New Lesson Plan Available on the JMM’s Website!

Posted on May 2nd, 2019 by

A blog post by Museum Educator (and former JMM intern) Marisa Shultz! To read more posts from Marisa, click here.


New Lesson Plan Available on the JMM’s Website!

I have exciting news to share with you! Now available on our website are the teaching materials and lesson plan for the “What Americans Knew About Kristallnacht” lesson debuted at the 2019 Winter Teachers Institute.

This picture depicts teachers collaborating on an activity at our 2019 Winter Teachers Institute. Our Winter and Summer Teachers Institutes provide educators with the tools to help their students understand the Holocaust.

This lesson plan, designed for high school students, charges students to become historians, analyzing primary sources with the goal of answering: How did contemporaneous American newspapers cover Kristallnacht and ultimately, what did Americans know about Kristallnacht? Included on our website is a detailed lesson plan with a variety of activities that challenge students to use their prior knowledge, critical thinking, and investigative skills while providing them the support to help them succeed. Additionally, the lesson plan includes variations on the activities so that teachers can adapt this lesson to meet their students’ needs. The lesson plan ultimately provides a concluding activity which encourages students to synthesize multiple sources with the goal of understanding what Americans knew about Kristallnacht.

Also included on our website is the corresponding student packet. This packet helps students learn how to approach a primary source by scaffolding their reading with guided questions. The questions progress from the factual, such as “Where was the article published?” through the more difficult questions such as “What is the author’s attitude toward the subject?” Students will feel more confident interpreting primary sources after working with this scaffolding!

Finally, we have also included on our website a packet of twelve different primary sources from both local Maryland sources and larger national newspapers. Each primary source, from The New York Times to the Baltimore Afro-American reported on Kristallnacht in a variety of ways, and students will have the opportunity to examine the differences between them.

This picture depicts headlines from many of the articles included in the primary source packet including “Nazi Reprisals Believed Doom of Jewish Life” from The Baltimore Sun, “Observer Describes Wrecking of Jewish Shops in Berlin: Outbreak Declared Worst Anti-Semitic Demonstration Ever Seen in Reich” from The Evening Star and “No Regret Voiced: Goebbels Declares that the Nation Followed Its ‘Healthy Instincts’” from The New York Times. With this lesson plan, students will have the opportunity to analyze these articles and more to try and answer the question: what did Americans know about Kristallnacht?

Not a teacher but interested in how Life Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, and The Baltimore Jewish Times reported on Kristallnacht? Check out that primary source packet for excerpts from a variety of newspapers on the Eastern seaboard.

You can access all of these materials here listed under Maryland Jewish Life History Kits. While you are visiting the Education section of our website, please make sure to check out our educational programs for field trip ideas, our living history characters for classroom activities, and our upcoming teacher’s workshop, Summer Teachers Institute 2019: Women in the Holocaust!

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Performance Counts: The Book of Joseph

Posted on May 11th, 2018 by

Our monthly look at JMM “by the numbers” comes to you this week from Director of Collections and Exhibits, Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Our lobby exhibit The Book of Joseph: Giving Voice to the Hollander Family may take up only a little over sixty square feet of space in the orientation space, but nonetheless it requires many hours to research, write, and install even small displays like this one.

I had the privilege of looking over the primary source material, reading the book based on the family story, watching the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s production of the play, and talking to Richard Hollander, whose family’s story is told through all these different media.

In 1939, Joseph Hollander and his wife left Poland just days before the Germans invaded, and after an arduous journey through Europe, they ended up – accidentally – in New York. While they were fighting to keep from being deported, Joseph’s family in Cracow wrote hundreds of letters to him about the worsening conditions under which they were suffering. Despite his work to secure them safe passage, and later attempts – after the letters stopped in 1942 – to find them, Joseph never learned the fate of his family. Nor did he tell the full story to his son Richard, instead carefully storing all the letters, photos, and other memories away in a briefcase.

Richard only discovered the case, and the stories it contained, after his father’s death.

Some years later, he delved into the material, had the letters translated, and with scholar Christopher Browning wrote the book Every Day Lasts a Year. Playwright Karen Hartman then turned the family’s story into the play “The Book of Joseph,” first produced by the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and enjoying its East Coast premiere at the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore.

In order to narrow this history – relating the lives of 14 people, over the course of six years – down into something that could be conveyed in a small exhibition, the full story had to be known.

To that end, I cataloged 157 letters and postcards written between 1940 and 1942 by the Hollanders in Poland to Joseph Hollander in the U.S.; matched those letters up to the translations in the book; and selected letters that could best illustrate important elements of the family’s story, even to those visitors unable to read German or Polish.

Even though each letter tells its own small piece of the story, only 23 of those letters ended up in the exhibit itself. (If you haven’t had the chance to read the English translations of the full collection in the book Every Day Lasts a Year, I strongly encourage you to do so.)

In addition to the exhibit itself, I and our Marketing Manager, Rachel Kassman, have been collecting and developing additional content to augment the story, including an interview with playwright Karen Hartman and Joseph Hollander, blog posts highlighting individual letters not included in the exhibit, and news coverage related to both the exhibit and the play. You can check out that bonus content here.

To celebrate the opening of the exhibit, three actors from Everyman Theatre’s upcoming production of “The Book of Joseph,” along with the play’s director, and Richard Hollander himself, joined us at the JMM on April 26th for a special reading of two scenes, and a question-and-answer session with the audience. 89 people attended this unique opportunity to compare two very different ways of experiencing this poignant story: through the original handwritten letters themselves, and through spoken, dramatic interpretation.

The Book of Joseph: Giving Voice to the Hollander Family is on view at the Museum through June 3, 2018. “The Book of Joseph” is now open at Everyman Theatre and runs through June 10th.

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