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New at Esther’s Place: Snapshots of Jewish Baltimore Life from the Collection

Posted on October 26th, 2018 by

A blog post by JMM Office Manager and Shop Assistant Jessica Konigsberg. For more posts from Jessica, click HERE.

One of my favorite things about working at Esther’s Place, the JMM Gift Shop, is that our products share the real and tangible stories of people from the region. I frequently speak with Gift Shop visitors who excitedly point out photographs from our books and exhibit catalogs that feature their families, businesses, and important life moments. We at JMM are enormously privileged to share in these connections and help tell these stories. Phrases heard in the Gift Shop include:

“Here’s a photo of my family sharing a holiday meal.”

“This photo shows my family’s old bakery.”

“Here’s me, with my two children, on vacation.”

The Gift Shop is not the only repository of photographs showing the ordinary and extraordinary moments of Jewish Baltimore and Maryland life. Many photos in the Shop’s books and catalogs originate from our collection, and highlights are frequently featured on our social media channels. Many images are available for viewing via our online collection.

Knowing the abundant affection for our historic images (among staff, volunteers, and visitors alike), we wanted to make some images available for visitors to take home or give as one-of-a-kind gifts. JMM images are often humorous, heartwarming, and unique to a moment, a place, a personality, and a time. They tell stories individually and collectively.

So we created three postcard sets: Upstanders, Athletes, and Pets. The three themes were a natural fit for our collection; the Baltimore Jewish community has been, from its earliest days, deeply engaged in civic and charitable endeavors, and recreational pursuits and animal companions have long been staples of Baltimore Jewish life.

Upstanders, Athletes, and Pets Postcard Sets of 7 are now available at Esther’s Place. Photo credit: Rachel Jablon.

The first challenge was sorting through the collection to find a range of photos for each set. As I explored the collection, I discovered Upstanders from many walks of life performing tasks or achieving distinctions including civic participation, community organizing, simple acts of kindness, and excellence in helping professions.

Sinai Nurses hold Harry Greenstein Nurse of the Year Awards: Mary Mead (left) and Esther Dubin (right), 1971. From the Collections of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Sinai Nurses Collection. JMM 2010.020.193

The Athletes series was a joy to develop, allowing us to explore the many facets of athletic endeavor including competition, community, wellbeing, teamwork, play, travel, and mentorship. Our final product hopes to convey and celebrate the idea that the designation of athlete is lifelong and universal.

Robert Levine golfing, ca. 1920. From the Collections of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Robert L. Weinberg Collection. JMM 1991.065.001.080c

After an iterative process involving our wonderful Archivist Lorie Rombro and Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church, we arrived at a final set of images and begun designing the postcards. During the design process, I became intrigued by the times, places, and experiences captured in the images and was delighted to learn that many of the answers I sought could be found among JMM’s wealth of blog posts, online collection records, and catalogs. Here are just a few of my discoveries (I encourage you to make your own by exploring our blog, online collection, and Esther’s Place exhibit catalog selection):

Associated Women’s Division G-Day planning for May 15, 1949. Mrs. Alfred L. Tuvin and Mrs. Jerome Snyder seated; Mrs. Maurice Kolker and Mrs. Meyer Eggnatz, standing are co-chairmen of the Teams Committee of the Women’s Division of the Jewish Welfare Fund. From the Collections of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Credit: Associated Jewish Charities Women’s Division. JMM 1995.142.022.026

Learn more about the Associated Women’s Division and their door-to-door G-Day campaign via this great blog post by former intern Ash Turner. Ash discusses Women’s Division fundraising campaigns, and shares ephemera and artwork from Women’s Division’s event and fundraising materials. These materials help bring to life the work of these upstanders—women who utilized their varied skills to organize for the community and who artistically depicted their fellow women organizers as strong, proud, and engaged. You can also read more and view additional collection items relating to the Women’s Division and G-Day campaign in this blog post by Archivist Lorie Rombro, which shares examples of humor and satire in the activism of the Women’s Division.

Perna Krick with two cats, 1958, Baltimore. From the Collections of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. JMM 1993.167.031ac

Learn more about the woman pictured with two cats, featured in our Pets series; she is Baltimore artist Perna Krick, wife of fellow local artist Reuben Kramer. In our Reuben Kramer: A Sculptor’s Life catalog (available in the Gift Shop), discover photos, artworks, and stories from the careers and lives of Krick and Kramer.

Our new postcard sets have arrived just in time for Photographer Appreciation Month this October. As part of our celebration of photography, we’ve also developed a special photo frame display at Esther’s Place. Our message? Memories make great art. So come on by to Esther’s Place and check out our new postcard sets and photo frame display (if you purchase a frame, you might even find a bonus postcard from the collection inside!). And stay tuned for #FrameitFriday, a new social media series celebrating photographs and photo frames!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Two souvenirs from a European vacation, 1911

Posted on February 21st, 2018 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Isaac Hecht (1864-1913) was a prominent businessman in the small Maryland town of Havre de Grace. He owned a hotel and saloon; served as president of the several banks, the local taxi cab business, and the Havre de Grace chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles; and was active in city politics and local philanthropy. He and his wife, Elizabeth Weis of Baltimore, had two sons: Lee I. Hecht, born 1888 (later a well-known judge in Baltimore), and Lawrence, born 1899.

Isaac Hecht (at far right) and others in an automobile donated for a raffle held by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Havre de Grace, ca. 1910.  Gift of Isaac Hecht II. JMM 1991.198.3

All of that biographical background is to set my readers up for this delightful souvenir plate from our collections.  It is made of fine porcelain, hand-painted in gold, with holes on the reverse – this was definitely intended for display, not dinner – and features a photograph of a well-to-do family above the caption “Karlsbad 1911.”

Porcelain souvenir plate, hand-painted, 1911. Made by A. Hoffman. Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

We know, thanks to the donor, that the photograph shows Isaac, Elizabeth, and Lawrence.  Conveniently – and this is why I love souvenirs since, after all, they’re supposed to remind you of a specific time and place – the plate itself gives us the time and the place.

Elizabeth, Lawrence, and Isaac Hecht, on vacation in Karlsbad, 1911 – as shown on their souvenir plate. Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

A little further research tells more of the story. Karlsbad, also known as Karlovy Vary, was a spa in Bohemia; now in the Czech Republic, at the time of the Hechts’ visit it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It was a fashionable resort for many decades, though its fortunes faded after WWI; in 1911, the year our Hechts visited, it saw over 71,000 visitors, and even hosted a fancy chess tournament.

Though his businesses were in Havre de Grace, not Baltimore, Isaac Hecht was important enough to rate notice in the Sun’s social news.  Articles from the summer of 1911 tout the maiden voyage of a new luxury steamship line from Baltimore to Europe:

“The date when Baltimoreans will have their first chance to secure first cabin accommodation on a trans-Atlantic liner from this port is now only a short time off – June 28. On that day the magnificent North German Lloyd liner Friedrich der Grosse will make its first trip from Baltimore. Besides being the largest passenger ship ever to sail from this port, it will be the first vessel to carry first cabin passengers from this city, and, if patronized well enough, will be the first of a regular series of sailings by the finest ocean liners in the service of the North German Lloyd.”  (“Rush for First Cabin,” Baltimore Sun, June 8, 1911)

“Greetings from the ship Friedrich the Great.” Image courtesy Passengers in History.

The article continues, “Prominent person from all parts of Maryland in nearby States will also be on the ship, and the list of passengers is increasing daily. Among the most recent entries are Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Hecht, together with their son and Mr. Hecht’s brother, all of Havre de Grace…. Mr. Hecht is president of the Havre de Grace Banking and Trust Company.”  (I. Lee Hecht, older than his younger brother Lawrence by 11 years, was already off on his own.) A few months later, social news from Havre de Grace includes the tidbit that “Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Hecht and son, who have been spending the summer in Europe, have sent home quite a collection of pictures, bric-a-brac, needlework and other things for the various booths at the coming hospital bazaar.” (Baltimore Sun, October 8, 1911).  The trip to Karlsbad was even referenced in Isaac’s 1913 obituary, when the author noted that Mr. Hecht had leased his hotel “a couple of years ago. . . in order to go to Carlsbad, Germany [sic], for the benefit of Mrs. Hecht’s health.” (Baltimore Sun, May 21, 1913)

Two close-up views: hand-painted flowers (left) and the makers’ marks (right). Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

I particularly like the bit about the family acquiring “bric-a-brac,” as it ties in nicely with their fancy “Porzellan-Fotograf” plate.  This was a substantial souvenir, more costly than a spoon or a fan, and more personalized than a book of photos, or a mug with the town’s name printed on it; it was meant for display, a reminder to yourself and your visitors of that pleasant visit to a prestigious, high-society resort.

But I promised you two souvenirs of the Hechts’s visit to Karlsbad, so here’s the other one; this one is of a much more plebian, transient nature, but is no less informative, and a bit more poignant.  Amongst a small collection of postcards received by Emanuel and Fanny Weis Hecht of Havre de Grace is this one, sent from Karlsbad on September 18, 1911.  The two families were double-in-laws; Emanuel was Isaac’s brother, and Fanny was Elizabeth’s sister. Emanuel ran the Hecht’s Hotel during Isaac’s long absence; he and Fanny had just had a baby daughter, Hannah, the year before. This postcard carries Rosh Hashanah greetings in German and Hebrew on the front, with an illustration of “The discovery of Moses.”

Gift of Elizabeth Hecht Goodman. JMM 1997.45.9

Addressed to Mr. & Mrs. E. Hecht and “Miss Hannah,” the message on the back reads, “Dear Brother and Sister and Little Hannah. A Happy New Year and many of them. Hoping you [are] all in the best of health. I wish I was home to spend the Holiday. With love, Isaac Elizabeth and Lawrence Hecht.”  After all, vacations are well and good … but sometimes you’d rather be home with family during the holidays.

Gift of Elizabeth Hecht Goodman. JMM 1997.45.9

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Once Upon a Time…03.20.2015

Posted on December 8th, 2015 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email


1987136012Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  March 20, 2015


PastPerfect Accession #:  1987.136.012


Status:  Unidentified – do you know the couple in this 1925 photo postcard?


Posted in jewish museum of maryland