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JMM Insights: Just Married! Goes Digital

Posted on May 22nd, 2020 by

I just learned that a colleague is having a digital wedding next week.

I do hope they take screenshots and send them to Joanna for our COVID 19 collection. It only goes to show that there is no stopping a June bride. This week we are turning back the clock three years to reprise and expand our 2017 exhibit Just Married!

Virtual weddings sound kind of cool by the way, but I am not at all sure about virtual honeymoons.

~Marvin

Image: The wedding dress above was worn by four Baltimore brides in two generations! Left: Rosalee Cohen Davison, 1952; right: Charlotte Cohen Weinberg, 1954. On loan from Rosalee Cohen Davison, Charlotte Cohen Weinberg, Joanna Davison Golden, and Gwynne Weinberg. JMM L2017.12.1.


Help us plan our digital museum offerings!


THE DIGITAL MUSEUM: JUST MARRIED!

The warm weather has finally arrived, and we’ve officially entered wedding season!

While these ceremonies of commitment are looking a little different these days, it’s important to remember that throughout many hardships, crises, and challenges, love does its best to find a way. From weddings in a displaced persons camp to getting married three times just to be sure to fighting for their marriage to be recognized,  Jewish Marylanders have wedding stories to share!

We invite you to explore the new digital edition of the Just Married! exhibit.

Explore the changing customs and dearly cherished family traditions seen through the Jewish Maryland weddings featured here (my absolute favorite is the two different wedding dresses that were each worn by four different brides). Maybe pick up some new trivia tidbits (did you know in the early  20th century, Maryland was a hotspot for elopements?) Discover exactly what a trousseau actually is! There are also a number of fun “extras” that weren’t included in the original exhibit sprinkled throughout – like A Little Chuppah History and the dreaded Bridesmaid Gown.

You can also take a virtual walk through of the original gallery exhibit to see how the many objects, photos, and archival documents were displayed.

Interested in some behind-the-scenes peeks? Head to these JMM intern blog posts:

>Padding and Stuffing Galore: What It Really Takes to Exhibit Textiles

>Finding My Stories at JMM

>Can’t Touch This: Voices from the Basement

> It’s the Little Things

And one bonus post from non-intern Joanna: When the Collections are NOT what they seem

But this exhibit is not just pictures of pretty dresses (though there are plenty of those!). We’ve incorporated some brain-teasing activities for your enjoyment:

>Anyone who has planned a wedding knows it can take some major switching, swapping, and sighing to perfect the seating chart – are you ready to take the challenge?

>Can you match these newlyweds to their anniversary photos? This is great practice for taking a look at some of your own family albums!

>You might also enjoy re-visiting this behind-the-scenes look at developing these two interactives.

And, of course, we’re always looking to add to our Marrying Maryland collection.

Our goal? To collect at least one photo and invitation from every Jewish wedding in Maryland, past, present, and future. You can explore previous submissions and highlights from the JMM collections, and submit your own family photos and invitations. Help us document all the wedding stories of Jewish Maryland!


JOIN US – LIVE!

An Intergenerational Conversation
Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 1:00pm

The weight of the age of COVID19 has put a strain on every aspect of our lives: personal, professional, spiritual. For many of us, it’s also taking a toll on our social and racial justice commitments.

Recognizing that generation is one of the many intersectional identities affecting us right now, let’s get together as Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials for a deep dive conversation about the opportunities and obstacles for social justice work in a time of quarantine.

Register for this Live Stream Event here!

Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 3:30pm

Join us for a unique program where we will explore the stories in our collection and create stories about what is happening today through writing, drawing, and photography. This program is designed for participants aged five to ten.

Register for this Live Stream Event here!


WONDERNAUTS 2020: CATCHING THE SUN

We look at the sun rising every day.

It’s bright, it’s big, and it warms us up. Our sun gives us light, heat, and energy. A sunny day makes us happy. Our sun happens to be the brightest object in our sky and we are really curious to know more about it.

Wonder about the sun and make a suncatcher to brighten your window!


ESTHER’S PLACE: ONLINE

Don’t see something you’re interested in at the online shop? Contact Shop Manager Chris Sniezek at csniezek@jewishmuseummd.org and let us know.

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Finding MY Stories at JMM

Posted on July 18th, 2018 by

By collections/exhibits intern Cara Bennet. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

When I first started my internship at the JMM I noticed that a large portion of the museum’s collections and stories focus on the greater Baltimore area. As someone who grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I kept asking myself how I fit into this museum. I’m a Jew. I grew up in Maryland. Where’s my story? It took a little more digging but in the past few weeks I’ve stumbled across several objects, places, and stories that have made me think “Oh I know this! This is familiar to me! This is relevant to my life and my history.”

One of these illuminating moments happened a few weeks ago as I was updating the exhibition script for Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland. I’m currently working on turning the physical exhibit which was on view at the JMM last summer into an online exhibit. As I was reviewing the script, I stumbled across a label about Claire Dratch Bridal Salon, which is located in Bethesda, MD (where I grew up) and happens to be where my mom bought her wedding dress. I had grown up hearing the name Claire Dratch and had vague memories of passing the salon in downtown Bethesda but had never realized its cultural and historical significance. I had no idea that Clare Bacharach Dratch was Jewish, had escaped Nazi Germany, and went on to start a successful business, outfitting generations of local brides (including my mom).

My parents on their wedding day.

Another enlightening moment happened the other day as I was browsing a list of Maryland synagogues in PastPerfect. Most of the synagogues were unfamiliar to me because I grew up just outside of Washington, D.C. Most of my Jewish friends belonged to synagogues in D.C. and my family continued to attend Temple Sinai (also in DC) even after we moved to Maryland. Since my dad also grew up in Maryland I was curious if he had belonged to any of the synagogues on the list. He told me that while he never belonged to one synagogue (his family jumped around for high holidays and Hebrew school) he and my uncle both had their Bar Mitzvahs at Temple Beth-El in Bethesda. I found another family connection!

My Dad and Uncle’s Bar Mitzvah invitations.

I love that the JMM’s exhibits focus mainly on the stories of individuals not just famous or influential figures. While it is certainly important for museums to highlight significant historic figures whenever possible, it is equally important to shed light on the stories of everyday people and communities. These stories are much more relatable and relevant and allow visitors to see their own stories and family histories within the exhibits. The JMM’s exhibits do a great job of highlighting the voices and stories of Maryland’s Jewish community and making them relatable and accessible to a wide audience.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




A “Just Married!” Extra – The Bridesmaid Gown; Or, You’ll Wear It and Like It

Posted on September 15th, 2017 by

Curators have to make choices: not everything can make it into an exhibit, and there’s seldom enough space to share every interesting fact about the things that are on display. That’s where social media comes in! Here’s a closer look at another “Just Married” story from JMM collections manager and Just Married! curator Joanna Church. To read more “Just Married!” extras, click here. To read more posts from Joannaclick here.

The bride and groom with their families and wedding party: the wedding of Rabbi Meyer Zywica and Frances Friedlander, June 11, 1950. Seated, left to right: Elaine Friedlander, Rebbitzen Rose Friedlander, Rebbitzen Esther Friedlander Rosenblatt, Hinda Feldman Esterson. Standing, left to right: Rabbi Yonah Weisbord, Rabbi Meyer Zwyica, Frances Friedlander, Jason Rosenblatt, Rabbi E.B. Friedlander, Rabbi Morris D. Rosenblatt, Professor Morton Esterson. Gift of Morton M. Esterson. JMM 1993.109.1

The bride and groom with their families and wedding party: the wedding of Rabbi Meyer Zywica and Frances Friedlander, June 11, 1950. Seated, left to right: Elaine Friedlander, Rebbitzen Rose Friedlander, Rebbitzen Esther Friedlander Rosenblatt, Hinda Feldman Esterson. Standing, left to right: Rabbi Yonah Weisbord, Rabbi Meyer Zwyica, Frances Friedlander, Jason Rosenblatt, Rabbi E.B. Friedlander, Rabbi Morris D. Rosenblatt, Professor Morton Esterson. Gift of Morton M. Esterson. JMM 1993.109.1

Though we have many wonderful wedding gowns in our collections, we do not, alas, have any dresses worn by bridesmaids or attendants. The closest we get is an adorable little flower girl dress from 1928. Thankfully, through photos and documents we can still get at what some of our wedding couples’ friends and family wore to the festivities … and what society (or Society) thought was appropriate.

Black and white photography, though stylish and elegant – and, of course, the cheapest (if not the only) option for many decades – does not convey the full glory of a bridesmaid dress; nor does mere description. But the descriptions are a lot of fun. For example, we can only imagine the rainbow array of gowns and trims worn by the attendants of Bessie Grossman Paymer (whose fashionable beaded silk wedding gown is included in “Just Married!”) at Hazazer’s Hall in 1911:

“The maid of honor was Miss Minnie Grossman of Philadelphia, a cousin of the bride, who was dressed in pink satin, draped in pink chiffon and embroidered with roses…. [As for the four bridesmaids,] Miss Evelyn Paymer wore a gown of white satin, draped in steel-studded chiffon, trimmed in crystal and white marabou. Miss Cecelia Paymer wore pink charmous [sic] satin, draped in blue chiffon and trimmed in crystal fringe. Miss Bessye Paymer wore turquoise-blue satin, draped with white chiffon and trimmed in pearls and white marabou. Miss Mary S. Levy wore yellow satin, draped in blue marquisette and trimmed in pearls and blue marabou.” -The Baltimore Sun, January 22, 1911

Not only are these dresses elaborately trimmed (indeed, they sound like the 1910s version of today’s stereotypical “my friend made me wear dreadful giant bows” bridesmaid gown), they are each totally different. In more recent decades, many brides choose to garb their attendants in identical shades, but I rather like the idea of a multicolored entourage. And perhaps the bride was following the advice of an etiquette author such as Mrs. Humphrey, who wrote in Etiquette for Every Day (1904), “…a considerate girl [will not] be arbitrary about the colours chosen [for her bridesmaids]. She will take into account the various complexions and tints of hair of the girls who are to wear the dresses, and will good-naturedly endeavour to choose something that will suit them all; as well as a form of gown that will be likely to be useful on other occasions after her wedding.”

By the 1920s many etiquette guides were singing a different tune. Bridesmaids should emphatically not expect any such consideration from their friends, as stated in both Emily Holt’s Encyclopedia of Etiquette [(1921) and Emily Post’s Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and in the Home (1922). The former notes, “The bridesmaid and maid of honor must yield unquestioningly to the taste of the bride concerning the color, mode of making, and all the appointments of their wedding dresses.” Post gives similarly inflexible instruction, though she does add that while the dresses must all be of the same fabric and design, a bride may choose some complementary colors for different attendants to wear, particularly to differentiate the maid or matron of honor from the mere bridesmaids; nonetheless, she concludes, “bridesmaids’ dresses are looked upon as uniforms, not individual costumes.”

Thus at the wedding of Helen Brylawski and Baltimore’s Sidney Lansburgh, Jr. at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., 1940, the bridesmaids were dressed all alike, with the matron of honor’s outfit having the colors reversed (as recommended by Emily Post). Two of the young women can be seen in the photo below. According to the Washington Post, at the Brylawski-Lansburgh wedding “Mrs. Arthur Lyon was matron of honor, wearing flesh-colored marquisette and a halo horsehair hat with ribbon streamers. The bridesmaids were Miss Therese Weil, of New Orleans; Miss Rosalie Lurvey, of Indianapolis; Miss Sylvia Glickman, of New York, and the Misses Elizabeth Hahn and Selma Friedman, of Washington. They were dressed in aquamarine marquisette and wore flesh-colored tulle hats with aqua streamers. All the attendants carried fans fashioned of pink roses.” The Washington Post, June 13, 1940

Left to right: Betty Hahn, Richard Lansburgh, and Selma Freedman at the wedding of Sidney Lansburgh, Jr. and Helen Brylawski at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., 1940. In your imagination, please color their dresses aquamarine, their fans pink, and their hats beige with aqua ribbons. Gift of Margaret Nomentana. JMM 2004.108.9

Left to right: Betty Hahn, Richard Lansburgh, and Selma Freedman at the wedding of Sidney Lansburgh, Jr. and Helen Brylawski at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., 1940. In your imagination, please color their dresses aquamarine, their fans pink, and their hats beige with aqua ribbons. Gift of Margaret Nomentana. JMM 2004.108.9

As noted above, a black and white photo can’t really do these sartorial choices justice. Happily there are a few colorful examples, such as the movie taken at the wedding of Phyllis Kolker and A. Harvey Schreter on February 1, 1942 at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Snippets of the film are included in “Just Married!” and the full movie, courtesy of MARMIA (Mid-Atlantic Regional Moving Image Archive), can be viewed here. Look for the Emily Post-approved reversal of colors, with the first young woman in a yellow satin gown with a wide blue ribbon on her bouquet, and the two attendants behind her in blue with yellow bouquet ribbons. (And yes, no doubt the designer, salesperson, and bride herself would have used fancier color names, but until I find the newspaper description, “blue” and “yellow” it is.)

There are of course many other variations on the ‘proper’ way to do things, both before and after these decades… too many to cover in this short post, which merely touches on a few of the trends of the early-mid 20th century. However, one thing seems to remain constant, no matter the era, and no matter whether the bride is following the dictates of fashion or her own inclination: As the author of The Social Mirror: A Complete Treatise on the Laws, Rules and Usages that govern our most Refined Homes and Social Circles noted in 1888, “The principal duty of the brides-maid is to look pretty, and not out-shine the bride.”

When Rose Friedman married Sam Buckman at Lehmann’s Hall in 1920, the wedding party included 15 ushers, 14 bridesmaids (in a variety of fabrics and dress styles), 2 junior ushers, and 2 flower girls. Gift of Fran Gimbel. JMM 2007.18.1

When Rose Friedman married Sam Buckman at Lehmann’s Hall in 1920, the wedding party included 15 ushers, 14 bridesmaids (in a variety of fabrics and dress styles), 2 junior ushers, and 2 flower girls. Gift of Fran Gimbel. JMM 2007.18.1

 

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