Spring Exhibits and Holocaust Programming: Remembering the Holocaust at the JMM

Posted on January 18th, 2019 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights is from Director of Learning and Visitor Experience  Ilene Dackman-Alon and Program Manager Trillion Attwood. Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!

Later this month, the JMM will offer a series of Holocaust-related exhibits and programs. This series will offer glimpses into the personal stories of both loss and survival, inviting our visitors to reflect on the deep and lasting impact of the events on the Holocaust on individual lives and the world in which we live today.

The series begins on January 27th, the day designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations. The date marks the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and is set aside as a day to remember and honor the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the millions of other victims of Nazism. It is a day to remind the world of the lessons of the Holocaust and a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.

At 1pm join us for the first of two annual Sadie B. Feldman Family Lectures – Refugees and America: Past, Present and Future with speakers Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS and Anne Richard, former Assistant Secretary of State under the Obama Administration. This timely conversation will examine immigration in America, past, present and future through a historic lens.

On Wednesday night, January 30th at 6:30 pm we will present the second Sadie B. Feldman Family Lecture. Jack Sacco will be discussing his book, Where the Birds Never Sing: The True Story of the 92nd Signal Battalion and the Liberation of Dachau. Participants will hear the harrowing, at times horrifying, and ultimately triumphant tale of an American GI in World War II as seen through the eyes of the author’s father, Joe Sacco — a farm boy from Alabama who landed at Omaha Beach, fought his way through Europe, and liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini closes on January 21st. In February, we will kick-off our winter/spring exhibition calendar with the first of two upcoming Exhibits that tell the stories of people seeking escape from the atrocities that followed Hitler and the Nazi regime’s rise to power.

Opening on February 3rd the JMM welcomes Jewish Refugees and Shanghai created by the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The exhibit weaves together the stories of more than two dozen individuals who lived in the Shanghai Jewish ghetto. Shanghai became the temporary home to more than 20,000 Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and Poland during World War II. The exhibit is on display through March 10th.

As a complement to the Shanghai exhibit, we are launching the First Winter Teachers Institute in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools. The two-day professional development opportunity will be held February 10th & 17th. The first day includes a visit to the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., and a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to see the exhibition, Americans and the Holocaust. The second day will be held at the JMM, where participants will learn best practices and educational resources from dedicated scholars and educators. Baltimore City teachers will receive AU credit for participation upon completion of an implementation plan.

For more information about the Winter Teachers Institute, please do not hesitate to contact Ilene Dackman-Alon via email idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org.

We are celebrating the exhibit with a Special Members-Only Preview on Saturday, February 2nd with an evening celebrating the cultural exchange of the Shanghai Jewish ghetto. Enjoy Chinese Lion dancers and a String Trio playing Viennese music from a selection of Jewish composers. This is certain to be a special evening, if you haven’t yet reserved your seats, we recommend you do today, places are limited.

On Opening Day of Jewish Refugees in Shanghai from 11am until 3pm, visitors can try their hand creating a selection of crafts inspired for the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Pig! This is a perfect activity for the whole family right before Super Bowl kickoff.

Throughout the exhibit run, we have a series of fascinating lectures. On Sunday, February 10th we welcome Dr. Meredith Oyen for her presentation A Little Vienna in Shanghai. The following week we are joined by Dr. Kathryn Hellerstein, University of Pennsylvania for her presentation China Through Yiddish Eyes, an exciting exploration of Jewish life in China during the interwar period.

The following Sunday, February 24th we welcome local survivor Yvonne Daniel, the child of Jewish German parents who fled to Shanghai following Nazi persecution. On March 3rd, Sara Halpern will explore the experiences of Jewish families, with a focus on the youngest members, as she presents, In Their Own Words as Jewish Refugees.

We are pleased to present two films in connection with the exhibit. The Maryland premiere of Above the Drowning Seas, on February 21st recounts the story of Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Consul in Vienna who defied his own government and braved the Gestapo to issue visas to Jewish refugees. On March 7th, Minyan in Kaifeng celebrates the ancient Jewish Chinese community. Finally, on March 10th we close the exhibit with Cantor Robyn Helzner and her unforgettable presentation Kreplach & Dim Sum. Audience members will be treated to lively stories, vibrant photos, video, and enchanting music as we celebrate the extraordinary presence of Jews in China.

On April 7th, the JMM welcomes Stitching History Through the Holocaust, on loan to us from the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee (the other JMM!). The exhibit invites visitors into the story of Paul and Hedy Strnad, trapped in Prague as the Nazis close in. Desperate to get out of Prague and in fear of their own lives, the couple send Hedy’s fashion-forward designs to their cousins in Milwaukee. Paul and Hedy perished during the Holocaust, but their memory lives on in this exhibit that includes the letters, sketches and the dresses that were recreated from Hedy’s drawings.

Concurrent with Stitching History Through the Holocaust, our staff has been busy putting together an original exhibit, Fashion Statement – that explores the messages embedded and sometime embroidered into the clothing that we wear.

Our education department has been developing activities and interactives that will encourage our audiences to connect with the people and the stories of the clothing displayed in the two Exhibits. Our goals are two-fold: we hope these activities will help our visitors to be empowered to remember the Holocaust but also investigate ways clothing can convey social status, political messages and religious expression.

We are developing an exciting schedule of programs to include lectures, movie screenings, and testimonies from 1st and 2nd generation survivors to help us better understand the experiences of those who lived through the Holocaust.

The challenging stories you will hear in the coming months through our exhibits and programs are not easy, but they are compelling, fascinating, and necessary.

We hope we see you soon. Together we can learn from our shared past to ensure the health, safety, and wholeness of the world of today and tomorrow.

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JMM Evolves – A Peek at the Future

Posted on December 21st, 2018 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights is from Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. Read more posts from Marvin by clicking HERE. Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!

When is JMM’s birthday?

Is it September 1845, the opening day of the original Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (now the Lloyd Street Synagogue)? Is it in February 1959, when Wilbur Hunter’s designation of that synagogue as one of the 13 most important structures in Baltimore inspired the Jewish community to save it? Is it November of 1964, when we first welcomed visitors and established a collection? Or is it in 1984 when we became the Jewish Museum of Maryland, adding new exhibit space, programs and education to our mission?

The fact is, it’s none of those and all of them. We don’t have a birthday. We weren’t born—we evolved.

We have adapted. We’ve grown. We’ve evolved to suit the needs of the three worlds in which we simultaneously live: Historic Jonestown, the Jewish Community, and Public Museums.

Over the last several years, the Board and staff of JMM, in consultation with our colleagues at The Associated, have been giving considerable thought to the next stage of our evolution, and today I’m ready to share some of that with you.

As far back as 2008, we’ve been thinking about what comes next for the Museum. That’s when, through the generosity of the Herbert Bearman Foundation, we acquired the property occupied by Lenny’s restaurant.

Those early plans sought to address:

>the lack of a real theater space (all of you who have struggled to hear a speaker in the JMM lobby can appreciate this),

>lack of collections storage (a prediction that we would run out of storage space by 2018 has unfortunately proved to be accurate) and

>insufficient space for temporary exhibits (to allow us to trade projects with other Jewish museums with larger galleries as well as being able to split the gallery between two projects).

While all of these issues persist, they don’t answer the questions of today. Questions demanded by our values. Questions like “what are the needs of our community?”, “who are our future partners, and how do they help us fulfill our mission?” and “what is the role of museums in the 21st century?

Our answers to these questions are influenced by the 2015 Jonestown Vision Plan and the recently completed report of the Baltimore Community Partnerships Subcommittee of The Associated’s Caring Commission. They’re also informed by our understanding of our role in all three of the worlds we inhabit, and not insignificantly, of our mission:

To connect the Maryland Jewish community to its roots, and to connect everyone else in Baltimore (resident and visitor alike) to the Jewish experience.

Our evolution started from historic site to museum it will continue from museum to community connector.

We have always provided curious visitors with experiences that they transformed into memories.

In the 21st century, we’re looking for more than memories. We want the memories of the experiences we provide to be transformed into actions that benefit the whole community. We want to create Upstanders.

As our evolution plans develop, we’re being guided by best practices in all three worlds. From the Impact Hub on North Avenue to successful, hybrid classroom-exhibits at the National Archives, our role models are the best in their fields.

We’re also looking for smart and value-driven partnership opportunities. Notably, we’ve begun a dialogue with our colleagues at the Jewish Volunteer Connection about their operations residing in Jonestown, sharing a campus with us, and envisioning an evolved Jewish presence in this neighborhood. That presence would meet the needs of Jonestown’s service organizations (Helping Up Mission, Living Classrooms, Ronald McDonald House, JMM and others) for additional volunteers, meet the desire in the Jewish community to engage in acts of tikkun olam, and closely align with the movement in the museum world to remain relevant as advocates for a cause, not just stewards of objects.

We have begun the work of developing a concept for a new structure – large enough to meet both our own expansion needs and the needs of potential partners—and designed to help serve the community in which we are located.

The concept begins with a new museum building facing Lombard Street, replacing the existing Lenny’s building, dramatically increasing JMM’s visibility (an estimated 70,000 cars per week come down Lombard Street in contrast to 7,000 cars per week on Lloyd Street). We want to work with the city to increase available parking and will also provide a drop-off area for school busses and peak day valet parking.

On the main level of the new building we feature the new 160-seat theater, which can also be configured as a banquet space. We are also re-mounting and updating “Voices of Lombard Street” on this entry level. As you can see, the existing building is now home to the Jewish Volunteer Connection, our co-working hub and plenty of shared space (including a kosher kitchen) available to all the campus organizations.

The lower level adds new storage space to our existing collections and archives rooms. It also features a new area designed to meet the needs of our growing numbers of school group visitors. Spaces include the school group assembly area, a workshop zone and two new lab experiences, providing task-oriented, immersive learning environments for field trips.

The upper level is actually linked through a new permanent exhibit (“Belonging(s)”) that combines real artifacts from our collection with Augmented Reality, allowing every visitor to virtually manipulate the objects as well as “curate” and share their own story of connections to our past. Also on this level is our new genealogy center with oral history kiosks as well as our expanded space for temporary and traveling exhibitions.

Not only is this plan exciting it is also timely. The Associated will soon enter its centennial year of service to the Jewish community of Baltimore. Laying the foundation for the next century, The Associated has selected a handful of significant projects that merit community support and align with the objective of putting Jewish values into action. JMM’s “evolution” and the expansion of our campus have been identified as among those priority projects and they are our partners in securing the underwriting required to complete this work, estimated at $18 million (yet another good reason to support The Associated).

A lot of work lies ahead, not just in raising the money, but in refining the design, planning for operations and coordinating our efforts with JVC and the Jonestown community. But as 2018 comes to a close, I wanted to share this optimistic news with the whole JMM family – what a year we have ahead!

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JMM Insights: Membership Looks Good On You!

Posted on November 16th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights is from Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE. Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!

I think a lot about what it means to belong. Not only is it the subject of a future permanent exhibit, I believe the need to belong (or the rejection of it) drives a great deal of human behavior. At JMM, we tell you stories of Jewish Maryland. Our tales will make you question, make you laugh, make you think and feel deeply—no matter who you are—because it is stories that make us human.

Nearly all of our stories have something to do with belonging, whether it’s the recent immigrant who desperately wanted to belong in America, the Holocaust survivor who knows the dire consequences of being told they don’t belong, or the rags-to-riches scrap dealing family who succeeding in belonging through determination and grit.

When it comes to the Jewish Museum of Maryland, we believe everyone belongs. Luckily for us, there are some who choose to make their belonging official by purchasing a membership.

There are perks to making it official! All members receive free admission to the Museum every day including to nearly all of our fascinating and engaging programming (between 50 and 60 a year!). Members are also entitled to a 10% discount at Esther’s Place: the JMM Store and invitations to exclusive, members-only events.

And don’t forget the free parking, weekdays at the Parking Authority of Baltimore City, Fayette Street Garage (Baltimore and N. East Streets).

Perhaps the most important benefit of membership is knowing you’re helping to discover, preserve and tell the stories of Jewish Maryland—stories that belong to all of us—today and into the future.Membership is an important way our family and our fans support us. Not only do your membership dues provide essential resources (about 5% of our revenue), we are often judged by public and private funders by how many members we have, and how many visitors we see each year. That means that every time you visit and bring a friend, you are helping us achieve our mission.

For individuals and families who choose to make it official at the Premium Level of our membership program (Lombard Street Club, Living History Circle, Lloyd Street League, and the 1845 Society), there are some extra perks, including reciprocal admission at select Jewish museums nationally and history museums locally.

Members in the Living History Circle, Lombard Street League and 1845 Society all receive a museum-selected publication each year. Past selections include the Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project that accompanied Remembering Auschwitz, the catalog for Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, and Paul Simon: Words + Music. (If you are a member of one of those groups, watch your mailbox for this year’s selection sometime in the month of December.)

Because we believe everyone belongs, and because we’ve heard requests for it, we are delighted to announce that we have created a new Grandparents’ Package membership. This membership level will allow families to make it official for Grandparents, their adult children (up to 2), and their grandchildren (up to 4 minor grandchildren). This allows Bubbie and Zayde to include the little ones on their membership, even when they don’t live in the same household.

Speaking of households, members at the Family level may notice that we’ve renamed your membership. As a part of our effort to ensure that everyone feels as though they belong, we’ve renamed the membership to be as inclusive as possible. Don’t worry, only the name has changed. The benefits remain the great perks they’ve always been!

When it comes to perks of membership, our guest passes are among the most popular.

We have good news in that department, too. Effective immediately, for new and renewing Senior Members, the membership now comes with one free guest pass per paid member (i.e. one guest pass for a Senior Member and two for a Senior Couple). This is a new benefit at this level.

If you’ve read this far, and you are a member, I have a reward for you—watch your mailbox for a special Hanukkah gift from the Museum in early December. And thank you.

If you’ve read this far and you’re not yet a member, what are you waiting for? We can’t wait to welcome you officially.


Questions about membership? Contact Sue Foard, membership coordinator, at sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-873-5162.


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