Performance Counts: Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project

Posted on July 15th, 2016 by

While we often devote the content of Performance Counts to analyzing numbers, this week’s edition instead highlights the personal stories that are at the heart of one of the most sobering statistic that we often discuss, the six million Jews (not to mention millions of others) who were murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices during the Holocaust.

In March 2017, JMM will open a new exhibition, Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity that brings together diverse projects that highlight different aspects of Holocaust history. The exhibition will be displayed in our Feldman Gallery where the visitor experience begins several centuries prior to the Holocaust when Ozwiecim, the town that eventually became known as Auschwitz, served as a site for a thriving Jewish community (A Town Known As Auschwitz from the Museum of Jewish Heritage). The community’s fortunes, however, changed significantly with the occupation of Poland by the Nazis in 1939 and visitors next examine the impact of the Nazi occupation through a display of blueprints and other documents that focus on the construction of the death camp that is now firmly associated with the town (The Architecture of Murder from the American Society for Yad Vashem). Dispersed throughout the gallery will be contemporary photographs of the camp by photographer, Keron Psillas, as well as related artifacts from the JMM collection and on loan from community members.

As plans for Remembering Auschwitz began to crystallize, it became clear that we were missing one key component, the individual stories that are central to understanding the Holocaust’s impact. We, therefore, decided to include an art installation that serves as the exhibition’s conclusion and provides an opportunity for visitors to reflect on the experiences of the people whose lives were upended by Nazi atrocities. The Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project is composed of individual plaques honoring the experiences of our local community of Holocaust survivors. This project was brought to JMM by artist, Lori Shocket and the Human Element Project. In the middle of June, Lori and her husband Neal spent two weeks in Baltimore helping facilitate workshops for Holocaust survivors, their descendants and family members. Participants were invited to bring photographs and documents that highlighted their experiences from before, during and after the Holocaust along with a personal statement. The materials that they brought were photocopied and integrated into collages on 10” x 10” canvasses. Working from photographs of the collages, Lori will then create plaques honoring each individual story that will be hung in our gallery.

Five workshops took place both at JMM and at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC. We were honored to meet nearly 20 Holocaust survivors who took part in the workshop themselves, sometimes with spouses, children, grandchildren and friends as their willing assistants. Many other children and grandchildren made collages in memory of family members who are no longer alive, some of whom perished during the Holocaust, others who survived but who have died in more recent years. Thanks to the assistance of more than a dozen volunteers, several of whom were new to JMM volunteer corps, we collected 47 beautiful collages that will be integrated into our art installation.

It was truly a privilege sorting through stacks (and sometimes bags, boxes and suitcases) of family treasures including photographs and documents and listening as participants shared stories of their beloved family members – some of whom did not survive. One thing that is clear from the collages we collected is that the experiences of our local community of Holocaust survivors are diverse. We counted more 10 countries of birth including Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Lithuania, Russia and Romania. Some collages honor the experiences of refugees whose families left Europe in the 1930s. Others experienced the horrors of confinement in camps and ghettos, while still others were hidden either alone as children or with other members of their families by generous and courageous non-Jews. We heard incredible and daring stories of escape, of survival in forests and close calls that almost resulted in arrests. By the end of each workshop, close relationships were often forged between JMM staff and volunteers and participants many of whom shared their appreciation for being given the opportunity to participate.

Although Lori and Neal returned to California, we are still holding additional workshops in an effort to collect more stories and collages. This Sunday, July 17, we will be at the JCC of Greater Washington at 12:00pm. We have timed the workshop to coincide with a monthly meeting of Montgomery County Holocaust survivors. We are also holding another workshop at JMM on Sunday, July 17 at 10:00am. JMM staff is also happy to make individual appointments so that people can come and make a collage at a time that is more convenient. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, please contact me at (443) 873-5165 /

We are grateful to the many individuals and institutions that have partnered with us on this special project including: Lori and Neal Shocket and the Human Element Project, the Baltimore Jewish Council, the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, the JCC of Greater Washington, the Center for Jewish Education and Jewish Community Services. And a huge thank you to the many wonderful volunteers, staff, board members and interns who assisted with the collages. We look forward to celebrating with everyone at the exhibit’s opening on March 5, 2017.

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Performance Counts: JMM Board of Trustees FY2017

Posted on June 17th, 2016 by


At the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday evening, we reflected on this past year’s successes (and there were so many good things to celebrate), gave our members a taste of some of the exciting events taking place in the year ahead and conducted one of the most important items of business of the year, the election of trustees and officers to the JMM Board of Trustees for FY 17.

Each year, our nominating committee convenes several times to discuss board recruitment and we are most grateful to the members of this committee, under the leadership of JMM past president, Ira Papel, for the many hours they put into their thoughtful deliberations.

Ira Papel takes the stage. Photo by Jim Berger.

Ira Papel takes the stage. Photo by Jim Berger.

We are delighted to announce the results of Tuesday’s board election which included the re-election of all of our officers:

Duke Zimmerman – President

Robert Keehn – Vice President

Toby Gordon – Vice President

Saralynn Glass – Vice President

Bruce Hoffberger – Treasurer

Arnold Fruman – Secretary

Trustees elected to a three-year term include:

Sheldon Bearman

Dr. Neri Cohen

Roberta Greenstein

Nancy Kutler

Suzanne Levin-Lapides

Len Weinberg

We are especially thrilled to invite five new members to our board including Dr. Neri Cohen, Nancy Kutler, Suzanne Levin-Lapides and Presidential appointees, Claire Tesh and Jeffrey Katz. Lee Rosenberg returns to our board as a presidential appointee.

A selection of our wonderful trustees! Photo by Jim Berger.

A selection of our wonderful trustees! Photo by Jim Berger.

Our elected board members bring a diversity of skills and experience to the JMM including marketing, real estate development, program development, fundraising and community relations. They also help us extend our reach into important constituencies and geographic areas such as Howard County and young families living downtown. We enthusiastically welcome our new board members and look forward to working with them, as well as all our returning board members, in the year ahead.

Of course, the Annual Meeting also presents us with the opportunity to thank and extend our deepest appreciation to those whose terms are ending. This year Robert Keehn, speaking on behalf of the Board, paid tribute to departing members, each of whom has contributed so much to our institution.

Robert Keehn sings the praises of our departing trustees. Photo by Jim Berger.

Robert Keehn sings the praises of our departing trustees. Photo by Jim Berger.

Jennie Gates Beckman – Jennie served as a member of our board for three years and provided much valuable guidance as a member of our marketing committee. We were so sorry to say goodbye to Jennie and her family who have recently moved to Nebraska.

Beth Blauer – Beth chaired our marketing committee for several years and also played an important role advocating on behalf of the JMM with our state legislators in Annapolis.

Irene Russel – As a member of the JMM board for six years, Irene has provided valuable input on our collections committee. An avid mah jongg player, Irene was a terrific resource when we hosted the mah jongg exhibit.

Aimee Adashek – Thanks to her day job at the Baltimore Office of Promotions, Aimee has been a strong advocate on behalf of the JMM in Baltimore’s arts community. We are grateful to Aimee for her two years of service.

Jay Goldscher – As chair of the JMM’s Marketing Committee, Jay took a leading role in helping the JMM raise our visibility through a variety of new initiatives. Jay also served as a Museum ambassador helping spread the word about our exhibits and programs to fellow Howard County residents.

Patti Neumann – As a board member this past year, Patti, too, provided much needed support on our marketing committee, and helped us increase our social media presence.

Barbara Katz – It is truly not possible to acknowledge all of Barbara’s many contributions to the JMM these many years. A past board president, Barbara has filled just about every important role. We were so delighted when Barbara rejoined our board in an active capacity several years ago and we have greatly benefited from her renewed engagement and support. While we take comfort in knowing that her legacy lives on with the election of her son Jeffrey to our board, there is no replacing Barbara.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to our board members, past and present, who work tirelessly on our behalf for all their work developing policies, overseeing our finances, raising much needed funds, providing counsel and promoting JMM events, exhibitions and membership within our community.


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Small Improvements, Big Impact: Reshaping the JMM Visitor Experience

Posted on May 12th, 2016 by

Performance Counts May 2016

Many years ago I heard a joke: A very creative man, Moshe, was asked by his more run-of-the-mill friend, Joe, what Joe might do to help him be more like Moshe. Moshe replied, “sometimes, the smallest change makes a big difference in the way that you see the world. Try putting your pants on each morning with the other leg first. It will adjust your whole outlook on things.”

Joe thought Moshe might be crazy, but he tried it anyway. The next time he saw Moshe, he heartily thanked him, “I tried it, I put my pants on left leg first now, and since I started, I’ve been able to come up with creative solutions to problems that once seemed intractable.”

“That’s great!” said Moshe, “but what happened to your face?” referring to the large bruises on Joe’s cheeks and eyes.

“I fall on my face every morning, because I’m putting my pants on the wrong leg first.”


For whatever reason, and despite the punchline, that joke has really stayed with me. Mostly, I guess, because I believe it to be true: small changes, when they’re the right changes, can lead to big differences in individuals, organizations and cultures.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Since I started at the JMM about a year ago, we’ve begun collecting small changes:

*We started accepting credit cards at the front desk, so that our visitors don’t need to interrupt their entry experience to pay with card.

*We’ve moved more shop merchandise into the lobby, and have re-organized what’s in the shop, grouping items by theme, allowing us to make the shop experience also educational.

*Our front doors now feature handicap accessible paddles and power-assist opens.

*We brought in a company to power-wash the scaling from the portico that marks our entrance, and we re-landscaped the beds right out front.

*We’ve worked to stabilize the projector in our orientation space so that it no longer wobbles with the HVAC system’s operation.

*We retired the old Tzedakah box into our Institutional Archives, and had fabricated a new acrylic collection box that allows visitors to see others’ donation and encourages greater giving (the money collected this way has markedly increased!).

Our nifty new donations box.

Our nifty new donations box.

And we’re not done! In the coming weeks and months you can expect to see:

*A new phone system (it’s being installed this week) that will allow direct dial to all JMM staffers

*A new software package that will streamline the visitor entry transaction, and will allow us to better understand our visitors – who they are, where they come from, when they visit, etc.

*A facelift for our public bathrooms, including new lighting, sinks and mirrors

*A refresh of our lobby and orientation space, including fresh paint, new furniture and improved donor recognition panels

Taken together, as we move forward into fiscal year 2017 and beyond, these small changes are really starting to add up to positive developments at the JMM. I hope that you’ll agree, and will join me in celebrating the changes we’ve already made and share with me your ideas about how we can improve the visitor experience at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Tracie Guy-DeckerA blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.




Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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