There’s No Place Like Home

Posted on January 13th, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink


I know it’s the New Year and everyone is going to expect this to be a saccharine sweet post about family, traditions, and food. And I have plenty of entertaining stories about my family—and my family’s traditions with food! Just ask Karen Falk what she learned about the Okin clan’s food traditions during her research for Chosen Food. But that will have to be another post.

CP 15.2010.35

And this isn’t a post about a girl from Kansas with some sparkly shoes, either.

This is really about the satisfaction of crossing something off my to-do list and feeling like I’ve done a mitzvah at the same time. Now Avi would joke that crossing anything off my to-do list is a mitzvah since the list is currently about 26 pages long. He might be right: I think that this was actually one of the very first things that I put on my to-do list when I started as a part-time curatorial assistant over a decade ago.

A sample page from my to-do list of epic proportions.

In 1998 The Jewish Museum of Maryland purchased a pinkas (congregational record book) belonging to the Kesher Israel Congregation of Harrisburg, PA.For a brief history of the congregation click here: http:/// 

As evidenced by the cover of the pinkas, the book is from the congregation’s 15th anniversary

Shortly thereafter acquiring the pinkas, the Museum revised its mission statement with a clear concentration on the history, traditions and culture of Jewish life inMaryland, rather thanMaryland and its surrounding areas. The book was never approved for accession, and in 2001 I tried to find a suitable repository for it. My calls, letters, and pleas brought no response from any of the institutions I contacted.

The book remained in its acid free box on the shelf downstairs. The collections staff would look at it and sigh. Every few years I (or my interns) would try again to find a home for it, but never with any luck. But this year an e-mail was answered: the congregation wanted it back!

So on a cold, rainy Tuesday before Thanksgiving I drove up to Harrisburgto hand-deliver the pinkas. When I arrived, a Thanksgiving dinner was in full swing! It was a wonderful to see the members enjoying their extended family. I didn’t have a chance to meet Rabbi Akiva Males, but he’s assured me that when the book is translated he will share the information with the congregants.

The Collections Staff is thrilled that the pinkas has finally found its way home.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

MS 18 Temple B’nai Sholom Papers

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by

Letterhead from the archives. 1983.2


Temple B’nai Sholom Papers


 MS 18



The Temple B’nai Sholom Papers were donated to Jewish Museum of Maryland by Temple B'nai Sholom and accepted into the archives as accession 1983.002. Alison Reppert processed the collection in August 2009.

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.

Temple Sisterhood brochure. 1983.2


Temple B’nai Sholom was begun in 1948 when a group of Jewish families from Essex, Middle River and Dundalk areas met at the Essex Community Center and voted to become a Reform congregation where their children could be raised Jewish in a non-Jewish community.  They initially met for services at the Victory Villa Community Center in Middle River, and later conducted Sunday school classes at the Essex Seventh Day Adventist Church and in rented second-floor quarters on the 400 block of Eastern Avenue.  In June 1951, the congregation bought a brick house located at 1108 E. Homburg Avenue in Essex, which became their location until 1968, when they sold it.  In 1969, High Holiday Services were held in the Fellowship Hall of the Essex Methodist Church.  In the years that followed, these services were held on the rear patio of the home of Pauline Baker at 2203 Baker Avenue in Middle River until the congregation disbanded in 1982.

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Dr. Mordecai I. Soloff was the first rabbi of the congregation, and when he left Baltimore, a current board member, Dr. Samuel Glasner took his place as rabbi and stayed until 1955.  From 1955-1965, the congregation was served by student rabbis from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, who performed Friday night services.  No Saturday services were provided.  Mr. Victor Kandel led services from 1967-1982.

Some of the preceding information provided by: Jewish Baltimore: A Family Album. By Gilbert Sandler. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Uniongram sent by the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation sisterhood to the sisterhood at Temple B'nai Sholom. 1983.2


The Temple B’nai Sholom Papers consists of constitutions, minutes, reports, announcements, correspondence, ledgers, receipts, sermons, calendars and taxes related to the congregation’s existence from 1948-1982.  This collection contains information on the congregation’s beginning, such as its constitution and correspondence concerning B’nai Sholom’s application and acceptance to the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods. It also contains information about B’nai Sholom’s selling of their building in 1968, as well as their final disbandment in 1982.
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Songs from a sisterhood event. 1983.2


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

A Sentimental Journey

Posted on May 11th, 2011 by

Sometimes I can’t help not get personally invested in some of the programs that we have at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and this past Tuesday’s program, In Each Other’s Shoes: African Americans and Jews Sharing Spaces and Perspectives: Past, Present and Future was no exception.

The program featured a panel discussion that was moderated by Neil Rubin, editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times.  The panel included Rabbi Andy Busch of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Rev. Charles T. Sembly, Pastor at Union Bethel AME in Randallstown and a Morgan State University architectural student, Kordae Henry. Rabbi Busch spoke about his own congregation’s connection with the Mount Olive Baptist Church and how both congregations currently share space at Baltimore Hebrew due to a fire at the church a few years ago.  Pastor Sembly spoke about his congregation’s long history (since 1826) and how their current home on Church Lane in Randallstown (a former synagogue) was adapted to suit the needs of the church. Kordae Henry, an architecture graduate student at Morgan, displayed his senior project and  spoke about the plans that he designed for a synagogue near the entrance of Druid Hill Park complete with a Matisyahu Social Hall and The Shofar education wing.

In order to prepare for this program, I thought we needed to have some sort of presentation to give an overview and examples of how former synagogues are now the homes to African-American churches.  I did some research through the JMM’s own collections, and we decided to take a field trip through Baltimore and back to my own stomping grounds in Randallstown, Maryland to find some of these buildings.

We started our search not far from the museum and we drove to 1901 Madison Avenue which was the former home to Baltimore Hebrew Congregation after they left the Lloyd Street address.  BHC occupied the building from 1891-1951 and moved to it present home on Park Heights Avenue.  Berea Temple acquired the building in 1950 and in 1976; the building was designated as a national landmark and recorded as such in the National Registry of Historical Sites with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation's Madison Avenue Temple, c. 1905.

Berea Temple

From there we went to the Forest Park neighborhood and saw the Beth Tfiloh Synagogue that was built on Fairview Avenue and Garrison Boulevard.  My own family is steeped in Beth Tfiloh’s history as my grandparents were early members of the congregation, my father became a Bar Mitzvah there in 1939 and my parents were married in the building in 1951.  We had the opportunity to go inside the building which is now the Wayland Baptist Church.  I got chills when I walked inside the sanctuary and realized how much of my own family’s history took place in the building.

From Beth Tfiloh, we drove along the Liberty Road corridor to see how the synagogues buildings that I remembered as a kid– looked like today.

Bnai Jacob started at 543 West Baltimore Street and later moved to Christian Street in 1908.  In 1957, the site was purchased at Liberty Road and Patterson Avenue.  In 1973 the building was defaced with Nazi slogans and a Ku Klux Klansman was convicted for conspiring to bomb the building.  Today, the building is home to the Christian Life Church.


Bnai Jacob at 6605 Liberty Road.


Liberty Jewish Center was a synagogue located on Church Lane and a lot of my friends that I went to school with attended services here.  Today, the building is home to Union Bethel AME, a church that has roots in Randallstown since 1826.  I loved the stained-glass windows that are currently on the building.


Liberty Jewish Center on Church Lane.


Finally, the last place that we went to was Beth Israel-Mikro Kodesh that was located closest to my childhood home in Hernwood Heights.  All of the Jewish kids in my neighborhood attended this congregation and I remember the candelabrum that was on the outside of the building.  Today, the building is home to Colonial Baptist Church.


Beth Israel Zelic and Anne Gresser Chapel, c. 1970.


We took over 75 pictures of buildings that were former synagogues and are now homes to African-American churches.  We just saw a smattering of the buildings around the city… I look forward to another field trip to document more.


A blog post by Program Director Ilene Dackman-Alon.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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