Hanukkat in the Lloyd Street Synagogue

Posted on September 28th, 2016 by

Last week I observed a beautiful moment for the Jewish Museum of Maryland and we are not ready for the Festival of Lights yet!  For the past 10 years there was no mezuzah affixed to the doorpost of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. When the building went under renovations roughly 10 years ago, the mezuzah that had been on the building had been misplaced.  The beautiful moment I witnessed was the mezuzah being affixed once again to the building- or a Hanukkat (Dedication) of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue

The Lloyd Street Synagogue

The mezuzah is of biblical origin and there is reference to it in the Torah or Five Books of Moses. “And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts (mezuzot) of our house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:9, 11:20). What is to be inscribed?  The passage reads, “The words that I shall tell you this day”: that you shall love your God, believe only in Him, keep His commandments, and pass all of this on to your children.

An important part of the mezuzah refers to the parchment inside, or klaf, on which the verses of the Torah are inscribed. The klaf must be hand-lettered by a kosher scribe — one who is observant of halakha (Jewish law) and who qualifies for the task.  The scroll is rolled up from left to right so that when it is unrolled the first words appear first. The scroll is inserted into the container but should not be permanently sealed because twice in seven years the parchment should be opened and inspected to see if any of the letters have faded or become damaged.

A mezuzah serves two functions: Every time you enter or leave, the mezuzah reminds you that you have a covenant with God; second, the mezuzah serves as a symbol to everyone else that this particular dwelling is constituted as a Jewish household, operating by a special set of rules, rituals, and beliefs.

Rabbi Mintz speaks about the scroll inside the mezuzah.

Rabbi Mintz speaks about the scroll inside the mezuzah.

Rabbi Eitan Mintz helped us with the dedication ceremony and shared with us some interesting facts about the placement of a mezuzah.  Many Jews tilt the mezuzah so that the top slants toward the room into which the door opens. This is done to accommodate the variant opinions of the great Jewish thinkers Rashi and of his grandson, Rabbeinu Tam, as to whether the mezuzah should be placed vertically (Rashi) or horizontally (Rabbeinu Tam). The compromise solution (top slant) was suggested by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher.

Rabbi Mintz and Marvin shake on a job well done!

Rabbi Mintz and Marvin shake on a job well done!

JMM Executive Director, Marvin Pinkert held the mezuzah against the spot upon which it is now affixed, and we all recited the blessing in Hebrew…

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשַׁנוּ בְּמִצְו‌ֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לִקְבּוֹעַ מְזוּזָה                                                              

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‘olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu liqboa‘ mezuzah.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue's new Jerusalem Stone mezuzah.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue’s new Jerusalem Stone mezuzah.

We hope that you will come down to the JMM to see our new mezuzah in the Lloyd Street Synagogue and other recent additions to the space.

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Performance Counts: Ten Years of the Summer Teachers Institute

Posted on September 16th, 2016 by

If you ask the education department at the JMM, they will tell you that the end of the summer is officially over after the Summer Teachers Institute (STI) takes place in early August.  For the past 10 years, the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Baltimore Jewish Council have partnered in planning this annual event. We just finished up another successful program, Holocaust Remembrance Through the Arts, the 10th Annual Summer Teachers Institute in early August.

A lot of planning goes into this program each year.  While initially conceived in 2006 as a two day program, our annual Summer Teachers Institute has expanded to encompass three full days. The planning staff from the JMM and BJC meets throughout the year to conceptualize and develop the program.  It takes quite a bit of phone calls and meetings to organize this event. This year the program took place at Beth El Congregation, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the JMM.

Summer Teachers Institute 2016

This year’s program with 43 people in attendance was one of our largest in recent years.  While we did engage repeat participants, the majority of registrants (29) were first time attendees. We appreciated having the opportunity to introduce the JMM to so many educators, many of whom indicated an interest in returning with their students.

The following is a breakdown of attendance:

19 public schools (14 Baltimore City, 3 Baltimore County, 1 Harford County, 1 Frederick County)

7 Catholic school

1 Independent school

3 college professors (Towson)

2 retired Baltimore City teachers

1 homeschool teacher

4 Jewish congregational school

2 students (1 college, 1 middle school who attended with her mother)

4 community leaders (including two JMM volunteers)

Total: 43 participants

The Summer Teacher’s Institute has been such an important education initiative and professional development opportunity for educators over the past 10 years and it is interesting to see just how this program has impacted teachers and the community over the past ten years.

Total Number of Teachers Participating in STI for the past 10 years – 429

Total Number of Presenters Participating in STI for the past 10 years – 86

Total Number of Teachers Teaching in Public School Programs over the span 10 years – 220

Total number of Teachers who Teach in Parochial Schools over the span of 10 years – 64 (50- archdiocese; 14-Jewish)

Total Number of non-k-12 educators who attended the program in the past 10 years – 145  (Including university professionals, agencies, funders, private schools, homeschools etc.)

Summer Teachers Institute 2010

A further breakdown of teachers by district:

Archdiocese – 50

Jewish Schools – 14

Baltimore City – 102

Baltimore County – 46
Harford County – 21

Howard County – 10

Frederick County – 8

Carroll County -15

Garrett County -1

Cecil – 2

Prince Georges County 7

Montgomery – 2

Calvert County – 1

Anne Arundel County -5

Summer Teachers Institute 2006

A closer look over the past 10 years indicates that we have partnered with many agencies and organizations to ensure the success of this important program including:

Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany


Robert H. & Ryda Levi Center for Community Relations

Center for Jewish Education

Jewish Community Center

Red Cross of Central Maryland

Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University 

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation  

Chizuk Amuno

Beth Tfiloh


Anti-Defamation League

Hillel at Goucher College

The Shoah Foundation

Beth El Congregation

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Maryland State Department of Education

Echoes & Reflections

The Jan Karski Foundation

We are especially grateful to our program sponsors, Judy and Jerry Macks and the Klein Sandler Family Fund for their sustained generosity and support of this important education initiative.Evaluation of the Summer Teacher’s Institute is crucial and every year we ask teachers for their feedback.Many teachers receive continuing education credits through MSDE through written reflections outlining how they will incorporate workshop content into their lessons. A review of these reflections provides a window for understanding its impact on participants in terms of increasing their confidence in teaching the Holocaust and other challenging topics as well as on their own personal growth. In the words of one participant:

“So many stories go untold. We have such a responsibility to share these stories, these people, with this generation. I am so grateful for the work done to restore these memories and tireless effort to prevent future genocide. I only hope my effort of partnership through education helps that cause.”

Summer Teachers Institute 2015

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Summer Teachers Institute Redux

Posted on August 22nd, 2016 by

Last week, the JMM held its 11th Annual Summer Teachers Institute (STI) in partnership with the Baltimore Jewish Council and the Maryland State Department of Education.  STI is a professional development opportunity for teachers in the area of Holocaust Education.  The goal of the program is to give educators the opportunity to meet with scholars and experts who are in the trenches of teaching best practices of Holocaust education.   The topic of the Holocaust is so vast, and over the years we have touched on topics of Persecution to Liberation, Rescue and Resistance and Propaganda.  This year’s topic was Art and Remembrance-and teachers learned how the Arts were such an integral part of how many survived through the dark period of WWII and the reign of the Nazis.

Summer Teachers Institute 2016

Summer Teachers Institute 2016

We had phenomenal presenters this year at STI.  Our last day of the seminar included a presentation by Bernice Steinhardt, Executive Director of Art and Remembrance, who spoke about the beautiful tapestries made by her mother Esther Nisenthal Krinitz.  We heard testimony from Mrs. Golda Kalib and we had master teachers in area schools share lessons on the Holocaust they use in their own classrooms.

My favorite presentation on Wednesday was from Gail Prensky and Sarah Baumgarten,  and The Jüdische Kulturbund Project.  From 1933-1941, the Jewish Kulturbund (Jüdischer Kulturbund), consisting of thousands of members at its peak, performed in 42 theatres across Germany. When the Kulturbund closed, some members emigrated or went into hiding; most were sent to the camps. This is a little-known story of the power of music, resiliency of the human spirit, and will to survive. The  Jüdische Kulturbund Project work with educators and music specialists to produce materials and engaging experiences for the classroom.

STI participants

STI participants

Gail and Sarah facilitated a very engaging session for teachers. The mood and scene that these educators set for teachers was tremendous.  For more than 30 minutes, the JMM sounded like a classroom of students, engaged and having fun exploring their environment.  The intention of the program was  to explore issues resulting from the choice artists make everyday living under oppression.  The goals of the program was to encourage discussion amongst the teachers about social and cultural history, theatre, and music- and encouraging educators to think of  how the story the Jüdische Kulturbund is relevant today.

Following the session, Gail shared the video that she took of the teachers having a terrific time engaged in learning.  Enjoy.

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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