Henrietta Szold- A Hometown Hero Goes to Baltimore City Public Schools

Posted on January 5th, 2017 by

In early fall, the JMM developed its fifth living history character, Henrietta Szold in connection with our latest exhibition, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America.  The JMM’s education department developed learning and resource materials based on her exceptional life and career as well as highlight the challenges she faced as a modern woman defining herself as an American Jew during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Henrietta Szold meets the students of Morrell Park.

Henrietta Szold meets the students of Morrell Park.

Henrietta Szold was born in Baltimore in 1860, the daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold, the spiritual leader of Baltimore’s Temple Oheb Shalom. Throughout her life, Henrietta was committed to helping those who were in need.  Szold’s many contributions included establishing a night school in Baltimore for new immigrants and the creation of Hadassah, a national Zionist women’s organization devoted to improving health care in Palestine that is still in existence today.  She was directly involved in the rescue of European Jewish children during World War II through her work with Youth Aliyah, an initiative that helped resettle and educate Jewish youth in Palestine.

Natalie Pilcher as Henrietta

Natalie Pilcher as Henrietta

In November, Henrietta Szold, portrayed by Natalie Pilcher made her way to the 7th and 8th grade classrooms at Morell Park Elementary/Middle School located in the southwest section of the city. The living history character Henrietta Szold was used to kick-off the students’ own research on their National History day projects.  This year’s theme- Taking A Stand in History.  The objectives of the program were that the students would watch the presentation and following they would have the opportunity to ask questions.   The performances were stellar and the students asked great questions relative to Henrietta’s life following the presentations.  A few students even asked Natalie about her job as an actress and asked for tips in preparing for their own National History day projects.

Natalie speaks with a student about her role as Henrietta

Natalie speaks with a student about her role as Henrietta

Two weeks later, the education staff followed up with another visit to the classroom.  This time, the students looked at reproductions of archival materials relating to Henrietta’s life and answer questions to make better understanding of the documents.  The images represented Henrietta’s life both in Baltimore and in Palestine.  Students made their own connection to Szold’s life knowing that they also attended Baltimore City public schools and they were also familiar with the address of her two homes, one on Lombard and the other on Eutaw Streets.

Engaging with archival reproductions

Engaging with archival reproductions

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Engaging with archival reproductions

The students also saw images of the early medical care that was available in Palestine in the early 1920’s, and made connections to their own experiences of medical care.  They also showed empathy as they learned of Szold’s courageous work saving over 10,000 children from Nazi Germany through her work with Youth Aliyah.

Students at Morrell Park

Students at Morrell Park

Students at Morrell Park

Students at Morrell Park

We returned back to Morell Park a week later to the classroom and the teacher was so excites to see us because she wanted to share the bulletin board that she had created documenting the students work in connection with Henrietta Szold.  Henrietta Szold is now Baltimore City Public Schools new Hometown Hero.  You can learn about Henrietta Szold – Baltimore’s Own Hometown Hero in the JMM’s exhibit, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America through January 16, 2017.  If you would like to learn more about the Henrietta Szold Living History Education project, contact Education Director, Ilene Dackman-Alon at idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org or 443.873.5718.

Henrietta Szold: Living History Character was made possible through the generous support of the Kolker-Saxon-Hallock Family Foundation, Inc., a supporting foundation of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Educational opportunities were made possible by the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund of The Associated.

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

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Hanukkah Cuteness Throughout Our Partnership Schools!

Posted on December 29th, 2016 by

The JMM piloted its successful Museum-School Partnership program eleven years ago, working with four Baltimore City schools and met with great success.  This model includes moving beyond the one-time annual field trip and one-time classroom activity.  The JMM provides 4-8 programs over the course of the year, some at the Museum and other at the school.  Independent evaluations, participant-observer reports, and direct testing of knowledge, documents the value and productivity of sustained engagement between the Museum, the school, and the students. In each partnership, Museum education staff work with individual teachers and administrators to adapt JMM program offerings to meet the specific needs of the specific schools and students.

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A little bit of Chanukah dancing!

Our Museum-School partnership has become a signature achievement of the JMM’s education department since it was launched eleven years ago.  During this academic school year, we are working with five specific schools, that are our neighbors in East and West Baltimore- Patterson Park Public Charter School, City Springs Elementary/Middle School, John Ruhrah Elementary /Middle School, Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School and Windsor Hills Elementary/Middle School.

Learning to play dreidel

Learning to play dreidel

During the holiday season, it is a thrill to go inside the classrooms and expose children to the  Jewish customs and traditions of Hanukkah.  The importance of multicultural education in our schools is so important especially in today’s world where our schools consist of children from a wide array of cultures including people from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa; whereas, in earlier generations immigrants came from mostly western and northern Europe. Our schools play an important role preparing students for the responsibilities of an ever-changing diverse and global society.

Chanukah storytelling

Chanukah storytelling

Over the past 3 weeks, the JMM has spent a lot of time inside the classrooms of our museum/school partnerships schools serving more than 300 students and teaching them about Hanukkah.  In many instances, our education programs are the first time that many children have ever heard about other religions, or customs other than their own.    Our staff had so much using storytelling, dreidel spinning and dancing to teach students about the Jewish customs and traditions of Hanukkah.   We hope that you will enjoy some of these special moments with area school children!  Happy Hanukkah!

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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




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