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Thank You MAAM!

Posted on October 24th, 2019 by

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


Last week, I had the opportunity to travel north to the lovely Hudson Valley region to attend the annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM).  I am on the conference planning committee and I also serve on the MAAM Board as the representative for the State of Maryland.

The conference was held at the Thayer Hotel at West Point.

Upon my arrival, I dropped my things in my hotel room and walked up the street to the West Point Museum/US Army Center of Military History.  The Museum’s galleries have many displays relating to the history of the US army and its weapons and warfare. I learned that the Museum is the nation’s oldest federal museum and that the Thayer Hotel was named for Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General Sylvanus Thayer who was known as the “Father of West Point.”

Thayer was an early superintendent of the United States Military Academy and was an early advocate of science and civil engineering as part of the curriculum at the school.

One of the best things about the conference is having the opportunity to visit interesting and unique museums in the area.

I walked back to the hotel and met up with colleagues who were going to the Storm King Art Center. The place is beautiful and situated between two mountains on 500 acres of grounds.  It is breathtaking in so many ways when you see art and nature intersect.  The Museum has one of the largest collections of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the United States.

The sessions that I attended during the conference were very interesting and I loved learning about what other Museums are doing in the areas of programming and education.

I was particularly proud of our own Rachel Kassman who participated in a panel discussion about Balancing Social Marketing in Museums. Rachel did a fabulous job showcasing the JMM’s wonderful social marketing initiatives.  She was in great company with presenters from the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass.  The presentation that I connected with the most was one by Tamara Christian, President and COO of The International Spy Museum in DC.  Tamara spoke thoughtfully about the “The Culture of the Workplace” and shared her ideas about how to successfully change the culture of the workplace to be a more positive experience for all stakeholders.

One of the MAAM board members shared with me that she visited a unique Jewish historical site, called the Gomez Mill House and if possible, I should try and visit.  On the last day, I travelled north about 30 minutes to a town called Marlboro and found this little gem complete with a refurbished water wheel.

The Gomez Mill House touts itself as being The Oldest Jewish Dwelling in North America and tells the story of the six owners of the property.

Luis Moses Gomez, a Sephardic Jew and the son of a Jewish immigrant merchant, was one of one of the early Jewish families in colonial New York.  Gomez acquired about 3000 acres of land that was situated close to several American Indian trails and realized that this would be a good place for barter and trade. In 1714. he constructed a stone house to serve as both a trading post and fortress alongside a stream that was named Jews Creek. Gomez and his sons conducted business here for close to thirty years and Gomez later became the president of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York which was later named Congregation Sherith Israel.

My guide Rich was so knowledgeable about the building and shared with me so many interesting tidbits.  He also told wonderful stories of the other 5 families that used the original trading post and converted it to the present-day structure.   I loved learning about each of these families and of their contributions to the community and the region.

My two favorite stories in addition to the Gomez family was the story of Martha Gruening, a Jewish suffragist and civil rights activist, who bought the property to open a school.  I also learned that Arts and Crafts paper historian and artisan Dard Hunter built the mill in 1913 and later produced the world’s first one-man made books at the site.

Rich also shared with me that this beautiful chanukiah (ca 1840’s) (Hanukah menorah) was used at the White House Holiday Celebration in 1998 during the Clinton years.

I would recommend seeing this “gem” of a museum only second to the Jewish Museum of Maryland!


 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




It’s All in the Numbers: The Magical Secrets of JMM’s Education Department

Posted on September 13th, 2019 by


Performance Counts: September 2019

For this month’s edition of Performance Counts, the Education Department shares an inside look at the many students and teachers JMM has engaged with throughout the past year. To read past editions of Performance Counts, click here.


The Education Department at JMM works to link area public, private, and Jewish schools to our education programs. For our student visitors, we connect our permanent and temporary exhibits and the historic synagogues to themes of immigration and world religions.

We typically see between 4,000 and 6,000 students and teachers in our onsite and offsite education programs. This past year, the Education Department connected with over 10,000 students, teachers, and chaperones from area schools. We are confident that we had such a MAGICAL year due to the HUGE success of the exhibit, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.

In addition to our education program for our original exhibit on Houdini, we developed programs for Jewish Refugees and Shanghai, and Stitching History from the Holocaust & Fashion Statement (not to mention new programs for our permanent exhibits and synagogue). Here is a snapshot of who JMM engaged through educational programing this past year:


During the seven months the Houdini exhibit was on display (June 2018 to January 2019), we worked with 1842 students, teachers, and chaperones at the JMM for education programs in connection to the exhibit.

Houdini On-Site Numbers

>Public Schools – We had 24 visits from 14 different schools over the run of the exhibit.

>Jewish Schools –We had 9 visits from groups coming from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Howard County, DC, and Kunklestown, PA.

>Private/Other – We had 362 visitors from 8 universities, camps and private schools in the area visit the exhibit.

We worked with the curator/magician David London to develop a living history character to complement the Houdini exhibit. This living history performance was very popular and Harry Houdini performed for over 2400 students and teachers at area schools.

Houdini Offsite Numbers

>Public Schools – 1119 students and teachers from 6 area schools in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County.

>Jewish Schools – 1104 students and teachers from 8 area Jewish camps and schools.

>Private/Other – 200 campers from Camp B’more.

The Harry Houdini living history performance’s success was not limited to area schools. During the run of the exhibit, the living history character saw nearly 3200 people as part of a school, adult group, or public program. Following the exhibit, the character performed to over 1100 people at schools and synagogues. To date, we are receiving bookings for the upcoming school year.


Following the Houdini exhibit, we looked to the east and brought a travelling exhibit from Shanghai to JMM. While Jewish Refugees and Shanghai was here for only 6 weeks, we engaged with a number of area schools through educational programs.

Jewish Refugees and Shanghai On-Site Numbers

>Jewish Schools – We worked with one area Jewish school in connection to students learning in the classroom.

>Private/Other – We saw 233 students and teachers from area 8 separate universities and private schools.  Students visited from the Howard County Chinese School, Sidwell Friends, and Washington Wu Ying Public Charter School from the DC area.

Jewish Refugees and Shanghai also gave us the opportunity to provide a professional development opportunity for teachers.

We piloted the Winter Teachers Institute, where area teachers took part in a two-day learning opportunity in Holocaust education. Highlights included a visit to the People’s Republic of China Embassy in DC and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Teachers also participated in a full day of learning at JMM where they studied the plight of refugees during — and after — WWII and the reaction of the United States to the refugee situation.


In spring, we borrowed the powerful exhibit Stitching History from the Holocaust from the Jewish Museum Milwaukee. The exhibit depicts the moving story of the Strnads and their attempt to flee Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Hedy Strnad tried to use her skills as a fashion designer to come to the United Stated. Our collections staff curated the beautiful exhibit Fashion Statement to complement the show. The exhibit allows visitors to think about the many ways that clothing signals one’s identity or group with which they want to identify.

Stitching History from the Holocaust & Fashion Statement Onsite Numbers

>Public Schools – 447 students and teachers from 10 different schools in Baltimore City

>Jewish Schools – 117 students from 4 groups.

>Private Schools – 213 students from 7 local private schools, universities and camps.


Back to School

Since the beginning of our new fiscal year (July 1, 2019), we have already engaged with 820 students, teachers, and chaperones from public, Jewish, and private schools and camps. As students and teachers returned to their classrooms this September, our education team is looking ahead to an exciting 2019-2020 school year.

Our team is looking to strengthen existing relationships and make new connections this year. 3500 new education brochures have been sent out to educators across Maryland. This brochure shares the variety of programs JMM offers on topics such as Baltimore history, immigration, Judaism, primary sources, and Holocaust Education.

2 new education programs are being developed for our upcoming special exhibit Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling opening on October 27, 2019 – one for elementary and one for middle school and above. Through hands-on activities, students will explore one of America’s largest industries, its innovative technology, and stories of the immigrant families that built it.

2 new Homeschool Days have been developed to support families seeking specialized, engaging experiences.

The Education Department is looking forward to another magical year as we strive to create experiences for students that will enrich their classroom learning, ignite their curiosity, and foster personal connections.


Questions about our Education Programs?
Contact School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse
at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-873-5167.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Highlights from the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute

Posted on August 16th, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of JMM Insights, Director of Learning and Visitor Experience Ilene Dackman-Alon shares highlights of this year’s Summer Teachers Institute. This annual educator training has become a core part of the JMM calendar.  It has never been more important to enable teachers to effectively share Holocaust history in their classrooms and our program has never been stronger!

~Marvin

Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!


Attendees of the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute: Women and the Holocaust

Last week, August 5-7, the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute (STI) brought together a community of learners to explore best practices in teaching Holocaust education.   The community of learners included over 45 teachers from public, Jewish and private along with a few JMM Board members, staff, volunteers and interns for the 3-day professional development opportunity. This year’s SOLD-OUT program, Women and the Holocaust, provided participants with new ideas as well as new program and education resources to help make Holocaust Education more meaningful for students. The following are program highlights!


Day 1

Our first day convened at the Jewish Museum of Maryland with a brief tour of the exhibits, Stitching History From the Holocaust and Fashion Statement.  Following the gallery tour, Linda Medvin, Director of Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education presented on the theme of Women and the Holocaust.  The group examined the many different roles that women play during their everyday lives – their “Universe of Obligation,” and how this sense of obligation pushed women to make sacrifices and accept challenges during the war.  One of the highlights of the session was watching the short film Pigeon provided by Facing History and Ourselves, followed by a discussion of obligation. Linda provided resources and materials to help illustrate ways in which women were perpetrators, resistors, rescuers and victims during the Holocaust.

After lunch, JMM Board member, Nancy Kutler shared her mother’s (Hannah Rath) personal story of survival growing up in Germany.  Nancy shared with the group that her mother was sent to a ghetto in Riga, Latvia, then to various camps — and ultimately to Stutthof.  Following the war, Hannah met her future husband, George Rath, a survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration camp, and the two headed for a new life in the United States and married in 1947.   Nancy shared with the group that her mother spent a lot of time in schools sharing her personal story of survival.  Nancy found letters from school children after her mother’s death, and this was the catalyst that inspired Nancy to continue to share her mother’s incredible story.

Attendees also had the opportunity to attend different sessions in the afternoon.

JMM educator, Marisa Shultz, presented a lesson on using historic newspapers in the classroom in connection to the USHMM’s exhibit, Americans & The Holocaust.  We debuted the Anne Frank oculus tours of the secret annex in Amsterdam provided by the Anne Frank Center USA; and our teachers had the opportunity to go on tours of the historic synagogues and meet with Jessica Fink, librarian at the CJE Lending library.


Day 2

Day Two found us in Washington, DC at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition to viewing the permanent exhibits, we were able to tour a new exhibit, Americans and the Holocaust before the regular opening hours of the Museum. The exhibit examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped American attitudes and responses to the threats of Nazism and Hitler’s regime during the 1930’s and 1940’s, revealing how much information was available to Americans at the time. We were fortunate to travel to DC with Howard and Esther Kaidenow, both survivors of the Holocaust who shared with the group their experiences of survival during the war.  Esther came to the United States and was placed in a Displaced Persons Camp is Oswego, New York which is highlighted in the Americans and the Holocaust exhibit.

After lunch, we travelled to Beth Shalon Synagogue in Columbia where we had the privilege to meet Edith Cord, who shared her experiences growing up in Vienna, Italy and France in her attempt to go into hiding and escape the terror of the Nazi regime. Mrs. Cord’s story is one of strength, and determination as she told her story of survival and the lessons, she learned the hard way.  Mrs. Cord spoke about how she rose above the difficult circumstances that transcend hatred, how she was able to find meaning in life and how it is important to protect our freedoms.  She shares her experiences and the lessons learned the hard way: how to rise above difficult experiences.


Day 3

Day Three took place at the American Visionary Museum in connection to the exhibit, Esther and the Dream of One Loving Human Family on display through 2024.  The exhibit highlights the beautiful tapestries that Esther Krinitz created illustrating her childhood years growing up in Poland during World War II. Esther’s daughter, Bernice Steinhardt opened the morning highlighting the work of Art and Remembrance, a non-profit organization that uses art and personal narrative to recognize individual courage and resilience, and to foster understanding and compassion for those who experience injustice.   Bernice shared the 30-minute documentary, Through the Eye of the Needle that examines the life of Esther Krinitz and how she survived the Holocaust as a teenager and how she came to tell her life story in a series of 36 fabric collages and embroidered panels.

Following the film participants split between the opportunity to go on a tour with Bernice and view the collages or go to a session that highlighted the resources and lesson plans that were prepared by Claire Tesh and lmnoeducation, LLC.  In connection to the exhibit.   All participants loved viewing the collages and felt that lesson plans were wonderful resources for the classroom.

During lunch, Rebecca Hoffberger welcomed our attendees and spoke about the fabric installations and her vision for the next five years as the works are displayed at AVAM.  Our afternoon session consisted of a Story Cloth Workshop where attendees tried their hand at storytelling by creating their own fabric collages.  Following the workshop, our teachers had the opportunity to share their personal stories and fabric creations with one another.


We make sure to collect evaluations from participants after each day of the Summer Teachers Institute. We were delighted by the responses and feedback we received, here are just a few:

>“Since this is my first time here @ STI, I’ve loved everything.  Thank You!!!”

>“I enjoyed the timeline activity that showed that things didn’t just happen overnight.  I think this will be great to share with our students.”

>WOW!!!  Edith is a phenomenal speaker as well as a sharp, power and inspirational person.  She should be a TED talk!”

>“I am so happy to learn that this exhibit will be here for years.  I intend to bring my daughters before it leaves.  I connected to so much today, especially the level of love for humanity.”

>Everything about Esther’s story was phenomenal.  I really enjoyed the museum’s director’s discussion as well.”

I also received this lovely email from a participant:

“I just wanted to thank you and your staff for your efforts and for the outstanding program that you developed for this past Summer Teachers Institute.  The Institute offered a large variety of engaging and informative options for examining the topic of Women and the Holocaust.  The speakers were well-prepared and passionate about their subjects.  The activities were enriching and hopefully some will be applicable to the classroom.   The timing of this program during the Nine Days preceding Tisha B’av made it even more meaningful as this is the time of year, we focus on tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.”

Because our Summer Teachers Institute meets the qualifications of both the Maryland State Department of Education as well as Baltimore City Public Schools for high quality professional development (to qualify, we need to submit an application for review), we can offer participants professional development credit. To be eligible for the credit, teachers must turn in a written reflection (for MSDE credit) as well as an implementation plan (i.e. lesson plan, for Baltimore City). These reflections and teaching plans provide another measure for assessing programmatic impact for teachers and which resources they plan on using. It was gratifying to learn from this year’s submissions that teachers plan on integrating content from each session as well and many of the websites, books and lesson plans they received. Evaluation and reflections also provide important feedback as we plan for next year’s program.

We are grateful to our program partners: Baltimore Jewish Council, American Visionary Art Museum and MSDE for their help in planning this year’s program. We are also grateful to our program funders, Judy and Jerry Macks and Family and the Joan and Joseph Klein, Jr., Foundation for enabling us to reach out to such a such a diverse group of educators and provide them with valuable training and classroom resources.


 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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