Connecting to the Collections

Posted on June 21st, 2019 by

Blog post by JMM intern Elana Neher. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


In these first few weeks of my internship at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I have learned about the JMM’s collection in a variety of ways. I have researched parts of the collections, inventoried others, and spent time in collections storage. Through this, I have started to become familiar with Jewish community of Maryland through the objects, documents, and photographs that have found their way to the JMM. For my first blog post, I would like to share the story of two of the people I have gotten to know through my research here.

Some of the sweetest people that I have come across in the JMM’s collection are Aaron and Lillie Straus, a married couple who lived during the late 19th century and the early 20th century and became beloved philanthropists in Baltimore. (Image: Lilie and Aaron Straus, Cohen Family Camp Airy Collection, JMM 1993.59.40.)

Aaron was a German Jew who was born in Baltimore and Lillie was born in St. Louis, MI. After Aaron graduated Baltimore City College, he ran a furniture store that grew into a chain of nearly one hundred large furniture stores throughout the country, primarily on the East Coast and in the mid-West. On one of his business trips, Aaron met Lillie and they moved to Baltimore after they married on June 9, 1889. Throughout their time in Baltimore, they lived in hotels; they lived at the Rannert Hotel then moved to the Belvedere Hotel. The couple was married for sixty-four years until Lillie passed away.

Lillie and Aaron had no biological children but became “Aunt Lillie” and “Uncle Airy” to hundreds of children. They created Camp Louise and Camp Airy, two Jewish summer camps for under-privileged children. Camp Louise, the camp for girls, was founded at Cascade in 1922 and Camp Airy, the boys’ camp, was founded at Thurmont in 1924. These two camps were located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Maryland. Aaron and Lillie frequently visited the camps and knew every camper by name. Aaron led services at the camps until he became blind and the library at Camp Louise was dedicated to Lillie after her death. Each and every camper had fond memories of the couple as evidenced by the letters they wrote to their Uncle Airy after Lillie’s death. The letters were filled with stories of Lillie’s kindness and care for each and every camper and showed what an immense impact that Aaron and Lillie had on the childhoods of so many people in the community.

Aaron & Lillie with campers at Camp Louise. JMM 2018.7.106.14c.

The couple were not just known for their summer camps, but for their philanthropic endeavors as well. They set up the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation in 1926 to facilitate their philanthropic work and continue it after their deaths. They were active members of and large benefactors to the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. The auditorium at the synagogue was even named the “Straus Auditorium” in their honor. In addition, they donated $100,000 to the Johns Hopkins Hospital Campaign to memorialize an operating floor. They also donated to the Associated Jewish charities and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House Association, and they took interest in the YMHA and YWHA, now the JCC. In Aaron’s will, he left large amounts of money to many Baltimore-based charities.

Through the letters, newspaper clippings, and anniversary albums about the Strauses that are in the JMM collection, I began to feel connected to Aaron and Lillie. I found myself wondering what it would be like to wave at them at summer camp, to meet them at the hotel they were living in, or to hear them tell the story of how they first met in St. Louis. Through the stories of people like Aaron and Lillie Straus, I have come to feel connected to the Jewish community in Baltimore and it is only because of the time I get to spend with the collection at the JMM that I was able to learn about such amazing people.


 

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Illustrations and The Women of The Associated

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by

Blog post by JMM intern Ash Turner. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

While looking through material from the Associated Jewish Charities and Jewish Welfare Fund from the 1940s to the 1970s, I have found a treasure trove of fun illustrations. Everything from invitations, to informational booklets, to newsletters contain small drawings that are simple and expressive. My time researching the Associated was made even more fun with the addition of these little gems sprinkled throughout their fundraising material.

Promotional invitation for “Coke Tale” Hour, an event hosted by the Young People’s Division of the Associated Jewish Charities’ Women’s Division. Includes an illustration of a young man at a microphone and a bucket of cola bottles on ice. Via JMM 2017.068.014.008

What I really wanted to talk about were the artists who made these great illustrations. But as far as I can tell, there is no documentation on who drew them. What I do know is that many of these drawings are found mostly in the Women’s Division scrapbooks and within their campaign material (the Women’s Division was a formal organization of women within the Associated that volunteered and ran fundraising campaigns from 1957 to 1993). Since there is also no clear record of a position or job of “artist” or “illustrator” early on in the Women’s Division or the Associated, and since there is no clear record of someone being hired to create these illustrations, there is a possibility that these artists were simply volunteers, specifically women from the Women’s Division. The sketch below, most likely created by a volunteer, supports the feasibility that volunteers created their own illustrations and material for Women’s Division events. But, since this is just speculation, and I don’t have specific information about the artists who created these drawings, I will just focus on talking about the drawings themselves, and how they relate to the women of the Associated.

A sketch, hand drawn in pencil, that lays out an idea for an invitation for a Women’s Division event. From the 1949 Women’s Division Scrapbook, JMM 2017.068.011.031

Many of these Women’s Division illustrations from the late 1940s through the early 1960s are sketched, simple line drawings, usually added next to text on invitations and fundraising cards. Most look like quick sketches, as if they were hand-drawn and then reprinted, and they can be found in the Division’s newsletters and other advertising materials. A few of the drawings contain simple and clean lines with a single accent color, pulled together in a thoughtful layout. They mostly depict women at work—volunteering, fundraising, or deep in thought.

Three close-ups of illustrations from cards for the 1949 “G-Day,” a door-to-door campaign hosted by the Women’s Division of the Associated. From the 1949 Women’s Division Scrapbook, JMM 2017.068.011

Two close-ups of illustrations from the booklet “Why Women” from the Women’s Division, created for “G-Day” in 1951. From the 1951 Combined Campaign Scrapbook, JMM 2017.068.019

Two pages from 1955 “Keynoter” Newsletters, produced by the Women’s Division of the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund. Left image contains an illustration of a “G-Day” door-to-door solicitor, and right image describes the need to give during the Associated combined campaign. From the JMM’s 1955 Women’s Division Scrapbook

In the late 1960s and onwards, the illustrations start to become more fleshed out. These drawings have cleaner designs, and sometimes are either cartoonishly stylized or realistically rendered. This is the time period when the Associated’s illustrations become integrated into the overall graphic design of the campaign material as well, making the drawings feel more professional.

Cover of an invitation for the “Art of Living” luncheon and fashion show campaign event, hosted by the Women’s Division of the Associated. From the JMM’s 1969 Women’s Division Scrapbook

To me, these illustrations make the regular campaign material more inviting and approachable. They depict the role of women in the Associated, and how they viewed themselves at that point in time: heavily engaged and committed to social work, a part of the community, and lending a helping hand at every turn. The way the women are drawn in the illustrations—proud, emotive, active… It’s not a stretch to say that they are drawn more often than men in these illustrations, and it shows how big of a part they played in the Associated’s organization and their fundraising campaigns.

Women in the Associated were very engaged with both the arts and culture, especially during this time period from the 40s to the 70s. They were a part of the Baltimore art community, hosting art exhibits and teaching art at the Jewish Community Center. They held art and cultural festivals, such as the “Village Fair” hosted by the Ladies’ Auxiliary of Levindale. The Women’s Division wrote and performed their own plays for their campaigns and wrote original poems to include in their newsletters. Regardless of if they drew these illustrations for the Women’s Division, the women of the Associated took an artistic approach to connecting with their community, and I feel that their work in the arts is communicated through the illustrative touches added to their campaign material. They went above and beyond to engage and connect, combining art with fundraising to create these magical moments and drawings that livened up their campaigns.

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Maryland Philanthropy and Israel: An Image Gallery Part 2

Posted on January 31st, 2018 by

generations 2007Written by Rachel Kassman. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel. To order a print copy of the magazine, see details here.

Miss Part I? Start here.

State of Israel Bonds

State of Israel Bonds combine individual contributions into a communal effort with a single focus: Israel. Born of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s need to offset the heavy costs of the war in 1948, State of Israel Bonds were introduced at a meeting held in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in September 1950. The bonds were meant to help fund immigrant absorption, to help construct a new national infrastructure, and to engage diaspora Jewry as active partners in building the new Jewish State. Maryland took up the task with enthusiasm, with groups like the Mercantile Club and numerous synagogues running campaigns and hosting dinners to support the State of Israel.

This publicity photo from 1951 features members of the Women’s Division meeting Israel’s Minister of Health, Dr. Joseph Burg. Dr. Burg was visiting Baltimore to help promote Israel Bonds. Also pictured are Captain Smolensk, captain of the Meir Dizengoff and Harry Diamond, Maryland’s Israel Bond Director. JMM 1989.80.21

This publicity photo from 1951 features members of the Women’s Division meeting Israel’s Minister of Health, Dr. Joseph Burg. Dr. Burg was visiting Baltimore to help promote Israel Bonds. Also pictured are Captain Smolensk, captain of the Meir Dizengoff and Harry Diamond, Maryland’s Israel Bond Director. JMM 1989.80.21

The Women’s Division Effort of Israel Bonds makes their appeal to fellow Maryland Jews by recalling the sacrifice of those involved in the Yom Kippur War. JMM 1994.21.27

The Women’s Division Effort of Israel Bonds makes their appeal to fellow Maryland Jews by recalling the sacrifice of those involved in the Yom Kippur War. JMM 1994.21.27

Governor Theodore McKeldin and Harry Diamond, Baltimore City Manager for the State of Israel Bond Sale, 1951. JMM 1989.80.4

Governor Theodore McKeldin and Harry Diamond, Baltimore City Manager for the State of Israel Bond Sale, 1951. JMM 1989.80.4

Organizational Support

Beyond individual support, Jewish Marylanders have worked together in many ways to support Israel. Organizations such as the Jewish Welfare Fund, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Independent Order Brith Sholom have used their membership to accomplish larger acts of tzedakah than could be accomplished through personal, isolated efforts, often turning their efforts towards Israel.

Organized in 1941, the Jewish Welfare Fund (JWF), which became the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund, sought to manage Baltimore Jewish fundraising for overseas efforts, especially those related to Israel. This sign, created by the Kershman sign-making company, encouraged Maryland Jews to aid Israel in the wake of violent outbreaks, such as the attack on the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. JMM 1995.156.3

Organized in 1941, the Jewish Welfare Fund (JWF), which became the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund, sought to manage Baltimore Jewish fundraising for overseas efforts, especially those related to Israel. This sign, created by the Kershman sign-making company, encouraged Maryland Jews to aid Israel in the wake of violent outbreaks, such as the attack on the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. JMM 1995.156.3

The Independent Order Brith Sholom (IOBS), a fraternal organization formed in 1902 in East Baltimore, was the first fraternal order to buy ambulances for the new state of Israel. It also helped supply money and material for the ship Exodus, helped fund settlement for Yemenite Jewish immigrants, and raised money to build the Brith Sholom of Baltimore Medical Center in Rishon L’Zion. Here, Grand Matron Kay Snyder and three unnamed men stand in front of a truck presented to the new state of Israel during the 46th Annual Convention of IOBS in Atlantic City, June 1948. JMM 1995.209.84.2

The Independent Order Brith Sholom (IOBS), a fraternal organization formed in 1902 in East Baltimore, was the first fraternal order to buy ambulances for the new state of Israel. It also helped supply money and material for the ship Exodus, helped fund settlement for Yemenite Jewish immigrants, and raised money to build the Brith Sholom of Baltimore Medical Center in Rishon L’Zion. Here, Grand Matron Kay Snyder and three unnamed men stand in front of a truck presented to the new state of Israel during the 46th Annual Convention of IOBS in Atlantic City, June 1948. JMM 1995.209.84.2

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), founded in 1893, focuses on women’s issues, philanthropy, and community. In 1953 the NCJW began the “Ship-A-Box” program, sending toys, books and games to children overseas, especially to Jewish children in the immigrant settlements of Israel. Here Maryland Jewish youth help NCJW Annapolis Section leaders with the “Ship-A-Box” project, displaying dolls to be sent to Israel, c. 1985. Pictured are (top L to R): Sue Merrill, Section President Robin Sussman, Donna Berusch, Janice Singerman, George Gordon, Jane Cohen, and Tanya Peskin, (bottom L to R): Wade Berusch, Julie Merrill, and Bessie Gordon. JMM 2001.113.82

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), founded in 1893, focuses on women’s issues, philanthropy, and community. In 1953 the NCJW began the “Ship-A-Box” program, sending toys, books and games to children overseas, especially to Jewish children in the immigrant settlements of Israel. Here Maryland Jewish youth help NCJW Annapolis Section leaders with the “Ship-A-Box” project, displaying dolls to be sent to Israel, c. 1985. Pictured are (top L to R): Sue Merrill, Section President Robin Sussman, Donna Berusch, Janice Singerman, George Gordon, Jane Cohen, and Tanya Peskin, (bottom L to R): Wade Berusch, Julie Merrill, and Bessie Gordon. JMM 2001.113.82

~THE END~

 

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