A Volunteer Field Trip – Right Next Door!

Posted on March 19th, 2018 by

A blog post from JMM Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis. To read more posts from Wendy, click here.

One can learn much about a building, but it doesn’t come to life until you have seen it filled with people using it for its intended purpose.    On Shabbat, March 3rd, a group of Jewish Museum of Maryland volunteers had that opportunity.  At the invitation of Rabbi Etan Mintz, we participated in the morning service and had a delicious lunch at B’nai Israel, one of the two historic synagogues on the Jewish Museum of Maryland Berman campus.  We were warmly welcomed by the congregants and the rabbi.  All of our male volunteers who were present at the service were given honors during the Torah service and I had the honor of walking with the Torah in my arms in the women’s section.

Inside the sanctuary with some of our volunteers, Phil Sagal, me, Marvin Spector, and Larry Levine.

Instead of a sermon by the rabbi, after services, Fred Shoken, a congregant who is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the history of B’nai Israel spoke to the entire congregation using questions we had previously submitted as his general outline.  Did you know that when the building was built, Hebrew words were carved in stone above the exterior doorway?  It originally identified that the building was the Chizuk Amuno Congregation and the date of the building.  When B’nai Israel moved into the building, the original congregation’s name was filled in and recarved with the name of the new congregation.    When the exterior was restored in 1987, some of the filling in of the letters was removed, leaving an overlap of both names.  In the sanctuary, all the beautiful woodwork is original except for the mechitzah (the fence separating the men from the women) and the railings leading to the ark.  Rabbi Mintz showed everyone interesting historic objects from the congregation’s collection including a list of yarhtzits written on parchment.

Standing outside the synagogue.

Typical for synagogues, at the end of the service, the president of the congregation, Shelly Mintz, who is also a JMM volunteer, made announcements.  As expected, she included information about upcoming events and services. But her words also expressed how this oldest continuously operating synagogue building in Maryland is still the place of active Jewish involvement.

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A Valentine’s Day Visit: KSDS Third Graders at the JMM

Posted on February 28th, 2018 by

This post was written by JMM Visitor Services Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!

On February 14th the Museum was alive with the sounds of students! Krieger Schechter Day School’s third grade class was immersed in the sights, sounds, and stories of Jewish immigrants who called the neighborhood around the Museum home.

It is always refreshing to experience the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit through the eyes and voices of students. An immigrant is “someone who moves from one country to another.” Immigrants might have brought different things with them when they moved, like “pots and pans,” “family photographs,” or they might “wear all their clothes.”

Krieger Schechter Day School’s third grade class in the Voices of Lombard Street Exhibit.

After listening to the hustle and bustle of Lombard Street and counting the chickens in the coop, one students said that “Lombard Street was really busy!” Other students learned that “a pickle was a nickel” and that there were outhouses where “sometimes they used book pages for toilet paper.”

Following their journey through Lombard Street, students discovered the first Synagogue to be built in Maryland, the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

KSDS students standing in front of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Putting on their archaeologist hats, students worked together to discover real artifacts found during excavations done for the Museum. Using the same method that archaeologists used, the students learned about the history of the people who worshipped in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

KSDS students working together to document where pieces of their mystery artifact were located.

It was a delight to have Krieger Schechter Day School’s third grade class visit the Museum! If you are interested in bringing your class to the Museum, please contact me, Paige Woodhouse at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org to learn more.

Make sure to ask about our educational programs for the special exhibit Amending America: The Bill of Rights, on loan from the National Archives and Records Administration, on display from April 8th to May 28th.

Not a student? After taking a peek in our guest book, here’s what other visitors have to say following their adventure through Voices of Lombard Street:

“Brought back memories. I learned to sew on [a] pedal machine, bought chickens and watched them be killed. My mother, a Christian from Galicia, lit candles for Sabbath. Love it. Well done. Will return.”

“Loved seeing and hearing the Lombard Street.”

“Fantastic exhibit – my children (aged 6 & 9) loved and played with all the child-friendly attractions. Thank you!”

“Thank you for such an interesting exhibit about immigrants to Baltimore. I especially loved all the quotes.”

“Very nice trip down memory lane.”

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The People’s Library

Posted on July 25th, 2016 by

Earlier this month the JMM interns took a field trip to the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Since all of us are passionate about history in some respect, we greatly appreciated the opportunity to tour such a historic building.

After arriving we were given a brief tour of the museum where we saw several truly amazing exhibits. Starting with a recreation of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library we saw presentations on New York, Jewish texts and the Library itself. Our guide took us to an office where we examined several of the oldest Jewish books that are known.

The Library of Congress is full of amazing architecture.

The Library of Congress is full of amazing architecture.

As I’m preparing to begin student teaching in history classes this Fall, I was extremely excited to visit the Library. It’s filled with American history as well as sections on every topic imaginable. Thomas Jefferson, a president who’s leadership I particularly enjoy studying, was fascinating and I am extremely impressed with the Library’s work on it. We learned that Jefferson not only kept a vast collection of books, he kept an extremely detailed record of all his texts. For every book he obtained he also included it’s price, who sold it and his thoughts on it. Our guide also explained to us that Jefferson wanted the Library to belong to the American people. His reasoning behind this was simple; he wanted an informed and knowledgeable American population.

After leaving the Library, the interns spent the rest of the afternoon in DC. We got lunch, walked around the other museums and saw a few vendors outside before the rain set in. I think opportunities like this are something special that comes with the internship. I have had several other internships in college, but none took us to somewhere as incredible as the Library of Congress. Special thanks to the museum staff and Rachel Kassman for organizing the trip for us.

I highly recommend the Library to anyone who is interested in History! Thanks for a great visit!

Ben SnyderBlog post by Education & Programs Intern Ben Snyder. To read  more posts by and about interns click HERE.

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