A Day in the Life of a JMM Docent

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by

By JMM Volunteer Harvey Karch

One of the best parts of being a docent at a museum, especially, I think, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, is that one never knows what is going to happen on a tour.  The unexpected is almost to be expected every tour.   It certainly was the case on Tuesday, January 15, during the one o’clock tour.

Harvey leads a tour outside the Lloyd Street Synagogue

No one was in the Museum for the eleven o’clock tour, and that was not a surprise given the cold and damp weather.  As one o’clock came and went, I wasn’t shocked that there was no one for the tour either.  However, at about 1:10 a woman entered the museum asking whether she was too later for the one o’clock tour.  Since no one else was there, I gladly stepped up to the counter and told her that I would be happy to show her the sights of the Museum.

Describing the matzoh oven in Lloyd Street Synagogue.

As is my habit, after introducing myself, I asked the where she was from and what had brought her to the Museum today.  She told me that her name is Deb, Deb Miller, and she has lived in Boston since arriving to attend graduate school there some forty years ago.  However, she added that she had grown up in New York City, but that her roots run deep in Baltimore.  Her grandparents had lived in Baltimore, and her mother had grown up here before going to live in New York after her marriage.  She also explained that her family members were among the founders of Chizuk Amuno Congregation.  As we walked toward Lloyd Street Synagogue, she went on to say that her grandfather had attended Shomrei Mishemeres, and I told her that mine had also.  I explained that one of my family’s stories is that my grandfather had come from Volnya and had come to Baltimore because there was a group from his home area living in the city.  Ms. Miller suggested that perhaps our grandfathers had known each other, and perhaps had even prayed together.  We both chuckled and went on with the tour.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue in 1962, shortly after the Jewish Historical Society acquired it from the Shomrei Mishmeres Congregation. IA 1.0005

Once inside of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, it was obvious from the look on her face that being in this synagogue was a particularly emotional experience for Ms. Miller.  She asked me a lot of questions about Shomrei Mishemeres and the building itself as she looked around, taking in everything about the place.  It was at the point where I started telling her about why there are no regularly held services anymore in the building that it suddenly occurred to me that this was no ordinary visitor, and I asked her if she was related to Tobias Miller, one of the last members of Shomrei Mishmeres and part of the group who sold the building to the Jewish Historical Society.   She told me that he was her grandfather, and I had the pleasure of telling her that the man I had always heard referred to as “Tuffsy” Miller was the reason that my grandfather had come to Baltimore from Volnya, since Miller was one of my grandfather’s best friends from the old country.  We both realized at that point that not only had our grandfathers prayed together, but had been very good friends as well as “landsmen”.  Ms. Miller later asked what my grandfather’s name was, and thought that it sounded familiar.  We both wondered what our grandfathers would have thought of two of their grandchildren meeting so many years after their deaths (1961 and 1970) at the Lloyd Street Synagogue?

We even have a picture of Tobias Miller signing the deed of the LSS over to the Jewish Historical Society. IA 1.0944

Ms. Miller and I parted ways, but this is one tour that I will remember for a long, long time.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Spotlight on Collections

Posted on January 10th, 2013 by

The majority of our archival collection here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland dates after the construction of the Lloyd Street Synagogue (1845).? This isn?t surprising giving the size of the Jewish population in Baltimore before that time.? But we do have some items from the earlier part of the 19th century or even the end of the 18th century.

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and Miriam (daughter of Ezekiel) in Baltimore, 1839. Courtesy of Mabel F. Kraus. 1964.24.2″]

Handwritten ketubah (marriage contract) for Simon [Floss?

Prayer book, in Old German and Hebrew, edited by W. Heidenheim and published in Rodelheim by J. Lehrberger, 1838. This book was used by Rabbi Abraham J. Rice (first rabbi at the Lloyd Street Synagogue) with family information inscribed. Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Flehinger. 1963.6.1

Indenture between Daniel Evans and Richard Bell for a piece of ground in Fells Point at Fleet and Ann Streets for $1000.00, 1818. Courtesy of Albert Berney. 1992.232.2

Power of attorney concerning Michael Gratz, his wife Miriam Gratz and Michael?s brother Bernard, 1795. Courtesy of Dr. Joseph Francus. 1983.31.2

A travel diary/itinerary for a trip taken July 9-August 17, 1786. 1988.145.10

Hebrew or Yiddish note with English translations regarding the death of Joshua Cohen in Germany, 6 Tammuz 5539 (1779). Courtesy of Maxwell Whiteman. 1989.1.19

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Spotlight on Collections

Posted on November 29th, 2012 by

As November 2012 comes to a close we thought it would be fun to look back and see what was going in Novembers past.

Portrait photograph of Leona Adler, November 24, 1910. Courtesy of Julius Mandel. 1990.209.90c.

Hilda (Lapides) Rudy and Sheldon Rudy (infant), November 1, 1936. Taken in front of Rudie's Pharmacy, 3100 Block of West North Avenue. Courtesy of Bessie Franklin. 1989.78.7.

Gela Baser and Fred Perchal at their wedding with guests in Brussels, Belgium, November 28, 1945. Courtesy of Rabbi Manuel Poliakoff. 1996.113.7.

Irving Cohn and family in Atlantic City, NJ, November 1946. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Myron M. Oppenheimer. 2003.86.9.

Hymen Saye teaching ?Introduction to Hebrew? at the College of Jewish Studies, November 1947. Rhoda (Goldstein) Wilkis is in the front row, third from left, and Doris (Pollack) Schnider is fourth from left, wearing a dark dress, looking at the teacher. Courtesy of Hymen Saye. 1991.7.30.

Housing Authority of Baltimore event on November 1, 1951. From the estate of Jacob Fisher. 1972.36.1.22.

Photograph of Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin signing a proclamation designating the week as American Jewish Congress Week, November 1956. Pictured from left to right are: Meyer Cardin, Gertrude Benesh, Irvin Kovens, Maurice Cardin, Judge Daniel Friedman, Isaac Taylor, Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin, Otto D. Weill, Senator Philip H. Goodman, Florence Rogers, and Samuel Steinbach. Courtesy of Jack L. Levin. 1984.3.43.

The 50th Anniversary of the United Synagogues of America Convention at the Concord, November 17, 1963. J. Benjamin Katzner is standing at left. Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, is seated immediately to the right of the podium. 1985.156.12.

Dedication ceremony of the restored Lloyd Street Synagogue, November 8, 1964. Courtesy of Janet Fishbein (daughter of Susan Levy Bodenheimer), Ellen Patz, Ruth Gottesman & Vera Mendelsohn Mitnick. 2002.79.931.

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Guests listening to the program at a Jewish National Fund event, November 5, 1967. 1985.156.24.

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