Volunteer Spotlight on Rachel Jablon!

Posted on August 15th, 2018 by

Post by Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis. Periodically we highlight one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, send an email to Wendy at wdavis@jewishmuseummd.org or call 443-873-5168! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

If you have visited the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s gift shop “Esther’s Place” on Sunday, you have probably met Rachel Jablon.  She has been volunteering in the museum’s gift shop since February.  She loves being in an environment that deals with Jewish identity and Baltimore.  She likes answering questions, especially Jewish identity questions posed by our visitors.  With a background in Jewish studies, Rachel is well equipped with the answers to most of the questions.  When the visitors are locals and they find out that Rachel is from this area, the questions most asked of her are, “Who are your parents?” “And which temple do you belong to?”

A favorite moment in the shop occurred when Rachel saw two teenagers looking at the dreidels.  She told them the Hanukah story, then worried that what she told was too long and too much, but one of the teenagers said that was just what she wanted.  It definitely increased the girl’s appreciation of what she saw.

When asked why volunteer at JMM, Rachel said it was for selfish reasons.  She wanted to volunteer at a place that she wished she went to more.  The Baltimore culture and history exhibited by the JMM are important to her.  She also gets ideas for Judaica in her home.

Rachel currently works in human resources for the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks.  She manages the employment and payroll for thousands of employees who run activities at rec centers and parks, like classes, sports, programs for children and adults with special needs, and animal husbandry.

When Rachel is not at work or at the JMM, she reads a lot of Holocaust literature.  She said that it is an amazing look at human nature.  Among her favorites are Chris Bohjalian’s “Skeletons at the Feast” and Cynthia Ozick’s “The Shawl”.  She balances the heavier topics  with popular books such as Julia Dahl’s Rebekah Roberts series and Jewish family histories.”

We are thankful that Rachel shares her enthusiasm and her expansive knowledge of Judaism to the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

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Appreciating Our Volunteers

Posted on August 10th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes from Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis (who is, herself, a volunteer). To read more posts from Wendy, click here.

Have you interacted with a JMM volunteer? If you’ve ever visited the Jewish Museum of Maryland, then you probably have! They might have been the friendly greeter at the front desk, the helpful shop assistance at Esther’s Place or the docent leading a tour of the historic synagogues (or all three!).

There have been 53 of us dedicated volunteers this past year, supplementing the work of the Museum’s 11 full-time staff members, along with an additional 35 volunteer Board Members. Some of us only volunteer a few times a month, while others are at the JMM two days a week (like me!).  Whether it’s a two-hour shift or a six-hour shift, the time volunteers are able to share with the JMM is incredibly helpful and appreciated. Volunteers are absolutely critical to the success of the Museum.

Nine of those 53 volunteers have been stationed at the front desk, clocking in a total of 744 hours this year.  These front desk volunteers make sure our visitors receive a warm welcome, but they do much more than that! These volunteers serve as fonts of information about all the services that the Museum offers, including making sure our visitors know about tour times, current and upcoming exhibitions, and public programs. Plus, they help collect demographic data from our visitors and make sure we maintain an accurate count of Museum visitors each day.

Eleven of those 53 volunteers have assisted in the wonderful Museum gift shop, Esther’s Place, clocking in 285 hours this year.  Not only do these volunteers interact with visitors processing sales, but they helped conduct our annual shop inventory, design merchandise displays and help keep the shop looking clean and inviting.

Nineteen of the 53 volunteers have served as docents, clocking in 905 hours this year as they lead visitors through the two historic synagogues on the JMM campus and on group tours of the Museum’s exhibits.  Our docents share their knowledge and passion for local Jewish history with our visitors. They also become experts at customizing their tours depending upon the background and age of that day’s visitors.

But our volunteers aren’t limited to just the “front of the house.”  11 volunteers spend their time working with the extensive collections at the JMM, particularly with our archives, cataloging, summarizing, translating, and digitizing.  This time-consuming work improves intellectual access to the Museum’s varied collections. This group of volunteers clocked in a grand total of 1,874 hours this year, more than any other group of JMM volunteers!

While there is no way to truly show how much we love our volunteers, the JMM does try to demonstrate our gratitude for all their wonderful contributions. This year there have been multiple field trips to other museums as well as special discounts at Esther’s Place. But the highlight of the year is definitely the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

On the evening of July 29th, all of our volunteers were invited to a celebratory dinner held here at the Museum. In addition to the delicious food, we were entertained by David London, the superb curator of the current exhibit Inescapable, The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.  Using his story telling and magician skills, David portrayed Harry Houdini, bringing the magic and mystery of Houdini to life.

If you want to be among the “appreciated” next year, call or email me or Sue Foard to make an appointment to learn more about how to join our team of JMMers.

Wendy Davis

Sue Foard

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Volunteer Spotlight on Ray Weinstein!

Posted on June 25th, 2018 by

Post by Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis. Periodically we highlight one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, send an email to Wendy at wdavis@jewishmuseummd.org or call 443-873-5168! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

Ray Weinstein defines himself as a family man.

He has a wonderful wife Nadine, 3 sons and 8 grandchildren.  He is also a person who likes to give back to his community.  He recently started to do that as a docent at JMM, but he has been giving back for years, often in leadership roles.  He has been a member of the Oriole Advocates since 1977 and was their president in 1983, the year the Orioles won the World Series. Go O’s!!   He was president of the Babe Ruth Organization for 3 years and is currently on their board as a past-president. He encourages all to visit the Babe Ruth House which is not far from Camden Yards.  Did you know that Baltimore has had a sister city in Japan for the past 40 years?  It is Kawasaki, a port city that is similar in size to Baltimore.  When Ray was president of the Baltimore-Kawasaki Committee in 1987, he accompanied a little league high school team to Kawasaki.  The team played 6 games and Ray had a chance to travel around Japan.

Before retirement, Ray worked for the Internal Revenue Service for 32 years.  He then joined a group of lawyers as a tax consultant specializing in tax settlement cases.

After retirement, Ray looked for a new opportunity to give back to the community.  Last September, Ray participated in the Jewish Museum Volunteer Recruitment.  As a long-time member of the JMM who frequently brought family and friends to the museum, he has been impressed with the excellent job the JMM has done in creating and explain meaningful exhibits. Ray likes to talk about Jewish history and Baltimore history.  And he thinks it is important to encourage people to come into Baltimore.  For all those reason, Ray has found a good fit as a volunteer docent at JMM.

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