What Learning Looks Like In the Lloyd Street Synagogue

Posted on December 12th, 2018 by

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

Learning at the Jewish Museum of Maryland takes many forms. Since the beginning of the school year in September, over 1000 students, teachers, and chaperones have brought their curious minds to the Museum with the hopes of learning something new. In November, Northwood Elementary School’s seventy-one 4th grade students visited over two days. They participated in our Introduction to Judaism program that takes place in the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Northwood’s students were a perfect example of what learning in the Lloyd Street Synagogue looks like. However, my title is not completely accurate. It’s not just what learning “looks” like. It’s not just visual. It’s verbal. It’s auditory. It’s kinesthetic. At the JMM we encompass all these styles.

Learning is visual. Inside the sanctuary of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Program Assistant Emma asked Northwood students what they saw. She was curious to know what looked familiar to students and what was new. It was like a “show and tell” of the Synagogue. Students found the ark, bimah, Ner Tamid, and the Star of David stained glass window. Notably, students pointed out that the phrase written across the ark was not in English, but in Hebrew.

Students playing Show and Tell in the Sanctuary with Emma.

Learning is verbal. Its students sounding out letters of the Hebrew alphabet as Emma teaches them a new word. Students didn’t just find the Hebrew characters above the ark, they had an opportunity to learn Hebrew phonetically.

Students using Hebrew guides to sound out the word Shalom.

Learning is kinesthetic. Students didn’t just see the oldest architectural exterior stained glass window in the United States, they built it. This hands-on approach by our education team is often mentioned by teachers in their feedback forms as something that impressed them.

Northwood’s 4th graders piecing together the Star of David stained glass window.

A few students from Northwood decided to take notes during their visit. Writing is a form of kinesthetic learning. One student wrote “When the Lloyd Street Synagogue opened in 1845 it was the first synagogue built in Maryland.”

A Student’s amazing notes made during her visit at the JMM.

Learning is auditory. At the Museum we are storytellers. Students listened to Emma as she told the story of the three immigrant communities that worshipped in the Lloyd Street Synagogue. By asking questions, students made connections between the stories Emma shared and their own lives. At the end of their visit, students mentioned that they learned about “the Jewish community (in general and in Baltimore).”

Finally, learning is social. After spending the morning exploring the third oldest synagogue still standing in the United States, students worked together to recreate the building. They chatted amongst themselves to determine which wall went where and when the bell tower was added (and removed).

Northwood Students working together to build the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Each school visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland is unique. Each student may connect with a different part of the story that we share. What is not unique is that every student walks away having learned something new that will, hopefully, spark a future conversation with friends and family. On a feedback form, a Northwood teacher remarked that “My students were virtual ‘blank slates’ when it came to Jewish history … it’s been a joy watching them learn so much!” I can guarantee that our education team enjoyed seeing, and being a part of, all the types of learning that took place with the Northwood Students.

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Postcards for Paige: Fall 2018

Posted on September 21st, 2018 by

Welcome to the third edition of our quarterly feature, “Postcards for Paige,” giving us a chance to answer commonly asked questions about how to make the most out of your visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

(All the answers are real, the postcards are dubious… but these days, who knows?)

Calling all shutterbugs!

Heya Paige,

My relatives are coming to visit from California and I have been researching things to do around Baltimore with them. I saw an advertisement for Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini in a magazine and think it’s a perfect fit for the whole family. My nieces are always on their phones and taking photos to share with their friends. So, my big question is … can we take photos in the exhibit?

~Hopeful Host

Hi Hopeful,

I encourage you and your family to take photos while you explore Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini! Just one small rule, please make sure your camera/phone has the flash turned off. However, like most rules, this rule comes with one exception. Nearing the end of the exhibit, in Houdini’s Final Act, you have the opportunity to take a Spirit Photo. Before you stand on the feet and get in selfie-taking position, you will need to make sure your flash is on. Remember once you have seen the spirit appear, turn the flash off again to keep snapping those photos.

Don’t forget to share photos with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #MagicAtJMM or #Inescapable. I can’t wait to see what you discover in the exhibit. Make sure to visit before the exhibit disappears on January 21, 2019.  


Listen to your mother: put on a sweater!


I consider myself to be a museum frequent-flyer. I love my Lombard Street Club membership at the JMM because it provides reciprocal entry to several other Jewish and local Baltimore museums. I dropped by the JMM recently and was glad that I wore my cardigan because it was cool inside the exhibits. I’ve noticed this at other museums as well.  Can you help me solve the mystery of why museums are often so frigid?

~Frosty Fayvel 

Hi Fayvel,

I am happy to shed some light on this mystery for you. The collections at the JMM are incredibly diverse. These objects are composed of many different materials, including: leather, metal, wood, stone, and paper. In fact, most objects are composed of multiple materials. These materials age and deteriorate at different rates. The JMM works to prevent the deterioration of the objects in our care. One way of doing this is through the control of the environment in which our objects are stored and exhibited. There are a variety of environmental factors that play a role in causing deterioration, such as light, temperature, pollutants, pests, and humidity. Fluctuations in temperature (and its partner-in-crime humidity) can have damaging effects on materials and speed up their deterioration. While high temperatures promote chemical and physical reactions causing deterioration, cooler temperatures allow materials to stay in a stable state and decreases deterioration.

Therefore, we purposefully keep any spaces with objects at a consistent, cooler temperature to best care for our collection for generations to come.

As far as clothing choices go, layers are your best friend at museums.


You Already Belong – Make it Official!

Hi Paige,

I’ve been to a few of the Museum’s programs and I think that I am hooked. I have been repeatedly impressed with how informative and entertaining the speakers on Sundays are. Is it true if I decide to become a member after the program finishes, that I can apply my previously purchased tickets towards the cost of a new membership?


Dear Hooked,

It sounds to me that you already belong to the Jewish Museum of Maryland community, so let’s make it official! By choosing to join, you help make all we do possible – from our changing exhibits to our fascinating programming.

It is true! If you have purchased tickets for a program, you are able to apply the cost of those tickets to your membership if your membership is purchased on the same day. Following the program, just drop by the Front Desk or Esther’s Place and a team member would be happy to help. Then, you can immediately begin to take advantage of your membership benefits! Like receiving a 10% discount on the book that you just heard the author talk about.

So why don’t you join us?


Have your own question for Paige? Send her a message at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org.

To read more posts from Paige, click here!



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Jenny Goes to the “Vet”

Posted on August 29th, 2018 by

A blog post by JMM Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.

As many of you know, here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland we pride ourselves on creating exhibits that are lively, innovative, and hands-on. So we make a point to build in different kinds of interactives – some as simple as a push of a button and others that take a little more active participation…like making an elephant disappear!

Any museum professional will tell you, hands-on interactives need to be prepared for lots of wear and tear. And even with the best of planning, sometimes you need to repair, replace, or re-think an interactive after it has been in use for a while.

In Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, we underestimated the strength of our visitors and had to repair our punching bag, replacing its mount with a heavy-duty chain.

In Voices of Lombard Street we regularly replace the fake food in the deli section of the exhibit. You can see our missing coleslaw and bun discoloration in these before-and-after photos!

And in Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini, we were met with a challenge – Jenny, our disappearing elephant, was a little “under the weather” after performing her trick for so many adoring fans.

(You may have noticed this cuddly stand-in while Jenny was out of her box awaiting surgery.)

But don’t worry, JMM staff came to the rescue! Archivist Lorie Rombro and Visitor Services Manager Paige Woodhouse played doctor for the day and fixed Jenny right up (they even let me assist!). In preparation for “surgery,” they gathered a variety of potential repair supplies, from needle and thread to multiple brands of superglue. We weren’t sure exactly what material Jenny’s hide was made from and knew we might have to test a few different techniques.

As you can see here, Jenny’s trunk and tusks are worse-for-wear. In addition to repairing the tears themselves, we needed to find a way to increase the support inside the trunk to help prevent future damage. In order to do that, we decided to fully remove the trunk before re-attachment.

A behind-the-scenes fun fact? We used a combination of hand-carved epifoam and the recycled underwire from a bra (yes, you read that right!) to create the needed support. The underwire was the perfect angle for Jenny’s trunk.

In the end the judicious application of gorilla glue (and some TLC) let us return Jenny to her magic box where she continues to delight and astonish our museum visitors!

Make sure to stop in, say hi to Jenny, and watch her perform her miraculous disappearance.

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