A Visit to the MET

Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by

A Blog Post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink

While I was home for Passover, we went to New York City to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My AAM card got me in for free (saving $20 suggested admission fee). My dad used in old teacher’s pass and he, Jordana and Eric also got in for free.

We specifically went to see The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Paris Avant-Garde. This temporary exhibition occupies nine galleries on the third floor and is absolutely amazing! Gertrude Stein and her brothers Leo and Michael, and sister-in-law Sarah lived in Paris during the early 20th century. Although they did not have a lot of money, they were interested in purchasing art. They amassed a tremendous collection of works by young, talented, and virtually unknown artists including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

The Steins hung the works salon-style in their 460 square foot studio in Paris at 27 Rue de Fleurus, represented in a full size at the beginning of the exhibition.  In order to accommodate new acquisitions, they frequently moved and rearranged their artwork. Fortunately, the Steins also took photographs of their various installations. The curatorial team relied on over 400 photographs to curate the exhibition. Eric particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the exact paintings that were documented in the large photomurals in each of the galleries.

The Steins opened their apartments on Saturday afternoons, allowing visitors to see their collection, shaping art appreciation for future generations. When the Steins found themselves low on funds to buy more art, they would sell pieces of their collection. Clara and Etta Cone of Baltimore were frequent buyers, and thus it was not surprising that several pieces on display were on loan from the Baltimore Museum of Art.   http:///www.artbma.org/collection/overview/cone.html 

Picasso’s famous portrait of Stein reminded me of a line from The Paris Wife by Paula McLain where Gertrude Stein plays prominently in shaping Ernest Hemingway’s writing career. In the book Hadley and Ernest wonder, “How much do you think Gertrude’s breast weigh?”  My father used the audio tour and found that it provided more information than the text panel about the rift between Gertrude and Leo.

Photography is not allowed in the exhibition, but the link below will provide you with highlights from the exhibition.

http:///www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2012/steins-collect/images 

After the signing exhibit me I’ll when I separate ways and explore different parts of the museum. My dad was enthralled with the painting of Napoleon at battle.  http:///www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/110001498 

Eric spent two more hours in the hall of armor.

Eric poses with Henry VIII armor

My sister and toured the American Period Rooms –installations of original furnishings and structures from of the most impressive homes in the country. My sister was particularly taken by and tables and other large furniture created by the Harter brothers, well I enjoyed paintings by Thomas Dewing, Tiffany lamps and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style home.

This is the side of the Vanderbilt library table with mother-of-pearl inlay by the Harter brothers.

We all enjoyed the temple of Dendur installation – an actual in Egyptian temple that was saved in 1965 before the Nile River was intentionally flooded.

Dendur.

As you can see, even if you don’t have a free pass, the museum is well worth it!

 

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MS 37 Rabbi Benjamin Szold Papers

Posted on December 29th, 2011 by

Over the fifty years that the Jewish Museum of Maryland has been in existence we have received a large number of materials related to Benjamin Szold and his descendents, which have been organized into three manuscript collections.  Two of those collections (MS 37 and MS 38 the Henrietta Szold and Bertha Szold Levin Papers) are completely processed with finding aids and a third (MS 17 the Levin Family Papers) is having new materials added to it, and should be complete within a few weeks.  The Szold family is pretty amazing – their activities had an impact, not only onBaltimoreJewish history, but on world Jewish history.  My favorite part of these collections is the amazing number of letters.  Each collection is full of letters written between siblings, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and friends and acquaintances.

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Cantor Alois Kaiser (left) and Rabbi Benjamin Szold (right), taken at the Oheb Shalom Synagogue in 1868. 1989.79.74

Rabbi Benjamin Szold (1829-1902)

Papers, n.d., 1846-1940

 MS 37

Jewish Museum of Maryland

ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

The Rabbi Benjamin Szold Papers were donated to the museum as accession 2004.076. The collection was reprocessed by Rebecca Levitan in the summer of 2007.

Access to the collection is partially restricted.  Photocopied materials in the collection either do not belong to the Jewish Museum of Maryland, or have uncertain title.  Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.  Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.

Parlor in the Szold house, c. 1899.

HISTORICAL NOTE

Benjamin Szold was born in Nemiskert, Hungaryon November 15, 1829.  He was the son of Chaile and Boruch Szold but was raised by his uncles after the deaths of his parents.  He moved to Pressburg, Hungary to study at the Yeshiva.  He later studied and worked in Vienna during the Revolution of 1848.  He also tutored students while living and studying in Breslau (now Poland).  On August 10, 1959 Benjamin married Sophia (Sophie) Schaar and the two moved to Baltimore, Maryland.

Sophie Szold. 1989.79.54

Szold came to the United States to take a job as Rabbi at Oheb Shalom Synagogue in Baltimore and rose to prominence in the coming years.  He unsuccessfully lobbied President Abraham Lincoln to commute the execution order of a Jewish soldier during the American Civil War.  He also served with the Baltimore Association for the Education and Moral Improvement of the Colored People at the war’s end.

Oheb Shalom on Hanover Street after the rebuilding, n.d. 1985.114.1

Rabbi Szold modernized the practices of his congregation.  He eventually delivered sermons in English rather than German, he eliminated the requirement for head coverings in the synagogue, and he introduced family pews.  Szold’s writings also brought fame to his tenure.  His interpretation of The Book of Job, published in 1886, was studied throughout the United States and Europe.

Temple Oheb Shalom on Eutaw Place, n.d. 1992.242.6.53

Benjamin and Sophie had five daughters.  Henrietta was born on December 21, 1860 (died 1945), followed by Estella and Rebecca who died in infancy, Rachel born in November of 1865 (died 1926), Sara/Sadie on February 14, 1868 (died 1893), Johanna born in 1871 (died 1875), Bertha born in 1873 (died 1958), and Adele born in 1876 (died 1940).  Henrietta Szold, his first daughter, later achieved fame as a prominent Zionist and founder of the Youth Aliyah & Hadassah movements.  Rabbi Benjamin Szold died in Berkeley Springs,WV on July 31, 1902.

Szold Family composite photograph. 1989.79.76

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Rabbi Benjamin Szold Papers consists of five series: Series I. Correspondence, Series II. Sermons & Speeches, Series III. Newspaper Clippings, Series IV. Sophie Szold Papers, and Series V. Miscellaneous Articles.  Some of the papers in the collection are photocopies of documents belonging to other institutions.  Series I. Correspondence are between Rabbi Szold and other theologians, as well as his family. The letters are in various languages. He wrote in Hungarian, German, Yiddish and English. Series II. Sermons & Speeches are from throughout Rabbi Szold’s career in Europe and the United States. Series III. Newspaper Clippings are from both the United States and Europe. The Clippings are printed in a variety of languages. Series IV. Sophie Szold Papers include letters, the majority of which were written by her daughter Bertha Szold during her time at Bryn Mawr College to Sophie and the rest of the family.  Other letters include siblings and in-laws writing to Sophie and Ben from Germany, and a few letters written by Sophie to various people. The folder titles reflect descriptions of the majority of the correspondence within although individual letters from other family and friends might be included.  The collection includes other materials related to Sophie’s life and estate.  Although the letters are separated by year they are not organized chronologically within the folders.  Some of the letters written in German have been translated or synopsized. Series V: Miscellaneous Articles consists of articles related to Zionism, etc., but mostly from after the death of Benjamin Szold.

Benjamin Szold, c.1899. 1992.242.6.54a

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Mah Jongg Madness!

Posted on December 22nd, 2011 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

I’ve long been fascinated by the beautiful tiles of the MahJongg set, but I’ve never had the patience to sit down and learn the rules. Will 2012 be the year that I learn how to play?

A few months ago I was catching up with my hometown friend Vivian. With the last names Ng and Okin, we were together in alphabetical homeroom throughout high school, and there was plenty to catch up on at our reunion. I asked about her family and she mentioned that her mother was playing MahJongg. Excitedly I asked, “Is your mother Jewish?” Vivian looked at me like I had lost my mind—or hadn’t ever met her mom—and said “She’s Chinese.” Right! I knew that. Somehow I had forgotten that MahJongg is a traditional Chinese game and not a specifically Jewish game.  Since it’s about a 4 hour drive back to Ringwood, I decided NOT to ask Vivian if her mother would teach me how to play the game.

Jobi and her high school friends Tim, Vivian and Heather.

A few years ago former JMM Curator Melissa Martens curated “Project Mah Jongg” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Her exhibition text explained that May Jongg was “introduced to American audiences by Joseph P. Babcock who began importing sets en masse around 1922, the game delighted players with its beautifully adorned tiles, associations with other lands, and mysterious rules…. In the post-war years, the game was embraced enthusiastically throughout circles of Eastern European Jewish women and became a favorite activity of bungalow colonies of the Catskills. Mahjongg became an entertainment ritual in suburban Jewish homes—where it has been lovingly transfixed in the memories of the contemporary generation. Today, hundreds of thousands of people play mahjongg, and it continues to be a vital part of communal, personal, and cultural life.” [http:///projectmahjongg.com/about.html]

The exhibition was beautiful and delightful, but I didn’t have enough time to sit down and learn the rules. Check out this slide show of others playing MahJongg.

Then last week at our Collections Committee meeting Board Member Irene Russel mentioned that she plays MahJongg with her girlfriends every Tuesday night. I practically invited myself over to play!

Barbara Marlin, Sheila Derman, Myra Gershon, Irene Russel play a regular game of Mah Jongg.

Instead, I think I will come to the JMM on Christmas Day for our event Chanukah, Christmas, and all things Chinese and learn the basics. I hope to see you there.

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