Honoring Vivienne Shub

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by

On Thursday, November 13, the JMM was privileged to host a special event honoring Vivienne Shub, a true icon of Jewish Baltimore. A talented actor who passed away in September at the age of 95, Vivienne left her mark as a member of the companies of many of Baltimore’s most well known theaters including Vagabond Theater, Center Stage (which she helped create) and Everyman Theater. In addition she was a beloved acting teacher at both Goucher College and Towson University.

Vivienne Shub performing.

Vivienne Shub performing.

I first learned about Vivenne Shub and her impact on our community when she was featured in a 2004 exhibit held at the JMM Weaving Women’s Words, that was created by the Jewish Women’s Archives. This exhibit highlighted many extraordinary Baltimore Jewish women through photographic portraits, oral history interviews and contemporary artwork. Even among this group of powerful and amazing women, the section devoted to Vivienne stood out and it was a true honor meeting her at the exhibit’s opening. (You can learn more about Vivienne’s life at the JWA website as well as through a recent Jewish Times article.)

Dan Shub speaks about his mothether (pictured here with her late husband).

Dan Shub speaks about his mothether (pictured here with her late husband).

The evening featured members of Vivienne’s family and close friends who shared fond memories of her. Speakers included Vivienne’s sister, Naomi Greenberg-Slovin, who shared an especially close relationship with her sister as well as a love and passion for the theater; her children, Dan Shub and Judith Shub-Condliffe; and Ralph Piersanti who recalled the early days of Center Stage when it was housed at the JCC. Award-winning filmmaker, Steve Yeager, presented a clip from a video he shot of Vivienne performing as Etta Cone in the Cone Sister of Baltimore at the BMA.

Ralph Piersanti and Steve Yeager

Ralph Piersanti and Steve Yeager

In addition to the tribute, JMM staff created a lobby display featuring photographs and other theatrical memorabilia from our collections as well as from her family. The display will remain on view through the end of the month.

Exhibit poster

Exhibit poster

Display case

Display case

Yearbook photo of Vivienne Shub from her days at Forest Park High School (on display).

Yearbook photo of Vivienne Shub from her days at Forest Park High School (on display).

The JMM is so grateful to Harriet Lynn and the members of Vivienne’s family for presenting us with the opportunity to take part in such a special program.

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

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WHAT IS THE USE OF JEWISH HISTORY?

Posted on December 4th, 2013 by

People sometimes ask me, “What is the use of Jewish history?” And “why do you study and write about that so much?” Author and historian, Lucy Davidowitz, wrote a book on this subject.

2007.054.027  Book cover, The Hoffburger Journey in America: 1882-2005, compiled primarily by Lois Hoffberger Blum Feinblatt.

2007.054.027 Book cover, The Hoffburger Journey in America: 1882-2005, compiled primarily by Lois Hoffberger Blum Feinblatt.

Others take their concern and doubt to an annoying level, saying, “History is not important.” Perhaps not, for them, compared with the latest Hollywood gossip, the score of Sunday’s  football game or newest technological toy. Their view is short sighted, to say the least.

For me, researching and writing about Jewish history is akin to raising a memorial to departed relatives, ancestors and – yes – to strangers.  Some may be famous community or congregational leaders while others served their families quietly with love and dedication.

Only two of my relatives served the community in public ways – one was a Hershfield who served as secretary of a synagogue in New Jersey. The shul is now defunct, and I have no documentation about this except for Oral History tapes of my mother.

Another Hershfield in the same family in Jersey City served on the public School Board.  But this branch of the family are notorious for not answering letters, and we have been out of touch with them since the 1960s, so no documentation has been found to verify the anecdote.

(As for yichus, that is, genealogical status, I sometimes imagine that I am descended from a 2nd Century Sage or a Levitical priest.  But this may be ego on my part!)

Every time we quest for our family’s history, read an article in a Jewish History periodical or visit the JMM, we are raising a memorial to the whole Jewish people.  It is like placing rocks on the top of tombstones when we visit cemeteries. The purpose is to make the marker-stone larger, thereby, increasing the honor of those who have passed away. Saying Kaddish for one’s father is another example.  Sharing our genealogies with living relatives is a third example of zichron – remembering our ancestors.  And from where we came.

1973.008.001 Collage of Galitzianer gravestones (1903) from Gruft family collection. Artist unknown.]

1973.008.001 Collage of Galitzianer gravestones (1903) from Gruft family collection. Artist unknown.]

The value of learning, teaching and celebrating our many-faceted history becomes more apparent when we consider how often in history that the Jewish people have faced extreme adversity.  Even if our immigrant-ancestors lived a life of obscurity, toiling in the moderate Garment Industry of Jonestown or peddling as an arabisher, there is eternal value to our interest, care and memory of them.  We need the Eternal One’s eyes to perceive the value of Jewish history.

1997.149.003  Button sewing machine (1930s), made by Singer, from D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Machinery Co., of Baltimore Street and later, Gay Street.

1997.149.003 Button sewing machine (1930s), made by Singer, from D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Machinery Co., of Baltimore Street and later, Gay Street.

 

photo of Robert SiegelA blog post by Collections Volunteer Robert Siegel. To read more posts by and about JMM volunteers, click here.

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