JMM Insights November 2015

Posted on November 20th, 2015 by


The end of an era

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of people who’ve visited the JMM over the past 23 years, there’s a good chance you’ve met Esther Weiner.

Everyone's favorite shop manager.

Everyone’s favorite shop manager.

Esther’s warm hospitality has been a mainstay of the Museum Store and the Museum for as long as anyone can remember. In 1992, then a member, Esther answered a help wanted ad in the Museum’s newsletter.

At first, her duties mainly consisted of administrative work in the back office, but somewhere along the way, the store fell into her lap. Despite being new to retail, Esther tackled her new task with gusto, and she succeeded marvelously. It’s the only way she knows how to do things!

Now, more than two decades since she answered that newsletter ad, it is with mixed feelings (sad for us, happy for her) that we report that as of December 2015, Esther will be applying her warmth and gusto to the next chapter of her life. We wish her all the best as she exits our gift shop, leaving it far better than it was when she got there.

We would like to invite our Board, our members, our volunteers and our staff to join us in a “Tribute to Esther” on December 14 at 6:30 p.m.  Come join us as we share stories and photos stretching across nearly all of the Museum’s history.

The fruits of her labor

Esther’s good nature, good sense and good taste have built the Museum Store into an institution that supports the mission of the JMM even as it enhances the experience of our visitors. If you haven’t been into the store recently now is the time to come and enjoy the fruits of her labor.  There are so many great items we’ve added that make perfect holiday gifts.

Pictures are a record clock, a record bowl, and a selection of cds.

Selections from the shop

For instance, in support of the Paul Simon exhibit, the Museum Store is offering playful books, toys, art objects and gifts chosen to complement the character of the experiences in our galleries and our programs. From clocks, bowls and journals crafted from old vinyl records to pull-back racers that remind us of the flower-power of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘60s to the lovely catalogue published by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Museum Store lets  visitors share a bit of their Paul Simon experience with family and friends.

We’re also excited to be carrying new products featuring the newly-launched JMM logo. Be the first on your block to sport the new JMM baseball cap or quaff down that coffee with a JMM/Jonestown mug – can’t guarantee it will taste better, just that it will be in good taste.

Add JMM to your Black Friday plans

For the first time in its history, the Jewish Museum of Maryland will be open the day after Thanksgiving (from 10am to 3pm)! The unusual Black Friday opening not only provides an alternative to the madness at the malls, it also gives us an opportunity to join in Story Corp’s National Day of Listening.  Make a reservation for an interview between you and a family member to record a significant family memory.  Stories recorded at JMM will be preserved at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.  I can’t think of a more precious holiday gift… but just in case you want to top off your story with a tangible treat – Esther is offering a rare one-day sale in the Store: nearly everything but the Simon merchandise will be marked down 20%! We’ve got gifts for everyone on your holiday list, from baby to bubbe.

P.S. Don’t forget Nora Guthrie is coming to speak on Sunday.

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JMM Insights: Here Comes Rhymin’ Simon

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by

Raised in Queens. Enshrined in Cleveland. Loved in Baltimore.

It’s official.  This October the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s exhibit, Paul Simon: Words and Music, which celebrates the life of one of America’s greatest singer/songwriters, will make Baltimore its first stop on a nationwide tour.  READ THIS ARTICLE TO LEARN HOW YOU CAN RESERVE A SPOT AT OUR EXCLUSIVE MEMBERS’ PREVIEW AND CONCERT ON SATURDAY NIGHT, OCTOBER 10.

Paul Simon

Paul Simon

Paul Simon: Words and Music features autobiographical films, videos of select performances and more than 80 artifacts, chronicling the life, career and creative inspiration of two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Paul Simon. Included is original narration by the artist, recorded specifically for the exhibit and unavailable elsewhere, as well as costumes, film clips, letters and memorabilia associated with his career.

“We wanted to give Paul Simon the opportunity to tell his own story. We interviewed him for hours and asked him how he got started, his creative process, and how he came up with some of his songs,” said Karen L. Herman, Vice President of Curatorial Affairs for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “His stories provide context to the places where his music intersected with our culture, from Simon & Garfunkel to Saturday Night Live. We used that to really define how the exhibit would work, with much of the footage used to guide visitors through his life and career.”

Simon's guitar

Simon’s guitar

Among the exhibits artifacts are guitars like Simon’s 1967 Guild F-30-NT-Spec, used to write and record most of Simon & Garfunkel’s canon, and Simon’s first guitar, personal summer camp correspondence between Paul and Art, jackets, rare photos, and handwritten lyrics to songs like The Boxer (starting with notes made on an in-flight magazine) and the album Graceland (scratched out on a yellow pad). It covers all the genres of Simon’s work – folk, rock and world music.

And the main exhibit is just the beginning:

> We are also preparing a small pop-up exhibit “An American Tune:  Jews and Folk and Folk-Rock”.  Did you know that Arlo Guthrie was trained for his bar mitzvah by Rabbi Meir Kahane?  Find this and other surprises in our special lobby exhibit.

> Both exhibits will be used as platforms for an outstanding series of JMM programs including:

Scott Bernarde speaking on Jewish rock stars on Oct. 11; Cantor Solomon and Cantor Klepper in a performance/lecture on folk music and Jewish liturgy on Oct. 18; Nora Guthrie talks about Woody’s Hanukah songs on Nov.22;  a film festival on Tuesday nights in November, featuring Under African Skies, A Mighty Wind, Inside Llewyn Davis and Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune;  Joanie Leeds returning for a special Hanukah performance and a dozen other lectures and performances.

You will find a full list of events and program details in our Sept. 4 edition of Museum Matters.

> In November, we’ll be adding a “Sounds of the Synagogue” Tour to our menu of special Lloyd Street Synagogue adventures.  The tours will be on Sundays at 3pm.

> The education team has also prepared a curriculum for school groups at grade levels from elementary school to high school to go with the Paul Simon exhibit that combines humanities and the arts.  At upper levels students will be asked to compare the America of the 1960s that Simon wrote about, with Baltimore today.  They will be asked to prepare their own topical lyrics about the challenges of our times.  If you know of a teacher that wants to take advantage of this opportunity, please connect them with our Visitor Services manager, Graham Humphrey ( and he’ll make all the arrangements.


Most of the people who receive this newsletter are JMM members.  One of the benefits of JMM membership are invitations to exclusive member previews for all our exhibits.  And the preview for Paul Simon on October 10 is so special that we’re asking members to make advance reservations.

The Guthrie Bros.

The Guthrie Bros.

In addition to being among the first to see this great new exhibit, we have arranged a Simon & Garfunkel Tribute Concert by the Guthrie Bros. (no relation to Woody, but great musicians – see more here: The Guthrie Bros.  To maximize the number of people who can see this concert, we’ve moved it into the Lloyd Street Synagogue.  Overflow and accessible seating will be in the JMM building with live remote video.  Doors will open at 7:30, and the concert begins at 7:45pm

Because we anticipate high demand for this member’s only event, we’ve set up a special reservations mailbox:

Total capacity in the Lloyd Street Synagogue is 220 seats, so you will want to reserve early.  Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis so we request that you only make reservations via the special reservation mailbox.  Individual members will be able to reserve one ticket, “senior couple” members will be able to reserve two, and family members can reserve up to five tickets. For more information please contact Trillion Attwood at or 410.732.640 ext.215.





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JMM Insights: JMM Takes to the Streets!

Posted on July 17th, 2015 by

Lloyd Street has been a historic place to worship, a place to visit, a place to shop and a place to live, but next month it becomes something it has never been – a place to watch movies!

JMM’s summer experiment with outdoor film is about more than an evening’s entertainment, it is even more than a great accompaniment to our latest exhibit, Cinema Judaica.  Our free movie nights are part of a much larger effort to redefine the future of the Historic Jonestown neighborhood of Baltimore.

Perfect for Summer

Perfect for Summer

As regular readers of this newsletter know, the JMM has been working with neighborhood organizations for the last year on a project to develop a “community vision.”  The vision encompasses concepts for land use (especially the activation of vacant lots), landscaping and spatial connectivity of commercial and cultural developments, and the creation of a brand identity for the community.  JMM, as an anchor institution of Historic Jonestown, served as a catalyst for the project.  Working with The Associated we have brought on a team of urban planners from the firm of Mahan Rykiel to help the community find its voice.  We received underwriting from both the France-Merrick Foundation and the Goldseker Foundation in support of this effort.  Mahan Rykiel has been meeting with members of the Jonestown Planning Council and Historic Jonestown, Inc. as well as public officials to talk about the challenges and opportunities for the community.  At the end of this month, they will hold a public meeting to discuss what they’ve heard and take input on a potential brand that will put Historic Jonestown on the map.

Neighborhood Map

Neighborhood Map

So what does this have to do with movies?  Well, the thrust of this whole exercise is two-fold: 1) to bind together the neighborhood and 2) to illustrate the potential of the community for future development.  Our experiment in free cinema is one small step to meet both goals.  On the one hand, the films are an invitation to local residents and business patrons to participate in the life of JMM.  On the other hand, bringing visitors from other parts of the city onto our streets at night sends a powerful message about the future of Lloyd Street and the yet-to-be-developed parcels that adjoin us.

Two Must-See Classics!

Two Must-See Classics!

Our outdoor screenings are scheduled for Sunday, August 9 (The Great Dictator) and Sunday, August 23 (Gentleman’s Agreement).  The films themselves will be shown on an inflatable 9’ tall by 12’ wide screen which we’re setting up in the parking lot across the street from our front door.  The films will start at 8pm to get us close to sunset.  Like our neighbors at St. Leo’s, our film fest is a BYOC* event (bring your own chairs).

The museum will stay open during the film.  And admission to the museum after 5pm will also be free.  We’re setting up picnic tables in our courtyard if you would like to bring your own food for a pre-movie picnic.  We’ve invited food trucks to join us – look for an update on who is coming in our August 7 Museum Matters.

For those who really want to make a day of it there is even an afternoon program to go with each film.  At 3pm on Aug. 9, Dr. David Ward of the University of Pittsburgh will be speaking on “Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator: Fighting Fascism with a Movie” and at 3pm on August 23 Dr. Greg Metcalf of University of Maryland, Baltimore County will be offering his take on the world of Jewish film in “From The Jazz Singer to Alvy Singer: The Depiction of Jews in Hollywood Film from Al Jolson to Woody Allen.”  Both lectures are included in the price of daytime admission.  (By the way, we also have a third film offering in August on the 16th at 5:30pm – we’re showing this one indoors because of its early start time – the film is the animated classic An American Tail).

Enjoy an early evening with the kids!

Enjoy an early evening with the kids!

For those of you wondering about the logistics of the outdoor films:  We will run the films, rain or shine (though if it is rain, we will move the film indoors and just pretend we’re outdoors).  Since we’re making use of the parking lot for the film – we’ve made arrangements with Lenny’s and Attman’s to borrow their parking spaces that evening (both restaurants are closed on Sunday nights).

So circle these dates on your calendar – come for the films, come for the picnic, come for the exhibit, but most importantly come to be part of a vibrant future for Historic Jonestown, a genuine happy ending to Lloyd Street’s cinema debut.




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