A Short Trip to Denmark

Posted on April 28th, 2017 by

Biking around Copenhagen

Biking around Copenhagen

I recently took a short vacation to Denmark where I spent time in Copenhagen, Northern Zealand and Aarhus. In between visiting castles, going on a canal boat tour, biking around the city and sampling lots of tasty dishes, I explored the country’s Jewish heritage. As I am writing this on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I thought I would also touch on some of the county’s WW2 history.

Inside the Danish Jewish Museum

Inside the Danish Jewish Museum

In Copenhagen, I stopped at the Danish Jewish Museum. The architecture by Daniel Libeskind (who also did the Jewish Museum in Berlin), was among the most striking parts of the museum. The space was a kind of labyrinth and the floors, walls and ceiling were slanted. I learned that Jews have lived in Denmark for 400 years. Denmark was the first Scandinavian country where Jews were permitted to settle. Jews were first invited by King Christian IV in the 1620s and they worked as merchants or as financiers and jewelers to the royal family. Similar to Maryland, Danish Jews only received full citizenship rights in 1849. In 1943, when the Danish Jews were about to be deported, the Danish Resistance Movement was instrumental in helping to evacuate nearly 8,000 Jews and their families from Denmark by sea in fishing boats to nearby neutral Sweden. While 500 Jews were taken to Thersienstadt concentration camp, Danish authorities often interceded upon their behalf and ordinary Danes protected the property of their Jewish neighbors while they were gone.

Danish fisherman ferry Jews to safety in Sweeden 1943 . Via USHMM.

Danish fisherman ferry Jews to safety in Sweeden 1943 . Via USHMM.

Since the war, the population has rebounded. Despite recent episodes of anti-Semitism, the Jewish population of Denmark remains at approximately 6,400.Later in my trip, I took the train up the coast to visit the Louisanna Art Museum  and Kronsborg Castle.  These were near several of the towns where Jews were smuggled on fishing boats across to nearby Sweden in 1943. I visited around the time of Passover so when I looked out over the water towards Sweden, it made me realize that the Danish Jews also had an exodus to escape a different kind of oppressor as they ferried across the Oresund strait towards freedom. Back in Copenhagen, I explored the historic center where I walked past the Great Synagogue, dating from 1833, which is the main synagogue of the Jewish community in Copenhagen. It is built in the semi-oriental classical style with mixtures of Greek, Roman and Egyptian elements.

The Occupation Museum

The Occupation Museum

The next day, I took the train to Aarhus where I toured the Occupation Museum which is dedicated to the history of the town during the occupation by the Germans in World War 2. The building served as the headquarters for the Gestapo headquarters during the war and as a place of interrogation and torture. I was interested in learning about the resistance to the Nazis in Aarhus, like a radio used to secretly communicate with England.

Throughout my trip, I thought back to our Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust and Humanity exhibit. While many perished in the Holocaust, it was refreshing to hear some of the stories of ordinary Danes who stood up to the Nazis and as a country ended up saving the majority of Danish Jews from Nazi persecution.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

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Volunteer Spotlight on Margie Simon!

Posted on April 3rd, 2017 by

Margie Simon has been a volunteer docent at the Jewish Museum of Maryland since March. She retired in June 2016 from Baltimore County Public Schools. She was a librarian at Perry Hall High School for 16 years. Prior to that, she worked at Goucher College for 10 years and at the University of Maryland Health Sciences Library for 12 years. She now works part-time as a librarian at the Community College of Baltimore County at the Dundalk campus. She is chair of the Gemilut Hasadim committee at Chizuk Amuno Congregation, and vice chair of the Yom Hashoah Remembrance Commission.

Margie with a school group in "Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity"

Margie with a school group in “Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity”

Margie has been helping with school groups at the JMM during the current Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust and Humanity exhibit.  In her years at Perry Hall, she became involved in the school’s Holocaust education effort and took advantage of many of the wonderful workshops and training sessions offered by the JMM.  She wanted to “pay back” the JMM for all of the education she had received by sharing her knowledge about the Holocaust as a docent for this exhibit.  She finds it exciting watching the students react to the model of Auschwitz.  She believes we are so lucky to have the model because it makes what otherwise would be a room of blue prints come alive for students. We at the JMM also feel lucky to have Margie as a docent. She has been very effective at imparting her passion and knowledge of the Holocaust to students from around Maryland. We hope that she decides to stay involved at the museum after the exhibit closes!

GrahamPost by Visitor Services Coordinator Graham Humphrey. Every month we highlight one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, send an email to Sue Foard at sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org or call 443-973-5162! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

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Greetings Graham: Passover & Beyond Edition

Posted on March 17th, 2017 by

Greetings Graham,

I’ll be visiting from out of town and was looking for things to do during Passover. What kind of special programs will you offer and what are your holiday hours?

I’m also looking for a special gift for the people inviting me to their seder, any recommendations?



Dear Elijah,

We hope that you will be able to visit us when you are in town! While we will be closed starting at 3:30 pm on Monday, April 10th through April 12th as well as April 17th and 18th. Still, I would encourage you to visit at other times to take a docent-led tour of our two historic synagogues and explore our exhibits Voices of Lombard Street and Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity. We are open Sunday through Thursday, 10am – 5 pm.

On Wednesday, April 5th at 7pm, the Global Theatre Project in partnership with the Immigration Outreach Service Center of Baltimore and the Jewish Museum of Maryland presents An Explorer’s Desire – theater, self-reflection and dialogue about the immigration and refugee crisis which will be followed by a “Walk of Remembrance and Refuge.” In addition, we have a special Family Story Telling program on April 16th where you and your whole family can create a beautiful piece of art that reflects your family’s history.

Esther’s Place

While you are at the JMM, visit Esther’s Place and speak with Devan Southerland, our Shop Assistant, who would be more than happy to show you all of our unique merchandise. We have everything you need for your seder including cooking books, beautiful wooden seder plates, matzah trays, salt water and horseradish bowls. We even have color changing Passover mugs and matzah-themed aprons. I am confident we can fulfill most of your shopping needs!

Greetings Graham,

I am getting ready for Passover by cleaning out my closet and found pictures from my wedding (which I have to say was the wedding of the century), and from my friend’s wedding. I have more pictures than I know what to do with! I heard that you will be putting on an exhibition about Jewish weddings and thought it would be a nice surprise for my friend if her wedding was included. How do I go about doing this?

~Busy Cleaning

Dear BC,

Yes! In conjunction with our upcoming exhibition Just Married! Wedding Stories from the Jewish Museum of Maryland, we are in the process of creating an online exhibition, Marrying Maryland which will feature photos and invitations from as many different weddings as we can find. We are looking for material from all weddings that occurred in Maryland and had some connection to the Jewish community.

You can find out more on our website about how to send us your pictures. Don’t delay though, because the virtual exhibit as well as the physical exhibit opens on June 18th!

Greetings Graham,

I’ll be bringing some of our former players back to Baltimore in late May and want to show them a bit of culture. What do you recommend?

~Mike Cuellar

Dear Mike,

There is a lot going on at the JMM in late May to keep your players occupied!  The highlight is  our Annual Meeting, which will feature Steven V. Roberts, a professor, columnist and best-selling author who has been a journalist for more than 50 years.

Roberts will deliver the Samuel Boltansky Memorial Keynote address. His talk will focus on how immigrants have provided a continuous source of vitality and ingenuity to this country since its founding (not news for Cuellar and Aparicio).  He will also explore  the special responsibility of Jews to welcome strangers – a responsibility that has its roots in Exodus and the story of Moses’ exile.

As you plan your visit, keep in mind that while we are open on Memorial Day, the JMM will be closed May 31st and June 1st for the holiday of Shavuot.

Greetings Graham,

I’ve been going to Camp Airy for years and now am a camp counselor. I’m looking for ideas about field trips for our summer camp. Will you be offering anything special this summer?

~Young Idealist

Dear Young Idealist,
We would love to have your camp visit! One of our trained educators will take your group on a highly interactive tour of our two historic synagogues, Lloyd Street and B’nai Israel. While on the synagogue tour, your campers will step back in time and learn what it was like for Jewish immigrants to come to Baltimore in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  In fact, our Lloyd Street Synagogue, the third oldest still standing in the country and the oldest in Maryland, was the home of three different congregations – two synagogues and a Lithuanian Catholic Church. In addition, you will see a matzah oven and stand atop the oldest existing mikvah complex in the country.

Your campers will also explore our immersive exhibits Voices of Lombard Street and the Synagogue Speaks. Depending on the age of your campers, we an also offer a hands-on archaeology activity where campers piece together and date reproduced fragments of objects found around Lloyd Street Synagogue during its archaeological excavation. If you would like more information about our experiential educational programs, I encourage you to visit our website.

In addition to touring our historic synagogues and exhibits, we have just developed a self-guided walking tour of the Historic Jonestown Neighborhood made up of the oral histories of the people who lived and worked in this area. If you wanted to make it a full day outing, add on a visit to the Flag House which tells the story of the sewing of our flag that inspired our National Anthem.  I, (ghumphrey@jewishmuseummd.org) or our Education Director, Ilene Dackman-Alon, idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org, would be more than happy to help plan your visit!

~Visitor Services Coordinator Graham Humphrey

Have your own “Greetings Graham” question? Send him an email at ghumphrey@jewishmuseummd.org!

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