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JMM Insights: Letters from Lloyd Street

Posted on November 22nd, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of JMM Insights, it’s time to check into Talia’s imaginary mail bag to review some real answers to fake customers. 

Hi Lloyd Street,

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the new Scrap Yard exhibit that just opened. I’m thinking about visiting the exhibit, but I wanted to know- why is an exhibit on the scrap industry at the JMM?

~Scrappy Skeptic

Let me try to settle your doubts, Scrappy.

Our newest exhibit, Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling is well worth a visit. At its core, the exhibit is about what we value and even more importantly who we value. Four years in the making, Scrap Yard combines a look at the fascinating and rarely seen process of “harvesting” the material world with the stories of the multi-generational families that made this transformation possible. In many cases the stories of the scrap industry in the US start with immigrants who needed to find work that didn’t require much money or formal education. By the 1930s, it was estimated that 90% of scrap dealers were   Jewish immigrants, who started as peddlers, and built up a prosperous and important industry. These entrepreneurs required ingenuity and perseverance to make a living from what other people had thrown away.

We’re excited to share these stories, some of them from local Maryland families, with you and all of our guests. We’re also thrilled that the exhibit is so dynamic, with film clips, drone footage, and interactives, that there is something for everyone in your family.

Scrap Yard is open now, until April 26, 2020.

~Lloyd Street

Hello Lloyd Street,

I went to last year’s Great Jewish Bake Off and I’m still dreaming about those bakes. I had such a good time and I’m looking forward to this year’s event. Do you have any info about what the bakers will be serving up this year?

~Hungry Hana

Hello Hungry,

You’ll be pleased to hear that this year, our Great Jewish Bake Off theme is cookies! From rugelach, Mandelbrot and kikel, to out-of-season hamantaschen and tayglach – cookies are treats enjoyed by Jews for centuries.  On December 15th, our “amateur” bakers will be bringing their best and most beautiful variations on the theme of holiday cookies to share with the crowd. Make sure you get your tickets early, so that you don’t miss out on any of the delicious treats!

If you’re interested in channeling your own passion for baking, we encourage you to sign up as a baker yourself. Click here for our baker’s sign up form!

~Lloyd Street

Dear Lloyd Street:

I always enjoy coming to your Museum, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new exhibit. I really like to take my time in your galleries, so that I can read everything, but last time I visited, the gallery was full of students. They seemed to be having a lot of fun, as they rushed around counting chickens and pressing down on the baler, but it made it hard for me to absorb the information. Why are there so many kids right now?

~Focused Ferdinand

Hi Focused,

It’s true, there has been an increase in the number of school groups visiting the Museum this fall. It’s all thanks to our amazing education staff and special funding, such as from the late Suzanne Cohen, which makes us more accessible for students and teachers to visit. Through this hard work and support, we’re reaching students who may be walking into a synagogue for the first time, and teaching them stories full of empathy and compassion. It’s no wonder that they’re excited when they visit, as they participate in dynamic educational programs.

When you visited you must have spotted one of these school visits. We offer many different education programs, that connect to themes of immigration, innovation, family, and history.  These programs take place in our historic synagogues, in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit, and in our special exhibits which rotate over the year. Our newest exhibit, Scrap Yard, has also given us the opportunity to connect history and STEM, as we work with students from public, private, Jewish, and homeschools. All programs are facilitated by our excellent museum educators who help students meaningfully interact with the exhibits.

If you want to join in the fun, or you know a student who would enjoy hands-on, active learning, contact Paige Woodhouse at or (443) 873-5167. Teachers can request a visit using our online school visit form.

~Lloyd Street

Dear Lloyd Street:

I can’t believe it’s already November, and I’m thinking about the holidays coming up! I want to do something meaningful to celebrate Thanksgiving, and I’m trying to figure out what to get everyone for Hanukkah! There’s so much to do, and not enough time to do it. Can you help me out?

~Stressed Shmuel

Hi Stressed,

We can support you in all your holiday needs, so no need to fret! First of all, have you checked out our Upstanders Initiative, in partnership with JVC? Jewish Volunteer Connection has always worked to connect folks to volunteer opportunities in their own neighborhood and they provide lots of levels of engagement. As part of our partnership, we’ve worked together to come up with five different opportunities relating to our newest exhibit, Scrap Yard, ranging from one-on-one tutoring, recycling old clothes, cleaning up green spaces, and more! We encourage you to take the stories from our Museum and turn them into action this holiday season.

As for Hanukkah shopping, you know we have that covered!

Our gift shop, Esther’s Place, always has beautiful Judaica, interesting books, and fun toys for kids to help you out. We even have new products that expand on our Scrap Yard exhibit’s themes of recycling. Plus, we’re participating in Museum Store Sunday on December 1st. Swing by the Museum anytime we’re open to check out all these goodies. Shopping at Esther’s Place isn’t just a great way to check off your gift list, it also helps support the Museum!

~Lloyd Street


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

The Ten Best Things about Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling

Posted on October 18th, 2019 by

JMM Insights: October 2019 comes traight from the top – JMM Executive Director Marvin Pinkert shares his highlights behind our newest exhibit, Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling, which opens on Sunday, October 27, 2019! Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!

I started working on our Scrap Yard exhibit more than four years ago. It opens to the public in just 10 days, so I think my excitement is understandable. But in case you’re still looking for a reason to get pumped, I thought I would share a few features that might perk your interest.

1. This is the first national traveling exhibit on the American scrap industry, an industry that came of age on the shoulders of immigrant junk peddlers of the early 20th century, grew into technologically sophisticated scrap businesses by the middle of the century and entered into global recycling in the decades preceding the millennium. It’s the story of the transformation of the families who transformed waste into useful raw material.

2. Based on an informal survey, if you are Jewish, I’ll bet you either had a relative in the scrap business or knew people who dealt with scrap. In 1930, Forbes magazine estimated that 90% of scrap dealers in America were Jewish.

3. If you or someone in your family is into BIG stuff, this exhibit is for you. We’ve got scale. Drone footage of a contemporary scrap metal yard, vintage film of ship breaking after WWI, and you can even view infrared footage of cars being swallowed whole by a shredder.

4. Speaking of scale, have you ever wondered if you’re worth your weight in gold? How about copper? This is just one more of the interactive elements that test your metal. You can also feel what it was like for peddlers to carry around a 30 lb. bag of metal or see how much strength it takes to compress a small bale of water bottles.

5. Relive a few of the most memorable moments of scrap in the movies and on TV. Remember Sanford and Son? What about the iconic car crushing scene from Goldfinger? There is also a listening station for scrap themed songs. Who knew?

6. If you like your history from primary sources, you can listen in on the true adventures of real scrap dealers at our oral history kiosks (at least they told us the adventures are true!); or explore photos in our aptly named scrapbook: or maybe encounter a profiled dealer like Morris Schapiro or Louis B. Mayer or my dad… more about that in my family biography program on January 10.

7. And that’s just one of a dozen programs lined up to accompany the exhibit. Starting with a “making of” Scrap Yard presentation by curator Zachary Levine, our plans not only include lectures by scrap historians (yes, there are experts in the history of scrap) but also family days and environmental action opportunities and on Mitzvah Day, the Disney film wall-E.

8. There are, as you might expect, some wonderful artifacts in the exhibit too: a dirt bike, disassembled into its component materials, a classic International Business Machines punch clock circa 1920 (when Watson was the name of the company’s president, not its chess program), and a board game about the virtues of scrap drives in WWII called “Get into the Scrap.”

9. Our education team was inspired to create a game of our own to use the dynamics of the scrap business to teach market economics to visiting school groups especially at the middle school and high school levels. For more information about this program and our science activities for elementary schools contact Ilene Dackman-Alon at

10. Last, but not least, I hope you’ll be excited to see one of the largest credit panels in JMM history – ok, I know this doesn’t sound as cool as the first nine, but trust me, there is a very special feeling to a project put together by a whole community – both those whose lives revolved around the industry and those who were interested in exploring a novel experience. I thank them all.

Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling is made possible, in part, through the support of our generous donors: Institute for Museum and Library Services; National Endowment For The Humanities; Boston Metals Co. in Memory of Morris Schapiro; The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries; David Berg Foundation; Baltimore Scrap: David, Larry, Ken, and Joe Simon; Liebherr; The Gershowitz Family and Gershow Recycling; Integrated Shredder Technology.

Additional support provided by: Diamond State Recycling Corporation; Arnold and Joyce Fruman; The Sandy Shapiro Charitable Fund; Sue and Jerry Kline; Deborah Zager, in loving memory of my father, Sammy Kahan, founder of Ansam Metals Corporation; Ray Aizen, Maryland Core, Inc.; Pinkert Family Foundation; Melvin A. Lipsitz Family Foundation; J. Solotken & Company; Ellen Kahan Zager and Jack Zager Philanthropic Fund; Robin Wiener and Roger Nehrer; Davis Industries; Howard Fields, in memory of my Pinkert grandad and uncles; ScrapWare Corporation; Atlantic Recycling Group; Dan Pinkert and Freddi Greenberg; Brian Shine, Manitoba Corporation; Kripke Enterprises; Neal Shapiro; Dale and Betsey Pinkert.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

JMM Insights: The Upstanders Initiative

Posted on September 20th, 2019 by

For more than three decades JMM’s exhibits have been providing curious visitors with meaningful experiences that inspire discussion, thought and further study.  Recently, as part of JMM’s evolution we’ve been exploring ways to take the next step – to turn memory into action. This exploration has led to a new partnership with The Associated’s Jewish Volunteer Connection. In this month’s edition of JMM Insights, Visitor Services Coordinator Talia Makowsky shares the first tangible benefits of that partnership. We hope it will inspire you to join in!

JMM loves volunteers. Of course, this includes the volunteers who work directly at our site, but our love of volunteers goes beyond just the individuals supporting us. With stories of amazing and hardworking people informing our mission at the Museum, we know how much of a difference a single individual can make. We also know how transforming volunteerism can be, when people work together towards a common goal. That’s why we’re sharing in Jewish Volunteer Connection’s (JVC) motto, in Living with Purpose, and partnering with them to create the Upstanders Initiative.

An upstander is the opposite of a bystander. An upstander sees a problem and works to solve it. We’re connecting the stories of our exhibits with JVC’s network of volunteer opportunities, to encourage our Museum community to become upstanders. Plus, when you participate in the Upstanders Program, you can be eligible for raffle drawings and even a free trip to the Museum!

In anticipation of our new exhibit, Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling and to celebrate JVC’s Season of Service, our focus is on the innovative ways that people have worked to recycle used materials, the immigrant stories that make up the scrap industry, and how people have worked to create more green spaces for community members to share.

One opportunity we’re carrying over from our past exhibits is sorting clothes for Sharp-Dressed Man. Sharp-Dressed Man works to empower men by providing them with recycled suits they can wear as they participate in job development. As we learned with our Fashion Statement exhibit, the way we dress can express a lot about us, our personalities, our favorite sports teams, our religion. This, of course, extends to the first impression in a job interview. As a well-worn saying goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” and Sharp-Dressed Man is doing just that in Baltimore and LA, for many low-income men.

Because Sharp-Dressed Man achieves their mission through recycling used clothing, we decided to feature it with our Scrap Yard exhibit. Not only is Sharp-Dressed Man helping people to reenter the workforce, but they’re also working to repurpose used materials to improve lives. It’s an excellent fit, and we’re pleased JVC brought this opportunity to our Museum visitors. To find out how to help, visit this link.

When thinking about coordinating a volunteer opportunity with Stitching History from the Holocaust, all of us were taken with Hedy Strnad’s story, as she tried and failed to escape the Holocaust. In order to pay tribute to her memory, we chose to feature ¡Adelante Latina!, which works with high school Latina girls as they overcome barriers toward their college careers. By providing these ambitious young women with a meal for the evening, you can help them focus on working towards their goals and their future.

Wanting to reflect the hardworking, immigrant stories found in Scrap Yard, we will continue to offer this opportunity. We invite you to honor those immigrant stories, which are so closely tied with Jewish experiences in the US, by helping to provide meals to these hardworking students. More information can be found here.

In addition to these continuing opportunities, we also have a few new ways to help that relate to our Scrap Yard exhibit.

The 6th Branch works with neighborhood leaders to transform vacant lots into community green centers. Their mission fits in well with our Scrap Yard exhibit, as they repurpose old lots into new spaces for people to enjoy the outdoors. By leveraging the leadership skills of military veterans, the 6th Branch is transforming Baltimore neighborhoods and bringing communities together.

Their story of empowerment and vision is an exciting addition to the opportunities we have already shared. To find out how to volunteer with the 6th Branch, which has hours four days a week, visit this link.

We are also pleased to feature Leveling the Playing Field, which gives underprivileged children the opportunity to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of youth sports participation. Through donations of used and excess sports equipment, Leveling the Playing Field helps sports programs become more accessible to more children. By saving on equipment costs, these programs can lower registration fees, expand their programs, and develop new ones.

Leveling the Playing Field needs volunteers to help sort donated items, practicing the same skills that scrap workers do as they try to figure out what what kind of value discarded items have as raw material. Learn these skills yourself by volunteering with them here.

Finally, to continue to theme of repurposing used materials, we want to feature Chana’s Clothing Sheds. CHANA offers a Jewish community response to the needs of people who experience abuse and other forms of interpersonal trauma. One of the ways they provide support is through clothing donations. The four sheds, located at Beth Tfiloh Congregation, Temple Oheb Shalom, the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, and the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, collect gently used clothing, shoes, linens, and stuffed animals.

Simply drop off items for donation in a tied plastic bag to any of these locations.

Join JMM and JVC in becoming Upstanders and help us support our Baltimore and Maryland communities. Every time you participate in an Upstanders Initiative program, you’re eligible for an entry in JVC’s monthly raffle. Once you volunteer in person with the Upstanders Initiative, you’ll also receive free admission to the Museum. We want to celebrate your hard work, and we hope that you join us in standing up for others and living with purpose!

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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