Posted on June 30th, 2016 by Rachel
As a young adult, I find myself on the flipside of many events from my childhood and teenage years. When I began attending my family’s congregation in fifth grade, I fidgeted through the children’s services and, admittedly, antagonized the teen leaders with my friends. We grumbled when instructed to stand, acted too cool to play the games, and introduced ourselves with incorrect names. Of course, only a few years later, I began working as a teen leader myself …and dealt with all the younger kids intent on troublemaking for the next five years.
Now, as an education and programs intern, I’m on yet another flipside: assisting with school and camp group tours and activities. On my first day as an intern, Trillion told us to arrive early the next day to help with a school group. Since that day, we’ve worked with seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, and K-second grade groups. While I first felt most comfortable walking with others and monitoring behavior, I just experienced the best tour yet leading the students myself. While I’ve learned to feel more comfortable with this responsibility, I’ve also learned a few other facts along the way. By combining memories of my own school trips along with my time as one I’ve the leaders, I’ve realized three things.
Exercise activity before seeing the “Beyond Chicken Soup” exhibit!
First, that quiet, seemingly disengaged kid in the corner? He or she may just need someone to personally engage with them. I know this both from my own experience as the quiet kid and from my favorite moment with a school group. We all sat in the exhibit beneath Lloyd Street Synagogue, while the instructor gave a mini-Hebrew lesson. After learning a few words, the leader told the students to turn to each other, shake hands, and say “Shabbat Shalom.” After a few seconds of awkwardness, most kids got into it, shaking hands wildly up and down while giggling “Shabbat Shalom!” One kid, however, sat further away from the others, a slight frown on his face. I went up to him and stuck out my hand for a handshake. Right away, his face split into the biggest smile and his eyes lit up, taking my hand and giving me a very professional handshake. “Shabbat Shalom,” I grinned, and he giggled it right back.
The box of goodies that turns into an archeology game.
Second, both the students and the adult leaders compromise for each other. I know from being a student that sometimes, even if you enjoy the trip’s topic or location, you’re just not in the mood on that particular day. Yet, you still sit (relatively) still, try to listen, and participate when possible. At the same time, the leaders listen to the needs of the students more than I realized. Twice now, we’ve changed the original plan based on the needs of the students, whether cutting out an activity or changing the timing of lunch when students complained of hunger. It makes me wonder what compromises my own teachers and student leaders enacted when I took these fieldtrips.
Finally, a large group of kindergarten, first, and second graders listens and plays along far better than a medium sized group of ninth graders. Whether it’s the different degrees of fear, respect, and excitement, or simply the difference in height (even many seventh graders towered over me), I would take the group of younger children any day.
All in all, these school and camp tours remain my favorite part of this internship. I love improvising to cater the exhibits to each group, seeing the students interact with each other, and hearing their guesses to my questions. Museums are for the public, so I consider it special that the education and program interns have the chance to see it engage with our museum first hand.
Blog post by Education & Programs Intern Anna Balfanz. To read more posts by and about interns click HERE.
Posted on March 29th, 2016 by Rachel
The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: July 17, 2015
PastPerfect Accession #: 1992.108.027
Status: Identified as two classes at the old Isaac Davidson Hebrew School on Shirley Avenue. One of the teachers is Mrs. Pomerantz; one of the students in the front might be Sharon Rose. Do you know any other students in these classes?
Special Thanks To: Sharon Rose
Posted on March 17th, 2016 by Rachel
I love to visit area schools and I felt such joy over the past two weekends visiting three local religious school programs that are participating in the My Family Story project, an initiative from Beit Hatfutsot’s International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies which has been funded and supported by the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education. The students participating in this project have embarked on a journey to the past, an exploration of heritage, and a project that goes beyond the usual family tree. This journey has connected students to their personal stories, their family stories and to their story within the greater story of the Jewish People. These students are not alone in this adventure. Students and teachers throughout the Jewish world and Israel have also been on their own family explorations and are participating in this project.
During the 1990’s, a prominent psychologist at Emory University, Dr. Marshall Duke was tasked with researching the nature of “myth and ritual in American families.” From his research, Dr. Duke discovered that one of the most important things a family can do is to develop a strong family narrative. There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family. Duke was more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces. Dr. Duke set out to help families build and talk about their history; it proved to be quite a breakthrough. Digging deeper in his research, Duke said, “children who have the most self-confidence have what he calls a “’strong intergenerational self”. They know they belong to something bigger then themselves. Leaders in other fields have found similar results, many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about.
In speaking to the students from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Bolton Street Synagogue and Beit Tikvah, these children really seem to have a sense of pride about their stories that they shared with me. They learned about places throughout the world where their ancestors emigrated from along with stories that hopefully they will pass on to future generations. One of the students told me that one of her ancestors shared in a pail of beer with President Lincoln… How cool is that!!!
The projects will be judged at the My Family Story Exhibition that will take place on Thursday evening, April 7 at the JMM. Projects will be judged based on a rubric in areas of, Jewish peoplehood, depth of research, aesthetics and creativity. The projects will be scored and two winners will be picked and sent to Beit Hatfutsot in Israel along with other projects from students participating throughout the world. The staff at Beit Hatfutsot will pick 40 winners and those winners will receive a free trip to Israel in June and meet with the international winners who also won from their communities.
The students have been really working hard on their projects….. Hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek at some of their works in progress…….. We hope you will make your way to the JMM to see the creativity of area students and the interpretations of their family narratives. Want to learn more about this awesome project? Contact Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Education; email@example.com
A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.