Chronology: Maryland and Israel Part 1, 1830 to 1900

Posted on August 23rd, 2017 by

Compiled by Avi Y. Decter and Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel

The term “Zionism” was coined only in 1890, but for 2,000 years Jews throughout the world have yearned for a return to their ancient home in the Land of Israel. Prayers and rituals refer to Israel’s winds, dew, and rain, the fertility of its soil, and the beauty of its produce. The longing for return and redemption has helped to sustain the Jewish people. In the modern era, longing was transformed into an international movement to rebuild a Jewish homeland in Israel as a refuge and as a center for Jewish renewal.

In this movement, Maryland has played an important role. This timeline, based on research conducted by Barry Kessler for the Museum’s Bridges to Zion exhibition in 1998, calls out some of the many events and people who have participated in the Zionist project from the early nineteenth century to the present day.


Letter from Mendes Cohen to his mother, March 19, 1832. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society.

Letter from Mendes Cohen to his mother Judith, from Jerusalem, March 19, 1832. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society.

Baltimorean Mendes I. Cohen is one of the first American citizens to visit Palestine as part of his six-year tour of Europe and the Middle East. His descriptions of life there, depicted in letters to his mothers and brothers, offer a rare glimpse of Palestine’s Jewish community through the eyes of an American Jew.



Jehiel Cohen (in 1847) and Aaron Selig (in 1849) visit Baltimore, appealing for Maryland Jews to aid the poor, the infirm, the elderly, and the scholars of Israel. Messengers and letters from orphanages, academies, and other institutions serving the Jews of Palestine represent a tradition of charity that dates back to ancient times, founded on the belief that Jews in the Land of Israel contribute to the spiritual salvation of the Jewish people by their study of holy texts and their presence in the holy cities.


Sir Moses Montefiore

Sir Moses Montefiore

Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885), a prominent English philanthropist and Jewish communal leader, donates a Torah to Congregation Shearith Israel in recognition of the Congregation’s support for the Jewish residents of Palestine. In 1879, Montefiore gives a second Torah to Congregation Chizuk Amuno.


Young, intellectual Russian Jewish immigrants form the Isaac Bar Levinsohn Hebrew Literary Society to foster cultural activity among Baltimore’s East European Jewish immigrants. With the support of Rabbi Benjamin Szold and his daughter Henrietta (1860-1945), the Society promotes a variety of cultural and educational activities and serves as an early forum for the discussion of Zionist ideas. The following year, under the leadership of its president, Solomon Baroway, the Society opens the Russian Night School in East Baltimore, one of the nation’s first night schools for immigrants. Henrietta Szold serves as superintendent.


“The very learned, although very young” Rabbi Simon Isaac Halevi Finkelstein founds a branch of Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion), Baltimore’s first Zionist organization. In its first year, the organization raises $234.58, of which $48.76 is sent to Palestine, the rest being used for Zionist propaganda in Baltimore. By 1899, a branch emerges in Hagerstown, as well.



Cyrus Adler at Oxford, 1898.  Courtesy of the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Cyrus Adler Collection.

Cyrus Adler at Oxford, 1898. Courtesy of the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Cyrus Adler Collection.

Cyrus Adler, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Semitics Department, visits Palestine. On his return, he delivers a lecture, illustrated by stereopticon views, that enables Baltimore Jews to “see” the Holy Land, bringing Palestine close to home.

Also, Zev (Wolf) Schur publishes his Hebrew-language periodical, Ha-Pisgah, in which he espouses a strongly Zionist view as an antidote to Reform and assimilation. Schur continues to publish in Baltimore into 1892 and thereafter in Chicago.


Shavei Zion [Returnees to Zion], an organization that promotes emigration to Palestine, holds a public meeting on 26 May, which is attended by more than 1,000 people. However, calls to return to Zion are undercut by the hardships of pioneer life in Palestine and the opportunities of America.


Hevrat Zion (Zion Association) is founded at the Russian Night School with the ideal of rebuilding Palestine. The Association accepts members without regard to their “individual religious and social views.” The Association publishes Dr. Aaron Friedenwald’s lecture on “Lovers of Zion.” The next year, the Association brings to America the famous orator Zvi Hirsh Masliansky (1856-1943), who electrifies audiences with Zionist rhetoric.



Black and white carte-de-visite of Henrietta Szold when she became editor of the Jewish Publication Society, Nov. 1893.

Black and white carte-de-visite of Henrietta Szold when she became editor of the Jewish Publication Society, Nov. 1893.

Henrietta Szold publishes “A Century of Jewish Thought,” advocating the revival of the Hebrew language and a return to the Land of Israel as remedies for a divided and de-natured Judaism.



Rabbi Dr. Schepsel Schaffer, (1862-1933), made from ”The Jews of Baltimore”, by Isidor Blum. JMM 1999.121.1

Rabbi Dr. Schepsel Schaffer, (1862-1933), made from ”The Jews of Baltimore”, by Isidor Blum. JMM 1999.121.1

Shearith Israel’s Rabbi Schepsel Schaffer (1862-1933) is one of two official American delegates to attend the first World Zionist Congress in Basel, where he represents Baltimore’s Zion Association. The other American delegate is Adam Rosenberg of New York City, who was born in Baltimore. By 1910, Rabbi Schaffer presides over the five-member Council of Baltimore Zion Associations.


Dr. Aaron Friedenwald (1836-1902), an eminent Baltimore ophthalmologist, travels to Palestine with his wife, Bertha. After his return, he speaks in New York and Philadelphia on the regeneration of the land and of the Jewish spirit, predicting that the “center for Jewish thought” in Palestine would “radiate an influence” that would overturn generations of degradation and prejudice.



The Federation of American Zionists holds its second national meeting in Baltimore. When the Federation was established in 1897, immediately after the first World Zionist Congress, Baltimore’s Zion Association and Ezrat Hovevei Zion were charter members. Among the 19 local delegates are Louis Levin, Solomon Baroway, Israel Fine, and Aaron Friedenwald.


Continue to Part II: Maryland and Israel, 1900 to 1950

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Synagogue Bulletins

Posted on November 8th, 2012 by

Today is a great day!

The Jewish Museum of Maryland has been collection synagogue bulletins for years as a resource for staff and researchers, but until today we didn't have a good way to get out the information about this collection.? We?ve had these bulletins, but it took a dedicated intern to organize 26 linear feet of material and create a detailed list of the congregations and bulletins.? This took some time but today the process was completed! This blog contains an abbreviated version of that list (which can also be found in our online collections database).? If you?re interested in more detail about which dates are included in this collection contact the archivist.

Synagogue & Congregation Bulletins of Maryland


The Jewish Museum of Maryland


This active collection consists primarily of Maryland synagogue and congregation bulletins, newsletters, leaflets, etc. The bulletins and newsletters are weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, and contain information about each synagogue?s and congregation?s announcements, discourses, workings, and information about each synagogue or congregation. Some of the synagogues and congregations included registries or other materials that are marked in the inventory. This is not a complete collection of all synagogues and congregations in Maryland, and not all of the bulletins are a complete run. The files are organized in alphabetical order by name of congregation, and the bulletins are organized chronologically.

Adat Chaim (Reisterstown) — May 1994 through November 2007

Agudath Israel of Baltimore (Baltimore) [The Lasson Agudah Center] — n.d, Volumes 137, 139, 143, 145-148, 150, 152, 160

Am Kolel (Rockville) –Aug 2003 through April 2005

Anshe Emunah-Aitz Chaim Congregation (Baltimore) [Liberty Jewish Center] — Apr 1963

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (weekly) — Dec 1962 through September 2006

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. Courtesy of Paul Schlossberg. 1984.24.2

Baltimore Jewish Cultural Chavurah (Towson) — July 2003 through September 2005

Bat Yam (Ocean City) — April 2002 through March 2011

Temple Bat Yam. Courtesy of Dianne Feldman. 2002.75.1

Beit Tikvah (Mt. Washington) — November 1978, September 1991 to 1997

B'er Chayim (Cumberland) — July 2003 through present

Beth Am (Baltimore) — July 2003 through December 2011

Beth El Congregation (Baltimore) — April 1963 through November 2006

Beth El Congregation (Bethesda) — July 2003 through present

Beth Israel Synagogue (Lexington Park) — March 1997 through March 2009

Beth Israel Congregation (Owings Mills) — April 1996 through present

Beth Israel Synagogue on Liberty Rd. Courtesy of Louis Beck. 1987.173.60

Beth Jacob Congregation (Baltimore) [weekly] — December 1961 through December 2005

Beth Shalom (Columbia) — July 2003 through March 2004

Beth Sholom Synagogue (Frederick) — July 1995 through December 2010

Beth Sholom (Potomac) — November 2003 through January 2009

Beth Tfiloh Syngagoue (Baltimore) — June 1962 through Present

Beth Tfiloh pre-school class of Mrs. Eve Marks and Mrs. Silverstein, Baltimore, December 1960. Courtesy of Eve Marks. 1995.170.1

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Bethesda Jewish Congregation — November 2003

B'nai Abraham (Hagerstown) — July 2003 through March 2008

Early B'nai Abraham congregation location. 1987.137.3

B'nai Israel (Rockville) — September 2005

B'nai Shalom of Olney — September 2003 through December 2004

B'nai Tzedek (Potomac) [Jewish Congregation of Suburban MD Inc.] — January 1997 through present

Bolton Street Synagogue (Baltimore) — November 1989 through October 2010

Calah Congregation (Columbia) — January 2004 through June 2010

Chestertown Havurah — January 2004 through May 2007

Chizuk Amuno Congregation (Baltimore) — February 1956 through present

Congregation Har Shalom (Potomac) — June 2003 through present

Columbia Jewish Congregation (Columbia) — July 2003 through Sept 2004

Congregation Or Chadash (Germantown/ Damascus) — October 2003 through present

Gaithersburg Hebrew Congregation (Gaithersburg) — August 1971 through March 1973

Har Sinai Congregation (Baltimore) — May 1963 through February 2009

Jewish Community Center of Prince George County, Inc.? (Greenbelt) — July 2003 through August 2006

Kneseth Israel (Annapolis) — June 1998 through December 2001

Kneseth Israel, Annapolis, c. 1995. Courtesy of Eric Goldstein. 2001.113.22

Kol Ami (Annapolis) — August 1997 through May 2005

Nevy Shalom (Bowie) — January 2000 through August 2005

Ner Tamid Greeenspring Valley Spring Synagogue (Baltimore) — July 2003 through August 2007

Ohr Kodesh (Chevy Chase) — March 1997 through present

Oseh Shalom (Laurel) — July 2003 through May 2010

Shaarei Zion (Baltimore) — September 1961 through June 2010

Shaarei Zion at Park Heights Avenue and Hillsdale Road, n.d. 1987.137.38

Shearith Israel (Baltimore) — 1992, 2003 through present

Shearith Israel Synagogue at Park Heights Avenue and Glen Avenue. 1987.137.15Temple Emanuel, c. 1980. Courtesy of Paul Schlossberg

Shomrei Emunah (Baltimore) — July 2003 through January 2004

Temple Beth Ami (Rockville) — October 2003 through March 2009

Temple Emanuel (Baltimore) (weekly) — March 1963 through October 1968

Temple Emanuel/ Kol Kore (Kensington) — January 2004 through March 2009

Temple Emanuel (Reisterstown) — January through December 2003

Temple Isaiah (Columbia) — August 2003 through March 2007

Temple Oheb Shalom — December 1961 through present

Temple Shalom (Chevy Chase) — July 2003 through September 2006

Temple Solel (Bowie) — April 1998 through present

Tikvat Israel Congregation (Rockville) — July 2003 through June 2012

Winands Road Synagogue Center (Randallstown) — July 2003 through present

Winands Road Synagogue Center, c. 1980. Courtesy of Paul Schlossberg. 1994.24.33

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Young Israel of White Oak (Silver Spring) — through present


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MS 49 Henry P. Cohn Collection

Posted on November 1st, 2012 by

We talk about the size of our collections in linear feet — one linear foot being the size of your typical packing box.? Some of our collections here at the JMM are quite large covering dozens and dozens of linear feet (in the case of the Baltimore Hebrew University archives well over a hundred).? But others are quite small.? We have manuscript collections as small as 0.25 linear feet housed in narrow boxes.? The following collection is one of our small collections just shy of one linear foot.? But large or small each collection in our museum helps us and our researchers tell the story of Jewish life in Maryland.

Henry P. Cohn. Courtesy of Irwin Kramer. 2000.57.6.

Henry P. Cohn

Collection, n.d., 1941-1992

MS 49

?Jewish Museum of Maryland


The Henry P. Cohen Papers were purchased by the Jewish Museum of Maryland from Irwin Kramer in 2000 and give the accession 2000.057. The collection was reprocessed in February 2007 by Jonathan Roscoe.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Aerial view of Bais Yaakov, 1987. Courtesy of Irwin Kramer. 2000.57.9

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Biographical Sketch

Henry P. Cohn was a prominent member of the Orthodox community in Baltimore. He served as the President of Shearith Israel congregation as well as the President of Bais Yaakov School for Girls between 1946 and 1963. He later served on the Board of Directors for the Bais Yaakov School.

Bais Yaakov camp, n.d. Courtesy of Irwin Kramer. 2000.57.18

Scope and Content

The papers of Henry P. Cohn pertain mainly to materials from organizations to which he belonged or worked. Programs, bulletins, and newsletters comprise much of the collection. The collection also contains bylaws and correspondence for various organizations.

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Bais Yaakov camp, n.d. Courtesy of Irwin Kramer. 2000.57.24.


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