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Turning Oy Vey into JOY VEY: Esther’s Place

Posted on November 15th, 2019 by

In this month’s Performance Counts Rachel Kassman takes the measure of a holiday market and introduces two new shopping opportunities for Baltimore. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.


Performance Counts: November 2019

Whether it’s finding the perfect symbol to celebrate a bar mitzvah, showing your love on an anniversary or trying to put a smile on the face of all your nieces, nephews, baby cousins, and kids at the holidays, we all know the trials and tribulations of gift shopping. That’s where Esther’s Place, the JMM shop comes in. From treating yourself to getting ready for the holidays, here at the Museum we try to make Esther’s Place a one-stop shop to reduce stress and make shopping easy and fun.

With the weather turning chilly and our thoughts turning to the dancing lights of hanukkiah, we’ve officially entered the holiday shopping season – this year Esther’s Place is participating in three separate special events! This past weekend, from November 7-10, Esther’s Place set up shop at the annual Museum Shop Holiday Market at the Mansion at Strathmore. This was our fourth year participating in the Holiday Market and once again was a highly successful endeavor. We sold over $7,800 worth of merchandise, and perhaps even more importantly, we spoke to dozens of folks who were excited to learn about the Museum, taking brochures and program guides home to plan their visits.

Fun fact: The most popular item sold was Hanukkah candles (56 boxes), with Hamsas coming in second in the single item-type category with 39 sold. Our custom Oy Vey Old Bay magnets where the top-selling single item sold at 36! As usual, Mah Jongg merchandise proved popular with 54 Mah Jongg-related items sold over the four days.

This Sunday, November 17, Esther’s Place will be appearing as a special pop-up at the Owings Mills JCC from 10am – 3pm. This is our first solo pop-up, so if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and say hi to JMM Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker, who will be on hand to help you find the ideal gifts for all your loved ones. We’ll also have plenty of Hanukkah candles in a variety of colors, styles, and materials on hand.

On Sunday, December 1, Esther’s Place has another first – we’re participating in Museum Store Sunday. Developed by the Museum Store Association, Museum Store Sunday is a way to bring attention to the importance and impact of museum shops. Shopping at Esther’s Place supports the mission and programs of JMM, making our exhibits, talks, education programs, and tours possible. It’s shopping you can feel good about!

(Most of the) Year in Review:

Books continue to top our “Best Seller” list – unsurprising at a museum, after all! The top 10 selling books since January 1, 2019 are an interesting mix of perennial favorites and special event books:

Stitching History from the Holocaust exhibit catalog (a whopping 46 copies!)

President Carter: The White House Years by Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, our 2019 Annual Meeting Keynote speaker

And There Was Evening and There Was Morning by Ellen Kahan Zager and Harriet Cohen Helfand – in addition to the book, we have art prints of Ellen’s illustrations for sale in Esther’s Place!

Houdini: Art and Magic by Brooke Kamin Rapaport

Big Little Book of Jewish Wit and Wisdom by Sally Ann Berk

Voices of Lombard Street exhibit catalog

Did Jew Know? by Emily Stone

On Middle Ground by Deborah Weiner and Eric Goldstein

Glimpses of Jewish Baltimore by the late Gil Sandler

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley – you may remember Debbie as half of our 2018 Annual Meeting Keynote speakers!

Our most popular children’s items are the cuddly Macca Beans Collectables (my personal favorite is Gefilte, the fat blue fish) and the matzoh ball stress balls (not just good for kids!) at 53 and 32 pieces respectively. Sadly, it looks like the Macca Beans are no longer being produced, so once we’ve sold out of our current stock, that’s it!

Perhaps most exciting for me are our custom JMM products. We introduced our “Oy Vey,” “Shalom Hon!,” and “Smalltimore” magnets and mugs over the summer in 2018 and they have proved as popular as we hoped. “Oy Vey” is the clear winner, with 136 magnets, 45 coffee mugs, and 37 camp mugs sold this year – I’m glad our homage to Maryland’s love of Old Bay is bringing a smile to so many people.

Remember, Esther’s Place is always open during the Museum’s regular hours – you can stop in or call 443-873-5179 with any questions! Let us help you make your gift shopping stress free and help us by supporting the Museum with your purchases.

P.S. Special props to Board Member and regular front-desk volunteer Roberta Greenstein for her brilliant suggestion of Turn Oy Vey into Joy Vey as we brainstormed what to call our Esther’s Place pop-up!


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100 Years of Scrapbooks

Posted on October 11th, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of Performance Counts, archivist Lorie Rombro shares some of her favorite finds as she’s been researching the history of the Associated in preparation for the upcoming Centennial Celebrations. This week scrapbooks, next week Scrap looks! You can read more posts by Lorie HERE.


Performance Counts: October 2019

For the past two years I have had the pleasure of assisting the Associated in preparing historical information to celebrate the upcoming centennial. Searching through the over 3,000 photographs and archival files about the Associated at JMM (along with an additional 4,200 + photographs and records about the Jewish Community Center, Levindale, and many of the agencies that are part of the Associated), has been fascinating.

Associated Jewish Charities subscription mailer, 1925.

Two of the resources here at the Museum that I have really enjoyed working on for the centennial are the historic Jewish Times and our collection of scrapbooks about the Associated. From 1921 to 1931 the Jewish Times had an almost weekly page dedicated to the Associated. It began as Philanthropictopics: A Forum of the Associated Jewish Charities Baltimore. This name of the page lasted until 1923 (I understand why they changed it. Although fun, it was a mouthful.) to eventually become Associated News by 1929. These weekly updates would give a variety of information, history and yearly statistics on agencies of the Associated, events and classes that were happening, new officers and board members, information on dues collection and campaigning, and general information to help the community understand what the Associated did.

Left: Philanthropictopics, Jewish Times, June 1922. 1917-1925 Scrapbook, JMM 2017.68.1.56. Right: Associated News, January 3, 1930. 1926-1930 Scrapbook, JMM 2017.68.2.

My favorites were the “Day in the life of” series, where a featured Associated agency would give real examples of what they were doing and the story of a person who came to them for help. I also enjoy the helpful hints section, such as the plea to “Please Be Accurate” from January 1930. This feature was a quick note asking benevolent citizens to make sure that when seeking help for others, they gave the correct name and address to the Hebrew Benevolent Society so that the social workers did not have the uncomfortable moment of addressing the wrong family! I also always enjoyed following the sports sections: which Talmud Torah was up in the baseball tournaments and how the various Jewish Educational Alliance teams were doing.  Reading these columns gives not only a clear picture of what the Associated was doing but also what that work meant to the Jewish community.

Associated Scrapbook, 1926-1930, JMM 2017.68.2.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland houses one hundred and sixty-five scrapbooks on the history of the Associated and its campaigns. These incredible pieces of history span the years from 1918 to 1992 and are an enormous resource in looking at the last 100 years of the Associated and Baltimore’s Jewish community. These stuffed scrapbooks are full of newspaper and magazine clippings, mailers from the Associated, synagogue newsletters, and internal documents.

Article about the creation of the Associated Jewish Charities, July 23, 1920. JMM 2017.68.1.11.

Starting with information on both the Federated Jewish Charities and United Hebrew Charities, the scrapbooks collect articles from all the local papers on the amalgamation of the two organizations and the beginnings of the Associated we know today.

Information and statistics from all the constituent agencies of the Associated Jewish Charities, 1926. 1926-1930 Scrapbook. JMM 2017.69.2.1.

These scrapbooks are amazing. As I process them, I find more and more information that adds to our understanding of the history of the last 100 years. What’s also interesting is what’s missing – while we have the scrapbooks from 1917-1935, there are no documents for 1936-1946 in the scrapbook collection. The next materials start with a Women’s Division scrapbook for 1947. In fact, throughout our whole collection at the Museum, we have very few records for the Associated during those years.

When the Associated still sent out letters to the community in Yiddish. 1929-1931 Scrapbook. JMM 2017.68.4.13e.

These are just a few examples of the resources available in our collection that have helped me understand what the Associated Jewish Charities and its agencies did in its early years and its importance to the community. I can’t wait to celebrate the Centennial with our whole community!


 

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It’s All in the Numbers: The Magical Secrets of JMM’s Education Department

Posted on September 13th, 2019 by


Performance Counts: September 2019

For this month’s edition of Performance Counts, the Education Department shares an inside look at the many students and teachers JMM has engaged with throughout the past year. To read past editions of Performance Counts, click here.


The Education Department at JMM works to link area public, private, and Jewish schools to our education programs. For our student visitors, we connect our permanent and temporary exhibits and the historic synagogues to themes of immigration and world religions.

We typically see between 4,000 and 6,000 students and teachers in our onsite and offsite education programs. This past year, the Education Department connected with over 10,000 students, teachers, and chaperones from area schools. We are confident that we had such a MAGICAL year due to the HUGE success of the exhibit, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.

In addition to our education program for our original exhibit on Houdini, we developed programs for Jewish Refugees and Shanghai, and Stitching History from the Holocaust & Fashion Statement (not to mention new programs for our permanent exhibits and synagogue). Here is a snapshot of who JMM engaged through educational programing this past year:


During the seven months the Houdini exhibit was on display (June 2018 to January 2019), we worked with 1842 students, teachers, and chaperones at the JMM for education programs in connection to the exhibit.

Houdini On-Site Numbers

>Public Schools – We had 24 visits from 14 different schools over the run of the exhibit.

>Jewish Schools –We had 9 visits from groups coming from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Howard County, DC, and Kunklestown, PA.

>Private/Other – We had 362 visitors from 8 universities, camps and private schools in the area visit the exhibit.

We worked with the curator/magician David London to develop a living history character to complement the Houdini exhibit. This living history performance was very popular and Harry Houdini performed for over 2400 students and teachers at area schools.

Houdini Offsite Numbers

>Public Schools – 1119 students and teachers from 6 area schools in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County.

>Jewish Schools – 1104 students and teachers from 8 area Jewish camps and schools.

>Private/Other – 200 campers from Camp B’more.

The Harry Houdini living history performance’s success was not limited to area schools. During the run of the exhibit, the living history character saw nearly 3200 people as part of a school, adult group, or public program. Following the exhibit, the character performed to over 1100 people at schools and synagogues. To date, we are receiving bookings for the upcoming school year.


Following the Houdini exhibit, we looked to the east and brought a travelling exhibit from Shanghai to JMM. While Jewish Refugees and Shanghai was here for only 6 weeks, we engaged with a number of area schools through educational programs.

Jewish Refugees and Shanghai On-Site Numbers

>Jewish Schools – We worked with one area Jewish school in connection to students learning in the classroom.

>Private/Other – We saw 233 students and teachers from area 8 separate universities and private schools.  Students visited from the Howard County Chinese School, Sidwell Friends, and Washington Wu Ying Public Charter School from the DC area.

Jewish Refugees and Shanghai also gave us the opportunity to provide a professional development opportunity for teachers.

We piloted the Winter Teachers Institute, where area teachers took part in a two-day learning opportunity in Holocaust education. Highlights included a visit to the People’s Republic of China Embassy in DC and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Teachers also participated in a full day of learning at JMM where they studied the plight of refugees during — and after — WWII and the reaction of the United States to the refugee situation.


In spring, we borrowed the powerful exhibit Stitching History from the Holocaust from the Jewish Museum Milwaukee. The exhibit depicts the moving story of the Strnads and their attempt to flee Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Hedy Strnad tried to use her skills as a fashion designer to come to the United Stated. Our collections staff curated the beautiful exhibit Fashion Statement to complement the show. The exhibit allows visitors to think about the many ways that clothing signals one’s identity or group with which they want to identify.

Stitching History from the Holocaust & Fashion Statement Onsite Numbers

>Public Schools – 447 students and teachers from 10 different schools in Baltimore City

>Jewish Schools – 117 students from 4 groups.

>Private Schools – 213 students from 7 local private schools, universities and camps.


Back to School

Since the beginning of our new fiscal year (July 1, 2019), we have already engaged with 820 students, teachers, and chaperones from public, Jewish, and private schools and camps. As students and teachers returned to their classrooms this September, our education team is looking ahead to an exciting 2019-2020 school year.

Our team is looking to strengthen existing relationships and make new connections this year. 3500 new education brochures have been sent out to educators across Maryland. This brochure shares the variety of programs JMM offers on topics such as Baltimore history, immigration, Judaism, primary sources, and Holocaust Education.

2 new education programs are being developed for our upcoming special exhibit Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling opening on October 27, 2019 – one for elementary and one for middle school and above. Through hands-on activities, students will explore one of America’s largest industries, its innovative technology, and stories of the immigrant families that built it.

2 new Homeschool Days have been developed to support families seeking specialized, engaging experiences.

The Education Department is looking forward to another magical year as we strive to create experiences for students that will enrich their classroom learning, ignite their curiosity, and foster personal connections.


Questions about our Education Programs?
Contact School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse
at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-873-5167.


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