A Full Museum: The Grand Opening of Cinema Judaica

Posted on July 6th, 2015 by

On Thursday, July 2nd the Jewish Museum of Maryland opened the doors of its new traveling exhibit: Cinema Judaica! 130 members and visitors came to see the new exhibit, enjoying signature 1950s cocktails, sparkling wine, and kosher refreshments before the presentation. It was a fun event for all and gave museum members an opportunity to unwind at the museum. The event helped me learn about what is involved in preparing for a big event.

Members of the museum and special guests enjoy cocktails and kosher refreshments.

Members of the museum and special guests enjoy cocktails and kosher refreshments.

Education and Programming Intern Eden serves drinks.

Education and Programming Intern Eden serves drinks.

Visitors have a conversation about the film posters in the exhibit.

Visitors have a conversation about the film posters in the exhibit.

After the special cocktail hour, Ken Sutak, author of the book Cinema Judaica, gave a fascinating lecture titled How Harry Warner, Ernst Toller, and Alvin York Helped Win ‘The Great Debate’ for American Interventionists. I enjoyed learning about how the movie posters influenced public opinion and were used to help the US decide to intervene in World War II. The leaders Harry Warner, Ernest Toller, and Alvin York went against popular opinion in Hollywood and developed films like A Nazi Spy which played a role in getting America to intervene in WWII. There was also a book signing after the presentation.

Ken Sutak, author and curator of Cinema Judaica talks about  “The Great Debate.”

Ken Sutak, author and curator of Cinema Judaica talks about “The Great Debate.” Photo by Will Kirk.

 Collections Intern Kaleigh Ratliff, and Education and Programming Intern Falicia Eddy encourage visitors to vote for, and take pictures by their favorite poster.

Collections Intern Kaleigh Ratliff, and Education and Programming Intern Falicia Eddy encourage visitors to vote for, and take pictures by their favorite poster.

Visitors will have plenty more opportunities to see the exhibit – though don’t wait too long as Cinema Judaica closes on September 6, 2015! The museum has planned several other great events around the exhibit including free outdoor film screenings: The Great Dictator on August 9th, and Gentleman’s Agreement on August 23rd.

Can’t wait until August? On Sunday, July 12th come to our Flickering Treasures talk at 1pm with photographer Amy Davis to learn about the history of Baltimore’s own movie theaters!

Falicia EddyA blog post by Education and Programs Intern Falicia Eddy. To read  more posts from interns click HERE.

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Explore the Civil War You Never Knew

Posted on October 18th, 2013 by

Nearly 200 people joined us at the JMM this past weekend (Oct. 12 and 13) to celebrate the opening of Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War. The exhibit comes to us from the American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University Museum and has been enhanced by the JMM to include artifacts and stories that reflect the role of Maryland Jews in the war.

The exhibit sheds light on both how the Jewish community (which numbered 150,000 in 1860) participated in the war as well as how the war impacted the community.

Here are some of the opening event highlights:

guests in gallery

guests in gallery

At Saturday evening’s members’ preview, guests enjoyed viewing the fascinating artifacts on display especially those that told local stories. It was fun hearing the chatter in the gallery as people constantly exclaimed how surprised they were to learn about the extent of Jewish involvement in the war effort.

Guest using the stereoscope viewer

Guest using the stereoscope viewer

The JMM installation featured several new activity stations. Here a guest explores the section of the exhibit on Civil War era photography by testing out a stereoscope viewer.

2nd South Carolina String Band

2nd South Carolina String Band

With their authentic period costumes and instruments, music of the Second South Carolina String Band gave the lobby a Civil War-era feel.

Karen leading tour

Karen leading tour

JMM curator Karen Falk led two filled-to-capacity exhibit tours where she shared stories about individual artifacts and stories on display.

Marvin leading tour

Marvin leading tour

JMM executive director Marvin Pinkert premiered our new 1861 themed tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue for guests at Saturday’s event. This tour takes visitors back in time to the 1860s as they explore what Jewish life was like in Baltimore at this time as well as the important role that the Lloyd Street Synagogue (then Baltimore Hebrew Congregation) played in the debate on slavery. This new tour will be given daily (Sun-Thurs) at 3pm.

BSA student

BSA student

We are so grateful to the two students from the Baltimore School for the Arts who attended the event in period costume. It was especially fun watching Amelia navigate tight corners in her hoop dress. Thank goodness fashion trends have changed!

guests viewing objects in case

guests viewing objects in case

Our member’s preview was followed by a successful opening to the public on Sunday. We were delighted to see many people – both longtime friends to the JMM and first time visitors – take in the exhibit. Many people brought their children who enjoyed playing with the exhibit’s activity stations.

visitor talking to re-enactor

visitor talking to re-enactor

On Sunday, we were privileged to have two Civil War re-enactors attend in authentic soldier uniforms. Guests enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with them as they learned about their uniforms’ details and items of significance.

Jonathan Karp

Jonathan Karp

Jonathan Karp, former director of the American Jewish Historical Society and one of the exhibit’s project directors, provided fascinating insights on the development of the exhibit and shared some of his favorite stories with our guests.

Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War is on display at the Jewish Museum of Maryland through February 28, 2014. We hope you will stop by for a visit.

A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts by Deborah, click here. All photos by Will Kirk.

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Wanna See Batman?

Posted on February 1st, 2013 by

A blog post by Program Manager Rachel Cylus. Opening photographs by Will Kirk.

At one of my brother’s birthday parties as a little kid, my parents hired a magician/comedian.  He would stand in front of a crowd of 4 or 5 year olds and say, “Wanna see Batman?!?” and when they roared “YEAH!!!” he would respond, “Well, he’s not here.”  My brother and I thought it was hysterical (what do you want?  We were 3 and 5).

Last Thursday I learned just how un-funny the punch line to this joke can be, because Batman, who I had hired to come to the ZAP! POW! BAM! opening, was not going to be there.  For completely understandable reasons, our Batman had to leave town at the last minute leaving us, well, in need of a hero to save the day.

So, I did what any rational person would do – I sent out the Bat Signal.  The Bat Signal, as you probably know, is a searchlight that casts the shape of a bat into the night sky.  It is used by the folks over at the Gotham City Police Station when they need to summon the Caped Crusader.  I climbed up onto the roof of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, positioned the searchlight somewhere over the Inner Harbor, and hoped that a Batman or at least maybe a Raven, would answer my call.

Alright, maybe this is not exactly what happened.  For one thing, this moment of crisis came in the middle of the day, when it is doubtful anyone would have been able to see anything reflecting on the sky.  Instead I went to social media and to friends and fortunately to one friend’s theater list-serve with this request:

Be Batman for a day!

Needed: The Batman

The Jewish Museum of Maryland is looking for one person to portray Batman for two hours on Sunday, January 27th from 11 – 1pm.

Must be:

Male

Average build

5’10 or taller

Familiar with Batman character

Enthusiastic and willing to pose in pictures and talk with young children 

And wouldn’t you know it, we got a response.  And then another, and another and another.  In fact my phone was ringing off the hook and emails poured in all day.  It was a miracle of epic proportions.  Turns out, lots of people would jump at the chance to be a superhero for a day.

People sent pictures of themselves in Batman costumes, describing their lifelong love of the Dark Knight.  We had people who had been extras in Batman movies, dressed up as Batman for Comic-Con, as well as serious actors who boasted their experience with stage combat and their solid knowledge of The World’s Greatest Detective!

But fortunately one Batman stood out from the crowd.  He sent a picture of himself portraying Batman last summer at Six Flags Amusement Park.  He was THE REAL BATMAN!!!  He even still had his professional costume.  I won’t identify him by name, just know that he definitely saved the day.

When Batman arrived at 11am at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the children (many in costumes themselves) were delighted.  They wanted to see Batman… and he was HERE!

JMM Staff with their Hero!

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