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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Discovery and Recovery:By The Numbers

Posted on January 12th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes to us from Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker.


For this month’s Performance Counts, it seemed like a good time to take a closer look at our current exhibit, Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.

Performance Counts is all about looking at numbers and data, so I’ll start with the most important number for you to remember about this exhibit: 3. That’s the number of days (including today) you have left to see this important exhibition while it’s at JMM. Monday will be the last day the public will be able to tour the exhibit while it’s here, since National Archives staff will be joining us on Tuesday, to start the de-installation.

Here are some other important numbers and metrics of interest regarding this exhibition:

Exhibition Content

Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. Government efforts to preserve these materials–over 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents.

In both English and Arabic, the 2,000 square foot exhibit features 23 recovered items and one “behind the scenes” video of the fascinating yet painstaking preservation process. This exhibit was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, with generous support from the U.S. Department of State.

Exhibition Metrics

Since it’s been with us, more than 3,200 visitors have come to JMM to see it. This includes more than 500 students from 18 distinct school visits, including public, independent and religious schools.

While the exhibit has been in our gallery, we’ve been open to the public 62 days (with 2 left after today), and have hosted 10 public programs related to the exhibit (with one more to come this Sunday), and two that didn’t directly relate to the exhibit, but whose participants still had a chance to see it!

While the exhibit has been in our gallery, we’ve been open to the public 62 days (with 2 left after today), and have hosted 10 public programs related to the exhibit (with one more to come this Sunday), and two that didn’t directly relate to the exhibit, but whose participants still had a chance to see it!

Exhibition Logistics

JMM is the eighth venue for this important exhibit, and its installation was made possible here through the generous support of eight donors, including 2 individuals and 6 foundations or philanthropic funds.

The Herbert Bearman Foundation (Lead Sponsor)

Alfred Moses

The David B. Liebman Philanthropic Fund

The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education

Middendorf Foundation

John J. Leidy Foundation

Lois and Philip Macht Family Philanthropic Fund

Lowell Glazer

If you miss it here, your next option is to grab a flight to Atlanta ($163) and see it at the Breman Museum ($12)*.  So save some money and take advantage of these last two days.

~Tracie

*If you’re a JMM premium member, you get FREE reciprocal admission to the Breman Museum – and 11 more Jewish museums around the country! Consider upgrading your membership today.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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