Volunteer Spotlight: Edie Shlian

Posted on January 6th, 2014 by

photo of Edie Shlian

Edie

Edie Shlian has been volunteering in the genealogy department at the JMM since summer 2013.  She was interested in researching her own family history and once she learned that we no longer had staff on hand to assist with her pursuit, she determined it was something she could help others with.  She is a member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Maryland and is hoping to bring some co-members in as volunteers as well.  In her position, she takes requests from people who are interested in finding out more information about their families – the history of their family in Baltimore.  She was surprised that people think we would know everything about family histories, when basically we cover Baltimore Jewish history records.

Before she began volunteering, she was a registered nurse.  She began in medical-surgical nursing then switched to cardiology.  She worked as a critical care nurse at Union Memorial Hospital, in the cardiac catheterization lab at Sinai Hospital, and in cardiac research at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  She became interested in nursing as a result of her father passing away at a young age, due to heart disease.  Edie is the mother of three children and grandmother of six.  Her youngest daughter and two of her grandchildren live in Seattle, her other daughter, son and grandchildren live in the Baltimore area.  She loves to travel, some of her favorite destinations have been Israel, Greece, the Caribbean Islands and across the United States.  She’s now at a point where she enjoys returning to a destination, rent an apartment, and live amongst the locals.  She has plans in the next year to do this in Florence and Venice.

She sees helping preserve family history as an important mission and looks forward to continuing to do so while at the JMM.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at icohen@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

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Many Thanks for Mitzvah Day!

Posted on December 26th, 2013 by

A very successful Mitzvah Day!

A very successful Mitzvah Day! A big thank you to Erwin Burtnick, Stephen Mintz and R. David Edwards (of VA Maryland)!

In partnership with B’nai Israel Congregation, Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, the Baltimore VA Medical Center and Jewish Volunteer Connection, the Jewish Museum of Maryland hosted a great Mitzvah Day event! We gathered donations and with the help of enthusiastic volunteers created care packages for veterans, which were then delivered to the Baltimore VA Medical Center.

Piecing together puzzle books.

Piecing together puzzle books.

We’d like to thank these local businesses for their generous donations, as well as the many individuals who stopped by with everything from playing cards and puzzle books to handmade hats and scarves!

  • Inner Harbor Dental
  • Harbour east dental
  • Scene 217
  • Shearz inc
  • Waterfront Marriot
  • Carrolton Inn
  • Lovely lady in Family dollar
  • Convention Center Hampton Inn
  • Charles Street dental
  • Hilton Garden Inn & Homewood Suites at Harbor East

And of course we have to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to help us decorate gift bags, write thank you cards and package up all the gifts – we couldn’t have done it without you!

Picture 118

Bag Decorating

Picture 120

Getting creative

Picture 124

Thanking our veterans

Picture 139

Diligently packing parcels!

Picture 158

Hard at work!

Picture 125

More thank you letters

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These are some devoted volunteers!

 

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WHAT IS THE USE OF JEWISH HISTORY?

Posted on December 4th, 2013 by

People sometimes ask me, “What is the use of Jewish history?” And “why do you study and write about that so much?” Author and historian, Lucy Davidowitz, wrote a book on this subject.

2007.054.027  Book cover, The Hoffburger Journey in America: 1882-2005, compiled primarily by Lois Hoffberger Blum Feinblatt.

2007.054.027 Book cover, The Hoffburger Journey in America: 1882-2005, compiled primarily by Lois Hoffberger Blum Feinblatt.

Others take their concern and doubt to an annoying level, saying, “History is not important.” Perhaps not, for them, compared with the latest Hollywood gossip, the score of Sunday’s  football game or newest technological toy. Their view is short sighted, to say the least.

For me, researching and writing about Jewish history is akin to raising a memorial to departed relatives, ancestors and – yes – to strangers.  Some may be famous community or congregational leaders while others served their families quietly with love and dedication.

Only two of my relatives served the community in public ways – one was a Hershfield who served as secretary of a synagogue in New Jersey. The shul is now defunct, and I have no documentation about this except for Oral History tapes of my mother.

Another Hershfield in the same family in Jersey City served on the public School Board.  But this branch of the family are notorious for not answering letters, and we have been out of touch with them since the 1960s, so no documentation has been found to verify the anecdote.

(As for yichus, that is, genealogical status, I sometimes imagine that I am descended from a 2nd Century Sage or a Levitical priest.  But this may be ego on my part!)

Every time we quest for our family’s history, read an article in a Jewish History periodical or visit the JMM, we are raising a memorial to the whole Jewish people.  It is like placing rocks on the top of tombstones when we visit cemeteries. The purpose is to make the marker-stone larger, thereby, increasing the honor of those who have passed away. Saying Kaddish for one’s father is another example.  Sharing our genealogies with living relatives is a third example of zichron – remembering our ancestors.  And from where we came.

1973.008.001 Collage of Galitzianer gravestones (1903) from Gruft family collection. Artist unknown.]

1973.008.001 Collage of Galitzianer gravestones (1903) from Gruft family collection. Artist unknown.]

The value of learning, teaching and celebrating our many-faceted history becomes more apparent when we consider how often in history that the Jewish people have faced extreme adversity.  Even if our immigrant-ancestors lived a life of obscurity, toiling in the moderate Garment Industry of Jonestown or peddling as an arabisher, there is eternal value to our interest, care and memory of them.  We need the Eternal One’s eyes to perceive the value of Jewish history.

1997.149.003  Button sewing machine (1930s), made by Singer, from D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Machinery Co., of Baltimore Street and later, Gay Street.

1997.149.003 Button sewing machine (1930s), made by Singer, from D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Machinery Co., of Baltimore Street and later, Gay Street.

 

photo of Robert SiegelA blog post by Collections Volunteer Robert Siegel. To read more posts by and about JMM volunteers, click here.

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