Always Something to Celebrate at JMM

Posted on October 19th, 2018 by

To read past editions of JMM insights, click here. To read other posts by Trillion Attwood, click here.

The Jewish holy days of September/October are behind us but this year (thanks in part to our exhibit Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini) we’re conjuring up holiday spirits nearly every week.

Below are just a few ways you can join us in celebrating holidays (secular, religious and everything in between)! This is just a small selection –  for more details, check out the events page on our website.


Halloween

We don’t typically celebrate Halloween at the museum but with our current exhibit we couldn’t resist the opportunity. This year we will be celebrating with not one but two Halloween themed events.

On Sunday October 28th we will be hosting Houdini’s’ Magical Halloween, a fun filled day for the whole family.  We will learn a little magic, prepare some delicious treats and enjoy some marvelous crafts.  For those wishing to learn some of Houdini’s magic we have two special workshops planned on card tricks and lockpicking. However, the highlight of the day will be two performances by Harry Houdini himself (well actually, magician David London playing Ehrich Weiss/ Harry Houdini). Our “Harry” will have a few tricks up his sleeve as he brings to life the story of the Hungarian Jewish immigrant who transformed himself into an international superstar. No ghosts or goblins but plenty of chains and lots of spirit.

Then on Wednesday, October 31st we are excited to be hosting the Official Houdini Séance.

Houdini died 92 years ago on Halloween and this will be the 91st consecutive Official Houdini Séance – and it’s first occurrence in Baltimore. Join us for this special evening that includes roving magician performances, expert presentations, the official séance itself, and a spectacular finale, along with wine and a light dinner (dietary laws observed).

Tickets are now on sale but selling fast so reserve your seat today.


Veterans Day

This year we will also be marking Veteran’s day and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I with a very special presentation with JMM Archivist Lorie Rombro exploring the surprising records of the 39th British Royal Fusiliers. Why does the JMM have accounts of a British military unit from WWI?  This regiment, nicknamed the Jewish Legion, was made up entirely of volunteers, most of whom were Jewish, and many of whom were recruited here in Baltimore.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland is very fortunate to hold a number of items donated by the Legion’s Baltimore volunteers. In this special program we will discover how the collection can illuminate the lives of the Baltimoreans who served and the bond between them, which lasted their entire lives.


Thanksgiving

And what could you be more thankful for than chocolate!  On November 18, the Sunday prior to the holiday, Sheilah Kaufman, food writer and cookbook author will be presenting a History of the Jews and Chocolate with a chocolate tasting!

Chocolate is the most craved food in the United States and a truly global history. In this presentation Shelia explores the history of Jews and chocolate while also imparting her expert knowledge of using chocolate in the kitchen.


Hanukkah

On December 2nd we bring you another exciting culinary championship – The Great Jewish Bake Off! This year we take inspiration from both the seasons and Jewish culinary tradition.  As the days grow shorter and the weather becomes colder, no food is more comforting than a great bake. From mandelbrot to bagels, and challah to rye we all have a favorite, almost all of which are improved with a generous schmeer of cream cheese or butter. This year we celebrate those bakes that are often, but not always, improved with a schmeer of something delicious or as we have named them schmeerables.

We invite Maryland’s greatest amateur bakers from newbies to bubbies to participate in this important statewide search: The Great Jewish Bake Off of 2018!

Even if you choose not to compete, we encourage you to join us at the JMM for a day dedicated to baking, with tastings, tips from professionals and the announcement of Maryland’s greatest amateur baker. We’ll also have hands-on activities for the family!


Mitzvah Day

For the sixth year in a row we are pleased to again celebrate Mitzvah Day on December 25th in partnership with JVC. Inspired by the life of Harry Houdini we are excited to work with the Esperanza Center. This Baltimore-based organizations mission is to welcome immigrants by offering hope, compassionate services, and the power to improve their lives. We will be working together to create backpacks filled with school supplies (and homemade stress balls!) for their students. Activities are suitable for all ages and no artistic talent is required.

We are looking for donations of the school supplies listed below to help fill the backpacks. If you are unable to attend, dropping off supplies in the weeks leading up is a great way to support the program!

Notebooks

Folders

Pens

Pencils

Highlighters

Craft Scissors

White out

Crayons

Colored Pencils

After our Mitzvah morning, sit back and relax as we screen the TV mini-series Houdini, starring Adrien Brody.

Please reach out to me directly if you have any questions about these or any of our upcoming programs at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org. We hope to see you at the museum soon.

 

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The Making of JMM Live!

Posted on February 16th, 2018 by

Trillion is on family leave for a few months, but before she left the building she shared the story of the “making of JMM Live!” for this month’s JMM Insights!  To read more posts from Trillion, click here.


It all began with a gap.  The National Archives could lend us the Iraqi Jewish Heritage exhibit until mid-January but couldn’t send us the Amending America exhibit until early April.  That was a long span of time for our Samson, Rossetta and Sadie B. Feldman Gallery to be dark.

During 2017 we discussed various ways to bridge the gap, including several smaller exhibits.

(We actually ended up with two:  Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, which opened at the beginning of this month, and the My Family Story student-curated projects from March 11th.)

I suggested we try something a little different. In my role as programs manager I am frequently contacted by speakers, performers, authors and many more asking for the opportunity to present at the JMM. Normally our program calendar is so busy with exhibit-related events that I can only take one or two of these requests per year, however, it occurred to me that with an open calendar perhaps we could make something of this opportunity.

I proposed a series of live events at the museum that celebrate all aspects of American Jewish performing and literary arts; this became the inspiration for JMM Live! 

I have spent the last several months working on finding a wonderful selection of programs, including author talks, musical performances, movies and theater. The topics we will explore vary from the expected, like Jewish Broadway, to the more surprising, like Jewish Punk Music. The series is designed to suit the whole family, in addition to our regular programs we also have two live festivals for kids, the first on March 4th celebrating Purim and the second on March 25th celebrating Passover.

Daveed Korup and Miss Spice will entertain kids of all ages with their concerts!

One of the most important things when planning this series was to include our very own Living History characters. Over the past few years we have developed several characters, we are very pleased to feature two of our characters as part of this series, Henrietta Szold performed by Natalie Pilcher on March 18th and Ida Rehr performed by Katherine Lyons on February 25th.

The stories of Henrietta and Ida are truly brought to life by these talented actresses!

The series has also been a lovely opportunity to work again with some wonderful partners plus build some new relationships. We are very pleased to welcome back the Global Theatre Project for a performance of Stories From the Fringe on Wednesday, March 21st. On Thursday, March 15th I am really excited about the program we will be presenting in partnership with Fells Point Corner Theater, a special preview of the theaters upcoming show Gertrude Stein and a Companion. 

The series started this Sunday with a dedication to Yiddish music with Hazzan Sara Geller of B’nai Shalom Olney, part performance, part talk and part sing-along!

There really will be something for everyone!

The series runs from February 11th until March 25th and features fourteen different performances. In my absence Lindsey Davis will be managing these programs – you can reach her at ldavis@jewishmuseummd.org but she’ll also have proxy to my e-mails.

If you can’t join us this Sunday please take a few minutes to review the full program of events here. If you see a program (or several) that appeals, reserve your tickets today – the most popular programs are selling fast!

Now is also the perfect time to become a JMM member– with all these programs you’re sure to be a repeat visitor this winter. Museum Membership includes FREE admission to the Museum every day we’re open, and to all our public programs! (Plus members get a 10% discount at Esther’s Place, the JMM gift shop.)

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“Baltimore, the Liverpool of America” – In Which Trillion Was Right All Along

Posted on January 26th, 2018 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

As always, it’s the odd little hidden gems in the collection that warm a registrar’s heart.  I recently happened upon this book, and – being a sucker for municipal encomiums of the past – I took a closer look.  Here for you today we have a Souvenir of Baltimore, printed in 1898 by A. Hoen & Co. of Baltimore, “compiled expressly for the American Pharmaceutical Association” in dedication “to its members in commemoration of the forty-sixth annual meeting, held August, 1898” in Baltimore.

Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Alas, the Jewish community is not featured with any prominence in this volume, in the photographs that make up the bulk of the book, the history of the city, or the contemporary statistics and achievements.  We can’t be ignored altogether, of course:

Among the photos of commercial institutions is this one of “Joel Gutman & Co., Dry Goods and Notions.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Featured religious institutions include both “The Oheb Shalom Synagogue” (i.e. the Eutaw Place Temple) and “The Associate Reform Church.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum is listed here with other “Charitable institutions,” and Oheb Shalom and Har Sinai are listed amongst the city’s “400 churches [sic], representing nearly all denominations.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

We’re also represented in a less obvious – but still financially important – way, as the concluding statistics touting “the leading industrial and distributive trades” in the city include $15,000,000 for “Manufactured Clothing,” and $6,000,000 each for “Shirts, Drawers, and Overalls” and “Straw Hats” – all trades in which the Jewish community was quite active, if not indeed the leaders.

To me, though, the most striking thing about the book is this proclamation on the first page:

“Baltimore City, The Liverpool of America.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Well okay, then.  Perhaps this mostly struck me as peculiar because I had just, less than an hour previously, been talking about Liverpool with a former resident. And I know only a very few facts about the city of Liverpool, most of which have to do with either music or football … neither of which topics bring Baltimore immediately to my mind (“Baltimore Hit Parade” and the Ravens notwithstanding). It’s clear that this comparison would have meant something to its readers in 1898, but this book never actually explains it.

Thus, as always, to the internet we go! It turns out this was not just a one-off comparison. Our friends at A. Hoen & Co. had earlier published a map of the city, with the same title, as a newspaper supplement in 1872; the Mercantile Advancement Company published a 231 page book, Baltimore: The Gateway to the South, the Liverpool of America in 1898; and in 1894 a local newspaper doubled-up on the city’s nicknames, publishing a two-volume celebration titled The Monumental City, the Liverpool of America: A Souvenir of the 121st Anniversary of the Baltimore American.

Title of the 1872 map by A. Hoen & Co.

More helpful, however, is this April 1875 article from Scribner’s Monthly (“An Illustrated Monthly for the People”) which makes the comparison more explicit, focusing on Baltimore’s industrial strengths, rapid rise in population, and “remarkable development of its terminal facilities” (i.e., the harbor and the railroads). Not only did that make us the Liverpool of America, it apparently made us “the fashion.”

I didn’t find the phrase used in the 20th century (at least not on an internet search), but in some ways the comparison stayed true, if progressively less flattering, as industry dwindled and each city’s future become rather less rosy … and then, in the late 20th century, an arts scene helped bring each city back to life.  But here’s Trillion to talk more knowledgably about it!

I lived in Liverpool for about ten years, initially for University but I stayed when I met my husband. It is a wonderful city, with a fascinating history and amazing people. If you ever have a chance to visit Liverpool I would highly recommend taking the opportunity, you don’t need to love The Beatles, but you will hear them almost everywhere you go in the city. I didn’t anticipate finding similarities between the two cities but as soon as I arrived in Baltimore they quickly became apparent. The biggest similarity is history, both cities were important ports meaning there was a huge amount of wealth at one point and an international community. The impact of this can especially be seen in architecture, both have some amazing historic buildings highlighting their status as international cities, plus they both have wonderful museum collections gathered from around the world.  Adding to this however both cities experienced trouble during the twentieth century and have seen this impact the way in which they are viewed nationally and internationally. It seems though that the local communities of both have come together to develop a thriving arts and culture scene that attracts visitors from around the world, bringing back just a little of that former glory.

 The cities have their differences, but I frequently find a certain comfort in the similarities, making Baltimore feel not quite so far away from home. ~Trillion

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