Posted on March 13th, 2015 by Rachel
Have you been keeping up with the Museum’s blog? If not, hopefully this month’s Performance Counts will convince you it’s a must read. I’ve asked Rachel Kassman, the Museum’s marketing manager and self-appointed “social media maven” to share with you what makes our blog special and to give you some behind the scenes data.
A (Very) Little History
The JMM blog was born in the summer of 2008 as a way to follow along with the restoration of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. However it didn’t take us long to realize the blog could be so much more – a way to share all kinds of stories about the Museum, its projects, and its people. It’s also been a great way to make information easily accessible for a wide audience- for instance, did you know that each issue of Museum Matters, Performance Counts and JMM Insights is posted on the blog?
Since its birth in 2008 we’ve posted 1,300 blog posts, which averages to a post every other day. Our longest running regular feature is the weekly “Once Upon a Time” series, which illustrates our partnership with the Baltimore Jewish Times in an effort to identify people in photographs that are part of our collection (there are 282 posts in this series – and we’re about 8 months behind the in-print version). Another regular feature is the monthly “Volunteer Spotlight” series, written by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen and usually posted on the first Monday of each month – we’re up to 15 so far and hope to eventually highlight all of our wonderful volunteers in this manner. A newer feature is the post-programs wrap up – while the posting dates for this feature are irregular we try to get them up within a few days of a public program, to give readers a feel for what they missed if they couldn’t make the program. We’ve even started recording select programs for later listening! (You can check out our very first program recording here.) These posts are also shared on the Museum’s social media platforms and selected posts are highlighted on the homepage of the JMM website to increase the potential audience.
Who’s Writing This Stuff?
Our prime blog contributors are museum staff – every month I send out a call, asking folks to sign up for an open date. Opening up blog authorship to the entire staff keeps the blog’s “voice” diverse and helps make sure we highlight and share stories and information from all areas of the Museum. I’m incredibly proud of the interesting, well-thought out content my colleagues provide every month. We also ask our interns and volunteers to join us in our blogging efforts, providing another set of perspectives on what goes on here at the JMM. Summer is an especially active time for our blog because we host anywhere from five to a dozen interns for ten full weeks, which provides plenty of opportunities for blog fodder (including intern field trips, workshops, and project updates).
Navigating The Blog
Let’s talk about tags – those are the lists of words at the bottom of every blog post:
Tags are a way to organize the content on a blog. In our case we use the tags to help identify the author and some of the main subjects included in the post. For instance, let’s say you were reading a really great post, like “Mazel Cufflinks” by Collections Manager Joanna Church. If you get to the end of the post and think, hey, this Joanna character is a really fun writer, I wonder what else she’s done…all you have to do is click on her name in the tags and you’ll find all the posts she’s written for the blog! Or maybe you caught Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon’s latest post “A Little Kindness…” which documents a surprise visit by 84 high school students and you wanted to know more about all the exciting things the education staff gets up to. Just click on “education” in the tags and you’ll get a plethora of related posts. If you’ve got a hankering for intriguing history, you should definitely explore Marvin’s tag – start with his recent President’s Day post and work your way back!
Highlights and Favorites
To round out this month’s Performance Counts I informally polled the staff for their favorite posts from the blog – and got some interesting results!
Both Assistant Director Deborah Cardin and Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon cited the Volunteer Spotlight series as their favorite feature. Deborah loves “learning interesting tidbits about our volunteers. They are an impressive bunch!” and Ilene thinks its great to see another side of them.
Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik picked “Buried Alive: Eighteenth Century Terror and a “Superstar” Jewish Doctor”, a particularly ghoulish post from Curator Karen Falk, inspired by her research for our upcoming Jews and Medicine exhibit. Programs Associate Carolyn Bevans’ pick also took a slightly macabre turn with “An Engagement Ring of a Different Color,” Collections Manager Joanna Church’s Halloween-inspired collection blog.
Joanna herself went a very different direction with her favorite. She says “Before my interview I read Deborah’s awesome post about Flat Mendes on her family vacation, and I thought, Yes, I can work there.”
Curator Karen Falk, funnily enough, found her favorite blog post through a different website entirely: Wikipedia! That’s right, in the course of doing research on Read’s Pharmacy she found a reference to Dr. Deb Weiner’s post “Read’s Drug Store: The Jewish Connection” on the Read’s Wikipedia page and followed it right back to our blog.
When I asked Marvin for his “best picks” he went above and beyond with a full Oscar-style slate! Here are his award-winning posts (from the last 6 months!):
Best comedy: Yet More Responses from the Mendes Questions Box by Abby Krolik
Best history story: Buried Alive: Eighteenth Century Terror and a “Superstar” Jewish Doctor by Karen Falk
Best event report: Sephardic lecture by Carolyn Bevans
Best photo documentary: The Making of an Exhibit: Mendes Arrives by Deborah Cardin
Best reason to visit our website: Appreciate a Dragon Day by Rachel Kassman
Best travelogue: A European Adventure by Abby Krolik
Best biography: Volunteer Spotlight on Marty Buckman by Ilene Cohen
Best blog by an intern: Maimonides by Barbara Israelson
Best Blog of FY ’15 (so far): It’s a tie between National Umbrella Day and National Handwriting Day, both by Joanna Church
My favorites? How can I pick – as the blog maven I feel like all the posts are special to me in their own way and I wouldn’t want to play favorites among my lovely contributors. But I will tell you my favorite post that I’ve ever written – “Appreciate a Dragon Day!” I had so much fun putting that post together that I still smile every time I look at it. I hope you’ll click on some of the links I’ve shared here and spend a little time exploring the wild and wonderful world of the JMM blog!
~Rachel Kassman, Development and Marketing Manager (aka Social Media Maven)
Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Rachel
This month’s JMM Insights is brought you by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon and focuses on some exciting upcoming displays and events here at the Museum.
Spring is just around the corner- and soon more people will be “out and about” to see what is going on in their neighborhoods after a very cold winter. This spring, the JMM should be one of your first stops to see just what is happening around town when we exhibit some community arts projects done by students and young adults around town. The JMM is an institution that fosters discovery, community dialogue, discourse and creativity, and our Museum provides a perfect setting to display local community artwork.
The Girl’s Photography Project
In late February, The Girl’s Diversity Photography Project will be on display at the JMM with a reception taking place on Sunday, March 1st from 2-4:00 p.m. The exhibit features 33 photos that capture intimate interactions and daily snapshots between 15 African American and Orthodox Jewish girls from Northwest Baltimore. The exhibition was sponsored by CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc., in partnership with Wide Angle Media., The project is part of CHAI’s (Comprehesive Housing Assistance) – Community Conversation Series and the project was designed to destroy stereotypes and foster respect between the two diverse groups. The girls participated in a series of workshops, including photography lessons, that enabled them to learn about each other’s perspectives and life experiences.
Following the Girl’s Diversity Photography Project, eighth grade students from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School will exhibit their works in connection with an exciting education initiative, My Family Story. This initiative in partnership with The International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies (ISJPS) at Beit Hatfutsot – The Diaspora Museum located in Tel Aviv is intended to be a meaningful, experiential, and multigenerational Jewish heritage program that has been generating excitement and interest in Jewish family legacies over the past 20 years.
Beit Hatfutsot designed My Family Story to counteract the trend of Jewish indifference impacting the younger generation. This international program was launched as means of encouraging students to research and present their family stories and explore their collective Jewish history. Students make significant discoveries about who they are and where their families have come from as they learn about historical events that have affected their families and discover how they are connected to a larger community. Students and their families explore their family roots in depth going beyond the development of the typical family tree. It connects the younger generation to personal stories, family stories and the story of the Jewish people. The exploration culminates in an artistic installation created by the student to represent their own family’s personal history.
As part of the installation, each students write artist statements about their creative works based on their independent exploration. Through their participation in the program, students are empowered to creatively “tie together” their new found discoveries using art as the medium of expression.
Support from the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for Jewish Education has allowed the JMM to bring My Family Story to the Baltimore Jewish community. In 2014 more than 12,000 students from Israel, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Canada and the United States participated in the program. Participation in the program is only available through educational institutions and community centers. Beginning this spring, Baltimore Jewish families will be represented for the first time.
With the help of Beth Tfiloh’s creative teachers, Mrs. Liz Shrier, Mrs. Shelly Spector along with the incredibly talented Arts department, students have been working hard throughout the school year. On the evening of Thursday, March 12, 2015, the students will celebrate their work and the My Family Story exhibition at a private reception. The works will be on display through Monday, March 16th. Following the evening, two displays will be chosen to represent the school and those projects will be sent to Beit Hatfutsot according to their guidelines. In mid-May, Beit Hatfutsot will notify the international winners and those students will be flown to Israel to participate in the official My Family Story ceremony and official events that take place later in June.
Creating Braille Art
After celebrating the students at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, the JMM will exhibit Learning Your Letters: Braille Art. This exhibition, presented by the JMM and the Braille Art Gallery, features braille drawings of artists of all ages and all abilities, to promote braille literacy. The exhibit will be open to the public in the lobby of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, from April 15, 2015, through May 3, 2015. A reception will be held on Sunday, May 3, 2015 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
Be sure to make your way to the JMM this spring to see what’s happening in our community and to celebrate the creativity of our youth. If you have any questions, about any of these exciting programs, please contact the JMM’s Education Director, Ilene Dackman-Alon, firstname.lastname@example.org or 410.732.6400 x214.
Posted on December 19th, 2014 by Rachel
Our “Dear Abby” feature gives us a chance to answer commonly asked questions about how to get the most satisfaction out of your JMM visit. These questions are often asked of our Visitor Services Manager, Abby Krolik, thus, the name! (Any resemblance to a syndicated feature with a similar name is purely coincidental.)
1) Dear Abby,
Time flies so fast, and I’ve just realized that winter break is right around the corner! I love my kids, but the thought of having all three of them home at once, with nothing to do, for a week and a half, fills me with dread. What can I do with them to keep them from each other’s throats and to keep me from tearing my hair out? Oy vey! There’s only so many times in a row that I can watch Frozen before “Let It Go” becomes permanently stuck in my head.
Please, please, please tell me that the JMM is open during the holidays!
Avoiding Cabin Fever
Dear Cabin Fever,
We will be open for much of the holiday season, but with a few exceptions to allow our staff to enjoy some time with their families. We will be open at our regular hours except for New Year’s Day, when we will be closed completely, and we will have early closings December 24th (closing at 3pm), December 25th (closing at 4pm), and December 31st (closing at 3pm).
As always, there is something to do here at the JMM for all ages! Kids and the young at heart have delighted in the maze in The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit (while the adults at heart enjoy the content), and the Voices of Lombard Street and The Synagogue Speaks exhibits have several hands-on portions. In addition to our interactive exhibits, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on our programs calendar, which you can find on our website, on Facebook, and on many local online calendars (such as The Baltimore Sun and The Jewish Times). We strive to have programming for all ages, from lectures for adults, to the rocking Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights concert we had for kids just a couple of weeks ago!
We’ve got you covered this winter break (and every school break) when it comes to entertaining your family!
2) Dear Abby,
I’m the kind of man who thrives on staying busy—especially if it’s a task that will bring a smile to a kid’s face. I’m a real sucker for a kid’s big, toothy grin. Right now, I’ve got a great job in a factory up north that’s going through its annual crunch time this season. I love it! The only problem is that our only day off from work is Dec. 25, when everything is closed. And I know what you’re going to say—why don’t you go see a movie and have some Chinese food? Those are always open on Christmas Day. But like I said, I enjoy being busy, and watching a movie or devouring chicken lo mein doesn’t count as busy in my book.
I happen to be pretty close to my boss, so I was telling him about my problem, and he told me that he and the missus often come to your museum on Dec. 25 because you’re one of the few places open, and that you guys always have a great program. It sounds like a good idea to me, but I thought I’d check in and see what exactly you guys are doing that day.
Your Friend from the Great North
Dear Great North,
It’s always nice to hear that someone had such a good time at our museum that they recommended us to a friend. Please tell your boss that we would really appreciate it if he and his wife could leave us a review on our TripAdvisor page. You should do write one too, once you’ve come to visit us!
We do have a fantastic program planned for December 25th, a.k.a “Mitzvah Day.” We are collaborating with Jewish Volunteer Connection to participate in the city-wide Mitzvah Day program. From 10:00am to 1:00pm, we will be decorating puzzles and putting together fun gift packages for children who have to stay in Sinai Hospital over the holidays. Sounds like a perfect fit for you!
If you’re wondering why puzzles, it’s because of our current special exhibition, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen. Mendes Cohen spent much of his life trying to piece together his complex identity, much like putting together a puzzle. And who doesn’t love puzzles, anyway?
Then, at 1:00pm, our renowned local historian, Gil Sandler, will further explore the topic of identity building in his talk, Becoming American in Jewish Baltimore. He will share the story of how many early Jewish Baltimoreans got their start.
It should be a great day, and we would love for you to join us!
See you on the 25th!
3) Dear Abby,
I’m from out of town, but my son lives in Baltimore, and I’ll be visiting him during Chanukah. Since you work at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, you must know everything there is to know about Jewish Baltimore! The first and most important thing I must know is …where is the best place to go for Chanukah shopping? I still have several people left on my holiday gift list—which brings me to my next question. My husband is a dreidel enthusiast. He collects dreidels of all kinds. I’d like to buy one for him to add to his collection, but every time I see some in the stores, I realize he has at least one of each kind there. I need to find him a unique dreidel. Is there some kind of dreidel emporium in Baltimore?
The next important thing I need to know is…which is the best deli in Baltimore? Is it Attman’s, Lenny’s, or Weiss’s?
Dear Mrs. Dreideleh,
I see you have your priorities straight! I’m more than happy to answer your questions—and the first one in particular. It just so happens that the best place in Baltimore to go to for all of your Chanukah shopping needs is…the JMM! We are currently having a Chanukah Madness sale, which means that everything in the shop that is Chanukah related is 25% off until the end of December.
Joseph’s Coat Menorah
Do you need a menorah in the shape of a trolley car? We’ve got it! Do you need Chanukah candles? We’ve got it! Do you need more gelt than you can possibly eat in a life time? We’ve got it! We also, of course, have our usual array of Jewish books, art, games, and jewelry that are perfect for that special someone on your holiday gift list.
Safed Candles from Israel
Which brings me to your second question: do we have a supply of not-your-everyday dreidels? Of course we do! We have metallic dreidels, wooden dreidels, and we have plastic dreidels that you can fill with candy. We also have a whole case full of decorative dreidels that come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. I couldn’t possibly describe them all, so you’ll just have to come down here yourself to take a look.
And while you’re down here, you can sample the three delis of Corned Beef Row and decide for yourself which one is best.
4) Dear Abby,
I hate winter. I hate the snow and the slush and the cold winds. I especially hate driving in this weather—people are just crazy when the weather turns bad! The whole season makes me wish I were a bear with lots of fur and nice warm cave to hibernate in. But if I can’t sleep the season away, I might as well keep myself entertained, and I do enjoy the exhibits and programs that you have at the JMM.
However, the last thing I want to do is battle the elements and idiotic drivers to get to the museum only to discover that it has closed because of the weather. How do I find out ahead of time whether the museum has decided to close or open late (or close early)?
Waiting for Spring
Dear Waiting for Spring,
I’m glad you asked that question because it’s a very important one. There are times when the weather outside is frightful and we do have to close the museum. The first place you can always check for this kind of information is our website: www.jewishmuseummd.org . If we have plans to close the building, it will be posted on the middle of the front page. We try to make sure we’ve posted our decision by 9am so that you can make plans accordingly. If it’s a weekday, our policy for the first day of any weather event is to go along with whatever the Baltimore City Schools are doing. After the first day, however, we make the decision ourselves based on the conditions of the roads and on the ability of the folks who clear the sidewalk and secure the building to make it to Lloyd Street.
We’re a hardy group, so we try not to close unless it is really necessary!