Posted on August 15th, 2013 by Rachel
The JMM convened our annual Summer Teachers Institute on July 29 at Chizuk Amuno Congregation. This three-day program focusing on Holocaust education was devoted to the theme, Confronting Genocide: Heroism During the Holocaust. The following are program highlights:
For our first day, we invited Wanda Urbanska of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation to speak about Jan Karski, a Polish diplomat who tried to alert world leaders about the horrors of the Holocaust. Her presentation included a review of the complex history of Poland as well as details of the dramatic exploits of Jan Karski which included smuggling himself into the Lodz Ghetto as well as a transit camp where he witnessed first-hand Nazi atrocities towards Jews.
Participants listening to Wanda Urbanski’s presentation.
Thanks to the generosity of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, each participant received a copy of Karski’s book, Story of a Secret State, published originally in 1944. An afternoon presentation by educator Jonathan Willis demonstrated how teachers can create lesson plans based on the book that integrate Common Core standards.
In the afternoon, teachers were riveted as World War II veteran Sol Goldstein shared his experiences in such seminal events as the D-Day landing, the Battle of the Bulge, and the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
For many teachers, it was the first time that they had heard testimony from a liberator and his presentation complemented the morning presentation and emphasized the theme of “Heroism During the Holocaust.”
We spent our second day in Washington, DC at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition to viewing the permanent exhibit, we also were able to tour a new exhibit Some Were Neighbors: Complicity and Collaboration During the Holocaust. This powerful exhibition documents the actions of ordinary individuals – not Nazis – who participated in a wide range of terrible acts against Jews including looting Jewish businesses, purchasing stolen property at auctions, and even taking part in the shooting squads of Jews in Eastern Europe. One of the most powerful features of the exhibition are interviews with Jewish survivors who talk about how their former friends and neighbors turned on them as well as with non-Jews who describe their participation in the Holocaust as train conductors and shooting squad members.
An afternoon presentation by USHMM scholar, Dr. Ann Millin, focused on an on-line resource created as a companion to the exhibition. Dr. Millin demonstrated many valuable features of the website which includes a vast array of educational resources.
The last day of the workshop took place at the JMM. Teachers toured our historic synagogues as well as one of our exhibits, Zap! Pow! Bam! which provided context for our two morning sessions. Poly High School teacher Joshua Headly facilitated a session on teaching the graphic novel Maus in the classroom which was followed up by a presentation by Kristin Schenning, education director at the Maryland Historical Society, on the topic of propaganda.
The day concluded with survivor testimony by Edith Cord who was a hidden child during the Holocaust.
Once again we were delighted by the response and feedback we received from teachers. Comments such as “Thank you for making me think deeply about the Holocaust and how to teach it” and “I feel better equipped to tackle the daunting task of teaching the Shoah” demonstrate the extent to which our Summer Teachers Institute provides a high quality educational experience for teachers. The JMM is grateful to our program partners: The Baltimore Jewish Council, Maryland State Department of Education, and Chizuk Amuno Congregation; and we are most appreciative of the ongoing support of our generous sponsors, Judy and Jerry Macks.
This year’s group of participating educators was outstanding, true superheroes!
A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts by Deborah, click here.
Posted on August 7th, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post by Education Intern Marissa Walker. Marissa is supervised by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Marissa and other JMM interns, click here.
About two weeks ago, Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman gave all the interns an assignment: create a small display including collections objects, photographs, or archival documents to be displayed in the exhibition preview display case in the lobby of the museum. Interns were divided into groups of two or three and each group was given a different subject or theme to focus on in their display plans. Trillion and I were grouped together, since we are the only two interns on the West side of the museum and are working in the same department. The wide range of topics for this display project included archeology, the march on Washington, and our topic, Education.
At first, Trillion and I were a bit concerned. We were excited to participate in a project that would lead to a direct contribution to the museum’s public displays, but were overwhelmed by the enormity of our topic. Education is the focus of every parent, teacher, and student who walks through the doors of the Jewish Museum, or any museum, for that matter. We began to explore Past Perfect, our online archives and collections database, hoping to find inspiration. Thinking it might be interesting to do a study on the Hebrew day schools of Baltimore, past and present, we started with the most general search we could think of: “school.”
A few thousand search results later, we came upon an interesting collection of memorabilia from what seemed to be a camp for displaced persons in Munich, Germany. The Gaulan School was established by a couple named Nechama and Paul Spector, who had donated several of their important documents and photographs to the museum collection. Feeling confident, we tried a simple google search, hoping to find a jumping-off point for more research on the topic of the school. Although searching for Paul Spector turned up nothing in particular, Nechama’s death announcement in the Baltimore Sun gave us a few more dates around which we could make a mental timeline.
Based on our findings, we decided to pursue a display case focusing on the Spectors and their educational journey. This prompted an email to Jobi Zink, head of collections, in which we requested the transcript of Paul Spector’s oral history. Jobi obliged by not only pulling his oral history, but digging up the entire Spector collection of documents from the archives for us. Excited and filled with anticipation, Trillion and I dove (very carefully and with cloth gloves, of course) into the oral history. Although the conversational style of Paul’s oral history made it a bit difficult to follow, we did gather some important information about his life pre-WWII, which helped us put his journey into context. Feeling that we had more of a lead, we turned to the additional documents Jobi had pulled for us from the Spectors.
In the folder we found a teaching certificate for Paul Spector, and a letter of recommendation that, based on the information in his oral history, we could say with relative certainty came from the Gaulan School the year he decided to move to America (1949). We also found what seemed to be a magazine detailing the activities and happenings in the displaced persons camp in which the Spectors taught, as well as current events. Because the document was written in German and Yiddish, we recruited Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon to help translate some of the headlines and bylines for the various articles inside. Ilene was overjoyed; the Spectors had been her Hebrew teachers when she was a child! She speculated that she might even have some of her old report cards from them, complete with Nechama’s signature.
Well on our journey to an engaging and relevant display, we are now gearing up for the last two weeks of our internship. I have learned so much this summer about every aspect of museum work. The research and collaboration that the museum workplace requires is only one small part of the knowledge I will be taking with me. This display project has been one of many great teaching tools in my museum work education, and has inspired me to continue on the path to professional museum work.
Posted on July 9th, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post from Collections Intern Clare Robbins. Clare works with senior collections manager Jobi Zink. To read more posts by Clare and other JMM interns, click here.
This summer I’ve had a wonderful time working with Jobi in the Collections Department at the JMM. I’ve worked on a variety of projects including processing the 2012-2013 collections, creating a condition report notebook for the “Voices of Lombard Street” exhibit, and even writing the catalogue numbers on surface of several objects.
After practicing writing 1984.16.1 for thirty minutes, I finally wrote it on the bottle.
Last week, I started transcribing an oral history with Dr. Ruth Finkelstein that will be used in the upcoming “Jews, Health and Healing” exhibit. Dr. Finkelstein was a Baltimorean obstetrician and gynecologist beginning in the late 1930s through the 1980s who worked for better health care and family planning for women. Listening to Dr. Finkelstein discuss her experiences has definitely been one of the highlights from my summer. While I haven’t finished the interview, I thought I would share what I have found so far.
I’m busy transcribing Dr. Ruth Finkelstein’s interview.
Dr. Finkelstein grew up in New York City with her parents and four siblings. Her father decided early in her life that she would become a doctor. When she was twelve years old, Finkelstein’s father wrote to the Johns Hopkins Medical School for a catalogue that outlined how to get into medical school and she planned her life accordingly. After finishing high school, she attended Johns Hopkins for both undergraduate and medical school.
In medical school, Finkelstein worked and lived at the first birth control clinic in Baltimore, officially called the Bureau for Contraceptive Advice because, as Finkelstein recalls, “birth control was a dirty word.” Dr. Bessie Moses, a Baltimorean gynecologist, (you can read more about Dr. Moses here and here) opened this clinic on Broadway after she was denied space in the hospital. Moses used the first floor as a birth control clinic and rented the upstairs to medical students. While it was not illegal to open a privately funded birth control clinic at this time, Finkelstein recounted the difficulties that early gynecologist like herself and Dr. Moses faced. The Comstock law deemed birth control to be pornographic, thus making it illegal to import diaphragms (the only form of birth control at the time) from Europe. Margaret Sanger, an early birth control activist and nurse, smuggled the diaphragms into the United States and distributed them to Moses. Further, the only way a woman could go to the clinic was if she was referred by her physicians. Women, however, were only referred if they had a heart, lung, or kidney disease.
Finkelstein also discussed the difficulties female doctors experienced in the early twentieth century. Not only was Finkelstein the only Jewish woman at Johns Hopkins Medical School, she was also the only woman from her undergraduate class to pursue medicine. As a doctor, she found that her opinion was not respected by her male colleagues. The male doctors, she described, were “belittling” and overall dismissive of her opinions and diagnoses. Because of these attitudes, Finkelstein could only work with a small group of physicians.
Despite the many hardships Finkelstein faced, she worked in the largely male-dominated medical field as an obstetrician and gynecologist in order to help women. The best way that I can conclude this post is with a short quotations from Dr. Ruth Finkelstein describing her basic philosophy. “I’m a champion of the underdog. I’m a softy. My philosophy is to help people, I guess.”