Millenial Belonging: Voices from the Exhibitions Intern Team

Posted on October 23rd, 2017 by

This summer we asked our summer interns to team up and create their very own podcast episodes. Over the course of ten weeks they needed to pitch a concept, draft a script, and record and edit their podcasts. We’ve shared those podcasts here with you on the blog over the course of the last few weeks – here is the final episode from our 2017 Summer Interns! You can see all of their podcasts by clicking on the intern podcast tag.

Exhibit interns Jillie, Tirza, and Ryan.

Exhibit interns Jillie, Tirza, and Ryan.

Belonging in Judaism is not only an academically complex and fascinating topic, but it is also a very personal one. Every person, regardless of ethnicity, race, and age, experiences the intricacies of the concept of belonging.  Work, hobbies, family, friends and other avenues that are defined by people coming together and moving apart are integral to being human. Belonging and in turn not belonging are unavoidable elements to the human experience.  In this podcast episode summer exhibition interns Tirza Ochrach-Konradi, Ryan Mercado, and Jillie Drutz share their personal narratives of Jewish belonging and discuss the involvement of our general millennial age group with Judaism.

>>Listen to the Podcast<<

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Discoveries and Connections at the Museum

Posted on July 19th, 2017 by

A blog post by Exhibitions Intern Jillie Drutz. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

My first day as an intern with the JMM, we learned about PastPerfect, the (kind of crazy cool to be honest) collections software the museum uses, and were instructed to explore and practice the many ways you can use the software to research objects, archives, and people. Exploring the collections–menus from the Suburban House, Kiddush cups, and old photographs from Pikesville–I could not help but feel as if I were rummaging through my own grandparent’s basement. With Jewish grandparents born and raised in Baltimore, I started searching their names in PastPerfect expecting some interesting results. The only thing I found was that I would need to do more genealogical research on my paternal family to yield any results. One name did catch my eye: “Samson Benderly.” I knew the name Benderly because it was my maternal great grandmother’s maiden name. I never considered looking for my mother’s family in the JMM collection because they immigrated to the United States from Israel recently.

Dr. Samson Benderly 1900 (Age 24). JMM 1974.8.2

Dr. Samson Benderly 1900 (Age 24). JMM 1974.8.2

Looking at a photo of a Happy Birthday certificate Samson Benderly wrote to Rabbi Benjamin Szold from the JMM collection, I quickly texted my grandmother, the true matriarch and keeper of all family knowledge, if she knew of a Samson Benderly in the family. She said she had not but our Benderly’s all came from Tzfat in Israel and that might help. Born in Tzfat, Dr. Samson Benderly (1876-1944) was rapidly gaining my interest. Benderly came to Baltimore in 1898 where he became the revolutionary father of American Jewish education. He guided many people who would later go on to become influential institutional leaders. He even knew the powerhouse that was Henrietta Szold, a Zionist leader, and founder of Hadassah.[1] I looked through a family history book compiled for a three day Benderly family reunion held in 1998 and there I found a Shimshon (or Samson) Benderly, who was recorded as coming to the US in 1898 and became involved in education. My family and I were amazed when we read this. It was just really cool! But it also made me realize that even though I am a Jewish Marylander, it was not until I discovered Samson Benderly did I really feel a connection to the JMM. And I was kind of surprised at how closed I had been as a visitor.

Certificate commemorating Rabbi Benjamin Szold’s 70th birthday from Dr. Samson Benderly (1899) JMM 1995.34.1

Certificate commemorating Rabbi Benjamin Szold’s 70th birthday from Dr. Samson Benderly (1899) JMM 1995.34.1

It is so easy to walk in a nicely air conditioned museum exhibit, gawk at the foreign objects in glass cases adorned with didactic plaques, and forget that they tell our stories. And my discovery reminded me this and that the people exhibited (even if we cannot fully understand them) are real. It would take thousands of blog posts to even begin to describe let alone capture how much emotional, cultural, and social value museums provide to people, in terms of learning and understanding. But, unless you work for a museum, personal connection is the one museum experience that we forget about. Learning and more importantly understanding are not possible without connection, or in other words, the attempt to relate. It certainly helps to have discovered a potential ancestor in the collections of a museum or already relate to the content to connect to it, but that is not really necessary. It all comes down to the openness of the museum visitor. Even with all the painstaking work curators and educators put into designing exhibits and educational strategies that foster connections, without the visitor’s effort, connecting is not possible. And I challenge you to connect; explore a museum (its exhibits, website, resources) with not only a keen eye for understanding, but also an open heart for connecting. While I initially intended this blog post to focus on sharing a cool discovery of mine, I appreciate your patience in letting me take a different turn to remind us all that that museums are beyond interesting and even beyond relevant—they are personal.

All that being said, did you know you do not need Past Perfect to look at the JMM’s collections? Our collections, archives, and photographs are available for your exploration on the JMM website. What will you discover?



[1] Krasner, Jonathan B. The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education. Brandeis University Press2011.


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Our Miniature Chanukah Celebration – Part 2

Posted on December 22nd, 2016 by

Following up on last week’s post, here’s a closer look at a few more of the Chanukah programs featured in our mini exhibit in the Lloyd Street Synagogue…

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

First, a nice little souvenir program for a “Grand Chanuka Concert given by Rev. S. Schenberg with a double choir, assisted by the talented violinist, Mr. Charles Weissmann. Given on Sunday December 5th, 1915, 5:30 pm under the auspices of Aitz Chaim Congregation, the Eden Street Synagogue. Dr. Romanoff, Rabbi of the Congregation.”  This is an eight page booklet, with a tasseled cord around the binding. Inside can be found the evening’s musical selections, in both English and [Yiddish], and the event committee is listed on the back cover. In case you’re still planning your own Chanukah concert, you can take some inspiration from the program here:

Music Selection Ida [sic] from Verdi

Brohcos – Grossman

Hanaras H’lolu – Berkowitz

Selection, Israeli – Weissman

Lecture ‘Chanuca’ – Dr. Romanoff

Mismoir Schier Chanukas – Sestofol

Solo Violin – Weissman

Ma Oshiv – Schenberg

Serenad Music – Schubert

Ahavti – Weissman

Loy Omus – Schenberg


Most of the booklet, however, is given over to advertisements, in English, Hebrew and Yiddish, for a variety of  businesses:

>J. Castelberg’s National Jewelry Company

>Baltimore Commercial Bank

>Hendler Creamery (“The Velvet Kind”)

>R. Ember Co. – furniture

>Osias Schoenfeld’s New York Dairy Lunch

>Commercial Savings Bank [in Yiddish]

>N. Ginsburg, Dealer in Cigars & Tobacco

>Y. Samuelson – pictures and frames [in Yiddish]

>F. Hurwitz Kosher Delicatessen

>Barney’s Café

>The Capitol Tailoring Co.

>Frank Merin, Contractor and Builder

>Hochschild, Kohn & Co.

>I. Greenhood Ladies’ Tailor

>E. Tamres, Dealer in Leather, Shoe Findings and Shoemakers Supplies

>Old Town National Bank

>Jack Lewis with Robert Kinnier, Hiring and Boarding Stables

>Jack Lewis, Undertaker and Embalmer [in Yiddish]

>Goldenberg Brothers ‘Greater Stores’

>Rev. Samuel Schenberg, Cantor of ‘Etz Chaim,’ First Class Practical Mohel; also does weddings [in English and Yiddish]

>The Reliable Plumbing Co.

>Stewart & Co.

>National Marine Bank

>The Eden Street Synagogue (“Aitz Chaim”)

>B. Mankowitz, Dealer in Delicatessen, Scotch Herring, Sardines

>Schaeffers Orpheum Theater [in Yiddish]

>Bernstein, Cohen & Co., Bankers

>A. Sindler, Furniture and Carpets

>Rev. N. Glazer, Hebrew School (“Special attention given to Bar Mitzvah children with the nicest English and Yiddish speeches”) [in Yiddish]

>Kosher Mikveh for all Jewish Women, with the approval of Baltimore Rabbis [in Yiddish]

>London Fur Mfg. Co.

>Saiontz Fur Co.

>Hackerman’s The Lucky Corner – Hatter and Gent.’s Furnisher

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44


Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44


Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44


Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44


Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44


Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

…Another inside-peek-worthy item in the exhibit is the script for What Happened on Chanuka, by Rabbi G. Lipkind, published by Bloch Pub. Co. in 1924.  According to a note inside the cover, the play was “Presented twice with great success by the Intermediate Adath Boys on Sun. Dec. 13, 1933 (& Dance) & on Tuesday Dec. 19, 1933. Coached by Saul Taragin (15 rehearsals)”.  Taragin (1917-1997), son of a rabbi, emigrated to the US in 1929; he worked as a teacher and, in 1992, helped found Baltimore’s Yeshivat Rambam Day School.  The “Adath Boys” may have been affiliated with Adath B’nei Israel, a young adult congregation founded around 1920, though it could also refer to Adath Israel (now Beth Isaac Adath Israel), founded in 1914.

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

What I’d expected to be a light-hearted story about a family celebration is actually a rather deep examination of assimilation, adoption, intermarriage, and personal religious identity.  (Though I confess I have not read the entire script yet.)  There are a few annotations throughout, with some word changes here and there.  This page spread touches on a few of the play’s themes, as well as the central event of the Gerson family’s Chanukah celebration:

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

The cast list, delightfully, includes the actors’ names in pencil. I’ve not matched all of them up to their histories (and I’m not sure who played young Benno), but the players included Zelda Zafren (later Rivkin), born 1918; Pauline Kurland (later Kramer), born 1918; Beatrice Shoenig (later Krohn) born 1917; and Yetta Townsend, born 1918, who played the role originally written as Louis – it looks as if, for the purposes of Taragin’s production, it was changed to “Rebecca”.

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

Gift of Rose Cohen. JMM 1997.130.1

Fifteen rehearsals is a lot of work for a bunch of teenagers, especially when their leader is himself only 16. I’m glad that Taragin’s “great success” can be remembered today, thanks to the annotated script.

Saul Taragin, right, with an unidentified friend, possibly at his graduation from Baltimore Polytechnic [link:] in the early 1930s. Museum purchase. JMM 2003.83.10

Saul Taragin, right, with an unidentified friend, possibly at his graduation from Baltimore Polytechnic in the early 1930s. Museum purchase. JMM 2003.83.10*

*Saul is standing with his older brother Azreal. The photo is indeed of graduation from Polytechnic Institute, the two brothers graduated together – they then attended Hopkins together as well.. Thank you to Faith Shabat and Sonny Taragin for this additional information!

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

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