“I’m Going to Graceland”

Posted on December 25th, 2018 by

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

Recently on Friday mornings, I find myself humming the Paul Simon tune, “Graceland.”

No, I am not thinking about Elvis Presley’s mansion in Memphis Tennessee, I am thinking of Graceland Park O’Donnell Heights Elementary Middle School, the newest school to the roster of other schools which is part of the JMM’s Museum /School Partnership program with Baltimore City Public Schools.

Graceland Park O’Donnell Heights Elementary Middle School is in East Baltimore near the Interstate 95/895 exit for the Harbor Tunnel.  The school is directly across the street from Temple Oheb Shalom Cemetery where Henrietta Szold’s parents, Rabbi Benjamin and Sophie Szold, are buried.    Built in 1950, Graceland Park O’Donnell Heights Elementary/Middle school is slated to be torn down in the coming year to make room for a new school building that is currently under construction right next to the existing school building.

There are two existing elementary middle schools in the neighborhood, Graceland Park O’Donnell Heights Middle School and Holabird Elementary Middle School that are located within 3 blocks of one another.

Both schools will be replaced with Baltimore City’s Public Schools first two “Zero-Energy” schools which will highlight future-focused and sustainable learning environments.  Each of the schools has similar academic programs but they will be organized into flexible grade group clusters that will feature shared, collaborative learning spaces and environments to accommodate different student learning styles.

Realizing the importance of giving both schools their own character, each school building will have a distinct exterior palette reflecting their school community. Each school will be equipped with student gardens, outdoor classrooms, rooftop solar labs, and vegetative roofs that further push innovation while intertwining sustainable concepts in education – staying true to their mission to nurture, engage, and empower the whole child for life-long excellence.

New School Building – Anticipated Completion 2020; Grimm & Parker Architects

The JMM is excited to include Graceland Park O’Donnell Heights to our roster of partner schools this year.  We are working with 7th grade teacher Amy Rosenkranz and her seventh graders in an education project, Graceland Park: PROJECTED where students will create their own stories of their communities and families.   This project is very similar to the pilot project, Morrell Park: PROJECTED that we did last year with 8th grade students from Morrell Park Elementary Middle School.

Once again, the project is led by young adult author, Jonathon Scott Fuqua and area graduate students who have been going to the classroom to meet with the students to discuss stories and the element of telling a story.  The students have been listening and watching different kinds of stories, from interviews and short films to understand how stories are developed. The goal of the project is that the students will tell their own personal stories using video footage from their smart phones. The students will learn editing applications for the phone and will premiere their films later in spring 2019.

Jonathon “Scott” Fuqua with 7th graders.

One of the components of the museum/school partnership is that the students get to visit the JMM.   Last week, the 7th graders visited the JMM and had a fantastic time visiting the historic synagogues and discovering the fun inside the Harry Houdini exhibit.

What does it feel like inside a milkcan?

Graceland Park 7th graders visit the JMM!

The administration at Graceland Park has been wonderful to work and one of the great benefits of establishing museum school partnership schools is that there is a shared learning between the students and teachers and the JMM’s education team throughout the year instead of the one-time museum field trip experience.  What make this project even more exciting is that these 7th graders will take their newly acquired knowledge and skills with them as 8th graders next year.  The school’s administration is hopeful that these students will become the stewards for Graceland Park O’Donnell Heights Elementary Middle School as they document, film and tell the story of the closing of the existing school building to the opening of the brand-new school facility.

The JMM is looking forward to working with the budding filmmakers and storytellers of the Graceland Park O’Donnell Heights Elementary Middle School community!

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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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