It’s All About Making Connections…

Posted on April 16th, 2018 by

A blog post by Director of Learning and Visitor Engagement Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Sometimes, being the Director of Learning and Visitor Engagement can be very stressful-trying to meet deadlines, meeting school groups, developing education resources.  Many days are harried, many days are just plain FUN, and at the end of the day- our work is about making those meaningful connections.

Let’s go back to last Thursday. The school group from the NAF Academy has arrived at the JMM – their visit includes a tour of the historic synagogues, where the students will learn about the different immigrant groups that used the building and about Jewish rituals and traditions.  The students ask great questions and enjoy learning about Judaism and Baltimore history less than 1 mile from their school.

This group was the first group of students that went through Amending America: The Bill of Rights.  The students were given a gallery guide to help them self-guide through the exhibit.  The students were engaged as the meandered through the gallery.   I looked up and I saw one of the students call out to his buddy, “Hey, get a picture of this!”  I looked up and instantly- a smile came to my face- this student saw himself at the March on Washington D.C in August 1963.

He was connecting to the exhibit, he saw himself as one of the protesters marching for civil rights back in history!  Our hope is that students find personal connections to our exhibits.

Less than 15 minutes after the group left, I hopped in my car and headed to John Carroll High School in Bel Air, Maryland.

John Carroll is a Catholic High School in Harford County and the JMM has a strong relationship with the school.  We were invited to be a part of the #TogetherWeRemember program that honors the millions of victims that were killed during the Holocaust and other genocides that have occurred in our lifetime.  #TogetherWeRemember combines, technology, art, and activism to transform remembrance to of past atrocities into a powerful tool for building peace in the present.  I went up to John Carroll because I volunteered to be a reader of names of victims.

Never would I imagine that reading the list of names would be so incredibly powerful. I was given a list of about 100 names, all who were victims of the Holocaust.

As I began to read the names, I noticed a common thread, the first names were either Moises, Chaim or Chaya.  In fact, these three names were the only names that I read for the 10 minutes.  As I got further in the list, it struck me that I kept repeating my own Jewish name, Chaya.  In fact, I repeated the name 44 times throughout the 10 minutes.

I got off the podium, slightly drained and emotional.  I was thinking about the 44 women who perished during the Holocaust- their families- and if anybody ever says their name and remembers that they once lived during the 20th century.  So powerful.

This Thursday, April 19, 2018, you can be a part of this powerful program too as the JMM is hosting a #TogetherWeRemember program @ 7:00 p.m.

Sign up, bring a group of friends, make your own connections and be a part of this transformative program.

 

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Timing Is Everything

Posted on February 9th, 2018 by

Performance Counts: February 2018

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes to us from Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

The surprising path to a wonderful evening.

Seven weeks ago, we were planning to have a darkened gallery right now. Six weeks ago, Marvin got a call from the Assistant Director of International Affairs in Maryland’s Office of the Secretary of State that changed that plan.

Ordinarily, it takes between 8 months and 3 years to plan an exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. When the Secretary of State’s office called Marvin, they had a show they wanted us to exhibit a month and a half later. In most years, a call like that would yield a response of “thanks, but how about in a year and a half?” (Which is the response they had been receiving from all over the state.) This year, as fate would have it, we were able to answer “we’ve got about 1800 square feet available. Let’s talk.”

It was, as they say, beshert—meant to be.

The Secretary of State’s office was working with the Embassy of Israel. The Embassy had worked with Yad Vashem to develop an exhibit, Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, about diplomats who, during WWII, risked their careers (and in some cases their lives) to help save Jews from the Nazis. After the war, the fledgling state of Israel declared 34 diplomats from 21 countries around the world to be “Righteous Among the Nations.” These ambassadors, consuls, attaches and other diplomats–none of them Jewish–showed great bravery in the face of evil.

With 28 panels, Beyond Duty focusses the stories of 9 of those diplomats. We received the panels on January 30. Under Joanna’s direction, JMM staff installed the panels in our empty Feldman Gallery.

 


On February 1, we co-hosted an invitation-only preview of the exhibit with the Israeli embassy, featuring remarks from Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, Secretary of State John Wobensmith and Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Israel to the United States, Reuven Azar.

About 75 people attended the exhibit preview, including members of the Baltimore City Council, the Maryland State House of Delegates as well as members of the JMM Board of Trustees, and additional invited guests from the JMM community, the network of the Embassy of Israel, and the Friends of the Governor’s office of Community Initiatives and its eight Ethnic Commissions. By the numbers, it took nine JMM staff members (that’s 75% of us!), one former JMM staff member (we miss you Deborah!), and at least five staff members of the Embassy of Israel to make the evening a success.

The exhibit opened to the public on Sunday, February 4, and will be open through March 25, which means you have about 5 weeks to check it out. In that time, we’ll be hosting 14 programs as part of our JMM Live! Performance Series, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you check it out more than once!

Read more about the event and the exhibit at:

The Baltimore Jewish Times – New Exhibit at JMM Honors Holocaust’s Unsung Heroes

JMore: Baltimore Jewish Living – Exhibition at JMM Honors Righteous Gentile Diplomats during the Holocaust

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Postcards for Paige

Posted on January 19th, 2018 by

Last fall Paige Woodhouse joined our team as Visitor Services Manager.  Following in the tradition of “Dear Abby” (Abby Krolik) and “Greetings Graham” (Graham Humphrey), this month Paige introduces the quarterly feature, “Postcards for Paige”, giving us a chance to answer commonly asked questions about how to make the most out of your visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland. (All the answers are real, the postcards are dubious… but these days, who knows?)


 

Postcard Reads:

Dear Paige,

Planning is my passion. I love to come to the Museum’s public programs so I plan my visit ahead of time. I buy my tickets online to print and bring with me. I always leave my house early to get a good seat for the lecture. However, with the wintery weather that we are having, another “bomb cyclone” could throw a wrench in my plan! What if I come to the museum for the planned program and it’s closed? How do I find out if the Museum is closed, opening late, or closing early because of the weather?

From,

Phrenetic about Precipitation

 

Hi Phren,

Your organizational skills are outstanding! Alas, the weather sometimes interrupts our best-made plans. First, your safety is very important and we ask that you don’t take any risks in unsafe conditions to come to a program. With that said, sometimes we do have to close the Museum, open a little late, or close a wee bit early. During the week, for the first day of inclement weather we follow whatever the Baltimore City Schools are doing. After the first day, or on Sundays, we make the decision ourselves. You can find those updates on our website’s front page: www.jewishmuseummd.org and on our social media.

Keep warm out there,

~ Paige

 


 

Postcard Reads:

Dear Paige,

This winter cold is getting to me. I need something to liven things up! I need some music to get me moving, or a few films to get my family out of the house. Maybe even some performances to get my blood pumping. Can you help me?

Sincerely,

Looking to Liven Things Up

 

Hey Looking,

Seems as if cabin fever might be getting to you. Lucky for you, we have just the program to spice up your winter! Escape from your house this February and March and experience JMM Live. From music to film to dramatic living history performances, the Museum will be celebrating the impact Jewish Americans have had on the performing arts. Check out the great line-up of events here. I bet you will be able to find something to liven up your long winter!

~ Paige


 

Postcard Reads:

Hi Paige:

I wanted to let you know how much my group enjoyed the exhibit Discovery & Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage. Everyone thought our docent was wonderful. She gave them a lot of the history to the exhibit and left them really excited to have been here. Thank you for making this a great day. We want to come back soon! What exhibits will be on next? Who do we contact? How much does it cost?

From,

Happy Campers

 

Dear Happy,

I am tickled pink to hear that your group had such a positive experience at the Museum! All the credit must go to our wonderful volunteer docents.

I would love to help you arrange for your group to come back. The Museum has an exciting schedule of exhibits coming this spring. From March 8th to 25th, the My Family Story Exhibition will be on display. This exhibit shows student’s projects that illustrate their personal exploration into their family history and connections to the Jewish Community. From April 8th to May 28th, the Museum will be the host of Amending America: The Bill of Rights, a travelling exhibit from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Can’t wait that long? We’ve added another exhibit to our schedule! A panel show from Yad Vashem in Israel, Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, will be on display beginning February 4th. Don’t forget that you can also go on a tour of our two historic synagogues during your visit.

To schedule your group, please send me an email at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org or call me at 410-873-5167, with the name of your group, contact information, number of people attending, and any special requirements. I will send you an intake form to complete, followed by a confirmation form with your scheduled itinerary and fee due on the date of your visit. How much does it cost to bring a group? For groups of 10 or more that reserve in advance, the cost is $5 per person.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

~ Paige


 

Postcard Reads:

Yo Paige,

I read in last week’s Sun that nearly all museums in this area are losing attendance.  How bad are things at JMM?

Where will I practice climbing stairs if all the museums go away?

~Sylvester S.

 

Mr. S.,

To quote Mark Twain, she said SLYly, “the rumors of our death are greatly exaggerated”.  2017 was a great year for JMM.  I just finished calculating the numbers and in 2017 our on-site attendance was up 26% overall from 2016 and our program attendance was up a whopping 48% year-over-year.  Every one of our exhibits, Remembering Auschwitz, Just Married! and Discovery and Recovery out-performed the same time frame in the prior year.  And JMM was not alone, several other small museums, not interviewed for the article, like our neighbors at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House also had good years.

So my advice is don’t stay in the sun too long, exercise your mind as well as your feet by coming in off the steps and experiencing what’s keeping millions of Americans coming to museums.

~ Paige

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