Mise en place: Preparedness in the Classroom

Posted on September 20th, 2018 by

A blog post by Museum Educator (and former JMM intern) Marisa Shultz! To read more posts from Marisa, click here.

Cara Bennet’s pop-up exhibit Just Desserts: Baking and Jewish Identity (which is on display here at the Museum until September 27th), inspired me to think about the relationship between cooking and teaching!

Whether it’s kneading challah, baking kugel, or folding hamantaschen, I really love to cook; it’s an activity I take part in almost every day, save for when I have leftovers from the night before. To me, cooking creates a sense of togetherness and connection, both with those whom you are cooking for, and with the author of the recipe. Plus, little is better than enjoying the fruit of one’s labors in the form of a homemade meal (and yes, that pun was intended!).

These are hamantaschen that my friends and I made while we were living in Prague, Czechia a few years ago. It was a wonderful shared experience, and I got to learn about how different Jewish communities celebrate Purim.

Have you ever heard of the term mise en place? It’s a fancy French term they teach aspiring chefs in culinary school that roughly means “everything in its place.” For the chef, this means not only having already chopped, measured, and prepared all of the necessary ingredients before even beginning a recipe, but also having all of the necessary equipment (even the humble tea towel), in their designated spaces. Plus, this means that the chef has read the recipe at least once or twice, understands what needs to happen, and has already essentially choreographed his/her movements to ensure that everything goes smoothly while cooking.

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t always cook or bake with the idea of mise en place in mind; in fact I’m pretty bad at it. There I am panicking in the kitchen, simultaneously counting the seven cups of flour that goes into my challah recipe while trying to remember what ingredient goes into the mixer next! Luckily for me, this organized chaos approach, has worked well for me most of my life, and I’ve only ever had to throw out one batch of challah dough.

This is challah dough that I braided into a round shape for my family’s Rosh Hashanah celebration. I started making challah from scratch about a year ago, and I am so glad I took the plunge! Luckily for me, this one came out perfectly, despite my organized chaos in the kitchen.

But, when it comes to teaching a class or leading and educational program, I don’t like taking those kinds of risks. I don’t want students’ experiences to be marred by a lesson or program that I stumble over because I wasn’t prepared when they walked through the door. When it comes to teaching, I adopt this concept of mise en place. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be things that have to be adjusted or even changed on the spot. Flexibility is still an important and necessary piece of the education puzzle; however, this approach does mean that I can prepare a great deal ahead of time to help the program run smoothly. To do so means not having to worry about those things while actively teaching. This means that before the students have walked through the door, I have double checked that we have enough materials for the expected number of students, and that all of my materials are in their places for swift and easy access. This means that I have reviewed the steps to the program and my own choreography.

What is so great, I have found, is that when I approach teaching with the concept of mise en place, those worries of how much time should I give them in the exhibit, or did I remember to bring my answer key to the orientation space, all melt away. What I am left with is the ability to focus on the students’ learning and to enjoy the experience.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Baked In

Posted on September 7th, 2018 by

Museum Matters: September 2018

JMM’s Orientation Plaza is many things. Many of you know it as the site for our public programs, performances, and films; some of you have seen us use it as a venue for teacher workshops on the Holocaust or as a hands-on classroom for an “archeological dig”. It’s also served as a place for community meetings, including JMM Board meetings. You can even rent it for a simcha!

But perhaps its most creative use is as the home of our “pop-up” exhibits. A space in the Plaza is set aside for smaller feature exhibits, often showcasing items in our collection. This month the Plaza exhibit is Just Desserts: Baking and Jewish Identity – a project developed by intern Cara Bennet as part of her training assignment this summer. Cara did a remarkable job using a small space and since it’s only up through Sept. 27th, it’s a great excuse to make an additional visit. It also is a harbinger of the “Great Jewish Bake Off,” this year’s annual JMM food competition scheduled for Dec. 2nd.

Joanna has planned a great schedule of pop-ups this fall, including an exhibit on a local collection of magic tricks in October and one on the Jewish Legion in WWI in November to accompany archivist Lorie Rombro’s Veteran’s Day talk.

There is always something new to discover at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!

~Marvin


Upcoming programs
All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact our Programs Manager at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-873-5177 with any questions or for more information.

SEPTEMBER

Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 1:00pm

The Pursuit of Conjurors
Speaker: Ian Flinn, author of Conjuring Curiosity
Get Tickets Now

OCTOBER

Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 1pm

Street Show, Sideshow, Stage Show:
Novelty & Variety Entertainment and its Spread
Speaker: James Taylor
Reserve Seats Now

Sunday, October 14, 2018 at 1pm

Magic and Monotheism
Speaker: Jonathan Dauber, Yeshiva University
Reserve Seats Now

Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 1pm

Free Fall Baltimore!
Capturing Houdini
Speaker: Ken Trombley
Reserve Seats Now

Supplemented with an array of vintage material that he has assembled over the past 35 years, Houdini-collector Ken Trombley enchants with tales of the “handcuff king”!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Family Day!
Houdini’s Magical Halloween
Reserve Seats Now

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Official Houdini Sceance
Tickets: $50 – sales link coming soon.
Please note seating is extremely limited for this event.

>>View the full JMM calendar of events here.<<


Esther’s Place

New year, new gear! At Esther’s Place, we have bright new gifts and souvenirs, including handcrafted glass bead and gemstone necklaces made by the women of the Bali Chai Collection, ceramic home blessings in varied cheery and heartfelt styles, and colorful Jewish Art Calendars by artist Joel Itman. These items are just some of our new wall hangings and jewelry items that we hope will brighten your JMM visit this coming year.

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Jenny Goes to the “Vet”

Posted on August 29th, 2018 by

A blog post by JMM Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.

As many of you know, here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland we pride ourselves on creating exhibits that are lively, innovative, and hands-on. So we make a point to build in different kinds of interactives – some as simple as a push of a button and others that take a little more active participation…like making an elephant disappear!

Any museum professional will tell you, hands-on interactives need to be prepared for lots of wear and tear. And even with the best of planning, sometimes you need to repair, replace, or re-think an interactive after it has been in use for a while.

In Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, we underestimated the strength of our visitors and had to repair our punching bag, replacing its mount with a heavy-duty chain.

In Voices of Lombard Street we regularly replace the fake food in the deli section of the exhibit. You can see our missing coleslaw and bun discoloration in these before-and-after photos!

And in Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini, we were met with a challenge – Jenny, our disappearing elephant, was a little “under the weather” after performing her trick for so many adoring fans.

(You may have noticed this cuddly stand-in while Jenny was out of her box awaiting surgery.)

But don’t worry, JMM staff came to the rescue! Archivist Lorie Rombro and Visitor Services Manager Paige Woodhouse played doctor for the day and fixed Jenny right up (they even let me assist!). In preparation for “surgery,” they gathered a variety of potential repair supplies, from needle and thread to multiple brands of superglue. We weren’t sure exactly what material Jenny’s hide was made from and knew we might have to test a few different techniques.

As you can see here, Jenny’s trunk and tusks are worse-for-wear. In addition to repairing the tears themselves, we needed to find a way to increase the support inside the trunk to help prevent future damage. In order to do that, we decided to fully remove the trunk before re-attachment.

A behind-the-scenes fun fact? We used a combination of hand-carved epifoam and the recycled underwire from a bra (yes, you read that right!) to create the needed support. The underwire was the perfect angle for Jenny’s trunk.

In the end the judicious application of gorilla glue (and some TLC) let us return Jenny to her magic box where she continues to delight and astonish our museum visitors!

Make sure to stop in, say hi to Jenny, and watch her perform her miraculous disappearance.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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