MS 206 The Felix Kestenberg Collection

Posted on October 5th, 2012 by

The Felix Kestenberg (1921-2008)

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n.d., 1987-2008

 MS 206

 Jewish Museum of Maryland


The Felix Kestenberg collection was donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Veronica Kestenberg in 2010 as accession 2010.69. The collection was processed by Jennifer Vess in 2012.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain 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 practices

Hebrew Free Loan Association - October 1989. Felix Kestenberg kneels third from the left in the front row. 2010.69.6


Felix Kestenberg was born in 1921 in Radom, Poland, the son of a shoe manufacturer.  In 1939 he was sent to a labor camp on the border of Russia and was moved to seven other camps including Auschwitz and Maidanek.  In January 1945, he was marched to Dachau. The camp was liberated on April 29, 1945 by American troops.  He was the only member of his family to survive.

Kestenberg moved to Baltimore in 1949 to live with his uncle Leo Altfeder.  Kestenberg’s first jobs included TV repairman and roofer. He eventually joined his uncle’s clothing business and later worked for London Fog and Misty Harbor Outerwear.

Kestenberg was active in the Jewish community serving in various positions for the Hebrew Free Loan Society, the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society and Jewish Family Services.  Under the Jewish Family Services he served as the chair for the Holocaust Claims Conference Committee.  Kestenberg traveled around Maryland telling his story at schools, churches and synagogues.  He was a founding member and long-time supporter of Beth Israel Congregation.

His first wife, Doris Potler, died 1968 and he later married Veronica Salazar.  He had three children, David Homoki, Leah Miller and Edith Creeger.  Kesternberg died in Baltimore on July 22, 2008.


The Felix Kestenberg Collection contains photographs, certificates, programs, articles, letters, and DVDs predominantly related to Kestenberg’s work with Holocaust remembrance.  The materials reference Kesternberg’s talks given to students, participation in yearly Holocaust remembrance events aroundMaryland, and awards for his accomplishments.  The papers are organized with all articles first followed by certificates then materials such as programs and letters related to his talks on the Holocaust.  Each grouping of materials is organized chronologically.  The DVDs and photographs are stored separately.


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MS 26 Chizuk Amuno Congregation Collections

Posted on September 20th, 2012 by

The JMM is very lucky to have collections of various sizes related to all four of the Jewish congregations that used the two historic synagogues that make up our museum – Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Shomrei Mishmeres, Chizuk Amuno, and B’nai Israel.  This finding aid for Chizuk Amuno will be the first of the four that I post.  Chizuk Amuno has its own museum, The Goldsmith Museum of Chizuk Amuno Congregation.  You can visit their website to learn more about the museum and read the curator's blog.

Chizuk Amuno Congregation Collection


MS 26

Now B'nai Israel, this building on Lloyd Street was the first synagogue constructed by Chizuk Amuno congregation in 1876. 1987.137.24


The Chizuk Amuno Congregation Collection is comprised of two accessions.  Chizuk Amuno congregation donated materials as accession 1985.064.  The rest of the materials were found in the Jewish Museum of Maryland in 2004 and assigned the accession number 2004.068.  The collection was processed by Erin Titter in 2004.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  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.


Congregation Chizuk Amuno was founded in 1871, when a group of congregants broke away from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation due to a dispute over rituals of orthodoxy.  Originally focused on Orthodoxy, the congregation eventually became influential in the Conservative movement and helping to establish the Jewish Theological Seminary and the United Synagogue of America.

The congregation built their first synagogue in 1876 on the corner of Lloyd and Lombard Streets.  Chizuk Amuno’s first rabbi was Rev. Henry W. Schneeberger, the first American-born ordained rabbi, who remained with the congregation for forty years.  In 1886 the women of the congregation founded the Ladies’ Chizuk Amuno Auxiliary Association of Baltimore City to help advance the welfare of the congregation.  That same year Rev. Schneeberger and Aaron Friedenwald were invited toNew Yorkto help establish the Jewish Theological Seminary.  In 1895 the congregation moved to a new building at Mosher and McCulloh Streets after selling theirLloyd Streetbuilding to B’Nai Israel Congregation.

Following Rev. Schneeberger’s death, Chizuk Amuno hired Rabbi Adolph Coblenz in 1920 and he served the congregation until 1948.  The congregation moved once again in 1922, this time to Eutaw place and shortly after that the Ladies’ Auxiliary changed its name to the Chizuk Amuno Sisterhood.  Over the next several years various other groups emerged including: a Junior Congregation, a Young People’s League, and the Chizuk Amuno Brotherhood.

In the late 1920’s the congregation began to introduce new reforms to the procedures of worship, including more prayers in English, and introducing a confirmation service for girls.  The congregation also debated the issue of mixed seating during Rabbi Coblenz’s tenure, finally voting in favor of family pews in 1947.  The decision upset many of the congregants and drew condemnation from the Va’ad Harabonim (Council of Orthodox Rabbis).  In 1948 the board of Chizuk Amuno unanimously decided to change the congregation’s designation from Orthodox to Conservative.

The second (McCulloh and Mosher streets) and third (Eutaw Place and Chauncy Street) locations of Chizuk Amuno Congregation. 1987.137.63 and 1987.137.66

Chizuk Amuno hired Rabbi Israel Goldman in 1948 (in response to Rabbi Coblenz’s ailing health) and he continued as their spiritual leader until 1976.  Rabbi Goldman established the congregation’s first Adult Jewish Institute, Layman’s Weekend Retreat and Interfaith Services.  He also introduced a Bat Mitzvah service in the early 1950s, which allowed girls a more active role in the synagogue, a practice that had been introduced by the Reconstructionist movement in the 1920s, but had not been widely accepted by the Conservative movement.  In 1971 Rabbi Goldman proposed two items to the board regarding the involvement of women in service – to allow women to sit on the bimah on Friday night, and to allow women to be called to the Torah on Simchat Torah morning.  The board passed both proposals.

In 1958 Chizuk Amuno organized a branch of the United Synagogue Youth (USY), and throughout the 1960s and 1970s the congregation remained active in social issues such as civil rights, raising bond money forIsrael, discussions about feminism, and other social actions.

Hymen Saye, Dr. Leonard Wallenstein, and Harold Hammer laying the cornerstone at Chizuk Amuno, 1957. Courtesy of Hymen Saye. 1991.7.2

Due to financial difficulties, the Chizuk Amuno Congregation sold the building atEutaw Placein 1975.  Following Rabbi Goldman’s retirement in 1976, Chizuk Amuno hired Rabbi Maurice Corson.  The next year, the members of the congregation approved a measure that would allow women full ritual equality in services.  And in 1979, when Rabbi Corson’s contract was up, the congregation hired Rabbi Eliot Marrus for a period of ten months, upon which time the congregation hired Rabbi Joel Zaiman.  Rabbi Zaiman established a Solomon Schechter Day School in Baltimore, today called Krieger Schecter Day School (KSDS).

The Ritual Committee continued to petition for other changes to services. In 1992, the congregation adopted the triennial cycle of reading the Torah, and in 1995 introduced an alternative minyan completely run by laymen – both adults and children.  In 2004, after Rabbi Zaiman’s retirement, the congregation hired Rabbi Ronald Shulman.

Sweatshirt given by Sandee Lever to kids that attended camp. c. 1980s. Courtesy of Barry and Sandee Lever. 2002.111.1

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 The Chizuk Amuno Congregation Collection consists of constitutions for the congregation and Ladies Auxiliary, pew documents, legal documents, correspondence and meeting minutes.  Meeting minutes from 1959 through 1969 make up the bulk of the collection.  The collection is organized chronologically with undated materials at the front.


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MS 205 Leo Kanner Papers on Refugee Medical Personnel

Posted on September 6th, 2012 by

It’s been awhile since we sent out a finding aid post.  We’re picking up with one of our more recent collections, which deals with Dr. Leo Kanner’s work in finding employment for refugees from Nazi Germany who had medical training (mostly doctors).  One of the things that I like about this collection is how it connects us to another Baltimore institution.  It’s not unusual for multiple museums or archives to have related materials.  People and even organizations are often part of multiple groups and communities.  Leo Kanner was a member of the Baltimore Jewish community, so having papers here at the JMM makes sense.  He also worked at Johns Hopkins Medical School and so they too have some of his papers.  After you’ve read through our finding aid, click on the link to The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives to check out another one.

 The Leo Kanner (1894-1981) Papers

on Refugee Medical Personnel

1938-1958 (Bulk 1938-1944)

 MS 205

 Jewish Museum of Maryland

Leo Kanner, c. 1955. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine. http:///


The Leo Kanner Papers on Refugee Medical Personnel were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Baltimore Hebrew University in 2006 as accession 2006.27. The collection was processed by Jennifer Vess in 2012.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain 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 practices
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Leo Kanner was born in Klekotow, Austria on June 13, 1894.  After serving in the Austrian army during World War I, Kanner entered the University of Berlin and earned his medical degree in 1921.  In 1924 he immigrated to theUnited States to work at the Yankton State Hospital in Yankton, South Dakota.  In 1928 Dr. Adolph Meyer, the founder of the School of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, invited Kanner to join the staff.  At Johns Hopkins Kanner established the first child psychology clinic in the United States in 1930.  Kanner became well known for his work in child psychology and his studies of autism.

Kanner married June Lewin in 1921 and they had a son, Albert Kanner who became a doctor.  Kanner died in 1981 in Sykesville, Maryland.


The Leo Kanner Papers on Refugee Medical Personnel contain correspondence related to the employment of German refugee doctors before, during and after World War II.  The correspondence concerns the immigration, certification, and employment of medical personnel (mostly doctors).  Kanner corresponded with government officials, potential employers, the National Committee for Resettlement of Foreign Physicians, the doctors themselves, etc.  Some of the letters, particularly those written by the refugee medical personnel, are in German.  Mini biographies for many of the individuals concerned are written on stationary from The Johns Hopkins Hospital Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children.  The letters are organized alphabetically by the last name of the medical personnel.

Collections at other institutions:

“Leo Kanner Collection,” The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns HopkinsMedical Institutions. http:///


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