Posted on January 16th, 2015 by Rachel
Since starting as Collections Manager in August of last year, JMM has already accessioned more than 70 items from the daily life of Maryland’s Jewish communities. We’ve been pleased to receive offers of a wide variety of items – from single items to multiple boxes, from large paintings to small snapshots, from the 19th century to the 21st. Nearly every week has brought a new opportunity to check out something interesting, which might be of use to the museum.
As a collections professional, I’m inclined by both duty and temperament to appreciate almost anything that’s ever been made, used and saved by someone. In other words, I love stuff. But we simply can’t take everything that is offered to us. Fortunately, like many museums the JMM has a committee of Board members, staff, and other museum professionals who help ensure that only appropriate items are accepted as donations to our permanent collection: artifacts, photos, and archival material that relate to Jewish life in Maryland, in good condition, for which we can adequately care and which we envision using in exhibits, research, and interpretation.
But enough about the inner workings of the committee process – you want to see the stuff! Here are a few highlights from recent offers.
-Joanna Church, Collections Manager
Pharmacy show globe, Hagerstown/Hancock, Md. JMM#K2014.003.035
Donated by Dr. Adolph “Ed” Baer, P.D.
Though we don’t always have the opportunity to exhibit artifacts right away, the vintage pharmaceutical items donated by Dr. Baer will be of almost immediate use as we prepare the upcoming exhibit “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America” (opening fall 2015). Dr. Baer graduated from the University of Maryland pharmacy school, and went on to own and operate two pharmacies in western Maryland. In addition to the modern tools and equipment he used over the years, Dr. Baer also donated several antique pieces, including this large glass “show globe.” Show globes, filled with colored liquid (ours was emptied for the purpose of donation and transport), were placed in shop windows as a symbol of the apothecary’s or pharmacist’s trade; modern pharmacists such as Dr. Baer often collect and display them, in a nod to their profession’s history.
The Colonial Chronicle, Annapolis, Md. JMM#2014.041
Donated by Tylar Hecht for the Allen J. Reiter Lodge of B’nai B’rith
Though registrars like myself do enjoy cataloging and processing donations, we also love it when the donor does some of that good work for us. Tylar Hecht brought in 40 years of The Colonial Chronicle, the newsletter of B’nai B’rith Annapolis Lodge No. 1239, associated with Kneseth Israel (Annapolis’s oldest congregation). In addition to the papers themselves, the donation included many of the original photographs used in the paper – which Mr. Hecht, with the help of older members of the congregation, sorted and identified for us before delivery. Their efforts mean that this collection will be accessible to researchers more quickly than if the JMM staff and volunteers needed to start fresh.
A selection of items from the Community Garden Club archives, Baltimore, Md. JMM#2015.002
Donated by Ruth Taubman for the Community Garden Club.
Likewise, the members of the Community Garden Club of the JCC (Baltimore) took the time to gather and organize materials from their 50+ year history, including programs, awards, photos, newsletters, and directories. The Club was founded in 1962 by a group of women taking flower-arranging classes at the newly-built Park Heights JCC; over the years the members have worked on landscaping projects at a number of landmarks around the city, and they were the first Jewish garden club to join the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland. Though not very active today, several original members were determined to collect as much of the club’s records as possible, to ensure that their history is preserved at the JMM archives.
Shomrei Mishmeres signs, Baltimore, Md. JMM#2014.045.001-002
Gift of Rabbi David E. Miller, Rabbi Michael S. Miller, Deborah L. Kram and Judith S. Kalish.
In a wonderful coincidence, one of the first things offered to the JMM after I started was a pair of early 20th century hand-lettered signs used by the Shomrei Mishmeres congregation in the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Tobias Miller, then President of Shomrei Mishmeres, took these signs with him when the synagogue building was sold to the new Jewish Historical Society (now the JMM); his grandchildren recently decided that these two pieces should “come home” to Lloyd Street. We’re always glad to find artifacts and records from the Lloyd Street Synagogue’s long history; such a meaningful and thoughtful donation was a fantastic way to start off my work here at the JMM!
Left: “It is strictly forbidden to speak and to converse when the congregation prays or the Holy Bible is being read. He who will not obey the prohibition, in addition to his sinning this great sin, he is transgressing the accepted norm, and therefore will be fined towards the synagogue.”
Right: “By order of the members of this Shul: It is not permitted to remove the prayer shawls before reciting kaddish recited at ‘Anim Zemirot.’ He who will not obey, shall be severely punished.”
Posted on January 9th, 2015 by Rachel
Warm Up with Mendes
Hope you heard about the Mendes Cohen exhibit on Maryland Morning on Wednesday. If not, click HERE to hear the interview. Feel free to share the link with friends, relatives and neighbors.
Now we know, it’s coooold out there and though you want to come and see the exhibit, it’s hard to motivate yourself to bundle up and venture out into Baltimore’s equivalent of Lower Slobovia. Well we have a little incentive. Come this Sunday, January 11th, buy a commemorative Mendes mug and you’ll get a free hot chocolate (while supplies last). The Mendes mug bears a replica of the American flag he took down the Nile and its warm tones of brown and red will look great next to the purple Ravens paraphenelia you have left over from Saturday night.
So don’t let the weather hold you back. Warm cocoa and warm smiles are waiting for you here at JMM. And if you can’t make it on the 11th, check out the upcoming programs listed below on Jan. 18th and 25th – guaranteed to warm up your brain as well.
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 Carolyn Bevans*: (410) 732-6400 x215 / firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org. *Carolyn is filling in for new mom Trillion Attwood from January through March.
The Sephardic Atlantic: Mendes I. Cohen and the Story of Early American Jewry
Speaker Dr. R
Sunday, January 18, 12:00pmonnie Perelis, Yeshiva University
Program 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.
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 25, 1:00 pm
Program included with Museum admission
Co-sponsored by Baltimore Jewish Council
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.
Image: Marta Swiderska (left) and Olga Pressler (right), 1934, Oświęcim. Collection of the Auschwitz Jewish Center.
Ladino, a language of the Jewish Diaspora
Speaker Dr. Adriana Brodsky, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Sunday, February 8, 1:00 pm
Program 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, Brodsky argues 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 and has published on Sephardi schools in Argentina, and on Jewish Beauty Contests.
Help Make a Museum: Audience Workshop for the Core Exhibition of DC’s New Jewish Museum
Sunday, February 8, 2:00 pm
Facilitator: Zachary Paul Levine, Curator, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington
Program included with museum admission
The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) has asked for our help as our neighbors in DC make plans for their new facility (projected opening 2020). As part of that process, they are coming to Baltimore to collect 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. Participants will look at a handful of objects and stories, and discuss how, together, they tell the unique story of Washington DC’s Jewish community. Of course, we will be listening too – as we think about ideas to improve our own site at JMM.
Image: President Calvin Coolidge spoke during the cornerstone laying ceremony of the 16th and Q Street building on May 3, 1925. JHSGW Collections.
Climbing the Ladder of Success in a Nineteenth-Century Boomtown: The Cohen Family in Early Baltimore
Sunday, February 15th, 1:00 P.M.
Speaker: Tina Sheller, Goucher College
When Israel I. Cohen died in Richmond, Virginia in 1803, his wife, Judith, packed up her belongings and moved herself and her children to Baltimore. Why Baltimore? Early Baltimore was a bustling port town of merchants, shopkeepers, skilled craftsmen, workers, and slaves. How did these groups contribute to the dynamic expansion of the city’s antebellum economy? Who were the people that populated the growing port town, and how did the Cohens and other Jewish families adapt to life in a city soon to be known as “Mobtown?” All of these questions and more will be answered as we journey back in time to the era of Boomtown Baltimore.
Tina H. Sheller is an assistant professor of History at Goucher College where she teaches courses in American history and Historic Preservation.
How Jews Entered American Politics: The Curious Case of Maryland’s “Jew Bill”
Sunday, February 22nd, 1 p.m.
Rafael Medoff, The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
During Maryland’s first decades, a “Christians Only” policy applied to those seeking public office. Dr. Rafael Medoff, a noted scholar of Jewish involvement in American politics, will take a candid look at the Maryland legislature’s debates in the early 1800s over political rights for Jews and other non-Christians –a controversy that sheds fascinating light on the process by which Jews entered the American political arena.
Dr. Rafael Medoff is the author of 15 books about American Jewish history, Zionism, and the Holocaust, including a textbook, Jewish Americans and Political Participation, which was named an “Outstanding Academic Title of 2003” by the American Library Association’s Choice Magazine.
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
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 introduced a new Lloyd Street “1845: Technology and the Temple” tour at 3:00pm. This tour is available every Sunday and Monday at 3:00 until The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen closes in June 2014.
Please note that the JMM is open on MLK Day, Monday, January 19 from 10am-5pm.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baltimore is buzzing for our A-Mazing Mendes MUG! (and dishwasher safe!)
Mendes Cohen is A-Mazing in the Museum Shop! We have Mazes for all ages, from the all-time favorite, the Labyrinth Game, to, yes, Chinese Checkers, to the Amaze Thinkfun game, and on and on! Come in and checkout our Amazing Assortment, topped by the Mendes Cohen mug, designed just for this exhibition, complete with his image and flag of the period!
Members receive a 10% discount in our Amazing Museum Shop. We cheerfully gift wrap and mail your purchase for you. The JMM directly benefits from all purchases made in our Museum Shop.
For more information, call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email at email@example.com.
Posted on December 12th, 2014 by Rachel
2014 has been a busy year at the museum. In total, we have seen presented four different exhibits over the course of the last twelve months (Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the American Civil War; Project Mah Jongg; Electrified Pickle and The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen). This rich menu of offerings stimulated some great ranging from serious lectures to cotillions and concerts – on topics from Abe Lincoln to zombies. I’ve asked Trillion Attwood to take a look back and give us a quick review of our ten top programs of the last year. Just in case you missed a few, here are the highlights.
Thanks, Marvin. We had so much fun with the program schedule this year that it was hard to pick out just 10 (we actually presented/will present more than 60 programs in 2014). Here are my choices. How many of these do you recall?
1. Kaddish For Lincoln with Harold Holzer
The Sadie B. Feldman Family Lecture
Sunday, February 23rd
We invited Harold Holzer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the JMM to deliver his talk Kaddish For Lincoln. The talk was a fascinating exploration of how the Jewish community mourned the passing of the 16th president and how his connection with the Jewish community passed into legend. Prof. Holzer, a nationally respected Lincoln scholar, offered new insights on why this unlikely self-educated man became the beloved “Father Abraham” to so many American Jews.
2. The Jews of Shanghai with Rabbi Marvin Tokayer
The Eighth Annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch Memorial Program on Immigration
Sunday, May 18th
The Eighth Annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch Memorial Program on Immigration focused on the plight of European refugees in China in WWII. Rabbi Marvin Tokayer provided incredibly vivid descriptions of what life was like for thousands of people living in limbo in a land with few shared customs and culture. He kept the large audience at Baltimore Hebrew Synagogue on the edge of its seat. We were especially excited to welcome a number of former Jewish Shanghai residents to the event.
3. The Future of American Jewry with Professor Leonard Saxe
Sunday, June 1st
The Annual Meeting, when we welcome our new board members and thank those who are leaving, is always an important event in our programs calendar. This year we also welcomed to the museum Professor Leonard Saxe of Brandeis University to present his keynote lecture The Future of American Jewry, which is based upon the recent findings by the Pew Report. This fascinating talk presented a much more optimistic view than anticipated by many based upon the initial report findings.
4. Annual Volunteer appreciation event featuring Our Volunteers
Friday, June 6th
Each year, we hold a number of events for our volunteers, and this year our volunteer appreciation lunch was held at the National Electronics Museum. We all had an opportunity to explore the museum that would be our partner institution for the then upcoming exhibit The Electrified Pickle. We were taken on a guided tour by Alice Donahue, the Assistant Director, who was able to highlight some of the most important parts of the collection. I know that some of you may be thinking I’m cheating a bit to put this on the list, because only volunteers could attend this great event – and you are not a volunteer. Well give us a call and we can fix that!
5. Mah Jongg: More than Just a Game of Chance with Dr. Robert Mintz
Sunday, June 8th
Project Mah Jongg brought a new audience to the Museum. We were surrounded by the sounds of tiles clicking for three months, and some of us even managed to learn the game ourselves. Our most popular program in connection with the exhibit was the presentation by Dr. Robert Mintz of the Walters Art Museum. Dr. Mintz discussed the art of the game and the significance and history of the images on those tiny tiles. Even the most experienced Mah Jongg aficionados found new details about the design and history of the game that they had never thought to ask.
6. Imagine This! featuring Jennifer George (Rube Goldberg’s granddaughter) and a team of robots
Sunday, August 3rd
For five weeks over the summer we featured a different tech related theme each week as part of The Electrified Pickle. I learned so much on each of these Sundays and we had such great volunteers from the Jewish tech community that it was hard to pick just one. But I believe I have a special passion for Imagine This!, in which we explored the world of tomorrow. The museum was overrun with robots of all shapes and sizes, including one that was able to play giant Jenga with our visitors!
On the same day, we were also very excited to welcome Jennifer George to speak about her grandfather, Rube Goldberg, and some of his crazy inventions. The talk had some of the funniest bits we put on all year, thanks to Mr. Goldberg’s marvelous cartoons and some of the videos that professionals and amateurs made in homage to his art.
7. Where are all the Jewish Zombies with Prof. Arnold Blumberg
Free Fall Baltimore
Sunday, October 26th
We participated again this year in Free Fall Baltimore. It has been a great success in the past, and this year proved no different. As with previous years, we saw plenty of new faces which is always a great sign. We invited Arnold T. Blumberg to speak, and he delivered a great talk titled Where are all the Jewish Zombies? The focus was on the story of the “golem” through its many twists and turns in Jewish history. We couldn’t resist the opportunity for a little horror so close to Halloween!
8. Profiles in American Jewish Courage with Dr. Gary Zola
Thursday, November 6th
It was a very significant night for us when we marked the 50th Anniversary of the re-dedication of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. This special event was attended by lay and religious leaders from our local community. We were honored to welcome Dr. Gary Zola, Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives, to present his keynote lecture, Profiles in American Jewish Courage. Dr. Zola tied his stories of three exceptionally brave activists of the 19th and 20th century to their contemporaries here in Baltimore.
9. Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights
Sunday, December 7th
Our most successful family program of the year was this past Sunday, when we welcomed Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights to the museum for a Chanukah concert. Families had a wonderful time singing along and dancing. Freeze Dance proved to be one of the most popular songs of the entire concert, getting everyone up on their feet!
The performance was part of our Downtown Dollar Day program which, in total, drew 190 people to the museum in just one day!
10. Early Jewish Baltimore with Gil Sandler
Thursday, December 25th
So far we have had a great year with some wonderful programs, but we are not finished yet! We still have several great programs left, including our Jewish Book Festival on Sunday, December 14th and Mitzvah Day on Thursday, December 25th. We are especially excited to be welcoming back to the museum noted local historian Gil Sandler on December 25th.
This has been a great year to be at the museum, and I have had a wonderful time planning such a range of events. I hope you enjoyed attending them and are looking forward to another year of great programs!