Discovery and Recovery:By The Numbers

Posted on January 12th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes to us from Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker.

For this month’s Performance Counts, it seemed like a good time to take a closer look at our current exhibit, Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.

Performance Counts is all about looking at numbers and data, so I’ll start with the most important number for you to remember about this exhibit: 3. That’s the number of days (including today) you have left to see this important exhibition while it’s at JMM. Monday will be the last day the public will be able to tour the exhibit while it’s here, since National Archives staff will be joining us on Tuesday, to start the de-installation.

Here are some other important numbers and metrics of interest regarding this exhibition:

Exhibition Content

Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. Government efforts to preserve these materials–over 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents.

In both English and Arabic, the 2,000 square foot exhibit features 23 recovered items and one “behind the scenes” video of the fascinating yet painstaking preservation process. This exhibit was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, with generous support from the U.S. Department of State.

Exhibition Metrics

Since it’s been with us, more than 3,200 visitors have come to JMM to see it. This includes more than 500 students from 18 distinct school visits, including public, independent and religious schools.

While the exhibit has been in our gallery, we’ve been open to the public 62 days (with 2 left after today), and have hosted 10 public programs related to the exhibit (with one more to come this Sunday), and two that didn’t directly relate to the exhibit, but whose participants still had a chance to see it!

While the exhibit has been in our gallery, we’ve been open to the public 62 days (with 2 left after today), and have hosted 10 public programs related to the exhibit (with one more to come this Sunday), and two that didn’t directly relate to the exhibit, but whose participants still had a chance to see it!

Exhibition Logistics

JMM is the eighth venue for this important exhibit, and its installation was made possible here through the generous support of eight donors, including 2 individuals and 6 foundations or philanthropic funds.

The Herbert Bearman Foundation (Lead Sponsor)

Alfred Moses

The David B. Liebman Philanthropic Fund

The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education

Middendorf Foundation

John J. Leidy Foundation

Lois and Philip Macht Family Philanthropic Fund

Lowell Glazer

If you miss it here, your next option is to grab a flight to Atlanta ($163) and see it at the Breman Museum ($12)*.  So save some money and take advantage of these last two days.


*If you’re a JMM premium member, you get FREE reciprocal admission to the Breman Museum – and 11 more Jewish museums around the country! Consider upgrading your membership today.

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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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