Dear Abby 1.2

Posted on November 18th, 2013 by

It’s our second installment in the “Dear Abby” series!

Dear Abby,

My long-time friend from New York City—let’s call her “Flo”—is coming to visit, and I really want to show her a good time! I’m always hearing about life in the Big City, so this is my chance to show her that Baltimore has great things too. My very first thought was that the JMM would be the perfect place to take her! Flo volunteers at the Tenement Museum, so I think she’ll really enjoy seeing the synagogues and the exhibits. Flo can also be a bit of a snob when it comes to food—everything, it seems, tastes better in New York. I’d like to have the time to see the museum and also take her to a nice place for lunch. How long does it take to go through the whole museum, and are there any good places to eat that are nearby? Later on, we will meet up with her daughter, “Sarah,” who keeps kosher. Is there a kosher Starbucks nearby where we can meet her?


“Tired of hearing about the Big Apple”


Dear “Tired”,

Your friend probably talks so much about how great New York is because she’s jealous that you get to live in “Charm City.” This visit is your chance to show her a true Baltimore experience, so she can have that memory to take home with her and shout her love for Baltimore from the top of the Empire State Building. You are absolutely correct that the best way to do this is to take her to the JMM!

I would say you should allow yourself about 20-30 minutes in each exhibit—so that’s 60-90 minutes total for all three exhibits. Of course, a lot of it depends on the individual visitor. For example, I’m a compulsive reader, so I drive my friends and family nuts by making them wait for me as I take over an hour to go through one exhibit! However, I’ve seen that most visitor find that 20 minutes is the perfect amount of time to absorb what the exhibit is trying to say without experiencing the dreaded “museum fatigue.” The synagogue tour takes between 45 minutes to an hour—it depends on how many questions you ask the docent! The docents try to aim for 45 minutes, but if you get them started on their favorite topic within Jewish-American history, we can’t be held accountable for how long your tour will take! I can, however, promise that it will be enlightening.

Exploring "Voices of Lombard Street"

Exploring “Voices of Lombard Street”

And, of course, you have to make time for the gift shop! What better way to impress your friend then by showing her the many wonderful things she can buy as a keepsake or as a thoughtful gift for a loved one at our museum shop? All together, I’d allow 2.5 to 3 hours for your visit.

To answer your question about feeding your friend, I will tell you that you are in luck! We happen to be located within easy walking distance of a great number of excellent eateries. Just on the block of Lombard Street that is diagonally across from the museum, there are not one, not two, but three delicatessens—Attman’s, Weiss’s, and Lenny’s—and, if you walk a few blocks south from us on Exeter St. or High St., you will find yourself in the heart of Baltimore’s charming Little Italy (which, I might add, is larger than what is left of NYC’s Little Italy). If you walk a little further south from there, you will enter the trendy Harbor East neighborhood, where there is everything from high quality fast food to fancy, white-cloth restaurants.

As for kosher food, that’s a little more difficult to find in downtown Baltimore. The only kosher restaurant downtown is a cute little café (dairy) called the Van Gough Café. It’s about a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile from the museum, on the corner of Ann St. and—you guessed it—Gough St.

Yours Truly,


abby krolik copyHave a question of your own for Abby? Click HERE to email her! Make sure to put “Dear Abby” in the subject line! 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Dear Abby 1.1

Posted on November 15th, 2013 by

abby krolik copyWelcome to a new feature on visitor services on our blog.  This feature gives us a chance to answer commonly asked questions about how to get the most satisfaction out of your JMM visit.  Since these questions are often asked of our Visitor Services Manager, Abby Krolik, we are calling this feature “Dear Abby” (any resemblance to a syndicated feature with a similar name is purely coincidental). You can also catch up on Dear Abby in our “JMM Insights” e-newsletter!


Dear Abby,

The last time I saw the Lloyd Street Synagogue or B’nai Israel Synaogue was years ago on a school field trip. My cousin is coming to town for a simcha, and he’s a real Civil War history maven, so I thought it’d be neat if we could just peek into the Lloyd Street Synagogue for a couple minutes, so he could see the matzah oven that used to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. Can we do that? Will we still have to pay admission? I don’t think we’ll have time to visit the rest of the museum, unfortunately.


Miss Information


Dear Miss Information,

I’m afraid none of that is possible. The synagogues are only open for docent-led tours from the museum, so, no, you can’t see them on your own, and, yes, you will have to pay admission (unless you’re a member!). As the buildings are very old and they contain very important, old items (or, in the case of B’nai Israel, perhaps some privately owned items), we cannot just let people go into the buildings on their own. We would much rather our visitors be accompanied by staff or volunteers who know which sections are OK to go into and which things are OK to touch. Besides which, you get a lot more out of your visit if you go with someone who can answer all of your questions!

It will also be impossible for you to show your friend the matzah oven that used to be a stop on the Underground Railroad, simply because it doesn’t exist! That is, the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and definitely its matzah oven, were never a part of the Underground Railroad. First of all, the matzah oven wasn’t put in until the 20th century, and second of all, it is unlikely that Bernard Illowy, the rabbi of Baltimore Hebrew (the Lloyd St. Synagogue’s congregation) during the Civil War, would have allowed the synagogue to be a part of the Underground Railroad.

Checking out the Matzah Oven

Checking out the Matzah Oven

If you would like to hear more about why that is—or if you just want to see the Lloyd Street Synagogue in a new light—I would recommend bringing your friend to the museum at 3:00pm, so you can both go on our new “1861 Tour” of the Lloyd Street Synagogue! This tour uses parts of the synagogue to reveal the religious and political battles that were being fought within the Jewish and Maryland communities in 1861, including the infamous debate between Rabbi Illowy and Rabbi Einhorn (of Har Sinai Congregation, which was a few streets over) on the issue of slavery.

Yours Truly,



Have a question of your own for Abby? Click HERE to email her! Make sure to put “Dear Abby” in the subject line! 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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