JMM Offers Two Summer Workshops for Teachers

Posted on June 19th, 2013 by

The Jewish Museum of Maryland is pleased to announce two summer programs for educators interested in furthering their knowledge of Holocaust history and education. Once again, we are partnering with the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) and the Maryland State Department of Education for our annual Summer Teachers Institute taking place July 29-31. This year’s theme is Confronting Genocide: The Holocaust and Beyond.

2013 Teachers Institute flier (4) (2)

The program will take place at three venues: our first day is at Chizuk Amuno Congregation; the second at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (we provide bus transportation); and the third is at the JMM. Speakers include an educator from the Jan Karski Educational Foundation who will share educational resources with participants; a scholar from the USHMM who will talk about their newest exhibit, Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration and Complicity During the Holocaust; a Holocaust survivor and liberator who will share personal testimony about their experiences; and master teachers who will share pedagogical strategies for developing lesson plans. In addition to touring the USHMM’s permanent and new exhibits, participants will also have the chance to see the JMM’s most recent exhibit Zap! Pow! Bam! The Golden Age of Superheroes which will serve as inspiration for sessions on propaganda and teaching Maus.

Teachers at last year’s Summer Teachers Institute listening to educator Joyce Witt

Teachers at last year’s Summer Teachers Institute listening to educator Joyce Witt.

Our Summer Teachers Institute has become a cornerstone of our Holocaust education program. Comments such as “Thank you again for providing wonder-filled and inspirational information, stories, materials, educational ideas, etc., etc. We so appreciate being included in all your terrific programs” are indicative of the outstanding feedback we receive from participants year after year.

While space is quickly filling up, there are still some slots available. To register, applications are available on our website For more information about the program, contact me at

New this year is a second summer workshop, the result of a partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, the BJC, and Baltimore City Schools. We are pleased to offer a five-day course August 5-9 taking place at the JMM focusing on Holocaust and Human Behavior. This program is open to high school teachers (who teach in any school) who plan on teaching a dedicated Holocaust course in the upcoming year.


Registration is through Facing History and Ourselves:

The JMM is proud to serve as an educational resource for teachers on Holocaust education. If you teach or are just interested in the subject matter, please feel free to join us this summer!

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. Read other posts by Deborah here!



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Lives Lost, Lives Found

Posted on November 16th, 2012 by

A blog post by assistant director Deborah Cardin.

On Wednesday, I traveled to Patterson Mill Middle School in Harford County to facilitate educational activities for 100+ 6th graders over the course of the day. The activity that the teacher selected was our Lives Lost, Lives Found photography exploration unit that was developed several years ago when we had an exhibit of the same name on display. The exhibit explored the experiences of the 3,000 German Jewish refugees who found safe haven in Baltimore in the 1930s and 40s. The exhibit provided wonderful educational opportunities to teach students of all backgrounds about the Holocaust from a different perspective, using first-hand testimony and artifacts from individuals who left Germany during an intense period of upheaval and discrimination.


Personal belongings of Herta Baitch who left Austria for Baltimore in the 1930s as an unaccompanied child participating in the German Jewish Children’s Aid Society’s rescue of Jewish children.

In addition to examining conditions in Germany that led to the large-scale migration of Jews and the difficulty that Jews encountered in their attempts to leave, the exhibit also explored the challenges that the refugees faced in adapting to life in their new homeland.

Because the exhibit afforded us the opportunity to create a stand-alone curriculum incorporating photographs on display, we have been able to continue facilitating Holocaust-related school programs. Students examine poster sized reproductions of the photographs in groups, answer questions about the photo that encourage them to use critical thinking and teamwork skills, and present their findings to the class. As a final activity, students attempt to create a timeline of the photos which gives them the opportunity to think about how the photos tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. (The curriculum and photos can be downloaded from the education section on our website: http:///

The stories captured in the photos that the students explore are quite moving and bring to life this distant historical event in a more personal manner. After the students have finished the activity, they listen intently as they learn about the real stories behind the photos. For example they study this photo:

The Weil Family, Hilda and Theo with their children Erna, Lisa, and Toni on vacation in Hollenthal, Germany, 1925

and then learn the story of the Weil family. As we discuss this photo, students who have earlier questioned why Jews didn’t simply leave once the Nazis came to power realize just how complex this question is. The Weils had deep roots in Germany; Theo Weil was a decorated army officer in the German army during World War I and was a successful businessman. Like many other Jews living in Germany, the Weils felt more German than Jewish and were reluctant to uproot their family for what they thought would be a temporary political situation. However, it soon became apparent that their situation was not going to improve. This point was further proven by Theo Weil’s arrest in the wake of Kristallnacht. Theo’s wife, Hilda, arranged for Theo’s release from Dachau by selling family possessions and paying a bribe to the prison officials.

As we discuss the Weil Family’s plight, students also become aware of just how difficult it was for Jews to leave Germany because of the strict immigration quotas that many countries – including the US – had established. The Weils had applied for visas prior to Kristallnacht which was fortunate as the wait for visas became extraordinary afterwards. They still were forced to endure a lengthy wait as the US limited German and Austrian immigrants to 27,370 immigrants per year.

While awaiting their US visas, the Weil daughters had an opportunity to travel to England where they worked as household servants. While living in England, they received their US visas in April 1940. After arriving in the US, they settled in Baltimore and immediately found jobs and worked hard to establish new lives for themselves. They also worked to help their parents emigrate from Germany.  They were soon devastated to learn that their parents were sent to Gurs, an internment camp in France.

Theo and Hilda Weil (standing in the second row in the right) outside a barracks at Gurs, 1940

The three daughters worked strenuously to secure their parents release. Because their parents had been approved to receive US visas, they were able to appeal to the US State Department for assistance.

Because Theo and Hilda Weil had no identifying documents with them when they were deported to Gurs, their daughters had papers drawn up for them.

Amazingly their work was successful and their parents were released from Gurs and reunited with them in Baltimore in April 1941.

(The story of the Weil family has been well documented by Anita Kassof in the Winter 2002 edition of Generations in an article, “Dispossession and Adaptation: The Weil Sisters Rebuild Their Family in America.” Back issues of Generations are available in the JMM gift shop. Contact Esther Weiner / for details.)

The photograph of the Weil family is the first one in the series of photos in the timeline and it inspires such interesting discussion about the rich lives that Jews led in Europe prior to the Holocaust, the struggles they encountered in their attempts to leave, and the hard work that refugees encountered in settling into their new lives while awaiting news of relatives left behind in Europe.

After working with five separate classes and having such positive interactions with the students and teachers at Patterson Mills Middle School, I left feeling energized about the impact that JMM programs have on students and how our resources inspire them to think about topics they are studying in school in new ways.

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The Abiding Impact of the NurembergTrials

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by

A blog post by Education Director Deborah Cardin.

On August 8, 1945, the Allied victors in World War II entered into an agreement to establish the Nuremberg Trials in an attempt to carry out justice against perpetuators of the Holocaust. 61 years later, the impact of the Nuremberg Trials can be seen in today’s headlines about trials against notorious genocide masterminds. Although genocide was not yet a classified charge (indeed it was not until later that the term was accepted as a criminal charge in international law thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Rafael Lempkin who coined the term), the Nuremberg Trails marked the first time that an international tribune was convened to try “crimes against humanity.” (For more detailed information about the Nuremberg Trials, check out the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website: http:///

Participants at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and Baltimore Jewish Council’s recent Summer Teachers Institute, The Holocaust: Persecution to Nuremberg, recently spent a full day exploring the impact and significance of these trials.

According to University of Pennsylvania law professor, Harry Reicher, an expert on the topic of human rights law and our speaker for the morning, the Nuremberg Trials were significant for many reasons. He cited the efforts of chief prosecutor Robert Jackson who advocated on behalf ensuring that defendants would receive a fair trial as evidence of the high moral plane upon which the trials were based. Furthermore, the Nuremberg Trials also set a precedent by placing 22 defendants (including leading figures in the Nazi establishment who were still alive and in captivity) on trial as individuals as opposed to specific governments.

Through documentary film clips – as well as through the use of clips from the award-winning dramatization Judgement at Nuremberg (check out http:/// to learn more about this film) – Professor Reicher kept attendees riveted as he discussed important legal concepts that served as the trial’s basis.

Among these was the importance of collecting enormous amounts of documentary evidence, and prosecutors gathered extensive documentation for evidence. This proved to be one of their most enduring legacies as prosecutors foresaw the need to combat future efforts at Holocaust denial.

In the afternoon teachers had additional opportunities to learn strategies for teaching about the Nuremberg Trials in their classroom. At Towson University, Dr. Nicole Dombrowski gave a presentation where she shared information about an archival collection housed at TowsonUniversitythat includes extensive primary sources from the Trials gathered by Paul Gantt, a member of the US armed forces who was worked with Nuremberg prosecutors. (To access the Paul Gnatt Collection and to make use of the lesson plans developed by Dr. Dombrowski and her students, check out http:///

Teacher response to this day of our Institute was overwhelming as evidenced by the following comments on program surveys:

  • Thank you for the dedicating the last day to the Nuremberg Trials. It was great to examine one facet in depth at the end.
  • All of the information on the Nuremberg Trials was great. It was a lot of information but it definitely needs to be seen, heard, and remembered
  • Thank you, this was wonderful. This is my second year, and I think what you are doing is fabulous. I promised last year to incorporate what I learned into my classes, and I have. I will keep working…
  • Liked the theme of the day. Excellent speakers. Knowledgeable speakers.
  • A wonderful experience for me!
  • I am learning so much…so much information to explain in such a short time. Again, I wish we had more time. I have a much clearer understanding of how these trials evolved and their importance in the international courts even today.

The establishment of a permanent international tribune with an independent prosecutor is a legacy that has endured to the present day. Furthermore, the charge of “crimes against humanity” has been used as justification for trials in more contemporary instances of genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia.

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