JMM Insights: There Were Doctors in the House

Posted on January 23rd, 2015 by

On Thursday, January 22, the JMM, in partnership with the Associated, hosted a special event for medical professionals to learn about our upcoming exhibition, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America. The goal of the event was to spread the word about this landmark exhibit among medical professionals and also as an opportunity for the exhibition team to gain feedback about the exhibition that can help inform its development.

Drs. Ira Papel and Robert Keehn check out the displays.

Drs. Ira Papel and Robert Keehn check out the displays.

Beyond Chicken Soup explores the interplay of cultural beliefs and medical practice and contributes to the contemporary conversation about health and medicine in America by illuminating the social meanings and values intrinsic to medical interactions. While national in scope, the exhibition focuses on many local stories and highlights the central role that our local community has played in the medical arena. To that end, the exhibition team has been actively seeking stories and artifacts to help flesh out exhibit themes. Having so many medical professionals from across the spectrum – including surgeons, pediatricians, pharmacists, orthopedists, ob/gyns, nurses, and even a mohel! – gave JMM staff the chance to learn about the experiences of a diverse group of local professionals.

Marvin shares details of the upcoming exhibit.

Marvin shares details of the upcoming exhibit.

40 people attended the program and enjoyed having the chance to interact with the exhibit team. Curator, Karen Falk and collections manager, Joanna Church, created a temporary display of several fascinating objects and photographs that will be featured in the exhibit.  These included such iconic items as “Mr. Bones”, a model skeleton created by Leon Schlossberg (courtesy of the Chesney Medical Archives), a medical artist, as a teaching tool at Hopkins; historical pharmaceutical tools from the collection of Adolf Ed Baer, a pharmacist who practiced in western Maryland; a doctor’s bag belonging to Dr. Morris Abramowitz who practiced medicine in East Baltimore in the first half of the 20th century; a silver tea set used by Sinai Hospital nurses; and a diploma from Louis Hamburger, who was among the first graduating class at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine in 1897. Staff members positioned at each of the display areas were armed with questions to ask guests about their specific experiences. Attendees were encouraged to provide answers to thought provoking questions such as “Why did you decide to become a doctor?” and “Do you ever pray with your patients?” designed to inspire conversation around topics that will be explored in depth in the exhibit.

Trustee Rikki Specter with some doctor friends!

Trustee Rikki Specter with some doctor friends!

The event was hosted by four JMM board members who are also doctors – board president, Ira Papel; board vice president, Robert Keehn; Sheldon Bearman and Crystal Watkins Johannson. Remarks were presented by Ira Papel who thanked exhibition donors and encouraged attendees to spread the word about the exhibit. JMM executive director, Marvin Pinkert, further elaborated on why Beyond Chicken Soup is such an important project of local, national and even international significance.

Researcher Alicia Puglionesi collects stories from attendees.

Researcher Alicia Puglionesi collects stories from attendees.

Thursday evening provided the JMM with our first opportunity to showcase Beyond Chicken Soup to an important constituency. We were delighted by the enthusiastic response we received by everyone in attendance, including several people who had never visited the JMM previously. We look forward to following up on many of the leads provided that will help enrich the exhibit’s content. Please help us continue to spread the word about this exciting project.

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Have something to share? Call or email Curator Karen Falk! 410-732-6402 x227, kfalk@jewishmuseummd.org

 

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Appreciate A Dragon Day!

Posted on January 16th, 2015 by

What could be a better way to appreciate a dragon than to offer him a visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland?

What could be a better way to appreciate a dragon than to offer him a visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland?

You may recognize our special visitor, Elliot Dragon. He decided to start his visit with a tour of the Museum’s collections.

Collections Manager Joanna Church made sure to fill Elliot in on all the rules for using collections!

Collections Manager Joanna Church made sure to fill Elliot in on all the rules for using collections!

Getting a close look at the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Getting a close look at the Baltimore Jewish Times.

 

Getting the side-eye from Napoleon Bonaparte himself!   Teapot from porcelain tete-a-tete teaset by Nast of Paris, c. 1840, JMM 1989.145.006.

Getting the side-eye from Napoleon Bonaparte himself!
Teapot from porcelain tete-a-tete teaset by Nast of Paris, c. 1840, JMM 1989.145.006.

Nice pose Elliot!  Orange ceramic ashtray, shaped like a turtle on its back. JMM 1992.185.009

Nice pose Elliot!
Orange ceramic ashtray, shaped like a turtle on its back. JMM 1992.185.009

Demonstrating excellent microscope technique!  Black microscope used by Melvin Borden when he was a student at the University of Maryland. He graduated in 1938. JMM 1996.105.001

Demonstrating excellent microscope technique!
Black microscope used by Melvin Borden when he was a student at the University of Maryland. He graduated in 1938. JMM 1996.105.001

Permanent Wave Machine for hair, used in Sonya Berlin’s Beauty Shop at 2016 Orleans Street, Baltimore, 1930-1939. JMM 2004.028.001 This piece was most recently on display in our "The Electrified Pickle" exhibit, July - August 2014.

Permanent Wave Machine for hair, used in Sonya Berlin’s Beauty Shop at 2016 Orleans Street, Baltimore, 1930-1939. JMM 2004.028.001 This piece was most recently on display in our “The Electrified Pickle” exhibit, July – August 2014.

MS 53: Ferdinand W. Breth Collection - Diary, c. 1920s

MS 53: Ferdinand W. Breth Collection – Diary, c. 1920s

After his collections tour, Elliot sat down with Director Marvin Pinkert for a nice chat.

After his collections tour, Elliot sat down with Director Marvin Pinkert for a nice chat.

On to Exhibits!

 

Next stop: The Voices of Lombard Street exhibit. I think that sewing machine might be a little big for you Elliot!

Next stop: The Voices of Lombard Street exhibit. I think that sewing machine might be a little big for you Elliot!

 

Cheeky dragon! You can't take a potty break in the exhibit. (Though I will admit, those fly sounds are VERY realistic.)

Cheeky dragon! You can’t take a potty break in the exhibit. (Though I will admit, those fly sounds are VERY realistic.)

 

Paging through a JEA scrapbook.

Paging through a JEA scrapbook.

 

Deborah was pretty excited to meet a childhood hero and gave Elliot a special welcome to The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit!

Deborah was pretty excited to meet a childhood hero and gave Elliot a special welcome to The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit!

Doing a little reading in the exhibit.

Doing a little reading in the exhibit.

 

Elliot decided he made a much better monument topper than former president George Washington!

Elliot decided he made a much better monument topper than former president George Washington!

 

Mapping some of Mendes' many adventures.

Mapping some of Mendes’ many adventures.

 

Elliot admires Mendes' style.

Elliot admires Mendes’ style.

 

And of course, Elliot had a very important question at the end of the exhibit. Maybe we'll find out the answer on the next installment of "Mendes' Questions!"

And of course, Elliot had a very important question at the end of the exhibit. Maybe we’ll find out the answer on the next installment of “Mendes’ Questions!”

And of course no visit is complete without souvenirs! Enjoy your Flat Mendes & Mendes mug, Elliot!

And of course no exhibit visit is complete without souvenirs. Enjoy your Flat Mendes & Mendes mug, Elliot!

 

I know I had a great time celebrating "Appreciate A Dragon Day." Elliot & I hope you enjoyed following along on his exploits throughout the Museum.

I know I had a great time celebrating “Appreciate A Dragon Day.” Elliot & I hope you enjoyed following along on his exploits throughout the Museum.

 

Rachel KThis celebration of a ridiculous holiday (but we didn’t even make it up, honest!was brought to you by Rachel Kassman, Development and Marketing Manager. Don’t forget to check us out on twitter, facebook and on our *brand new* tumblr!

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Yet More Responses From The Mendes Question Box!

Posted on January 7th, 2015 by

The fantastic and thoughtful questions about Mendes and his life continue to pour in through our little question box at the end of the exhibit. Some of the questions have even stumped our Mendes experts!

Without further ado, I present our best answers to your burning questions about the Amazing Mendes Cohen…

 

1)  To how many places in total did he travel?

This is a very tricky question to answer! First of all, if we are talking about countries, a world map from the 1830s looks very different from a world map today. Second, we don’t have all of his travel journals, so we can’t know for sure exactly how many cities he visited. Going by modern day national borders, and looking just at the travel journal we do have, Mendes visited 10 countries, but this is not a complete count.

maps_countries_world

World Map

2) What did he die of?

We don’t know exactly what Mendes died of, but he lived a long life and was suffering from blindness towards the end of his life.

Entrance to the Cohen Family Plot at Baltimore  Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, 2100 Belair Road.

Entrance to the Cohen Family Plot at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, 2100 Belair Road.

3)  What drove Mendes to do all the things he did?

From what we can tell, Mendes was driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to experience new things.  He was also driven by his deep belief in American democratic principles and seeing how his beliefs contrasted with the ways that people lived in other parts of the world.

Panel 44.Raise Flag on Nile

Sailing Down the Nile

4)  Where was Mendes Cohen’s bar mitzvah held?

Great question! Mendes turned 13 shortly after moving to Baltimore. There were no formal synagogues in Baltimore at this time, so he most likely would have celebrated the occasion at his home.

drake bar mitzvah

Even celebrities have Bar Mitzvah parties!

5)            One of the travel documents on display is written in Russian, but the map doesn’t show him going to Russia. Where did he go that he needed a Russian travel document?

We have travel permits and customs documents that would put Mendes in Russian cities such as Odessa and St. Petersburg during the summer of 1833. However, we do not have all of his travel journals, so we don’t have much detail about his journeys in that region. Our map is based upon the travel journal that we do have, which is why Russia is not included.

European Russia 1833: Stieler, via.

European Russia 1833: Stieler, via.

6)  Are the current movie-making Cohen’s related?

Perhaps you mean the Coen brothers? Apparently there are about 100,000 people currently living in the United States with the last name “Cohen,” so I doubt that Mendes is related. We are also pretty certain (though not 100% certain) that there are no living descendants of his family tree.

coen_brothers

The Coen Brothers

 

What questions were still burning in your mind when you got to the end of the maze?

Let us know!

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