Intern Weekly Response: Podcast Previews

Posted on August 3rd, 2017 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to give us a sneak peek of the upcoming podcasts they are creating! To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


 

We’ve Got Belongings on Our Mind!

By exhibitions intern Tirza Ochrach-Konradi

The exhibitions intern team is making out podcast together! We’ve all been doing work that is directly related or tangential to the Belonging(s) exhibit that is in the works right now. The exhibit won’t open to the public until 2019, but all of the preparation research is in full force. We have been thinking about belonging all summer, so the concept has had a lot of time to marinate in our heads. We hope you will look forward to hearing our podcast conversation where we discuss our personal feelings about Jewish belonging!

There are all kinds of artifacts that are belongings related in the JMM archives. Here are two pieces from the collection that fit right in with the theme:

Rumanian refugees loading a truck with their belongings, leaving Budapest, Hungary. January 28, 1948 (JMM 1971.020.170)         

Rumanian refugees loading a truck with their belongings, leaving Budapest, Hungary. January 28, 1948 (JMM 1971.020.170)

This suitcase is the one which was permitted by the Nazis to be taken along by Theo Weil and his wife, Hilde Weil (nee Wachenheimer), from their home in Freiburg in Brisgau, Baden, Germany, in October 1939 when the entire Jewish population of that sector were given one hour to pack their belongings before they were herded and loaded into freight trains. (JMM 1990.119.001)

This suitcase is the one which was permitted by the Nazis to be taken along by Theo Weil and his wife, Hilde Weil (nee Wachenheimer), from their home in Freiburg in Brisgau, Baden, Germany, in October 1939 when the entire Jewish population of that sector were given one hour to pack their belongings before they were herded and loaded into freight trains. (JMM 1990.119.001)


 

Reflecting on My and Other’s Judaism in the 21st Century

By exhibitions intern Ryan Mercado

We Jews have to find a nice Jewish boy a make a good family right? Well not quite. I discuss how more and more Jewish millennials are marrying outside the religion!

We Jews have to find a nice Jewish boy a make a good family right? Well not quite. I discuss how more and more Jewish millennials are marrying outside the religion!

We all come from different origins and we all have different lives. Yet three of us interns have one thing in common: We are all Jewish. Jillie and Tirza are both Jewish by birth, with Jillie being Israeli and Tirza having a Jewish father, and I am a Jew through conversion. However, each of our perceptions about Judaism are different from the others. Put the fact that we are also millennials and you get a really interesting look at how us three Jews view ourselves. We took this information and decided to make a podcast out of it in which Jillie, Tirza, and I will discuss what being Jewish means to us and how our millennial upbringing and culture has affected it.

The final script took days of writing and editing but it all came together nicely into seven pages which should give us about 10-15 minutes of good conversation.

The final script took days of writing and editing but it all came together nicely into seven pages which should give us about 10-15 minutes of good conversation.

You can probably imagine that the three of us have quite the stories to tell. Coming into this project, I thought that we would all come to at least some similar conclusions in terms of what Judaism means to us. We can all agree that the holidays are fun and tat being Jewish means being part of a much larger community. However, being Jewish means different things for different people. Jillie grew up in an Israeli household so she’s been surrounded by Jewish undertones her whole life. Tirza is from a much more secular household but still celebrates the High Holidays. And then there is me, the convert. For me, my Judaism involves around activities I do by myself and friends. I’m the only Jew in my family so I mainly count on non-family members to help me express my Judaism. That’s basically the gist. We discuss topics ranging from how we feel Jewish to how Judaism may impact our dating lives! Tune in to hear more about how three Jewish millennials see Judaism differently!


 

Coming soon to a podcast near you…Erin and Sara tell all!

By education interns Sara Philippe and Erin Penn

The education interns are at it again, ready to hit the recording studio for the second time. Is the world ready?

The education interns are at it again, ready to hit the recording studio for the second time. Is the world ready?

As Ira Glass begins each episode of his spectacular podcast This American Life…so, what happened? Like Ira Glass, in week nine of our internship, we are now asking ourselves the same question, looking back on this summer with an eye for discovery and recovery. Much like the JMM’s next exhibit of the Iraqi Jewish Archives, we have stories to tell and memories to hold on to as tightly as we can. Our podcast or ‘cast, as the kids these days call them, dives into our lives as interns at the JMM. As education and programs interns, we’ve seen it all. From school groups to flyer design, we have had fun carrying out our tasks and growing a true passion for our department and positions.

After much deliberation, our podcast now has a clear direction and tone. We, creative and energetic folks, struggled picking one idea and bidding adieu to some of the most compelling of them. We sometimes got caught up in our hope to be the next viral hit. But with time no longer on our side, we have put on working gloves and rolled up our sleeves.

All we have left to do is press record. We can’t wait to share the fruits of our labor.

All we have left to do is press record. We can’t wait to share the fruits of our labor.

When considering podcast options, we decided it would be insightful and rewarding for our many listeners to get the inside scoop into what it really means to work in our department with its many varied responsibilities. By giving an overview of our work and experiences, we would be able to share a diverse breadth of information, speaking about some of the most interesting discoveries and highlighting the most compelling aspects of our internship. We are excited to share with our fans (our moms) what really happens. Maybe Ira will listen too!


 

Can’t Touch This: The JMM Collections Intern’s Guide to Navigating the Basement

By collections intern Joelle Paull

In episode 2 we talk about this 1930s art deco Hutzler’s ad.

In episode 2 we talk about this 1930s art deco Hutzler’s ad.

Tasked with creating a podcast, we (the Collections interns) wanted to share what we have been doing this summer. The three short episodes focus on three different aspects of our job and are centered on three different objects in the JMM collection. The most difficult part of the process was figuring out how to form a narrative around objects with listeners not being able to see everything we are talking about. We will of course be posting images of everything we talk about, but we tried to be descriptive and find other ways of engaging listeners.

We are now editing the three episodes and can’t wait to share them. We finished recording this week in our makeshift recording studio, a cart in one of the storage rooms with mics and our office chairs. We had a blast and might have to include a blooper reel. Be sure to check it out next week!


 

Collections Podcast: A Musical Challenge

By collections intern Amy Swartz

The wedding dress we will discuss and describe in our first episode.

The wedding dress we will discuss and describe in our first episode.

Joelle and I are working on creating a podcast about our experience working in Collections, We started out with an idea: focus on three objects and craft a story regarding our experiences around it. We ended up finding it easier to focus on experiences and then pick the objects. We chose to discuss our experience setting up the Just Married: Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland, our time inventorying pictures, and our current job consisting of preparing the Beyond Chicken Soup traveling exhibit for its departure. We then picked relevant objects: a wedding dress, a framed poster, and medicine bottles.

Serial, the podcast I often listen to while doing work in the basement. As Serial is professionally recorded listening to it helped us with our voice inflection and editing.

Serial, the podcast I often listen to while doing work in the basement. As Serial is professionally recorded listening to it helped us with our voice inflection and editing.

We wanted to make sure that our podcast is entertaining and informative so we shared some inside jokes regarding our experiences. For example, sometimes we listen to podcasts while doing work on our computers. I just started listening to Serial so a joke is made how it is a tad creepy to listen to Serial – a story about a murder in Baltimore in the 90s, when alone in the basement. Joelle and I wrote a script and recorded our podcast this week. Now we are on the editing phase. One of the more fun parts about this stage is that we have to pick an intro and outro song that is public domain. We found some cool options so I am excited to pick that out.

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Studying Abroad: Where Museum Personalities Clash

Posted on August 2nd, 2017 by

By collections intern Amy Swartz. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

A few weeks ago we were tasked with reading pieces of John H Falk’s Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience. For our weekly blog post that week, I wrote a bit about my initial reactions to the piece. However, while reading parts of the book I was really struck by his museum visitor’s model as I myself have inhabited those many models at different points in my life. This past spring I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark and had the amazing opportunity to visit many European countries. As someone who loves museums so much that I want to work in one for the rest of my life, all of my trips included some type of museum visit. During these museum visits, depending on which museum I visited and who I was with, my identity flipped and flopped.

Falk’s five identities are explorer, facilitator, experience seeker, professional/hobbyist, and recharger. I am most often an explorer. I go into museums seeking to discover, I pick and chose what I spend my time on, and I often have some background knowledge. When I am with my friends, who are often experience seekers but sometimes explorers, I often am in a semi-facilitator role. I want them to learn and enjoy their visit so that we can actively discuss it. However, while in Europe my identity was in flux. I found that in my experience there are two types of museum experience for those who are studying abroad and traveling: the explorer and the experience seeker.

A ship in the Viking Museum, Oslo, Norway

A ship in the Viking Museum, Oslo, Norway

The explorer traveler finds museums in new cities and decides that a museum visit would be a good way to learn about the city or country’s culture. They go simply because they think it would be a cool experience and are more likely to go to a museum that is either free or has a museum discount rather than an expensive museum. My time in Oslo fits this description. My sister and I did not know what to do in the city, especially since it was rather rainy our whole trip and the city is quite expensive. We bought a museum pass, which was a great purchase and visited the Fram Museum and the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, among others. I approached each visit solely as an explorer. I came in without any expectations or assumptions and simply enjoyed myself and learned a lot.

One of Monet’s Water Lilies Paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris

One of Monet’s Water Lilies Paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris

The experience seeker finds themselves at museums while abroad for the great or well-known works housed inside. They often operate on a limited schedule and work to check certain things off their bucket list The best example of this was my time in Paris. While at the Louvre, my best friend and I saw a lot but we narrowed down our visit to the greats: the Mona Lisa (an obvious choice), the Nike of Samothrace, and the Venus de Milo. We quickly went to the Le Musée de l’Orangerie next, only glancing in some galleries in order to get to Monet’s Water Lilies.

Me and my host sisters in the Kusama exhibit at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Me and my host sisters in the Kusama exhibit at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Other museums I visited brought out both personalities. While in Denmark I visited the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art with my visiting host family. Majority of my time there I was an explorer, hungrily consuming information. The Louisiana has an amazing collection and while there I actually saw a lot of works I later learned about in my Women, Art, and Identity course. However, I was also an experience-seeker as there was a well-known exhibit by Yayoi Kusama called Gleaming Lights of the Souls. In that moment I had to see it just to see it and have that experience – it was worth a bit of a wait, which turned out to be nothing based on the wait at the Hirshhorn Museum which had hours long wait lines.

I’ve found that one’s identity at a museum is very dependent on the circumstances of the visit. That’s why it is always beneficial for a museum to cater to multiple identities – which JMM does very well through its various educational programs, exhibits, and lectures.

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Looking for Stories of Culture

Posted on July 31st, 2017 by

By exhibitions intern Tirza Ochrach-Konradi. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

Judaism is built on stories, which is natural for any religion. Religions are based on shared beliefs and the story format is the way a lot of that content gets passed down generation to generation. Religious stories act like pneumonic devices for religious beliefs. It would not be easy to compile, maintain, and memorize a giant bulleted list of religious beliefs, but it is attainable to establish, maintain, and recollect from a big book of stories.

Jewish religious stories are super accessible and have been carefully maintained but, the particular Jewish stories that I am interested in are less carefully stored. I am interested in the stories of Jewish culture and Jewish community. The stories that come from Jews as a group of people doing things together that are designed to share what it means to participate in Jewish culture. This is entirely personal bias. I am not a religious Jew and cultural Jewish stories resonate more with me.

I learned holiday traditions from my parents, but I also had those traditions reinforced through reading story books. In particular I remember reading The Matzah that Papa Brought Home which is by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Ned Bittinger about Passover and Purim Play by Roni Schotter as well as ZigaZak! a Hanukah book by Eric Kimmel illustrated by John Goodell. As a child these stories helped me understand my family’s traditions and situate them into a larger culture. Participation in religious community was not right for us because we didn’t believe. We also didn’t live in an area with a high population of Jewish neighbors so these stories were the way I got a broader understanding of the traditions and holidays my family undertook.

The cover of The Matzah that Papa Brought Home.

The cover of The Matzah that Papa Brought Home.

This summer has been fun because the oral histories that I have been working with are basically big cultural Jewish stories. This includes the collection project I am focusing on. I have been part of conducting a major interview project for Beth Am. The congregation is collecting the recollections of members who were present during the earliest years of the synagogue. Some of these people are folks who went to Chizuk Amuno when it was in the Eutaw Place temple and chose to remain in the downtown location when the rest of Chizuk Amuno moved to their Stevenson location. The rest of the participants are individuals who joined very early on in the life of the congregation.

I do feel out of my depth when interviewees reference religious practices with words I’ve never heard before. However, even though this project revolves around a religious institution, I find that what I really get is a sense of how these people built a Jewish community. The stories I get to collect are full of accounts of how friends drew other friends in, how the membership took pride in being a “do-it-yourself” shul where everything from youth education to painting the building was undertaken by rank-and-file members, and how the biggest strength of the shul is its open and welcoming culture.

Watercolor painting of the Eutaw Place temple by Rod Cook. (JMM 1995.192.010)

Watercolor painting of the Eutaw Place temple by Rod Cook. (JMM 1995.192.010)

I’ve personally interviewed five people this summer and I’ve heard and transcribed the recordings of five more. Because these interviews are so intently focused on the one topic the effect of having heard all of the recollections is as if I have read the same story written out by ten different people. Each version highlights different events and participants. Together they build a picture of the full reality of the experience. It is awesome to have this front row seat in pulling together the piece. Like the books of my childhood, these stories have been able to share a sense of Jewish community and help me understand myself as part of a bigger culture.

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