Performance Counts – January 2014

Posted on January 10th, 2014 by


At last count the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) had 82 members, from the Alaska Jewish Museum and Cultural Center in Anchorage to the Zimmer Children’s Museum in Los Angeles.  CAJM includes a handful of accredited history and art museum, like the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and dozens of institutions that in some ways share characteristics with museums as centers for culture in their respective communities.  These include galleries at JCCs, Holocaust museums and centers, synagogue museums, and community archives. CAJM aims to strengthen the field of Jewish museums by serving as a central body for information exchange, professional development, and advocacy.

cajm logoJMM has played an important role in the development of CAJM for more than two decades.  Today, Deborah Cardin serves as Vice Chair of the organization.  The Chair of CAJM is former JMM curator, Melissa Martens Yaverbaum and the Treasurer of CAJM is Avi Decter.  While every institution that belongs to CAJM has a unique mission and a distinctive audience, the opportunity for sharing ideas in this cultural community remains very valuable to us.

Each year CAJM holds an annual conference in some part of the United States bringing together its diverse body of professionals.  This year the organization is taking a year off from the usual museum conference format to hold what we are calling a “Retreat/Forward” at the Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center, here in Marriottsville, MD from March 23 to 25.  Though it is not quite Baltimore, JMM is serving as the official host institution (with Marvin Pinkert taking a leadership role as host chair).  Since the “Retreat/Forward” is open to staff, trustees and Museum volunteers (that is, most of you who receive the Performance Counts newsletter), we thought we would share the link to the event with all of you.

The brochure is located at

The brochure is located HERE. 

The program will feature:

•  Cutting-edge thinkers and practitioners on participatory culture and emergent learning trends

• Frank discussions about audience expectations, civic engagement, and changing community structures

• Workshops, charettes, and small group discussions that will make the retreat an engaging, active experience for all participants

• A dance demonstration and group exercise by MacArthur Fellow Liz Lerman, founder of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, and a lively talk, “From Holy Land to Graceland,” by former Walters Art Museum Director Gary Vikan

•  Remarks from Ford W. Bell, President of the American Alliance of Museums; Marsha Semmel, former Acting Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and Steven M. Cohen, advisor to the recent Pew Research Center study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans”

Single day registration as well as full conference registration are available at the website.


Not all of our collaborations with other Jewish museums happen at conferences.  Next month we celebrate the role of Lincoln and the Jews in the Civil War.  In addition to Passages Through the Fire:  Jews and the Civil War, we will be using our orientation plaza to display Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City, an exhibit developed by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.

Check out our upcoming programs HERE.

Check out our upcoming February programs HERE.

We will share exhibits and we will also “exchange” directors.  Laura Apelbaum, Executive Director of JHSGW will speak on Lincoln at JMM on the afternoon of February 9th and she is bringing a tour group from her Board, staff and volunteers with her.  Ten days later, Marvin Pinkert will head down to the JHSGW’s Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum to give his final presentation on Jews and the Civil War.

You may have noticed that we now carry news about the Small Museum to our membership through Museum Matters and Laura distributes information about upcoming programs at JMM.  It’s just one of the ways that it is better not to be alone.


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JMM Datebook

Posted on November 22nd, 2013 by

In last Friday’s JMM Insight we announced that this week we would be providing Board members, volunteers and staff with a new newsletter focused on the calendar – both settled and speculative.  It is a way of giving our whole team common knowledge about what’s ahead and what we are still working on.  We will try to do this on the fourth Friday of each month, recognizing that we will often be repeating some information we provided in the previous month’s issue.  As always, we are open to your ideas for improvement.


I. The Board Calendar

December 4  10am – Collections Committee… at JMM

December 5  5:30pm – Joint Nominating/Board Education Committee.. at Park Heights J

December 10  6:30pm – Finance Committee… at Park Heights J

December 17 Executive Committee – CANCELED

December 17 5:30pm – Development Committee… in Park Heights (building TBD)

January 14  Noon – BOARD MEETING… at JMM

February 11 5:30pm – Executive Committee… in Park Heights (TBD)

March 25 5:30pm – Executive Committee… in Park Heights (TBD)

April 7 Noon – BOARD MEETING… at JMM

May 13 5:30pm – Executive Committee… in Park Heights (TBD)


II. Comings and Goings

December 6 – Greater Baltimore History Alliance Director’s Meeting at JMM (Marvin was just elected to GBHA Board)

December 12 – Lecture on “Jews and the Civil War” at the National Archives in Washington (Marvin is giving the lecture)

December 18 – The Associated Agency Executives hold retreat at JMM


III. In the Works 

  • February 14 to February 23 – “Absolutely Febulous” 
    • Baltimore holds its first combination Hotel Week, Restaurant Week and Museum Week! As part of this program JMM will be offering “Buy One, Get One Free” Admissions and giving a big promotion to its Abraham Lincoln Family Day on Feb. 16.
  • March 23 to March 25 – CAJM comes to Maryland
    • The Council of American Jewish Museums is holding its annual national gathering, this year in a retreat format, at Bon Secours Retreat in Marriottsville.  Plans are in the works for a pre-Retreat visit to JMM on the morning of the 23rd.
  • May 18 – Annual Risch Program
    • We just secured Rabbi Marvin Tokayer (author of the Fugu Plan) as our featured speaker.  Presentation on the Jewish refugees of Shanghai will link to our Project Mah Jongg exhibit.  Time and location TBD.
  • July-August – Technology Fair
    • This is still in the early planning stages, but we’ve been talking with the National Electronics Museum in Linthicum about using the Feldman Gallery in between the Mah Jongg and Mendes Cohen exhibits for DIY programming with a Jewish twist.  We are actively seeking volunteers with an engineering background to work with young people on simple technology projects…more details to follow in coming months.
  • September 6 to 16 – “Star Spangled Spectacular
    • Tall ships, Blue Angels and, of course, Mendes Cohen.  The city-wide celebration of the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore is an enormous opportunity to get the word out about JMM.  We will be looking for a lot of volunteers on the weekend of Sept. 14 to not only help us with the opening of the Mendes Cohen exhibit at JMM but also to support a presence at the Inner Harbor.


IV. Our Winter Program Calendar


 Civil War Photography Family Day

Sunday December 1st, 11:00am to 3:00 pm

Family activities 11:00am to 2:00pm

Ross Kelbaugh speaking at 2:00pm

Entrance for both programs included with Museum Admission

The American Civil War brought photography into homes like never before. Continue the holiday togetherness with a day of engaging activities for the whole family to learn about photography before the age of cell phone cameras and digital prints. Process your own cyanotype, colorize your own carte de visite and build your own stereoscope!

At 2:00pm hear Divided Loyalties: Jewish Photographers in Civil War Baltimore, a talk by Ross Kelbaugh, an early photography expert. Though Maryland never seceded , it remained a state of divided loyalties during the Civil War.  Some Jewish photographers in Baltimore were sympathetic to the Southern Cause and found themselves embroiled in the events of the period.  Several were even imprisoned for disloyalty. This illustrated program will briefly introduce the practice of photography during this period and discuss the events that brought these Jewish citizens into conflict with Union supporters.

Ross Kelbaugh is early photography expert and has published several books in this area. Kelbaugh is also the donor of the oldest known photo of Lloyd Street Synagogue.


 Late Night on Lloyd Street: Estherfest

Wednesday December 4th, 6:00 pm – 9:00pm

Speaker Esther Weiner


Once again, celebrate Hanukkah as we cook, chat and laugh with our very own Esther Weiner, gift shop manager and Jewish food maven extraordinaire. She will regale us with stories and jokes as she prepares delicious potato latkes for us to eat. Don’t miss out on the best night of the holiday season!

Generously supported by the Grandchildren of Harvey M. and Lyn P. Meyerhoff Philanthropic Fund.


Faith and Freedom in the Civil War

Sunday December 8th at 1pm

Speaker Barbara Franco

Entrance included with Museum Admission

Join Barbara Franco, Founding Executive Director of the newly-opened Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum, as she explores how the religious foment, innovation, and change wrought by the Second Great Awakening influenced thinking about moral issues of war and slavery, and how Americans of all faiths who met at Gettysburg grappled not only with life and death, but with divergent ideas of faith and freedom that would shape the nation’s future.

A graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies, Barbara Franco has worked in museums and historical organizations throughout her career.  She is currently Executive Director of the Seminary Ridge Museum, which opened on July 1, 2013 on the campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Gettysburg — one of the lasting legacies of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War.


BUS TOUR: Civil War Sites of Baltimore

Sunday, December 15th at 9:00am,

Bus departs from the JMM,  doors open 8:30am

Led by Maryland Civil war expert Daniel Carroll Toomey

Cost: $48, $40 for members

Join the cavalry! (we’ll provide the “horse”)

Learn about Baltimore’s Civil War history first hand with this exclusive bus tour led by prominent Maryland historian and author Daniel Carroll Toomey. We will explore both well-known and forgotten Baltimore sites and discover the ways in which this war has been memorialized in our “Monument City.” The tour will include stops at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Maryland Historical Society for guided tours of two special Civil War exhibits.

Daniel Carroll Toomey is the author of several books on Maryland and the Civil War and is currently the Guest Curator at the B&O Railroad Museum.

Tickets for this exclusive, one-time bus tour are $48 a person ($40 for members), which includes entrance to both museums and kosher lunch. Seats are limited, so book your ticket early!


A Rabbi at Gettysburg: Chaplain Ferdinand Sarner, German Jews, and the Civil War

Speaker Rabbi Joseph S. Topek

Sunday, December 22nd at 2:00pm

Program included with Museum admission

Did you know there were no Jewish Chaplains in the American Military before the Civil War? The establishment of a Jewish military chaplaincy was a significant accomplishment for the nascent American Jewish community during the Civil War.  Ferdinand Sarner was the only rabbi to serve as a regimental chaplain on the battlefield.  Rabbi Joseph S. Topek’s exciting talk will explore Rabbi Sarner’s unusual career as well as look at chaplaincy within the context of German Jewish participation in the Civil War.

Rabbi Joseph S. Topek is Director of the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life at Stony Brook University and Jewish Chaplain in the University Interfaith Center, of which he is also the Chairman.  He is also the Jewish Chaplain at the Long Island State Veterans Home in the Stony Brook University Medical Center.


Mitzvahs and Monuments: Remembering Our Veterans at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!

Wednesday December 25th, 10am to 2pm


Against the Odds: America, the Monuments Men, and Saving Jewish and European Cultural Heritage

Wednesday, December 25th, 1:00pm

Speaker Micheal Kurtz

Both Programs included in museum admission

Community Mitzvah Day, a concept supported by the Jewish Volunteer Connection, is coming to JMM this December 25th.  This is an opportunity for you and your family to spend a part of the day giving back to our community.  Our focus this year is inspired by our new exhibit Passages Through the Fire: Jews and The Civil War.  Throughout the morning, you can help us create gift packages for veterans in Baltimore’s VA Medical Center  that we will deliver that afternoon. We will be collecting donations through December 25 for gift package items.

Items needed: Long distance phone cards, playing cards, word search books, new socks, knitted hats and gloves.

At 1pm our focus turns to the “monuments men”, the extraordinary story of a WWII platoon assigned to rescuing the world’s art treasures stolen by the Nazis—soon to be a major motion picture!  To offer insights you will never hear in the movie theater, we’ve invited Dr. Michael Kurtz of the University of Maryland to talk about his book Against the Odds: America, the Monuments Men and Saving Jewish and European Cultural Heritage.

In the midst of the destruction wrought by the Nazis, a band of men and women serving in the U.S. military during World War II, known as the Monuments Men, fought a valiant struggle to preserve what could be saved and to restore precious objects to devastated communities.  This presentation will explore why the Nazis sought to obliterate the cultural heritage of the Jewish people and others who were considered “inferior races.”  Front and center will be the work of the Monuments Men, and others in the Jewish community, who fought to counter Nazi depredations and the successes they achieved.  From the 1930’s through today, the story of cultural restoration continues!

Michael J. Kurtz serves as a Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies. Prior he worked for 37 years as professional archivist, manager, and senior executive at the National Archives and Records Administration.  Dr. Kurtz has published extensively in the areas of American history and archival management, including America and the Return of Nazi Contraband and The Allied Struggle over Cultural Restitution, 1942-1947.

This program is co-sponsored by B’nai Israel Congregation, Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, the Baltimore VA Medical Center and Jewish Volunteer Connection.



The Second American Revolution and Broadening Concepts of American Citizenship, 1850-65

Book discussion of America’s War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on their 150th Anniversaries, edited by Edward L. Ayers

Discussion leader: John Matsui.

MHC book talk at the Myerberg Senior Center

Sunday, January 12th at 11:00am


Join us for the first of two Civil War related book discussions. This discussion will use Ayers’ Anthology primarily consisting of original documents to explore some of the key themes relating to the Civil War including the debates over slavery, succession, emancipation and immigrant rights.

Register for this talk today so you can have a good read ready for the cold winter months. Copies of the book are available and can be borrowed at no cost from the Museum.

Conversation facilitator, John H. Matsui graduated from Princeton.  His current research focuses on conflicting political ideologies in Civil War America and their effect on Union military occupation policies in Virginia. His current post as Assistant Professor of History at the Virginia Military Institute – near the tombs of Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson – is most ideal.

This is a Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War partner program! Making Sense of the American Civil War, a reading and discussion series, is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. Additional support has been provided by the Maryland Humanities Council.



An Imagined Civil War:  Civil War Fiction

Book discussion of March by Geraldine Brooks

Discussion leader: Anne Sarah Rubin

MHC book talk at Enoch Pratt Library, Light Street Branch

Thursday, February 20th at 6:00pm


Anne Sarah Rubin leads our second book program as she discusses the Pulitzer Prize winning March by Geraldine Brooks. The conversation will consider the relationship between March and Little Women, some of the biographical connections to Louisa May Alcott and he way in which the novel reflects an alternative civil war experience.

Register for this talk today so you can have a good read ready for the cold winter months. Copies of the book are available and can be borrowed at no cost from the Museum.

Anne Sarah Rubin is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Digital History and Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  She received her AB from Princeton University and her MA and PhD from the University of Virginia. Dr. Rubin is currently President of the Society of Civil War Historians.

This is a Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War partner program! Making Sense of the American Civil War, a reading and discussion series, is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. Additional support has been provided by the Maryland Humanities Council.


Family Day: Lincoln Comes to Baltimore

Sunday, February 16th, 11:00am to 3:00pm

Abraham Lincoln living history performance at 1:00pm

Entrance included with Museum Admission

Celebrate President’s Day weekend with an Abraham Lincoln themed family day.  Actor Jim Getty will bring Lincoln to life.  In this unique living history performance, programs manager, Trillion Attwood will interview the 16th President about his role in the Jewish experience of the Civil War.


Civil War Cotillion

Saturday, February 22nd (location and time, TBD)

Admission TBD

Come and celebrate the end of Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War at this Civil War themed Cotillion.  Dances will be taught!!


Passages Through The Fire :Jews and the Civil War Closing Date

Thursday, February 27th



Purim Pandemonium

Saturday, March 15th, (time TBD)


Project Mah Jongg: Members Opening

Sunday, March 30th, 10:00am

Speaker Melissa Martens, curator of Project Mah Jongg


Project Mah Jongg: Public Opening – (the official end of winter J)

Sunday, March 30th


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Iron Will in Hoopskirts: Jewish Women in the Civil War

Posted on November 11th, 2013 by

November’s theme here at the JMM is Jewish women in the Civil War. We’ve kicked off the month with a wonderful talk yesterday by historian Dr. Lauren Strauss. Her talk has the distinction of having the Best Title Ever (IMHO): “Kosher Southern Belles and Yankee Bubbies Face America’s Greatest Crisis”.

Lauren Strauss presents

Lauren Strauss presents

Folks, it just doesn’t get any better than that!

The Levy Sisters, Eugenia (left) and Phoebe (right)

The Levy Sisters, Eugenia (left) and Phoebe (right)

Lauren told us about a handful of distinctive Jewish women who did remarkable things during the war. The most dramatic of them were the two Levy sisters: Eugenia Levy Phillips was a Confederate spy and was incarcerated twice for it, and her sister Phoebe Yates Pember was a stalwart nurse at the Chimborazo Hospital, where she made her mark by feeding the wounded with her chicken soup.

A few ladies of the Civil War

A few ladies of the Civil War

Next week, we continue celebrating the remarkable women of the Civil War, this time with a visit from a very familiar name: Clara Barton will be gracing us with her presence and her memories of the battlefields at 1pm next Sunday. Don’t miss it  - for more info, check out our programs page!

Britt Olsen-Ecker as Clara Barton

Britt Olsen-Ecker as Clara Barton

abby krolik copyA blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts by Abby, click here.

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