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JMM Insights: What’s A Wondernaut?

Posted on March 27th, 2020 by

It’s hard to believe, but it was less than three weeks ago (March 5) when the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in Maryland. That very afternoon I held an impromptu meeting with Paige and Rachel to start working on a digital companion to our upcoming Jews in Space exhibit, to be prepared to serve the families and school children who rely on JMM as a resource for informal learning. With the support of the whole JMM team, they have come up with an outstanding concept and prepped it for initial roll-out in just 20 days!

And the best part is that there is no age limit on these activities. So even if you can barely remember 4th grade, you might take a stab at a few of these activities and even earn a badge or two of your own. We won’t judge.



The Jewish Museum of Maryland invites you on a grand adventure: Wondernauts 2020!

Wondernauts 2020 explores the Wonders of Space. Inspired by Jews in Space: Members of the Tribe in Orbit exhibit, we will dive into challenges about everything from ancient star patterns to famous firsts in space science, to the imaginings of writers and artists picturing a distant future. We’ll even be observing our own skies!

Throughout our journey we will face challenges and tasks that will ask us to think hard, think creatively, and consult the world around us. As we complete these challenges, we’ll earn badges to mark our success.

Our Wondernaut activities are perfect for a variety of ages and a whole lot of fun for the whole family – not just those in the house with you, but those you’re hanging out with across the digital divide! We’ve made sure to include activities at all different skill levels and needing a minimal amount of materials.

And don’t worry, not all the activities require you to sit in front of a computer! We’re making all the activities available as pdf downloads and will mark the ones that don’t require a computer or electricity, to make them easy to find.

A science fiction lover? You might like to try our Design a Sci-Fi Cover and Create a New Planet activities!

More of a history buff? Check out the Mapping Historic Skies activity!

Perhaps you’ve got a small astronaut-in-training at home – check out our Build a Space Probe and Searching for Galaxies activities! (And don’t forget to Design Your Own Space Helmet.)

We’ll be posting activities and badges on a weekly (and sometimes daily!) basis, so we’ll be adding a section to this weekly JMM Insights newsletter highlighting what’s new for our Wondernauts.

And of course we’ll share these new additions on our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr) as well.


In the last week, we have all used some of our time for passionate reflection. In yesterday’s post, Tracie’s passion for social justice comes through in her very thoughtful review of a book I mentioned last week (Eric Goldstein’s The Price of Whiteness).

Flip back to Monday, and you’ll see my post about passion for Passover. Go back to last Friday and there’s a summary post about last December’s Great Jewish Bake Off likely that’s likely to bring out a passion for cookies even among the most disciplined of us.


That’s right, Esther’s Place: The JMM Shop is now selling online.

We’ve got a limited inventory of some of our favorite products, including our JMM branded swag and items perfect for Passover.

Don’t see something you’re interested in? Contact Shop Manager Chris Sniezek at and let us know.


Remembering the Maryland Women’s Suffrage Movement
Friday, March 27, 2020 at 12:00pm

Maryland women played an important role in the passage of the 19th Amendment. Kacy Rohn will discuss her research providing new insight into the statewide suffrage movement.

Once Upon a Boy
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at 7:00pm

Ron is intelligent, charming and full of life, but every day, his movements are increasingly limited by cerebral palsy. The film follows this remarkable family’s struggles as the parents do everything in their power to raise three children who are happy with their lot, despite the unfathomable gap between them.

I Want You To Know We’re Still Here
Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 8:00pm

Join author Esther Safran Foer for a virtual discussion on her memoir I Want You To Know We’re Still Here.


Development Director Tracey Dorfmann is finishing up Wild Ones: a Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in AmericaJon Mooallem explores the relationship Americans have with indigenous animals in our natural habitats.

This straightforward exploration of the wildlife conservation movement in America is a must-read for animal lovers. A different perspective on the wild species that reside in the United States of America along with humans. You will look at animals as diverse as the Polar bear and the Butterfly through brand new optics. Truly an eye-opener and an important read.

Next up for Tracey? The 1952 masterpiece about the nature of bigotry, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

What are you reading this week? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!


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JMM Insights: Pandemic Edition #1

Posted on March 20th, 2020 by

Welcome to the first of our JMM Insights: Pandemic Edition newsletters. This weekly post will include status updates as well as highlight ways you can keep interacting, learning, and exploring with us here at JMM – the email version goes out on Thursday mornings at 10:00am and the blog post will go up here on Fridays at 8:00am.

Each week we will bring you a special feature, point to new content on our blog posts, offer recommendations for online events, share what we’re reading, and much more. Starting next week we will also be adding family activities with our new Wondernauts program.

We also encourage you to follow us on our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr) because we will continue to share highlights from our collections, behind-the-scenes photos, and other great content there as well.

While we can’t wait for the day that our status bar reads OPEN again, we promise to keep up your spirits with fascinating storytelling.



Did you know that our original exhibit Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America is available as a virtual tour? 

Step inside the gallery and get up close and personal with this exhibit that explores not just history, but the impact medicine has on our lives today. An appropriate topic for kicking off our Pandemic series, don’t you think?

Once you’ve explored the gallery exhibit, we invite you to check out the Explore section of the Beyond Chicken Soup website for even more great content that didn’t quite fit into the exhibit gallery.

Some of my personal favorites include the “What’s On Your Plate” and “Fitness Fads” series. If you’re looking for a few deeper reads, you can also check out excerpts from the Beyond Chicken Soup catalog! 

If you want to get your own copy of the full catalog, reach out to Chris Sniezek at Esther’s Place and he can get a copy in the mail to you!

And who could forget about our Great Chicken Soup Cook Off?

You can find some of the winning recipes HERE. Let us know if you cook up a pot and share a photo!


Feeling housebound? Become an armchair adventurer and Travel with Grace!


We’ve been serializing the diaries of Grace Hecht, Baltimore socialite, as she travelled across the globe in the 1930s and 40s. The most recent addition to the series finds Grace in Colorado. But if you haven’t had the time until now to read the series, this would be a great week to binge blog.


Eugene Onegin
Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 7:30pm

Conducted by Valery Gergiev, starring Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

A Bend in the Stars
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
at 8:00pm

Enjoy a virtual book talk with author Rachel Barenbaum about her novel A Bend in the Stars, presented by JWA and Judaism Unbound!

Jonathan Biss, piano
Thursday, March 26, 2020
at 7:30pm

“One of his generation’s most serious musical thinkers” (The New York Times), Jonathan Biss brings his rich insight and commanding technique to Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas.


Director Marvin Pinkert just finished Food Fights and Culture Wars. He says it contains a number of amazing pieces of food history – from carp to cannibalism – but suggests that it’s not a book you want to read before dinner.

At the recommendation of Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker, Marvin is also making his way through The Price of Whiteness, a critique of Jewish identity in America especially with respect to race. You may recognize the author, Dr. Eric Goldstein as the co-author of On Middle Ground.

For those of you who can’t get to a library…and that’s all of you… Marvin reports that both books are available on Kindle. We also recommend you check out the Library Extension app for your browser, which will show you what e-books are available through your public library!

What are you reading this week? Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter or Facebook!


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Remember The Ladies

Posted on February 21st, 2020 by

JMM Insights: February 2020

In this month’s edition of JMM Insights, Archivist Lorie Rombro shares a few more highlights from her work researching the history of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore in celebration of the Centennial. Check out a few of her past highlights at the end of this post!


One of the things I’ve noticed while working on the Associated Centennial Campaign is how, over the years, the Associated has been able to change their organizations to meet the needs of the Jewish community. Many organizations do not survive due to an unwillingness to make the hard choices that change requires. Through researching the past of the Associated however, I have been able to see their transformation over time, as they responded to the needs of the community. When an Associated agency ends its time, it is because a need has been filled or organizations are merging to provide the most effective help.

Preserving the history of the Associated means we can still look back at and appreciated the constituent organizations that started the Associated, but which no longer exist – because the needs of the community altered. In 1926, then President of the AJC Sidney Lansburgh said, “To keep pace with the rapid development of technique and methods in modern social service there must be continuous study and planning, and that, too, has become an important function of our Associated,” a commitment that continues throughout the Associated today.

I decided to share with you some of what I found about four organizations in particular: The Daughters in Israel, The Council for Milk and Ice Fund, the Hebrew Ladies’ Sewing Society, and the Young Ladies Benevolent Society. These organizations may not be around today, but they did not end because of a quick decision based cost. Rather, they were retired, revamped, and reorganized based on careful study.  I wish we had more information on these groups, so let me know if you have stories about some of these founding organizations of the Associated!

JMM 2017.68.1.14

Daughters in Israel

Founded in 1895, the Daughters in Israel maintained a home for girls without parents, mostly immigrants who came to the United States alone. The goal was to provide young working women with a “real home life.” Most of the young women worked close to the home, so in addition to being provided a room to live in, they would come home for lunch each day. Each week, the girls went on an excursion together, had a day for friends to visit, and were offered courses in dressmaking and cooking. The cost was $2 a week for room and board, which included housekeeping. While many of the girls were able to pay their own way, a few were funded by the organization as “scholarships.”

Daughters in Israel building at 1200 East Baltimore Street. JMM 2012.54.288.4

In 1896, the first home was started at 121 Aisquith Street before moving to 1111 East Baltimore and then to 1200 East Baltimore Street (where the Ronald McDonald House is today). In the first year of the Associated Jewish Charities, 74 girls were provided a home and only 22 needed scholarship assistance. In 1916 a summer retreat at “Buena Vista,” a former boarding house at Berkeley Heights in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Marylan,d was made available to the girls to have a week-long vacation away from the city. And in 1922, Camp Louise was presented to the Associated Jewish Charities by Aaron and Lillie Straus, specifically for the young women living at the Daughters in Israel home.

Young women vacationing c. 1917-1918. JMM 2019.000.5A

In the 1920s, the Associated Jewish Charities engaged the Bureau of Jewish Social Research, the predecessor to the Council of Jewish Federation and Welfare Fund, to undertake a survey of the Associated Jewish Charities and its constituent agencies. As a result of the survey’s findings it was decided that The Daughters in Israel organization should be closed.

JMM 2016.000.2

An article from the Baltimore Jewish Times by the board of The Daughters in Israel that I found in a 1929 Associated Jewish Charities scrapbook explains the closing:

“With the cessation of immigration and the change of the neighborhood from a residential to a business section, the Daughters in Israel became a home for girls presenting a variety of problems of health and vocational maladjustment. The long-term stay of these girls in the Home acted as a deterrent in development, destroyed incentive, created a sense of satisfaction with the status quo and made it impossible to develop a constructive program for the girls. The survey recommended that the building be abandoned; the girls placed in private homes, and all health and problem cases be referred to appropriate agencies for attention and supervision.” The home was discontinued in October 1928 although this appears to have been a difficult choice the articles finishes by saying, “A substantial sum of money has been saved by the change. More important, we feel the girls are now developing a sense of individuality, self-reliance, and self-support.

Council for Milk and Ice Fund

 JMM 1989.47.1

Founded in 1898, the Council for Milk and Ice Fund’s purpose was to distribute milk and ice to needy infants and to meet “the urgent need of the afflicted during the summer season, and the great numbers of sick and ill-fed babies.” The work was eventually expanded to include all to whom milk was important, including undernourished children, elderly, and those recovering from tuberculosis.

JMM 2017.68.4.17

The Milk and Ice Fund would become one of the original constituent agencies of the newly formed Associated Jewish Charities in 1920. In 1921, 42,746 quarts of milk were distributed and during that summer thousands of pounds of ice. By 1926, the organization also provided advice on health and hygiene to those they served. The work was supported by donations from local ice companies and funding from the Baltimore Sun newspaper.  It was incorporated into the Jewish Social Service Bureau in 1934 as refrigeration became more common in households and social welfare programs expanded.

Hebrew Ladies Sewing Society

Founded in 1856, the Hebrew Ladies Sewing Society’s mission was distributing clothing to poor Jewish women and children. In 1921, they distributed 3,649 pieces of clothing to men, women and children as well 3,188 yards of fabric, 1,286 pairs of hose, 1,000 sheets and pillowcases, and 29 infant layettes. The organization would be dissolved around 1922 with local synagogue sisterhoods (including Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Temple Oheb Shalom, and Har Sinai Temple) taking over the group’s duties.

JMM 2000.28.1

Young Ladies Benevolent Society

Organized in 1900 with 300 working young women as its membership (these women who were not well off but hoped to help those like them who were suffering difficulties), the Young Ladies Benevolent Society assisted young women over the age of 16, specializing in supporting those with physical and mental disabilities, as well as giving “relief to girls suffering from illness, furnish[ing] maternity care, act[ing] as guide and mentor to girls and young women in need of advice; in conjunction with the Daughters in Israel conduct[ing] Camp Louise, a summer vacation camp for working girls.” The organization also assisted the unwed mothers in the community.

In 1921, the Young Ladies Benevolent Society assisted 205 girls with financial support and provided 325 girls a low-cost vacation at Camp Louise.  In 1930, the Associated Jewish Charities created the Jewish Social Service Bureau which combined the Hebrew Benevolent Society, the Young Ladies Benevolent Society, and other organizations that provided social services to young adults and adults in the Jewish community.

Do you have stories, photos, or memorabilia related to these organizations, particularly the Hebrew ladies Sewing Society and the Young Ladies Benevolent Society? Let us know!

Check Out These Past Associated History Highlights!

100 Years of Scrapbooks

I am a “Greensteiner”

Camp Louise

Camp Woodlands

You can read more posts by Lorie HERE.


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