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Exploring History at Home Part III – JMM Volunteers Share Stories

Posted on June 11th, 2020 by

JMM is fortunate to have a community of dedicated volunteers who share their talents, time, and stories with us – both at the museum and virtually.                                                                                 

As powerful storytellers, JMM’s volunteers continue to welcome us into their homes and share stories of some of their most meaningful objects. A special thanks to Karen, Maxine, and Joyce for this post’s entries. I hope the stories below encourage you to explore the objects in your home and the stories that they can tell.  

In case you missed them, you can enjoy past Exploring History at Home blog posts from our volunteers in Part I and Part II.

-Paige Woodhouse, Project Manager

To read more posts from Paige, click here!

Treasured Candlesticks

I treasure these candlesticks because they were my grandmother’s. After my grandmother passed away, my aunt asked if I would like to have them. My mother died young and my grandmother (who lived to be 96) played a large part in my life. I was really touched as I was in my 40’s and unmarried. My aunt must have thought that my cousins (who were married) must already have had candlesticks. Although I have no idea of their origin, I like to think that my great-grandmother brought them with her when they arrived from Palanga, Lithuania, in 1906. They appear to be hand made . . . We light them every Friday night and I know that this would make my grandmother very happy.

~ Karen Rubin

A Shadow Box Gift

I attended a performance of Ida Rehr at my organization’s meeting. She got me thinking. I knew my father had the tailoring sheers my grandfather, Max Snyder, brought from Russia.  I knew there was only one good picture of my grandfather.  I was sure the sheers were important To my dad but I got the courage to ask for them. After all I was named for my grandfather. He passed away shortly before my parents were married so I never knew him.

Well I asked, of course dad wanted to know why I wanted the sheers so I explained I was making a shadow box for them. Agreeing Dad reached into his desk and handed me the only remaining business card of his father’s tailoring business.

I took my three items to a reliable framer and he made this box for me.

I presented it to my father as a gift. My dad sat and cried. I never saw him cry over an object.

This sat in my parents den where they could always look at it. Upon my mother’s death I took the box back. After all it was my namesake’s. I now have it on the wall of my den where I can also look at it. I’m always reminded of where we came from.

~ Maxine Gordon

Schuchman Family Photo

This is a photo of my mother’s family, Schuchman, circa 1929. I suspect that beside it having been quite fashionable to have such formal family photos taken, the main reason was to have a picture to send to family that remained in Europe (specifically Mylnov, Poland). Photos were sent back and forth until the Holocaust, many in postcard format. I am fortunate to be heir to their album.

From left to right are my mother Rose , Samuel, Bubby Jessie (for whom I am named), Zaidy Joseph, Ida, and Anna.

Joseph came to America in 1911, worked in the garment sweatshops until he could send for the family in 1921. They lived on S. Charles St., then moved to Pimlico Rd. at Loyola Northway in the mid-twenties. They operated a corner grocery/deli there until the mid-sixties. I have so many wonderful memories of my mother’s family, and just looking at this photo piques my imagination about the lives they lived when they were young and beautiful!

~ Joyce Jandorf, Volunteer


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Recommendations from our Volunteers

Posted on May 27th, 2020 by

Recommendations from our Volunteers, collected by JMM Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis!


Maxine G, front desk volunteer, said she has been reading A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Parnell.

“It’s the true story about an American spy that helped win WWII, Virginia Hall. Virginia was born and raised in Baltimore. She went to Roland Park Country School and is buried at Druid Ridge Cemetery. Very interesting story of what one woman could accomplish.”

Rita P., docent, shared: “I am working my way through a 700-page biography of Golda Meir titled Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel by Francine Klagsbrun.”

Robyn H., docent, shared that she is reading Appalachian Trail hikers’ memoirs, including The Unlikely Thru-Hiker by Derick Lugo. “It’s a great book! And available on Amazon.”

Vera K., archives volunteer shared: “I am reading Abba Eban: A Biography by Asaf Siniver.

I find it very interesting, because it also tells about the early life of Palestine-Israel.”

Sarah L, docent, shared this book recommendation:  “Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson. Novel.  A story of growing up in post-World War II York, England. Funny and touching.”

Ted C., docent, shared: “A book I read is Running Breathless by Morey Kogul. It is the true story of his father who barely escaped the Holocaust. He was about 18 when he was separated from his family in Poland and fled east into Russia, where he was conscripted into the Russian army. It is an amazing story of survival.”

Sarah L. docent, recommended reading Becoming Eve by Abby Stein. It is about a Hasidic man transitioning to live as a non-Orthodox woman.

David S., docent – “I’ve been reading Bill Graham Presents. My Life Inside Rock and Roll.

The book documents the life of Bill Graham who founded The Filmore concert halls and launched the careers of Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, the Grateful Dead, and more. The book starts with an extensive account of Graham’s survival as an orphaned Jewish holocaust survivor who through intense determination became the quintessential icon of classic rock promotion.”

Laraine F., museum shop volunteer, shared:  “One book I actually got from the Jewish Museum when they were giving some things to take – The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning. (Amazon describes it as “a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all. A gripping historical novel that tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII”).  Another one I did like was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (which has been made into a movie).”

Helene G., docent, shared: “I just finished reading The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michigan. It’s nothing earth shattering, but charming, quick and an easy read about Buddhist philosophy.  Many chapters can be applied to how to deal with life at this time.”

Phil S., docent, shared: “I recommend a book that Robert Keehn highly recommended to me – These Truths, a History of the United States by Jill Lepore

It covers cultural and political developments from 1492 to the present that have shaped our current environment. Now that we all have a lot of time on our hands, readers will find getting through this 787-page book to be especially worthwhile.”

Sarah L, docent, shared: “A book that is for history enthusiasts (and World War II buffs in particular) is Appeasement by Tim Bouverie.  It is an account of the diplomatic path the English took of appeasement, led by their Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.  Also documented are the struggles of the anti-appeasers in government and Parliament including Winston Churchill.”

Bruce L., docent, shared “I read American Dirt (by Jeanine Cummins) a few weeks ago. It’s about a mother and son escaping from the drug cartels of Mexico. They headed at all costs for the safety of the USA. Very gripping, exciting story. Also reading The Hemingses of Monticello (by Annette Gordon-Reed).  Sally was the enslaved woman who bore Thomas Jefferson children. The book is interesting, I would recommend it to anyone with a strong historic interest.”

Bob B., docent shared: “Just finished Bastard Brigade by Sam Kean about our efforts to stop Hitler from getting the A Bomb.

Lots of interesting characters including the Jewish baseball player Moe Berg.  Now reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Leadership In Turbulent Times. Very Needed today and very missed.”

Lola H., archive volunteer shared: “This is truly a fun read if one is interested in the subject: Ruth Reichl’s memoir, Save Me the Plums. The author, a former NY Times restaurant critic took the job and the risk of a lifetime – spending 10 years at Gourmet magazine which had inspired her at a very young age. As a fan of her books and restaurant reviews for many years, I truly enjoy Ruth’s storytelling abilities and how she turned Gourmet around from a stodgy, dying magazine to a more relevant one.  She brought in many interesting characters as staff members which contributed to the book being a fun read!”

Karen R., docent, recommended The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman.

“It is a work of historical fiction with a Jewish angle. It is based on the story of a Jewish woman from the Virgin Islands who was the mother of the artist, Camille Pissarro. She also shared “We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. It was written by a woman who discovered that she was a descendant of holocaust survivors. The book tells the story of her family’s “escape.””

Helene G., docent shared: “I’m rereading People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Actually, I’m listening to it from the library. When I read it the first time, years ago, I loved it so I recommend it to my Hadassah Book Group. Since I’ll be leading the group, I figured I’d better reread it. It’s every bit as good the second time around. The story is based on the imagined events surrounding the protagonist and real historical past of the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest surviving Jewish illuminated texts. Fascinating. A real page turner.”

Harvey K., docent shared: “I highly recommend a book titled Father, Son, Stone by a local author named Allan H. Goodman.  It is historical fiction but tells a very good story based on very real events and years of research by the author.”


Volunteers came through with a number of Netflix television series!

Sarah L., docent, shared: “Right now, I’m into Anne with an E on Netflix. Very good, sensitive; a solid period drama with several seasons available.”

Maxine G, front desk volunteer, shared the Kominsky Method. “Very cute and really hits home for us of a certain age!”

Sarah L, docent, shared: “I want to recommend Fauda … basically is about an Israeli undercover unit operating against terrorists. There’s a lot of personal stuff going on, including romantic interests.”

Laraine F., gift shop volunteer, shared: “Just finished watching Black Money Love – 164 episodes!!!! I persevered. My son recommended Kim’s Convenience, a funny show about a Korean man who owns a convenience store and his family.”

Karen R., docent shared: “Steve and I have been watching The Crown.  We are really enjoying it and I would highly recommend it if there is anyone who hasn’t seen it yet (we are a little behind). It makes you almost feel like you “know” the British royal family.”

We’ve got two recommendations for the Amazon Prime series Srugim, from Harvey K., docent, and Roberta G., front desk volunteer and board member.

Roberta describes it as “watching the young adult Orthodox version of Friends without the comedy” and Harvey says it’s “very entertaining and presents some interesting questions at the same time.”

Laraine F., gift shop volunteer, recommended The Last Word, a “really cute movie on HULU with Shirley McLaine.”

Wendy D., volunteer, has two recommendations:

The film “Molly’s Game,”  based on an autobiographical novel by Molly Bloom who was arrested for running high stakes poker games, which she found “entertaining and far different from the who-dun-it and war movies that seem to be proliferating” and ESPN’s The Last Dance series, a 2020 American sports documentary miniseries about the career of Michael Jordan, with particular focus on the 1997–98 Chicago Bulls season.

Ted C., docent, recommend “The Plot Against America” on HBO, an alternative history series that asks what might have happened if Charles Lindbergh, an anti-Semite and admirer of the Nazis, had defeated Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election. He found it “very disturbing and thought provoking.”


I love that some of our volunteers have shared a variety of local online arts and culture experiences!

Shelly M., front desk volunteer, shared Chesapeake Shakespeare’s new video series PAST IS PROLOGUE, where each week their Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar highlights stories and reflections from some of the world’s leading Shakespeare artists, educators, and fans, which they are sharing on their YouTube channel.

Shelly M., along with Roberta G. (both front desk volunteers), shared that all three of Baltimore’s independent movie theaters, The Charles, The Senator, and The Parkway, are offering streaming movies!

Wendy D., volunteer coordinator, shared the Baltimore Heritage “Five Minute Histories” series. Her favorites thus far have been on the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the McKim Free School & Old Town Friends’ Meeting House.

You might also want to check out the virtual offerings from our fellow Baltimore museums like the Baltimore Museum of Industry, The Walters Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. (After you’ve explored all of JMM’s virtual offerings, of course!)

Shorties: Beautiful, Funny, and (mostly) Fast

Vera K, archive volunteer, shared this delightful video of birds performing Mozart.  Don’t miss looking at the credits!

Maxine G., front desk volunteer, shared this giggle-worthy “Baltimore Hon” video:

David S., docent, shared that his wife Judith recently retired after a 30-year career of social work with Baltimore County Department of Social Services and that the Baltimore Sun recently published her op-ed thanking child welfare workers stepping up and taking risks during these difficult times.

We’ve got a number of recommendations for Musical-related videos, including two different Fiddler on the Roof parodies!

From Roberta G, front desk volunteer, we get this clever take on “Tradition:”

And from Howard D. docent, we get a parody on “Matchmaker, Matchmaker:”

Howard also shared this clever musical video variation on Les Misérables:

This one is more of a full-length feature; Phil S., docent, shared this tribute to the works of Sondheim:

Nancy K., docent sent this link for Hativah being song around the world. And a bonus read from Bruce L., docent, about a young violinist playing Hatikvah.

Howard D., docent, shared a sweet video called The Great Realization, a “bedtime story of how it started, and why hindsight’s 2020”:

Lola H., archive volunteer and board member, shared this wonderful video from the Juilliard School:

And from Wendy herself, give yourself a good belly laugh with this comedian talking about his Bubbe’s speeding experience.

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Exploring History at Home Part II – JMM Volunteers Share Stories

Posted on May 4th, 2020 by

Storytelling is something that we value at JMM. Even when we are apart, stories can help connect us as a community.

Last month, JMM volunteers welcomed us into their homes to share the stories behind some of their most meaningful objects. We read stories about objects that were rediscovered, objects that are rarely seen today, objects that can fit in the palm of your hand, and an object that you can fit inside! You can read the previous post here.

Our volunteers continue to be superb storytellers and I am happy to share some more of their contributions with you. I hope that these short stories encourage you to think about the meaningful people and things in your life, explore your history, and share your own story.

~ Paige Woodhouse, School Program Coordinator

To read more posts from Paige, click here!

Friedenwald Pitcher and Basin

The attached photo and pasted below is a ritual hand washing pitcher and basin. It was dedicated to Chizuk Amuno Congregation by Jonas Friedenwald. The Hebrew date shown as 5648 converts to Gregorian date 1887-1888.

The artifacts were discovered when going through my Uncle Efrem Potts’s house with his daughters after he recently died. I am not certain, but my guess is that Efrem saved them from his father’s (my grandfather), Isaac Potts’s house in the early 60’s. Isaac predeceased his second wife, Julia Friedenwald Strauss who was Jonas Friedewald’s great granddaughter.

David S.

Majestic Candelabra

My mother explained what she knew about its trajectory throughout The Holocaust. This majestic candelabra traveled with my mother’s aunt and uncle from Poland during the years of WWII. No one in the family knows exactly how they were able to keep it from being confiscated nor which in places it found itself during those tragic years. It’s a mystery. I always light it for Shabbat together with my second historic set.

The second set which my grandmother bought in England following the war.

Her story was remarkable. She experienced several harrowing close calls with the Nazis during the 1940’s when she hid out in Belgium. Her most frightening encounter occurred when she secretly went out to buy a few vegetables and fruits and a Nazi approached her. Within just a few feet, he asked her name in German. My grandmother knew that if she opened her mouth her Yiddish accent would betray her. Within a few seconds she signaled that she was a deaf mute and in that moment of quick thinking she saved her life. A few years later my grandmother worked as a cook in a yeshiva in England and saved her money to buy this set of candlesticks which I also light every Friday night.

Rita P.

The “Little Pot”

This “little pot” – enamelware – is at least as old as I am. My parents acquired it in 1948 or so in the Displaced Persons (DP) camp in Wels, Austria. This is the place they each traveled to after the end of World War II, met each other and married, had me, and left in 1952 to come to America and settle in Baltimore. The story I always heard about the pot was that my mother used it in Wels to make my baby food. In Baltimore as a young child, I remember the little pot was filled with chicken schmaltz. It hasn’t been put to use in many years and whenever I clean out and reorganize the kitchen cabinet, I find that I cannot part with it and always find a place for it.


Charm Bracelet Keepsake

This charm bracelet is one if the few keepsakes I have from my mother’s childhood. As a Holocaust survivor, very few of her belongings survived with her. She received it in 1935 when she was 13 years old, living in Hannover, Germany. Six years later, at the age of 19, she and her mother were rounded up by the SS and spent the next four years in a series of ghettos and concentration camps. Her mother perished in Stutthof Concentration Camp, a few months before liberation. My mother returned to Hannover after the war and retrieved a few special items she had left in the care of a Gentile neighbor. This bracelet was one of them.

Nancy Kutler


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