Dear Abby 1.5

Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by

Dear Abby is at it again!

 

Dear Abby,

My dear friend, “S” has put himself into a bit of a pickle. He has a reputation for being a know-it-all, and now he’s made an ill-advised bet with his archenemy (let’s just call him “M”) that he knows everything about the Jewish Museum of Maryland. He even wagered his prized violin! There’s only one problem: “S” has never been to the JMM! Obviously, he needs to visit the museum as soon as possible. When is the soonest that he can go on a tour? Do your tours cover the whole museum? Another potential problem is that “S” has lived a long, full live, and his knees just aren’t what they used to be, so he is not comfortable using stairs—even with railings. Will this be a problem?

Signed,

Dr. W. 

Dear Dr. W.,

Sherlock_Silhouette

A wager is very serious business, so I will try to do everything I can to help your friend learn what he needs to know in order to keep his violin! First of all, we offer five tours a day, Sunday through Thursday, so there are plenty of opportunities for “S” to go on a tour. These tours go out at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm, and 4:00pm. I would recommend that he come for the tours earlier than 3:00pm because the 3:00pm tour talks more about the Civil War than about the history of the synagogues, and the 4:00pm tour is abbreviated because we have to close up the synagogues at 4:30pm. For future reference, you can always find our tour schedule on our website, here: http://jewishmuseummd.org/visiting/.

The tours do not cover the entire museum. They only cover the two synagogues—Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel Synagogue. The exhibits inside the museum, and in the basement of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, are all self-guided.

Unfortunately, while the main museum building is handicap accessible, both synagogues require our visitors to climb a lot of stairs, and because they are historic buildings, it’s very difficult to install ramps or elevators that still comply with the historic trust’s rules. Hopefully, in the near future, we’ll have a solution to the problem of ensuring access while preserving the historic character of these buildings, but for the time being, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.

Generally, I assume that each visitor knows his or her own abilities best, but if “S” is uncomfortable with stairs, even when they have railings (as ours do), then he will not be able to see the sanctuaries of the synagogues…in person. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t go on a tour! Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we have a DVD version of the synagogues tour that we can set up in as little as five minutes! If “S” asks for it at the front desk, we will have him set up in no time at all.

Yours Truly,

Abby

 

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Dear Abby 1.3

Posted on November 21st, 2013 by

The newest installment of “Dear Abby!”

 

Dear Abby,

My wife and I live in the North Pole, but every so often, we take the reindeer down to Baltimore to eat some good crabs and maybe catch a Raven’s game. At our last visit, we saw your brochure at the Visitors’ Center, and we tried to visit your museum. I say tried because we came across two problems. The first was that we couldn’t find a parking space! A sleigh is not exactly a compact vehicle, so street parking was out of the question, and your lot was full. We finally decided to give up and come another time when we saw a large group of schoolchildren walking into the museum. As much as we love children, due to the delicate nature of my occupation, it would simply be disastrous if I visited a museum while large numbers of children were present. We were also worried that the level of noise that generally comes with schoolchildren would startle our reindeer.

I don’t suppose you have any “adult only” hours at the museum?

Signed, Kriss

 

Dear Mr. Kriss,

I’m sorry to hear that you had such a frustrating time trying to visit us! The lot that you saw across the street from us does not actually belong to the museum, unfortunately. That is a city lot, and it does often get filled up during the work week, as you saw. On Sundays, it is much easier to find a spot there, and on the street—which is free on Sundays too. There’s also a garage nearby where you can park. The entrance to the garage is on Baltimore St., just before crossing East St. To make it even better, we have a deal with that garage! The regular price for parking there is $5 for the day, but if you let us know that you parked there, we’ll give you a coupon that takes $2 off of that. You can also find information about parking at the museum on our website, here: http://jewishmuseummd.org/visiting/parking-and-transportation/.

School children discovering the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

School children discovering the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

As for not wanting to share the museum with a school group, that is an understandable dilemna. Schoolchildren can be very exuberant in their quest for knowledge (and in their excitement to be out of the classroom), and while some people might enjoy the energy that those kinds of fellow visitors bring to the museum experience, others might prefer a more peaceful, maybe even zen-like quality. If you (or your reindeer, in this case) are the latter kind of visitor, than I would recommend that you visit on a weekday afternoon. Most of our school groups come in the mornings, and our busiest day, in terms of any type of visitorship, is Sunday.

And don’t forget that, unlike many other museums, we are open on Mondays! You can extend that relaxing weekend feeling by visiting us on a Monday afternoon.

I hope this helped you and that we will be seeing you and the Mrs. very soon!

Yours Truly,

Abby

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Dear Abby 1.2

Posted on November 18th, 2013 by

It’s our second installment in the “Dear Abby” series!

Dear Abby,

My long-time friend from New York City—let’s call her “Flo”—is coming to visit, and I really want to show her a good time! I’m always hearing about life in the Big City, so this is my chance to show her that Baltimore has great things too. My very first thought was that the JMM would be the perfect place to take her! Flo volunteers at the Tenement Museum, so I think she’ll really enjoy seeing the synagogues and the exhibits. Flo can also be a bit of a snob when it comes to food—everything, it seems, tastes better in New York. I’d like to have the time to see the museum and also take her to a nice place for lunch. How long does it take to go through the whole museum, and are there any good places to eat that are nearby? Later on, we will meet up with her daughter, “Sarah,” who keeps kosher. Is there a kosher Starbucks nearby where we can meet her?

Sincerely,

“Tired of hearing about the Big Apple”

 

Dear “Tired”,

Your friend probably talks so much about how great New York is because she’s jealous that you get to live in “Charm City.” This visit is your chance to show her a true Baltimore experience, so she can have that memory to take home with her and shout her love for Baltimore from the top of the Empire State Building. You are absolutely correct that the best way to do this is to take her to the JMM!

I would say you should allow yourself about 20-30 minutes in each exhibit—so that’s 60-90 minutes total for all three exhibits. Of course, a lot of it depends on the individual visitor. For example, I’m a compulsive reader, so I drive my friends and family nuts by making them wait for me as I take over an hour to go through one exhibit! However, I’ve seen that most visitor find that 20 minutes is the perfect amount of time to absorb what the exhibit is trying to say without experiencing the dreaded “museum fatigue.” The synagogue tour takes between 45 minutes to an hour—it depends on how many questions you ask the docent! The docents try to aim for 45 minutes, but if you get them started on their favorite topic within Jewish-American history, we can’t be held accountable for how long your tour will take! I can, however, promise that it will be enlightening.

Exploring "Voices of Lombard Street"

Exploring “Voices of Lombard Street”

And, of course, you have to make time for the gift shop! What better way to impress your friend then by showing her the many wonderful things she can buy as a keepsake or as a thoughtful gift for a loved one at our museum shop? All together, I’d allow 2.5 to 3 hours for your visit.

To answer your question about feeding your friend, I will tell you that you are in luck! We happen to be located within easy walking distance of a great number of excellent eateries. Just on the block of Lombard Street that is diagonally across from the museum, there are not one, not two, but three delicatessens—Attman’s, Weiss’s, and Lenny’s—and, if you walk a few blocks south from us on Exeter St. or High St., you will find yourself in the heart of Baltimore’s charming Little Italy (which, I might add, is larger than what is left of NYC’s Little Italy). If you walk a little further south from there, you will enter the trendy Harbor East neighborhood, where there is everything from high quality fast food to fancy, white-cloth restaurants.

As for kosher food, that’s a little more difficult to find in downtown Baltimore. The only kosher restaurant downtown is a cute little café (dairy) called the Van Gough Café. It’s about a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile from the museum, on the corner of Ann St. and—you guessed it—Gough St.

Yours Truly,

Abby

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