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Creating A Unique Field Trip About the Jonestown Neighborhood

Posted on May 16th, 2019 by

This post was written by JMM School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!


Back in March, the JMM received an email from the Middle School Principal, Mr. Golon, at The Friends School of Baltimore. This email led to an exciting opportunity for the education team at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Mr. Golon was in the midst of planning a new experience for his 8th-grade students. Planning a 2-day “deep dive” field trip into the students’ home city, he was looking for experiences that would encourage his students to think about the different narratives represented in Baltimore. Requests like these energize our education team. We love the opportunity to tailor a program to the learning goals of educators and create meaningful experiences for students.

This request gave us an opportunity to explore our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit programs in a new light. Our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit is an immersive experience that acts as a platform for students to be introduced to the immigrant community living in the neighborhood around the Museum known as Jonestown. Through a melody of immigrant’s voices, students explore what life was like in tenement houses, the working conditions in sweatshops, and the hustle and bustle of Lombard Street. This scavenger hunt activity focuses on the first half of the exhibit, from the 1880s to about the 1920s.

The Friends School of Baltimore students’ visit empowered JMM staff to explore a new perspective of the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit, thinking about the Jonestown neighborhood.

For the Friends School of Baltimore’s visit, we wanted to explore the relationship of the different cultural and religious communities that made this neighborhood home and what students could learn from the neighborhood’s history. Mr. Golon wanted students to consider two questions:

>What do the historical narratives of African-American and immigrant communities in Baltimore teach us about where our city has been and where it is going?

>What are some of the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the Jonestown neighborhood of our city?

We developed a scavenger hunt centered around these questions. One that would encourage students to consider the different nationalities of immigrants living in Jonestown, the relationship between African American community members and their neighbors, and why the Jonestown neighborhood needed multiple houses of worship. We also wanted students to look at how the neighborhood changed beginning in the 1930s. Using the quotes from residents present in the exhibit, students would consider how the community felt both when the Flag House Courts opened in 1955 and when it was eventually demolished; how the riots in 1968 impacted Lombard Street; and how the community worked (and is working) together to revitalize the area.

Students worked in pairs to complete the new version of our Voices of Lombard Street scavenger hunt that explored the changing history of the Jonestown neighborhood.

We wanted students to step out of the exhibit and into the neighborhood itself. While on a neighborhood walking tour, students would learn about the history of Jonestown. Walking down Lloyd Street, students would be able to compare the past and present. Peering down East Baltimore, students would see the McKim Center, the original Friends Meeting House, the Phoenix Shot Tower, and both the existing and future Helping Up Mission buildings. Stopping in front of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel Synagogue students would learn about the Jewish community that made Jonestown home. They would also see the vacant lot where Smelkinson’s, a kosher dairy, resided before it was burned down during the riots of 1968.

The walking tour around the neighborhood encouraged students to see how the urban landscape of Jonestown has evolved and is still evolving.

The neighborhood walking tour would encourage students to gain a better sense of place and make connections between the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and the community that exists today. Students were asked to think about the opportunities that exist for Jonestown and what role the residents and businesses can play.

Students also shared their learning with each other and considered challenges, strengths, and opportunities found in Jonestown.

Mr. Golon first reached out to the JMM in March and in May we were delighted to be one part of their two-day field trip. This JMM experience, designed specifically with a “deep dive” into the Baltimore community in mind, culminated in asking the students, “What do you think it means to be part of a neighborhood?” Here is a selection of their responses:

>To be connected, and that each neighborhood has its own culture

>It means to be part of a community, to be together as a whole, working through things.

>Be a good citizen, speak up

>Forms community, everyone can feel safe, communicate

>A place where people live and houses stories

>It brings people together and gives them a sense of home

>It means to be a family and to live in history

>Help others, to contribute

>Open, inclusive and committed, sharing

>Unity

>Change

The Friends School of Baltimore was piloting a new year-end field trip for their 8th-grade students, and that opportunity gave the education team at the JMM to the ability to try something new as well. Thank you to Mr. Golon and The Friends School of Baltimore for letting us support your students as they explored their city and the communities, both past and present, that make it unique.

8th grade students exploring Baltimore in May. 

Their visit also included: Homewood Friends Meeting House, Blue Water Baltimore, Friends of Patterson Park, Patterson Lanes, Baltimore City Council, Baltimore Inspector General’s Office, Mayor’s Office of Sustainable Solutions, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and McKim Center. We were proud to be a part of this group of organizations supporting their learning.


Have an idea for a field trip? We are happy to tailor our programs to your classroom learning. Please contact Paige Woodhouse, School Program Coordinator, at pwoodhouse@jewishmusuemmd.org or 443-873-5167 to start building a great experience for your students.


 

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Volunteers Go A-Walkin’: A Jonestown Tour

Posted on October 24th, 2018 by

A blog post from JMM Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis. To read more posts from Wendy, click here.

One of the fun benefits of being a volunteer at the Jewish Museum of Maryland is the opportunity to go on field trips with fellow volunteers.  This October, our field trip started at the front door of the museum.  We ventured on a walking tour of our historic neighborhood, Jonestown.  Did you know that after Baltimore was founded in 1729, Jones Town was the first neighborhood established outside the city?  It was originally the home to wealthy residents such as the Carrolls and Edward Johnson, a Baltimore mayor.  Then it became home for generations of immigrants, filled with shops and social institutions.

Using “The Jewish Museum of Maryland Neighborhood Walking Tour” as a guide, Ilene Dackman-Alon  lead us, engaging us in stories about various buildings and the people that lived and work in the area.

Participants shared their impressions:

I have been going to Little Italy for 50 years and never saw Yiddish writing on Amicci’s building. So interesting and thrilling to see that little bit of “Yiddishkeit.”  How amazing that there is so much history in Jonestown. -Robbin Bord, docent

What I found interesting is that using the guidebook provided, you could see where these historic neighborhoods and businesses were. It’s almost like being a time traveler. – Roberta Greenstein, front desk volunteer

So much was new.  I really enjoyed seeing the Star Spangled Banner house and museum.  I had no idea it was even there.  I can’t wait to go back to see the movie and to climb the Shot Tower. – Robin Kaplan, shop volunteer

Touring the interior of the Shot Tower!

We had a fabulous time on the walk around Jonestown! Of course, having grown up in Baltimore -and attending Sunday School -and being involved in the Museum for many years, we’ve known the area was a melting pot for immigrants. But adding actual stories to the lore was wonderful! Ilene was a wealth of information and her enthusiasm infectious! The tour participants’ input and recollections added to the mix. A great time! And, the rains held off until we closed the car door to head back uptown! Thanks for coordinating another nice event!  -Maxine Cohen & Myron Oppenheimer, shop volunteers

I found the walking tour highly informative in providing a real perspective of life in a vital Jewish neighborhood, even though many of the shops, other commercial establishments, and housing structures covered no longer exist. Ilene’ s personal reflections, along with the printed material and photographs handed out elicited many fond firsthand memories from our group as well as stories they heard from parents, grandparents and relatives. The Shot Tower stop was an added bonus to an enjoyable walk. Thanks to Ilene and you for setting us this worthwhile event.  – Phil Sagal, docent

The Jonestown tour was wonderful. Thank you, Ilene. I loved that on Sunday (while talking with JMM visitors) some questions came up and I could answer them. Had I not been on the tour I wouldn’t have been able to. – Helene Goldberg, docent

We all delighted in exploring the neighborhood, seeing up close buildings that we quickly drive by, being able to read the plaques on the historic building, hearing the words of people who walked the streets of Jonestown years ago, appreciating the wonderful teacher Ilene is and enjoying each other’s company.

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What Carroll County Missed

Posted on December 7th, 2017 by

A blog post by JMM Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. You can read more posts by Marvin here.

Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day. Photos by Will Kirk.

Last Sunday, here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland we had a celebration of Iraqi Jewish culture – there was a dance troupe and musical performances, henna painting and hamsa making, storytelling and some pretty darn good cookies.

It was one of the biggest attendance days of 2017 – with nearly 220 visitors – including visitors from DC and Montgomery County and a whole school group from the Eastern Shore.  There were people of all ages and many ethnic backgrounds.  I mention this not to brag about what we accomplished (at least not just to brag), but also to mourn the way in which fear has trumped reason and denied opportunities to share and learn.

I am sure by now you are aware of the decision of the Carroll County School Board (on the recommendation of the county sheriff) to ban field trips to Baltimore City.   The ostensible reason was the “recent violence in the traditional tourist areas of the city.”

Now I’m not going to minimize the fact that there is a real violence problem in the city and my heart goes out to each of the 300+ families who have lost a loved one.  However, like any risk we face in life I think this requires a little perspective.  How many people are killed or even injured each year in the city while visiting a museum or participating in a Christmas Parade?  Darn few.

I happen to live in a collar county and I commute to the Jewish Museum everyday.  I am acutely aware of the fact that the fatality toll on this state’s highways is 70% higher than the number of murders in the city.  This doesn’t persuade me to stop driving… no more than a county-wide crisis with prescribed opioids would suggest I should stop seeing a doctor.

But some would argue, “why take any risk for the sake of a field trip?”  “It’s just a frivolity.”  I took a look at the Carroll County Schools website.  There I found a document entitled Vision 2018, describing the four major strategic initiatives of the school system.  One of the four major planks was “Prepare Globally Competitive Students.”  Surely, a part of being “globally competitive” is a greater understanding of the 7 billion people on the planet who do not live in Carroll County.  Such understanding has many components but only a few are found on the Internet or in a textbook. Some need to be experienced by meeting people who come from other cultures or contact with the artifacts and places that shape ideas and beliefs.  And most of us will remember something we experienced on a field trip years after we have forgotten everything that was taught in school that week.

Jonestown: Proudly we hail.

As concerned as I am about the ban in Carroll County, I am far more concerned about the way this ban has influenced conversations in the Jewish community over the last couple of weeks.  I have heard the argument made that some neighborhoods are too risky to visit, including our own neighborhood of Jonestown (home of JMM, the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, the Reginald F Lewis Museum, the historic Shot Tower and – with all irony intended – the Carroll Mansion).  I object to this line of argument for all the reasons stated above… and one more: it flies in the face of Jewish values.

We are a caring community that would no more abandon the place that gave us birth (Jonestown, Baltimore) than we would the parents who nurtured us.  A “Jewish” reaction to the very real challenges is not to hide but to repair.  All around us are institutions committed to making Jonestown a better place including our new neighbors Ronald McDonald House and the National Aquarium, not to mention the expanding Helping Up Mission.  At a time when so many are investing in Jonestown are we really going to let our fears prevent us from lending a hand? And sometimes lending a hand requires no sacrifice – just ask the 220 people who enjoyed themselves on Sunday, advancing this community’s economy.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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