Highlights from the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute

Posted on August 16th, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of JMM Insights, Director of Learning and Visitor Experience Ilene Dackman-Alon shares highlights of this year’s Summer Teachers Institute. This annual educator training has become a core part of the JMM calendar.  It has never been more important to enable teachers to effectively share Holocaust history in their classrooms and our program has never been stronger!

~Marvin

Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!


Attendees of the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute: Women and the Holocaust

Last week, August 5-7, the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute (STI) brought together a community of learners to explore best practices in teaching Holocaust education.   The community of learners included over 45 teachers from public, Jewish and private along with a few JMM Board members, staff, volunteers and interns for the 3-day professional development opportunity. This year’s SOLD-OUT program, Women and the Holocaust, provided participants with new ideas as well as new program and education resources to help make Holocaust Education more meaningful for students. The following are program highlights!


Day 1

Our first day convened at the Jewish Museum of Maryland with a brief tour of the exhibits, Stitching History From the Holocaust and Fashion Statement.  Following the gallery tour, Linda Medvin, Director of Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education presented on the theme of Women and the Holocaust.  The group examined the many different roles that women play during their everyday lives – their “Universe of Obligation,” and how this sense of obligation pushed women to make sacrifices and accept challenges during the war.  One of the highlights of the session was watching the short film Pigeon provided by Facing History and Ourselves, followed by a discussion of obligation. Linda provided resources and materials to help illustrate ways in which women were perpetrators, resistors, rescuers and victims during the Holocaust.

After lunch, JMM Board member, Nancy Kutler shared her mother’s (Hannah Rath) personal story of survival growing up in Germany.  Nancy shared with the group that her mother was sent to a ghetto in Riga, Latvia, then to various camps — and ultimately to Stutthof.  Following the war, Hannah met her future husband, George Rath, a survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration camp, and the two headed for a new life in the United States and married in 1947.   Nancy shared with the group that her mother spent a lot of time in schools sharing her personal story of survival.  Nancy found letters from school children after her mother’s death, and this was the catalyst that inspired Nancy to continue to share her mother’s incredible story.

Attendees also had the opportunity to attend different sessions in the afternoon.

JMM educator, Marisa Shultz, presented a lesson on using historic newspapers in the classroom in connection to the USHMM’s exhibit, Americans & The Holocaust.  We debuted the Anne Frank oculus tours of the secret annex in Amsterdam provided by the Anne Frank Center USA; and our teachers had the opportunity to go on tours of the historic synagogues and meet with Jessica Fink, librarian at the CJE Lending library.


Day 2

Day Two found us in Washington, DC at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition to viewing the permanent exhibits, we were able to tour a new exhibit, Americans and the Holocaust before the regular opening hours of the Museum. The exhibit examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped American attitudes and responses to the threats of Nazism and Hitler’s regime during the 1930’s and 1940’s, revealing how much information was available to Americans at the time. We were fortunate to travel to DC with Howard and Esther Kaidenow, both survivors of the Holocaust who shared with the group their experiences of survival during the war.  Esther came to the United States and was placed in a Displaced Persons Camp is Oswego, New York which is highlighted in the Americans and the Holocaust exhibit.

After lunch, we travelled to Beth Shalon Synagogue in Columbia where we had the privilege to meet Edith Cord, who shared her experiences growing up in Vienna, Italy and France in her attempt to go into hiding and escape the terror of the Nazi regime. Mrs. Cord’s story is one of strength, and determination as she told her story of survival and the lessons, she learned the hard way.  Mrs. Cord spoke about how she rose above the difficult circumstances that transcend hatred, how she was able to find meaning in life and how it is important to protect our freedoms.  She shares her experiences and the lessons learned the hard way: how to rise above difficult experiences.


Day 3

Day Three took place at the American Visionary Museum in connection to the exhibit, Esther and the Dream of One Loving Human Family on display through 2024.  The exhibit highlights the beautiful tapestries that Esther Krinitz created illustrating her childhood years growing up in Poland during World War II. Esther’s daughter, Bernice Steinhardt opened the morning highlighting the work of Art and Remembrance, a non-profit organization that uses art and personal narrative to recognize individual courage and resilience, and to foster understanding and compassion for those who experience injustice.   Bernice shared the 30-minute documentary, Through the Eye of the Needle that examines the life of Esther Krinitz and how she survived the Holocaust as a teenager and how she came to tell her life story in a series of 36 fabric collages and embroidered panels.

Following the film participants split between the opportunity to go on a tour with Bernice and view the collages or go to a session that highlighted the resources and lesson plans that were prepared by Claire Tesh and lmnoeducation, LLC.  In connection to the exhibit.   All participants loved viewing the collages and felt that lesson plans were wonderful resources for the classroom.

During lunch, Rebecca Hoffberger welcomed our attendees and spoke about the fabric installations and her vision for the next five years as the works are displayed at AVAM.  Our afternoon session consisted of a Story Cloth Workshop where attendees tried their hand at storytelling by creating their own fabric collages.  Following the workshop, our teachers had the opportunity to share their personal stories and fabric creations with one another.


We make sure to collect evaluations from participants after each day of the Summer Teachers Institute. We were delighted by the responses and feedback we received, here are just a few:

>“Since this is my first time here @ STI, I’ve loved everything.  Thank You!!!”

>“I enjoyed the timeline activity that showed that things didn’t just happen overnight.  I think this will be great to share with our students.”

>WOW!!!  Edith is a phenomenal speaker as well as a sharp, power and inspirational person.  She should be a TED talk!”

>“I am so happy to learn that this exhibit will be here for years.  I intend to bring my daughters before it leaves.  I connected to so much today, especially the level of love for humanity.”

>Everything about Esther’s story was phenomenal.  I really enjoyed the museum’s director’s discussion as well.”

I also received this lovely email from a participant:

“I just wanted to thank you and your staff for your efforts and for the outstanding program that you developed for this past Summer Teachers Institute.  The Institute offered a large variety of engaging and informative options for examining the topic of Women and the Holocaust.  The speakers were well-prepared and passionate about their subjects.  The activities were enriching and hopefully some will be applicable to the classroom.   The timing of this program during the Nine Days preceding Tisha B’av made it even more meaningful as this is the time of year, we focus on tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.”

Because our Summer Teachers Institute meets the qualifications of both the Maryland State Department of Education as well as Baltimore City Public Schools for high quality professional development (to qualify, we need to submit an application for review), we can offer participants professional development credit. To be eligible for the credit, teachers must turn in a written reflection (for MSDE credit) as well as an implementation plan (i.e. lesson plan, for Baltimore City). These reflections and teaching plans provide another measure for assessing programmatic impact for teachers and which resources they plan on using. It was gratifying to learn from this year’s submissions that teachers plan on integrating content from each session as well and many of the websites, books and lesson plans they received. Evaluation and reflections also provide important feedback as we plan for next year’s program.

We are grateful to our program partners: Baltimore Jewish Council, American Visionary Art Museum and MSDE for their help in planning this year’s program. We are also grateful to our program funders, Judy and Jerry Macks and Family and the Joan and Joseph Klein, Jr., Foundation for enabling us to reach out to such a such a diverse group of educators and provide them with valuable training and classroom resources.


 

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JMM Insights: Stitching Things Together

Posted on July 19th, 2019 by

It’s all in the timing!  Coordinating exhibit schedules is a task in itself, and when two exhibits occupy the same gallery this can be tricky. This month’s edition of JMM Insights comes from Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church who will keep the story of Fashion Statement going through mid-September (with a little timely help from our friends). Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!


The Feldman Gallery currently holds two separate, but related exhibits: Fashion Statement, created by the JMM, and Stitching History from the Holocaust, created by the Jewish Museum Milwaukee (The other JMM!). We’ve been humbled and grateful for the positive attention these two exhibits have garnered since we opened them in early April (and even before!)

JMore reported on the fact that we would be displaying Gil Sandler’s porkpie hat way back in August of 2018. We were frontpage news for the JewishTimes. JMore named the exhibit a Top Event Pick for April 2019 and went on to dive deep in the whys and hows of the two exhibits with a feature story.

WJZ came to see us twice. Once in their “Coffee With” segment in May and then again for a morning segment on June 23, the day of the Jonestown Festival. Marvin joined his counterpart from the American Visionary Art Museum for an appearance on WYPR’s Midday with Tom Hall. Midday at the Museums discussed the ways the two museums address the Holocaust through textiles in current exhibits.

Attention from the press is amazing. As important is the attention we get from our educator partners. We especially love it when the exhibit in the gallery and students’ experiences in our historic synagogues work together to create discoveries and memories. A few highlights from our teachers, include:

“I just want to thank you again for the field trip yesterday to the museum.  The students were engaged and excited about what they learned and saw.  The amount of time was just perfect.  The activities were so appropriate, and your staff was wonderful and patient.”

“The students and parents all talked about how much they enjoyed their time at the museum.  The students said that they liked learning out the old clothing, the bathing rituals, the synagogue, the Old Testament scrolls, the arc in the synagogue, and the history of the building.  It has been a week and a half, and they still remember a ton!” 

Splitting the gallery the way we did for Fashion Statement and Stitching History from the Holocaust is a great way to maximize our use of the space. It allowed us to get all of this great attention, and share even more stories with our visitors … but what happens when one of those exhibits needs to close sooner than the other?

Stitching History will be closing here on August 5th (so if you haven’t yet had the chance to see it, make your plans now!); after a brief rest, it will go on display again at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida. That leaves us with a slice of gallery to fill until September 15th, when Fashion Statement closes in its turn and we begin to prepare the gallery for Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling. As we have done often during this clothing-focused year, we’ve turned to Stevenson University and the Stitching Maryland Together project for assistance.

Stevenson’s design students were a tremendous help with our Fashion Statement interactives.

We were also delighted to be part of the Stitching Maryland Together short documentary film project, which premiered at Expedition I, the fashion design school’s gala runway show and senior showcase held May 4, 2019 at Ram’s Head Live. A few members of the JMM staff took the opportunity to attend the event, and – speaking for myself, at least – were awed by the talent and skill displayed by these students, from the fashion collections to the documentary to the logistics of pulling off an event of this scale.

We’ve offered the use of our slice-of-gallery to the fashion department at Stevenson, and while we don’t know yet quite what that will look like – we’re hoping to get some of the clothing featured during the runway show itself! – keep your eyes open for more information on our continued collaboration with these talented young men and women.


 

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JMM Insights: Small Change

Posted on June 21st, 2019 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights comes from Executive Director Marvin Pinkert, with a behind-the-scenes look at an upcoming display. Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!


Most of our JMM Insights newsletters are dedicated to the major exhibits and program series that shape our calendar. But some of the most interesting projects we work on are small showcase exhibits that allow us to respond to targets of opportunity without the long lead times associated with feature shows. Our next showcase display, Redeemable: Baltimore’s $2 Bill and the Making of American Currency, opens July 7th and runs through August 11th.

The inspiration for this project was a phone call just a few months ago from a friend of the JMM in New York, Morris Offit.  He let me know that he had recently donated a $2 bill printed by the Continental Congress bearing the signature of Benjamin Levy to the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia (with the goal of strengthening the story of Jewish contributions to our war for Independence.  Benjamin Levy who came to Baltimore in 1773, is usually credited as being the first Jewish resident to permanently settle in this city.

This news reached us about the same time we were getting set to open Fashion Statement and triggered the thought that, of all the accessories we “wear,” money is perhaps the one whose design we most take for granted. We searched our collection for other artifacts that spoke to the connection between the appearance of currency and its perceived value , and found three other items that fit this category: a pair of bank notes designed by Baltimore artist Solomon Carvalho; a set of coins stamped by Civil War sutler, Lazarus Goldheim; and bank notes from the early 20th century signed by bank director Louis Kann.

We started asking ourselves “what gives money its value?” – a question raised by all four artifacts – “were they redeemable?” We realized that if we could borrow the $2 bill we could tell an engaging story about the emergence of American money and four members of the Baltimore Jewish community who participated in that history.

The Museum of the American Revolution accepted our loan request, and we quickly completed some preliminary research. We decided to time our opening of the showcase exhibit with the Sunday of July 4th weekend.

Another “small change” on the horizon is the virtual tour of the Anne Frank House to complement our Stitching History from the Holocaust exhibit on the first two Sundays in August. This will be our first experiment in using the new Oculus lenses that were donated to us this month.

Our next showcase exhibit will be a celebration of the 75th anniversary of Eddie’s of Roland Park, set to open on September 15.

So this summer when you come back for a second look at Fashion Statement or to attend one of the wonderful programs in our Recovery and Renewal: The Immigration Experience series, don’t forget to be on the lookout for small change.*


*and, speaking of change, a reminder: The Associated’s annual campaign “Change Begins Here” closes at the end of the month. JMM encourages you to support the organization that is our number one source of funds.


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