Jenny Goes to the “Vet”

Posted on August 29th, 2018 by

A blog post by JMM Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.

As many of you know, here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland we pride ourselves on creating exhibits that are lively, innovative, and hands-on. So we make a point to build in different kinds of interactives – some as simple as a push of a button and others that take a little more active participation…like making an elephant disappear!

Any museum professional will tell you, hands-on interactives need to be prepared for lots of wear and tear. And even with the best of planning, sometimes you need to repair, replace, or re-think an interactive after it has been in use for a while.

In Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, we underestimated the strength of our visitors and had to repair our punching bag, replacing its mount with a heavy-duty chain.

In Voices of Lombard Street we regularly replace the fake food in the deli section of the exhibit. You can see our missing coleslaw and bun discoloration in these before-and-after photos!

And in Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini, we were met with a challenge – Jenny, our disappearing elephant, was a little “under the weather” after performing her trick for so many adoring fans.

(You may have noticed this cuddly stand-in while Jenny was out of her box awaiting surgery.)

But don’t worry, JMM staff came to the rescue! Archivist Lorie Rombro and Visitor Services Manager Paige Woodhouse played doctor for the day and fixed Jenny right up (they even let me assist!). In preparation for “surgery,” they gathered a variety of potential repair supplies, from needle and thread to multiple brands of superglue. We weren’t sure exactly what material Jenny’s hide was made from and knew we might have to test a few different techniques.

As you can see here, Jenny’s trunk and tusks are worse-for-wear. In addition to repairing the tears themselves, we needed to find a way to increase the support inside the trunk to help prevent future damage. In order to do that, we decided to fully remove the trunk before re-attachment.

A behind-the-scenes fun fact? We used a combination of hand-carved epifoam and the recycled underwire from a bra (yes, you read that right!) to create the needed support. The underwire was the perfect angle for Jenny’s trunk.

In the end the judicious application of gorilla glue (and some TLC) let us return Jenny to her magic box where she continues to delight and astonish our museum visitors!

Make sure to stop in, say hi to Jenny, and watch her perform her miraculous disappearance.

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HENDLERS: The Velvet Kind, An Image Gallery Part 3

Posted on August 13th, 2018 by

Article by Rachel Kassman. Originally published in Generations 2011 – 2012: Jewish Foodways.  Information on how to purchase your own copy here. 

Flavors of the Month!

Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry were big business for Hendler Creamery, but that didn’t stop them from experimenting! When Chase and Sanborn introduced the concept of dated coffee, Hendler Creamery  gained permission to use the phrase and invented a whole new flavor of ice cream – coffee with dates!  The company also made specialty flavors for particular customers, like ginger and peppermint for Hutzler’s department store and tomato sherbet for the Southern Hotel. But perhaps the best remembered specialty flavor was Hendler’s Egg-Nog ice cream. Hendler’s was the only ice cream company in the United States to have a liquor license (for blending liquor into ice cream) so that the Egg-Nog ice cream could be flavored with pure rum.

A calendar of monthly flavor specialties, provide by Hendler’s to various ice cream vendors.

Anonymous Gift. 1998.47.

This billboard shares Hendler’s preferred recipe for a holiday egg nog! Anonymous Gift, 1998.47.13.17.

Christmas Charity

December wasn’t just a month for Egg-Nog ice cream. L. Manuel Hendler started a company tradition of sending free ice cream to orphanages and to children in hospital wards. Advertisements in the paper invited institutions to participate and the list of beneficiaries grew each year. Hendler’s also sent ice cream to the penitentiary and even once, during World War II, to American prisoner-of-war camps!


Billboards advertising the Hendler Christmas donations of ice cream. Photos by Harry B. Leopold. Anonymous Gift, 1998.47.10.1, 11.31, 11.33.


Baltimore has long played an important role in America’s ice cream industry – after all, Mr. Jacob Fussell, the “father of wholesale ice cream manufacturing,” was a Baltimorean. L. Manuel Hendler was the chairman of the Ice Cream Industry’s National Centennial Committee, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mr. Fussell’s feat here in Baltimore in 1951. But the Hendler Creamery Company will forever reign supreme as “The Velvet Kind” of Baltimore memory.

Check out the crowd at the Ice Cream Centennial luncheon! Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Boltanksy, 1996.152.3.

~The End~

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Summer Reading

Posted on July 20th, 2018 by

JMM Insights: July 2018

In my youth this was the time of year you went out to the beach and curled up with a book under an umbrella. But these days, both vacations and attention spans seem shorter so maybe sitting in your backyard with a tablet will have to suffice.  If you do I encourage you to spend some time with the JMM blog posts – short stories, (mostly) non-fiction that explore topics related to our collections, our exhibits and American Jewish history. 

If you haven’t visited our blog posts before, summer is a great time to start.  Our regular crew of staff and volunteer bloggers has an infusion of talent from our summer interns – great writers in training.  I recently re-read Ellie Smith’s post on her internship experience (and it reminded me of the excitement I felt when I first started in museums thirty years ago.  I have asked Rachel to share some other highlights of what you’ll find on our site.


Did you know there are over 2,000 posts on the JMM blog?!? That’s a bit overwhelming for anyone’s to-read pile, even a digital one. So below are some great starting points for exploring all of the great content we’ve been creating – I’ve shared 5 of my favorites below along with some suggestions from two of my newest colleagues at the Museum!

As the blog manager I’m always excited when Marvin signs up for a post, because I know I’m going to learn something new and often unexpected! His most recent post on a meeting with Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith is a fun look at how many of the best stories and pieces of history our discovered – through coincidence.

But I think my favorite post from Marvin might be this one from a year ago – “Originalism” Run Amuck, which connects objects from our collection to American history and current events still relevant now.

I also strongly recommend reading Joanna’s recent post A Single Suitcase. As our director of collections and exhibits, Joanna Church has a wonderful talent for telling the stories of objects in our collections – in this post she uses a suitcase to help illustrate the story of one family’s trials to rescue their parents and create a new life in America.

This spring, director of learning and visitor engagement Ilene Dackman-Alon wrote a post that touches on the core of how we think about museums here at JMM – as places to connect. She shared her experience at this year’s Council of American Jewish Museums conference and following along with her adventure made it a learning experience even for those unable to attend the conference.

And you definitely don’t want to miss the post that kicked off our #MugShotMonday campaign: But First, Coffee! from deputy director Tracie Guy-Decker. This post has it all – a personal story, a book recommendation, a tie to our collections, and a boost for our social media channels; there’s something for everyone!

Paige Woodhouse, our visitor services coordinator, picked one of my favorite blog post series – intern posts! From Paige:

“JMM’s Interns bring a new voice and a fresh perspective to the daily “behind the scenes” of the Museum. My favorite blog posts of late (I have two) both come from interns providing a “behind the scenes” look at the work done at the JMM. Marisa brilliantly described the way our education team works to develop educational programming in Zen and the Art of Education Programming. Ash provided some thoughtful insight into her work with our scrapbook collection in Unfolding Narratives – Scrapbooks and Their Interactive Stories. Interested in reading more from our interns? Take a look here.”

And I love this selection from director of development Tracey Dorfmann, which really shows the power of digital and also includes a book recommendation:

“I just celebrated my year anniversary of living in Baltimore.  As a resident “tourist” I love to research the city’s history. While pursuing information about Druid Hill Park I encountered a photo of sheep grazing in the park in the early 1900s. (Sheep grazed there until 1945.) A Google search lead me to source of the image ––I was thrilled to discover that it came from the JMM database (!) and was part of a JMM blog post by our Director of Collections, Joanna Church. In her blog post she discussed a young adult novel entitled The Hired Girl. Her post inspired me to read this short historical fiction piece with an eye out for Baltimore landmarks and as a possible gift for the young adult readers in my family. Joanna did a terrific job illustrating that time period in Baltimore’s Jewish history by aligning JMM database images with scenes that take place in the story. Enjoy!”

Just in case you’ve missed a few e-newsletters here and there, you can also read past issues of both JMM Insights and Performance Counts! over on the blog. Don’t delay – catch up on your summer reading and explore our treasure trove.

Happy Reading!


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