Posted on February 8th, 2016 by Rachel
Barbara Ezratty has been volunteering at the JMM for over 11 years. She works in the Museum Shop. She always enjoyed attending programs at the Museum and agreed to volunteer in the Shop when she was recruited by former Shop Manager, Esther Weiner.
Barbara in “Esther’s Place.”
Barbara grew up in Baltimore but moved to New York with her family following her junior year at Western High School. She then moved to Puerto Rico when she married Harry Ezratty, and they lived there for 25 years. Harry occasionally volunteers at the JMM too, as a speaker. He is currently teaching courses at CCBC in Owings Mills, one on Jewish Art and one on the Spanish Inquisition. The Ezrattys returned to Baltimore because they missed their family, who were all living in the United States. They made a list of all the places they’d like to live on the East Coast and Baltimore prevailed, with its long list of cultural events and activities; similar to New York City but on a much smaller and more affordable scale.
While in Puerto Rico, Barbara was a newspaper reporter. She concentrated on the Features section first, and then transferred to the Food section, which became a weekly. After working at the newspaper for 12 years, she started a magazine, Tables Magazine: Puerto Rico’s Guide to Great Dining. It began as a bi-annual publication, and then tapered to annually. She wrote it for 15 years and a version of it is still found online. Then Barbara became a book publisher. She got her start when publishing a synagogue cookbook, next she published a cookbook for a hotel, and then for a chef. She has also published children’s books and books that Harry has written. She penned an oral history of Puerto Rico and published it as a book, Puerto Rico, an Oral History 1898 – 2008.
Puerto Rico: An Oral History
When not busy working, Barbara likes to travel. She especially likes to visit her children and grandchildren; between she and Harry they have 6 children altogether. She is also very fond of cruising. Her very favorite journey was a re-positioning voyage, from Barcelona to Puerto Rico, for 14 days. Her calendar stays very busy with family events – from B’nai mitzvot to family reunions, all over the country.
Barbara enjoys spending time at the Museum. Being in the Shop provides her the opportunity to meet people from over the world. She particularly likes making connections with others and playing Jewish geography. It seems to her that many New Yorkers she meets grew up near Harry and went to his same schools. She’s met people who live near her family in California and others who have mutual friends in Puerto Rico. She still thinks it’s funny that when Baltimore natives ask what “school” she went to – that they are referring to high school, while when others ask that, they refer to college. She appreciates the social aspects of volunteering in the Museum Shop at the JMM. While Harry may think she comes mainly to do her own shopping, she is glad to assist others with theirs too. Just the other day, she received a lovely thank you note from a friend, who she sent a museum purchased gift to. Whether buying or selling, attending lectures, or special programs and events, Barbara enjoys spending her time at the JMM.
A blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. Every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at email@example.com or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.
Posted on January 13th, 2016 by Rachel
If I told you that someone’s retirement inspired multiple proclamations from elected officials, long-distance travel from former colleagues, a spontaneous sing-along of nearly 200 people, the naming of institutions in their honor, and open weeping from other adults, you might think I was referring to a superhero.
You’d be right.
The incomparable Esther Weiner.
Esther Weiner has personally welcomed thousands of visitors to the Jewish Museum of Maryland over the past 23 years. People entered the Museum shop as visitors, but they left it as friends. She made sure that everyone—from Board members to first-time visitors to her fellow staff—had the best possible experience on Lloyd Street.
In my brief time at the Museum, I learned a lot from Esther. I learned about what has worked and what hasn’t in the shop. I was reminded of the right way to treat a customer. I also learned a lot about Esther’s beloved family!
Me presenting Esther with the plaque.
At her retirement party, Baltimore City Councilwoman (and JMM Board Member) Rochelle “Rikki” Spector read two proclamations from city officials. Her colleagues toasted her. Members of the Museum’s board praised her (and lamented what they’ll do without her). Nearly 200 people belted out a song written in her honor, “Esther” (to the tune of Paul Simon’s “Cecelia”). Marvin announced the shop’s new name “Esther’s Place,” and installed a plaque to that effect. Not least of all, Esther herself delighted her well-wishers with remarks that perfectly represented her: full of warmth and humor, recognizing everyone, and shining with love.
Esther Weiner leaves big shoes to fill in the JMM Shop Esther’s Place.
Luckily, Esther’s Place’s new manager, Tucker Hager, has large feet (metaphorically speaking).
Tucker brings nearly a quarter century of museum retail experience to Esther’s Place—the fifth Museum shop he’s managed. I have no doubt that Tucker will live up to the high bar for customer service that Esther left behind. I’m excited about the ways in which Tucker’s Museum experience can help us build upon the strong foundation Esther left us. Tucker is already thinking about ways to expand the offerings in the shop to enhance the mission of the Museum and the visitor experience.
See you at Esther’s Place!
Stop by Esther’s Place sometime soon and help us celebrate Esther and welcome Tucker!
A blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.
Posted on November 20th, 2015 by Rachel
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
The end of an era
If you’re one of the tens of thousands of people who’ve visited the JMM over the past 23 years, there’s a good chance you’ve met Esther Weiner.
Everyone’s favorite shop manager.
Esther’s warm hospitality has been a mainstay of the Museum Store and the Museum for as long as anyone can remember. In 1992, then a member, Esther answered a help wanted ad in the Museum’s newsletter.
At first, her duties mainly consisted of administrative work in the back office, but somewhere along the way, the store fell into her lap. Despite being new to retail, Esther tackled her new task with gusto, and she succeeded marvelously. It’s the only way she knows how to do things!
Now, more than two decades since she answered that newsletter ad, it is with mixed feelings (sad for us, happy for her) that we report that as of December 2015, Esther will be applying her warmth and gusto to the next chapter of her life. We wish her all the best as she exits our gift shop, leaving it far better than it was when she got there.
We would like to invite our Board, our members, our volunteers and our staff to join us in a “Tribute to Esther” on December 14 at 6:30 p.m. Come join us as we share stories and photos stretching across nearly all of the Museum’s history.
The fruits of her labor
Esther’s good nature, good sense and good taste have built the Museum Store into an institution that supports the mission of the JMM even as it enhances the experience of our visitors. If you haven’t been into the store recently now is the time to come and enjoy the fruits of her labor. There are so many great items we’ve added that make perfect holiday gifts.
Selections from the shop
For instance, in support of the Paul Simon exhibit, the Museum Store is offering playful books, toys, art objects and gifts chosen to complement the character of the experiences in our galleries and our programs. From clocks, bowls and journals crafted from old vinyl records to pull-back racers that remind us of the flower-power of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘60s to the lovely catalogue published by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Museum Store lets visitors share a bit of their Paul Simon experience with family and friends.
We’re also excited to be carrying new products featuring the newly-launched JMM logo. Be the first on your block to sport the new JMM baseball cap or quaff down that coffee with a JMM/Jonestown mug – can’t guarantee it will taste better, just that it will be in good taste.
Add JMM to your Black Friday plans
For the first time in its history, the Jewish Museum of Maryland will be open the day after Thanksgiving (from 10am to 3pm)! The unusual Black Friday opening not only provides an alternative to the madness at the malls, it also gives us an opportunity to join in Story Corp’s National Day of Listening. Make a reservation for an interview between you and a family member to record a significant family memory. Stories recorded at JMM will be preserved at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. I can’t think of a more precious holiday gift… but just in case you want to top off your story with a tangible treat – Esther is offering a rare one-day sale in the Store: nearly everything but the Simon merchandise will be marked down 20%! We’ve got gifts for everyone on your holiday list, from baby to bubbe.
P.S. Don’t forget Nora Guthrie is coming to speak on Sunday.