Hometown Heroes: The Henrietta Szold Story

Posted on August 19th, 2016 by

From Director of Education Ilene Dackman-Alon: 

JMM 1989.143.1

Have you ever noticed this bronze sculpture, sitting in the corner of the lobby near the entrance of the Museum? JMM 1989.143.1

The sculpture was made by Dina Lee Steiner, a Baltimorean and prominent artist whose works are in private and public collections throughout the world. Steiner and Stuart J. Cordage, gifted the work to the Museum in memory of the sculptor’s parents and brother: Ida, Maurice and Henry Steiner.


The plaque reads: Henrietta Szold 1860-1945 born in Baltimore where she founded the first night school for immigrants; she gave the world Hadassah; and Youth Aliyah. 

Henrietta was the eldest daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold, the spiritual leader of Baltimore’s Temple Oheb Shalom. Throughout her life, Henrietta was committed to helping those who were in need.  Szold’s many contributions included establishing a night school in Baltimore for new immigrants and the creation of Hadassah, a national Zionist women’s organization devoted to improving health care in Palestine that is still in existence today.  She spent her later years living in Palestine where she was involved in the rescue of European Jewish children during World War II through her work with Youth Aliyah, an initiative that helped resettle and educate Jewish youth in Palestine.

Henrietta is mentioned in Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews And Medicine in America, which explores the American Jewish involvement with medicine from the late 19th century through the “golden age” of American medicine in the 20th century.

In 1909 Szold and her mother travelled to Palestine, which led to a life-changing experience that would bring a major change and direction in her life. Horrified by the lack of medical resources and treatment available to Jewish women and children, Szold became committed to improving the social welfare systems in Palestine.

Szold’s strong will and determination inspired thousands of American women to embrace Zionism and advocate for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  Hundreds of women joined Daughters of Zion (which in 1912 became Hadassah) chapters throughout the country.

 Henrietta Szold with a class of nurses, December 21, 1921, Jerusalem. JMM 1989.79.24

Henrietta Szold with a class of nurses, December 21, 1921, Jerusalem. JMM 1989.79.24

Henrietta Szold’s story serves as a wonderful companion to the exhibit and provides additional interpretation about the role that American Jewish women played in improving healthcare in Palestine. 

We invite you to join us on Thursday evening, September 22nd, when JMM will debut the incredible story of a rabbi’s daughter who broke from the traditional roles of women during the 19th century, to help strengthen her people, at home and abroad.

An advocate for education, Zionism, and health care, Henrietta Szold was a champion of community organizing and Jewish engagement and our own “Hometown Heroine.  The Henrietta Szold Story will offer audience members a unique educational experience that will appeal to diverse audiences—including students and adult groups—from across the state and region.

Playwright Dale Jones and Making History Connections and actress Natalie Smith have embraced Szold’s own words and stories to tell the gripping tale of a hero whose tenacity and courage played a vital role in the expansion of social services, medical services and the founding of the state of Israel.

The Szold living history character is presented in conjunction with Beyond Chicken Soup:  Jews and Medicine in America.  Find out more at www.chickensoupexhibit.org.

Funding for the Henrietta Szold Living History project was provided by the Kolker-Saxon –Hallock Family Foundation, Inc.  supporting foundation of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

The educational program for the Henrietta Szold living History Project is funded through the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education of The Associated: Jewish  Community Federation of Baltimore.

For more information about the Henrietta Szold Living History project, contact JMM’s Director of Education, Ilene Dackman-Alon at idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org







Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Famous Jews of Maryland Paper Doll Update

Posted on July 20th, 2012 by

A blog post by Lisa Perrin, Education Intern         

As you may recall from my previous blog post “Drawing from History” on June 27th (check it out here: http://2012/06/drawing-from-history/) as part of my internship with the education department I have been creating a series of paper dolls celebrating famous Jews of Maryland to be used as educational resources.  One of my favorite elements about creating paper dolls that represent real people is the process of learning about their lives and legacies. It gives me a unique opportunity to connect with a person from history, and try to understand what they might have worn or what objects they would have owned and used. To do this I need to do some research on the era as well as explore the individual from a personal perspective.

For example I am currently working on a paper doll of Henrietta Szold. She is an inspiring woman who took on the great endeavor of attempting to cultivate a Jewish homeland. I wanted to depict a strong but tender woman before her time. Szold was born in 1860 in Baltimore, the daughter of a Rabbi and lived until 1945 when she died in Jerusalem. I looked at many photographs of her and created a likeness based on the iconic image of her as an older woman with deep, thoughtful eyes and graying hair.  For her accessories I drew a cloche hat, shawl, Israeli flag, letter, book, and olive branch. I felt that these objects represented her as an individual, but also as a leader and innovator.

Henrietta Szold held many prestigious posts and accomplishments. She founded the Hadassah Women’s Organization and co-founded Ihud. She lived to help and serve others. I wanted to create a paper doll that commemorates this bold woman and Zionist. I hope people of all ages and backgrounds are reminded of her accomplishments with this paper doll and find themselves as inspired as I am.

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Using Collections To Engage Students

Posted on June 20th, 2012 by

A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin.

What makes the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s educational activities unique? Having access to such a rich collection of material culture representing the history of Maryland Jews allows us to give students hands-on opportunities for learning. Thanks to the wonderful teamwork between members of our education and collections staff and their creative approach to educational programming, we are able to provide students and teachers with opportunities to encounter and engage with authentic primary materials – including our historic synagogues, oral history interviews, photographs, documents, and artifacts – that create memorable learning experiences and reach students across the spectrum of learning styles.

Students visiting the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

The following are samples of the innovative ways in which JMM collections are integrated into educational resources:

–Archival Exploration: Teachers interested in having students conduct research into our rich collections of primary sources can make arrangements for students to visit our library where they can examine an array of primary sources on specific topics. We have several thematic programs that can be pulled for classes including Jewish involvement in the Civil War (and local rabbinic responses to slavery), neighborhood history, Jewish and African-American relations (with stations set up for students to explore issues of discrimination, stereotyping, and the Civil Rights movement), early Jewish settlement in Maryland, and Maryland Jews involved in the establishment of Israel. Students work together as a group to explore the materials at their station using a worksheet as their guide.  They often wear archival gloves so that they can handle authentic documents and photographs. At the conclusion of the program, students share what they have learned with the rest of the class.

Students participating in an archival exploration program.

Some of the materials we are able to provide access to include such impressive documents as an original copy of the Jew Bill, the 1926 legislation that gave Maryland Jews full rights as citizens of the state;

Pages from the Jew Bill.

a newspaper from 1800 with ads from Jewish merchants (as well as reward notices for runaway slaves);

American and Daily Advertiser, 1800.

and a letter written from Henrietta Szold sharing her insightful impressions from an 1909 visit to Palestine.

Handwritten letter from Henrietta Szold written to Judge Mayer Sulzberger, 1995.206..

–History Kits: In an effort to offer resources that cover the full spectrum of Maryland Jewish history beyond what is covered through exhibition and synagogue tours, we have created educational resources on key themes such as early Jewish settlement in Maryland, immigration;

Students exploring Immigrant’s Trunk photos.

the experiences of German Jewish Refugees in Baltimore (based on a 2004 exhibition);

Jewish refugee Max Knisbacher who enlisted in the US Army, with the only two surviving members of his family in Paris in 1945.

contemporary Jewish life along Park Heights Avenue; and the contributions of Maryland Jews to the establishment of Israel. Each history kit is available for teacher use in the classroom or as part of an on-site field trip. Kits contain reproductions of primary sources, lesson plans, background information, and activities such as games

Game board for Are We There Yet? from our Paving Our Way history kit that explores the experience of early Jewish settlers in Maryland.

and art projects. In an effort to make these resources widely accessible, they are available at no charge and can be downloaded from the JMM website. (To access and download JMM educational resources, check out http:///www.jewishmuseummd.org/educational-programs)

–Living History Performances: one example of the innovative way in which the JMM delivers educational content is demonstrated through our living history characters that are part of our Immigrant’s Trunk resource kit. We added the living history component after we had developed trunks exploring the lives of two actual immigrants – Ida Rehr and Saul Bernstein – who settled in Baltimore in the early 20th century. Teachers have the option of scheduling a performance in conjunction with a trunk rental whereby an actor accompanies the trunk to their classroom. As part of the performance, actors unpack the trunk and use its contents – reproductions of photographs, documents, and artifacts from our collections – to illustrate dramatic moments from their life stories.

Katherine Lyons performing as Ida Rehr.

This is among our most popular educational activity and performances are scheduled frequently for diverse audiences, not just student groups.

For more information about JMM educational programs, contact Ilene Dackman-Alon, 410-732-6400 x214 / idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org. To schedule a school program or field trip, contact Elena Rosemond-Hoerr, 410-732-6400 x229 / erosemondhoerr@jewishmuseummd.org.

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