Volunteer Field Trip: National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center

Posted on April 25th, 2019 by

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


One of the benefits of being a volunteer at the JMM is the opportunity to go on field trips with fellow volunteers.  Our last field trip was to visit our new neighbor, the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center.

Did you ever wonder where the fish and marine mammals from the National Aquarium go when they need to take a break from constantly being on display to all the visitors on Baltimore’s Pier 4?  Or where the fish and marine mammals are cared for when ill or before they are integrated with others at the National Aquarium?  They go to the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center in Jonestown, the same neighborhood where the Jewish Museum of Maryland is located.

To develop awareness of the JMM neighbors and just for the fun of it, the JMM volunteers walked the three blocks from the JMM to the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center on April 8th.   We received a wonderful morning tour of the immaculately clean facilities.  There were rooms with multiple tanks that reminded me of above ground swimming pools except these tanks were populated by fish or marine mammals and were attached to elaborate pipes and filters.

They also had windows which allowed us a view of the inhabitants and gave the inhabitants a view of us.  It was fascinating to see how a fish was trained to swim to a specific colored ball.  Using that training, the staff could monitor the amount of food eaten and they could also easily get the fish’s attention when they needed to physically exam him.  Talking about examining the fish, we went to a lab where, with a plastic fish, we learned how a fish could be anesthetized and examined out of the water.

This facility is also where the elaborate National Aquarium displays are created.  From a video we learned about the many considerations needed to be taken into account when designing the displays, such as making the displays lifelike but not toxic if the marine animals nibbles on it thinking it is the real deal.

Now, as I drive by the red brick building of the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center on my way to JMM, I have a better understanding of what goes on there.  Maybe you too will arrange a tour of the center and hopefully, combine your visit there with a visit to our wonderful Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




A Truly Magical Mitzvah Day

Posted on January 10th, 2019 by

A blog post by JMM Program Assistant Emma Glaser. To see past posts from Emma click here!

Every year, the JMM participates in Mitzvah Day, a citywide day of service on December 25th. This year, volunteers at the JMM created backpacks with school supplies for immigrant students at the Esperanza Center, a local immigrant resource center.

We were really thrilled to have so many people come together to make the backpacks – in fact, we were able to make 20 more than our original goal! Volunteers made 70 backpacks for students that were packed with notebooks, folders, pencils, erasers, and lots of other school supplies that kids need to succeed in school. Many of the school supplies were donated by the JMM’s amazing volunteers and members, as well as companies that we reached out to. As a new staff member, I was really moved by the community’s generosity in making sure the backpacks had all the supplies the students needed.

The backpacks also included notecards welcoming the students to the United States and homemade stress balls that Mitzvah Day volunteers created.

Take a look at some highlights from our magical Mitzvah Day below!

79 volunteers helped out on Mitzvah Day!

These two friends told me it was the first time in 18 years that they were able to see each other. It was really heartwarming that they spent their reunion doing a mitzvah at the JMM.

This family, including a very tiny dinosaur (on the right), worked together to make the last two backpacks.

To make the stress balls, volunteers used funnels to fill balloons with flour.

For instructions to make a stressball for yourself, click here.

Volunteers wrote and decorated notecards with friendly messages to make the backpacks more personal. Many of them wished students happy holidays or told them about fun things to do in Baltimore.

Here’s a couple of my favorite cards, drawn by some amazing artists.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in Mitzvah Day 2018!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Volunteers Go A-Walkin’: A Jonestown Tour

Posted on October 24th, 2018 by

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

One of the fun benefits of being a volunteer at the Jewish Museum of Maryland is the opportunity to go on field trips with fellow volunteers.  This October, our field trip started at the front door of the museum.  We ventured on a walking tour of our historic neighborhood, Jonestown.  Did you know that after Baltimore was founded in 1729, Jones Town was the first neighborhood established outside the city?  It was originally the home to wealthy residents such as the Carrolls and Edward Johnson, a Baltimore mayor.  Then it became home for generations of immigrants, filled with shops and social institutions.

Using “The Jewish Museum of Maryland Neighborhood Walking Tour” as a guide, Ilene Dackman-Alon  lead us, engaging us in stories about various buildings and the people that lived and work in the area.

Participants shared their impressions:

I have been going to Little Italy for 50 years and never saw Yiddish writing on Amicci’s building. So interesting and thrilling to see that little bit of “Yiddishkeit.”  How amazing that there is so much history in Jonestown. -Robbin Bord, docent

What I found interesting is that using the guidebook provided, you could see where these historic neighborhoods and businesses were. It’s almost like being a time traveler. – Roberta Greenstein, front desk volunteer

So much was new.  I really enjoyed seeing the Star Spangled Banner house and museum.  I had no idea it was even there.  I can’t wait to go back to see the movie and to climb the Shot Tower. – Robin Kaplan, shop volunteer

Touring the interior of the Shot Tower!

We had a fabulous time on the walk around Jonestown! Of course, having grown up in Baltimore -and attending Sunday School -and being involved in the Museum for many years, we’ve known the area was a melting pot for immigrants. But adding actual stories to the lore was wonderful! Ilene was a wealth of information and her enthusiasm infectious! The tour participants’ input and recollections added to the mix. A great time! And, the rains held off until we closed the car door to head back uptown! Thanks for coordinating another nice event!  -Maxine Cohen & Myron Oppenheimer, shop volunteers

I found the walking tour highly informative in providing a real perspective of life in a vital Jewish neighborhood, even though many of the shops, other commercial establishments, and housing structures covered no longer exist. Ilene’ s personal reflections, along with the printed material and photographs handed out elicited many fond firsthand memories from our group as well as stories they heard from parents, grandparents and relatives. The Shot Tower stop was an added bonus to an enjoyable walk. Thanks to Ilene and you for setting us this worthwhile event.  – Phil Sagal, docent

The Jonestown tour was wonderful. Thank you, Ilene. I loved that on Sunday (while talking with JMM visitors) some questions came up and I could answer them. Had I not been on the tour I wouldn’t have been able to. – Helene Goldberg, docent

We all delighted in exploring the neighborhood, seeing up close buildings that we quickly drive by, being able to read the plaques on the historic building, hearing the words of people who walked the streets of Jonestown years ago, appreciating the wonderful teacher Ilene is and enjoying each other’s company.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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