Everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day

Posted on March 14th, 2011 by

A blog post by Sr. Collections Manager, Jobi O’Kin Zink

St. Patrick’s day has always been my favorite holiday even though I don’t have an Irish bone in my body. I remember when I was in 7th grade my dad got us all matching Kelly green sweatshirts with an apostrophe transforming Okin, Russian for perch, into O’kin, English for I’m pretending to be Irish.  It was pretty convincing when the four of us cheered on the sidelines in our matching sweatshirts at our town parade. (Sadly, I couldn’t find a photo of us)

Then there was the Friday night dinner with Irish soda bread and corned beef from Dad’s favorite caterer, the Market Basket instead of the typical brisket and challah. It’s virtually the same thing, isn’t it?

Corn beef and cabbage vs. Brisket

Soda bread vs. Challah; If Grandma Sylvia were here this challah would have raisins, too.

Over the years I’ve eaten a lot of green bagels, as did St. Patrick himself!

Could it be true?! 2008.43.2

They are better when it’s with spinach rather than just plain green food coloring.g

and drank my fair share of green beer (Note: I now prefer to drink real Irish beer: Guinness, Harp or Smithwicks!) on St. Patrick’s Day.

Jobi on St. Patrick’s Day 1998, Dubliner, Washington DC

And while I am excited that St. Patrick’s Day is being embraced by the masses, I miss the chance to hang out in Irish bars, singing Irish tunes, celebrating Irish culture.

Hurling is kind of a cross between lacrosse and field hockey

It really didn’t surprise many that Eric (who is neither Irish nor Jewish, but plays the Gaelic sport hurling) and I decided to go Ireland and hike the Ring of Kerry on the west coast for our 5th anniversary.

Just a few photos to highlight the trip (let me know if you want to see the full scrapbook!)

Lake of Kilarney, low on water

For five days we hiked and tramped across beautiful and diverse terrain.

Kenmare Bay


More than once I was grateful to St. Patrick for driving the snakes out of Ireland. It certainly made scrambling over rocks a lot less nerve wracking.

This photo was taken by my sister when she went to Ireland in 2006 with her friend, Irish Liz

No snakes on this trail!

There were castle ruins

Ballycarberry Castle

And circular forts

Cahergeal Fort

There were sheep on the trail

And large rocks to rest against

Cool old cemeteries to explore

No Jewish names on these markers; also my favorite photo from the whole trip!

But little shelter to protect you from the passing storms.

My 2nd favorite photo of the trip

After a week of hiking, we flew to Dublin. It’s true! Dublin had a Jewish Mayor, Robert Briscoe who served twice: 1956-57 and 1961-62

Jewish heritage tourism is on the rise]

I attempted to go to services while in Ireland, but there were no synagogues in Kerry. In fact, most Jews outside of Dublin come to Dublin for the High Holidays

I insisted that we go to the Jewish museum

I think they had their entire collection on display  and were featuring photographs of old synagogues.

Naturally we took a tour of the Guinness factory

Its true: Guinness does taste better in Ireland

And as history geeks, we got a kick out of their campaign ad 

This year as I don my green and raise my pint (or two or three) maybe I’ll add a L’chaim to the chorus of Slainte.


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Standing in Hurva Square, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, we learned about the Hurva Synagogue.

Posted on February 23rd, 2011 by

The Hurva, whose name means “ruin,” was initially built in the 18th century.  It was destroyed shortly thereafter and then rebuilt in the mid 19th century.  It became Jerusalem’s main Ashkenazi synagogue but was destroyed again in 1948 by the Jordan Legion a few days before the fall of the Jewish Quarter in the War of Independence.

Its reconstruction was completed in 2010.  It has been rebuilt in the same Neo-Byzantine style as the original.

Hurva Synagogue, 89 ha-Yehudim Street Old City of Jerusalem

The stained glass windows, although different, reminded me the ones in the Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel Congregation.

Stained glass window at the Hurva Synagogue.

One of the stained glass windows of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, IA 1.187

Stained glass window in B'nai Israel Synagogue, pre-restoration, IA 2.66

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MS 87 the Rogers Avenue Synagogue (Ohr Knesseth Israel Anshe Sphard Congregation)

Posted on February 3rd, 2011 by

Recently the JMM received a donation of materials related to the Rogers Avenue Synagogue (Ohr Knesseth Israel Anshe Sphard Congregation).  We already have an extensive collection of objects, photographs and archives related to the synagogue but the new accession contains even more information about the congregation as well as some very exciting items (be sure to check back in next week when Jobi reveals one of our favorite new objects!).  The new donation has inspired me to highlight our finding aid for the Rogers Avenue Synagogue (though when the newest materials are added in, it may end up looking a little different).

MS 87 at home in archives storage


Rogers Avenue Synagogue (Ohr Knesseth Israel Anshe Sphard Congregation)

Collection, n.d., 1832-1993

MS 87


 The Rogers Avenue Synagogue Collection was donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Morris Cohen in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998 as accessions 1993.52, 1994.19, 1994.86, 1996.28 and 1998.85. The collection was processed in November 2001 through January 2002 by Robin Waldman.

 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.


The Rogers Avenue Synagogue, formally known as Ohr Knesseth Israel-Anshe Sphard Congregation, was the product of a merger agreement signed in November 1950 and effected beginning in 1951.  The merge was between Ohr Knesseth Israel Congregation of West Franklin Street and Anshe Sphard Congregation of North Broadway, both of Baltimore City.  The merged congregation at first held services in a cottage, and in 1952 broke ground on the same plot of land to erect a new, larger building at 3910 West Rogers Avenue.  This building was completed and dedicated in April 1953, and an addition was erected and dedicated in 1958.  The Congregation celebrated a centennial in 1986-1987, marking 100 years since the founding of Anshe Sphard Congregation.  Facing an aging population and suburban flight, the dwindling congregation of Rogers Avenue Synagogue joined Beth Jacob Congregation of Park Heights Avenue in 1993, and the synagogue’s belongings were also transferred.  The building on Rogers Avenue was sold, and that year marked the dissolution of Ohr Knesseth Israel-Anshe Sphard Congregation.

1987.137.1 The 1937 dedication of Anshe Sphard at 4 N. Broadway. Soloman Faiman stands 4th from right and Rabbi Jacob Bobrowsky stands 5th from right.


The Rogers Avenue Synagogue Collection represents the administrative, financial, and religious history of Ohr Knesseth Israel-Anshe Sphard Congregation. The collection includes correspondence, record books, photographs, financial statements, legal records and meeting minutes. The collection also contains plaques, blueprints, drawings, cemetery plats, signs, and Mishnah texts. The collection is divided into ten series: Series I. Administration, n.d., 1942-1993; Series II. Cemeteries, n.d., 1918-1993; Series III. Committees, n.d., 1958; Series IV. Correspondence, n.d., 1949-1993; Series V. Financial Records, n.d., 1936-1988; Series VI. Groups, n.d., 1953-1993; Series VII. Miscellaneous, n.d., 1832-1992; Series VIII. Other Institutions,  n.d., 1944-1993; Series IX. Programming, n.d., 1948-1993 Series X. Religious Materials, n.d., 1948-1993. Materials represented in the Rogers Avenue Synagogue Collection derive from the original Anshe Sphard Congregation and Ohr Knesseth Israel Congregation, as well as from the merged Ohr Knesseth Israel-Anshe Sphard Congregation.

Series I. Administration consists of the congregational records, including minutes of congregational meetings. This series contains the legal papers of the synagogue, including the synagogue’s constitution, employment and rental contracts, zoning petitions and sales agreements as well as the negotiated agreement for the merger between Ohr Knesseth Israel and Anshe Sphard Congregation, and papers for other proposed mergers that were not implemented. Membership records, materials pertaining to High Holiday services and synagogue calendars are also located in this series. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Record book of Anshe Sphard Congregation, 1888-1940. 1992.52.212

Series II. Cemeteries contains information on the cemeteries of the two congregations that were maintained separately before merging, as well as jointly owned and administrated cemeteries. Materials include plats, maintenance records, perpetual care records, blueprints, correspondence and administrative records. Anshe Sphard Congregation Cemetery, German Hill Road Cemetery, Mikro Kodesh Cemetery, Ohr Knesseth Israel Cemetery and Rosedale Cemetery are all represented by materials in this series.  Materials are also included that pertain to unspecified cemeteries. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Series III. Committees consists of records of the meetings of the various committees of Ohr Knesseth Israel-Anshe Sphard Congregation.  These papers, while not all dated, seem to represent only a short period of time in the activity of the committees, rather than having been collected over a period of years.  Committees represented are the Appeal Fund Committee, Building and Building Fund Committees, the Hebrew School Committee, the Nominating Committee and the Religious Committee. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Zoning Proposal, 1972. 1994.19.13

Series IV. Correspondence contains all correspondence related to the Congregation.  Included are folders of correspondence of several of Ohr Knesseth Israel-Anshe Sphard Congregation’s clergy, Brotherhood and Sisterhood, and congregational correspondence are all included.  Financial and legal correspondence are included in this series, as is correspondence with various other organizations. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

 Series V. Financial Records consists of ledgers, statements, bills, receipts and other financial records of the congregation. These include records of contributions given to the synagogue by members, bank account records, canceled checks, and papers for different accounts and funds within the synagogue. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Schoolbook covers. 1994.19.2

 Series VI. Groups contains material pertaining to the activities of the synagogue’s organized groups. Organizational records and meeting minutes as well as newsletters and material such as programs from annual events are included. Both adult and youth groups are included in this series. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Series VII. Miscellaneous includes material on various components of the synagogue, its groups, activities and leaders. The synagogues blueprints, memorial plaques and architectural drawings as well as  rare books, posters and newspaper clippings about the events of the synagogue and its leaders are included. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Charity box from Agudas Achim Anshe Sphard (1920-1921) also used by Rogers Avenue Synagogue, 1969-1971. 1993.52.16

Series VIII. Other Institutions includes various materials about other organizations that were collected with the Rogers Avenue Synagogue records over time.  Most represented organizations are local, and include other synagogues and local and regional chapters of national Jewish organizations.  Also included are materials from both secular and religious Baltimore schools, as well as from several non-Maryland organizations. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

 Series IX. Programming, which relates to all of the events held at or on behalf of Rogers Avenue Synagogue,  consists of two subseries.  Subseries A. Shabbat and Holidays, n.d., 1948-1993 represents the synagogue’s calendar-based celebrations. Events based around the regular components of Sabbath observance are included, as are those of Jewish holidays and Israel’s Independence Day.  Subseries B. Special Events, n.d., 1952-1993 includes those activities not linked to a calendar-fixed celebration.  These include bar mitzvahs, testimonial dinners, banquets, dedication and rededication ceremonies, dances, installations, groundbreaking ceremonies, and the final event of the synagogue, in which its Torah scrolls were deposited with another congregation. In both subseries, folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Series X. Religious Materials contains material related to the religious activities of the congregation.  In addition to religious texts and prayer books, this series includes parchments scrolls from mezuzahs, blessings for several holidays, printed booklets for Grace After Meals, and the printed blessings that are said when one is called to an aliyah at the reading of the Torah.  Also included are several sets of aliyah cards that were used in services to assign honors to congregants. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

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Mezuzah from the Rogers Avenue Synagogue. 1993.52.24


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