Going For a Drive Up Park Heights Avenue

Posted on March 7th, 2019 by

A blog post by Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Growing up in Montgomery County, I did not spend much time in Baltimore; we came up to the aquarium, the science museum, and the Power Plant a few times, but my family’s focus was on the DC museums and attractions. As an adult I occasionally visited Baltimore museums for work and for fun, but the city was still kind of a mystery to me. When hanging out with a friend who lived in Medfield in the mid-2000s, I would drive myself around 695 and come into the city down 83 – and then back out again the same way – just to avoid having to navigate between the end of the JFX and the beginning of 395 on the unfamiliar downtown streets.

Now, after 4 ½ years at the JMM and 4 ½ years of driving to work, to the Park Heights JCC, to the Associated’s Mount Royal offices (which I could not find the first time I tried to go), and to various neighborhoods in and around the city to meet with donors and lenders, I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of it. (And yes, I can now get between the end of 83 and the beginning of 395 with no problems.) Yesterday when traveling between two loan pick-ups I took a wrong turn in Pikesville, found myself facing Surburban Orthodox Toras Chaim, and immediately concluded that I knew how to get myself back on track. Aha! Success! I know my way around!

This, of course, means that I’ll get totally lost next time I try to find something without my phone guiding me. But it also means that, while I’m driving around, I can devote more attention to my surroundings and less to the map, which brings me to the point of this blog post: historic synagogues. Now that I’ve gotten to know historic Jewish Baltimore as well as the modern streetscape, driving past the synagogues and schools in Park Heights and other neighborhoods is like spotting old friends – some with the same name, some that have changed. Here are just a few photos from our collections for you to enjoy today (and don’t forget that you can look through our historic photograph collection yourself, on our online database).

In the 1970s, Paul Schlossberg took Polaroid photos of many Baltimore synagogues – now a useful reference for us, several decades on. Here’s the front of Beth Jacob (5713 Park Heights Avenue), dedicated in 1953; the building is now used by Cheder Chabad. Gift of Paul Schlossberg. JMM 1984.24.6

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Har Sinai building (6300 Park Heights Avenue), 1957.  The building is now (2019) home to Bnos Yisorel of Baltimore, while Har Sinai’s congregation is based in Owings Mills. Gift of Har Sinai Congregation. JMM 2012.108.107

Temple Oheb Shalom (7310 Park Heights Avenue) around 1960, in a photo taken by another conscientious recorder-of-synagogues, Menasha Katz. This building, dedicated in 1960, is still occupied by the Temple Oheb Shalom congregation. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.137.92 

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A Club of Their Own: Suburban and Woodholme Through the Years, Part 2

Posted on September 27th, 2017 by

generations 2004Article by Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations – 2004: Recreation, Sports & Leisure. This particular issue of Generations proved wildly popular and is no longer available for purchase.

Part II: A Rural Retreat

Missed part I? Start at the beginning.

As immigrants poured into the cities and urban life became ever-more industrialized in the late nineteenth century, elites sought to escape to the nearby countryside. While hunting clubs had long provided recreation for the wealthiest segment of American society, new-style country clubs catered to a growing number of city residents who had money and leisure, but did not care to “ride with the hounds.” The clubs gained popularity with the rise of a game recently imported from England featuring a little white ball and acres of gently rolling hills. By 1900, the Baltimore-Washington area boasted several exclusive golf (or “country”) clubs, while the Jewish social elite of New York and Chicago organized clubs of their own. AS a history of the Suburban Club observes, “It was understandable, then, that members of Baltimore’s Phoenix Club on Eutaw Place, learning of these other rural enterprises, talked about having their own country club.”[1]

The men acted quickly. Within a month of organizing, in November 1900, they incorporated as the Suburban Club of Baltimore County, hired an architect, and chose a site for their retreat. All three decisions made perfect sense. The architect, Joseph Evans Sperry, had recently completed work on the handsome new Temple Oheb Shalom on Eutaw Place, where many of the club’s founders worshipped. While no one now recalls how the name “Suburban Club” was chosen, it fit both the new club’s location and the spirit of the times: suburbia, though not a novel concept, was becoming a vital part of the urban scene, as transportation improvements enabled people to reside farther away from their workplaces.[2]

As for the location, the plot of land northwest of Baltimore that overlapped two country estates in the sylvan village of Pikesville offered several advantages: it was suitably remote from the city, yet accessible, since the local trolley company planned to extend its line to Pikesville; it featured a hill that Sperry considered the perfect setting for a clubhouse; and the neighborhood, unlike the northern suburbs east of the Jones Falls, was not barred to Jews. The site would prove so ideal that to this day former Suburban Club president Julius Westheimer asserts that “we’re right exactly where we should be.” Decades after the club opened its location at the intersection of Park Heights and Slade Avenues became a center of Jewish Baltimore. In part, this was because the same residential restrictions that existed when the Suburban Club was built later channeled future generations of upwardly mobile Jews to the northwest suburbs. Also, as other Jewish institutions took root in the vicinity and commercial-residential districts with a Jewish flavor were established, Pikesville naturally attracted people who wanted to participate in Jewish community life.[3]

Suburban Club building, March, 1909. JMM 1985.90.20

Suburban Club building, March, 1909. JMM 1985.90.20

But when the Suburban Club’s grand opening took place in November 1901, the club was still in the countryside. That was the whole point. A cherished belief of the late Victorian era held that the healthful benefits of a rural environment offered physical and spiritual relief form the illness-producing stresses and strains of city life. The countryside was not merely for recreation, it was also for uplift. Suburban Club’s first president, Sam Rosenthal, perfectly reflected this view in his speech at the grand opening:

“Here, far from the madding crowd of the pent-up city, its busy streets, its steaming pavements, the hum of manufacturing industry and the wheels of commerce, we may in this lovely solitude look through nature up to nature’s God. Here, environed by all that is lovely in rural charm, we may forget the cares of business, forget the perplexities of debit and credit…and abandon ourselves in contemplation of those things which take us away from the cares of the bustling world of trade and life us nearer to those things which relate more closely to our sentimental welfare.”[4]

Quite a poetic vision, coming from a man who spent most of his days pursuing business success. Rosenthal’s life story shows that German ancestry enabled worthy young men to reach the heights of Jewish society without coming from a leading family. Born in Baltimore in 1855, he attended public schools and started work at age fourteen as a cashier in his uncle’s dry goods business. He eventually became a partner in Strouse & Bros. clothing manufacturers. In a career marked by all the signs of a classic Victorian overachiever – avid pursuit of business, hobbies, and charitable endeavors – Rosenthal found time to help organize both the Phoenix Club and the Suburban Club.[5]

All the leading families, of course, were present to hear his speech, as hundreds gathered for the “brilliant” reception that opening the club. An “ingenious arrangement” of newfangled “electric incandescent lamps” spelled out the word “Welcome” on the sloping entrance to the clubhouse, perhaps symbolizing to the guests their sense of belonging to an accomplished elite that, even if excluded from gentile society, had just taken a major step forward in prestige. The Suburban Club featured all the accoutrements of the era’s modern country clubs, including a “lavish” clubhouse, a non-hole golf course, tennis courts, and a baseball diamond.[6]

Unlike Rosenthal, not all overachievers were welcome in the Suburban Club. Isador Blum’s 1910 profile of the movers and shakers of Baltimore Jewry features Eastern European immigrants who had already managed to make their mark in the business world. Russian-born Harry Ades, for example, was “owner of one of the largest umbrella manufacturing establishments in the county.” Yet he was not a member of the Suburban Club. There was perhaps only one Eastern European immigrant of that day who could not be denied: Lithuanian-born Jacob Epstein, whose business, civic, and philanthropic leadership made him one of the most prominent members of the city’s Jewish community.[7]

Continue to Part III: A New Club Appears


[1] The Suburban Club of Baltimore County: A History from 1900 to the Present (Baltimore: Suburban Club of Baltimore County, 1995), 14. See also James M. Mayo, The American Country Club, Its Origins and Development (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998).

[2] The Suburban Club, 15-17.

[3] The Suburban Club, 17-18; Arthur and Wheezie Gutman, interview with the author, December 14, 2004; Julius Westheimer, phone interview with author, December 2004; Garrett Power, “The Residential Segregation of Baltimore: Restrictive Covenants or Gentlemen’s Agreement?,” Generations (Fall 1996): 5-7.

[4] “Suburban Club Open,” Baltimore Sun, November 8, 1901.

[5] Isador Blum, The History of the Jews in Baltimore (Baltimore: Historical Review Publishing Company, 1910), 177.

[6] “Suburban Club Open,” The Suburban Club, 73, 79, 93.

[7] Blum, History of the Jews in Baltimore, 77, 87, 269.

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MS 43 and MS 163 Temple Oheb Shalom

Posted on December 13th, 2012 by

Once before I posted two related collections together and here I’m going to do it again. ?We have two manuscript collections related to Oheb Shalom congregation. ?Here’s a little of its history, our holdings, and some pictures, too.

Oheb Shalom on Hanover Street after the rebuilding, n.d. 1985.114.1

Temple Oheb Shalom (Baltimore, Md.)

Collection, n.d., 1819-1977

MS 163

?The Jewish Museum of Maryland


The Temple Oheb Shalom Collection was donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Temple Oheb Shalom in 2004 as accession 2004.97.? The collection had previously been on the premises as loans L1988.11 and L2002.48.? The collection was arranged by Bernie Raynor and Jerry Frankle in 2006 and the finding aid was written by Erin Titter.

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.

(left) Cantor Alois Kaiser and (right) Rabbi Benjamin Szold, taken at the Oheb Shalom Synagogue in 1868. 1989.79.74


Temple Oheb Shalom was founded in 1853 and held its first services on November 25, 1853 in Osceola Hall at the northeast corner of Gay and Lexington Streets inBaltimore.? In 1858, the congregation purchased the old Fifth Presbyterian Church onSouth Hanover Streetbetween Pratt and Lombard Streets, remodeled the building, and dedicated it as the new synagogue on August 13, 1858.? In these early years of its existence, the congregation was called the Fourth Synagogue, the Hanover Street Synagogue, or the German Congregation.

Salomon Landsberg served as the congregation?s spiritual leader from 1856-1857, but he was not an ordained rabbi.? In 1859, Benjamin Szold became the first ordained rabbi of the congregation and he served in that capacity until 1892.? In 1870, the Hanover Street building underwent reconstruction, during which time the congregation worshipped at the New Assembly Rooms at Lombard and Hanover Streets.

On September 3, 1892, Rabbi William Rosenau preached his first sermon as the new leader of Temple Oheb Shalom.? In June of 1892 a cornerstone was laid for a new temple at the corner of Eutaw PlaceandLanvale Street, which was known as the Eutaw Place Temple.? Designed by architect Joseph Evans Sperry, the temple was formally dedicated on September 8, 1893.? A Temple Center adjacent to the Eutaw Place Temple opened in February 1923.

Rabbi Szold died while on vacation in Berkeley Springs, West Virginiain 1903 and later that year, the congregation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the congregation and the 40th anniversary of Rev. Alois Kaiser?s service as cantor was celebrated in 1906.? A new cantor, Rev. Jacob Schuman was installed in September 1908.

In 1959, ground was broken for a new Templeon Park Heights Avenueon the former estate of Moses S. and Samuel M. Hecht.? The new Temple was dedicated on September 16, 1960 after eight weeks of farewell ceremonies for the Eutaw Place Temple.? The Eutaw Place Temple was sold to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.

Rabbi Abraham D. Shaw became an assistant rabbi for the congregation in 1936, and was promoted to Senior Rabbi in 1940.? He served until 1976 when Rabbi Donald Berlin became rabbi.? He served as senior rabbi until 1999.? Rabbi Daniel Feder became the assistant rabbi in 1994 and in 1999, Rabbi Steven M. Fink succeeded Rabbi Berlinas Senior Rabbi and Rabbi Feder left to become rabbi at Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Rabbi Eric B. Stark became the new assistant rabbi.

Temple Oheb Shalom is an active congregation and is still located on Park Heights Avenue.? For more information about the congregation, please see Synagogues, Temples and Congregations of Maryland, 1830-1990 by Earl Pruce as well as his addendum covering the years 1991-2002.

Eutaw Place looking south toward Oheb Shalom, n.d. Courtesy of Dennis B. Myers. 1985.112.1


The Temple Oheb Shalom Collection contains the records of the Templeas well as the papers of clergy and other members of the congregation.? Records include financial ledgers, marriage certificates, information about several buildings owned and used by the congregation, membership information, board of trustees minutes, the religious school, the Brotherhood and other congregational groups, evidence of interactions with outside organizations, and issues of Temple Topics, the congregations newsletter.

The Collection is divided into the following twenty series:? Series I.? Anniversaries, 1903-1978 ; Series II.? Annual Meetings, 1853-1970 ; Series III.? Board of Trustees, 1867-1971 ; Series IV.? Books, n.d., 1826-1883 ; Series V.? Buildings, n.d., 1890-1974 ; Series VI.? Cemetery, n.d., 1863-1934 ; Series VII.? Clergy, n.d., 1859-1977 ; Series VIII.? Correspondence, n.d., 1870-1971 ; Series IX.? Financial, 1853, 1893-1927, 1960-1961; Series X.? Groups, n.d, 1873-1995 ; Series XI.? History, n.d., 1819, 1895-1974 ; Series XII.? Insurance Appraisals, 1940-1944 ; Series XIII.? Marriages, n.d., 1859-1944 ; Series XIV.? Membership, n.d., 1790-1975 ; Series XV.? Memorials, n.d., 1862-1957 ; Series XVI.? Outside Organizations, n.d., 1871-1973 ; Series XVII.? Religious School, n.d., 1873-1981 ; Series XVIII.? Religious Services, n.d., 1910-1972 ; Series XIX.? Temple Topics, 1928-1966, 1978 ; and Series XX.? Photographs.

Series I.? Anniversaries, 1903-1978 contains programs, scrapbooks, and correspondence related to the 50th, 60th, 75th, 83rd, 85th, 90th, 100th, 116th, 120th and 125th anniversaries of the congregation.? Materials are organized chronologically beginning with the earliest material.

Series II.? Annual Meetings, 1853-1970 contains minutes from early annual meetings, the reports of the congregation?s president, a testimonial to Rabbi Rosenau given during the 1937 annual meeting, and programs and invitations to several meetings.? Materials are organized alphabetically by folder title.

Series III.? Board of Trustees, 1853-1971 contains minutes from board of trustees meetings from 1853-1960, an agenda from a 1971 meeting, a manual for board members, and an undated meeting report.? Series is organized alphabetically by folder title.

Series IV.? Books, n.d., 1826-1883 contains several boxes of prayer books and religious texts, in German and English, including a Sunday School text book compiled by Rabbi Szold in 1873 and the complete, translated works of Flavius Josephus give to the temple in honor of the 85th birthday of Beulah Gutman.? Books are in boxes according to size and are not organized in any specific manner.

Series V.? Buildings, n.d., 1890-1974 contains information about the two buildings used by the congregation:?Eutaw Place Temple and theParkHeightsTemple.? Materials about theEutaw Place temple include several newspaper accounts of the opening of the temple in 1893 from various newspapers, etchings, information about the laying of the cornerstone, rededication programs, documents of sale of the Eutaw Place andLanvale Street properties, and a set of mounted postcards depicting various rooms of the temple.? The materials about the Park Heights Temple include blueprints of the property, construction plans, dedication materials, information about the laying of the cornerstone, and a lawsuit filed against the congregation by the Club Manor apartment building.? Folders are organized alphabetically by folder title.

Snapshot by Menasha Katz of Oheb Shalom at the corner of Eutaw Place and Lanvale. 1987.137.35

Series VI.? Cemetery, n.d., 1863-1934 contains cemetery committee meeting minutes, correspondence and perpetual care certificates, and ledgers with lot information and payments.? The series is organized alphabetically by folder title.

Series VII.? Clergy, n.d., 1859-1977 contains materials about rabbis and cantors who served at Temple Oheb Shalom.? Included are materials by and about Rabbi Rosenau, Rabbi Shaw, and Rabbi Szold as well as Cantor Alois Kaiser.? Folders are organized alphabetically by last name of the clergymen.

Series VIII.? Correspondence, n.d., 1870-1971 contains correspondence organized chronologically.? General, undated correspondence appears first followed in order from the earliest to most recent correspondence.

Series IX.? Financial, 1853, 1893-1927, 1960-1961 contains a 1909 budget, General Fund balance sheets from 1960-1961, receipts from 1901-1903, a copy of an 1893 loan, and reports from the finance committee.? Folders are organized alphabetically by folder title.

Series X.? Groups, n.d., 1873-1995 contains information about the temple brotherhood and sisterhood, the choir committee, long range planning committee, the divine services committee, and the cantors committee among others.? Of particular interest in the choir committee correspondence is evidence of an argument between the choir and the board regarding the choir leadership and in the divine services committee folder is an 1893 appeal to members to refrain from talking during services.? The folders are organized alphabetically by the name of the group involved.

Series XI.? History, n.d., 1819, 1895-1974 contains the articles of incorporation and by-laws as rewritten in 1905 and 1929, speeches and essays about the role of Oheb Shalom during the Civil War and German immigration in the 19th century, congregational histories, a scrapbook of newspaper clippings, and a copy of the Jew Bill debates, 1819.? Folders are organized alphabetically by folder title.

Series XII.? Insurance Appraisals, 1940-1944 contains three appraisals of the Temple buildings.? The 1940 appraisals also contains photographs of the buildings.? Folders are organized chronologically from earliest to latest.

Series XIII.? Marriages, n.d., 1859-1944 contains marriage certificates, a ketubah from the wedding of Sarah Stein and Solomon Hecht, marriage licenses from 1859-1944, a compiled list of marriages performed, and ledgers containing lists of marriages performed by Rabbis Rosenau, Shaw and Szold.? Of particular interest is a folder of wedding invitations collected by the congregation.? The invitations are undated (likely from the late 19th and early 20th centuries), but do contain names of individuals being married as well as their family members.? Folders are organized alphabetically by folder title.? Folders of marriage licenses are organized chronologically, with the earliest licenses appearing first.

Series XIV.? Membership, n.d., 1790-1975 contains information about becoming a member of the congregation and membership lists, but primarily contains information about various members of the congregation.? Included is information about the Blaustein family, the Brunn family, Jonas Friedenwald, Yale Gordon, Adolph Gutman, Sophie Hechinger, Bennard Perlman, Gilbert Sandler, Henry Sonneborn, Isaac Straus, Bertha, Henrietta, Johanna, Sara, and Sophie Szold, and the Van Leer family.? Folders are organized alphabetically by folder title.? Folders about individual members or families are organized under the heading Members, and are alphabetical by last name.

Series XV.? Memorials, n.d., 1862-1957 contains memorial offering booklets, memorial books, a blank resolution form to be filled in by the board upon the death of a member, and a list of funerals officiated by Rabbi Rosenau.? Folders are organized alphabetically by folder title.

Series XVI.? Outside Organizations, n.d., 1871-1973 contains material about other local and national organizations.? Included is information about other congregations such as Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, and Har Sinai, the Jewish Community Center, the National Association of Temple Administrators, the Jewish Congregations of Baltimore, the Council of Jewish Women,HebrewUnionCollege, the Hebrew Ladies? Sewing Society, and the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.? Included in this series of note are the handwritten articles of incorporation of the Hebrew Free Burial Society and an 1871 letter asking for all ?Israelites? to meet at Temple Oheb Shalom to discuss the formation of an Orphan Asylum inBaltimore.? Folders are organized alphabetically by the name of the organization.

Confirmation class at Oheb Shalom. Hattie Tannebaum, is seated at right of Rabbi William Rosenau, 1900. Courtesy of Morton T. Blumberg. 1991.48.1

Series XVII.? Religious School, n.d., 1873-1981 contains a record of bar mitzvahs, correspondence, class rosters including the 1891-92 class taught by Henrietta Szold, a catalog of library books at the religious school library, a copy of the 1915 school newspaper, a list of honor roll students, reports to the board of school commissioners, board of commissioners meeting minutes, and invitations and programs to confirmation exercises.? Folders are organized alphabetically by folder title.

Series XVIII.? Religious Services, n.d., 1910-1972 contains bulletins from services, calendars of events, a photocopy of an 1858 article in the Occident protesting the installation of an organ for use during services at theTemple, and a bulletin for a prayer service for peace in 1969 as part of a national anti-war campaign.? Series is organized alphabetically by folder title.

Series XIX.? Temple Topics, 1928-1966, 1978 contains issues of the congregational newsletter Temple Topics.? Issues are organized chronologically beginning with the earliest issues.? It is a complete accounting of issues from 1928-1966 and the year 1978.

Series XX.? Photos contains photographs collected by the congregation.? Photographs will be individually cataloged in the JMM database.

Oheb Shalom Congregation

Collection, n.d., 1865-1986

MS 43

??The Jewish Museum of Maryland

Polaroid of the exterior of Oheb Shalom, c. 1980. Photograph by Paul Schlossberg. 1984.24.40



The Oheb Shalom Congregation Collection was donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland in 1984, 1989, 1990, and 1991 as accessions 1984.125, 1989.20, 1989.45, 1990.89, 1990.191, 1991.35, by Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Trupp, Mrs. Stanley Greenebaum, Calman A Levin, Rose Weiss, Janice K. Friedman and in 1988, 1991 and 1992 as accession 1988.216, 1991.118 and 1992.51 found in the collection of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The collection was processed at an unknown date and a finding aid was written by Sidney Rankin in 2012.

Temple Oheb Shalom Sunday School class, May 19, 1931. Partial list of people in photograph, although none are positively identified: Albert Lowenson, Ros Michaelson, Irving Oberfelder, Dorothy Stephany Otenheimer, Alice Leitz, Joseph Wiesenfeld; Francis Scott Key Monument in background. Courtesy of Joseph Wiesenfeld. 1999.57.1


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The Oheb Shalom Congregation Collection consists of a small collection of documents primarily related to the early history of the congregation. The collection is divided into two series.? Series I: Early History, 1899-1938 contains articles of incorporation, early correspondence and histories of the congregation.? Series II: Congregation activities, 1865-1986 contains programs, class materials, letters, pew deeds, prayer cards, etc. related to confirmation, the sisterhood, Benjamin Szold, etc.


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