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Calling all Professors, Lecturers, and College Instructors!

Posted on March 30th, 2020 by

A blog post by Museum Educator Marisa Shultz! To read more posts from Marisa, click here.

As our essential efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are grinding traditional in-classroom learning to a halt, many colleges, school districts, and other educational institutions are determining the best way forward for their teachers and students alike. At the JMM, we’ve been brainstorming, designing, and producing new ways for you, our JMM family, to still access and enjoy the stories that we preserve and tell. Today, I am happy to provide a teaser for an upcoming resource from the JMM!

While we may not be able to teach in front of our students right now (as Dr. Shimon Shokek, former professor of Mysticism at Baltimore Hebrew University, did in this photograph) we can still provide engaging and profound learning opportunities for our students. Baltimore Hebrew University Archives Collection, JMM 2009.40.3466.

As many colleges are moving to the realm of online and distance learning, the JMM education team has decided to take the plunge as well. We are currently designing several online programs geared toward college classes on the history of immigration to Baltimore through Locust Point, the history of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and on Jewish customs and beliefs. During these presentations, professors will be able to beam a member of our staff into their online class sessions through a digital software such as Zoom. The presentations will include photographic and documentary primary sources and will be based on our Voices of Lombard Street and The Synagogue Speaks exhibits.

Pictured here is the Class of 1923, the very first graduating class of Baltimore Hebrew University, now the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University. Baltimore Hebrew University Archives Collection, JMM 2009.40.4969.

We are really excited about the prospect of seeing (virtually, of course) some familiar faces and working with some new folks in the near future! If you’re a professor, lecturer, instructor, or even a college student, who is interested in this endeavor, please contact Paige Woodhouse, our School Program Coordinator ( to learn more or sign up! In the meantime, be on the lookout for our new weekly JMM Insights series.  In this weekly newsletter, we’re announcing all kinds of new opportunities and resources!


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New Educator On The Block

Posted on March 16th, 2020 by

Hello Everyone,

My name is Allene Gutin and I am the new part-time educator at the JMM.  As someone who has been in the education field for many years, I am excited to have this position.  I am able to continue with my love of teaching and being with children, but I don’t have to grade papers or call parents!

I am a true Baltimore girl, born and raised.  I went to Arlington Elementary, Pimlico Jr. High and Northwestern Sr High.  I can still sing the school song for Arlington!  I became a Bat Mitzvah at Beth Jacob Congregation but am now a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. Sort of ironic.

I have a beautiful family.  A  cool husband from North Carolina who brings me coffee every morning and two beautiful children, Hannah and Raphael.

I also have two cats, Gidget and Johnny Angel and a very senior dog named Moon Doggie.  Do you see a connection there?

I am also a beach baby.  My family and I take a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina every year.  No better place in the world for us to chill as a family.

I love 60”s pop culture. I am a Trekie.  Mr. Spock is my favorite.  Maybe that’s why I’m so excited about our upcoming exhibit, Jews in Space. Hope to see you there.

Live long and prosper!


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

We Are Open: Being vulnerable for the difficult conversations

Posted on March 9th, 2020 by

From Visitor Services Coordinator Talia Makowsky. To read more posts from Talia, click here.

Our new mission statement has only been in use a few months, but we’ve been working towards our commitment to connection, action, and a better future for a while now. For me, I’ve been focusing a lot on two particular parts of our values, nurturing discourse and fostering discovery. These values that people matter and learning matters mean that I need to do what I can to make the Museum an open place.

Keeping a Museum open in this way is more than unlocking the doors and turning the lights on. Of course, we check every day that our exhibits are in working order, that our facilities are clean and safe to use, and prepare to greet every person who visits us. But beyond being a friendly face at the front desk, we also work to create a sense of welcome to everyone. At the same time, we want to find moments of vulnerability and honesty to encourage learning. We are still figuring out how to do this, and we make mistakes as we learn, as anyone does. By taking the lessons from these mistakes, and continuing to try our best, we work towards the future of a welcoming Museum that acts as a site of discourse, preservation, and discovery.

Part of this work involves finding stories that are relevant to today, while also sharing the vital stories of the Jewish community. I think the Jewish Refugees in Shanghai exhibit is a great example. This exhibit, which was opened a little over a year ago, was created by the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum, about the Jewish refugees who fled Central Europe during the 1930s and 40s. This exhibit, written from the Shanghai perspective, explores the history of the Jewish refugees who fled the Holocaust, what living in Shanghai was like, the formation of the Hongkou Ghetto after the breakout of the Pacific War, and why most of the Jewish refugees left Shanghai after the war. It also includes the personal stories of Jewish people who survived because they were able to take refuge in Shanghai.

One of the most exciting moments of the exhibit was the opening, which featured lion dancers in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

While the focus of this exhibit is the time period during the Holocaust, the topics of immigration and the relationship between Jewish and Chinese communities is still obviously relevant to our current times. The conversation around these topics are essential to our mission today, as we share new stories with our audiences, find new ways to have difficult conversations, and engage with new communities, who may be more inclined to visit if their own history is represented as well. This exhibit was clearly a success, as we had jam-packed programs and group visits from organizations who had never stepped through our doors before. For more information about the exhibit, I encourage you to read Marvin’s blog post, Shanghai in Context.

We work to find interesting programs that will lead to questions and conversations.

The importance of these types of exhibits and conversations cannot be understated, as one line of the exhibit expresses: “The history of Jewish Refugees in Shanghai is more than a topic for academic research. It also bears real significance on enhancing Sino-Jewish friendship and promoting world peace.” I argue that many of the stories that the Museum shares have an impact on the Jewish community’s relationships, within itself and with others.

Having difficult conversations about weighty topics is important to our goal of being welcoming. By providing a place where discourse can happen, we create more empathy and civility between people. Take our school groups for example. Some of the students that visit the Museum have never stepped into a synagogue before and may not even know what the word means. Our educators lead the students through the history of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and give them an introduction to Judaism, a somewhat daunting task considering the multi-faceted and complex nature of Judaism. But our educator’s experienced and careful guidance allows students to find connections between themselves and Jewish people, creating empathy and familiarity that wasn’t there before. I see that newfound compassion every time a school group heads back out the door, as they wave goodbye and exclaim “Shalom!” with huge smiles.

Students are always excited to learn and ask questions, even if they’re difficult questions to answer. Luckily, our Education staff know the importance of having these conversations.

As I look forward to future programs, exhibits, and visits at the Museum, I continue to wonder how I can make these moments of discomfort, vulnerability, and learning more accessible to every person who comes through the doors. How can I make help people to feel ready to engage in this discourse, explore new history, and challenge their own personal beliefs? I also wonder how I can push myself to do the same. From what I’ve learned so far, there’s no one answer, as every person finds their own way to learn and to grow, and so different resources and tools must be available for each individual need. While I work to implement those tools, I hope I can represent the Museum as a place of openness and welcoming, no matter what else is going on in the world.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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