Appreciating Our Volunteers

Posted on August 10th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes from Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis (who is, herself, a volunteer). To read more posts from Wendy, click here.

Have you interacted with a JMM volunteer? If you’ve ever visited the Jewish Museum of Maryland, then you probably have! They might have been the friendly greeter at the front desk, the helpful shop assistance at Esther’s Place or the docent leading a tour of the historic synagogues (or all three!).

There have been 53 of us dedicated volunteers this past year, supplementing the work of the Museum’s 11 full-time staff members, along with an additional 35 volunteer Board Members. Some of us only volunteer a few times a month, while others are at the JMM two days a week (like me!).  Whether it’s a two-hour shift or a six-hour shift, the time volunteers are able to share with the JMM is incredibly helpful and appreciated. Volunteers are absolutely critical to the success of the Museum.

Nine of those 53 volunteers have been stationed at the front desk, clocking in a total of 744 hours this year.  These front desk volunteers make sure our visitors receive a warm welcome, but they do much more than that! These volunteers serve as fonts of information about all the services that the Museum offers, including making sure our visitors know about tour times, current and upcoming exhibitions, and public programs. Plus, they help collect demographic data from our visitors and make sure we maintain an accurate count of Museum visitors each day.

Eleven of those 53 volunteers have assisted in the wonderful Museum gift shop, Esther’s Place, clocking in 285 hours this year.  Not only do these volunteers interact with visitors processing sales, but they helped conduct our annual shop inventory, design merchandise displays and help keep the shop looking clean and inviting.

Nineteen of the 53 volunteers have served as docents, clocking in 905 hours this year as they lead visitors through the two historic synagogues on the JMM campus and on group tours of the Museum’s exhibits.  Our docents share their knowledge and passion for local Jewish history with our visitors. They also become experts at customizing their tours depending upon the background and age of that day’s visitors.

But our volunteers aren’t limited to just the “front of the house.”  11 volunteers spend their time working with the extensive collections at the JMM, particularly with our archives, cataloging, summarizing, translating, and digitizing.  This time-consuming work improves intellectual access to the Museum’s varied collections. This group of volunteers clocked in a grand total of 1,874 hours this year, more than any other group of JMM volunteers!

While there is no way to truly show how much we love our volunteers, the JMM does try to demonstrate our gratitude for all their wonderful contributions. This year there have been multiple field trips to other museums as well as special discounts at Esther’s Place. But the highlight of the year is definitely the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

On the evening of July 29th, all of our volunteers were invited to a celebratory dinner held here at the Museum. In addition to the delicious food, we were entertained by David London, the superb curator of the current exhibit Inescapable, The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.  Using his story telling and magician skills, David portrayed Harry Houdini, bringing the magic and mystery of Houdini to life.

If you want to be among the “appreciated” next year, call or email me or Sue Foard to make an appointment to learn more about how to join our team of JMMers.

Wendy Davis

Sue Foard

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Learning More About Our Visitors

Posted on July 13th, 2018 by

Our monthly look at JMM “by the numbers,” Performance Counts, comes to you this week from Visitor Services Coordinator Paige Woodhouse.  To read more posts from Paige, click here!

When you, the JMM visitor, enter the museum you are greeted by one of our dedicated front desk volunteers. While welcoming you to the Museum, they ask you a few questions. The conversation often goes something like this:

“Welcome to the Jewish Museum of Maryland! Have you visited with us before?”

“No, this is my first time.”

“Wonderful, we are so happy to have you. How did you happen to hear about us?”

“I read about you in the Baltimore Sun. They did an article on your Houdini exhibit.”

“Interesting! And where are you visiting us from today?”


Not only do our front desk volunteers absolutely love hearing the personal story that has landed you on the JMM’s doorstep, the answers to these questions help the JMM learn more about our visitors as a whole. Here at the JMM, we seek to be a destination. We want to encourage more visitors to engage in our historic sites, exhibits, collections, and programs. From programming to marketing, the answers to these questions inform decision-making at the JMM. By seeing who we reach, we are also able to see who we haven’t reached, and where new potential visitors may be.

So, let’s take a moment to look back over the past fiscal year (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018) at you, the JMM visitor. We categorize an “onsite visitor,” or someone who physically steps foot inside our Museum’s campus, into a few different groups. These categories are: adult groups, school groups, general attendance, teacher trainings/workshops, researchers, rentals, and public programs/events.

Visitors enjoying Amending America: The Bill of Rights.

During the last year, over 10,800 people chose to visit the JMM and experience the six special exhibits we displayed (Just Married, Discovery & Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage, Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, My Family StoryBook of Joseph: Giving Voice to the Hollander Family, and Amending America: The Bill of Rights). Of those visitors, over 3,900 people fall into the general attendance category.

Over 3,600 visitors attended one (or multiple!) of over 65 public programs featuring scholars, artists, authors, and filmmakers that built on the Museum’s exhibits.

Contestants and Visitors participating in the Great Kugel Cook Off last October 8, 2017,one of the many public programs offered by the JMM.

About 2000 people attended as part of a school group and about 600 visitors came with their adult group or organization. (Of course, this doesn’t count the 1600 students we reached in their schools and synagogues.) The remainder of visitors came to the Museum as researchers, part of a rental, or teachers taking part in a workshop (like our Summer Teacher’s Institute coming up in August).

Students from Frederick Adventist Academy during their visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland on April 25, 2018.

But let’s not forget those questions. Of our general attendance visitors who kindly answered our questions upon arrival, 38% had previously known about the museum and 29% learned about us from a friend, family member, or coworker. So, if you had a great experience, please keep spreading the word!

This chart breaks down how different people have heard about the JMM over the last year.

The JMM attracted local, regional, national and international visitors last year. 52% of visitors came from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Alternatively, 4% of visitors joined us from other countries, including Israel, New Zealand, Brazil, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Romania (to name a few).

This chart breaks down where our visitors are coming from. Not surprisingly, most of our visitors are local residents.

While seeking to be a destination, the JMM also strives to be a site of discovery. We hope that you can draw personal connections to individuals, groups, events, and trends in Maryland’s Jewish history. We hope that you can “find yourself here.” With this in mind, our front desk team always suggests that you join us on a tour of our two historic synagogues. Over the last year 401 tours were delivered by volunteers to 1508 visitors! The next time you drop by, please delight our volunteers with your stories of how you made your way to the JMM, bring a friend, and don’t hesitate to join a synagogue tour.

~ Paige Woodhouse
  Visitor Services Coordinator

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Meet The New Trustees

Posted on June 15th, 2018 by

Performance Counts: June 2018

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes from Development Director, Tracey Dorfmann.


As a newcomer to the JMM team, one of the delightful things I have discovered is the exceptionally dedicated JMM Board. This group of 30 talented women and men help the staff behind the scenes and sometimes right out front.

Just a few of our excellent board members!

Together they give over a thousand hours of service by sharing their wisdom and expertise at meetings, helping us raise money for projects, weighing in on many topics, and adding to our strategic visioning conversations. Several of our board Members also volunteer in many other capacities of the Museum such being docents and aiding in our collections department and attending relevant meetings outside of our building.

Board members at work

Last month we elected six officers, Board President Dr. Robert Keehn; Vice Presidents Nancy Kutler, Jeff Scherr, and Len Weinberg; Treasurer Jerry Macks; and Secretary Arnold Fruman. All of our officers have devoted years of their lives to this museum – recruiting new friends, engaging in our programs and enabling our success. In addition to electing these officers, we also added several new faces to fill vacancies and I would like you to get to know them.

This year we welcome five new Trustees. They are: Robert (Bob) Manekin, Robyn Schaffer, Angela Wells-Sims, Stuart Rosenzwog, and Steven Hawtof. These individuals infuse our leadership with a wide range skills, knowledge and interests. Respectively they represent the following professions: Commercial Real Estate, Health Administration, Healthcare Finance, Building Materials Distribution, Business and Real Estate Law.

Four – Bob, Angela, Stuart, and Steven are Baltimore natives. One (Robyn) was born in Schenectady, NY but has called Baltimore home since 1999.  One of our new board members (Bob) was a JAGC Officer on active duty stationed in Hawaii. Cumulatively, at different points in their lives they have lived in four states and in one other country, Israel. They all have children. The JMM staff hopes to meet all 14 school-aged and adult children from these five families.

Some favorite films include Amadeus, Annie, and The Wizard of Oz.  Favorite books include A World Undone, and Excellence by John Gardiner. Their passions include: family, Judaism, connecting the discourse between health and education, growth and change, and appreciating life.

What they Love about Baltimore:

“It’s home”

“a large Orthodox Jewish population and many Kosher restaurants”

“Historic Architecture, Public Parks, Great Food, Innovative and Talented People”

“History and Diverse Ethnicity”

Every one of them loves Maryland because of its location and particularly because of the diversification of lifestyles and geography: urban, rural, beach, and mountains.

In total we have 21 Trustees who are volunteering for three-year terms: Sheldon Bearman, Erica Breslau, Neri Cohen, Alan Dorenfeld, Roberta Greenstein, Saralynn Glass, Toby Gordon, Lola Hahn, Steven Hawtof, Bonnie Heneson, Skip Klein, Abram Kronsberg, Suzanne Levin-Lapides, Ira Malis, Robert Manekin, Judy Pachino, Lee Rosenberg, Stuart Rosenzwog, Rochelle “Rikki” Spector, Claire Tesh, and Angela Wells-Sims. We have two Trustees volunteering for a one-year Presidential Appointment: Robert Gehman and Robyn Schaffer

We are looking forward to a vibrant and productive year with our terrific Board of Trustees.


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