Voices from My Childhood

Posted on July 1st, 2015 by

SuperKids, a summer camp program, is organized by a nonprofit called Parks and People Foundation. The organization is “dedicated to supporting a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities; creating and sustaining beautiful and lively parks; and promoting a healthy natural environment for Baltimore.” So it’s only fitting that SuperKids takes a group of young, inquisitive learners around different places in Baltimore, expanding their environmental sights and experiences as well as their vocabulary list. The Jewish Museum of Maryland has been privileged to be one of these sites for the last few years during their Jonestown neighborhood tour.

On a wet and muggy Tuesday morning, a yellow school bus reminiscent of my own elementary school days brought 25 eager students to the museum’s red brick road. They were extremely well behaved for kids who would essentially be on a different field trip every day for the summer. It was me who couldn’t contain the excitement of seeing my fellow peers (I may look like a 20-something year old, but I’m a child at heart). Since the group was too large to take all at once, Lois, one of our super volunteers, took half of the kids on a tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue while Falicia and I took the other half to do two activities- a scavenger hunt in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and an archaeology puzzle activity.

I’ve never been one to simply observe, so here I am “making” a traditional Sabbath dinner with some of the kids while reading them the newspaper.

I’ve never been one to simply observe, so here I am “making” a traditional Sabbath dinner with some of the kids while reading them the newspaper.

While Falicia helped with the archaeology “dig,” I assisted with the Voices of Lombard Street portion where the talk of immigration brought back my own memories of my parent’s journey to this country from South Korea for the “American Dream.” Unlike the Jewish immigrants who came to Baltimore on a ship, my parents took a plane, and they weren’t fleeing religious persecution. But I remember rolling my eyes at my parents every time they lectured me on how hard they worked to build a nice home for the family, and how they too worked menial yet necessary jobs beyond their intelligence and skills. I remember threatening my parents to call child services for making me work at their dry cleaners on my free Saturday, only to be bribed by McDonald’s. Like Paul Wartzman whose mom used to make gefilte fish every Friday, my grandmother used to make dduk-mandu-guk (rice cake and dumpling soup) every Sunday. And how my mom used to drive out of her way to go to a Korean market not just for authentic Korean food from the Motherland, but for human interaction with people who also spoke her native language.

This is me, age eight, standing in front of my new house being built. Although we only lived here for a year, this was a milestone for my family because it was the first home that truly belonged to us. No more living in relative’s homes and no more renting.

This is me, age eight, standing in front of my new house being built. Although we only lived here for a year, this was a milestone for my family because it was the first home that truly belonged to us. No more living in relative’s homes and no more renting.

And for me to now teach elementary school kids about that same topic brings this whole experience to a full circle. To set the record straight, I’m a natural born U.S. citizen and I’ve learned to not take that for granted.

I’m not Jewish. My family is Christian, and in fact, I’m part of a very loving and active church community. I came to work at this museum, excited to learn about another religion and perhaps learn more about my own. I didn’t expect to have much in common with those who lived on Lombard Street, but as I talked about each part of the exhibit to the students, I saw my own childhood in the quotes hanging on the walls.

It’s funny how June was Immigrant Heritage Month and on the very last day, it took a group of kids to make me realize how important that month should have been to me. If SuperKids were real superheroes, their superpower would be sparking a child-like spirit, curiosity, and wonder in adults. I certainly feel rescued. I may not have a degree in teaching, but I’m still so honored to be a small part of that process, and I look forward to a summer filled with SuperKids!

IMG_0993A blog post by Education Intern Eden Cho. To read more posts by interns click HERE.




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“Voices of Lombard Street”—Come See It!

Posted on May 29th, 2013 by

debA blog post by Dr. Deb Weiner.

Our core exhibition “Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore” has been on display in our Cardin Gallery since 2007. But I have a sneaking suspicion that not everyone in Baltimore has seen it. Right? So here’s a quick blast from the “Voices” comment book, with rave reviews from recent visitors. Don’t they make you want to come on down?

“Wonderful exhibit, so realistic and moving. As a new resident of Baltimore, it offered me a vibrant and informational view of Baltimore history.”

“Wonderful exhibit, compelling to read! Love the interactive scavenger hunt, even as a 30-year-old.”

1988.226.4a  Courtesy of the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection.

1988.226.4a Courtesy of the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection.

“I really ‘experienced’ the conditions immigrants lived in when they moved to America. I relate maybe because I myself am an immigrant.”

From a young person: “I loved it because you could do stuff with your hands and brain.”

I found this a bit hard to believe, but… “Drove all the way from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to see this and was not disappointed. Very well done.”

It’s always nice to get kudos from museum colleagues. A staff member of the Skirball museum (Los Angeles) wrote, “Very well done. I love how you used the oral histories to tell the story with the curatorial authority as only one voice. The mix of perspectives shines through and you didn’t hide the difficult stories, such as brothels and discrimination. Bravo!”

Couldn’t resist passing along this comment from a MICA student: “Absolutely loved this exhibit. The Maryland Historical Society could really use this as an example of a great exhibit on Baltimore history. Very dynamic.”



… As this is my last week at the museum, I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful volunteers, my fellow JMM staff members, and other colleagues around Baltimore and beyond for a great eleven years. I’ve enjoyed working here immensely. See you around!



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Anatomy of a Family Circle Celebration

Posted on December 28th, 2012 by

A blog post by Barry S. Lever, Special Projects Consultant


The Baltimore Sun’s Maryland News section on Monday December 17, 2012, featured a half page article, “Hailing 100 years in America.” by Julie Scharper.

This story outlined how the original members of the Hankin Family arrived in Charm City in October 1912.  Personally, I delighted in the festivities so creatively and elegantly organized by my cousins as well as the Baltimore Sun feature article detailing the gathering.

Abram, and his new bride, Bessie Gorelick Hankin, along with Abe’s younger brother, Sam were the advance party of what is now a remarkable 6th generation family proudly tracing its lineage to those eight siblings and their parents,  Chaim and Surha Hankin.

Bessie, Abraham, and Sam

As Abe and Bessie’s eldest grandchild I had the good fortune to personally know all of the elder Hankin siblings, as well as their parents, Suhra and Chaim.  It is a personal delight to share those stories with my many cousins who were never privileged to know them. Behind the scenes the Jewish Museum of Maryland played a significant role for that Hankin Family 100th Anniversary Celebration.

As the largest regional Jewish Museum in the United States part of its mission is to collect and preserve the material and intellectual record of the Jewish experience in Maryland.

Sam Hankin’s grandson, Harvey Golomb, a Colorado cousin came to visit Baltimore and used the JMM‘s voluminous collection and expert staff to search the immigration records, photo images and oral histories.  From these and other sources he assembled a unique memoir, The Hankin Family: Journeys to America, making it available to the entire family.

Hankin Family Memoir

In gratitude for the Museum’s assistance, the Hankin Family Circle (HFC) donated a copy of this memoir to the JMM‘s collection accompanied by a copy of the minutes of the first meeting of the  Hankin Family Circle in April 1947.  In addition to the incredible archives and artifacts housed at the JMM’s Herbert Bearman Campus, the Museum is currently displaying a highly acclaimed exhibition, The Voices of Lombard Street.

This exhibition features many of the scenes that Abe, Bessie and Sam Hankin would have encountered when they stepped off the gangplank of the North German Lloyd Vessel, S.S. Main which docked that day at Locust point in the shadow of Fort McHenry.

JMM 1991.24.3

The JMM’s staff of docents looks forward to greeting you when you arrive to visit that exhibition and enjoy retracing what it was like to land on these shores as my immigrant family did on October 24, 1912.

On behalf of The Jewish Museum of Maryland I wish all of our members, website and on-site visitors, a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful 2013.

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