Hanukkat in the Lloyd Street Synagogue

Posted on September 28th, 2016 by

Last week I observed a beautiful moment for the Jewish Museum of Maryland and we are not ready for the Festival of Lights yet!  For the past 10 years there was no mezuzah affixed to the doorpost of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. When the building went under renovations roughly 10 years ago, the mezuzah that had been on the building had been misplaced.  The beautiful moment I witnessed was the mezuzah being affixed once again to the building- or a Hanukkat (Dedication) of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue

The Lloyd Street Synagogue

The mezuzah is of biblical origin and there is reference to it in the Torah or Five Books of Moses. “And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts (mezuzot) of our house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:9, 11:20). What is to be inscribed?  The passage reads, “The words that I shall tell you this day”: that you shall love your God, believe only in Him, keep His commandments, and pass all of this on to your children.

An important part of the mezuzah refers to the parchment inside, or klaf, on which the verses of the Torah are inscribed. The klaf must be hand-lettered by a kosher scribe — one who is observant of halakha (Jewish law) and who qualifies for the task.  The scroll is rolled up from left to right so that when it is unrolled the first words appear first. The scroll is inserted into the container but should not be permanently sealed because twice in seven years the parchment should be opened and inspected to see if any of the letters have faded or become damaged.

A mezuzah serves two functions: Every time you enter or leave, the mezuzah reminds you that you have a covenant with God; second, the mezuzah serves as a symbol to everyone else that this particular dwelling is constituted as a Jewish household, operating by a special set of rules, rituals, and beliefs.

Rabbi Mintz speaks about the scroll inside the mezuzah.

Rabbi Mintz speaks about the scroll inside the mezuzah.

Rabbi Eitan Mintz helped us with the dedication ceremony and shared with us some interesting facts about the placement of a mezuzah.  Many Jews tilt the mezuzah so that the top slants toward the room into which the door opens. This is done to accommodate the variant opinions of the great Jewish thinkers Rashi and of his grandson, Rabbeinu Tam, as to whether the mezuzah should be placed vertically (Rashi) or horizontally (Rabbeinu Tam). The compromise solution (top slant) was suggested by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher.

Rabbi Mintz and Marvin shake on a job well done!

Rabbi Mintz and Marvin shake on a job well done!

JMM Executive Director, Marvin Pinkert held the mezuzah against the spot upon which it is now affixed, and we all recited the blessing in Hebrew…

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשַׁנוּ בְּמִצְו‌ֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לִקְבּוֹעַ מְזוּזָה                                                              

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‘olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu liqboa‘ mezuzah.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue's new Jerusalem Stone mezuzah.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue’s new Jerusalem Stone mezuzah.

We hope that you will come down to the JMM to see our new mezuzah in the Lloyd Street Synagogue and other recent additions to the space.

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

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Once Upon a Time…12.09.2012

Posted on July 3rd, 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 jzink@jewishmuseummd.org.

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  December 9, 2011

PastPerfect Accession #:  1988.142.023

Status:  Identified! William Schechter installs a mezuzah while Libby Schechter looks on, at a Ner Israel event.

Special Thanks To: Simcha Schechter and Rachel Schechter

Tags:  F18

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A Blessing to One Another….

Posted on September 3rd, 2010 by

A blog by Program Director Ilene Dackman-Alon.

An outdoor sign welcomes our visitors.
Photo by Will Kirk

The activity level at the JMM this week has been a whirlwind due to the opening of the new exhibition, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People. As Program Director my job is to deal with all of the details. RSVP lists, catering, programs, speakers, sound system, time limits, ice, tablecloths and name tags………the list of details could go on and on… But after two successful events in connection with our newest exhibition, I am finally able to take a break from the details and relax for a moment and reflect on the week.

Photo by Will Kirk
I think one of the most special moments for me was not the actual events relating to the opening, but rather a quick conversation afterwards that I had inside the museum shop. Esther, the museum shop manager, was having a conversation with two nuns dressed in habits, and she was trying to explain to them the significance of a Jewish ritual object, the mezuzah (http:///en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezuzah). She asked me for my help in translating the Hebrew text written on the klaf, the insert inside the container.
Example of a klaf.

Some mezuzahs from our collection:

(left) 1986.120.001 Purchased from the Frank Meisler Gallery in Jaffa, c.1985
(right) 1991.007.056 Mezuzah in the form of a stylized pitcher

The mezuzah is not, contrary to popular belief, the outer container. The mezuzah is actually the parchment scroll within, on which the “Shema” — a biblical passage declaring the oneness of G d — is handwritten by an expert scribe. A mezuzah mounted on the doorpost designates the home as Jewish, reminding us of our connection to G d and to our heritage.

An example of writing a mezuzah scroll.
Some mezuzahs from our shop!
I think that the reason that the conversation was so significant for me was that I had never had a conversation with a nun before and the fact that I was having a conversation with these women about scripture from the Bible was WAY COOL! I was able to explain to another person outside of my own faith about the significance of this Hebrew text that is so very familiar to so many people. I realized that we all believe in one God (whichever that might be); and the scriptures point out ways we should embrace and love our neighbors. In other words, we are all “A Blessing to One Another.”
Here are some photographs from the opening festivities!
All of the following photographs were taken by Will Kirk.
Karen Falk leads a “curator’s tour” through the exhibit.


A visitor from the Polish Embassy!


Original exhibition curator James Buchanon gives a VIP tour.

Visitors enjoying “A Blessing to One Another.”

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