Posted on January 31st, 2011 by Rachel
On Sunday, February 6, the Leo V. Berger Immigrant’s Trunk living history performance will travel to Beth Israel Congregation’s Hebrew School in Owings Mills. While there is nothing unusual about this – after all, the Immigrant’s Trunk is a JMM outreach program that travels frequently – what is special about this performance has to do with a member of the audience with a unique perspective on the story.
The program interprets the life of Ida Rosen Rehr – a real life Jewish immigrant from Ukraine – who settled in Baltimore in the early 20th century. Ida came from a large family in a small shtetl in Ukraine where her father was the town’s rabbi. She left behind her parents and five siblings to join her older sister and uncle in Baltimore. Professional actor Katherine Lyons tells her story as she unpacks a trunk containing reproduced family photos from the JMM collections as well as artifacts meant to represent aspects of her daily life as a Jewish immigrant living in East Baltimore in the early 1900s.
The program was created eight years ago as a means of bringing immigration history – a key JMM theme – to life in an engaging manner for students at Jewish day and congregational schools. Since its inception, the program has been performed for thousands of students, teachers, and adults; it now travels regularly throughout the state (and beyond) to public, private, and parochial schools as well as senior centers and community organizations.
One of the reasons for the program’s success is because of the rich story at its heart. When we initiated this project, JMM staff began combing our archives in search of interesting photographs and documents that we could assemble to tell the story of a fictional character. We were delighted when we stumbled upon a collection of materials devoted to Ida. The collection included a scrapbook filled with handwritten index cards that recorded responses to oral history interview questions that Ida’s granddaughter Roz had conducted with her as a Hebrew school project. The scrapbook also contained photographs that documented Ida’s life and documents such as her naturalization certificate.
With such an abundance of materials devoted to Ida, clearly we had found the right person on whom to base this program.
We became even more excited after we hired historian Dean Krimmel who, thanks to some wonderful detective work, located the ship manifest with Ida’s name on it. From the manifest we learned the address in Baltimore where Ida lived upon arrival, the fact that her sister Minnie paid for her travel, and that she had $5 in her possession when she arrived in Baltimore’s Locust Point!
Ship manifest listing Chaye (Ida’s name before it was changed in the US) Rosen
Dean also managed to get us in touch with Ida’s daughter, Dorothy Sherman, who, at the time, was living in Owings Mills. One of the high points of the entire project was connecting with Dorothy and her daughter Roz (the granddaughter whose scrapbook launched the whole project) and having the chance to fill even more details about Ida’s life. From Dorothy we learned that Ida worked as a seamstress in Sonneborn Factory where she had to struggle with the fact that she had to work on Saturdays (in the performance, she talks about how difficult this was for her as the daughter of a rabbi). We also learned the sad fate of her family who remained in Ukraine – with the exception of one sister, they all perished in the Holocaust. Dorothy donated additional artifacts from Ida for use in the performance including a fabulous coat with a fur collar purchased at Hutzlers that has Ida’s name sewn into the lining!
All of this brings us back to the upcoming performance on Feb. 6. Ida’s great-grandson will be in attendance at the show as will his mother Roz. We are so grateful to the Rehr family for all of their assistance in creating this innovative program and for helping us keep Ida’s memory alive. To learn more about the Leo V. Berger Immigrant’s Trunk or to schedule a program, please contact Deborah Cardin, 410-732-6400 x236 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on January 6th, 2011 by Jennifer
This collection while one of our earlier manuscript collections, was not fully processed until recently. Past archivists had placed the papers into the requisite pH neutral folders and boxes and removed the staples and paperclips. Someone had also handwritten an inventory of the folders, but no one had written up a finding aid, which provides the basic historical and content information that helps researches find the materials they need. This collection also came with several objects pictured below.
Stamp used by the LZOA, 2007.48.2
League Chapter of Labor Zionist Organization of America (LZOA) Records, 1945-1991
The Jewish Museum of Maryland
ACCESS AND PROVENANCE
The League Chapter of Labor Zionist Organization of American Records was found in the collection (FIC) of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The Manuscript Collection was given the accession number 2007.048 in 2007. The collection was processed by Jen Pollack in August 2007.
Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.
The Labor Zionist Organization of America-Poale Zion (LZOA) was founded in 1905 and held its first convention in Baltimore. The national mission of the organization was to support the establishment of Israel. Once Israel became a county in 1948, the LZOA became active in continuing to support the growth of Israel. One of the main campaigns that came out of Labor Zionism in America was the Histadrut campaign, which sent money to border settlements in Israel, assisted new immigrants, and financed the development of Israel. As well as helping to support Israel, this Zionist movement supported the labor movement from the belief in economic and social equality in Israel, America and the world. It was active in funding and establishing of kibbutzim.
In the early 1970s the Labor Zionist Organization of America-Poale Zion merged with two other labor Zionist organizations – Farband, a labor Zionist fraternal order, and the American Habonim Association, a labor Zionist youth organization. These three groups became known as the Labor Zionist Alliance. The newly formed Alliance continued to work for progress in Israel and in 2004 changed its name to Ameinu.
The League Chapter (the Baltimore chapter) of the Labor Zionist Organization of America began in 1945. When formed, the group called itself the Zionist Guild, but by the end of 1946 its name was changed to League Chapter of the LZOA. While the chapter itself did not begin until 1946, labor Zionist activities had begun much earlier. The founder of the national organization, Dr. Herman Seidel, a Baltimorean, worked to spread the Labor Zionist viewpoint in Baltimore and throughout the United States. In 1934 Jacob Janofsky allowed labor Zionists to use his land as a training farm so that young people could learn agricultural skills to take with them to Israel. Camp Gordonia, which was also a labor Zionist camp, was formed in 1935 but soon merged with Habonim in 1938. All of these activities predated the League Chapter’s official founding date of 1945.
In the mid 1950s, the League Chapter changed its name to League for Israel. The Labor Zionist Alliance, and now Ameinu, maintains an office in the city of Baltimore.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The League Chapter of Labor Zionist Organization of America (LZOA) Collection contains materials relating to their organizational structure. The collection contains meeting minutes, the constitution and by laws for the organization, event programs and promotional materials, and campaign materials. These records span between the Organization’s founding in 1945 and end in 1991.
This pin came in with the LZOA collection, 2007.48.1