Volunteers Visit the Green Mount Cemetery

Posted on October 16th, 2019 by

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


Growing up on Baltimore, I had heard about the Green Mount Cemetery but for whatever reason, had never gotten there. I finally did – along with 18 other JMM volunteers.

On a beautiful Friday morning in September, we drove through the Tudor/Gothic-styled and imposing entrance gate designed by Robert Cary Long, Jr. Yes, he IS the same man who was the architect for the Lloyd Street Synagogue!

Once in the cemetery, we went on a walking tour with Wayne Schaumburg, a wonderful teacher and storyteller.

We learned that when the cemetery was developed in 1838, it was located outside the city limits on property called “Green Mount” previously owned by the merchant Robert Oliver (hence the name of nearby Oliver Street). The cemetery was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe II as a rural garden cemetery, with winding paths and gardens. Did you know that the original rural garden cemetery was in Paris – the Pere Lachaise? The first rural garden cemetery in the United States was Mount Auburn in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established 7 years prior to Green Mount Cemetery.  These cemeteries were such beautiful locations that many spent time picnicking there. They were also early prototypes for large urban parks like Central Park in NYC and Druid Hill Park in Baltimore.

Green Mount Cemetery is well known for the list of who are buried there – the infamous and the famous.

The most infamous is John Wilkes Booth, who is buried in an unmarked grave in his family’s plot. There were many more famous people interned there, from US senators and congressmen to Maryland governors to Civil War officers from both the Union and the Confederate armies. The names we easily recognized were Betsey Patterson Bonaparte (Once married to Joseph Bonaparte, but Napoleon wanted his brother to marry royalty, so they divorced. Betsey was rewarded with a stipend, making her the richest woman in Baltimore.), A.S. Abell, founder of the Baltimore Sun Paper (in a beautifully carved sarcophagus), Johns Hopkins, Mary Elizabeth Garrett, who funded the Johns Hopkins University Medical School with the stipulation that women would be admitted on the same basis as men, Henry Walters, Enoch Pratt, and Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin.

One of the most interesting graves stones was modern, marking the grave of the founder of the Ouji board – Elijah J. Bond. The Ouji Board pattern was placed on the reverse side of the marker.  

When I originally spoke with Wayne, he did not know of any Jews buried in the cemetery. But as fate would have it, five days before our tour he learned of Levi Collmus, the second Bohemian Jew in Maryland. Levi Collmus arrived in Baltimore from Prague in 1806 and was a defender at Ft. McHenry along with five other Jews in 1814. He was a member of the minyan that petitioned the Maryland legislature for a charter that would permit them to establish a synagogue. As a result of those efforts, Nidhei Israel/Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, the builder of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, was incorporated. There is a record dated Oct.6th, 1846 of Levi Collmus paying $50 for seats in the “New Synagogue.”

Levi Collmus was also a founder and treasurer of the United Hebrew Benevolent Society of Baltimore in 1834. According to Isaac M. Fein, the organization was Baltimore’s first non-synagogue Jewish organization.  A note from the Collmus family mentioned that Levi Collmus married a Quaker, Frances Ann Williams “because there were no Hebrew girls to marry” in 1812.

Another family note states he was buried “according to the full Orthodox Ritual.” His descendants are buried in the family plot with him.

We JMM volunteers agreed that we had a fascinating fall morning learning about who’s who in Baltimore history and about one of the founders of the Baltimore Jewish community. Now I can check visiting the Green Mount Cemetery off my bucket list, BUT I want to go back to further explore this urban garden!


 

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JMM Insights: The Upstanders Initiative

Posted on September 20th, 2019 by

For more than three decades JMM’s exhibits have been providing curious visitors with meaningful experiences that inspire discussion, thought and further study.  Recently, as part of JMM’s evolution we’ve been exploring ways to take the next step – to turn memory into action. This exploration has led to a new partnership with The Associated’s Jewish Volunteer Connection. In this month’s edition of JMM Insights, Visitor Services Coordinator Talia Makowsky shares the first tangible benefits of that partnership. We hope it will inspire you to join in!


JMM loves volunteers. Of course, this includes the volunteers who work directly at our site, but our love of volunteers goes beyond just the individuals supporting us. With stories of amazing and hardworking people informing our mission at the Museum, we know how much of a difference a single individual can make. We also know how transforming volunteerism can be, when people work together towards a common goal. That’s why we’re sharing in Jewish Volunteer Connection’s (JVC) motto, in Living with Purpose, and partnering with them to create the Upstanders Initiative.

An upstander is the opposite of a bystander. An upstander sees a problem and works to solve it. We’re connecting the stories of our exhibits with JVC’s network of volunteer opportunities, to encourage our Museum community to become upstanders. Plus, when you participate in the Upstanders Program, you can be eligible for raffle drawings and even a free trip to the Museum!

In anticipation of our new exhibit, Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling and to celebrate JVC’s Season of Service, our focus is on the innovative ways that people have worked to recycle used materials, the immigrant stories that make up the scrap industry, and how people have worked to create more green spaces for community members to share.

One opportunity we’re carrying over from our past exhibits is sorting clothes for Sharp-Dressed Man. Sharp-Dressed Man works to empower men by providing them with recycled suits they can wear as they participate in job development. As we learned with our Fashion Statement exhibit, the way we dress can express a lot about us, our personalities, our favorite sports teams, our religion. This, of course, extends to the first impression in a job interview. As a well-worn saying goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” and Sharp-Dressed Man is doing just that in Baltimore and LA, for many low-income men.

Because Sharp-Dressed Man achieves their mission through recycling used clothing, we decided to feature it with our Scrap Yard exhibit. Not only is Sharp-Dressed Man helping people to reenter the workforce, but they’re also working to repurpose used materials to improve lives. It’s an excellent fit, and we’re pleased JVC brought this opportunity to our Museum visitors. To find out how to help, visit this link.

When thinking about coordinating a volunteer opportunity with Stitching History from the Holocaust, all of us were taken with Hedy Strnad’s story, as she tried and failed to escape the Holocaust. In order to pay tribute to her memory, we chose to feature ¡Adelante Latina!, which works with high school Latina girls as they overcome barriers toward their college careers. By providing these ambitious young women with a meal for the evening, you can help them focus on working towards their goals and their future.

Wanting to reflect the hardworking, immigrant stories found in Scrap Yard, we will continue to offer this opportunity. We invite you to honor those immigrant stories, which are so closely tied with Jewish experiences in the US, by helping to provide meals to these hardworking students. More information can be found here.

In addition to these continuing opportunities, we also have a few new ways to help that relate to our Scrap Yard exhibit.

The 6th Branch works with neighborhood leaders to transform vacant lots into community green centers. Their mission fits in well with our Scrap Yard exhibit, as they repurpose old lots into new spaces for people to enjoy the outdoors. By leveraging the leadership skills of military veterans, the 6th Branch is transforming Baltimore neighborhoods and bringing communities together.

Their story of empowerment and vision is an exciting addition to the opportunities we have already shared. To find out how to volunteer with the 6th Branch, which has hours four days a week, visit this link.

We are also pleased to feature Leveling the Playing Field, which gives underprivileged children the opportunity to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of youth sports participation. Through donations of used and excess sports equipment, Leveling the Playing Field helps sports programs become more accessible to more children. By saving on equipment costs, these programs can lower registration fees, expand their programs, and develop new ones.

Leveling the Playing Field needs volunteers to help sort donated items, practicing the same skills that scrap workers do as they try to figure out what what kind of value discarded items have as raw material. Learn these skills yourself by volunteering with them here.

Finally, to continue to theme of repurposing used materials, we want to feature Chana’s Clothing Sheds. CHANA offers a Jewish community response to the needs of people who experience abuse and other forms of interpersonal trauma. One of the ways they provide support is through clothing donations. The four sheds, located at Beth Tfiloh Congregation, Temple Oheb Shalom, the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, and the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, collect gently used clothing, shoes, linens, and stuffed animals.

Simply drop off items for donation in a tied plastic bag to any of these locations.

Join JMM and JVC in becoming Upstanders and help us support our Baltimore and Maryland communities. Every time you participate in an Upstanders Initiative program, you’re eligible for an entry in JVC’s monthly raffle. Once you volunteer in person with the Upstanders Initiative, you’ll also receive free admission to the Museum. We want to celebrate your hard work, and we hope that you join us in standing up for others and living with purpose!


Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights?
You can catch up here!


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Why Do JMM Volunteers Keep Volunteering?

Posted on August 12th, 2019 by

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


A benefit for being a volunteer at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) is being included in the annual appreciation event.  On Sunday July 1th, 2019,  JMM held ou rannual  Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to celebrate our 70+ team of volunteers.  It was a wonderful evening with good food, a raffle with great items, and a creative, informative, and participatory program designed by Joanna Church and Trillion Attwood.  Most of the Museum staff attended and those there warmly expressed their appreciation for us, the volunteers.

As I was preparing for the evening, I began to contemplate, “What do the JMM volunteers appreciate about the Museum that compels them to return month after month?”  So, I posed the question to the volunteers and received these heartfelt responses.


It’s very simple. The JMM is a wonderful institution, staffed by highly dedicated, professional and creative people who are great to be with. I really appreciate the learning opportunities afforded me in serving as a docent. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with museum visitors and learning from them as well.
Phil

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We have many things to share with the community. And for many years I have enjoyed being part of it. Bob

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I love volunteering at JMMD for several reasons. It is fascinating to meet such a mix of interesting people representing different cultures and religions. How wonderful to introduce them to our Jewish culture and history. It’s also very special to lead school groups from both Jewish and non-Jewish ones who come to learn about the synagogues and the current exhibits. What a wonderful way for me as a docent to gain more knowledge both from my fellow docents and from the literature telling the intriguing stories behind the scenes.

I am so pleased that I am able to be a part of the JMM family.

Rita

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I enjoy meeting the people who come for the tours and sharing our history. I also love learning things from the visitors. Helene G

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I’ve been volunteering at the Museum for many years.  I am appreciative of the hard work and thought that goes into putting on the exhibits, which have been wonderful.  As a volunteer I promote the Museum to others I am in contact with, as many people have never visited.  I enjoy interacting with the visitors and being able to answer questions they might have – advising them about the Circulator, restaurants in the neighborhood, etc.  It is also interesting to meet and converse with visitors from other cities, countries, etc. who visit the Museum and to get their perspectives.

Laraine

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1. I like to teach

2. I like to learn about Jewish immigration in general, from questions posed by the visitors, about the visitors’ own immigration histories

Michael

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I really enjoy being around the people I with whom I work, and the people I have met at the JMM.

Working with kids is one of my favorite pastimes.

Family connections got me started and keep me going.

Lois

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I continue to volunteer at JMM because: (1) it provides another outlet for me other than my community activities, (2) I enjoy the front desk work, meeting the public and inputting various types of statistical data to keep JMM records up-to-date, (3) I have the opportunity to see the changing exhibits, and (3) working with a caring and friendly JMM staff.

Harold

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I volunteer at the JMM because I enjoy the interaction with our visitors from near and far. Roberta

——

Thanks Wendy. You always go the extra mile for all of us JMM volunteers. I’ve been involved with the non profit sector throughout my work life and in other volunteer roles. I can truly say that I have never encountered an organization that walks the talk better than JMM. You provide opportunities to learn, expand our knowledge, and make a meaningful contribution.

This applies to JMM as a whole and to you personally Wendy!!

Sylvia

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It has been a year since we first began our studies to become docents, and we are very happy that we made the decision to “give it a try.” The history is amazing, and being able to share it as we give our tours is a great experience. Becoming docents has also brought us closer to the Museum, we have been members for years, but are now attending many more programs and, of course, seeing all the exhibits. We live in Northern Anne Arundel County so the Museum has become like a JCC for us! Steve asked me to add that he loves the Gift Shop discount!

Thank you for this opportunity!

Karen & Steve Rubin

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I continue to volunteer at the JMM for a simple reason, a large part of my personal history is located in the Lloyd Street Synagogue and the neighborhood around it.  Not only did my father’s family live in the area, as so many others did, but my Great-Grandfather was a member of Shomrei Mishemeres, my Grandfather prayed here, and my father’s bar mitzvah took place in the Lloyd Street Synagogue on a snowy Saturday morning in January of 1935.  How could I not continue to support the JMM when so much of who I am comes from here.

Thanks.

Harvey

During this first year of being a Docent I have had the pleasure of sharing my love of Baltimore Jewish history with people from all over the world.  Being a volunteer has brought me joy and a sense of accomplishment. I appreciate being around the kind employees and volunteers at the Jewish Museum.   Being a volunteer provides for the opportunity to learn something new every single time I give a tour. The general”vibe” at the Jewish Museum is so positive, it’s just a great feeling to be there.   Thanks to you Wendy for being a great mentor.

Robbin B


 

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