Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by Rachel
Last Chance to See Zap! Pow! Bam!
After a fabulous six month run at the JMM, we are getting ready to say goodbye to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the many other super heroes who have graced the Feldman Gallery as ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950 closes on Sunday, August 18. Thanks to everyone for making our many superhero themed programs so much fun. We’ve learned about the Jewish origins of superheroes through talks by Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg and Rabbi Simcha Weinstein; created cartoons at artist-led workshops, cheered on the creative talents of the members of SuperArtFight; and let’s not forget dancing the hora at Clark Kent’s Bar Mitzvah celebration! We hope you will join us as we say goodbye with a special program, Up, Up, and Away, on Sunday, August 18 (see details below).
March on Washington Commemorated
For the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Jewish Museum of Maryland is highlighting the role of Maryland Jews in the struggle for civil rights. A small lobby exhibit, Baltimore Marches on Washington, will feature video footage of Rabbi Miller’s prayer at the March as well as photographs and documents that show the intersection between Maryland Jews and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Moving Back Home: Jews on the Move
Jews on the Move: Baltimore and the Suburban Exodus, 1945-1968 is currently on view at the Edward A. Myerberg Center (3101 Fallstaff Rd, Baltimore, MD 21209) through August 21. It opens in the lobby at the Jewish Museum of Maryland on August 22 and will remain on display through September 15. This exhibition explores the suburban exodus of the Baltimore Jewish community and has been created through a partnership with Johns Hopkins University’s Program in Museums & Society through a generous grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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 Ilene Dackman-Alon: (410) 732-6400 x214 / email@example.com. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org.
Bus Trip to the Newseum
Tuesday, August 13: Buses depart from the Myerberg Center at 9:00am and from the Jewish Museum of Maryland at 9:15am / Buses depart from the Newseum at 3:00pm.
The cost of the trip is $35 for JMM and Myerberg Members (includes transportation to and from DC as well as admission to the Newseum).
Spend the day at one of Washington DC’s newest top attractions. Explore seven levels of galleries, exhibitions, and theater spaces showing the behind-the-scenes of how and why news is made as well as five centuries of the history of news. Lunch is on your own.
To reserve your space on the bus, contact Ilene Dackman-Alon at (410) 732-400 x214 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Adrienne Blumberg at (410) 356-6856 / Adrienne@myerberg.org.
Late Night on Lloyd Street
Wednesday, August 14, 6:00pm
Admission is free
Sarah Edelsburg returns to the JMM to share the history and development of visual art in both Jewish and Israeli contexts. Sarah will challenge us to answer the question: “What is Jewish art?” She will use a variety of entertaining examples to illustrate the development of this genre. Be prepared to rethink what you thought you knew about this topic. Light refreshments will be available as well as beer and wine for purchase.
Late Night on Lloyd Street is generously supported by The Grandchildren of Harvey M. and Lyn P. Meyerhoff Philanthropic Fund and is presented in partnership with B’nai Israel Young Adults.
Up, Up, and Away Family Day
Sunday, August 18, 11:00am-3:00pm
Program is free with the cost of admission to the Museum (Members are free!)
Come and bid a fond farewell to this super exhibit – we will celebrate with a day of superhero activities including a variety of craft activities. And if that’s not enough to beat the heat, there will also be plenty of frozen treats to help you cool off.
All events unless otherwise noted take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.
Visit us at www.jewishmuseummd.org, call 410-732-6400 or email email@example.com
The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. A few news highlights:
- B’nai Israel is selling High Holiday seats – deadline for purchase is August 25. Head to the website for more information: www.jewishdowntown.org
- Join B’nai Israel for a pre-Selichot production of “The Gates Closing” on Saturday, August 31 at 8:30pm. More information can be found here.
- BIYA ‘s B-more Shabbat on Friday, August 16 at 8:00pm. For more information on this young adult event, click here.
For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org or biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook.
Exhibits currently on display at the JMM include ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950 (through August 18); 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. We offer tours of our historic synagogues each day at 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00.
Please note that the JMM will be closed the following dates:
Monday, September 2 (Labor Day)
Thursday, September 5 and Friday, September 6 (administrative offices) (Rosh Hashanah)
Thursday, September 19 and Friday, September 20 (administrative offices) (Sukkot)
Thursday, September 26 and Friday, September 27 (administrative offices) (Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret)
Because of these closures, the next issue of Museum Matters will not be sent until Friday, September 13.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out some of Ilene’s blog posts about Museum volunteers here!
We have officially launched our new membership program. 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 will 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 email@example.com.
The High Holidays are just around the corner…the JMM Museum Shop has just what you need to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with your family and friends.
We wish all our friends a very Healthy and Happy New Year! L’Shana Tova!
JMM Members receive a 10% discount on Museum Shop purchases.
Contact Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, at 410-732-6400, ext. 211 / firstname.lastname@example.org for information
Posted on July 19th, 2013 by Rachel
Those of you who follow our blog posts may have noticed the accent this summer on Civil War stories (June 28, July 2, July 3). This reflects not only the 150th anniversary commemorations but our own work in preparing for next fall’s exhibit. I have asked curator, Karen Falk, to tell you a bit about her take on what makes this exhibit important.
Insights from the Civil War
It may come as a surprise to some, but all American Jews can find a connection to the Civil War, whether or not they have ancestors then in the country and in the conflict.
At least, that’s our observation, based on our work with the upcoming exhibition, Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War, which will open at the JMM on October 13. (Thank you to the organizers of the exhibition, the American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University Museum.) Here are some ways that I’ve connected with the story.
The Jewish debate over slavery. Daughter of the sixties that I am, I was brought up to believe that social justice was a central tenet of Judaism. I’ve learned, however, that such thinking was not as common among the Jewish immigrants of the mid-19th century as it became for later generations. Jews were divided on the question of slavery: they tended to gravitate towards the opinions of their neighbors, North and South. As new immigrants (of 150,000 Jews in America on the eve of the Civil War, 100,000 had been in this country for a decade or less) struggling to make a living and unsure of their place in American society, most Jews preferred neutrality.
Lloyd Street Synagogue, home of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in 1864. Photo by D.R. Stiltz & Co. photographers. Used with permission from Ross Kelbaugh. JMM 1997.71.1
There were those, however, who expressed strong opinions, among them, the rabbis of Baltimore. Rabbi Bernard Illoway, who served Baltimore Hebrew Congregation from 1859 to 1861, defended slavery from the pulpit saying, “Why did [Moses] not, when he made a law that no Israelite can become a slave, also prohibit the buying and selling of slaves from and to other nations? Was there ever a greater philanthropist than Abraham, and why did he not set free the slaves which the king of Egypt made him a present of?”
Rabbi David Einhorn of Har Sinai Congregation (1855-1861) was incensed by this biblical justification of slavery by Rabbi Illoway and other rabbis. A staunch defender of human rights, he also used the Torah to support his position: “The ten commandments, the first of which is: “I am the Lord, thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt,—out of the house of bondage” can by no means want to place slavery of any human-being under divine sanction….”
Rabbi David Einhorn, c. 1860, artist unknown. JMM, L1987.018.001.
Rabbi Einhorn’s views enraged the secessionist-leaning population of Baltimore and he fled the city, taking a pulpit in Philadelphia. Rabbi Illoway also left Baltimore soon after his speech, for a pulpit in New Orleans.
The attempt to expel the Jews. The Civil War era was not without anti-Semitism. There were commonly-repeated canards about the Jews: they didn’t fight in the military; they were profiteers; they were cunning cheats. At its worst during the war years, these doubts about the Jews translated into General Ulysses S. Grant’s infamous Orders No. 11, whereby “The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department [including Kentucky and parts of Tennessee and Mississippi] within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.”
Grant issued his order on December 17, 1862. Fighting in his area delayed dissemination of the order throughout the whole of the territory he governed, but enforcement began immediately in Paducah, Kentucky. (Kentucky was a border state: slave-holding but part of the Union.) Jews throughout the country raised an outcry. One man ousted from his home, Cesar Kaskel, immediately traveled to Washington, DC, seeking an audience with President Lincoln. He was seen and supported by the president, who directed Grant to revoke his order.
Telegram announcing the revocation of Grant’s General Orders No. 11, January 6, 1863. Courtesy of the American Jewish Historical Society.
All of this happened quickly; the order was officially rescinded by Grant on January 17, 1863. American Jews had learned something very important about their home. As historian Eli Evans observes, “the Northern Jewish community had stood beside the Jews in the South, demonstrating a sense of community that transcended sectional bitterness. Jews [in the Union] had publicly petitioned their government to revoke an order by its most popular general in the midst of a war, and the head of the nation had agreed.” Jews had come together to protest an injustice, had been heard, and been protected.
It’s personal. Civil War stories often illuminate difficult personal decisions. One such story is told by one of the most remarkable documents in the exhibition, a draft of a will for Benjamin Owens Cohen. Cohen, his Jewish father, Barnet Cohen, and non-Jewish mother Catharine Owens, a “free woman of color,” lived in South Carolina. As a free person of mixed race, Benjamin Cohen would have had limited potential marriage partners, so he purchased his wife and owned their children. By 1841, when he was thinking about a pathway to freedom for his family, South Carolina was passing laws that made it nearly impossible to simply emancipate one’s slaves. His will thus bequeaths his wife and children to his white half-brother. On advice from his lawyer, Cohen stated in his will that while “it may be thought that this devise is intended to avoid and defeat the laws of this commonwealth, which affords me protection….I therefore declare…that I intend no such unlawful act. I know that by the law, [my family] are slaves and must remain so….”
Draft of a will for Benjamin Owens Cohen, 1851. Courtesy of the American Jewish Historical Society.
This draft of Cohen’s will is part of an AJHS collection documenting Cohen’s situation. Scholars have been unable to find a legally-filed will for Benjamin O. Cohen, and we do not know how the family resolved the problem. Historian Bertram Korn suggests that “perhaps Benjamin Owens Cohen outlived the institution of slavery and was able to spend his last days with a family freed from involuntary servitude.” I hope so, too.
Posted on July 12th, 2013 by Rachel
I’ve asked Abby Krolik, our Visitor Services Manager and the newest member of the JMM team, to share with you some interesting data and statistics we’ve been looking at here at the Museum. I hope you’ll find it as fascinating as we do!
As an art history major in college, I never thought I’d have a job in which I had to play around with numbers, but it’s been surprisingly exciting to gather the numbers for our various visitor statistics each month and to see how they grow into meaningful patterns and comparisons. If there was any doubt that expanding our public hours from a mere 16 hours a week to 35 hours a week would bring in more visitors, that doubt can be safely expelled at this point. Between January 2012 and June 2012, we had 759 “walk-in” (unscheduled) visitors and a total of 4,694 guests as our “on-site attendance”—which includes walk-in attendance as well as school and adult groups, programs, etc. Between January 2013 and June 2013, we had 1,848 visitors as general attendance and 6,775 as on-site attendance. That’s a 143% increase in general attendance and a 44% increase in on-site attendance!
As heartening as those numbers are, the statistics that I personally find more interesting come from the categories of information that we hadn’t previously collected. Starting in January, we’ve been noting what time of day visitors arrive and how they heard about the museum. More than any other category of information, tracking what time of day visitors arrive has given us a picture of how our change in hours has brought in more visitors. Before October 21st of last year, the museum was open from noon to 4pm Sundays and Tuesdays-Thursdays. Now, we are open from 10am to 5pm, Sundays-Thursdays. Although the peak hours are generally between 1pm and 2pm, we still get a significant number of visitors between 10am and 12pm, and even a few visitors between 4pm and 5pm.
The second category of new information is how our visitors heard about the JMM. When visitors arrive and pay for their admission at the front desk, I or a volunteer will ask “how did you hear about us?” The first response is often very vague or even a non sequitur (e.g. “the internet” or “I’m visiting from out of town”), so we do our best to politely encourage our guests to be more specific. Every three months, I make a Top Ten list of the reasons our visitors came to the JMM. The first quarter of this year, (January through March) the Top Ten list included The Jewish Times, Google, and Groupon. The most recent quarter (April through June), the list included the wonderful article about us that appeared in The New York Times on April 5th, the “Things to do in Baltimore” website, and people who had visited us before and were returning either to show the museum to out-of-town visitors or because they wanted to see the new exhibit, Zap! Pow! Bam!
Even the persistently vague answers, like “not sure” and “always knew about the museum” can be useful, or at least thought-provoking. If someone has always known about us, but never visited until now, then what has changed, or what are we doing differently, that we finally brought these absent fans to our doors? Perhaps the difference is the kind of marketing we’ve been doing lately, or perhaps these new guests finally came because, while they didn’t think they were interested in Maryland Jewish history, they knew for sure that they were interested in comic books. Or they simply wanted to know why there was a comic book exhibit at a Jewish museum. Once they are lured to the museum by their curiosity about the superhero exhibit, our previously absentee visitors almost always discover that they are, in fact, interested in what the rest of the museum has to offer. Hopefully, the next time they come to visit, their answer to “how did you hear about us” will be “I learned so much the last time I was here, I decided to become a member!”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this dip into the numbers pool – we’ve been doing a lot to try and get the word out about JMM and everything it has to offer, but our best resource has always been you, our readers and friends. I hope you’ll share this newsletter with friends, follow us on twitter and like us on facebook – help us get the word out even farther!