Spring Exhibits and Holocaust Programming: Remembering the Holocaust at the JMM

Posted on January 18th, 2019 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights is from Director of Learning and Visitor Experience  Ilene Dackman-Alon and Program Manager Trillion Attwood. Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!


Later this month, the JMM will offer a series of Holocaust-related exhibits and programs. This series will offer glimpses into the personal stories of both loss and survival, inviting our visitors to reflect on the deep and lasting impact of the events on the Holocaust on individual lives and the world in which we live today.

The series begins on January 27th, the day designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations. The date marks the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and is set aside as a day to remember and honor the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the millions of other victims of Nazism. It is a day to remind the world of the lessons of the Holocaust and a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.

At 1pm join us for the first of two annual Sadie B. Feldman Family Lectures – Refugees and America: Past, Present and Future with speakers Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS and Anne Richard, former Assistant Secretary of State under the Obama Administration. This timely conversation will examine immigration in America, past, present and future through a historic lens.

On Wednesday night, January 30th at 6:30 pm we will present the second Sadie B. Feldman Family Lecture. Jack Sacco will be discussing his book, Where the Birds Never Sing: The True Story of the 92nd Signal Battalion and the Liberation of Dachau. Participants will hear the harrowing, at times horrifying, and ultimately triumphant tale of an American GI in World War II as seen through the eyes of the author’s father, Joe Sacco — a farm boy from Alabama who landed at Omaha Beach, fought his way through Europe, and liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini closes on January 21st. In February, we will kick-off our winter/spring exhibition calendar with the first of two upcoming Exhibits that tell the stories of people seeking escape from the atrocities that followed Hitler and the Nazi regime’s rise to power.

Opening on February 3rd the JMM welcomes Jewish Refugees and Shanghai created by the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The exhibit weaves together the stories of more than two dozen individuals who lived in the Shanghai Jewish ghetto. Shanghai became the temporary home to more than 20,000 Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and Poland during World War II. The exhibit is on display through March 10th.

As a complement to the Shanghai exhibit, we are launching the First Winter Teachers Institute in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools. The two-day professional development opportunity will be held February 10th & 17th. The first day includes a visit to the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., and a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to see the exhibition, Americans and the Holocaust. The second day will be held at the JMM, where participants will learn best practices and educational resources from dedicated scholars and educators. Baltimore City teachers will receive AU credit for participation upon completion of an implementation plan.

For more information about the Winter Teachers Institute, please do not hesitate to contact Ilene Dackman-Alon via email idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org.

We are celebrating the exhibit with a Special Members-Only Preview on Saturday, February 2nd with an evening celebrating the cultural exchange of the Shanghai Jewish ghetto. Enjoy Chinese Lion dancers and a String Trio playing Viennese music from a selection of Jewish composers. This is certain to be a special evening, if you haven’t yet reserved your seats, we recommend you do today, places are limited.

On Opening Day of Jewish Refugees in Shanghai from 11am until 3pm, visitors can try their hand creating a selection of crafts inspired for the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Pig! This is a perfect activity for the whole family right before Super Bowl kickoff.

Throughout the exhibit run, we have a series of fascinating lectures. On Sunday, February 10th we welcome Dr. Meredith Oyen for her presentation A Little Vienna in Shanghai. The following week we are joined by Dr. Kathryn Hellerstein, University of Pennsylvania for her presentation China Through Yiddish Eyes, an exciting exploration of Jewish life in China during the interwar period.

The following Sunday, February 24th we welcome local survivor Yvonne Daniel, the child of Jewish German parents who fled to Shanghai following Nazi persecution. On March 3rd, Sara Halpern will explore the experiences of Jewish families, with a focus on the youngest members, as she presents, In Their Own Words as Jewish Refugees.

We are pleased to present two films in connection with the exhibit. The Maryland premiere of Above the Drowning Seas, on February 21st recounts the story of Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Consul in Vienna who defied his own government and braved the Gestapo to issue visas to Jewish refugees. On March 7th, Minyan in Kaifeng celebrates the ancient Jewish Chinese community. Finally, on March 10th we close the exhibit with Cantor Robyn Helzner and her unforgettable presentation Kreplach & Dim Sum. Audience members will be treated to lively stories, vibrant photos, video, and enchanting music as we celebrate the extraordinary presence of Jews in China.

On April 7th, the JMM welcomes Stitching History Through the Holocaust, on loan to us from the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee (the other JMM!). The exhibit invites visitors into the story of Paul and Hedy Strnad, trapped in Prague as the Nazis close in. Desperate to get out of Prague and in fear of their own lives, the couple send Hedy’s fashion-forward designs to their cousins in Milwaukee. Paul and Hedy perished during the Holocaust, but their memory lives on in this exhibit that includes the letters, sketches and the dresses that were recreated from Hedy’s drawings.

Concurrent with Stitching History Through the Holocaust, our staff has been busy putting together an original exhibit, Fashion Statement – that explores the messages embedded and sometime embroidered into the clothing that we wear.

Our education department has been developing activities and interactives that will encourage our audiences to connect with the people and the stories of the clothing displayed in the two Exhibits. Our goals are two-fold: we hope these activities will help our visitors to be empowered to remember the Holocaust but also investigate ways clothing can convey social status, political messages and religious expression.

We are developing an exciting schedule of programs to include lectures, movie screenings, and testimonies from 1st and 2nd generation survivors to help us better understand the experiences of those who lived through the Holocaust.

The challenging stories you will hear in the coming months through our exhibits and programs are not easy, but they are compelling, fascinating, and necessary.

We hope we see you soon. Together we can learn from our shared past to ensure the health, safety, and wholeness of the world of today and tomorrow.

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Volunteering at the JMM

Posted on January 30th, 2017 by

Ilene Cohen established the role of Volunteer Coordinator 12 years ago and was in charge of volunteer recruitment, volunteer retention, scheduling and interviews. During that time, she did an amazing job growing our volunteer corps, making sure that our volunteer’s skills were well utilized and planning exciting field trips. This past summer, Ilene decided it was time to leave the JMM to pursue other activities. As it turned out that Ilene’s job was too big for any one person to take on, so Sue Foard, Membership and Volunteer Coordinator, and I decided it was best to split her duties amongst ourselves.

A helpful resource

A helpful resource

As I have not had much experience managing volunteers, I decided it was important to learn as much I can about Volunteer Management. I have read books such as Transforming Museum Volunteering by Ellen Hirzy and Recruiting and Managing Volunteers in Museums by Kristy Van Hoven and Loni Wellman. I have also joined the American Association for Museum Volunteers and attended volunteer-related sessions at the American Alliance of Museum’s Annual Conference last year.

Former volunteer Sydney at the front desk

Former volunteer Sydney at the front desk

Part of my duties now includes sending out monthly calendars and scheduling our docents, front desk volunteers and shop volunteers. I am also continuing Ilene’s tradition of writing monthly Volunteer Spotlights where I highlight our dedicated volunteer corps. So far I have profiled individuals such as Ernie Silversmith who volunteers as a docent, Carol Buckman who assists us  in Esther’s Place, and Vera Kastenberg who volunteers in the Library.

Volunteer Ernie begins a synagogue tour.

Volunteer Ernie begins a synagogue tour.

Lately, we’re been working on making our volunteer program even better. Several of my colleagues recently sat down to try to brainstorm new projects that our volunteers could tackle as well as think of other organizations we could contact to recruit more volunteers. We are in the early stages of planning for a spring fieldtrip to other area museums. I have also started working on a marketing project with two of our docents, Bev Rosen and Wendy Davis, to try to encourage adult groups that have visited the JMM in the past five years, to plan a return trip to see one of our upcoming exhibits. Bev and Wendy have been instrumental in contacting local synagogues, churches and senior homes and recommending other organizations we should reach out to.

Volunteer Judy hard at work reorganizing and sprucing up our library.

Volunteer Judy hard at work reorganizing and sprucing up our library.

Devan Southerland, our Office Manager and Shop Assistant, has also graciously agreed to help us with recruitment and outreach. In an effort to enrich our guests with a variety of experiences during their visit, our goal is to reach out to a myriad of outlets for volunteers from local community centers to senior groups.  We are in the beginning stages of working with other downtown cultural attractions such as the Maryland Science Center to create a core group of volunteers that work not only with us but with capabilities to work at other museum sites around the city.  While we have a lot of work of ahead of us, we’re very excited to expand our volunteer base at the JMM.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

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JMM Insights: Professional Development for Educators

Posted on January 20th, 2017 by

Professional development is always on the minds of the JMM museum professionals, and 2017 is starting off with lots of opportunities for our staff to grow.  Professional development refers to all types of educational experiences relating to an individual’s work. As museum professionals, we often go to conferences and attending meetings that provide us with additional   perspectives and insights in our work.  Visiting other museums is a great way for museum professionals to learn from one another and from other institutions.

Last Friday, the JMM took a field trip to DC to the National Gallery of Art.  Many of us experienced our first Museum Hack. Museum Hack tours are high-energy, personalized and interactive tours that were developed in NYC with the goal to reinvent the traditional museum tour.  Our staff went on a guided hack tour, led by Hannah, our bubbly and vibrant docent, and we experienced the galleries in an entirely new way. We heard incredible, scandalous stories behind the works of art, many of the pieces of art very familiar to us. We interacted with the art and with each other through photo challenges, kinesthetic activities, and conversations. We discussed Andrew Mellon and Leonardo de Vinci and delved deeper to Impressionism and sculpture.  Check out the JMM blog for more on our fantastic experience.

JMM at the National Gallery

JMM at the National Gallery

Every professional’s career can benefit from continuing education that helps him or her stay sharp and develop new skills in their field of expertise.  Professional development is an important way for teachers to refresh and deepen their knowledge of their own subjects and learn new ways to help students learn. Teachers need to be able to prepare their students to succeed in a changing world — they need to be able to teach students how to use emerging technologies, how to navigate evolving workplaces, how to communicate effectively, and how to think critically and solve problems. The more professional development teachers get, the more likely students are to succeed.

Over the past 11 years, the JMM has been providing area teachers with professional development opportunities that enable teachers to keep their skill sets fresh and learn new skills. The JMM promotes the responsible teaching of the Holocaust through a variety of resources and programs to help our educators increase their knowledge of Holocaust history and implement sound teaching strategies. Our annual Summer Teachers Institute provides teachers with quality Holocaust education, incorporating accurate history, appropriate pedagogy, classroom strategies, and teaching resources.

Summer Teachers Institute 2016

Summer Teachers Institute 2016

Over the next four weeks, the JMM will be offering two exceptional professional development opportunities for educators in the area of Holocaust education. Both workshops will take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and will provide teachers with the tools and resources to teach about the Holocaust in their classrooms and schools.

On January 27th, we are partnering with Echoes & Reflections, a multimedia program that provides US educators with both print and online resources from three world leaders in education: the Anti-Defamation League, USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem.  The Echoes and Reflections curriculum promotes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching about the Holocaust. It addresses academic standards, and uses informational texts along with primary source documents to inform learning.  The curriculum also incorporates visual history testimony in its lessons to engage students in the lives of survivors, rescuers, liberators, and other witnesses of the Holocaust.

The focus of this professional development will be on the materials and instructional strategies to effectively teach Elie Wiesel’s acclaimed NIGHT, a memoir about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and provide additional background that teachers can integrate into their instruction.  Teachers will be given the tools and resources to help their students examine the complex social challenges that they face every day and evaluate the issues of fairness and justice. More information on this program can be found here at our website.

Part Two of our professional development series will take place over Presidents’ Weekend, February 18-20.  The JMM is thrilled to be partnering with CENTROPA and Baltimore City Public Schools for its annual Winter Seminar: History, Holocaust, and Human Rights in the Global Classroom.

CENTROPA is a non-profit historical institute based in Vienna that uses new technology and digital storytelling to connect 21st century students to 20th century Jewish history – and with each other. Since 2000, CENTROPA has interviewed 1,200 elderly Jews in 15 countries from Central and Eastern Europe, and collected and scanned their family photos and placed on a database that is easily accessible to educators and the students in their classrooms.  Many of the most compelling biographies were turned into short multi-media films that are being used in 600 schools in 20 countries.

Teachers participating in the three day seminar (February 18-20) will learn how to use CENTROPAS resources (all available for free) to teach 20th-century European history, the Holocaust, civics, human rights, character education in  Social Studies and history, ELA and literature, foreign language, film, technology, and art classes. Details about the program can be viewed here at our website. More information about costs can be found on the application, located here.

Please share these professional development opportunities with someone you know who might enjoy learning more about these great resources that encourage learning and creativity for our 21st-century students in area schools. These workshops are geared for all teachers in private, public and parochial schools and are great for anyone interested in learning more about these topics.

ileneFor more information, please contact me, Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Education 443-873-5178 or idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org

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