Posted on September 17th, 2013 by Rachel
Opening October 13th!
Everyone at the JMM is very excited for our upcoming exhibit, Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the American Civil War. Karen and Jobi are preparing the gallery while Rachel and Trillion are putting together the advertising and logistics for our various programs, and Ilene is creating new curricula and activities for the schoolchildren to do, and Esther is buying all the Civil War tchotkes you could ever want to buy. Meanwhile, Marvin has been developing a brand new tour of a very familiar space: the Lloyd Street Synagogue circa 1861, at the beginning of the American Civil War.
Docent training begins.
The new tour will enable our visitors—especially our return visitors—to see the Lloyd Street Synagogue through new eyes. The extension of the synagogue in 1860 isn’t only significant because it covered up the original mikveh, but, more importantly, it demonstrates just how quickly the city of Baltimore—and by extension, its Jewish population—was growing. However, that same growth of the Jewish community created new problems that came to a head during the Civil War, as our visitors will learn on this tour. Visitors will also gain an intimate understanding of how Jews justified taking either the Confederate or the Union side of the conflict by hearing excerpts from contemporary writings by two prominent Baltimore rabbis (Rabbis Illoway and Einhorn, of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and Oheb Shalom, respectively).
Marvin holds up one of our cast of characters!
It won’t be easy for us and our volunteer docents to learn a whole new tour in just a few weeks, but we’re all eager for the challenge! Last week, we invited our docents to see the new tour, and we received some excellent constructive feedback in return. Marvin led us through the synagogue, giving us tips on how to guage the knowledge and interest of our groups by using a Civil War-era kepi as a shibboleth, and showing us how different parts of the synagogue illustrate the various issues that were important to the Jewish community here during the Civil War.
Marvin with the docents.
We will be premiering the 1861 Tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue when we open the new exhibit on October 12th for the Members Preview and on October 13th for the Public Opening. At the openings, the tour will be offered twice, and after that it will offered once a day in the place of the regular 3pm tour (all other daily tours will be the regular overview tour of the two synagogues).
We encourage you to come and “experience the Lloyd Street Synagogue you never knew!”
A blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts by Abby, click here.
Posted on September 11th, 2013 by Rachel
A casual reader of these blog posts might think we’ve grown obsessive about the Civil War. It is certainly true that our upcoming exhibit (member’s preview on October 12 at 7:30) has occupied many hours of staff and intern time – researching, writing, designing, fundraising, marketing and more. And I think all of us have gotten more engaged and intrigued by the topic as we have understood it better.
Still all of us have other interests. In my case, I am keeping one eye on ophthalmology. This is not only because I am scheduled to have cataract surgery next week, but also because of a prominent role of one particular family of eye doctors in our plans for the 2015 exhibit Jews, Health and Healing.
Jonas Friedenwald, the progenitor, 1875.
The Friedenwald family included three generations of Baltimore ophthalmologists whose work and interests influenced much more than the field of medicine. Dr. Aaron Friedenwald (1836-1902), Dr. Harry Friedenwald (1864-1950) and Dr. Jonas Stein Friedenwald (1897-1955). The progenitor of this medical dynasty was none other than the Jonas Friedenwald who served as one of the original Board members of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and led the faction that broke away to create Chizuk Amuno. It is a genuine American Jewish success story that this former umbrella mender and junk dealer would become the patriarch of generations of healers.
Dr. Harry Friedenwald
A special focus of the exhibit will be the middle generation – Dr. Harry Friedenwald. Harry, whose sesquicentennial is September 21st of next year, spent much of his career as a professor at the University of Maryland Medical School. He was a well-published scholar, completing some pioneering work on the connections between diabetes and eye disease. But the most important reason we have chosen to shine a light on Harry Friedenwald is for his work as a collector.
Diploma of medicine awarded to Lazarus de Mordis. Padua, 1699.
Potential loan from the Friedenwald Collection, National Library of Israel.
According to several sources, Harry was inspired by a lecture his father gave in 1897 entitled, “Jewish Physicians and the Contributions of the Jews to the Science of Medicine”. From that point forward, Harry began to acquire one of the largest collections of material on this topic ever assembled in the United States. His library included the codex of a 10th century Italian Jewish physician, Sabbato Donnolo, describing over 120 medicinal plants known at that time. There is also 15th century translation of the original Arabic manuscripts of the 9th century Jewish physician to the Caliph as well as 15th century Latin translations of the work of Maimonides. There are astronomical and astrological tables of Jewish origin from the early renaissance. It includes the writings of Francisco Lopez de Villalobos, the Jewish-born converso who served as court physician to King Ferdinand (and I’m sure this is just a coincidence) was one of the first authors to describe the causes of syphilis. And there is the writing of Jacob Mantino ben Samuel, a refugee from the Inquisition who became a physician to Pope Clement VII after nixing biblical nullification for the marriage of Henry VIII to Queen Catherine (you can bet I will be pursuing this story).
Baltimore People at Zionist Conference. Tannersville, New York – 1906 or 1907. Harry Friedenwald is located in the center of the middle row.
So what happened to Harry’s collection? All three generations of Friedenwald doctors were active in the Zionist movements of their times. Harry helped establish the medical care system in Palestine during the period just before World War I. In 1948, Harry gave his entire collection of manuscripts to the newly formed National Library of Israel.
As we began to prepare for our exhibit we contacted the Library. They have given us agreement in principle to return a small number of works to Baltimore for inclusion in this project. We couldn’t be more excited.
The extraordinary story of the Friedenwalds and the collection also has us thinking about the “why” behind the Jewish connection with the healing arts and sciences, not only physicians, but pharmacists, nurses, medical researchers, etc. So we would like to hear your stories. If you or someone you are close too is in the healing professions we’d like to learn about how that choice of occupation was made – what role did parental or family expectations, financial needs, Jewish learning or other factors play in this decision. If you have a story you’d like to share send us a note. You can respond to this blog post or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We now take you back to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War…which is still in progress.
A blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts by Marvin, click here.
Posted on August 21st, 2013 by Rachel
Remember last week’s quiz, from our indomitable director Mr. Pinkert? Well, here are the answers – let us know how you did!
Q1: What is this? One of 18 spittoons from the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
Follow-up: This object belonged to the Shomrei Mishmeres Congregation the most recent religious organization to utilize the Lloyd Street Synagogue. In what year does this congregation move into the building? 1905
Q2: In the years before Microsoft Word, people used devices like this to prepare documents. This one is unusual in that it could print letters in two languages, what two languages? Hebrew and English
Follow-up: When was this manufactured? 1923
Q3: What was this object used for? (Hint – it’s something that was once used in food preparation on Lombard Street, but you would be surprised to see it used on a public street today) It’s a chicken flicker, used to separate the bird from its feathers
Follow-up: Speaking of Baltimore foodways, the Museum holds several bottles and cans from the Jewish-owned beer brand, National Bohemian. When was the Baltimore icon “Natty Boh” first introduced to the public? 1933 (right after the repeal of prohibition).
Q4: If you type the words “tie pin” in JMM’s database, this is what will pop up. Too big to be a pin on a tie, it’s actually a pin on a military cap. What do the letters RF stand for? Royal Fusilers (which included the British army unit more commonly known as “the Jewish Legion”)
Follow-up: In what year did this military unit recruit in Baltimore? 1918
Q5: This guide book (also in our holdings) was prepared for the delegates to the last major party political convention to be held in Baltimore. In what year was the convention held? 1912
Follow-up: Who was nominated at this convention? Woodrow Wilson
Q6: This object belonged to Baltimore adventurer Mendes Cohen, one of six Jewish defenders of Fort McHenry. What is it? A traveling writing desk (the original “laptop”)
Follow-up: Mendes Cohen attended Queen Victoria’s coronation (his costume may have been more colorful than hers). In what year did this happen? 1837