Maryland Philanthropy and Israel: An Image Gallery Part 2

Posted on January 31st, 2018 by

generations 2007Written by Rachel Kassman. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel. To order a print copy of the magazine, see details here.

Miss Part I? Start here.

State of Israel Bonds

State of Israel Bonds combine individual contributions into a communal effort with a single focus: Israel. Born of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s need to offset the heavy costs of the war in 1948, State of Israel Bonds were introduced at a meeting held in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in September 1950. The bonds were meant to help fund immigrant absorption, to help construct a new national infrastructure, and to engage diaspora Jewry as active partners in building the new Jewish State. Maryland took up the task with enthusiasm, with groups like the Mercantile Club and numerous synagogues running campaigns and hosting dinners to support the State of Israel.

This publicity photo from 1951 features members of the Women’s Division meeting Israel’s Minister of Health, Dr. Joseph Burg. Dr. Burg was visiting Baltimore to help promote Israel Bonds. Also pictured are Captain Smolensk, captain of the Meir Dizengoff and Harry Diamond, Maryland’s Israel Bond Director. JMM 1989.80.21

This publicity photo from 1951 features members of the Women’s Division meeting Israel’s Minister of Health, Dr. Joseph Burg. Dr. Burg was visiting Baltimore to help promote Israel Bonds. Also pictured are Captain Smolensk, captain of the Meir Dizengoff and Harry Diamond, Maryland’s Israel Bond Director. JMM 1989.80.21

The Women’s Division Effort of Israel Bonds makes their appeal to fellow Maryland Jews by recalling the sacrifice of those involved in the Yom Kippur War. JMM 1994.21.27

The Women’s Division Effort of Israel Bonds makes their appeal to fellow Maryland Jews by recalling the sacrifice of those involved in the Yom Kippur War. JMM 1994.21.27

Governor Theodore McKeldin and Harry Diamond, Baltimore City Manager for the State of Israel Bond Sale, 1951. JMM 1989.80.4

Governor Theodore McKeldin and Harry Diamond, Baltimore City Manager for the State of Israel Bond Sale, 1951. JMM 1989.80.4

Organizational Support

Beyond individual support, Jewish Marylanders have worked together in many ways to support Israel. Organizations such as the Jewish Welfare Fund, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Independent Order Brith Sholom have used their membership to accomplish larger acts of tzedakah than could be accomplished through personal, isolated efforts, often turning their efforts towards Israel.

Organized in 1941, the Jewish Welfare Fund (JWF), which became the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund, sought to manage Baltimore Jewish fundraising for overseas efforts, especially those related to Israel. This sign, created by the Kershman sign-making company, encouraged Maryland Jews to aid Israel in the wake of violent outbreaks, such as the attack on the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. JMM 1995.156.3

Organized in 1941, the Jewish Welfare Fund (JWF), which became the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund, sought to manage Baltimore Jewish fundraising for overseas efforts, especially those related to Israel. This sign, created by the Kershman sign-making company, encouraged Maryland Jews to aid Israel in the wake of violent outbreaks, such as the attack on the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. JMM 1995.156.3

The Independent Order Brith Sholom (IOBS), a fraternal organization formed in 1902 in East Baltimore, was the first fraternal order to buy ambulances for the new state of Israel. It also helped supply money and material for the ship Exodus, helped fund settlement for Yemenite Jewish immigrants, and raised money to build the Brith Sholom of Baltimore Medical Center in Rishon L’Zion. Here, Grand Matron Kay Snyder and three unnamed men stand in front of a truck presented to the new state of Israel during the 46th Annual Convention of IOBS in Atlantic City, June 1948. JMM 1995.209.84.2

The Independent Order Brith Sholom (IOBS), a fraternal organization formed in 1902 in East Baltimore, was the first fraternal order to buy ambulances for the new state of Israel. It also helped supply money and material for the ship Exodus, helped fund settlement for Yemenite Jewish immigrants, and raised money to build the Brith Sholom of Baltimore Medical Center in Rishon L’Zion. Here, Grand Matron Kay Snyder and three unnamed men stand in front of a truck presented to the new state of Israel during the 46th Annual Convention of IOBS in Atlantic City, June 1948. JMM 1995.209.84.2

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), founded in 1893, focuses on women’s issues, philanthropy, and community. In 1953 the NCJW began the “Ship-A-Box” program, sending toys, books and games to children overseas, especially to Jewish children in the immigrant settlements of Israel. Here Maryland Jewish youth help NCJW Annapolis Section leaders with the “Ship-A-Box” project, displaying dolls to be sent to Israel, c. 1985. Pictured are (top L to R): Sue Merrill, Section President Robin Sussman, Donna Berusch, Janice Singerman, George Gordon, Jane Cohen, and Tanya Peskin, (bottom L to R): Wade Berusch, Julie Merrill, and Bessie Gordon. JMM 2001.113.82

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), founded in 1893, focuses on women’s issues, philanthropy, and community. In 1953 the NCJW began the “Ship-A-Box” program, sending toys, books and games to children overseas, especially to Jewish children in the immigrant settlements of Israel. Here Maryland Jewish youth help NCJW Annapolis Section leaders with the “Ship-A-Box” project, displaying dolls to be sent to Israel, c. 1985. Pictured are (top L to R): Sue Merrill, Section President Robin Sussman, Donna Berusch, Janice Singerman, George Gordon, Jane Cohen, and Tanya Peskin, (bottom L to R): Wade Berusch, Julie Merrill, and Bessie Gordon. JMM 2001.113.82

~THE END~

 

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Maryland Philanthropy and Israel: An Image Gallery Part 1

Posted on January 29th, 2018 by

generations 2007Written by Rachel Kassman. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel. To order a print copy of the magazine, see details here.

Tzedakah is more than a good deed for Jews, it is an obligation. Often translated as “charity,” tzedakah is in fact much more: it is about acts of justice. In Judaism, performing charity and philanthropic acts is a way of creating justice in the world, a responsibility so great that its fulfillment is required whether one’s pockets are full or empty. For many Jews, supporting Israel is a way of meeting the obligations of tzedakah and the Jews of Maryland are no exception. This photo essay captures how, whether on a personal, private level such as dropping a few coins in a tin box, or through community events such as group fundraising to purchase an ambulance, Maryland Jews have seized myriad opportunities to aid Israel.

A street stand in Baltimore draws attention to the physical needs of Israel, c. 1948. JMM 1987.196.13

A street stand in Baltimore draws attention to the physical needs of Israel, c. 1948. JMM 1987.196.13

The Pushke

(left to right) For American Red Magen David for Israel, JMM 1993.52.27; Support for projects that benefit at-risk women, children and families in Israel. JMM 2002.107.4; For Israel’s Emergency Medical, Health and Disaster Service and “Jerusalem Institutions for the Blind, JMM 1993.52.28

(left to right) For American Red Magen David for Israel, JMM 1993.52.27; Support for projects that benefit at-risk women, children and families in Israel. JMM 2002.107.4; For Israel’s Emergency Medical, Health and Disaster Service and “Jerusalem Institutions for the Blind, JMM 1993.52.28

Small (although not always), personal contributions have been a mainstay of Maryland support for Israel. Charity boxes, commonly called by their Yiddish name, pushkes, represent the everyday nature of tzedakah in Jewish life. Pushke, from the Polish puszka, is literally a container, usually made of metal or cardboard, and used to collect small sums – pocket change, for a variety of causes. Small and unassuming, these ubiquitous boxes appear in homes, synagogues and stores throughout Maryland. The pushke is a symbol of anonymous yet highly personal efforts to aid those in need, allowing anyone to contribute, no matter how big or small the donation. The array of pushkes shown here represent support for the Jewish communities of Israel, each box representing a plea for aid for “the poor, old, sick rabbis, scholar, orphans and widows,” for schools, the Jewish National Fund, and the American Red Magen David.

"Pushkes" in the JMM collections.

“Pushkes” in the JMM collections.

Line 1: Charity for the Poor Orphans in Jerusalem, JMM 2000.54.3; Great Charity “Chaye Olam” Institutions and Orphans Kitchen of Jerusalem, JMM 2000.54.5; United Charity Institutions of Jerusalem, JMM 2000.54.6; Charity for Jerusalem for “the old, poor, sick…” JMM 2000.54.7

Line 2: United Inst. Or Torah, JMM 54.9; Aiding Americans in Israel, JMM 2000.54.10 General Israel Orphans Home for Girls, JMM 2000.54.13; Charity for the Poor Orphans in Jerusalem, JMM 1994.83.3

Line 3: Kollel America Tifereth, JMM 1994.83.4; United Charity Institutions of Jerusalem; JMM 1994.83.5; Hadassah, JMM 1993.92.2; For the Jewish National Fund, JMM 1991.160.1

Line 4: For Yeshiva Yetev-Lev D’Satmar, Jerusalem, JMM 1992.245.4; For the support of Religious Colonies and newly arrived Immigrants in Israel, JMM 2000.135.1; Jewish National Fund, JMM 1991.38.1; For General Israel Orphans Home for Girls, JMM 1992.245.2

The Buying of Trees

Certificate presented to Dr. Harry Friedenwald for his contributions to the "Olive Tree Fund" of the Jewish National Fund, 1908. JMM T1989.79

Certificate presented to Dr. Harry Friedenwald for his contributions to the “Olive Tree Fund” of the Jewish National Fund, 1908. JMM T1989.79

Another highly personal form of support for Israel embraced by Maryland Jews has been buying trees through the Jewish National Fund, an organization dedicated to reclaiming the deserts of Israel. The JNF was founded in 1901 for the purpose of purchasing land in Palestine. The introduction of the JNF’s “Olive Tree Fund” by 1908 marked a shift in focus, establishing Diaspora support of forestation efforts. Since its inception, the JNF has overseen the planting of over 240 million trees and the building of 180 dams and reservoirs, established more than 1,000 parks, and developed a quarter of a million acres.

U.S. Admiral L. Kintburger, Baltimore’s Harry Diamond and an unnamed Israeli officer plant a tree together in a JNF forest, 1961. JMM 1989.80.29

U.S. Admiral L. Kintburger, Baltimore’s Harry Diamond and an unnamed Israeli officer plant a tree together in a JNF forest, 1961. JMM 1989.80.29

Two young girls show off their contributions to both the forests of Israel and the parks of Baltimore, 1985. JMM 1995.189.757

Two young girls show off their contributions to both the forests of Israel and the parks of Baltimore, 1985. JMM 1995.189.757

Perhaps an even more individual way for Maryland supporters of Israel to perform tzedakah is through charitable missions, actually visiting and working on projects in the State of Israel. Many of these missions have been organized through The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the main Jewish community service organization in Baltimore. The earliest documented Associated mission to Israel was in 1954, only six years after the founding of the state.

Grace Heller hands out candy to a group of Yemenite Children on an Associated mission, 1954. Her chauffeur Jack Handeh assists. JMM 1995.142.6.5

Grace Heller hands out candy to a group of Yemenite Children on an Associated mission, 1954. Her chauffeur Jack Handeh assists. JMM 1995.142.6.5

Sidney Lansburgh, Jr., President of the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund, is greeted upon his arrival in Israel for the Prime Minister's mission, 1973. JMM 1992.278.7a

Sidney Lansburgh, Jr., President of the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund, is greeted upon his arrival in Israel for the Prime Minister’s mission, 1973. JMM 1992.278.7a

Members of the Women’s Division of the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund visit a project site funded by their efforts. JMM 1995.189.386

Members of the Women’s Division of the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund visit a project site funded by their efforts. JMM 1995.189.386

Young Marylanders participate in planting trees while on an Associated Jewish Charities sponsored Mission to Israel. JMM 1995.189.392a

Young Marylanders participate in planting trees while on an Associated Jewish Charities sponsored Mission to Israel. JMM 1995.189.392a

Continue to Part II

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JMM Hacks the Museum with Museum Hack!

Posted on January 19th, 2017 by

“Professional development takes many forms,” says JMM director, Marvin Pinkert, “whether or not ‘Museum Hack’ represents a path we might follow, in the future it is without doubt a ‘best practice’ in the field of museum tours.  I was delighted that the whole professional team had the opportunity to experience it.”

The Museum Hack logo

The Museum Hack logo


Tracie: When I saw Nick Gray, the CEO of Museum Hack, give the keynote address at the Mid Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) in the Fall of 2016, I was intrigued. I had heard of the company before, but this was my first in-depth view of what this irreverent organization (their motto is “Museums are F***ing Awesome”) actually does. Gray’s address at MAAM was full of passion for museums and art. He was funny and crass and smart. He reported meteoric growth of his crazy idea (from hobby tours for his friends 5 years ago to a multi-million-dollar business today). The ballroom was full of museum professionals on the edge of their seats.

The Museum Hack motto takes no prisoners and its bright colors are pretty indicative of the exciting and invigorating experience JMMers were about to have.

The Museum Hack motto takes no prisoners and its bright colors are pretty indicative of the exciting and invigorating experience JMMers were about to have.

His presentation wasn’t perfect. At a meeting whose theme was about the importance of inclusiveness and accessibility, the $90 – $150 per person price tag of Museum Hack tours definitely gave folks pause. Gray was only able to say something like “we’re working on it” to the conference attendee who asked him about how very white and mostly male his staff seemed to be. Still, it was clear to me that this kooky guy was on to something. When I got back to Baltimore I told my colleagues about it. We decided that we wanted to learn more. I suggested that we take the whole staff to a Hack Tour of the National Gallery—the closest Museum Hack location. Last week, we finally made it happen.

Ten people stand in a semi-circle facing the camera to the side of the bottom of a large marble staircase.

JMMers are ready and rarin’ to go on our Museum Hack adventure!

The Museum Hack tour was like and not-like any museum tour I’ve ever been on. From the get-go, our tour guide told us that art history, composition, symbolism and all that are really interesting, but that if that’s what we wanted, we should buy a book, because that’s not what she was going to talk about.  From there we did a group, hands-in cheer of “Mu-seum!” (down on the mu up on the seum) and then took off from there to the crown jewel of the collection. We spent a little time talking about the subject of the painting, and then got a lot of history about how the National Gallery acquired it.

A young woman stands in front of a painting while others look towards her. She is holding a tote bag that reads "Museums are Fucking Awesome"

Hannah is positively gleeful as she relates the melancholy tale of Ginevra de’Benci.

The focus of our conversation about the rare Da Vinci painting of Ginevra de’Benci was the intrigue that surrounded it—from the “platonic” love affair that was broken off by Ginevra’s marriage to the James-Bond-esque suitcase in which it was transported to the museum (not unlike one that, as I type, is returning the Friedenwald volumes to the National Library of Israel!). We were invited to play mental and creative games with the artwork we encountered and with each other. In short, it was really fun.

In the few days since our National Gallery Hack, JMM staff have been having an ongoing conversation in various areas around Lloyd Street: “what if we had visitors…” and “we could invite people to…” I don’t know what the Museum Hack inspired, irreverent version of the JMM tour will look like. In fact, it may never happen. But even if there isn’t a direct product we can point to as a result of our shared experience, it has us all thinking about the Museum, our collections and our buildings in different ways.


Devan: As an artist and educator, I enjoyed the Museum Hack tour because it provided an opportunity to explore the works within the gallery while giving more backstory and historical information.  In addition, I would imagine that interactive tours like those would be beneficial for young people who are visiting cultural institutions like the National Gallery of Art as well as others around the country.  Not only would it spark more interest but assist with retention of the information so there’s at least one conscious or subconscious takeaway from the visit for them.

One of Devan's favorite pieces of the day turned out to be Tracie's selection for her museum pose!

One of Devan’s favorite pieces of the day turned out to be Tracie’s selection for her museum pose!


Karen: I’ve already retold some of the stories we heard from our tour guide, Hannah, on Friday. The long, sad story of Ginevra de’Benci had too much detail for me to remember, but I got some great mileage out of how Paul Mellon, art collector extraordinaire, was taken in by Han van Meegeren’s Vermeer forgeries. Hannah kept us interested, and moving for two hours and the time flew, although I have to say I was very grateful when she took a break—and broke the rules—and handed out chocolate.

IMG_3824

Shoes were in the way so off they come as Karen participates in one of the more kinetic activities of the day!

Some deductions about Museum Hack’s “rules” for tours that engage: 1. Use naughty words: every comedian since Lenny Bruce (at least) knows it thrills the audience; 2. Tell naughty stories (ditto); 3. Follow the money: isn’t this part of art’s allure? 4. Talk fast and walk fast; 5. Break the rules (see above: we must never, NEVER eat in the museum); 6. Have a through line—a story or activity that can thread throughout the entire tour; 7. Foster a little friendly competition, but not so much that your group can’t bond. Bottom line: I had a lot of fun!


 

The  Repentant Magdalen

The Repentant Magdalen

Deborah: As a mother who has watched the Disney film The Little Mermaid far too many times to count, I was particularly taken with the story that our amazing tour guide Hannah shared in front of the George De La Tour painting of Mary Magdalene (The Repentant Magdalen). Aside from the fact that the painting is stunning, Hannah connected the painting to a major plot point in the Dan Brown books surrounding a conspiracy to keep secret the fact that Mary Magdalene and Jesus had a child together. She then asked us to think about how this painting might be related to The Little Mermaid.

A conspiracy in action or just a good piece of art theory in practice?

A conspiracy in action or just a good piece of art theory in practice?

We were stumped until Hannah pulled out her trusty iPad and pulled up the scene from the movie where Ariel is singing “Part of Your World” about her longing to be human in a cave where she’s stashed all of her human treasures. Lo and behold, one of the things in her cave is a painting of Mary Magdalene from the same series that we were looking at! (Specifically, the painting Magdalen with the Smoking Flame.) This detail (along with the fact that both De La Tour’s Mary and Ariel have red hair) has led to an abundance of conspiracy theories involving Disney.

Deborah also won the “find a new lover for Ginevra de’Benci” contest, with her entry of Mary Magadelene, theorizing that these two put-upon women could find support and affectionate understanding with each other.

Deborah also won the “find a new lover for Ginevra de’Benci” contest, with her entry of Mary Magadelene, theorizing that these two put-upon women could find support and affectionate understanding with each other.


Marvin: I was impressed with the way that our guide engaged the audience.  One exercise involved finding potential companions for the unhappy young subject of DaVinci’s painting Ginevra de’Benci and capturing their images on our cell phones.  Another involved creating a tableau vivant of Copley’s painting of a shark.  While an art museum is very different than a history museum (the Lloyd Street ark doesn’t really lend itself to a tableau), the thought process about how to put the visitor into the action is something that I hope will animate our future thinking about tour experiences.

Presenting selections for Ginevra's new match.

Presenting selections for Ginevra’s new match.


Graham: While I have been to the National Gallery of Art many times, I have mostly explored the galleries on my own, so I was excited to go on Museum Hack’s tour. I enjoyed hearing some of the backstories about how the art was acquired and shipped to the NGA. I also liked learning about a forged Vermeer painting, international intrigues and exploring hidden corners of the Museum. I found the tour to be very high energy and interactive. It was fun re-enacting John Copley’s painting Watson and the Shark and posing in front of sculptures. It was also entertaining playing games like imagining romances between figures in artwork.

Joanna and Trillion present their best ballet legs in the Degas gallery.

Joanna and Trillion present their best ballet legs in the Degas gallery.

I liked how our guide incorporated technology into her tour, such as with her iPad and our smart phones. I appreciated receiving chocolate halfway through the day as a way to help alleviate “museum fatigue.” I believe that these kinds of tours are a great way to reengage millennials at museums. I look forward to working with our team to see how we may be able to incorporate some of these elements into our tours of Lloyd Street and B’nai Israel synagogues.


Joanna: The Museum Hack tour was a lot of fun, and not only because it’s always better to be in an art museum on a Friday. I’m not usually a tour-taker, but Hannah’s style – presumably typical of the Museum Hack guides in general – was informative, funny, brisk, and colloquial, making for both an entertaining morning (any morning that involves a tableau vivant is likely to be a good one) and a nice validation of my own style of tour-giving, which if not brisk is definitely colloquial.

JMM does its best Watson and the Shark – what do you think, did we pull it off?

JMM does its best Watson and the Shark – what do you think, did we pull it off?

That’s not everyone’s cup of tea, of course, but used in combination with more traditional formats, I think this type of tour can bring in new audiences, and give us a way to tell other, less academic or “main theme” stories about artifacts, art, and documents.  But please, no tableaux vivant in the JMM galleries without making sure there’s plenty of floor space!


Trillion: Working in public programs I was especially excited to attend the Museum Hack tour last week at the National Gallery of Art. I was hoping to find inspiration for future programs and I wasn’t disappointed. One of the things I found most enjoyable was the different ways in which we were encouraged to engage with the collection. Knowing a little about Museum Hack I anticipated posing beside art and recreating famous paintings as a team (technically referred to as tableau vivant) but what I found really interesting was our search for a suitor for Ginevra de’ Benci. It was a wonderful way of ensuring that we continued to explore and engage with the many pieces not featured ono our tour. As we shared our selections at the end of the day it was interesting to see artworks that hadn’t previously caught my eye.

Here's Trillion's selection for a new partner for Ginevra de’ Benci painted by Jean Siméon Chardin.

Here’s Trillion’s selection for a new partner for Ginevra de’ Benci painted by Jean Siméon Chardin.


Rachel: I’ve been to the National Gallery many times before – it’s one of my favorite places in DC to grab a few moments of calm and delight (I particularly love the many fountains and their related, ever-changing plant accessories – this time there were tiny potted orange trees with actual oranges on them!). I’ve even been lucky enough to get a specialized tour from Art Services Manager Daniel Shay (his daughter, Ginevra Shay, now the artistic director at The Contemporary, was once my winter intern in the photography collection!). But it is always fun to get a new perspective on a familiar favorite – and Museum Hack did not disappoint.

Hannah and The Alba Madonna.

Hannah and The Alba Madonna.

Being a “behind-the-scenes” type museum person, I especially enjoyed Hannah’s tales related to The Alba Madonna, including the Soviet sale of Hermitage paintings – and Russia’s desire to “borrow” the painting back at the end of the century. (If you meet Hannah, ask her about Titian’s Venus with a Mirror and its Russian reception!) Overall I loved the blend of facts about the pieces of art themselves with the stories of their journeys to the National Gallery.

Collections Manager Joanna blanches at the description of transferring The Alba Madonna from its original wooden backing to the canvas it lives on today – it was quite a piece of mad, experimental conservation science!

Collections Manager Joanna blanches at the description of transferring The Alba Madonna from its original wooden backing to the canvas it lives on today – it was quite a piece of mad, experimental conservation science!

Based on our post-tour lunch conversations and the many murmurings around the office, I think we can declare our Museum Hack experience a success!

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