Posted on September 19th, 2014 by Rachel
Baltimore Embraces its 19th Century Heritage
The good news is “we won.”
You probably noticed that there was some commotion this weekend about events that took place two centuries ago. Beyond the Blue Angels, the rockets red glare and the Spanish galleon, there was a genuine embrace of the relatively tiny group of defenders who made sure that the flag and the nation was still there.
We are intensely proud of having been a part of the Star Spangled Celebration week, a chance for us to remind the public of the long roots of the Jewish community in this city and this state. Of course, JMM’s focus was on one particular defender: the truly amazing Mendes Cohen.
Collections Manager Joanna Church and Assistant Director Deborah Cardin install Mendes’ newly conserved jacket.
Installation of the maze was completed on September 7th. We had a sneak preview for donors, members of the 1845 Society and the Lloyd Street League, and members of the board of our partners, the Maryland Historical Society on September 9th. Feedback was extremely positive as reflected in notes we received after the event:
We were totally impressed with the A-mazing Mendes exhibition and appreciated the amount of research, talent, and work that went into the project.
Your exhibit is absolutely wonderful and a great tribute to Mr. Cohen. Of course Mendes is good story material. What a fun concept and I am recommending you to my whole staff.
‘The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen’ exhibit turned out really great! Fantastic Preview last night! Can’t wait to return and stroll “The A-Mazing… “ more slowly and a chance to absorb much more of its rich history.
Enjoying a few drinks at the Amazing Cocktail Hour sneak preview party.
This past Sunday was a very busy day for our living history actor. Unlike the real Mendes Cohen who overslept on September 14 and had to run to his assignment at the fort, our “ghost” of Mendes started his day bright and early at Super Sunday. As Mendes was one of the early members of the Hebrew Benevolent Society (a precursor of The Associated), we thought it was important Mendes participate in this annual effort to raise funds to serve the Jewish community in Baltimore and around the globe.
Mendes takes a few calls at Super Sunday!
The next stop was the Creative Alliance’s “Hampstead Hill Festival”, marking the land battle that helped save the city. Mendes not only gave a full performance (battling unexpectedly fierce winds) but also participated in an 1814 fashion show. After Hampstead Hill, we made a brief stop at the Inner Harbor greeting guests to the Greater Baltimore History Alliance booth.
Mendes takes his bow to the applause of former JMM president Barbara Katz and the rest of the audience.
Mendes returned to JMM for a wonderful members’ opening. The program included greetings from Debs Weinberg and Barbara Katz, Mendes’ short-version 1812 performance and a panel comprised of some of the creative and historical experts who made the exhibit and living history character a reality.
Part of the evening’s panel.
If you missed this great opening week, you can still be a full participant in the Mendes Cohen celebration. We are still busy recruiting volunteers for our stint as part of the Maryland Public Television fund drive on Sunday, September 28 from 5pm to 8pm. Your willingness to volunteer a few hours at MPT will guarantee us on air access to an important audience. For more details contact Rachel Kassman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-732-6402 x225.
Posted on September 12th, 2014 by Rachel
My wife and I have an unfortunate tendency of putting things off—even past the last minute, sometimes! It’s quite a problem in our lives, as you might imagine. But what saddens us the most is when we just barely miss seeing an exhibit at the JMM. And it’s always like that—we came to see the Civil War exhibit just a month after it closed, and we came to see The Electrified Pickle just one week after that closed.
We really don’t want to miss this next one—the Mendes Cohen exhibit—so, for once in my life, I’m going to (gulp!)…plan ahead! Unfortunately, my wife and I will be out of town this weekend, when the exhibit opens. I hope the exhibit will be here for more than just a few weeks! Please tell me, how long will the Mendes exhibit be on display?
And while I’m asking about it, could you clarify for me what the exhibit will be like? Nothing against mazes, but that sounds like the exhibit is geared more towards kids than adults. Is that true?
Thanks for your help!
Always A Little Late
Dear Always Late,
I can certainly relate to procrastinating every once in awhile (OK, maybe it’s a little more than just “once in a while”!). Fortunately, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen is going to be with us for a long time. We will have the exhibit on display here for a whole nine months! It opens this Sunday, September 14, 2014 (just in time for the Star Spangled Spectacular celebrations), and it will close on Sunday, June 14, 2015. That should give you plenty of time to plan a visit here. Also, if you are on our email mailing list, you will receive several reminders each month of all the wonderful public programs we’ll be having.
We always strive to have something for everybody in our exhibits, and this is no exception. The Mendes exhibit includes both artifacts and thoughtful content about the life of Mendes Cohen in the context of what was happening in Baltimore, in the country, and in the world. While history is not always enough to capture the attention of some, we hope that the interactives scattered throughout the maze (and the very concept of the maze itself) will do the trick.
See you soon (I hope)!
Deborah and Ilene hard at work!
Editor’s note: The following letter to Dear Abby arrived in the form of a telegram. We have reproduced the message as authentically as possible. We previously had no idea telegrams were still possible.
TO: DEAR ABBY
FROM: MRS. JACOB B. FANCYPANTS, III.
MESSAGE: Have not yet received my pass to the members opening [STOP] Not a member, but should be OK [STOP] You know who I am, right? [STOP] Will be on 0500 train from NYC Fashion Wk. to Balt. Penn [STOP] Am looking forward to private tour of Mendes exhibit [STOP] Pls. confirm w/my P.A. at jane.smithATgmail.com [STOP] Thanks [STOP] Ta! [STOP]
END OF MESSAGE
Dear Ms. Smith,
I received the telegram from your boss, Mrs. Jacob B. Fancypants. Wow, who knew you could still send a telegram? It must be really interesting being her personal assistant. But I digress…
Please inform Mrs. Fancypants that, while the opening is only open to current members of the JMM, she is more than welcome to—in fact she is encouraged to—buy a membership when she arrives at the Museum. We will be happy to have her at our event!
While the exhibit, with its small spaces, does not lend itself easily to docent-led tours, groups may call in advance (to me) by at least a week to book a docent to take them through. However, I believe that the exhibit has so much detail and information that walk-in visitors who self-guide through the maze will come out with just as rich an experience. Additionally, we are developing a special tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue in honor of the Mendes exhibit. Because Mendes Cohen and his family were always at the forefront of using the latest technologies available, the tour will shed light on technological firsts in Baltimore and at the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
This tour will take the place of the 3:00pm tour and will debut on November 9, 2014.
I hope the two of you will be able to come to our members’ opening this Sunday evening, and many other programs as well! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if either of you have any questions (though perhaps email or phone would be easier than telegram.)
All my life, I have been inexorably drawn to the intricacies of the physics of the time-space continuum, and over the years, I’ve become a self-educated expert on the topic. Therefore, I was delighted to hear that your museum will be displaying an exhibit dedicated to the truly extraordinary life of Mendes I. Cohen.
You are probably wondering right now what does Mendes I. Cohen have to do with the time-space continuum. And well you might ask that! This unique individual has come to my attention through my studies because of his uncanny appearances all over time and space. Not only is he present at the pivotal Battle of Baltimore in 1814, but he also serves as president of the Maryland Historical Society in the early 1900s. Since he was born in 1796, that would make him at least 104 years old at the start of his tenure at the historical society—a feat that was virtually impossible in those days! It is my belief, then, that Mendes I. Cohen was—or rather, is—a time traveller.
I am further supported in my belief by other “impossible” sightings: just last weekend, he was sighted at the anniversary celebrations of the Battle of North Point, and I have reason to believe, from careful scrutiny of contemporary photographs, that he was present at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy! There is clearly something very mysterious about Mendes I. Cohen. In fact, he will be the subject of my next scholarly book, Mendes I. Cohen: Secrets of the Universe and its Time Travelling Assassin, which will—fingers crossed!—be published sometime next year. You will probably hear from me then about having a book talk at the museum. (Please see attachment with 1000 page excerpt from the manuscript.)
In the mean time, I would be much obliged if I could request some assistance from you. Judging from the level of detail contained in your exhibit, it would seem that you have some special connection or knowledge of Mendes I. Cohen and his whereabouts. Again, I would be much obliged if you would arrange a tête à tête for the two of us. We have so much to discuss! When we do have this meeting, is it permissible to take photographs? It would be purely for purposes of scientific evidence, I assure you.
Doc D. Lorean
While your theory about Mendes Cohen is fascinating, I must point out at least one part of your argument that I know to be incorrect. The Mendes Cohen who was president of the Maryland Historical Society is not the same Mendes Cohen who fought in the Battle of Baltimore—the former was the nephew of the latter! It can be very confusing when close relatives have identical names, so the mistake is an understandable one.
Barring a sèance, I probably can’t arrange a meeting between you and the real Mendes Cohen. Probably. What I can do, however, is arrange a performance of our living history character version of Mendes Cohen, played by the very talented Grant Cloyd. Mendes Cohen has joined our lively lineup of living history characters based on real Baltimoreans, including Ida Rehr, Saul Bernstein, and Bessie Bluefeld. Each of them can be hired to perform a one act play based on their lives that lasts about 45 minutes (with 15 minutes for questions) for either adult or school age audiences. They can also be hired to walk around in character at an event. If you want to book them, or just find out more information, please contact me and I will do my best to help you!
Photography at these performances is generally allowed—though please don’t use flash as that can disturb the actor. At the exhibit here at the Museum, it’s a similar guideline (photography without flash is allowed), with a few exceptions: the case of Egyptian antiquities, the travel documents, and the passport are all items that we have borrowed from other museums, and so we cannot give general permission to photograph them.
I hope this was helpful to you. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out!
Greetings and Salutations Mmlle. Abigail,
I sincerely wish you do not think me too forward for sending you a letter without a formal introduction, but I am told that you are the one to approach on matters regarding visiting the Jewish Museum of Maryland and its lovely souvenir and books shop. Although Baltimore is my homeland, these days I am but a weary traveler of many places and dimensions, and am no different than the majority of tourists who enjoy collecting mementos from the various stops on their journeys.
Word has reached my ears that your historical establishment is about to present an exhibition dedicated to the life and works of one Mendes Cohen (or have you done so already? Forgive me, I sometimes get confused about this sort of thing). I must confess, I am unusually familiar with this particular character, and I would care to have some memento of his new-found general notoriety.
If it would please you to catalog the items relating to Mr. Cohen that will be for sale in your shop for the duration of the exhibition, I would be most grateful. In addition to a desire to expand my own collection of sentimental trinkets, I believe that it never hurts to have a store of potential gifts for future occasions.
Ever your humble friend,
Of course I don’t think you’re too forward! I receive letters, emails, and phone calls from perfect strangers all the time. It’s just part of my job.
I would be happy to tell you all of The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen themed items we will be selling in the giftshop. Esther, our gift shop manager, is very excited about our offerings! We’ll have early 19th century children’s toys and games as well as a more modern artistic take on Mendes Cohen in paper doll form. Going off of the maze aspect of the exhibit, we will be selling maze games for all ages—several of them are 3D mazes, and one even has lasers!
For those who think they’re too old for games and lasers (not sure who could possibly be too old for lasers, but I’m sure they’re out there somewhere!), we’ll be offering the special opportunity to buy a vintage edition of our publication, Generations, which includes an article by Dr. Deborah Weiner on the life of Mendes Cohen.
And, most excitingly, we will be selling beautiful mugs with the exhibit logo and an image of the flag that Mendes Cohen made to hoist on his boat as he floated down the Nile. This is not an item you can get off Amazon.com!
Hopefully, at least one of these items will tickle your fancy or strike you as a worthy gift for someone!
Happy Travels, my friend!
Dear Abby is written by our Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts from Abby, click here.
Posted on September 5th, 2014 by Rachel
NINE DAYS TO MENDES
This week everyone pitched in to hang the maze for our new exhibit. Each day’s package delivery contained a new set of delights, exhibit brochures, flyers and postcards; maze toys that Esther had purchased for the store; new energy-efficient lights for the exhibit gallery – it was like Hanukkah in September.
Deborah and Ilene hard at work!
Even those of us that have been living with the exhibit for the last eighteen months are “amazed” to see it coming together so swiftly now. If you are a JMM member, you’ll want to put the evening of September 14th on your calendar – not only to see the exhibit but to see what’s behind the exhibit. The exhibit continues until next Flag Day (June 14, 2015), so you have plenty of time to tell your friends about it.
The only thing better than seeing the gallery come to life, would be seeing you in it.
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 Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / email@example.com. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org.
Public Opening, The A-mazing Mendes Cohen
Sunday, September 14, 10am-5pm
Included with Museum Admission
Join us on the opening day of our latest exhibit! Explore the story of Mendes Cohen through our new, innovative exhibit developed in partnership with the Maryland Historical Society. On opening day we will have some great family activities available, so you can take a bit of Mendes home with you!
Members Opening: The Making of The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen
Sunday, September 14, 5:00pm
Free for Members
Just for members of the Jewish Museum of Maryland and members of our partner, The Maryland Historical Society, we will have a special insider’s evening at the maze. This will be a chance to not only meet our living history character and explore the exhibit, but also to hear from the creative voices who turned a little-known 19th century soldier, businessman and adventurer into a physical experience. Our panel of experts will delve into the decisions that drove the development of the maze and character—and reveal some of the stories and anecdotes that had to be sent to the “cutting room floor.” It’s a chance to go behind the scenes of the exhibit process for people who love museums.
Citizen Stand: Battle for Baltimore 1814
Sunday, September 21st, 1pm
Performed by Baltimore School for the Arts
Included with Museum Admission
Help us welcome BSA to the JMM for a performance of their latest student production, Citizen Stand: Battle for Baltimore 1814. Students have worked with Maryland Historical Society and National Park Service to develop three short plays about the battle that led to the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. The plays explore different experiences for Baltimoreans in the lead up to war. One play is especially important to us as there is a character not dissimilar from Mendes Cohen.
MPT Pledge Night
Sunday, September 28th
Support JMM and public television on the same night! – we have been invited to participate in an upcoming MPT pledge night on Sunday, September 28th . We have been asked to bring 10 to 15 volunteers to MPT studios in Owings Mills. The volunteers simply need to answer the phones when people call to pledge to the station during the reprise of The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama. In return for this service we will have the opportunity to make a live pitch for the Mendes Cohen exhibit. This is in addition to the fact that our promotional fifteen second spots will also run that evening. MPT has said that it will provide kosher meals for all our callers.
For more details (and to sign up) contact Rachel Kassman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and join in on the fun.
Premium Members Salon: Mendes Cohen
Sunday, October 5, 5:00pm
Free for Living History Circle and above members
This year’s Members Salon will feature a performance of our latest living history character Mendes Cohen, performed by Grant Cloyd. Learn more about this fascinating character as he recounts some of his most fascinating anecdotes, including his experience as a defender at Fort McHenry and his time as a world traveler. Mendes was known in later life to stop passers-by to recount these fascinating stories, now is your chance for history to come to life!
This event is open to our Living History Circle members and above. Light refreshments will be served.
In Full Glory Reflected
Sunday, October 19th, 1pm
Author Burt Kummerow
Included with Museum Admission
We are pleased to be welcoming to the JMM, Burt Kummerow , the director of the Maryland Historical Society, our partner institution for The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen. Mr. Kummerow, an expert on Maryland history, will be talking about his book In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake. The book uncovers its gripping stories of devastating raids, heroic defense, gallant privateers, fugitive slaves, and threatened lands.
Free Fall Baltimore
The Golem: A Horrific Hero with Feet of Clay
Sunday, October 26th, 1pm
Speaker Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg
These days, you don’t have to wait for Halloween to find horror—and especially the living dead—in every corner of pop culture. But where are the Jewish zombies? The mythical golem is an artificially constructed, supernaturally animated, liminal being caught between life and death. Jewish folklore often features this creature in stories of injustice and vengeance. Tales of the golem provide a vital link between the more familiar global legends of the living dead and a Jewish tradition that mingles horror with heroism; it’s time for the golem to get a little respect.
Arnold T. Blumberg teaches courses in zombies in popular media (Univ. of Baltimore) and comic book literature (UMBC).
Mendes Cohen Living History Performance
Sunday, November 16th, 1pm
Actor Grant Cloyd
Included with Museum Admission
See history come alive with this performance of our newest Living History character, Mendes Cohen. Mendes, the focus of our newest exhibit, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, developed in partnership with the Maryland Historical Society, is possibly the most fascinating Baltimorean you have never heard of! Learn more about this fascinating character as he recounts some of his most captivating anecdotes, including his experience as a defender at Fort McHenry and his time as a world traveler.
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
The next meeting of the JGSMD will be held on Sunday, September 28, 2014, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., at the Pikesville Library’s meeting room, 1301 Reisterstown Rd, in Baltimore. The program will be presented by James Schollian, George Harmon, and John Graves of the Hampstead Family History Center. Their presentation will give a brief background of the LDS Church’s worldwide efforts to document, digitize, and index available records essential to family history research (including Jewish records). The program is free for paid members and $5 for non-members (applied to membership fee when a visitor joins JGSMD) after their first meeting. Refreshments will be available. Please check our web site at www.jgsmd.org for late updates and for the time, location, and program of future meetings.
Exhibits currently on display include Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, The Synagogue Speaks! We are delighted to announce the opening of The A-mazing Mendes Cohen on September 14 (on display through June 14, 2015).
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 we are closed for Rosh Hashanah on Thursday and Friday, September 25 and 26.
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.
The definitely A-mazing Mendes Cohen, has made his mark on the Museum Shop, cast an eye on our A-mazing Mendes Cohen mugs!
Get your very own Mendes Mug!
Keep thinking mazes..our Amaze game and the Laser Amaze, a #1 Best Seller, not to mention the Gravity Maze! Games that will both amaze and delight you.
Train your mind with the gravity maze!
The Museum Shop is ready for your holiday shopping, we have made reductions on some best-sellers, come and visit the shop. Remember that all purchases benefit the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and your membership in the JMM entitles you to a 10% discount in our A-mazing Shop!
For information, call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email at email@example.com.