Random Acts of Kindness

Posted on November 7th, 2018 by

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

It’s hard to believe that 10 days ago, there was a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history. As a response, millions of Jews worldwide along with people of all faiths pledged to #ShowUpForShabbat this past weekend in solidarity with Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, sending a resounding message that love triumphs over hate.

I have been touched by the interactions that I have had with many people over the past 10 days as a response to the tragic event. I have observed so many random acts of kindness. People have gone out of their ways to show support and to renounce hatred of any kind. I have received emails from non-Jewish colleagues expressing their support and concern. I have heard stories that synagogues in our community have received random bouquets of flowers with notes of support, care and prayers for the Jewish community.

On Halloween, we had 4th and 5th graders from the Peace Academy at the Oneness-Family School in Montgomery County visit the JMM. Some students even came dressed in the Halloween costumes! The students were studying Judaism and immigration history in school. Their visit included a tour of the historic synagogues and guided activities through the Voices of Lombard Street and the Houdini exhibits.

As the students got back on the bus, the teacher handed our volunteer docent, Lois Fekete, a handful of cards that the students had created in school. As adults, we sometimes forget about how events affect children.

I must say that I was blown away by these cards.

Once again, random acts of kindness- this time from the mouths of 10 and 11-year-olds.

This Wednesday, November 7th, our community will come together at Moses Montefiore Synagogue to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as “The Night of Broken Glass.” On the evening of November 9, 1938, violent anti-Jewish demonstrations broke out across Germany, Austria, and areas of Czechoslovakia. Over the next two days, violent mobs provoked by antisemitic incitement by Nazi officials, destroyed hundreds of synagogues, and burned and desecrated thousands of Jewish religious artifacts.

The recent attack in Pittsburgh illustrates that anti-semitism and events such as Kristallnacht are not simply facts referred to in history books but are prevalent in our world today. It is the hope that this program will educate about the dangers of bigotry and open the hearts and minds of people. We need to continue to do random acts of kindness to our fellow man. By coming together as a community, we find comfort as we gather “to remember” and to “stand up” to ensure that antisemitism has no place in our world.

 

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Houdini’s Magical Halloween Family Day: Making Memories!

Posted on October 31st, 2018 by

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

The JMM welcomed lots of folks to Houdini’s Magical Halloween Family Day this past Sunday.  Our visitors had a magical time learning about Harry Houdini and trying to imagine the world through his eyes!  Our education team provided a well-rounded experience for our guests- we saw lots of smiles as our visitors of all ages participated in so many activities from magic shows, living history performances of Harry Houdini, marvelous crafts and delicious treats, along with workshops featuring lock-picking and card tricks!   Here are some highlights from the day!

Students and families from the Interfaith Families Project from the DC area visited us first thing in the morning.  These boys were doing some creative cooking at the dinner table inside the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit!

David London dazzled audiences young and old sharing the story of how Ehrich Weiss transformed himself to become the legendary Harry Houdini!

The Houdini inspired crafts allowed our visitors to make connections to Harry Houdini in very special ways! This gentleman was winding up the propeller to his airplane.  Did you know that Harry Houdini was the first person to fly an airplane in Australia?

JMM Development Director Tracey Dorfmann was having a great time manning a craft station.

This little guy was casting some spells complete with his new hat and magic wand.

I think that best part of the day was the way the event brought people from all over the city the Museum, many of who have never been to the JMM before!  One of my favorite moments of the day was meeting Evan Bernard Drachman, the great-grandson to Rabbi Bernard Drachman, the rabbi that helped Harry Houdini become a Bar Mitzvah at the age of 16!  Rabbi Drachman was one of the leaders of Orthodox Judaism in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Do you see the family resemblance?

The Houdini Family Day was made possible, in part by the generous funding of the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education.

Come on down to the JMM to make your own memories!

Be sure to check out our website for some of the upcoming JMM public programs taking place in November and December!

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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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