JMM Insights: Remembering Auschwitz

Posted on February 17th, 2017 by



Opening March 5

The smell of fresh paint wafting from behind the closed gallery door is a tell tale sign marking the transition from one exhibit to another. In January we said goodbye to Beyond Chicken Soup, returned many of the artifacts and crated the text panels and interactives for shipment to its next venue. As soon as the gallery was empty, Mark Ward and his incredible crew were hard at work prepping for our next exhibition, Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity which is set to open on March 5.

This landmark initiative brings four separate exhibit projects together for the first time, each of which explores a facet of Holocaust history and commemoration. Together they shed light on the significance of Auschwitz – the town and the camp – and how it has endured as a symbol of the Holocaust for more than 70 years after its liberation.  With three main camps and more than 40 sub-camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest camp within the Nazi prison system and served as the site where approximately 1.1 million people were murdered included nearly 1 million Jews.

Hotel Schmeidler, 1912. Courtesy of Miroslaw Ganobis. Image from A Town Known as Auschwitz.

Hotel Schmeidler, 1912. Courtesy of Miroslaw Ganobis. Image from A Town Known as Auschwitz.

Our exhibit takes visitors through a multidimensional tour of Holocaust history beginning centuries prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland. A Town Known As Auschwitz: Life and Death of a Jewish Community from the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust reveals 400 years of the vibrant Jewish history of Oświęcim, Poland —the town the Germans called Auschwitz. Told through photographs, maps and oral history interviews, the exhibit focuses on friendships between Jewish and non-Jewish residents of the town and how the Jewish community flourished for centuries.


Architecture of Murder

Construction of the camp known as Auschwitz I began in 1940 in an abandoned Polish military barracks on the outskirts of the town. Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz Birkenau Blueprints developed by Yad Vashem and on loan from the American Society for Yad Vashem, explores this darker period in the town’s history through blue prints, architectural drawings and other documents. To provide further visual evidence of the camp, the exhibit also features a model of the camp created by local high school student, Andrew Altman, to honor the experiences of his great-grandfather, Edward (Yehuda) Biderman who was sent on a transport to Auschwitz in August of 1944 from the Lodz Ghetto in Poland.

Image combining the train station at Buhosovice, near Terezîn (left) and Auschwitz (right). Image from Loss and Beauty by artist Keron Psillas.

Image combining the train station at Buhosovice, near Terezîn (left) and Auschwitz (right). Image from Loss and Beauty by artist Keron Psillas.

Today, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum is visited by millions of visitors each year. Loss and Beauty: Photographs by Keron Psillas provides a contemporary perspective on the experience of visiting and documenting Auschwitz and other camps today. Psillas’s beautiful and haunting works consist of layered photographs that seek to commemorate and honor the lives of those murdered during the Holocaust. A catalog of her work that includes her poetry as well as her reflections on each photograph on display in the exhibit will be available for sale in our gift shop.

A collage made to honor and remember Gitta Nagel.

A collage made to honor and remember Gitta Nagel.

The Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project is an original art installation developed in partnership with The Human Element Project that adds the voices and stories of Maryland’s community of Holocaust survivors. The plaques on display feature the collages that were created during the many different workshops that we held this summer and fall for Holocaust survivors and their families and highlight incredible stories of survival.

We look forward to marking the opening of Remembering Auschwitz with a special pre-opening brunch and tour for Holocaust survivors and their families in the morning on Sunday, March 5. We will then open the exhibit to the public at 12:00 that day. At 2:00, we have invited artists Lori Shocket of the Human Element Project and Keron Psillas to talk about their experiences documenting the Holocaust and other tragedies through the medium of art. We hope you will join us for what will surely be a moving experience. The exhibit remains on display through May 29.

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



Posted in jewish museum of maryland

JMM Insights: Professional Development for Educators

Posted on January 20th, 2017 by

Professional development is always on the minds of the JMM museum professionals, and 2017 is starting off with lots of opportunities for our staff to grow.  Professional development refers to all types of educational experiences relating to an individual’s work. As museum professionals, we often go to conferences and attending meetings that provide us with additional   perspectives and insights in our work.  Visiting other museums is a great way for museum professionals to learn from one another and from other institutions.

Last Friday, the JMM took a field trip to DC to the National Gallery of Art.  Many of us experienced our first Museum Hack. Museum Hack tours are high-energy, personalized and interactive tours that were developed in NYC with the goal to reinvent the traditional museum tour.  Our staff went on a guided hack tour, led by Hannah, our bubbly and vibrant docent, and we experienced the galleries in an entirely new way. We heard incredible, scandalous stories behind the works of art, many of the pieces of art very familiar to us. We interacted with the art and with each other through photo challenges, kinesthetic activities, and conversations. We discussed Andrew Mellon and Leonardo de Vinci and delved deeper to Impressionism and sculpture.  Check out the JMM blog for more on our fantastic experience.

JMM at the National Gallery

JMM at the National Gallery

Every professional’s career can benefit from continuing education that helps him or her stay sharp and develop new skills in their field of expertise.  Professional development is an important way for teachers to refresh and deepen their knowledge of their own subjects and learn new ways to help students learn. Teachers need to be able to prepare their students to succeed in a changing world — they need to be able to teach students how to use emerging technologies, how to navigate evolving workplaces, how to communicate effectively, and how to think critically and solve problems. The more professional development teachers get, the more likely students are to succeed.

Over the past 11 years, the JMM has been providing area teachers with professional development opportunities that enable teachers to keep their skill sets fresh and learn new skills. The JMM promotes the responsible teaching of the Holocaust through a variety of resources and programs to help our educators increase their knowledge of Holocaust history and implement sound teaching strategies. Our annual Summer Teachers Institute provides teachers with quality Holocaust education, incorporating accurate history, appropriate pedagogy, classroom strategies, and teaching resources.

Summer Teachers Institute 2016

Summer Teachers Institute 2016

Over the next four weeks, the JMM will be offering two exceptional professional development opportunities for educators in the area of Holocaust education. Both workshops will take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and will provide teachers with the tools and resources to teach about the Holocaust in their classrooms and schools.

On January 27th, we are partnering with Echoes & Reflections, a multimedia program that provides US educators with both print and online resources from three world leaders in education: the Anti-Defamation League, USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem.  The Echoes and Reflections curriculum promotes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching about the Holocaust. It addresses academic standards, and uses informational texts along with primary source documents to inform learning.  The curriculum also incorporates visual history testimony in its lessons to engage students in the lives of survivors, rescuers, liberators, and other witnesses of the Holocaust.

The focus of this professional development will be on the materials and instructional strategies to effectively teach Elie Wiesel’s acclaimed NIGHT, a memoir about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and provide additional background that teachers can integrate into their instruction.  Teachers will be given the tools and resources to help their students examine the complex social challenges that they face every day and evaluate the issues of fairness and justice. More information on this program can be found here at our website.

Part Two of our professional development series will take place over Presidents’ Weekend, February 18-20.  The JMM is thrilled to be partnering with CENTROPA and Baltimore City Public Schools for its annual Winter Seminar: History, Holocaust, and Human Rights in the Global Classroom.

CENTROPA is a non-profit historical institute based in Vienna that uses new technology and digital storytelling to connect 21st century students to 20th century Jewish history – and with each other. Since 2000, CENTROPA has interviewed 1,200 elderly Jews in 15 countries from Central and Eastern Europe, and collected and scanned their family photos and placed on a database that is easily accessible to educators and the students in their classrooms.  Many of the most compelling biographies were turned into short multi-media films that are being used in 600 schools in 20 countries.

Teachers participating in the three day seminar (February 18-20) will learn how to use CENTROPAS resources (all available for free) to teach 20th-century European history, the Holocaust, civics, human rights, character education in  Social Studies and history, ELA and literature, foreign language, film, technology, and art classes. Details about the program can be viewed here at our website. More information about costs can be found on the application, located here.

Please share these professional development opportunities with someone you know who might enjoy learning more about these great resources that encourage learning and creativity for our 21st-century students in area schools. These workshops are geared for all teachers in private, public and parochial schools and are great for anyone interested in learning more about these topics.

ileneFor more information, please contact me, Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Education 443-873-5178 or

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

JMM Insights: December Bride (and Groom) Edition

Posted on December 16th, 2016 by


Opening June 18, 2017

In last June’s JMM Insights I let you know that we were working on a project to draw objects, photos and documents from our rich collection to create the exhibit Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland (link: to the JMM insights article).  Six months later we are well on our way to our goal.  Joanna has combed our vaults for the most interesting invitations, ketubim, party favors and of course, beautiful wedding gowns.  We have engaged an innovative design team led by Jeremy Hoffman of Ashton Design, a Baltimore firm.  We are working on organizing all of the material into themes, looking at provocative questions about the meaning of the wedding and its symbols, the obstacles couples face and the way we remember wedding days.  We even have a section on the business of weddings.  Our education team is developing interactive experiences that we will incorporate into the exhibit – can you match the menu item or wedding tune with the right decade?

Rose Shapira of Pittsburgh married Sol Meyer Freedman of Baltimore on November 8, 1921.  Gift of Shirley Freedman, JMM 1989.211.9, 6.26

Rose Shapira of Pittsburgh married Sol Meyer Freedman of Baltimore on November 8, 1921. Gift of Shirley Freedman, JMM 1989.211.9, 6.26

Our collection is particularly strong in items from Baltimore from the late 19th century to the 1950s.  Our goal, however is to represent the broadest cross-section of the Jewish wedding experience in Maryland – small towns as well as the big city, early history as well as recent history, and inclusive of all kinds of marriages, from every denomination (and non-denomination).  This is where you, dear reader, are called on to help.  We’ve now made it easy for you to share images with us through our special new url:

Marrying Maryland


Here you can upload wedding photos and invitations (you can’t upload your gown, but a photo is much easier to store).  While not every photo may be displayed in the exhibit, all of them will become part of our on-line catalog…and who doesn’t want the chance to say that their wedding or their parents’ or grandparents’ wedding is preserved in a museum.

Deborah Kaplan, daughter of Dr. Louis Kaplan, married Efrem M. Potts on November 24, 1949 at Chizuk Amuno, Baltimore. Gift of Efrem M. Potts. JMM 1995.192..11, 239

Deborah Kaplan, daughter of Dr. Louis Kaplan, married Efrem M. Potts on November 24, 1949 at Chizuk Amuno, Baltimore. Gift of Efrem M. Potts. JMM 1995.192..11, 239

Besides preserving your own family history, you will be helping us build a documentary database of the wedding experiences of Jewish Maryland over time and this database will be of value to future generations.  Our highest priority is to get a photo, an invite and basic factual information on as many weddings as you can.  It doesn’t have to be your own wedding – but make sure that you have permission to send us the image; we don’t want to hear from Aunt Sadie that she never intended that bridesmaid’s dress to go public.

Florence Hendler married Howard Caplan on January 21, 1932, at the Southern Hotel, Baltimore. Invitation: gift of Naomi Biron Cohen, JMM 2009.58.9; photo: Anonymous gift, JMM 1998.47.4.59

Florence Hendler married Howard Caplan on January 21, 1932, at the Southern Hotel, Baltimore. Invitation: gift of Naomi Biron Cohen, JMM 2009.58.9; photo: Anonymous gift, JMM 1998.47.4.59

There are no restrictions on the date or type of ceremony… we welcome the quiet elopement as well as the grand ball; the couple could have had fifty years of wedded bliss or ended in a quick divorce (though my “Aunt Sadie” advice applies here too).  The only constraint is that there is some Maryland connection and some Jewish connection.  This photo for example is ineligible because the bride is from Pittsburgh and the groom from Chicago:

...but I like it anyway.

…but I like it anyway.

So help us demonstrate the incredible diversity of loving relationships in our community and in our state.  Add your image to the collection this December and we’ll thank you for it on Valentine’s Day!

~Marvin Pinkert

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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