Rosh Hashanah Greetings 2018/5779

Posted on September 6th, 2018 by

A blog post by Director of Learning and Visitor Engagement Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

This coming Sunday evening, September 9th, Jewish people from all over the world will be celebrating the Jewish New Year! Rosh Hashanah (literally meaning the “head” of the year) is celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It’s customary to extend greetings and sentiments to loved ones and friends on the holiday. The tradition of sending Jewish New Year greeting cards dates back to the Middle Ages, predating the Christian New Year card tradition, which only became popular in Europe and the United States during the 19th century!

Holiday greetings often include wishes for good health and a sweet new year. Shana Tova means “a good year” and is often extended to L ’Shana Tova umetuka, which means “To a good and sweet year.”  I wondered about the different New Year’s greetings that were in the JMM’s extensive collection – it turns out we have quite a few cards, and I wanted to share a few that I really liked.

In this 1908 card, a man with a white beard (probably symbolizing a rabbi) is blowing a shofar (ram’s horn) which is an important part of the Rosh Hashanah service.  The man is wearing white which is traditionally worn during the High Holidays to reflect the search for inner purity. I thought that this image really captured the essence of the holiday. JMM 1983.019.016b

I loved this card.  There is so much symbolism in the card – from the Statute of Liberty to the inclusion of both the American flag and the flag of Israel.  Interestingly, this card is from the 1940s – possibly before the State of Israel was officially established. One can infer that the sender of the card identified as both an American patriot and a supporter of Zionism. JMM 1990.014.001

Moses in Basket, ca.1911, addressed to the Hecht Family and Baby Hannah, JMM 1997.45.9

Children with Flowers ca 1912, addressed to Baby Hannah Hecht, JMM 1997.045.010

I thought that the two New Year’s greetings above were so sweet – especially since they were sent in sequential years (1911, 1912) to the Hecht Family and Baby Hannah of Havre de Grace, Maryland. The first postcard shows the traditional bible scene of Baby Moses and Miriam on the River Nile and is printed with Hebrew and German.  The second postcard, which is addressed only to Baby Hannah, features adorable children and flowers along with wishes for a New Year written in both Hebrew and English.

This greeting card looked very familiar to me with its mosaic pattern containing a menorah, torah scroll and shofar.  The thing that most caught my eye was that the familiar greeting of Shana Tova was not used.  Instead, the Hebrew phrase Hayom Harat Olam was used, which means “Today is the (birth) day of the world,” a prayer that traces back to Babylonian times and was included in the prayer book of Maimonides! JMM 2008.056.006

Let’s fast forward to 2018.  It is still customary to send greeting cards, however the way in which they are sent are very different than 100 years ago.  The Internet and social media outlets allow us to send our own personal messages to those we love and care about, like this Paperless Post e-card.

When I first got married my husband and I sent out our own greetings to friends and family through snail mail.  Today, we create our own cards to reflect our hopes and dreams for the New Year! I hope you enjoy Floyd modeling with our 2017 Alon Family Rosh Hashanah Card.

Happy New Year!  Chag Sameach!  Gut Yontiff and L’Shanah Tova…….  May we all be inscribed and sealed for a for a good year!

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Season’s Greetings from the Jewish Museum

Posted on December 25th, 2017 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Unsurprisingly, the Jewish Museum of Maryland does not have very many Christmas cards in its collections.  We do have a few, though, including two sent by Philip Perlman to his friend Dr. Lucille Liberles around 1940.

 

Left: “Season’s Greetings,” circa 1939.  Right: “Christmas Greetings,” circa 1941. Both gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.67b, .64b

In 1936, Baltimore native Philip B. Perlman purchased Greenbank Farm, a 90-acre estate (complete with pre-1800 farmhouse) in the My Lady’s Manor area of Monkton, Baltimore County.  A lawyer and former newspaperman, he had earlier served as Secretary of State for Maryland; later he was appointed U.S. Solicitor General – the first Jewish man to hold the position – under President Truman.  In addition to his professional career, he was active in the local museum and art scene, including work with the Walters Art Museum and the Maryland Historical Society. Several sources mention that he had homes on Park Heights Avenue and at the Shoreham Hotel in DC, but his obituary in the Baltimore Sun also referenced his “country home on the Manor.”

Mr. Perlman surrounded by American antiques, possibly at Greenbank Farm. His Baltimore Sun obituary stated, “He acquired a notable collection of antique American furniture which he lodged in his country home on the Manor. He seemed to carry in his head the origins and dates of each piece.” (August 2, 1960)  Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.72b

Soon after he purchased the farm, Mr. Perlman decided to make it the focus of his holiday greetings; rather than choose a holiday card featuring an illustration of a picturesque American scene, he used a photo of his very own picturesque farmhouse. Though not as ubiquitous as today’s photographic holiday cards, personalized photo cards were certainly available by the late 1930s; these two examples are mass-produced cards, with the name of the farm and the sender printed locally and original photos of the house pasted into the little window inside. (I particularly like the mob of sheep in the foreground of the earlier card; they don’t look terribly festive to me, but I can appreciate the intent.)

“To wish you a Merry Christmas and every happiness in the New Year / Philip B. Perlman,” circa 1939. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.67b

“Greenbank Farm / Monkton, Md. / Philip B. Perlman,” outer card design copyright 1940, circa 1941. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.64b

These two Christmas cards were sent to Perlman’s good friend Dr. Lucille Liberles, another Baltimore native. Both were Jewish, but Chanukah greeting cards weren’t really a thing at this time (at least not mass-produced ones), and I can see that a public figure like Mr. Perlman might choose to go ahead and send Christmas cards to his mailing list, regardless of his own religious inclinations.

Friends Philip B. Perlman and Dr. Lucille Liberles, circa 1950. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.73b

BONUS: Here’s an example of a Chanukah greeting card from the early 20th century … albeit one on a picture postcard of a train station, requiring the writer to make his own greetings:

Postcard: Photographic view of “New Union Station, Washington, D.C.,” published by I&M Ottenheimer, Baltimore. Postmarked Baltimore, December 25, 1910; addressed to Mrs. S. Szold in New York City. “Balto. Dec 22d 1910. Wishing you, and your family, a pleasant Hanucah [sic], and many returns of them. Mit Gruss, F. Gichner.”  Baltimore’s Sophie Szold and her daughter Henrietta were living in New York that year; the sender might have been Frederick S. Gichner of Washington, DC, perhaps visiting his family in Baltimore at the time. Museum purchase. JMM 1993.123.11

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