See You on the Flip Side

Posted on June 30th, 2016 by

As a young adult, I find myself on the flipside of many events from my childhood and teenage years. When I began attending my family’s congregation in fifth grade, I fidgeted through the children’s services and, admittedly, antagonized the teen leaders with my friends. We grumbled when instructed to stand, acted too cool to play the games, and introduced ourselves with incorrect names. Of course, only a few years later, I began working as a teen leader myself …and dealt with all the younger kids intent on troublemaking for the next five years.

Now, as an education and programs intern, I’m on yet another flipside: assisting with school and camp group tours and activities. On my first day as an intern, Trillion told us to arrive early the next day to help with a school group. Since that day, we’ve worked with seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, and K-second grade groups. While I first felt most comfortable walking with others and monitoring behavior, I just experienced the best tour yet leading the students myself. While I’ve learned to feel more comfortable with this responsibility, I’ve also learned a few other facts along the way. By combining memories of my own school trips along with my time as one I’ve the leaders, I’ve realized three things.

Exercise activity before seeing the “Beyond Chicken Soup” exhibit!

Exercise activity before seeing the “Beyond Chicken Soup” exhibit!

First, that quiet, seemingly disengaged kid in the corner? He or she may just need someone to personally engage with them. I know this both from my own experience as the quiet kid and from my favorite moment with a school group. We all sat in the exhibit beneath Lloyd Street Synagogue, while the instructor gave a mini-Hebrew lesson. After learning a few words, the leader told the students to turn to each other, shake hands, and say “Shabbat Shalom.” After a few seconds of awkwardness, most kids got into it, shaking hands wildly up and down while giggling “Shabbat Shalom!”  One kid, however, sat further away from the others, a slight frown on his face. I went up to him and stuck out my hand for a handshake. Right away, his face split into the biggest smile and his eyes lit up, taking my hand and giving me a very professional handshake. “Shabbat Shalom,” I grinned, and he giggled it right back.

The box of goodies that turns into an archeology game.

The box of goodies that turns into an archeology game.

Second, both the students and the adult leaders compromise for each other. I know from being a student that sometimes, even if you enjoy the trip’s topic or location, you’re just not in the mood on that particular day. Yet, you still sit (relatively) still, try to listen, and participate when possible. At the same time, the leaders listen to the needs of the students more than I realized. Twice now, we’ve changed the original plan based on the needs of the students, whether cutting out an activity or changing the timing of lunch when students complained of hunger. It makes me wonder what compromises my own teachers and student leaders enacted when I took these fieldtrips.

Finally, a large group of kindergarten, first, and second graders listens and plays along far better than a medium sized group of ninth graders. Whether it’s the different degrees of fear, respect, and excitement, or simply the difference in height (even many seventh graders towered over me), I would take the group of younger children any day.

All in all, these school and camp tours remain my favorite part of this internship. I love improvising to cater the exhibits to each group, seeing the students interact with each other, and hearing their guesses to my questions. Museums are for the public, so I consider it special that the education and program interns have the chance to see it engage with our museum first hand.

06.06.2016 Interns (13)Blog post by Education & Programs Intern Anna Balfanz. To read  more posts by and about interns click HERE.

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Creating Specialty Tours

Posted on May 27th, 2016 by

Last year, the JMM was approached by George Washington University requesting that the JMM be a host site for graduate students enrolled in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts program, the first program of its kind in the country.  Our museum would serve as a setting for graduate students to learn how Jewish museums provide experiential learning opportunities to our visitors, both students and adults.

Shoshana at work

Shoshana at work

We were very lucky to meet Shoshana Hirschhorn, a Michigan native, via Charlotte, North Carolina to DC/Baltimore.  Shoshana took the train from DC twice a week to the JMM for her internship.  Shoshana always comes to work with a smile on her face-awaiting the day’s new challenges.

Last Thursday was Shoshana’s last day of her internship with us at the JMM.  She is off to spend the summer at her second internship with Yeshiva University Museum.  We wish her well and look forward to her visit with us at the end of the summer!

-Ilene Dackman-Alon, Education Director

Working at a museum is an exciting experience where no two days are ever the same. The past eight months at the Jewish Museum of Maryland have been wonderful!

Coming to the Museum having been an elementary school teacher in a large urban school district and a Hebrew school teacher, I was curious to see how the JMM accommodated both of these groups of students. As an intern at the JMM, one of my primary responsibilities was to help with school groups and school programs. I helped to design education resources in connection with the exhibitions, Paul Simon: Words & Music and the Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America. I also had the opportunity to help design two of the specialty tours of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. The first, the Sounds of the Synagogue tour, looked at the Synagogue in the context of the Paul Simon exhibition, focusing on music and sounds heard throughout the building’s life as both a synagogue and church.

Ilene puts on her "history detective" accessories for the Book, Bell, and Candle tour.

Ilene puts on her “history detective” accessories for the Book, Bell, and Candle tour.

The second tour came about in connection with MADE: In America and the naming of the Carroll Mansion as the 2016 All American House. I, along with another intern, other members of the Education Team, and Executive Director, Marvin Pinkert, researched and developed a concept for the tour to accompany the Lloyd Street Synagogue’s title as the All American Synagogue. This tour looks at the material culture of the building, including information about the designers, builders, and crafters involved in the construction of the building. The exciting twist is that this tour allows visitors to take on the role of “history detective” as certain mysteries remain regarding the specific items discussed on the tour. The lingering questions are ones we were unable to find answers to during the research phase, so they in turn became part of the experience. The visitors can help the Education Team think of different places to look or alternative ideas as well as come up with their own questions they would like answered.

The research behind this tour was extensive, searching through numerous newspaper articles and contacting specialists, while hitting multiple dead ends along the way. Curiosity propelled my search, which made things difficult when the idea was to leave the tour open ended came up. I still wanted to know – who brought the original Torah used by the congregants? What happened to the bell? What did the first Ner Tamid look like? Hopefully this curiosity for knowing the story behind the objects translates to the visitors and they too become interested in the origins of the parts that make up the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

A Clue Card

A Clue Card

The projects and programs I have worked on have shown me the power of education in museums and their ability to bring learning to life. The most rewarding part of my time at the Museum was the direct interactions with the children visiting the JMM on school field trips and helping to guide their educational experiences.

The greatest lessons I have learned here are the practical need for flexibility and the importance of connecting museum activities to classroom learning. Coursework from my program in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts at GW has supported me throughout this internship.

Blog post by education intern Shoshana Hirschhorn. To read more posts by and about interns, click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Once Upon a Time…09.11.2015

Posted on May 17th, 2016 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email


20060131854Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  September 11, 2015

PastPerfect Accession #:  2006.013.1854

Status:  Unidentified – can you name any of these students in Skip Barthold’s guitar class? Held at the JCC in 1977.



Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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