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.

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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

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




In Rehearsal for the Last Act

Posted on September 8th, 2017 by

September 17th at 2:00pm!

September 17th at 2:00pm!

How many of you have had a wedding rehearsal?  One last chance to argue about who comes in from the left and who from the right.  One last opportunity to size up the machutunim.

Well, the big day is approaching for Just Married! The exhibit takes its final vows on September 17th.  But before it goes off to wherever exhibits honeymoon, we have one final performance to share.  I know this not only because it’s on the JMM calendar, but also because I caught a snippet of the rehearsal for Stoop Story on Sunday.  If the bit I saw is indicative of the whole show, I think we have a real treat in store for you.

You won’t want to wait until the last minute to get tickets.  Seating is limited and everyone (including members) will need a ticket.

Hope to see you there.

~Marvin


*ONE WEEK ONLY*

Treasures from the collection!

Treasures from the collection!

A Wonderful Weddings Extra!
September 11 – 17th

For one week only we will have additional wedding dresses and wedding shoes on display in the JMM’s Anne Adalman Goodwin Memorial Library. Already seen Just Married!? We can guarantee you haven’t seen these!


Upcoming programs
All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact Trillion Attwood at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-873-5177 with any questions or for more information.

SEPTEMBER

JMM 1996.80.72

JMM 1996.80.72

A Bald Eagle on the Ketubah:
Jewish Marriage in Nineteenth Century America
Sunday, September 10th at 3:00pm*
Speaker: Laura Shaw Frank, University of Maryland
Reserve Your Tickets!

From its birth in 1776, America has been a nation that embedded political, cultural, and social ideals into its marriage laws and customs. More info.

*please note the later than usual start time for this program

Special lecture at Towson University

Special lecture at Towson University on September 12th

Being Educated in the Third Reich:
The Discovery of Nazi Textbooks
Tuesday, September 12th at 7:00pm
Speaker: Dr. Tamar Ketko
Free – Registration Required

Location: Room 4310, College of Liberal Arts, Towson University
251 University Avenue, Towson, MD   21252

In Germany, following WWII, it was illegal to be in possession of Nazi textbooks. More than 20 years ago, Dr. Ketko discovered stockpikles of Swaztika laden textbooks published between 1933 and 1945. She shares the secret of the success of Nazism based on those books, attempting to understand the sorcerous process that consumed millions of Germans. More info.

We love our volunteers!

We love our volunteers!

Get Discovered at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!
Thursday, September 14th at 12:00pm
Register Here!

Know someone who would be a great JMM volunteer? Please share this event with them!

 

Get ready for wild wedding tales!

Get ready for wild wedding tales!

Stoop Storytelling Series Presents:
Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland – The Live Show!
Sunday, September, 17th at 2pm
Lloyd Street Synagogue
Tickets are $20 for non-members, $15 for members

This show marks the close of the museum’s exhibit Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland with an afternoon of true, personal stories about the wonder and wackiness of weddings, straight from the people who walked the aisle, said “I do” — and survived to tell the tale! More info.

Free Admission!

Free Admission!

Museum Day Live!
Sunday, September 24th, 10am – 5:00pm

Join us for a free day at the Museum!

Special lecture at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Religious School

Special lecture at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Religious School

To Protect and Serve? Dilemmas in Law Enformancement
Tuesday, September 26th at 7:00pm
Speakers: Marcus Appelbaum of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Charles Ramsey, Commissioner (Ret.), Philadelphia Police Department
Free – Registration Required

Location: Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Religious School
7401 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21208

Join us for a discussion with today’s law enforcement leaders to learn how Holocaust history is helping new recruits and veteran officers better understand their own professional and individual responsibilities. More info.

>>View the full JMM calendar of events here.<<


Also of Interest

The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org.  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on Facebook.


Esther’s Place

Honey dishes and more!

Honey dishes and more!

As you prepare for your high holy days, keep Esther’s Place in mind! We have everything you need for your yuntive, from beautiful candle holders to whimsical or elegant honey dishes to fine or funky Kiddush cups. We even have shofarot, for those of you looking to bring in the new year with a blast!


Ongoing at the JMM

Exhibits

Exhibits on display include Just Married! Wedding Stories of Jewish Maryland, Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks

 

Hours and Tour Times

Combination tours of the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue and the 1876 Synagogue Building now home to B’nai Israel are offered: Sunday through Thursday at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm.

Click Here for complete hours and tour times


Membership

Make it official! Become a Member of the JMM.
Learn More about membership.
Already ready? Join Here.


Get Involved

The JMM is always looking for volunteers! Click Here to learn more.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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