judaica: The War Years, will explore how three unexpected men influenced the outcome World War II. Harry Warner, president of Warner Bros, Ernst Toller émigré Prussian-Jewish playwright and Alvin York, the immortal Sergeant York of WW I fame, who later became the most important interventionist spokesperson during “The Great Debate.” These three men were in the forefront of those who managed to change popular American opinion regarding World War II and help prepare the country for war.


Flickering Treasures

Sunday, July 12, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker: Amy Davis

Included with Museum Admission


Forest 11/6/11 - 10-10:30 am f/11

Celebrate the golden age of movie-going with Baltimore photographer and author Amy Davis as she presents photographs from her upcoming book, Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters. Her talk will explore the integral role of Jews in Baltimore cinema, as theater owners, operators and moviegoers. The collection of vintage and new photographs in Flickering Treasures tells a fresh story of Baltimore through the cultural prism of film exhibition. Participants will be invited to travel back in time to share reminiscences of their own favorite movie houses.

Photojournalist Amy Davis has garnered many national awards since joining the staff of The Baltimore Sun in 1987. Her fine art training from The Cooper Union informs her documentary approach. Her photographic work has been exhibited at The Brooklyn Museum, and is in the collection of the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York.

Creative Alliance, a lively non-profit arts organization based in the Patterson Theatre in Highlandtown, is the fiscal sponsor for Flickering Treasures.

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  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit or check out BIYA on facebook. 

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland May Meeting

Sunday, June 28, 1:30pm, the Pikesville Library’s meeting room

Letters from a Judean

Speaker: David Brill

 The program is free for paid members and $5 for non-members. Refreshments will be available. Go to for more information.


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 offer tours focused on the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Sunday through Thursday at 3:00pm and on Sunday at 4:00pm.  Our new Lloyd Street “1845: Technology and the Temple” tour is available every Sunday and Monday at 3:00 until The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen closes in June 2015.

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


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! For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or




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JMM Insights: New Kids on the Block

Posted on May 15th, 2015 by

JMM has always prided itself on its small, dedicated team of outstanding professionals.  It’s amazing what a dozen people can do, when you have great talent supported by strong volunteers and lay leadership.

This month has brought two new members to the team to existing/future vacancies.  I thought that we’d use this issue of JMM Insights to introduce Tracie Guy-Decker, our new Associate Director for Projects, Planning and Finance, and Graham Humphrey who will replace Abby Krolik as Visitor Services Manager.  I am really excited to have Tracie and Graham on board and I know you will join me in welcoming them into our family.  I have asked them both to tell a bit of their own stories.


From Tracie

My great great grandmother, Dora Bachrach Fink, was a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation when it was in the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Now that I am Associate Director at JMM, every day, I sit at a computer that is but yards from the place my ancestors worshipped more than a century ago. Working for JMM is also a homecoming for me professionally—a return to working with and for the Jewish community. (I served as the Marketing Director for the Jewish Federation and the JCC in Virginia Beach until my husband, a Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy, received orders that moved us to Maryland.)

Tracie and Dave NAVY

Tracie and her husband Dave.

This is an exciting time for JMM, and I’m honored and humbled to be able to be a part of it. My colleagues are smart, funny, capable professionals, and under Marvin’s leadership the Museum is on a trajectory to become a center for Jewish and secular history and culture in Baltimore—not tomorrow, but soon. I’m excited to lend my skills, expertise, and experience to that trajectory (and to learn new skills along the way!). I’m also excited to be able to share this amazing resource with my daughter, Ruth (3 years old). The Museum family will watch Ruth and the Museum grow together over the next several years.

Ruth enjoying the rocket seats at Patterson Park

Ruth enjoying the rocket seats at Patterson Park

I’m also heartened by the welcome I’ve received from all of the friends of the Museum thus far—professionals, lay leaders, volunteers, members, and visitors have all been amazingly friendly and helpful as I learn my way around (literally and figuratively). I’d love the opportunity to reciprocate that welcome: if you’re in the Museum, please stop by. You can tell me your story of the Museum or the Lloyd Street Synagogue, we could play “Jewish Geography,” or just say ‘hi,’ I’m here Monday through Thursday, and will never turn down a cup of coffee.

From Graham

Hello! My name is Graham Humphrey and I was recently hired to be the new Visitor Services Coordinator to replace Abby Krolik after she leaves the Museum at the end of the month to continue her studies. I received my MA in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and my BA from Brandeis University in Art History. For the past seven years, I have been working at museums, aboard sailboats and at National Park sites in visitor services, education, development and collections management. I have gotten to lead experiential education programs while dressed up in period costume at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, teach basic seamanship to students aboard the schooner the Lady Maryland and work with goats at the Carl Sandburg Home in North Carolina. In my free time, I enjoy visiting other museums and historic sites, exploring the great outdoors, attending cultural events and staying involved within the Jewish community.



I am excited about continuing to make the Jewish Museum a welcoming environment and to ensure that visitors have a rewarding experience. I also hope to encourage public discourse about contemporary issues, explore how we can engage new audiences as well as serve as agents for social change in our community.

Marvin’s note:  We don’t plan I having Graham work with goats… but a “Jewish pirates sail”, well who knows what is possible.

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Performance Counts, May 2015

Posted on May 8th, 2015 by

So how are our volunteers doing?

Just in case anyone reading this newsletter is unfamiliar with the role of volunteers at JMM we offer this helpful guide:

Volunteers are a treasured JMM resource.  Our volunteers play an important role in helping the Museum fulfill its mission.  They provide many valuable services that supplement the basic essential functions of the staff.  We utilize volunteers in two distinct areas – the front of the museum and the back of the museum.  The volunteers in the front of the museum have direct contact with our visitors. The remaining volunteers work in the back of the museum and can generally be found in the library.  Complete training is offered for all of our volunteer positions.

At the front desk

At the front desk

Front Desk Reception

The front desk reception volunteers provide an invaluable service to the Museum by maintaining a warm and welcome atmosphere for Museum guests.  They serve as the Museum’s customer service representatives while orienting visitors to the Museum complex.  By informing visitors about tour times, current and upcoming exhibitions, and programs, they provide information about all services that the Museum offers.  Other tasks include processing admission fees for groups and individuals, answering the telephone, and maintaining an accurate daily count of visitors.

Museum Docents

Museum docents possess an interest in history and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others.  They perform an essential duty by leading tours and by interpreting the history of the Museum’s two historic synagogues and exhibitions for adults, families, and school groups of all ages.  A series of training sessions is offered to those interested in joining our docent corps and focuses on the history of Baltimore’s Jewish community.

Museum Gift Shop

The Museum’s gift shop, filled with beautiful Judaica, Museum catalogs, and exhibition related merchandise, is a destination for Museum visitors.  Gift shop volunteers assist guests with purchases, process cash and credit card payments, arrange merchandise on shelves and in windows, and assist the shop manager with ordering merchandise and conducting store inventory.

Special Events

Throughout the year, the Museum holds many programs and special events.  Programs include exhibition openings, family holiday programs, lectures, film series, and theatrical and musical performances.  Special event volunteers provide much needed assistance with these events by greeting visitors, processing admission fees, maintaining an accurate count of visitors, helping with refreshments, selling memberships, and facilitating art projects. 

Working in the archives department

Working in the archives department


The Library and Archives of the JMM offers a variety of volunteer opportunities.  Projects include organizing archival collections, preparing collections for proper storage, creating documents to assist researchers, and digital imaging.  Archives projects are conducive to long term or temporary volunteering.  Typing and computer skills are preferred, but not always required.  All new volunteers will be given an orientation to the care and handling of archival objects.


Volunteers in the collections department will work on a variety of projects.  These include writing catalog records for objects, taking digital photographs of objects (camera provided, or you can use your own),  organizing collection records, sorting incoming artifacts, helping to store and pack artifacts, and preparing objects in the collection for exhibition.  Temporary assignments are available.  Experience in the handling of fragile items is desired, but not required.


Volunteers use their expertise to assist researchers in The Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center.  They offer support with the interpretation of the many resources available for pursuing family history and genealogical research. This includes providing lookups, searching out tombstones, and much more.  Experience in genealogical research is required.

The Bottom Line

All told our volunteers contribute over 7,000 hours annually.  This number also includes members of our Board of Directors and our Summer Interns. The Independent Sector values an hour of volunteer time in the state of Maryland at $26.41.  That calculates to a contribution of almost $185,000.00 to the JMM in the last year.  We welcome new volunteers to the JMM year round and appreciate our volunteers dearly. Please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Ilene Cohen at 410-732-6400 x217.

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