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Exploring History at Home Part III – JMM Volunteers Share Stories

Posted on June 11th, 2020 by

JMM is fortunate to have a community of dedicated volunteers who share their talents, time, and stories with us – both at the museum and virtually.                                                                                 

As powerful storytellers, JMM’s volunteers continue to welcome us into their homes and share stories of some of their most meaningful objects. A special thanks to Karen, Maxine, and Joyce for this post’s entries. I hope the stories below encourage you to explore the objects in your home and the stories that they can tell.  

In case you missed them, you can enjoy past Exploring History at Home blog posts from our volunteers in Part I and Part II.

-Paige Woodhouse, Project Manager

To read more posts from Paige, click here!

Treasured Candlesticks

I treasure these candlesticks because they were my grandmother’s. After my grandmother passed away, my aunt asked if I would like to have them. My mother died young and my grandmother (who lived to be 96) played a large part in my life. I was really touched as I was in my 40’s and unmarried. My aunt must have thought that my cousins (who were married) must already have had candlesticks. Although I have no idea of their origin, I like to think that my great-grandmother brought them with her when they arrived from Palanga, Lithuania, in 1906. They appear to be hand made . . . We light them every Friday night and I know that this would make my grandmother very happy.

~ Karen Rubin

A Shadow Box Gift

I attended a performance of Ida Rehr at my organization’s meeting. She got me thinking. I knew my father had the tailoring sheers my grandfather, Max Snyder, brought from Russia.  I knew there was only one good picture of my grandfather.  I was sure the sheers were important To my dad but I got the courage to ask for them. After all I was named for my grandfather. He passed away shortly before my parents were married so I never knew him.

Well I asked, of course dad wanted to know why I wanted the sheers so I explained I was making a shadow box for them. Agreeing Dad reached into his desk and handed me the only remaining business card of his father’s tailoring business.

I took my three items to a reliable framer and he made this box for me.

I presented it to my father as a gift. My dad sat and cried. I never saw him cry over an object.

This sat in my parents den where they could always look at it. Upon my mother’s death I took the box back. After all it was my namesake’s. I now have it on the wall of my den where I can also look at it. I’m always reminded of where we came from.

~ Maxine Gordon

Schuchman Family Photo

This is a photo of my mother’s family, Schuchman, circa 1929. I suspect that beside it having been quite fashionable to have such formal family photos taken, the main reason was to have a picture to send to family that remained in Europe (specifically Mylnov, Poland). Photos were sent back and forth until the Holocaust, many in postcard format. I am fortunate to be heir to their album.

From left to right are my mother Rose , Samuel, Bubby Jessie (for whom I am named), Zaidy Joseph, Ida, and Anna.

Joseph came to America in 1911, worked in the garment sweatshops until he could send for the family in 1921. They lived on S. Charles St., then moved to Pimlico Rd. at Loyola Northway in the mid-twenties. They operated a corner grocery/deli there until the mid-sixties. I have so many wonderful memories of my mother’s family, and just looking at this photo piques my imagination about the lives they lived when they were young and beautiful!

~ Joyce Jandorf, Volunteer


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What We’re Reading: Paige Woodhouse

Posted on May 27th, 2020 by

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

During a visit to D.C. with my sister in the winter of 2017, we stopped by the Renwick Gallery to see the exhibit Murder is her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.

The Nutshells, crafted miniature crime scenes created by Frances Glessner Lee in the 1940s/50s, are still used as teaching tools at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore. The exhibit put us in the shoes of an investigator (magnifying glasses and all) to see if we could decipher what took place in these doll-house sized crime scenes. The two of us still talk about this exhibit.

So, what does this exhibit have to do with what I’ve been reading lately?

This exhibit left a lasting impression. I love a good mystery. Whether it’s a good old-fashioned whodunit, cozy armchair detective, or page-turner suspense, I enjoy the challenge of trying to solve the puzzle before the author’s big reveal. But there was no big reveal with the exhibit. The solutions remained a secret. My sister and I continued to discuss possible solutions to these mysteries for weeks after our visit. In addition, I wanted to know more about Lee’s life beyond the Nutshells. And I was curious about how the Nutshells, originally made for Harvard, ended up in Baltimore. Earlier this year, 18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics was published by Baltimore’s Bruce Goldfard. I jumped on the opportunity to dive deeper into her story, the mysterious nutshells, and the connection to Baltimore.

Interested in this extraordinary woman, her role in forensic science, and the Nutshells that have captured my attention for years? You can explore the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death in VR on your mobile device.


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Exploring History at Home Part II – JMM Volunteers Share Stories

Posted on May 4th, 2020 by

Storytelling is something that we value at JMM. Even when we are apart, stories can help connect us as a community.

Last month, JMM volunteers welcomed us into their homes to share the stories behind some of their most meaningful objects. We read stories about objects that were rediscovered, objects that are rarely seen today, objects that can fit in the palm of your hand, and an object that you can fit inside! You can read the previous post here.

Our volunteers continue to be superb storytellers and I am happy to share some more of their contributions with you. I hope that these short stories encourage you to think about the meaningful people and things in your life, explore your history, and share your own story.

~ Paige Woodhouse, School Program Coordinator

To read more posts from Paige, click here!

Friedenwald Pitcher and Basin

The attached photo and pasted below is a ritual hand washing pitcher and basin. It was dedicated to Chizuk Amuno Congregation by Jonas Friedenwald. The Hebrew date shown as 5648 converts to Gregorian date 1887-1888.

The artifacts were discovered when going through my Uncle Efrem Potts’s house with his daughters after he recently died. I am not certain, but my guess is that Efrem saved them from his father’s (my grandfather), Isaac Potts’s house in the early 60’s. Isaac predeceased his second wife, Julia Friedenwald Strauss who was Jonas Friedewald’s great granddaughter.

David S.

Majestic Candelabra

My mother explained what she knew about its trajectory throughout The Holocaust. This majestic candelabra traveled with my mother’s aunt and uncle from Poland during the years of WWII. No one in the family knows exactly how they were able to keep it from being confiscated nor which in places it found itself during those tragic years. It’s a mystery. I always light it for Shabbat together with my second historic set.

The second set which my grandmother bought in England following the war.

Her story was remarkable. She experienced several harrowing close calls with the Nazis during the 1940’s when she hid out in Belgium. Her most frightening encounter occurred when she secretly went out to buy a few vegetables and fruits and a Nazi approached her. Within just a few feet, he asked her name in German. My grandmother knew that if she opened her mouth her Yiddish accent would betray her. Within a few seconds she signaled that she was a deaf mute and in that moment of quick thinking she saved her life. A few years later my grandmother worked as a cook in a yeshiva in England and saved her money to buy this set of candlesticks which I also light every Friday night.

Rita P.

The “Little Pot”

This “little pot” – enamelware – is at least as old as I am. My parents acquired it in 1948 or so in the Displaced Persons (DP) camp in Wels, Austria. This is the place they each traveled to after the end of World War II, met each other and married, had me, and left in 1952 to come to America and settle in Baltimore. The story I always heard about the pot was that my mother used it in Wels to make my baby food. In Baltimore as a young child, I remember the little pot was filled with chicken schmaltz. It hasn’t been put to use in many years and whenever I clean out and reorganize the kitchen cabinet, I find that I cannot part with it and always find a place for it.


Charm Bracelet Keepsake

This charm bracelet is one if the few keepsakes I have from my mother’s childhood. As a Holocaust survivor, very few of her belongings survived with her. She received it in 1935 when she was 13 years old, living in Hannover, Germany. Six years later, at the age of 19, she and her mother were rounded up by the SS and spent the next four years in a series of ghettos and concentration camps. Her mother perished in Stutthof Concentration Camp, a few months before liberation. My mother returned to Hannover after the war and retrieved a few special items she had left in the care of a Gentile neighbor. This bracelet was one of them.

Nancy Kutler


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