Museum Matters, May 2015

Posted on May 1st, 2015 by

This has been a challenging week for all of us.  While we are grateful that JMM and its Historic Jonestown neighborhood were spared any physical harm in the events of the past few days, we are all scarred by the damage that the violence has caused to our city and deeply saddened by the underlying conditions that preceded the violence.

As I write this, none of us can be sure what comes next, but JMM is committed to be a part of the healing process.  As keepers of an important piece of the community’s records we know that our history has the ability to show us what we have overcome and to strengthen our will to build a better future.  You will find a piece of this history in the A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit – where Jews and Christians in early Baltimore worked together to break down walls of prejudice.  You will find a piece of this history in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit – the story of how Jonestown rebuilt itself in the wake of the riots of 1968.  In our archives, we have hundreds of other images and records of personal courage in the pursuit of social justice in Baltimore – from Rabbi Einhorn’s support of abolition to the desegregation of Gwynn Oak Park.  We plan on setting up a pop-up exhibit of some of these images and records in the coming weeks.  We invite your ideas for moments, people and events that should be a part of this display – see Joanna’s call for material below.

To make sure that everyone knows they are welcome at JMM, we’re offering free admission this week.  We hope that people who have not visited us before will take advantage of this opportunity to join us in celebrating the work of young Braille artists on Sunday and to hear our outstanding lecture on the role of women in early American Jewish life Thursday night.  Our website is always a “go to” source for last minute information on these programs.

We have also made the decision to do something tangible to support the city’s rebuilding efforts.  Two weeks ago we had already planned the “Ultimate Mendes Cohen Experience” for May 17 (see below).  This bus tour, which begins with a trip down North Avenue to the site of Mendes’ grave at the Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery, has taken on new meaning.  It is a reminder that the Jewish experience is deeply entwined with many neighborhoods in the city we have long-forgotten or neglected.  JMM has decided to donate 50% of the money we collect for this tour for the fund established by The Associated for the rebuilding of areas of the city recently damaged.  I appeal to you to join us for this special event – you will not only discover a hidden past, but you will help enable a revitalized future.

Thank you for standing with JMM and Baltimore

~Marvin

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

As Marvin mentioned above the JMM is putting together a pop-up exhibit featuring moments of social justice action from Maryland’s Jewish community. This striking image (from the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, from the Library of Congress collections) may not be from Baltimore, but it serves as the jumping-off point for a display of photos, documents, and artifacts we hope will facilitate discussion among our visitors, both of past movements and current events. Most importantly, the exhibit will include space for your thoughts, stories, and contributions. Please contact me, Joanna Church, Collections Manager, if you have material that could be of use: jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org or 410-732-6400 x226.

Upcoming programs

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

May

Learning Your Letters: Braille Art: Exhibit Reception
Sunday, May 3, 1:00-3:00pm, FREE

Learning Your Letters: Braille Art is presented by the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Braille Art Gallery. The exhibit features braille drawings by artists of all ages and all abilities, to promote braille literacy. The exhibit will be open to the public in the JMM lobby through May 3.

Sadie B. Feldman Family Lecture:
“One Apron…One handkerchief…2 brass Candlesticks”: America’s Jewish Women, the Early Years
Thursday, May 7, 7:00pm
Speaker: Pamela Nadell, American University
FREE

Join us as we celebrate Mother’s Day and take a closer look into the life of Mendes’ A-Mazing mother, Judith Cohen. Pamela Nadell of American University explores what it meant to be a Jewish woman and mother during the 18th and 19th centuries. In this lecture, as we learn more about the first Jewish women to make homes in America, we will also discover more about Judith Cohen’s son, “The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen.”

Mendes Cohen Bus Tour
Sunday, May 17, 9:00am
Tickets $30, $20 for JMM members

Tour Leader: Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director, Jewish Museum of Maryland

Walk in the footsteps of Mendes Cohen and join us for this ultimate experience, a bus tour of Mendes Cohen’s Baltimore led by JMM Executive Director, Marvin Pinkert. Mendes lived in Baltimore for most of his life and there are several fascinating locations awaiting exploration! We will spend the day visiting both sites of importance to Mendes and venues that now house some of his most valued possessions. The tour highlights Mendes Cohen and puts his story in a broader context of Baltimore and American Jewish history.

Venues will include the Maryland Historical Society, Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and a special cemetery visit.  All admission fees are included in this program. Please contact Trillion Attwood at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org or 410.732.6400 ext.215 to purchase tickets. Places are limited so please book early.

The JMM has decided to donate 50% of the money we collect for this tour for the fund established by The Associated for the rebuilding of areas of the city recently damaged.  We hope you will join us for this special event – you will not only discover a hidden past, but you will help enable a revitalized future.

The Puzzle Project: Israel Celebration at the Jewish Museum of Maryland
Sunday, May 17, 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Reception: 2:00 pm

Students attending local Jewish day school and after school programs have participated in a creative art project that will be on display at the JMM on Sunday, May 17, 2015. The Puzzle Project, inspired and created by New York artist, Tim Kelly, allows art to be easily accessible to anyone who wants to create personally meaningful artwork. Students participating in the program express themselves individually and collectively on their shared vision on what Israel means to them on blank white, 18’’by 18” puzzle pieces. This program is co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Education and the Embassy of Israel.

Playing Jewish Geography in the Nineteenth Century: Mendes I. Cohen’s Travels to Europe and the Middle East, 1829-1835
Sunday, May 31, 1:00pm
Speaker: Prof. Daniel B. Schwartz, George Washington University
Included with Museum Admission

What might a Jew sailing from America to explore Jewish life in Europe and the Middle East in the nineteenth century likely have discovered in his travels? In this talk, Prof. Daniel B. Schwartz (George Washington University) will follow on the heels of Mendes I. Cohen’s voyage to and through the “Old World,” leading the audience on a tour of some of the major sites visited by Cohen from 1829 to 1835, and providing a mini-history of Jewish society in an age poised between tradition and change.

June

Annual Meeting
Sunday, June 7, 1:00pm
Samuel Boltansky Memorial Keynote Speaker: Senator Ben Cardin
Free

The JMM is 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 16 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.

Flag Day
Sunday, June 14, time TBD
Speaker: Michelle Pagan 
Included with Museum Admission

Help us bid a fond farewell to The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen this Flag Day. We will have something for everyone with related crafts and trivia games throughout the day. At 1:00, Michelle Pagan, the conservator who worked on the textiles in The Amazing Mendes Cohen, will discuss her work on the jacket and flag that are on display.

Exhibits

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!

On Display: April 15 through May 3
Learning Your Letters: Braille Art
Learning Your Letters: Braille Art is presented by the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Braille Art Gallery. The exhibit features braille drawings by artists of all ages and all abilities, to promote braille literacy. The exhibit will be open to the public in our Museum lobby.

On Display: Sunday, May 17
The Puzzle Project: Israel Celebration at the Jewish Museum of Maryland
This one-day only exhibit features large-scale puzzle pieces decorated by students from local Jewish day and after-school programs that reflect their interpretations of what Israel means to them. Co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Education and the Embassy of Israel.

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

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland May Meeting
Sunday, May 17, 1:30pm, the Pikesville Library’s meeting room
The Jews of Eastern Europe in the Age of Mass Migration, 1881-1914
(Program rescheduled from February)
Speaker: Dr. Kenneth Moss, Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University

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

The Museum is closed on Sunday, May 24 and Monday, May 25 in observance of Shavuot.

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 icohen@jewishmuseummd.org.

Membership

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 sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org.

JMM Museum Shop

Mother’s Day is just around the corner…Sunday, May 10!  The Museum Shop of the JMM has the perfect choice for a special gift for that special person. Our selection of jewelry is chosen with care, with a wide range of choices – come and visit the Shop, you will be surprised and your Mom will be delighted.  We will gift wrap your choice, mail it if needed, all in time for Mother’s Day!  Give us a call or visit the museum and make your gift giving a delightful experience.

Every purchase made in the JMM Museum Shop supports the mission and programs of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

JMM Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases.

For further information, please call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email:  eweiner@jewishmuseummd.org

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Performance Counts: April 2015

Posted on April 10th, 2015 by

On Monday, March 30, 25 JMM trustees gathered at the home of Ira and Shelley Malis for a board retreat. The afternoon was designed to foster conversation, brainstorming and strategic thinking about the JMM’s future. Since the Nominating Committee had completed its slate for FY ’16, we were able to include new Board candidates as well as veterans in this three hour event.  Judging from breakout activity results and participant feedback we are pleased with the retreat’s successful outcome.

Retreat chair, Toby Gordon, kicked off the event with a creative opening activity that made use of innovative technology and tested trustee knowledge about the JMM. Sample questions included “What has been the JMM’s most popular program this year?” (Most were surprised to hear it was the children’s concert by Joannie Leeds) and “What’s the earliest recorded donation to the JMM collections?” (A genealogy chart for Elkins Myers). Participants were able to answer questions using a polling device that allowed everyone to see the answers on a screen which made the exercise even more entertaining and educational.

Our Joanie Leeds Chanukah Concert was the surprise success of the season.

Our Joanie Leeds Chanukah Concert was the surprise success of the season.

Following the opening exercise, we broke into smaller groups for a breakout activity that asked each person to think about “JMM dream projects”. Groups spent time together brainstorming ideas that could help the Museum accomplish its goals of becoming a destination and site for documentation, discourse and discovery. Ideas generated from the breakout groups ranged from focusing on creating a downtown cultural center through performances, film festivals and more to opening a kosher restaurant, opening on Saturdays and developing more kid-centered programs such as camps.

After a break for dinner, the group re-convened for presentations from Marvin Pinkert, Robert Keehn, Ira Papel and Duke Zimmerman that focused on future directions of the Museum. A presentation by Tom McGilloway of Mahan Rykiel, an architectural firm hired to head the community master planning effort, inspired much discussion and reflection about what kinds of changes are needed in Historic Jonestown that can help pave the way for the JMM’s future expansion. Marvin also laid out a five-year plan that maps out important initiatives – including expansion, exhibitions, education and programs – we plan on undertaking over the next several years.

Historic Jonestown

Historic Jonestown

The retreat concluded with a discussion of how trustees can become more personally involved in the JMM’s future success. Robert Keehn shared some examples of how individual efforts have aided the Museum’s fundraising efforts. Each trustee was asked to turn in a board pledge listing the various ways that they plan on becoming more engaged in the year ahead by attending meetings and programs, bringing friends to the Museum and pitching membership and by assisting with solicitations. We appreciate the thoughtful responses we received to this request which included: helping to connect the Museum to young adults, serving as JMM ambassadors in other regions of the state and assisting with outreach efforts in the non-Jewish community.

We were delighted by the feedback we received from participants who enjoyed the opportunity to mingle and network with one another in such a beautiful and informal setting. We also plan on using the ideas generated from breakout groups and discussion as a springboard for future planning efforts. Thanks to our wonderful board members for making this event such a positive experience!

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Performance Counts: March 2015

Posted on March 13th, 2015 by

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.

~Marvin

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)

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