Henrietta Szold- A Hometown Hero Goes to Baltimore City Public Schools

Posted on January 5th, 2017 by

In early fall, the JMM developed its fifth living history character, Henrietta Szold in connection with our latest exhibition, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America.  The JMM’s education department developed learning and resource materials based on her exceptional life and career as well as highlight the challenges she faced as a modern woman defining herself as an American Jew during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Henrietta Szold meets the students of Morrell Park.

Henrietta Szold meets the students of Morrell Park.

Henrietta Szold was born in Baltimore in 1860, the daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold, the spiritual leader of Baltimore’s Temple Oheb Shalom. Throughout her life, Henrietta was committed to helping those who were in need.  Szold’s many contributions included establishing a night school in Baltimore for new immigrants and the creation of Hadassah, a national Zionist women’s organization devoted to improving health care in Palestine that is still in existence today.  She was directly involved in the rescue of European Jewish children during World War II through her work with Youth Aliyah, an initiative that helped resettle and educate Jewish youth in Palestine.

Natalie Pilcher as Henrietta

Natalie Pilcher as Henrietta

In November, Henrietta Szold, portrayed by Natalie Pilcher made her way to the 7th and 8th grade classrooms at Morell Park Elementary/Middle School located in the southwest section of the city. The living history character Henrietta Szold was used to kick-off the students’ own research on their National History day projects.  This year’s theme- Taking A Stand in History.  The objectives of the program were that the students would watch the presentation and following they would have the opportunity to ask questions.   The performances were stellar and the students asked great questions relative to Henrietta’s life following the presentations.  A few students even asked Natalie about her job as an actress and asked for tips in preparing for their own National History day projects.

Natalie speaks with a student about her role as Henrietta

Natalie speaks with a student about her role as Henrietta

Two weeks later, the education staff followed up with another visit to the classroom.  This time, the students looked at reproductions of archival materials relating to Henrietta’s life and answer questions to make better understanding of the documents.  The images represented Henrietta’s life both in Baltimore and in Palestine.  Students made their own connection to Szold’s life knowing that they also attended Baltimore City public schools and they were also familiar with the address of her two homes, one on Lombard and the other on Eutaw Streets.

Engaging with archival reproductions

Engaging with archival reproductions

morellpark4

Engaging with archival reproductions

The students also saw images of the early medical care that was available in Palestine in the early 1920’s, and made connections to their own experiences of medical care.  They also showed empathy as they learned of Szold’s courageous work saving over 10,000 children from Nazi Germany through her work with Youth Aliyah.

Students at Morrell Park

Students at Morrell Park

Students at Morrell Park

Students at Morrell Park

We returned back to Morell Park a week later to the classroom and the teacher was so excites to see us because she wanted to share the bulletin board that she had created documenting the students work in connection with Henrietta Szold.  Henrietta Szold is now Baltimore City Public Schools new Hometown Hero.  You can learn about Henrietta Szold – Baltimore’s Own Hometown Hero in the JMM’s exhibit, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America through January 16, 2017.  If you would like to learn more about the Henrietta Szold Living History Education project, contact Education Director, Ilene Dackman-Alon at idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org or 443.873.5718.

Henrietta Szold: Living History Character was made possible through the generous support of the Kolker-Saxon-Hallock Family Foundation, Inc., a supporting foundation of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Educational opportunities were made possible by the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund of The Associated.

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

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Hanukkah Cuteness Throughout Our Partnership Schools!

Posted on December 29th, 2016 by

The JMM piloted its successful Museum-School Partnership program eleven years ago, working with four Baltimore City schools and met with great success.  This model includes moving beyond the one-time annual field trip and one-time classroom activity.  The JMM provides 4-8 programs over the course of the year, some at the Museum and other at the school.  Independent evaluations, participant-observer reports, and direct testing of knowledge, documents the value and productivity of sustained engagement between the Museum, the school, and the students. In each partnership, Museum education staff work with individual teachers and administrators to adapt JMM program offerings to meet the specific needs of the specific schools and students.

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A little bit of Chanukah dancing!

Our Museum-School partnership has become a signature achievement of the JMM’s education department since it was launched eleven years ago.  During this academic school year, we are working with five specific schools, that are our neighbors in East and West Baltimore- Patterson Park Public Charter School, City Springs Elementary/Middle School, John Ruhrah Elementary /Middle School, Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School and Windsor Hills Elementary/Middle School.

Learning to play dreidel

Learning to play dreidel

During the holiday season, it is a thrill to go inside the classrooms and expose children to the  Jewish customs and traditions of Hanukkah.  The importance of multicultural education in our schools is so important especially in today’s world where our schools consist of children from a wide array of cultures including people from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa; whereas, in earlier generations immigrants came from mostly western and northern Europe. Our schools play an important role preparing students for the responsibilities of an ever-changing diverse and global society.

Chanukah storytelling

Chanukah storytelling

Over the past 3 weeks, the JMM has spent a lot of time inside the classrooms of our museum/school partnerships schools serving more than 300 students and teaching them about Hanukkah.  In many instances, our education programs are the first time that many children have ever heard about other religions, or customs other than their own.    Our staff had so much using storytelling, dreidel spinning and dancing to teach students about the Jewish customs and traditions of Hanukkah.   We hope that you will enjoy some of these special moments with area school children!  Happy Hanukkah!

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

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Fostering Empathy and Understanding at the JMM

Posted on November 30th, 2016 by

In this time of divisive politics and hateful language, I would like to highlight a few of the educational programs at the JMM in the past few month that I believe encourage dialogue and foster empathy and understanding. I would also like to share a few thoughts about how the Museum community as a whole can respond to our recent election.

I have always found the JMM to be a very welcoming and inclusive place that also aims to encourage dialogue on contemporary issues. In our mission, we strive to be a site of discourse and discovery, where individuals and groups are encouraged to draw connections to “events and trends in American History, to contemporary life, and to our hopes and aspirations for the future.” JMM Mission and Vision

Vanguard students in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Vanguard students in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Through our education programs, we strive to teach students about Jewish culture and traditions as well as work to find connections with their own stories and heritages.  Last month, a class of English as a Second Language students, including several refugees from Syria, visited from Vanguard Collegiate Middle School. We also had middle school students from Baltimore International Academy visit earlier this month.  I have been lucky enough to facilitate education programs in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit for several of these schools. I have found it very rewarding sharing the stories of Baltimore’s Jewish immigrants to a younger generation of immigrants.

Lessons of the Shoah

Lessons of the Shoah

Earlier this month, about 275 students and 25 teachers participated in Lessons of the Shoah, a high school interfaith program, this year held at John Carroll High School. The theme of this year’s program was No Asylum: the Plight of the Refugees. One of the goals of this program is to use the Holocaust as a starting point to promote tolerance, understanding and respect among students of diverse backgrounds. From all accounts, it sounded like a powerful program which included film screenings, musical selections, hearing from a Holocaust survivor and discussions about current refugee issues.

ICJS Teacher Workshop

ICJS Teacher Workshop

I also attended a teachers workshop a few weeks ago called Jewish and Muslim Refugees: Connecting the Past to the Present where we watched the film “Lives Lost: Lives Found” about Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1945, took part in a gallery walk activity to raise awareness of Islamophobia and heard from an Iraqi Muslim refugee currently living in Baltimore.

Teachers work in groups at the ICJS workshop, hosted at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Teachers work in groups at the ICJS workshop, hosted at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

While I am very proud of the work we do at the JMM, I was also glad to read that other Museums have recently reaffirmed their their roles as safe and open spaces. Laura Lott, the President of the American Alliance of Museums, also offered insightful comments in response to the election. She wrote that “Our institutions are uniquely positioned to listen, learn, and educate; to give historical context; and to foster empathy and inclusion by sharing the stories and perspectives of all people.” To sum up, museums are more important than ever now and I believe they can play a role in helping the nation heal and move forward by serving as safe spaces to have difficult conversations. Museums can model a kinder, emphatic and tolerant society. If you would like to promote the work Museums do everyday, I would encourage you to participate in Museum Advocacy Day on Feb. 27-28 in Washington D.C.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

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