Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day

Posted on November 17th, 2017 by

JMM Insights: November 2017

On October 15th the Jewish Museum of Maryland opened our latest exhibit Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage. We have held six public programs in connection with the exhibit in its first month, averaging an audience of 75+ for each event. However our biggest program is yet to come. I have asked Trillion to outline the festivities we have planned for the first Sunday in December. 



Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day is a full day celebration of the rich culture developed by the Jewish community in Iraq and preserved by their descendants across the globe.  I believe our guests will find something suitable for all ages and all tastes and that we will enable greater Baltimore to make a personal connection with that culture.

What can you expect on the day? Here are some of the highlights.

Rabbi Haim Ovadia will be joining us from Washington, DC to perform two concerts that will explore the origins and diversity of Jewish Iraqi music. The morning concert at 11am will be especially designed for kids and families, while the afternoon concert at 2 pm is for everyone.

Feel like dancing?  Enjoy and learn some of the traditional dances of the Iraqi Jewish community with the Silk Road Dance Company. This troop of dancers will actually put on three different performances on the 3rd, starting at 12:30, 1:30 and 3:30 pm.

If there is music and dance, can food be far behind?  Get a real taste of Iraqi Jewish culture, literally. Jackie Feldman of Sephardic Jews in DC, will lead a workshop making Baharat, a spice mixture eaten across the Middle East which is a critical building block for most Iraqi Jewish recipes. This tasty mixture can be taken home and combined into a variety of delicious recipes.

And one more treat for our youngest visitors.  We will also be joined by Violet Battat, representing SHIN DC who will be offering a special Jewish Iraqi story times. Violet will share with us stories passed down through her family, combined with singing and an exploration of Iraq. These sessions are specially designed for children aged 3 to 7 though the young at heart are also welcome.

If that isn’t enough we will also have several arts and crafts opportunities. Activities include making evil eye bracelets, decorating your own tik (the container traditionally used to hold an Iraqi Torah) and even making some delicious date balls to take home, or eat immediately, if you are feeling peckish!

The day is certain to be fun filled, we couldn’t have managed such an extravaganza were it not for the support of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

For more details or to buy your tickets please check our event page here. 

Hope to see you there.


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Journey with JMM

Posted on October 20th, 2017 by

JMM Insights: October 2017 

A blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Students explore Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

Students explore Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

JMM exhibits and programs often transport our visitors to another time and place, whether to mid 19th century Palestine in The Amazing Mendes Cohen, pre-Holocaust Poland in Remembering Auschwitz, or one of our recent lectures in conjunction with Just Married! “Sephardic Weddings: Traditions of Yesterday and Today.” We are pleased to carry on this tradition with our newest exhibition, Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage which opened this past Sunday to a crowd of 100+ visitors, including a special student group from Oheb Shalom.

Created by the National Archives and Records Administration, with generous support from the U.S. Department of State, the exhibit documents the long and rich history of Jewish life in Iraq which flourished for hundreds of year, beginning with the Babylonian exile through the middle of the 20th century. Evidence of this long history is on view in the exhibit through such artifacts as a Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793, and a Haggadah from 1902. Records including school primers and business correspondence testify to the community’s strong presence up until the mid-20th century when Jews faced increasing antisemitism in connection with the rise of the Nazis in Europe. In the aftermath of World War II and the creation of the State of Israel, most of the Jewish community emigrated and today, only five Jews remain.

A case of books preserved by the National Archives.

A case of books preserved by the National Archives.

While the artifacts on display tell a fascinating narrative of a once storied community, the story of how the exhibit came into being is equally remarkable. During the Gulf War in 2003, American troops entered a bombed building that had housed Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services. They found, in the basement under four feet of water, thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq that had been gathered by the secret police. Thanks to the efforts of the National Archives, a team of conservation experts flew out to Iraq to assess the damage and to make recommendations for how best to preserve the material.

What a great audience for our opening day speaker!

What a great audience for our opening day speaker!

We were pleased to welcome Doris Hamburg, former Director of Preservation Programs at the National Archives as our opening speaker on Sunday. Ms. Hamburg spoke about the challenging conditions she and her colleagues faced as they tried to save these documents while operating in the midst of a war zone. Despite the many obstacles they encountered, they were able to ship more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents to the US where conservation and preservation efforts continued as well as the creation of a traveling exhibit. JMM is proud to be the 6th stop on its national tour.

Discovery and Recovery remains on view through January 18, 2018. We invite you to take advantage of the many companion programs that will take place the next few months to learn more about the rich history of Iraq’s Jewish community through food, dance, art, film and personal testimony of former Iraqi residents.


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Inescapable: America’s first international superstar makes a return visit to Baltimore!

Posted on September 25th, 2017 by

A blog post by JMM Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. You can read more posts by Marvin here.

JMM Insights, September 20, 2017

The New Year is upon us and in addition to wishing all our readers a happy and healthy year ahead, I wanted to share some exciting news about the year ahead.

By now most of you know about our next two major exhibits in the Feldman Gallery (both of which have their origin at the National Archives).  On October 15 we open Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage featuring more than 20 artifacts and documents from the Iraqi Jewish community, recovered and restored from Saddam Hussein’s secret police headquarters.  Looking ahead to next spring, we’ll be launching Amending America: Bill of Rights on April 9 and putting new focus on the Lloyd Street Synagogue as a landmark of religious freedom.

A pair of exhibits from the National Archives

A pair of exhibits from the National Archives

But this summer we’ve continued to add to our calendar, developing a concept for a month-long performance series called “JMM Live” in February, an expansion of our Baltimore edition of the “My Family History” project in March and a collaboration with the Everyman Theater and Rich Hollander on a companion exhibit to the upcoming play Book of Joseph highlights March and April.

Every one of these projects will be a quality experience (and of course, I love all my children and all my exhibits equally) but I have to admit there’s a special excitement around our most recent addition to the program calendar.  On June 21, 2018 we will premiere Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.  Houdini, aka Erik Weisz, would be a fascinating subject for an exhibit in any time or place.  But the story of a poor immigrant who escaped the shackles of social norms to rise to the status of international celebrity seemed like an ideal topic for an exhibit in our era.  To put together this project we’ve reached out to public museums and private collectors across the country – but what really has made the exhibit possible is our extraordinary guest curator, Baltimore magician and storyteller David London.

Coming Summer 2018!

Coming Summer 2018!

David has been creating interactive magical experiences for over 20 years. He is the Director of Circus of Wonders, and has been fascinated with Harry Houdini since he was a child.  He tells me that he performed his first magic trick at age seven and even his Bar Mitzvah speech explored Jews and magic. Since he signed onto the project in August, he’s been using his network of contacts within the magician community to make this exhibit a truly one-of- a-kind encounter with Houdini and his world. As a special treat for our readers, David has agreed to write a guest blog that we are calling “Finding Houdini,” where he will document his journey over the next several months as his visits Houdini sites, museums and collections. To join him on his adventures, click here! Consider this a small dip of honey to make your New Year that much sweeter.

Shana Tova!


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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