Journey with JMM

Posted on October 20th, 2017 by

JMM Insights: October 2017 

A blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Students explore Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

Students explore Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

JMM exhibits and programs often transport our visitors to another time and place, whether to mid 19th century Palestine in The Amazing Mendes Cohen, pre-Holocaust Poland in Remembering Auschwitz, or one of our recent lectures in conjunction with Just Married! “Sephardic Weddings: Traditions of Yesterday and Today.” We are pleased to carry on this tradition with our newest exhibition, Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage which opened this past Sunday to a crowd of 100+ visitors, including a special student group from Oheb Shalom.

Created by the National Archives and Records Administration, with generous support from the U.S. Department of State, the exhibit documents the long and rich history of Jewish life in Iraq which flourished for hundreds of year, beginning with the Babylonian exile through the middle of the 20th century. Evidence of this long history is on view in the exhibit through such artifacts as a Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793, and a Haggadah from 1902. Records including school primers and business correspondence testify to the community’s strong presence up until the mid-20th century when Jews faced increasing antisemitism in connection with the rise of the Nazis in Europe. In the aftermath of World War II and the creation of the State of Israel, most of the Jewish community emigrated and today, only five Jews remain.

A case of books preserved by the National Archives.

A case of books preserved by the National Archives.

While the artifacts on display tell a fascinating narrative of a once storied community, the story of how the exhibit came into being is equally remarkable. During the Gulf War in 2003, American troops entered a bombed building that had housed Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services. They found, in the basement under four feet of water, thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq that had been gathered by the secret police. Thanks to the efforts of the National Archives, a team of conservation experts flew out to Iraq to assess the damage and to make recommendations for how best to preserve the material.

What a great audience for our opening day speaker!

What a great audience for our opening day speaker!

We were pleased to welcome Doris Hamburg, former Director of Preservation Programs at the National Archives as our opening speaker on Sunday. Ms. Hamburg spoke about the challenging conditions she and her colleagues faced as they tried to save these documents while operating in the midst of a war zone. Despite the many obstacles they encountered, they were able to ship more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents to the US where conservation and preservation efforts continued as well as the creation of a traveling exhibit. JMM is proud to be the 6th stop on its national tour.

Discovery and Recovery remains on view through January 18, 2018. We invite you to take advantage of the many companion programs that will take place the next few months to learn more about the rich history of Iraq’s Jewish community through food, dance, art, film and personal testimony of former Iraqi residents.

 

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Inescapable: America’s first international superstar makes a return visit to Baltimore!

Posted on September 25th, 2017 by

A blog post by JMM Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. You can read more posts by Marvin here.


JMM Insights, September 20, 2017

The New Year is upon us and in addition to wishing all our readers a happy and healthy year ahead, I wanted to share some exciting news about the year ahead.

By now most of you know about our next two major exhibits in the Feldman Gallery (both of which have their origin at the National Archives).  On October 15 we open Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage featuring more than 20 artifacts and documents from the Iraqi Jewish community, recovered and restored from Saddam Hussein’s secret police headquarters.  Looking ahead to next spring, we’ll be launching Amending America: Bill of Rights on April 9 and putting new focus on the Lloyd Street Synagogue as a landmark of religious freedom.

A pair of exhibits from the National Archives

A pair of exhibits from the National Archives

But this summer we’ve continued to add to our calendar, developing a concept for a month-long performance series called “JMM Live” in February, an expansion of our Baltimore edition of the “My Family History” project in March and a collaboration with the Everyman Theater and Rich Hollander on a companion exhibit to the upcoming play Book of Joseph highlights March and April.

Every one of these projects will be a quality experience (and of course, I love all my children and all my exhibits equally) but I have to admit there’s a special excitement around our most recent addition to the program calendar.  On June 21, 2018 we will premiere Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.  Houdini, aka Erik Weisz, would be a fascinating subject for an exhibit in any time or place.  But the story of a poor immigrant who escaped the shackles of social norms to rise to the status of international celebrity seemed like an ideal topic for an exhibit in our era.  To put together this project we’ve reached out to public museums and private collectors across the country – but what really has made the exhibit possible is our extraordinary guest curator, Baltimore magician and storyteller David London.

Coming Summer 2018!

Coming Summer 2018!

David has been creating interactive magical experiences for over 20 years. He is the Director of Circus of Wonders, and has been fascinated with Harry Houdini since he was a child.  He tells me that he performed his first magic trick at age seven and even his Bar Mitzvah speech explored Jews and magic. Since he signed onto the project in August, he’s been using his network of contacts within the magician community to make this exhibit a truly one-of- a-kind encounter with Houdini and his world. As a special treat for our readers, David has agreed to write a guest blog that we are calling “Finding Houdini,” where he will document his journey over the next several months as his visits Houdini sites, museums and collections. To join him on his adventures, click here! Consider this a small dip of honey to make your New Year that much sweeter.

Shana Tova!

~Marvin

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Performances Counts: We Missed You at Lunch

Posted on September 15th, 2017 by

Most of us reading this month’s newsletter were not at today’s “Get Discovered” volunteer recruitment lunch (but we’ve managed to discover you anyway!)

While it’s too late to send you a tuna sandwich, it’s not too late to think about how you (or your friends) can become engaged in one of the most exciting volunteer opportunities in Baltimore.

Leading a school group through Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust Humanity

Leading a school group through Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust Humanity

Since this is “Performance Counts”, let me share just a few stats.  Our volunteers last year included 7 front desk aides, 23 docents, 7 shop assistants, 13 library and archives aides, 28 special projects volunteers and 28 JMM Board members.  These 106 volunteers worked a total of 7557 hours.

>Front desk volunteers meet and greet visitors—including hundreds of teachers and chaperones on field trips to the JMM as they pass by on their way to Esther’s Place, the exhibit galleries and our historic synagogues.

>Docents conducted over 350 synagogue tours last year.

>Library and Archival volunteers scanned and uploaded more than 7,000 photos from the Baltimore Jewish Times, wrote folder lists for 24  boxes, just over 4,000 folders, in JMM’s institutional archives and processed two major new archival accessions, cataloguing them and creating finding aids.

>Other volunteers worked with Holocaust survivors or their families on 91 collages created for the Remembering Auschwitz exhibit.

>Still even more volunteers judged 93 projects for the My Family Story competition.

Even with these impressive stats, we still can do better and that’s why we held a lunch today to let new prospects learn more about the work we have available.

Welcome Wendy!

Welcome Wendy!

It was also a chance to introduce folks to our Volunteer Coordinator, Wendy Davis!  So since most of us weren’t there today, I’m going to let Wendy introduce herself:

I am excited and honored to be the new volunteer coordinator at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  My awareness of the Lloyd Street synagogue began way back in the 1960s.  As a teenager, I went with a group of fellow teens to see the synagogue at the beginning of the renovation process. And my father, Gordon Salganik, has been supportive of the Museum almost since its inception.  Now it is my turn to support the JMM.

For the past four years I have thoroughly enjoyed being a volunteer docent at JMM. Before my retirement and volunteering at JMM, I was a speech language pathologist in Baltimore City Public Schools. Now, I have a long wish list of things I would like to accomplish as the volunteer coordinator beyond monthly scheduling of the volunteers.  Establishing a lending library for the volunteers, improving our knowledge of the museum’s neighbors, dealing with fellow volunteers’ concerns and addressing their wish lists, and increasing our volunteer corps are at the top of my list!  The best way all this can be accomplished is with the collaboration and support of the wonderful JMM staff and volunteers that are my privilege to call colleagues.

I invite you to drop by to welcome Wendy.  Better yet, make her day by asking her how you can become a colleague at JMM.  Get discovered.

~Marvin

Testing out educational activities for the upcoming Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage exhibit!

Testing out educational activities for the upcoming Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage exhibit!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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