Amazing Partnerships at the JMM!

Posted on June 18th, 2014 by

Partnerships are something that we take seriously at the JMM and many of our programs and initiatives are conducted in collaboration with other institutions. We frequently work with other museums to develop and promote programs and we belong to such networks as the Greater Baltimore History Alliance ( and the Council of American Jewish Museums ( which foster collaboration among member organizations.

Our next major original exhibition, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, takes the concept of partnerships to new heights.

Opening September 14th - but you can start following Mendes and his travels now on Facebook!

Opening September 14th – but you can start following Mendes and his travels now on Facebook!

We are developing the exhibition as a joint project with the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS). As the MdHS is the custodian of many important artifacts and documents relating to Mendes Cohen, including the dozens of letters he wrote home during his travels, this partnership is truly a win/win for both organizations.

The JMM is incredibly grateful to the Burt Kummerow, director of MHS, and his staff for all of their assistance with this project. Jobi Zink and I recently had the great pleasure of meeting with Eben Dennis (job title) who showed us many of the artifacts we are hoping to display in the exhibit.

Travel Firman, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

Travel Firman, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

After spending so much time looking at reproductions of such objects as the firman that Mendes received from the Ottoman Empire which granted him the right to officially visit Palestine as a tourist (becoming the first American to receive such an honor), I was blown away by seeing the actual piece of paper with its Arabic script. The size of the document is hard to conceive especially when thinking about the pocket sized nature of today’s travel documents. Mendes wrote about his pride in receiving this document and in a letter published by a Baltimore paper in 1831, he wrote, ““I have just received my Firman . It is very full and explicit, to give me aid, supply my wants, &c, through my travels. It is written . . . on a sheet of paper about two feet and a half square [original italics] the size of the paper constituting, in some measure, its importance. . . . When it is presented to a Turk, he respects it by bowing, putting forward his head, and kissing the Sultan’s signature at the top of the paper. This necessary document I have received very promptly from Constantinople, an evidence of the dispatch given to our affairs there by our new Charge. It is, I believe, the first American Firman which has been issued, our countrymen heretofore having been obliged to procure them through the English Ambassador.”

Although The A-mazing Mendes Cohen does not open at the JMM until September 14, 2014, for those who cannot wait until then to learn more about this fascinating individual be sure to check out MdHS’s current exhibit In Full Glory Reflected: Maryland During the War of 1812.The exhibit includes such wonderful artifacts as the epaulets and hat that Mendes took to wearing many years after his participation in the War of 1812.


Mendes’ epaulets

Mendes' hat

Mendes’ hat

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah, click here. To read more posts about Mendes Cohen, click here.


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