Music has been prominent in my life as long as I can remember. My parents would blast Led Zeppelin, Yes, and Rush in through the speakers of our sensible navy-blue Honda Odyssey when I was a young kid, and when I’d jump out of the backseat, pull closed the sliding door, I’d walk into a preschool whose naptime soundtrack often was the light indie-beat of Sixpence None the Richer. As I got older, I’d beg for an hour before I started my homework after school to cultivate the perfect playlist, and the following day at school my friends and I would lean against the lockers like we’d seen cool kids do in the movies and synchronize our iPods so that we could sing together whatever Rihanna song we were listening to. And the more I learned about my own American-Jewish culture and the cultures of others, I took an interest in the music of a people, specifically my own people, and the equation of beats +melodies = connection.
A familiar melody
Lately, at the JMM, with preparations for the upcoming Paul Simon: Words and Music exhibit and general immersion in American-Jewish news, I’ve found a surprising amount of Hava Nagila covers, whose performers run the gamut of cultural diversity. I’ve sifted through some of my favorites for your viewing pleasure, and in my humble opinion, they combine the the roots of the Jewish folk song itself with the rhythm of the traditions its performers cherish, giving the song a whole new meaning, but not one any less familiar or beautiful.
Performed by the Indian band Amrutam Gamaya, their only song so far is this version of Hava Nagila, debuted on an Indian music television channel viewed in English, Hindi, and Tamil.
Violina, a female trio from Tallinn, Estonia, performing the entire song on electric violins.
Andre Rieu, the famous Dutch classical violinist and conductor, performs his rendition of Hava Nagila with his Johan Strauss Orchestra in Maastricht, Netherlands
Gad Elbaz, a Sephardi Jewish singer of Moroccan heritage from Israel, has a well-known pop-dance cover of the folk song, with a few of his own lyrics thrown in as well. And the video includes a flash mob in Jerusalem, which is always a bonus!
A blog post by Museum Intern Rachel Sweren. To read more posts by interns click HERE.
What do people find interesting? This is what I thought about as I scrolled through the 50 page exhibit script, looking for the best items. Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, opening in Spring 2016, will be a traveling exhibit. This means that it will start here at its “home institution” and then it will travel to other museums for display. But first, other museums need to agree to host the exhibit, and to do this they will look at a marketing package which includes a list of its best objects, photos, and documents. This list is what I worked on.
Many questions popped up as I determined which items were the “best”. Would people other than me find this interesting? Does it sort of summarize the section of the exhibit that it is in? And is it instantly visually interesting, or would someone need to know the context of the item to understand it? A good number of items in the exhibit will also be loans from other institutions, so I had to make sure we were actually on track for a successful loan before I added it to my “best objects” list.
So what did I choose? 36 objects, items, and documents out of the 400 some items in the exhibit. The items work together to capture the big idea of the exhibit as well as being just plain interesting! The items described below are three of my personal favorites.
Ma’aseh Tuviyya, Tobias Cohen, 1708, Germany National Library of Medicine
This image is from an early 18th century book about medical practices. Written in Hebrew, and published in Germany, it provides a fascinating look into how medicine and the human body were viewed in the past. This specific image is a metaphor between the human body and a house. Intricately detailed, one can see the different rooms of the house on the right that symbolize parts of the body.
This is quite possibly the strangest piece in the exhibit, a ring made with vulcanized rubber and a porcelain molar. It was made by Edmund Kahn for a marriage proposal to Gertrude Fried in 1904. Being a student in dental school, he could not afford a ring. He created this interesting thing from things he found in the lab, and it is without a doubt very strange. But it shows more than just a man’s craft skills, it gives a view into life into what dental school was like for students.
When Sinai Hospital in Baltimore was built, it was primarily a Jewish institution. However, it was obvious that it would need to cater to other cultures in order to survive. So these foreign language phrase cards were made to help with this diversity. The hospital staff could use these phrase cards to communicate with non-English speaking patients, resulting in a hospital that was truly for “everybody”.
These three items stood out to me among the 400 some items in the upcoming exhibit. They are visually interesting and vital to the understanding of the exhibit. Hopefully other institutions will see this too and want to host the exhibit, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America.
A blog post by Exhibitions Intern Sophia Brocenos. To read more posts by interns click HERE.
On Thursday, July 2nd the Jewish Museum of Maryland opened the doors of its new traveling exhibit: Cinema Judaica! 130 members and visitors came to see the new exhibit, enjoying signature 1950s cocktails, sparkling wine, and kosher refreshments before the presentation. It was a fun event for all and gave museum members an opportunity to unwind at the museum. The event helped me learn about what is involved in preparing for a big event.
Members of the museum and special guests enjoy cocktails and kosher refreshments.
Education and Programming Intern Eden serves drinks.
Visitors have a conversation about the film posters in the exhibit.
After the special cocktail hour, Ken Sutak, author of the book Cinema Judaica, gave a fascinating lecture titled How Harry Warner, Ernst Toller, and Alvin York Helped Win ‘The Great Debate’ for American Interventionists. I enjoyed learning about how the movie posters influenced public opinion and were used to help the US decide to intervene in World War II. The leaders Harry Warner, Ernest Toller, and Alvin York went against popular opinion in Hollywood and developed films like A Nazi Spy which played a role in getting America to intervene in WWII. There was also a book signing after the presentation.
Ken Sutak, author and curator of Cinema Judaica talks about “The Great Debate.” Photo by Will Kirk.
Collections Intern Kaleigh Ratliff, and Education and Programming Intern Falicia Eddy encourage visitors to vote for, and take pictures by their favorite poster.
Visitors will have plenty more opportunities to see the exhibit – though don’t wait too long as Cinema Judaica closes on September 6, 2015! The museum has planned several other great events around the exhibit including free outdoor film screenings: The Great Dictator on August 9th, and Gentleman’s Agreement on August 23rd.
Can’t wait until August? On Sunday, July 12th come to our Flickering Treasures talk at 1pm with photographer Amy Davis to learn about the history of Baltimore’s own movie theaters!
A blog post by Education and Programs Intern Falicia Eddy. To read more posts from interns click HERE.