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Recognizing and Responding to Injustice: Using the Lessons of the Holocaust as a Tool for Combating Contemporary Intolerance in Our Communities Today

Posted on August 24th, 2015 by

During my summer internship at the JMM, I had the opportunity to work on a pop-up exhibit in connection with the JMM’s Annual Summer Teachers Institute that focuses on best practices in Holocaust Education. After I learned how to use the museum software Past Perfect and learned about the JMM’s extensive collections, I was inspired to develop an exhibit.  The exhibit focuses on recognizing and responding to injustices in our community. It relates to the 2015 Summer Teachers Institute’s theme: Auschwitz 70 Years Later, What have we Learned? I wanted to put some of the JMM’s collections on display and give teachers an opportunity to see what objects and materials we have in the collections that relate to topics they are teaching about the Holocaust in their classrooms.

Falicia stands in front of the lobby display she created.

Telling the teachers about my exhibit.

In recent years there have been many instances of injustices in our communities: locally, nationally, and worldwide. My hope is that by examining injustices during the Holocaust we can be inspired to recognize and respond to injustices in our communities today. I encouraged the teachers to reflect on this question: How can we teach our students to recognize and become “upstanders” or activists against injustices in our communities and society?

The exhibit consisted of photographs, objects, and documents about the Holocaust. Preparing for the exhibit was a lot more complex than I originally thought it would be. Some of the objects in the exhibit include: pieces of a chandelier from a desecrated synagogue during Kristallnacht, and an uncut Star of David.  The exhibit also included archival materials…

Mass Meeting Flyer

This is a Mass Meeting flyer announcing a meeting for Jewish people in Baltimore to learn about what was happening to the European Jews.

Baltimore Jewish Council booklet

The Baltimore Jewish Council booklet was established in 1939 to create a united front against Anti-semitism during World War II and provide resources on Jewish issues.

These are pictures of the Nazi and Confederate flags to show how flags represent different things to people, and can have painful associations and connections to injustices.

These are pictures of the Nazi and Confederate flags to show how flags represent different things to people, and can have painful associations and connections to injustices.

I had a lot of support from several staff members and interns including: Ilene, Joanna, Deborah, Karen, and collections intern Kaleigh who helped me pick appropriate objects, reviewed my labels, and helped me with the installation process. I really felt like I had the support of the staff in developing my first exhibit.

Falicia and Collections Manager Joanna in the library cutting out exhibit text.

Joanna and I are cutting out texts for the exhibit.

Falicia arranging the objects in the display case.

And here I am arranging the objects in the display case.

When I installed the exhibit I was not sure how many people would be able to see it and what they would think. On Monday August 3rd over 30 teachers came to the museum for the Summer Teachers Institute. Ilene told them about my exhibit and in between workshops educators came and looked at my exhibit.

Page of handwritten comments about the display.

Teachers wrote comments about the exhibit.

I enjoyed telling the teachers about my exhibit. It was also great to hear some of the conversations they had about the exhibit and the connections they were making about injustices of the Holocaust and forms of injustice they see today. It was great to hear comments and dialogue between the teachers about what was in the exhibit and many of them were interested in seeing what else we had in our collections.

Falicia EddyA blog post by Education and Programs Intern Falicia Eddy. To read  more posts from interns click HERE.

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A Full Museum: The Grand Opening of Cinema Judaica

Posted on July 6th, 2015 by

On Thursday, July 2nd the Jewish Museum of Maryland opened the doors of its new traveling exhibit: Cinema Judaica! 130 members and visitors came to see the new exhibit, enjoying signature 1950s cocktails, sparkling wine, and kosher refreshments before the presentation. It was a fun event for all and gave museum members an opportunity to unwind at the museum. The event helped me learn about what is involved in preparing for a big event.

Members of the museum and special guests enjoy cocktails and kosher refreshments.

Members of the museum and special guests enjoy cocktails and kosher refreshments.

Education and Programming Intern Eden serves drinks.

Education and Programming Intern Eden serves drinks.

Visitors have a conversation about the film posters in the exhibit.

Visitors have a conversation about the film posters in the exhibit.

After the special cocktail hour, Ken Sutak, author of the book Cinema Judaica, gave a fascinating lecture titled How Harry Warner, Ernst Toller, and Alvin York Helped Win ‘The Great Debate’ for American Interventionists. I enjoyed learning about how the movie posters influenced public opinion and were used to help the US decide to intervene in World War II. The leaders Harry Warner, Ernest Toller, and Alvin York went against popular opinion in Hollywood and developed films like A Nazi Spy which played a role in getting America to intervene in WWII. There was also a book signing after the presentation.

Ken Sutak, author and curator of Cinema Judaica talks about  “The Great Debate.”

Ken Sutak, author and curator of Cinema Judaica talks about “The Great Debate.” Photo by Will Kirk.

 Collections Intern Kaleigh Ratliff, and Education and Programming Intern Falicia Eddy encourage visitors to vote for, and take pictures by their favorite poster.

Collections Intern Kaleigh Ratliff, and Education and Programming Intern Falicia Eddy encourage visitors to vote for, and take pictures by their favorite poster.

Visitors will have plenty more opportunities to see the exhibit – though don’t wait too long as Cinema Judaica closes on September 6, 2015! The museum has planned several other great events around the exhibit including free outdoor film screenings: The Great Dictator on August 9th, and Gentleman’s Agreement on August 23rd.

Can’t wait until August? On Sunday, July 12th come to our Flickering Treasures talk at 1pm with photographer Amy Davis to learn about the history of Baltimore’s own movie theaters!

Falicia EddyA blog post by Education and Programs Intern Falicia Eddy. To read  more posts from interns click HERE.

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Connecting the Past to the Present: Immigration Stories and Community

Posted on June 16th, 2015 by

Creating the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland immigration trunk lessons.

Creating the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland immigration trunk lessons.

One of my first projects at the Jewish Museum of Maryland was to adapt the Ida Rehr immigration trunk lessons for a new program for the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. The education department is creating new partnerships with organizations like the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland and local schools to help students learn about Jewish history, the history of the Jonestown neighborhood, and of the greater Baltimore area.

While working on the project I myself learned about Jewish immigrants’ experiences. I learned why they came to America between 1880-1924 and the Ida Rehr story. Looking through the immigration trunk and the lessons, I realized that there are some connections to immigration issues today. Ida Rehr, a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine came to Baltimore to create a new life for herself. When she came to America she lived with her older sister and her uncle at 116 S. Bond Street, a Jewish enclave in Baltimore. She was a factory worker and attended night school to learn English and how to become an American citizen. She also married a Jewish immigrant, Daniel Rehr, at Anshe Sphard Synagogue.

Looking through Ida Rehr’s immigration trunk.

Looking through Ida Rehr’s immigration trunk.

Ida Rehr’s immigration story is relevant today because Baltimore still has a large immigrant population. The Education Department is modifying the immigration trunk to discuss how immigrants are adapting to life in America and Baltimore today. Discovering Ida Rehr’s naturalization papers, passport, and the process she went through in order to become an American citizen made me think about what new immigrants have to go through today. Even though the immigrants that came over in the late 1800’s were from Southern and Eastern Europe, and the new immigrants are coming from other parts of the world, they share some of the same experiences. The immigrants who are coming to America today are from many different countries. “In 2012, 11.6 million foreign-born residents—28 percent of the foreign-born population—came from Mexico; 2.3 million immigrants came from China; 2 million came from India; 1.9 million came from the Philippines; 1.3 million came from both Vietnam and El Salvador; and 1.1 million came from both Cuba and Korea.” [“The Facts on Immigration Today.” 23 October 2014.] The new immigrants that are coming to U.S. are coming for some of the same reasons that Ida Rehr immigrated to this country in the late 1800’s.

The new immigrants are coming for economic and educational opportunities, as well as political and religious freedoms. The older immigrants had to struggle with similar issues that new immigrants are facing today which include applying for citizenship, finding housing and employment, maintaining their cultural heritage, and trying to adjust to life in America.

I also learned about immigration service organizations in the city that are trying to help new immigrants and refugees become American citizens. Organizations like the International Rescue Committee, CASA of Maryland (Multicultural Center Office), Baltimore Field Office for US Immigration and Citizenship services, and Justice for Our Neighbors Baltimore Office, are trying to help new immigrants and refugees become US citizens and adjust to living in Baltimore.

I developed a lesson plan that gives the Girl Scouts an opportunity to create their own immigration trunk. Through a guided questions activity that I designed the Girl Scouts could learn more about the immigration experience in Baltimore. I enjoyed working on this project because as an intern here from New York, it helped me learn about how Baltimore is still an immigrant city today.  This program also demonstrates that the Jewish Museum of Maryland is making an effort to encourage younger generations to learn about immigrants’ experiences and issues today. The museum is taking an initiative to connect immigration stories of the past to the experiences of immigrants that are living in Baltimore now. I feel honored to be involved in getting conversations going about these issues and helping the museum show their support for people in our community.

Falicia EddyA blog post by Education and Programs Intern Falicia Eddy. To read more posts from interns click HERE.

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