My Family Story Project, 2016

Posted on March 17th, 2016 by

I love to visit area schools and I felt such joy over the past two weekends visiting three local religious school programs that are participating in the My Family Story project, an initiative from Beit Hatfutsot’s International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies which has been funded and supported by the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education.  The students participating in this project have embarked on a journey to the past, an exploration of heritage, and a project that goes beyond the usual family tree.  This journey has connected students to their personal stories, their family stories and to their story within the greater story of the Jewish People.  These students are not alone in this adventure.  Students and teachers throughout the Jewish world and Israel have also been on their own family explorations and are participating in this project.

Student project

Student project

During the 1990’s, a prominent psychologist at Emory University, Dr. Marshall Duke was tasked with researching the nature of “myth and ritual in American families.”  From his research, Dr. Duke discovered that one of the most important things a family can do is to develop a strong family narrative.  There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family.  Duke  was more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces.  Dr. Duke set out to help families build and talk about their history; it proved to be quite a breakthrough.  Digging deeper in his research, Duke said, “children who have the most self-confidence have what he calls a “’strong intergenerational self”.  They know they belong to something bigger then themselves.  Leaders in other fields have found similar results, many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about.

Student project

Student project

In speaking to the students from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Bolton Street Synagogue and Beit Tikvah, these children really seem to have a sense of pride about their stories that they shared with me.  They learned about places throughout the world where their ancestors emigrated from along with stories that hopefully they will pass on to future generations. One of the students told me that one of her ancestors shared in a pail of beer with President Lincoln… How cool is that!!!

Student project

Student project

The projects will be judged at the My Family Story Exhibition that will take place on Thursday evening, April 7 at the JMM.    Projects will be judged based on a rubric in areas of,   Jewish peoplehood, depth of research, aesthetics and creativity.  The projects will be scored and two winners will be picked and sent to Beit Hatfutsot in Israel along with other projects from students participating throughout the world.  The staff at Beit Hatfutsot will pick 40 winners and those winners will receive a free trip to Israel in June and meet with the international winners who also won from their communities.

Student project

Student project

The students have been really working hard on their projects….. Hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek at some of their works in progress……..  We hope you will make your way to the JMM to see the creativity of area students and the interpretations of their family narratives.  Want to learn more about this awesome project? Contact Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Education; idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org

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

 

 

 

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Stepping Back in Time

Posted on February 24th, 2016 by

Walking into the Krieger Schechter Day School on a dreary and snowy February day, my colleagues Trillion, Joanna and I felt as though we had traveled back in time. Students wearing poodle skirts and letter jackets roamed the halls and the sounds of rock and roll played in the background. We had come to participate in the middle school’s Learning Festival, a three-day break from normal academics when the entire student body immerses itself in the study of a specific theme through speakers, field trips and a variety of hands-on activities. This year’s theme, “The 1950s: From Prosperity to Protest”, was an especially rich topic, one that was clearly embraced by students and teachers alike.

The JMM was thrilled to be invited to participate. To help shed light on an important 1950s trend, suburbanization, we installed our traveling exhibition, Jews on the Move, which examines the history of the move of Baltimore’s Jewish community from the city to the suburbs from 1945-68. The exhibition was on view for two weeks in a hallway near Chizuk Amuno’s sanctuary where it was enjoyed by both the school community as well as by synagogue congregants.

Jews on the Move was developed as a collaborative project with The Program in Museums and Society at the Johns Hopkins University. It was originally installed in 2012 at the Johns Hopkins University. It has since been featured at many additional venues including the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Library and several synagogues.

Jews on the Move was developed as a collaborative project with The Program in Museums and Society at the Johns Hopkins University. It was originally installed in 2012 at the Johns Hopkins University. It has since been featured at many additional venues including the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Library and several synagogues.

In addition to having the exhibit on view, Trillion and I led two workshops for students during which they had an opportunity to look for photos and stories in the exhibit (bonus points for finding a 1960s photo of Chizuk Amuno!).

Students viewing the exhibit.

Students viewing the exhibit.

Students viewing the exhibit.

Students viewing the exhibit.

They then worked together in groups to review 1950s era advertisements from real estate companies that ran in the Jewish Times that tried to entice suburban home buyers. Students were asked to identify what features were highlighted to appeal to potential buyers (spacious floor plans, new and modern appliances, yards, etc) and how the use of images and typography helped make the case.

Ads like this one from the Jewish Times in 1960 appealed to families looking to move out of crowded homes in the city.

Ads like this one from the Jewish Times in 1960 appealed to families looking to move out of crowded homes in the city.

After they had analyzed their photos, students then designed their own ad for a 1950s-era suburban development that they shared with classmates.  We loved the enthusiasm with which the students tackled this assignment and were even treated to an advertising jingle and dance by one of the groups.

deborahA blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

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December Education Highlights

Posted on December 25th, 2015 by

At a quick glance looking at the December school group numbers, the education department was busy engaging with over 550 students (Pre K-Grade 11) from 15 schools throughout the area that took advantage of JMM education programs on site as well as outreach programs.  These students came from Jewish, Catholic and public schools from Frederick County, Harford County, Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

At the beginning of the month, eighth graders from Windsor Hills Middle School (one of the JMM’s museum/school partnership schools) came to the JMM to participate in activities relating to Paul Simon: Words and Music.  The students also helped us pilot a new education program that we recently developed looking at injustices (women’s rights, housing, slavery, civil rights, anti-Semitism etc.)  that have occurred throughout our history.  The students were so engaged in the archival exploration activity and used great critical skills in trying to understand the images and documents.  They enjoyed sharing their finding with their classmates.

A beautifully decorated bulletin board!

A beautifully decorated bulletin board!

The education department went to Matthew A. Henson Elementary School and celebrated the holiday of Hanukkah with over 60 preschoolers.   We were delighted to see the lovely Hanukkah bulletin board in the hallway outside of the classrooms.   The children loved learning about miracle of Hanukkah through puppets and also learned how to spin dreidels.  The students honed their one to one correspondence skills by matching the Hebrew letter on the dreidel to the work mat made by our education department.  The children also loved learning how to play Hanukkah dominoes and matching symbols of the holiday.

Learning the dreidel

Learning the dreidel

Last week, over 55 kindergartners from Highlandtown Elementary School visited the JMM in connection with their study of World Cultures and celebrations.  Students learned about the life of Ida Rehr and the Preschool Immigrant’s Trunk program.  Students loved learning about Ida’s brave voyage to ‘The Golden Land” and spent time role playing how Ida might have lived on Lombard Street during the 1920’s in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit.  The students also loved exploring the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Yesterday, students and parents from Bolton Street Synagogue kicked off the My Family Story project that is generously funded by the Hilda & Jacob Blaustein Enrichment Fund for Jewish Education.  My Family Story offers an opportunity for students and their families to delve into their family history and create an art installation that represented their family ancestry.  This year students and their families are participating in the My Family Story project from three local congregational schools, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Beit Tikvah Congregation and Bolton Street Synagogue.  Bolton Street students and their families gathered and enjoyed an Immigrant’s Trunk performance with Ida Rehr.  We are looking forward to seeing all of the projects that are being made in connection with the My Family Story project later this spring in April.

 

We look forward to working with students from area school after school resumes after New Year’s!

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

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