Baked In

Posted on September 7th, 2018 by

Museum Matters: September 2018

JMM’s Orientation Plaza is many things. Many of you know it as the site for our public programs, performances, and films; some of you have seen us use it as a venue for teacher workshops on the Holocaust or as a hands-on classroom for an “archeological dig”. It’s also served as a place for community meetings, including JMM Board meetings. You can even rent it for a simcha!

But perhaps its most creative use is as the home of our “pop-up” exhibits. A space in the Plaza is set aside for smaller feature exhibits, often showcasing items in our collection. This month the Plaza exhibit is Just Desserts: Baking and Jewish Identity – a project developed by intern Cara Bennet as part of her training assignment this summer. Cara did a remarkable job using a small space and since it’s only up through Sept. 27th, it’s a great excuse to make an additional visit. It also is a harbinger of the “Great Jewish Bake Off,” this year’s annual JMM food competition scheduled for Dec. 2nd.

Joanna has planned a great schedule of pop-ups this fall, including an exhibit on a local collection of magic tricks in October and one on the Jewish Legion in WWI in November to accompany archivist Lorie Rombro’s Veteran’s Day talk.

There is always something new to discover at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!


Upcoming programs
All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact our Programs Manager at / 443-873-5177 with any questions or for more information.


Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 1:00pm

The Pursuit of Conjurors
Speaker: Ian Flinn, author of Conjuring Curiosity
Get Tickets Now


Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 1pm

Street Show, Sideshow, Stage Show:
Novelty & Variety Entertainment and its Spread
Speaker: James Taylor
Reserve Seats Now

Sunday, October 14, 2018 at 1pm

Magic and Monotheism
Speaker: Jonathan Dauber, Yeshiva University
Reserve Seats Now

Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 1pm

Free Fall Baltimore!
Capturing Houdini
Speaker: Ken Trombley
Reserve Seats Now

Supplemented with an array of vintage material that he has assembled over the past 35 years, Houdini-collector Ken Trombley enchants with tales of the “handcuff king”!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Family Day!
Houdini’s Magical Halloween
Reserve Seats Now

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Official Houdini Sceance
Tickets: $50 – sales link coming soon.
Please note seating is extremely limited for this event.

>>View the full JMM calendar of events here.<<

Esther’s Place

New year, new gear! At Esther’s Place, we have bright new gifts and souvenirs, including handcrafted glass bead and gemstone necklaces made by the women of the Bali Chai Collection, ceramic home blessings in varied cheery and heartfelt styles, and colorful Jewish Art Calendars by artist Joel Itman. These items are just some of our new wall hangings and jewelry items that we hope will brighten your JMM visit this coming year.

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From Game Design to Scheduling: JMM Interning is More than Meets the Eye

Posted on July 11th, 2018 by

Blog post by JMM intern Justine “Ellie” Smith. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

Over the course of the last five weeks I have gained valuable knowledge about the inner workings of programming and education at the JMM. Before coming to the JMM I had no idea about how much planning it took for museums to host events and create successful educational opportunities. So much goes into putting on a program and the small details really make a difference.

For the opening of Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini, we transformed the lobby space into a cocktail area. We set up a buffet and bar as well as seating areas. Each of these areas was then decorated to fit with the magic theme. We built houses of cards that adorned the tables and crated flower arrangements with magic wands that we placed throughout the space. To add to the ambiance of the space we hung the concept art for the exhibit on some of the walls. To give the space some more visual intrigue we created a mobile with playing cards and suspended it above the buffet area. These small details really made the night special.

For the Magic of Jonestown Festival we worked to create interactive magic themed crafts that children could create at the JMM table. After some experimenting we figured out how to make magic wands with smoothie straws, construction paper, and electrical tape and how to make magicians hats out of paper. The kids who came to the table really seemed to enjoy the crafts and it was something special for them to take home.

Before starting this summer, I thought programming was just speakers and book signing but it is so much more than that. It is all about creating experiences that connect people with the museum and offer them something different. I have been working on programming for Stitching History from the Holocaust which will open in the spring and it is a lot more challenging than I expected. The process of finding the best fit for our events is challenging but completely worth it. After seeing how popular the Houdini programs have been I cannot wait to finalize the program ideas for the spring and I can only hope they will be as popular.

The education department here at the JMM works very hard to connect to schools, camps, and other groups. We are not only working to education children but also their teachers. We host the Summer Teachers Institute which focuses on Holocaust education. This year we are focusing our attention on primary sources in the classroom. Teachers learn valuable skills which they can take back to their classes which creates a higher standard of Holocaust education. We are in the preparation stage for this event currently. We are creating schedules and emailing confirmations to those who have signed up.

Closer to the event we will have a lot of other preparation to do such as folders and gathering materials to share with the teachers. The Summer Teachers Institute was one of the main reasons I wanted to work at the JMM. Holocaust education is extremely important but is often ignored or glossed over in the school system. By providing teachers with resources and lesson plan ideas we can makes sure this important topic is discussed in classrooms.

The education department also hosts school and camp groups. We have educational activities to do with the kids. The first school group that came in was here to learn about the Holocaust and to hear from a survivor. We did an activity using pictures from our collection and asked the kids to explain what they thought was happening in the picture. The kids loved interacting with the primary sources and were able to be creative when coming up with their answers.

For Houdini we created the vanishing elephant game. Kids are put into group and each child is given a question (which are based on the Houdini exhibit). The kids then come back together and the answers reveal a code. They then have to break the code and reveal a secret message.

Our first camp group did an excellent job but it was clear that if we had younger kids this was not going to work. So we got to work on creating a version of the game for younger children. We changed some of the questions and eliminated the code breaker books. This new version allows for us to host a larger range of age groups. Seeing kids go through the exhibits and ask questions is what makes it all worthwhile. Knowing that we are providing a memorable and educational experience to these groups of kids is extremely rewarding.

I never thought that crafting, game design, and program creation would be part of my summer at the JMM but I am grateful that it is. Through this internship I am getting to see everything that goes into the program and education departments. It may be challenging some days but it is necessary. We are providing unique experiences for all patrons, the youngest to the oldest, and that is what a museum is all about. We are connecting to people on a deeper level through our programs and educational opportunities. These connections create lasting impressions and memories that will last a lifetime.

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Coming to America

Posted on July 6th, 2018 by

Museum Matters: July 2018

Happy 5th of July.  I don’t mean to take anything away from the 4th (hope you saw some awesome fireworks) but just to point out that there is always a day after. The 5th reminds us that the American experiment wasn’t completed in a single day ( in fact even the Declaration wasn’t completed in a day – the official copy is actually signed on August 2).

This summer we use the story of Houdini as a platform for examining the struggles of immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Even before the concept of “illegal immigration” was invented with the Chinese Exclusion Act, life for newcomers was no picnic. On the 15th of July David Saltman speaks about the Weiss family’s journey to America and the forces that shaped the life of young Ehrich, the boy who would become Harry Houdini. On the 19th of August, Nicholas Fessenden zooms out to look at the Weiss story in the context of the great wave of immigration at the turn of the century.

So let’s join our neighbors in celebrating Jefferson, Adams and Washington but also set aside some time this summer to acknowledge Brandeis, Szold, Einstein, and even Houdini — all a part of our “nation of nations” — who helped build American justice, science and culture.


Upcoming programs
All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact our Programs Manager at / 443-873-5177 with any questions or for more information.


Sunday, July 15th at 1:00pm

Houdini Unbound
Speaker: David Saltman, author of ​Houdini Unbound
Get Tickets Now

Sunday, July 29th at 1:00pm

Mrs. Houdini: The Woman Behind the Magician
Speaker: Victoria Kelly, author of ​Mrs. Houdini
Get Tickets Now


August 6 – August 8, 2018

Summer Teachers Institute 2018
Lessons of the Shoah: Primary Sources in the Classroom
Register Here

Sunday, August 19, 2018 at 1:00pm

American Immigration During Houdini’s Day, 1878-1924
Speaker: Dr. Nicholas Fessenden, Baltimore Immigration Museum
Get Tickets Now

Sunday, August 26, 2018 at 1:00pm

My Shtetl Baltimore
Speaker: Eli Schlossberg, author of ​My Shtetl Baltimore
Get Tickets Now

>>View the full JMM calendar of events here.<<

Also of Interest
The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit or check out BIYA on Facebook.

​Creative Alliance at B’nai Israel

World Acappela: Iberi Choir of Georgia
Thursday, July 25th at 7:30pm
Location: B’nai Israel Synagogue
Get Tickets Now

Esther’s Place

The whole city has Houdini fever, including Esther’s Place! We’ve got simple magic tricks to astound your friends, thoughtful biographies, blank books to capture the stories of your own amazing challenges, mugs that capture those haunting eyes, and even a cut-out greeting card of the master escape artist himself. Come cool off in our well-air-conditioned gallery, and then visit us in Esther’s Place to take a reminder of your experience with you.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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