JMM Joins City’s Celebration of American Design and Manufacture

Posted on April 6th, 2016 by

Last year, the organization MADE: In America designated the Carroll Mansion as its “All American House” for 2016.  From April 23 to July 7, 2016 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 city expanded the celebration by inviting partner organizations in what it’s calling the “Baltimore’s American Treasures” event.

The Carroll Mansion, 2016's "All-American House"

The Carroll Mansion, 2016’s “All-American House”

Located just a few blocks away from the Carroll Mansion in Baltimore’s oldest neighborhood, Historic Jonestown, is the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM).  To play our part in the celebration we’re hosting special events in recognition of the Lloyd Street Synagogue as a truly 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 church architect of the era.  Nearly every component of the original building and its 1860 renovation were the result of American craft and manufacture from the stenciling to the wooden pews to the stained glass Star of David.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue

The Lloyd Street Synagogue

The museum has spent the winter researching the material history of the building – which switched hands multiple times, serving first as a traditional German synagogue, then as a reformed temple, later it became a Lithuanian Catholic Church and finally a Russian Orthodox shul.  Each iteration brought new design elements into the building, holy arks and altars, mezuzot and an organ.  We’ve sifted through the records to identify some of the most interesting stories of how this site was designed and built to serve the needs of successive waves of immigrants.

The oldest extant photo of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Courtesy of the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection, JMM 1997.71.1

The oldest extant photo of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Courtesy of the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection, JMM 1997.71.1

Not every story has been easy to trace.  Where did the synagogues first Torah scroll come from?  What was the origin of the church’s bells and where did they go when the church was sold?  How did church chandeliers end up hanging from the ceiling of an Orthodox synagogue?  Questions like these led to the idea of our “Book, Bell and Candle Mystery Experience” (offered each Sunday from May 1 through July 7 at 3pm).  Our expert history sleuth will transport you into the shoes of a researcher on the trail of holy artifacts.  Made in America? Or lovingly imported?  Only one thing is certain – “it belongs in a museum” – the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Chandalier inside the Lloyd Street Synagogue

Chandelier inside the Lloyd Street Synagogue

We’ve set three Sundays aside for activities related to design work for the whole family.  On May 1 our focus is on crafts related to the building itself.  It includes a closer look at the stained glass windows and the art behind them.  On May 29, our “Welcome to Jonestown” free family day will feature crafts related to music in the synagogue.  Finally, on June 26, we will offer demonstrations of specialized skills required to manufacture the artifacts of the synagogue – from a sofer  (scribe) illustrating Hebrew calligraphy to a blacksmith making fencework.

Leaded glass window. East wall. Over ark. Lloyd Street Synagogue- Baltimore. restored 1964. IA 1024.

Leaded glass window. East wall. Over ark. Lloyd Street Synagogue- Baltimore. restored 1964. IA 1024.

Come see how the Lloyd Street Synagogue and its congregations fit into the fabric of America’s material culture.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Once Upon a Time…02.10.2012

Posted on September 11th, 2012 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. Click here to see the most recent photo on their website. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contactJobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  February 10, 2012

PastPerfect Accession #:  1988.142.095

Status:  Partially Identified (Left to Right):  Rabbi Herman Naftali Neuberger, Velvel Silverberg or Rabbi Joseph Shechterer or Hyman Schwartz, Tobias Miller, Rabbi Eliezer Rabinowitz


Special Thanks To: Avery Aisenstark, Bracha Goetz, Jerome Sefret, Ben Bernstein, Morton Esterson, Irvin Stern, Eve Rosenfeld, Joshua Ambush, Yakov Neuberger  18

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Your Secret is Safe with Me!

Posted on October 2nd, 2009 by

Tuesday morning a safe cracker came to the Lloyd Street Synagogue to open the enormous old safe in the basement and I got to watch!

The cast iron concrete-insulated safe likely dates between 1880-1920. It doesn’t have manufacturers markings, but the expert thinks that it could be either Miller or York, two companies that were making this type of safe at the turn of the last century. My goal was to see what was saved inside so we could decide what to do the safe. If it held great treasures from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation or St. John the Baptist we might want to save it, otherwise we might chose to scrap it. Either way, it will have to move to make room for The Synagogue Speaks exhibition.

The safe cracker quickly ascertained that the lock was in the open position but the door still seemed to be sealed tight. Using a crow bar and a block of wood for leverage it took him about 5 minutes to pry the heavy door open. Someone was serious about protecting the contents of the safe – the door had five insulated layers and an interior door!

Imagine my surprise when there was an interior set of doors!

My fingers were tingling with anticipation as the safe cracker opened these also unlocked doors. There were two rows of small cubby holes at the top of the safe and a big open section below.And everything was empty! No important minute books, no bills of sale, no bodies!

So, if this were a mystery novel we would know that someone else had already opened the safe. We’d have to backtrack and do research to figure out who beat us to the punch! – and find out what had been locked inside! Now I just have to figure out a way to get ‘the beast’ out of the basement.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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