Volunteer Spotlight: Robert Siegel

Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by

Robert Siegel is our newest volunteer at the JMM.  He has been with us for just over a month.  He volunteers in the Archives department because he loves history and finds old documents intriguing.  Also, because he knows that in the history world, what he is doing will be helpful to others in their research.

photo of Robert SiegelHe is currently looking at questionnaires completed by Museum donors regarding their family histories, and at information about their donations.  This information will be useful for the upcoming Accession’s Committee meeting at the JMM. He also does work in the photo archives with identifications.  He inputs all of this information into Past Perfect, the Museum software system.

Robert admits to having a passion for Jewish history.  He majored in History in college and had a double minor in Jewish Studies and German Studies.  He acknowledges  that most of his assignments involved some aspect or another of Jewish History.

He had the opportunity to live in Vienna, Austria for a while and hopes to live in Europe again someday.  He won’t admit to being fluent in German, but has a strong intermediate level of understanding.  He enjoys family history, and while researching his, he learned about a branch of the family who came to Baltimore in the 1950’s, the Hershfield’s.  They are related to his mother and he’s trying to find out more about them.  His great-great-grandparents emigrated from Moldova in the late 19th century.  He is trying to follow clues to their past also.

We’re glad that Robert is able to meet his needs and ours by volunteering at the JMM.  We hope he’ll continue to do so for a good, long while.

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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Volunteer Spotlight: Betsey Kahn

Posted on November 4th, 2013 by

It’s time to highlight another volunteer at the JMM:

Betsey

Betsey

Betsey Kahn has been a volunteer at the JMM for close to 20 years.  Her interest in the JMM came as a natural progression in her family.  Her father, Moses W. Rosenfeld was a founding member of the Jewish Historical Society.  He handled the legal work; Betsey is of the belief that he offered his services pro-Bono.  She remembers him putting in a lot of effort and the entire family became very familiar with the place.  Betsey is a long-time Baltimore Hebrew Congregation member.  She and her sister, her daughters, and her granddaughters were all confirmed at BHC.
When she first began volunteering at the JMM she worked on photo projects.  She admits it wasn’t the best fit.  So, she became a Docent, which she loved.  Unfortunately, due to mobility issues, she’s no longer able to take visitors on tours.  Now, she greets visitors and answers the telephone as a Front Desk Receptionist.
It was a particularly good fit for Betsey to act as a docent as she taught Social Studies and English to middle school students for many years.  In addition to volunteering at the JMM, Betsey volunteers twice a week in the Ophthalmology department at Sinai Hospital.  She also likes to spend time knitting and needle pointing, plus, some of her very favorite activities are cooking and entertaining as well as flower arranging.  She and a friend formed a garden club years ago, which came with the added bonus of flower arrangement lessons by her co-chairman.
Betsey has had a positive impact on the JMM in her many years of involvement.  She is often willing to answer a last-minute plea for extra volunteer shifts.  She ‘s proud to share that she contributes financially to the Museum in addition to her donating time.  She is a wonderful role model for our entire volunteer corps.

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.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Rare Photos Teach About Soviet History

Posted on October 31st, 2013 by

Photograph collections are an incredibly valuable tool for researchers. The photographs range from professional photos to snapshots taken by amateurs, sometimes with heads cut off. Sometimes the reasons why the photo was taken or who owned it is just as important as the photo’s subject. During my time at JMM, I have had the opportunity to handle a lot of interesting photos that tell a side of history that regular print media doesn’t always capture.

Fabian Kolker, 2001.013.023

Fabian Kolker, 2001.013.023

Earlier this year, I processed an archive and photograph collection donated by the estate of Fabian Kolker. Kolker was a human rights activist from Baltimore who worked on behalf of Jews in the Soviet Union. Much of Kolker’s effort was directed at convincing the Soviet Union to release refuseniks. Refuseniks were Soviet citizens who applied for exit visas but were denied. Many individuals, after being denied, lost their jobs or were imprisoned. Most refuseniks were Jews, who wanted to leave because of widespread anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union.

2001.013.075.

Valery and Galina Panov, 2001.013.075

One famous refusenik was Valery Panov, a lead dancer with the Kirov Ballet. After applying for an exit visa to Israel in 1972 and being denied, he was dismissed from his position at the ballet company and briefly imprisoned. After a great deal of international protest, Panov and his wife, Galina, were allowed to leave for Israel. Within the Kolker photograph collection is a photo of Valery and Galina dancing together. I love this photo for the high contrast that creates drama, but most especially for the beauty and grace of the dancers. Since this photo came from Kolker’s personal collection, we can guess that Kolker was interested in the Panovs as more than part of a political cause, but as artists and people who were being terribly mistreated by their country.

Fabian Kolker visiting Ida Nudel in Odessa, Ukraine, 2001.013.234

Fabian Kolker visiting Ida Nudel in Odessa, Ukraine, 2001.013.234

Kolker visited the Soviet Union several times. During a visit to Odessa, Ukraine, Kolker met with refusenik Ida Nudel, only a few months before Nudel was granted an exit visa to Israel. The collection has several photos from this visit. Most obviously, to me, these photos show Kolker taking the effort to get to visit the people he advocated for. These photos also give us a glimpse of what life was like in the Soviet Union. We see the interior of a home (take a look at that wallpaper!), how the people are dressed, and how they interact with one another.

Working with the Fabian Kolker collection has really pressed upon me the importance of preserving historical documents. These photos would be difficult to find outside the JMM collection, if they exist at all. Pairing these photos with the archive collection puts them in a context that says a lot more about who Fabian Kolker was and what he accomplished.

 

A blog post by Collections Volunteer Dana Willan. To read more collections related posts, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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