A Volunteer Field Trip – Right Next Door!

Posted on March 19th, 2018 by

A blog post from JMM Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis. To read more posts from Wendy, click here.

One can learn much about a building, but it doesn’t come to life until you have seen it filled with people using it for its intended purpose.    On Shabbat, March 3rd, a group of Jewish Museum of Maryland volunteers had that opportunity.  At the invitation of Rabbi Etan Mintz, we participated in the morning service and had a delicious lunch at B’nai Israel, one of the two historic synagogues on the Jewish Museum of Maryland Berman campus.  We were warmly welcomed by the congregants and the rabbi.  All of our male volunteers who were present at the service were given honors during the Torah service and I had the honor of walking with the Torah in my arms in the women’s section.

Inside the sanctuary with some of our volunteers, Phil Sagal, me, Marvin Spector, and Larry Levine.

Instead of a sermon by the rabbi, after services, Fred Shoken, a congregant who is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the history of B’nai Israel spoke to the entire congregation using questions we had previously submitted as his general outline.  Did you know that when the building was built, Hebrew words were carved in stone above the exterior doorway?  It originally identified that the building was the Chizuk Amuno Congregation and the date of the building.  When B’nai Israel moved into the building, the original congregation’s name was filled in and recarved with the name of the new congregation.    When the exterior was restored in 1987, some of the filling in of the letters was removed, leaving an overlap of both names.  In the sanctuary, all the beautiful woodwork is original except for the mechitzah (the fence separating the men from the women) and the railings leading to the ark.  Rabbi Mintz showed everyone interesting historic objects from the congregation’s collection including a list of yarhtzits written on parchment.

Standing outside the synagogue.

Typical for synagogues, at the end of the service, the president of the congregation, Shelly Mintz, who is also a JMM volunteer, made announcements.  As expected, she included information about upcoming events and services. But her words also expressed how this oldest continuously operating synagogue building in Maryland is still the place of active Jewish involvement.

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It’s the Little Things

Posted on June 28th, 2017 by

Blog post by Education Intern Erin Penn. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present,click here.

“Its all in the details.” This basic idiom used to help people embrace the little things beautifully demonstrates the challenges and tasks of an education and programs intern. It’s the little things that create a successful program or a thoughtful tour.

Interns having fun at the Just Married! photo arch! Photo by Will Kirk.

Interns having fun at the Just Married! photo arch! Photo by Will Kirk.

Preparing for the opening of Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland, I loved embracing the details and little touches from trimming the poms-poms into flowers to counting five candied almonds for each gift bag. One task required me to punch two hundred tags for the party favors. As I punched the tags, I gained expert paper cutting skills and achieved super hero status.  After my week as Martha Stewart craft master, the day had arrived to decorate the JMM lobby.  It was exciting designing the space because we quickly discovered the correct ways to hang the paper and to hide the safety pins. Each decoration was added to the lobby and the room felt transformed. It was surreal to see the copious tissue paper fans beautifully complement the new Just Married! Exhibit.

One Flower. Two Flower. Coral Flower. White Flower.. It was raining tissue paper flowers in the office.

One Flower. Two Flower. Coral Flower. White Flower.. It was raining tissue paper flowers in the office.

On the education side, the details are also hugely important. Every tour of Lloyd Street Synagogue that is given has its own unique flavor based off the docent and visitor group. Here, the little known facts and architectural elements of the building create a rich and educational experience. For example, a tour for Jewish students looks very different than a tour for people who have never been to a synagogue.  In order for all students and visitors to get the most out of the Jewish Museum, the little things must be intentionally directed to the visitor. Even in the supplemental question guide for Just Married! every little thing matters, from the wording and formatting. We made sure questions had visual hints and each question was clear.  At the end, we figuratively and literally dotted all the i’s and t’s.

The scavenger hunt shows the artifacts from the exhibit and big and easy to read type.

The scavenger hunt shows the artifacts from the exhibit and big and easy to read type.

All the little things whether it being the color of the confetti or the font of the survey boosts and betters the program. These projects and tasks have allowed me to be creative and think outside the box. The devil isn’t in the details but the fun is!

 

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“Henrietta Szold‘s Baltimore” Bus Tour Debut

Posted on May 4th, 2017 by

The past few months I have worked with historian Barry Kessler and Ilene Dackman-Alon on the Henrietta Szold’s Baltimore Bus tour, which launched this past Thursday with a bus filled with local Hadassah members from the Greater Baltimore chapter. In preparation for the tour, I helped to create a booklet that accompanies the tour filled with quotes and images related to Henrietta’s life in Baltimore. I also went on “practice tours” throughout the city with Barry and Ilene. To create the booklet, I searched through the JMM database to find pictures of Henrietta Szold (1860-1945) and her family as well as images of Baltimore’s cityscape that she would have seen or visited in the late 1800s.

Henrietta Szold, about 1910. Gift of M. Jastrow and Alexandra Lee Levin, JMM 92.242.7.4.7

Henrietta Szold, about 1910. Gift of M. Jastrow and Alexandra Lee Levin, JMM 92.242.7.4.7

It was especially meaningful to have this premiere tour be for Hadassah, the organization Henrietta Szold founded in 1912 to provide medical aid to the people of the land of Israel. Barry’s narration of the tour allowed us to imagine what downtown Baltimore looked and felt like in the late 1800s, when Henrietta was born and raised, and gave the Hadassah group a better understanding of the early life of their founder.

I learned a lot about the life of Henrietta Szold and her family in Baltimore, and I also learned a great deal about the city’s cultural and economic history while researching this tour and working with Barry. For example, I learned about the importance of Camden Station, located down the street from where Henrietta was born on South Eutaw Street, and how it was one of the gateways to the city. Camden Station had a significant impact on the economic life of Baltimore’s mercantile industry workers. Nearby, many impressive garment factory buildings sprung up bearing the names Strouse, Sonneborn, and Hamburger, which are now loft style apartment buildings. One highlight on the tour was the stop at the Oheb Shalom Cemetery on the east side of Baltimore near Dundalk. Many prominent Baltimore Jewish families have relatives who were buried here. We stopped to pay our respects to Henrietta’s family- Rabbi Benjamin Szold and his wife Sophie Schaar Szold and their other children (Henrietta is buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem).

Oheb Shalom Cemetery on O’Donnell Street. The group stopped at the gravesite of the Szold family. Photo by Alex Malischostak

Oheb Shalom Cemetery on O’Donnell Street. The group stopped at the gravesite of the Szold family. Photo by Alex Malischostak

Another memorable stop on the tour was the Oheb Shalom Eutaw Street Temple located in Bolton Hill, now run by the Prince Hall Masons. We were able to go inside the beautiful and historic sanctuary which the Masons have preserved so that others can learn more about this impressive building and its history.

Albert Queen, President of the Board of Trustees of the Prince Hall Masons addresses the tour group at the Eutaw Street Temple (former site of Oheb Shalom 1892-1960). Photo by Alex Malischostak

Albert Queen, President of the Board of Trustees of the Prince Hall Masons addresses the tour group at the Eutaw Street Temple (former site of Oheb Shalom 1892-1960). Photo by Alex Malischostak

Iconography from the Eutaw Place Temple inspired by the Great Synagogue in Florence, Italy, now the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge. Photo by Ilene Dackman-Alon.

Iconography from the Eutaw Place Temple inspired by the Great Synagogue in Florence, Italy, now the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge. Photo by Ilene Dackman-Alon.

Henrietta Szold: Living History Character was made possible through the generous support of the Kolker-Saxon-Hallock Family Foundation, Inc., a supporting foundation of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Educational opportunities were made possible by the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund of the Associated.

Alex MalischostakPost by Museum Educator Alex Malischostak.

 

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