Take a Bow!

Posted on April 13th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of Performance Counts is brought to you through the joint efforts of our Visitor Services Coordinator Paige Woodhouse and our Interim Program Manager Lindsey Davis.

~Marvin

The Jewish Museum of Maryland has sounded a bit different over the past couple of months.

Usually one of the quieter Lloyd Street neighbors, our lobby echoed with the sounds of Punk Rock, Sephardic Ladino fusion, and Hollywood legends. From February 11-March 25th, 10 full days and 16 different programs brought 393 visitors in to the Museum specifically to attend JMM Live! Our JMM Live! series included three films, nine musical events, two author talks, and three theater performances. The turnout was outstanding – and nearly 20% of event attendees were new visitors to the Museum.

Our guests came from all over – Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kansas City, Missouri. And if we’re going to mention distance, we must also mention our Q&A Skype with South Korea!

JMM Live! also saw quite a bit of “repeat business.” Miriam Winder Kelly was our #1 audience member, attending seven separate programs!

But she had some competition, with 3 “runners up” each attending five different programs, and 2 more folks attending four programs each!

The JMM Live! series was, above all else, full of surprises and new experiences.

Never before have we played Yiddish punk rock videos on our projector, or had first-hand accounts told from the stage about Jazz clubs and the Jewish Mafia. We welcomed the tales of Gershwin and Hammerstein, listened to one-woman plays, and heard true stories from our living history characters. We even held a few dance parties in our library as our little ones not only listened but danced to – and made – their own music.

Our performers were gracious, talented, and warmed by the reception they received from our audience members.

From all of us at the JMM, we’re grateful for your willingness to participate differently, help us express ourselves creatively, and your ability to be challenged intellectually through new stories and new methods of storytelling. As the curtain closes on JMM Live!, we hope each of you takes a bow – we couldn’t have done it without you.

~Lindsey & Paige

(And in case you were wondering, our screening of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story wins the prize for most popular program – we sold out not once, but TWICE, sharing the experience with 160 people between the two showings!)

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April 10, 2018: A Decade in the Making

Posted on March 9th, 2018 by

Performance Counts: March 2018

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes to us from Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

Ten Years in the Making

In 1971, Isaac M. Fein, the founder of the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland (predecessor to the JMM), published a comprehensive history of the Jewish community of Baltimore. The Making of An American Jewish Community: The History of Baltimore Jewry from 1773 to 1920, was originally published by the Jewish Publication Society of America and then re-released by the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland in 1985. It is an excellent book, and one that our Senior Vice President, Dr. Robert Keehn, recommends to friends and family alike.

In 2008, JMM’s then-director Avi Decter and JMM’s then-researcher Deb Weiner started talking about the successor to the Fein book. Deb suggested they bring in their colleague, Eric Goldstein to help research and write, and so began a journey that is scheduled to reach its finish on April 10 at 6:30pm with the official launch of On Middle Ground: A History of the Jews of Baltimore.

Samuel and Albertina Harrison at 1216 McElderry St., c. 1890. JMM 1991.36.1

We have notes in our institutional archives from a conversation the two colleagues had on August 28, 2008. Questions they were asking themselves included: How would they structure it? How could they update and complement the research Fein had done and tell the story into the twenty-first century? How could they include some of Gil Sandler’s important and compelling storytelling work? What distinguishes Baltimore’s story from other American communities?

The questions were intriguing to Museum staff and board, as well as some important patrons. At least seven donors made the book research, writing, and publishing happen, including: the Richard and Rosalee C. Davison Foundation, Willard and Lillian Hackerman, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation, and the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds. Additional financial support for the project was provided by the Southern Jewish Historical Society and the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University.

“The Masquerade Ball of the Harmony Circle, New Assemblr Rooms, March 1st 1866.” JMM 1990.44.1

Johns Hopkins University Press (JHUP) is the publisher of the work, per a contract signed between the two entities nearly five years ago. The questions from ten years ago are now answered in the JHUP/JMM publication of five chapters (plus an introduction and an epilogue) across 320 pages of historical storytelling. An additional 46 pages convey 907 footnotes. And because this is a work created by and with the Museum, more than 130 images–curated from our collections or borrowed from colleagues at more than 20 other institutions or private collections–punctuate the story.

Rosalie Silber Abrams (top left) and Governor Marvin Mandel (bottom left) at a signing ceremony for legislation Abrams sponsored. JMM 1983.88.17.1

And what a story it is! Ranging from the eighteenth century until the twenty-first, On Middle Ground presents compelling characters and absorbing dramas. The authors argue that Baltimore, with its multiple modes of in-the-middle-ness (as a port for both products and people, and as an in-between space—geographically and culturally—bordering both north and south), created an environment that made it a microcosm of the broader American (Jewish) story.

At the Museum on April 10, Deb Weiner will give a preview of the story with a book talk entitled Life on the Border: The Role of Place in Shaping the Baltimore Jewish Experience. Gill Sandler will also be there to entertain and enlighten as he is wont to do.

Temple Oheb Shalom groundbreaking, 1959. Pictured are Philip Kaufman, Scott Preterman, Arthur Feldman, Helene Sacherman, Shelby Silver, Marge Hecht, Sammy Fox, Steve Agetstein, Roy Gamse, Louis Salai, and John Katz,JMM 2002.117.11

If you can’t make April 10 (or you want to collect that second signature on your personalized copy!), co-author Eric Goldstein will join us at the Museum on May 9, sharing a different aspect of the book with a talk entitled Myth vs. Reality: The Maryland Jew Bill in Historical Context.

Whether or not you can make it to the official launch event, we hope you’ll come see us soon, and pick up your copy of the book at Esther’s Place!

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Timing Is Everything

Posted on February 9th, 2018 by

Performance Counts: February 2018

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes to us from Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

The surprising path to a wonderful evening.

Seven weeks ago, we were planning to have a darkened gallery right now. Six weeks ago, Marvin got a call from the Assistant Director of International Affairs in Maryland’s Office of the Secretary of State that changed that plan.

Ordinarily, it takes between 8 months and 3 years to plan an exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. When the Secretary of State’s office called Marvin, they had a show they wanted us to exhibit a month and a half later. In most years, a call like that would yield a response of “thanks, but how about in a year and a half?” (Which is the response they had been receiving from all over the state.) This year, as fate would have it, we were able to answer “we’ve got about 1800 square feet available. Let’s talk.”

It was, as they say, beshert—meant to be.

The Secretary of State’s office was working with the Embassy of Israel. The Embassy had worked with Yad Vashem to develop an exhibit, Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, about diplomats who, during WWII, risked their careers (and in some cases their lives) to help save Jews from the Nazis. After the war, the fledgling state of Israel declared 34 diplomats from 21 countries around the world to be “Righteous Among the Nations.” These ambassadors, consuls, attaches and other diplomats–none of them Jewish–showed great bravery in the face of evil.

With 28 panels, Beyond Duty focusses the stories of 9 of those diplomats. We received the panels on January 30. Under Joanna’s direction, JMM staff installed the panels in our empty Feldman Gallery.

 


On February 1, we co-hosted an invitation-only preview of the exhibit with the Israeli embassy, featuring remarks from Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, Secretary of State John Wobensmith and Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Israel to the United States, Reuven Azar.

About 75 people attended the exhibit preview, including members of the Baltimore City Council, the Maryland State House of Delegates as well as members of the JMM Board of Trustees, and additional invited guests from the JMM community, the network of the Embassy of Israel, and the Friends of the Governor’s office of Community Initiatives and its eight Ethnic Commissions. By the numbers, it took nine JMM staff members (that’s 75% of us!), one former JMM staff member (we miss you Deborah!), and at least five staff members of the Embassy of Israel to make the evening a success.

The exhibit opened to the public on Sunday, February 4, and will be open through March 25, which means you have about 5 weeks to check it out. In that time, we’ll be hosting 14 programs as part of our JMM Live! Performance Series, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you check it out more than once!

Read more about the event and the exhibit at:

The Baltimore Jewish Times – New Exhibit at JMM Honors Holocaust’s Unsung Heroes

JMore: Baltimore Jewish Living – Exhibition at JMM Honors Righteous Gentile Diplomats during the Holocaust

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