Performance Counts, May 2015

Posted on May 8th, 2015 by

So how are our volunteers doing?

Just in case anyone reading this newsletter is unfamiliar with the role of volunteers at JMM we offer this helpful guide:

Volunteers are a treasured JMM resource.  Our volunteers play an important role in helping the Museum fulfill its mission.  They provide many valuable services that supplement the basic essential functions of the staff.  We utilize volunteers in two distinct areas – the front of the museum and the back of the museum.  The volunteers in the front of the museum have direct contact with our visitors. The remaining volunteers work in the back of the museum and can generally be found in the library.  Complete training is offered for all of our volunteer positions.

At the front desk

At the front desk

Front Desk Reception

The front desk reception volunteers provide an invaluable service to the Museum by maintaining a warm and welcome atmosphere for Museum guests.  They serve as the Museum’s customer service representatives while orienting visitors to the Museum complex.  By informing visitors about tour times, current and upcoming exhibitions, and programs, they provide information about all services that the Museum offers.  Other tasks include processing admission fees for groups and individuals, answering the telephone, and maintaining an accurate daily count of visitors.

Museum Docents

Museum docents possess an interest in history and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others.  They perform an essential duty by leading tours and by interpreting the history of the Museum’s two historic synagogues and exhibitions for adults, families, and school groups of all ages.  A series of training sessions is offered to those interested in joining our docent corps and focuses on the history of Baltimore’s Jewish community.

Museum Gift Shop

The Museum’s gift shop, filled with beautiful Judaica, Museum catalogs, and exhibition related merchandise, is a destination for Museum visitors.  Gift shop volunteers assist guests with purchases, process cash and credit card payments, arrange merchandise on shelves and in windows, and assist the shop manager with ordering merchandise and conducting store inventory.

Special Events

Throughout the year, the Museum holds many programs and special events.  Programs include exhibition openings, family holiday programs, lectures, film series, and theatrical and musical performances.  Special event volunteers provide much needed assistance with these events by greeting visitors, processing admission fees, maintaining an accurate count of visitors, helping with refreshments, selling memberships, and facilitating art projects. 

Working in the archives department

Working in the archives department


The Library and Archives of the JMM offers a variety of volunteer opportunities.  Projects include organizing archival collections, preparing collections for proper storage, creating documents to assist researchers, and digital imaging.  Archives projects are conducive to long term or temporary volunteering.  Typing and computer skills are preferred, but not always required.  All new volunteers will be given an orientation to the care and handling of archival objects.


Volunteers in the collections department will work on a variety of projects.  These include writing catalog records for objects, taking digital photographs of objects (camera provided, or you can use your own),  organizing collection records, sorting incoming artifacts, helping to store and pack artifacts, and preparing objects in the collection for exhibition.  Temporary assignments are available.  Experience in the handling of fragile items is desired, but not required.


Volunteers use their expertise to assist researchers in The Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center.  They offer support with the interpretation of the many resources available for pursuing family history and genealogical research. This includes providing lookups, searching out tombstones, and much more.  Experience in genealogical research is required.

The Bottom Line

All told our volunteers contribute over 7,000 hours annually.  This number also includes members of our Board of Directors and our Summer Interns. The Independent Sector values an hour of volunteer time in the state of Maryland at $26.41.  That calculates to a contribution of almost $185,000.00 to the JMM in the last year.  We welcome new volunteers to the JMM year round and appreciate our volunteers dearly. Please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Ilene Cohen at 410-732-6400 x217.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Volunteer Spotlight on: Jack Light

Posted on April 13th, 2015 by

In honor of National Volunteer Week, I would like to thank all of our JMM volunteers.  Now, as I do once a month, I’d like to highlight one volunteer in particular…

Jack Light was a captain in the Korean War who served on the front lines as a dentist.  He received his B.S. and D.D.S. at Indiana University, plus an M.S. in Cancer Prosthetics dentistry from NYU and an M.P.H. Johns Hopkins University.  He practiced dentistry in NYC prior to moving to the Washington, DC area with his wife, a writer and nutrition educator who was offered a job on Capitol Hill.  While in the DC area, Jack had a dental practice in Bethesda plus worked at Howard University on the Cancer Rehabilitation team.  He also served as the director of an East Baltimore Medical Plan.

Volunteer Jack Light helps out as a Front Desk Receptionist, greeting visitors to the Museum.

Volunteer Jack Light helps out as a Front Desk Receptionist, greeting visitors to the Museum.

He has always loved art and music.  In his spare time he paints with oils and acrylics and plays guitar and banjo.  He used to study guitar with a Yiddish folk singer. He volunteered as a docent at the Hirshhorn Museum for 15 years and always believed that museums should be fun.  He took care to know what level of interest and knowledge his visitors possessed and would break down and relate the contemporary art collection to them.  He personally collects Nepalese, Tibetan, and Indian Art.  He also collects European Choir music manuscripts from Italy, France and Spain.  He volunteered at Arena Stage and Wolf Trap for 20 years.  He currently volunteers at the Walters Art Museum in addition to the JMM.

Jack admits that he lives a much diversified life.   He has two daughters, one in NYC who is in product development for L’Oreal and the other who lives outside of Seattle and is an artist and writer.  He moved to Baltimore two years ago when his wife passed away. He enjoys spending time as a Front Desk Receptionist at the JMM as it offers him a chance to speak with all kinds of people.   He especially enjoyed meeting a visitor from New York who had some similar childhood experiences to his own.

Happy National Volunteer Week from the JMM!

Happy National Volunteer Week from the JMM!

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday(ish) of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Volunteer Spotlight: Marna Walters

Posted on March 9th, 2015 by

marna picMarilyn is Marna Walter’s given name but she only uses that when signing checks. She obtained the nickname from her niece who couldn’t say Marilyn and came up with Marna as the substitute.  What we call her is dependable.  She volunteers at the JMM as a Front Desk Receptionist and can be spied at the JMM on most Sundays throughout the year.  She has been volunteering at the JMM since early 1997.  She began as a Docent for the exhibit Too Jewish? Challenging Traditional Identities which was shown in temporary exhibition space in Owings Mills during renovations at the JMM campus on Lloyd Street.  A while after, she switched to working at the Front Desk.

Marna volunteers elsewhere in the community too.  She is a volunteer for a program her family helped initiate at then Montebello Hospital, now Kernan’s, for patients with Multiple Sclerosis.  She helps patients who spend the day at the center with their meals, playing games, exercising, Tai Chi, and just plain having fun.  One volunteer per day assists the staff with the patients when the center is open, Mondays through Thursdays.  On another day during the week, Marna volunteers at Weinberg Place in their food market.  Her original participation in the project was through her affiliation with the National Council on Jewish Women (who gave the original seed money for the program).  She mans the register and used to do all of the purchasing.  Plus, she enlisted two of JMM’s other volunteers; Ernie Silversmith and Renate Milewich to help out too.

Prior to volunteering, Marna worked as a medical technologist.  She worked at D.C. General Hospital while her husband, Paul a lawyer, was stationed in Northern Virginia, and at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.  She has lived in the same house since 1963, where she currently hosts Shabbat dinner every week for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild. It’s usually a crowd of 8 – 10 people. She works every Thursday and Friday to prepare for the family.  If a family member is lucky enough to have a birthday that week they get to choose the menu. This week the menu selected by a lucky birthday girl is brisket, twice baked potatoes, cream of spinach, and sour cream coffee cake (the kind with nuts and cinnamon) for dessert.

Marna helped us celebrate at the Museum's 50th birthday a few years ago!

Marna helped us celebrate at the Museum’s 50th birthday a few years ago!

Marna’s favorite aspect of volunteering at the JMM is the rapport between the visitors, staff and volunteers.  She has had a very positive experience while volunteering with us.  She enjoys the opportunity to give advice and receive a glimpse of appreciation when she suggests just the right thing.  She loves it at the JMM and we love having her as a member of our volunteer corps.  She considers it an honor but I assure you, the honor is all ours.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday(ish) of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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