JMM Insights: It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Posted on May 20th, 2016 by

Jonestown horizontal 4C


On May 29 we’re putting out the welcome mat as six of greater Jonestown’s well established historic and cultural attractions celebrate the arrival of three brand new facilities planned over the next few years.  We hope you’ll join JMM, the Carroll Museums, Zion Church of Baltimore, Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Port Discovery, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, and B’Nai Israel: The Downtown Synagogue, in saying “welcome!” to our future neighbors.

We thought it might be a good idea to share the backstory behind this event.  Most of you will recall that last October we facilitated the development of the Jonestown Vision Plan and the launch of the new Jonestown brand identity.  In the months since, we’ve continued to work closely with the community and Historic Jonestown Inc. (HJI), led by Lindsay Thompson and Joe Cronyn on ways to put our ambitious goals into practice.

HJI is in the process of organizing itself into affinity groups, bringing together the neighborhood’s social service organizations, its religious institutions, its hospitality industry and its historic/cultural organizations to work on parts of the plan that are a natural fit with each group.  Our historic/cultural group has been concentrating on events and programs.  We felt very fortunate to be included in the Carroll Mansion’s current partnership in support of the All American House and we are studying other two-way and three-way collaborations to bring life to the streets of Jonestown, including tentative plans for a plein air art experience on surrounding streets later this summer.

Meanwhile we’ve had some terrific news about institutions bringing new activity and energy to our immediate vicinity.  Just a block away from the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Ronald McDonald House is well on its way to starting construction on a new facility.  The new Ronald McDonald House, which will be built at 1200 E. Baltimore Street, will reflect a commitment to incorporate best practices into all of its programs and services. The new house is intended to fulfill an institutional goal of establishing Baltimore as providing not only quality pediatric care but the most effective and compassionate family-centered care in the world.  Amenities included in the design of the new house were carefully selected through input from staff, volunteers and families. The new House will serve approximately 55 families daily and 2,200 families a year.  We intend to extend outreach to both volunteers and families. The coming of the new facility will also mean upgrades for the adjacent McKim Park.

And just a block away from the park, at 1100 E. Fayette Street, Kevin Plank and Under Armour have provided more than $6 million in support for a new recreation center, scheduled to open later this year.  The new center will be operated by Living Classrooms.  Jonestown’s cultural institutions are exploring ways to engage youth at the new center in our ongoing programs.

Go just a few blocks further down Fayette  Street and you’ll come to 901, announced last January as the new site for the National Aquarium’s animal care and rescue center.  Preparations are beginning now for an anticipated 2018 opening.  The Aquarium hopes to provide some public access to this behind-the-scenes space.  Jonestown has been welcoming new immigrants for more than 200 years – now we’ll have new arrivals with fins and tails as well.

Welcome to the New Neighbors!

Welcome to the New Neighbors!

It seemed like a great time to bring these new institutions into the Jonestown family.  From 1pm to 4pm we’ll have family activities for every taste.  Art projects, craft work, storytelling from Port Discovery and our new friends at the National Aquarium are bringing with a bearded dragon… just in case you’ve never seen a real dragon, or at least a real dragon with a beard. Admission to the Museum and to all the activities is free.

Happy birthday Mr. Jones!

Happy birthday Mr. Jones!

Speaking of every taste, there will also be birthday cake.  Whose birthday you ask?  Well Jonestown, of course.  On June 15, 1641, David Jones built his home by the falls that bear his name (not to mention the expressway they put on top of it).  So we’ve decided to jump the gun just a little and pull out the 355th birthday cake at our Jonestown celebration.  It seems a fitting way to mark a milestone for Baltimore’s oldest neighborhood and newest destination:  Jonestown – proudly we hail.

~Marvin Pinkert

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

JMM Insights: Shammes or Shamus?*

Posted on April 15th, 2016 by

Starting May 1st!

From May 1 to July 10, 2016, our Historic Jonestown neighbor, the Carroll Mansion will be transformed into a showcase for some of the most innovative manufacturers and craftsmen in Baltimore and across the nation. The Mansion has been designated the “All American House” by the MADE: In America organization.  To celebrate, the city invited other historic sites to participate in presenting “Baltimore’s American Treasures.”  We couldn’t resist recognizing our own Lloyd Street Synagogue as the “All American Synagogue.

Built in 1845, the Lloyd Street Synagogue is the third oldest Jewish house of worship still standing in the United States.  The building was designed by Robert Cary Long Jr., a prominent architect of churches during that time. Nearly every component of the original building along with the 1860 renovation and addition were the result of American craft and manufacturers.

For several months a great team of interns and staff have been scouring  through records and photos related to the material culture of the building and its contents.  By “material culture” we mean the physical evidence of a culture; and the interpretation of objects and the social context in which they were made and employed.

Article on re-dedication of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, 1905

Our research included Baltimore City Directories from 1843-1845; newspapers, congregational  minutes, Maryland Historical Society archives, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Archives, and the JMM’s own thorough research files, etc. The building has had such an extensive history, serving first as a traditional synagogue founded by German immigrants, and transformed later into a congregation that embraced reform traditions. The building was later sold to a Lithuanian Catholic Church and years later sold again to immigrants from Eastern Europe that transformed the building into a thriving center for Jewish tradition in East Baltimore.  Each of the congregations used local manufacturers and craftsmen to build and design many of the elements featured in the buildings like the Holy Ark, the organ, and the pews.

Bell illustration by Jonathon Scott Fuqua

We’ve come up with many fresh insights, but found ourselves still struggling with a few unanswered questions.  Where did the original torah scroll come from, what happened to the church’s bell, and how did we get conflicting stories of how the current chandeliers were acquired?  We decided that the best way to resolve these mysteries was to “crowdsource” the clues.  And that has led to the idea of putting together – “The Book, Bell and Candle Mystery” experience, a tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue with an interactive twist.  Part of the Book, Bell and Candle Mystery, will be to share with you the new stories and clues we’ve uncovered about the ritual objects used in the building.  But part will also be to get your input on unanswered questions that we still have pertaining to the objects, so we can crack the mysteries.

Rendering of LSS chandelier

The Book, Bell and Candle Mystery will debut on Sunday May 1st @ 3:00 p.m., and continue at that same hour every Sunday through July 3.  Whether you identify with a synagogue shammes or an investigative shamus, you’ll find something in this experience that opens a new window on this great historic site. So put on your “gumshoes” and your thinking caps and join us in our search for answers.

*For those of you struggling with the pun in the title – click here to see the explanation (and have no “shame.” Half our staff couldn’t figure it out either. -MP)!


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Greetings Graham – The “Beyond Chicken Soup” Edition

Posted on March 18th, 2016 by

Today’s JMM Insights features our quarterly highlights of fictional messages to visitor services manager, Graham Humphrey.  Any resemblance to real people is pure coincidence.  Hey, it’s almost Purim.

We do have one real announcement to share however.  We have rescheduled our Annual Meeting.  The new date for the Annual Meeting is Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.  Our featured speaker will be Dr. Jay Perman, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.  We look forward to seeing many of you there.


Greetings Graham,

I visited the Museum last month, but was so disappointed to find out that the Paul Simon exhibit about my buddy had closed. What is the next exhibit you’ll have and how long will it run?

Yours Artfully



Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America opened on March 13 and will remain at the Museum until January 16th, 2017. Inside, you’ll find interactive activities, multimedia effects and more than 400 artifacts, documents and images. You will get to journey through the worlds of health in the mid-20th century, from med school to the doctor’s office, hospital, pharmacy –and even a trip to the gym.  You can also experience hands-on encounters with medicine and ethics, explore stories at the juncture of science and culture and examine the links between traditions and contemporary practices. Please visit our website,, to learn more. You’ll have the option of buying tickets in advance by visiting However, advance tickets are not required and you can still buy them when you arrive at the Museum.

Can't wait to see you!

Can’t wait to see you!

Greetings Graham,

OK, what is this I hear about books from overseas being imported into an exhibit about American medicine!  First it was undocumented foreigners, now its foreign documents. Kindly explain yourself.

Fanny Farmisht

Dear Ms. Farmisht,

It is true that our exhibit on Jews and Medicine in America has rare manuscripts from the National Library of Israel, but there is a perfectly logical explanation.  They are part of a collection originally gathered by Dr. Harry Friedenwald right here in Baltimore.  Dr. Friedenwald was inspired by his father (both eye doctors) to explore the question of the connection between medicine and Jewish experience.  His documents included Latin translations of Maimonedes and a medical diploma from an Italian renaissance university.  Dr. Friedenwald gave his collection of hundreds of documents to the National Library of Israel in 1947.  The NLI has sent JMM a few of these originals which we will display in a recreation of Dr. Friedenwald’s study

Some of the fabulous books the National Library of Israel has lent us.

Some of the fabulous books the National Library of Israel has lent us.

Greetings Graham,

I bought a Graceland CD and Paul Simon mug during the Paul Simon exhibit. What merchandise will you have in stock for the Medicine exhibit?

JMM Shopaholic


JMM Shopaholic,

We had a great time shopping for this exhibit and we believe you will have a blast too browsing through our shop! We will sell medically themed trays, water bottles, coasters, storage tins, plates and greeting cards. We also have scientific flask style dishware, chemistry lab notebooks, posters and the newly published Beyond Chicken Soup exhibition catalogue. You can still purchase Paul Simon merchandise at a great discount such as journals, magnets, vinyl design clocks, folk music themed CDs. We even a few mugs left if you wished to purchase another for a friend! You may also notice one other addition to the shop as it has been renamed “Esther’s Place,” after our long time shop manager, Esther Weiner, who retired last year.

All this and more could be yours! Remember, JMM members get a 10% discount in the shop.

All this and more could be yours! Remember, JMM members get a 10% discount in the shop.

Greetings Graham,

I see all this information your Beyond Chicken Soup exhibit. I have an award winning matzah ball soup recipe. Would you like my recipe?

Mrs.  Manischewitz


Mrs. Manischewitz,

Thank you for offering your matzah ball soup recipe, however the exhibit is more about the intersection of Jewish culture and medicine than about actual chicken soup. Yet, we will have a cook off in the fall…stay tuned for details. In the meantime, here are a few other programs coming up. This weekend, we’ll have a lecture by Dr. Edward Halperin on the Rise and Fall of the American Jewish Hospital. On April 6th, health professionals have the opportunity to network and learn more about the exhibit and then on April 17th, there will be a talk about the American Jews and the early Birth Control Movement.

Keep an eye on the calendar because this is another fun program coming up!

Keep an eye on the calendar because this is another fun program coming up!


Greetings Graham,

We are traveling a lot but we expect to be in Maryland in April.  Our schedule is very busy these days –so we really would like to know more about your exhibit before we make a commitment to come and visit.  Where can we find out more?

Hillary and Bernie


Dear Hillary and Bernie,

While nothing beats seeing the exhibit with your own eyes, we do have some really great background information at our special website:  Try clicking on the “Explore” tab to learn more about each section of the exhibit (it’s also a great way to extend your experience after the visit).  When the exhibit travels, we’ll be posting its upcoming schedule here too.   Who knows, it might go to Washington, DC and maybe that will be a more convenient site for one of you.

The Homepage

The Homepage




Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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