From the Ground Up

Posted on April 6th, 2011 by

On a bright Sunday in early April the JMM unveiled its newest publication and first book for children at a family program dedicated to the publication. The Synagogue Speaks, a full color picture book written by JMM Associate Director Anita Kassof with watercolor illustrations by well-known local artist Jonathon Scott Fuqua, tells the story of the historic building and the three congregations (two synagogues and one church) that worshipped there. With a story told from the building’s point of view, the book’s  vivid colors and simple, elegant language will surely entrance young readers.

Sunday’s program, called From the Ground Up, celebrated the publication through a variety of activities including painting, building, digging and otherwise exploring the Lloyd Street Synagogue and its gallery. Most poignant was Anita’s reading of the book which took place in the Synagogue itself. A large group of children of various ages listened and looked intently, as Anita read the story and showed the pictures. Young visitors had a rare opportunity to the meet author and illustrator after the reading. A great time was had by all! The Synagogue Speaks is for sale in the JMM Shop and online at It sells for $18 and is geared toward children ages 4 to 10.

Anita reads to the group. Photo by Harriett Lynn.


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JMM at CAJM (that’s a lot of acronyms!)

Posted on March 4th, 2011 by

The Museum was fairly quiet this week due to the CAJM conference. CAJM (Council for American Jewish Museums) was in Philadelphia this year, and many of us took the opportunity to attend for one or more days. This year was especially significant for those of us at the JMM, because our fabulous colleague Deborah Cardin the Museum’s Education Director co-chaired the event! This was the second CAJM conference I have attended, and although I only attended one day of it, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and really took a lot away from my experience.

The theme of the 2011 conference was Our Stories, Our Museums: New Chapters for Jewish Culture. Not only did I attend two interesting panel discussions, including one led by our Director Avi Decter called Big Ideas in Small Shows, and another called Let Our Voices Be Heard, which looked at the role of museums in democratic life. Both workshops provided much food for thought. In addition, conference goers had the opportunity to be among the first visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s new Chagall exhibition – a great treat!

The National Museum of American Jewish Heritage, which housed the conference this year.

In my free time, I had an opportunity to explore the new National Museum of Jewish History. Despite my envy at their enormous and spectacular space, I was able to appreciate what is a wonderful and comprehensive museum of the 350 years of Jewish life in America.  Deborah, Ilene (JMM Program Director) were roomies – maybe the best part! Ilene and I also fit in a movie – Black Swan. I loved it and I was completely convinced that Natalie Portman deserved her Oscar. Pretty much everyone at my house is too scared to see horror movies, so thank you Ilene for seeing it with me!


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