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.
Posted on November 10th, 2015 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: February 20, 2015
PastPerfect Accession #: 2009.040.038
Status: The Baltimore Hebrew College’s High School class of 1962. Two potential IDs: far right, middle row – Bernie Geller? Far left, front row: Yaakov Beiser?
Special Thanks To: Rick Glaser
Posted on July 1st, 2015 by Rachel
SuperKids, a summer camp program, is organized by a nonprofit called Parks and People Foundation. The organization is “dedicated to supporting a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities; creating and sustaining beautiful and lively parks; and promoting a healthy natural environment for Baltimore.” So it’s only fitting that SuperKids takes a group of young, inquisitive learners around different places in Baltimore, expanding their environmental sights and experiences as well as their vocabulary list. The Jewish Museum of Maryland has been privileged to be one of these sites for the last few years during their Jonestown neighborhood tour.
On a wet and muggy Tuesday morning, a yellow school bus reminiscent of my own elementary school days brought 25 eager students to the museum’s red brick road. They were extremely well behaved for kids who would essentially be on a different field trip every day for the summer. It was me who couldn’t contain the excitement of seeing my fellow peers (I may look like a 20-something year old, but I’m a child at heart). Since the group was too large to take all at once, Lois, one of our super volunteers, took half of the kids on a tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue while Falicia and I took the other half to do two activities- a scavenger hunt in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and an archaeology puzzle activity.
I’ve never been one to simply observe, so here I am “making” a traditional Sabbath dinner with some of the kids while reading them the newspaper.
While Falicia helped with the archaeology “dig,” I assisted with the Voices of Lombard Street portion where the talk of immigration brought back my own memories of my parent’s journey to this country from South Korea for the “American Dream.” Unlike the Jewish immigrants who came to Baltimore on a ship, my parents took a plane, and they weren’t fleeing religious persecution. But I remember rolling my eyes at my parents every time they lectured me on how hard they worked to build a nice home for the family, and how they too worked menial yet necessary jobs beyond their intelligence and skills. I remember threatening my parents to call child services for making me work at their dry cleaners on my free Saturday, only to be bribed by McDonald’s. Like Paul Wartzman whose mom used to make gefilte fish every Friday, my grandmother used to make dduk-mandu-guk (rice cake and dumpling soup) every Sunday. And how my mom used to drive out of her way to go to a Korean market not just for authentic Korean food from the Motherland, but for human interaction with people who also spoke her native language.
This is me, age eight, standing in front of my new house being built. Although we only lived here for a year, this was a milestone for my family because it was the first home that truly belonged to us. No more living in relative’s homes and no more renting.
And for me to now teach elementary school kids about that same topic brings this whole experience to a full circle. To set the record straight, I’m a natural born U.S. citizen and I’ve learned to not take that for granted.
I’m not Jewish. My family is Christian, and in fact, I’m part of a very loving and active church community. I came to work at this museum, excited to learn about another religion and perhaps learn more about my own. I didn’t expect to have much in common with those who lived on Lombard Street, but as I talked about each part of the exhibit to the students, I saw my own childhood in the quotes hanging on the walls.
It’s funny how June was Immigrant Heritage Month and on the very last day, it took a group of kids to make me realize how important that month should have been to me. If SuperKids were real superheroes, their superpower would be sparking a child-like spirit, curiosity, and wonder in adults. I certainly feel rescued. I may not have a degree in teaching, but I’m still so honored to be a small part of that process, and I look forward to a summer filled with SuperKids!
A blog post by Education Intern Eden Cho. To read more posts by interns click HERE.