Postcards for Paige: Spring 2018

Posted on May 18th, 2018 by

Welcome to the second edition of our quarterly feature, “Postcards for Paige”, giving us a chance to answer commonly asked questions about how to make the most out of your visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland. (All the answers are real, the postcards are dubious… but these days, who knows?) Click here to read previous editions.


Postcard reads:

Hey Paige,

My husband and I have been members of the JMM for the past six years. One of my favorite benefits of being a member (other than the 10% discount at Esther’s Place) is having free admission to the regular programs. I attended the Book of Joseph event on April 26th and saw how popular it was – sold out in fact! A little digging on Facebook informed me that programs at the JMM have been selling out recently. Do I need to reserve seats for programs even if I am a member?

Seat-Seeking Susan

Hi Susan,

Thank you for being loyal members to the Museum. I am glad to hear that you have been enjoying our recent programs. It has been an exciting past few months at the Museum and we have been thrilled that numerous events have sold out. In April, we had 351 people attend 6 programs!

Since our programs have been showing such popularity, and seating is limited, I strongly suggest that you reserve a seat for any program that you are interested in attending to avoid disappointment.

You can do this online to our website by following these steps:

– First, head to our events calendar.

-You can find the event that you are interested in and click on it. This will take you to that event’s dedicated page.

-Select “JMM Member – Reserve Your Seats.” This will take you to the shopping cart.

-Sign in at the top, right corner of the screen.

-Enter the number of tickets you need and click “Add to Cart” on the bottom left of this screen. Remember, the type of membership you have will determine how many seats are discounted.

-It’s important to remember that your member discount will be applied on the next screen.

-You will receive an email confirmation with a link to your tickets. Don’t forget to bring your ticket to the front desk when you arrive.

If you need some help or you aren’t too fond of computer, please give me a call at 410-732-6400! I am happy to walk you through how to do it online or make your reservation over the phone.

With your tickets reserved, you can rest easy knowing that there is a seat for you.

~Paige


Postcard reads:

Hi Paige,

My three children are all budding magicians and are always surprising me with new tricks. It’s my turn to impress them and I need something that is going to be memorable for years to come. I saw that the JMM has a new exhibit opening on Sunday, June 24th about Harry Houdini. Can you help me to inspire and amaze my magicians-in-training? 

Illusion-less Mom

Dear IM,

On Sunday, June 24th the JMM is opening our newest exhibit, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini, in a way that is sure to be memorable. Bring your budding magicians to see professional escape artist, Dai Andrews, who will recreate Houdini’s 1916 Baltimore escape from a strait jacket while suspended upside down from a 50-foot crane! Once you have amazed them, bring them inside the JMM for a first look at the exhibit that is guaranteed to be inspiration for magicians of all ages.

But that’s not all: Just like in baseball, the JMM has a double-header on Sunday, June 24th! Along with our special exhibit opening, you can celebrate Baltimore’s oldest neighborhood at the “The Magic of Jonestown” Festival. From 12:00pm to 4:00pm join together with our community’s cultural organizations and businesses to celebrate our shared heritage. This FREE event is perfect for families and friends of all ages.

Lloyd Street between Baltimore and Lombard Street will be closed to traffic and instead will be host to entertainment, craft activities, and giveaways. Along with the Jewish Museum of Maryland, you will find the National Aquarium, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and many more. The event is free for all to attend, but don’t forget to register when you arrive for a chance to win some amazing door prizes!

Don’t miss out on the magic! I hope to see you there.

~Paige


Postcard reads:

Paige,

I’m a camp counsellor seeking creative, clever, and cool activities for my campers to do this summer. I want to amaze, astound, and awe the adolescents. Do you have any tricks you can pull out of your sleeve to help me?

Charismatic Counsellor

Hey Charismatic!

I have two words for you: Harry Houdini. Well I actually have eight words for you: Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini. There is no better way to wow your campers than by bringing them to our special exhibit opening on June 24th. They can be delighted by the magic and hands-on illusions the exhibit holds, while also learning about the man behind the performer.

Alternatively, let us bring the magic to your camp with Houdini’s Trunk, our newest living history performance. Your campers will be fascinated by this storytelling performance about Harry Houdini that uses magic to enhance the story.

Don’t let the fun be just for your campers, both the exhibit and performance are great for adult groups as well! Learn more here: http://jewishmuseummd.org/single/inescapable-the-life-and-legacy-of-harry-houdini/

Call 443-873-5167 to book your group or schedule Houdini’s Trunk.

~Paige


Postcard reads:

Salutations Paige, 

I volunteered to plan my book club’s summer reading list. June is just around the corner and I have the planning equivalent to writer’s block. Can you help me to impress my club with my selections?

Books & Babka Bibliophile

 

Hello Fellow Bibliophile,

I have just the remedy that is certain to win you brownie points with your group. Our upcoming programs for June and July are filled with a selection of talented authors speaking about their books. Take your book club to the next level and bring them to hear one (or all) of these talks. The JMM is even offering a discount to book clubs for these programs – no matter how big or small your group is! Call 443-873-5167 and reserve tickets for your group in advance to receive the discount.

Learn more about the programs, authors and books here:

Thursday, June 28th at 7:00pm – American Ambassador Alfred Moses will speak about Bucharest Diary: Romania’s Journey from Darkness to Light

-Sunday, July 1st at 1:00pm – David Jahr will speak about his first book The Witch of Lime Street. Followed by a book signing.

-Sunday, July 15th at 1:00pm – Author David Saltman will share discoveries he made while researching for his book Houdini Unbound: Espionage in Russia. There will be a book signing to follow.

-Sunday, July 29th at 1:00pm – Victoria Kelly will talk about her research into Bess Houdini for her novel Mrs. Houdini

I look forward to hearing your reviews and recommendations at the front desk!

~Paige

Have a question for Paige? Send her a (digital) postcard at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org!

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Symbolic Gesture or Big Deal?

Posted on April 20th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights is written by JMM Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. You can read more posts by Marvin here.

I wanted to devote this month’s JMM Insights to one of the oldest documents in our collection – a short pamphlet with a very long title: “Sketch of the Proceedings in the Legislature of Maryland, December Session, 1818 on What is Commonly Called The Jew Bill.”

I bring this document to your attention not only because it will soon turn 200 years old, but also because it is so intertwined with the story of our current exhibit, Amending America: The Bill of Rights and the launch last week of the JMM-commissioned book on the history of our community, On Middle Ground: A History of Jewish Baltimore.

Let me begin by explaining what the pamphlet is and what it isn’t. The “Sketch” is a polemic, an argument in favor of the passage of the Jew Bill. The Jew Bill was intended to ameliorate the impact of the provision in the Maryland State Constitution of 1776 requiring a “Christian oath” for anyone holding public office (civil or military).

The Jew Bill failed to pass in 1818, but Thomas Kennedy of Hagerstown and his allies in the House of Delegates were not giving up.

The pamphlet consolidated the case for passage, including newspaper editorials from such diverse places as Natchez, Mississippi and Danville, Virginia condemning “Religious Intolerance” in Maryland, as well as letters of support from such notables as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. In the great American political tradition, it also veers into the partisan, taking a shot at the Federalist Party for its nearly uniform opposition to the bill.

While this is a fascinating document, it is NOT the Jew Bill. The Museum does not currently own an original copy of the legislation that receives final passage in 1826 (though some members of our Board are still hunting for the possibility that the document exists and could be put on loan to us).

Dr. Eric Goldstein of Emory University, co-author of our new book, On Middle Ground, will be coming to JMM on May 9th to discuss his research on the Jew Bill in the course of writing the opening chapter of the book.

The program is called “Myth vs. Reality: The Maryland Jew Bill in Historic Context.

Without giving away everything that Eric will say (I do want you to come to the program or at least read the book), I would simply point out that Eric found ample evidence that the claims of disability and exclusion attributed to the “Christian oath” provision have been greatly exaggerated – that the rule was not rigorously enforced and that there were relatively easy work-arounds for those wishing to serve.

So was the passage of the Jew Bill just a symbolic gesture or was it a big deal? 

Working at the National Archives I ran into this sort of question often. After all, King George III had issued a proclamation declaring the colonies to be “in rebellion” in August, 1775 and sent armies to North America to suppress the revolution… so how significant was the much belated Declaration of Independence eleven months later? As our current exhibit points out, our vaunted FIRST amendment was actually the third article of amendment when it came out of Congress, and was only promoted to first place when the first two amendments failed to be ratified.  Lincoln put so many restrictive clauses into the Emancipation Proclamation that it fell well short of “freeing the slaves.”. He even went so far as to declare it a “war measure” rather than a charter of freedom. Are all these documents over-rated? Or is there something else at work?

I recently listened again to a 2013 interview with Lonnie Bunch, Director of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Lonnie responded to a reporter’s question by saying:

The Emancipation Proclamation is without a doubt the most misunderstood document in American history, that on the one hand the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery. Slavery was ended when the 13th Amendment was ratified. But what the Emancipation Proclamation does that’s so important is it begins a creeping process of emancipation where the federal government is now finally taking firm stands to say slavery is wrong and it must end.

I find myself echoing Lonnie’s sentiment with respect to the Jew Bill. Maryland was not an environment of horrendous religious oppression in 1818 (nor was it a paradise of tolerance after the bill’s passage in 1827). In many ways, the Jew Bill was a symbolic gesture, having limited practical impact beyond facilitating the political ambitions of Jewish Baltimoreans Jacob Cohen and Solomon Etting.  But sometimes, symbolic gestures are genuinely a big deal, moving, even if slightly, the long arc of the moral universe.

In conjunction with Amending America, we have developed a very small highlights brochure of the “Sketch.”  Pick it up at the Front Desk on your next visit to the Museum, while supplies last.

 

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Celebrating Students, Finding Their Stories

Posted on March 16th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights comes to us from Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Learning and Visitor Experience.

At the Jewish Museum of Maryland, we are storytellers.

It’s one of the things we do best. Whether the stories of the “old neighborhood, Jonestown,” the voices of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, or one of the thousands of stories of individual Jewish Marylanders, we use story to connect our visitors and audiences to others and themselves. We also help others tell stories. We’re especially interested in helping students and families living in their own communities find and tell their stories. To make that happen, we have been developing partnerships with area schools for years.

Why do we do what we do? How does telling our stories benefit future generations?

Research has shown children who know more about their families display more confidence and are more resilient. Dr. Marshall Duke, a psychologist of Emory University, has conducted research that shows family stories are a critical part of adolescents’ emerging identity and well-being. Family stories provide a sense of identity through time, and help children understand who they are in the world.  Research shows children who know their family and community stories have a strong “intergenerational self;” they know that they belong to something bigger than themselves.

In other words, stories connect the past and present to the future.

The month of March is extremely exciting for JMM storytelling. The JMM’s Education department is working on two programs in partnership with area schools and institutions: My Family Story and Morrell Park: PROJECTED. Each helps students develop their own family narrative, through a different medium. Through these partnerships, the JMM has been able to reach to a wider audience. We are a valuable education partner and resource to the larger community. Keep reading for more on both of them.


Earlier this year, area students from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Beth Israel Congregation and Bolton Street Synagogue embarked on an exploration of their own heritage with a project that goes beyond the usual family tree.

Through rigorous research and inspiring creativity, these students have produced beautiful art pieces illustrating their personal exploration into their family roots, and connections to the greater story of the Jewish People.  On March 8th, we held a special opening for My Family Story, celebrating this education initiative in partnership with Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Thousands of other students from around the world are also on their own My Family Story explorations, with the best projects from each school to be entered in Beit Hatfutsot’s international competition later in June.

Over the past months, I have had the opportunity to visit students in their classrooms as they created art to represent their family stories. I loved seeing them point out specific elements to illustrate the research they have done. Their faces shone as they shared their family stories.

I invite you to come celebrate with us the creativity, hard work, and beauty represented in these student-created works of art. The My Family Story exhibition will be on display through March 25th. My Family Story here at the Museum is generously supported by the Ronnie and Alli Russel Charitable Foundation.


Baltimore City Public Schools

In addition to our partnerships with religious schools and day schools, JMM has strong partnerships with five area Baltimore City Public Schools, where we provide a more customized and intensive educational enrichment for students and teachers.

All these programs are offered at no charge to  our partner schools, thanks in part to generous education program donors like the Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, the Maryland State Department of Education, Larry Boltansky, and many of our Museum members.

Through our partnerships, we help students become active learners for the 21st century. As a museum, one of our most critical roles is in helping students build 21st-century skills in the areas of information, communications and technology literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, civic literacy, and global awareness.


Over the fall semester, JMM staff, with the guidance of J. Scott Fuqua (an award-winning young adult author), and Johns Hopkins University film students, have been working with the 8th grade students at Morrell Park Elementary/Middle school on a new, innovative program.Morrell Park: PROJECTED is a year-long storytelling initiative that has helped students gain insight into their personal family stories. Students learned storytelling and interviewing techniques, gaining the skills to interview family and community members. They used what they learned to tell their own stories, creating short film clips using their smartphones. The resulting films will be screened for the public as a way of celebrating the diversity, culture and roots of the Morrell Park community. Morrell Park: PROJECTED is supported by an Excellence Grant from Wells Fargo.

This project has been a transformative experience for many students.In the beginning, many students expressed a hesitancy to speak to their parents. Just a few months later, some of those same students shared that this project has enabled them to talk to family members in ways that they never had before. All of the participating students expressed an appreciation for the family members that shared personal stories of their past. The students are also rightly proud of the short films they have created, of their own learning, and of mastering a new skill on their smartphones.

You can listen to more about Morrell Park: PROJECTED over at WYPR’s “On The Record” here.

I hope you will join us on March 22 at 7:00 p.m., as these eighth graders from Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School walk the red carpet at the Jewish Museum of Maryland to celebrate the premiere of the autobiographical films they’ve created. This premiere is the first component in a two-part series, and we look forward to sharing news of the second part with you in the future.

We hope that you will visit JMM during the month of March to celebrate area students as they share their family and community stories!

 

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