Intern Weekly Response: Internship Reflections

Posted on August 9th, 2017 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to look back over the summer and to reflect on what they’ve learned, share some favorite memories, and give us some updates on their projects. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


 

A Summer of Stories

by oral history intern Tirza Ochrach-Konradi

The Beth Am project is going swimmingly! So far there are ten interviews, six of which I conducted, with full transcriptions. This adds up to over eight hours of oral history content, and I will be fitting in one more this week! In addition I’ve made contact with five individuals who weren’t available over the summer, but are happy to be interviewed this fall so the project is going to be running full force forward. Beth Am is well on its way to an amazing video commemorating the 100th anniversary of the temple building! I’ve had a great time becoming immersed in the history of Beth Am and have had a wonderful time working with people’s stories.

The 100th Anniversary of the temple will be in 2022. Original architectural drawing of the temple’s front façade by Joseph Evans Sperry.  (JMM 1997.063.018)

The 100th Anniversary of the temple will be in 2022. Original architectural drawing of the temple’s front façade by Joseph Evans Sperry.  (JMM 1997.063.018)

My favorite memories from this summer are definitely every interview. Being allowed to enter someone’s home and ask them to share their memories is an incredible experience. The majority of the folks I interviewed were retired, which I imagine meant they had time to perfect their decorative skill, because every room I interviewed in was gorgeous. I got to collect all kinds of stories. Some highlights include elephants at Druid Hill Park, Jewish exclusion from Roland Park, details of the Harbor Place renovations, stories of meeting and falling in love, moving to and living in Baltimore City, making Bat Mitzvah corsages out of war stamps, innumerable stories about Dr. Louis L. Kaplan, working in and for Baltimore City, and all of the work that went into getting Beth Am, the self-described do-it-yourself synagogue, up and running.

 

Photograph of the Beth Am main entrance which fronts onto Eutaw Place. (JMM 1996.010.073)

Photograph of the Beth Am main entrance which fronts onto Eutaw Place. (JMM 1996.010.073)

In my sociology course work I’ve read countless ethnographic pieces that depend on interview material, but I hadn’t done any hands on work to discover whether this kind of research is something I would enjoy. After this internship I can say for certain that interview work is a definite positive! I’m only entering my junior year of undergrad so I have some time to figure out where I’d like to end up. This internship has helped me find the connections between what I’m studying and museum work and has really introduced the field as a possibility.


 

 

The Wrap-Up

By education intern Sara Philippe

This internship has taught me a lot about the importance of the programs and education departments of museums, two areas that did not immediately come to mind when thinking about museums prior to this summer. I learned a lot about determining what factors to take into consideration when planning a program as I searched for potential speakers, performers, and films to host at the museum. I also thought a lot about how to create educational materials and experiences that would be appropriate and compelling for a wide range of students. When doing educational work, we always had to consider how it would illuminate the exhibit in question and make it more accessible to the students hoping to learn from it. We also had to tailor activities keeping in mind students’ level of familiarity with Judaism, sometimes putting together activities that could work for both non-Jewish and Jewish students, as well as separate activities to ensure a more meaningful experience for both types of students. I loved all of this work and can definitely see myself continuing to do it in my future. I love that it requires you to stay on your feet, think creatively, and interact with a wide variety of people.

Our workspace as we get ready for the Summer Teachers Institute

Our workspace as we get ready for the Summer Teachers Institute

As I look back on this summer, a few memories stand out. Erin and I were tasked with documenting the cracks on the very old walls of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Although sometimes the going got tough, I had a great time posing with our makeshift whiteboard and a yardstick next to a crack on the wall in the heat of the balcony as Erin took photos. I even managed to stave off the temptation to be in every photo. Interacting with student tour groups was one of my favorite aspects of the internship. We recently hosted the junior ambassadors from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and I really enjoyed watching them do the same workshop about Jewish refugees to Baltimore that the interns had done earlier in the summer with Ilene. They had so much important knowledge from their work as Holocaust educators that they were able to bring to the activity. I also loved when the Bell Camp for blind children visited. I painstakingly put together a craft for the kids that would enable them to make stars of David out of popsicle sticks and Velcro. It ended up being more difficult than I thought it would be and not everything went as planned, but it was definitely a valuable learning experience for which I am grateful.

Our display now up in Lloyd Street next to the matzah oven

Our display now up in Lloyd Street next to the matzah oven

One of my proudest accomplishments this summer has been the mini-exhibit that Erin and I designed for the case in the basement of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Baltimore’s Talmudical Academy, Erin and I carefully crafted a display using artifacts from the JMM’s archives. We feature photographs old and new and real artifacts from TA’s earlier years like a fundraising brochure for a new building in the 1930s and a beautiful, miniscule prayer book. As of yesterday, the display is up and ready to be viewed. I hope people enjoy it and appreciate the connection between TA and the Lloyd Street Synagogue, both homes to Rabbi Schwartz. As our last week comes to an end, we are continuing to work on preparing for the Summer Teachers Institute on Holocaust education taking place next week. Erin and I have been working hard coordinating the three-day event’s logistics and it is shaping up to be a great experience with many learning opportunities and compelling speakers. Also looking ahead to the future, Erin and I finished putting together an educational resource to accompany the JMM’s upcoming exhibit Discovery and Recovery: Preserving the Iraqi Jewish Archive. We did our best to come up with ways to teach the complicated history of Iraqi Jews to students of all grade levels in a meaningful and engaging way, and I’m looking forward to this resource being put to good use.

To find out more about my experience at the JMM this summer, check out Erin and I’s podcast We Know What We Did This Summer! (coming soon)


 

Au Revoir, et Merci

by exhibitions intern Ryan Mercado

Well, here I am 10 week later from my first day back in June. These last 2 months have been full of many long work days and experiences, and I’m happy I got to have this opportunity. I started out this internship as a recent college graduate, I had no prior experience in museums nor did I even have an internship before. Then I found myself working for the Jewish Museum and I could not have been more excited.

All the interns as we walk back from getting delicious desserts from Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop. I will miss all of them and the fun times at lunch we had together!

All the interns as we walk back from getting delicious desserts from Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop. I will miss all of them and the fun times at lunch we had together!

I learned a lot about Museums that I honestly did not know before. One thing that continuously sticks with me is the idea of the Museum being like a business. This came from Marvin’s workshop a few weeks back. I see a business in this museum and in others, from Tracie working the phones to Sue planning the Volunteer Appreciation dinner, there are literally so many aspects to a museum! I also learned that as each department works separately from one another, all of them need to be in balance as they work with one another. The Collections Manager needs to work with the Curator, the Curator with Marketing, etc! The Staff depends on one another and when they all work hard they get wonderful results, such as the Just Married exhibition.

“PastPerfect Cubicle A” aka my work station and my home away from how for the past 10 weeks.

“PastPerfect Cubicle A” aka my work station and my home away from how for the past 10 weeks.

I’m leaving this internship having put a small mark on the upcoming exhibit: Belonging(s): What Connects Us, which will open hopefully in 2019. I did three projects this summer: A character profile on a Jewish Socialist, research on the Maryland Jew Bill, and I started what is perhaps the Museum’s first real in-depth research on converts to Judaism. I hope that what research I did, what quotes I catalogued in excel, and even the siddur I donated to the Museum will help the upcoming exhibition in some way. For myself, as a convert to Judaism, to work in a Jewish Museum being surrounded by Jewish History and helping preserve it and even contribute to it has made me immensely proud and affirms my new Jewish identity. I will miss all the interns as we go our separate ways, and I will miss the JMM staff as well. This museum and this internship defined my summer 2017. It’s tough to say goodbye, but I’m ready to move on to grad school and what awaits me in Montreal.


 

Looking Back at the Summer

By collections intern Amy Swartz

It seems strange to me that my time interning at the JMM is almost over. During my ten weeks here I have learned more about museum functions and have been able to narrow down future career paths. I learned about handling textiles and putting together a traveling exhibit. Prior to this experience I had always envisioned a future career as a curator. This internship has expanded my interest to collections, especially since curators for exhibits can switch in and out and be outsourced. I find that I enjoy working with physical objects more than research sometimes.

The interns at the Just Married opening.

The interns at the Just Married opening.

Some of my favorite memories from this summer include forming friendships with the other interns, planning intern night, and helping put together the wedding exhibit. Joelle and I had fun working together in the basement and I will never forget the daily intern lunch talks and our trip to Vaccaro’s. I also really enjoyed going on a mini field trip to look at a possible accession: two large gilded lions.

The interns after getting cannoli and gelato at Vaccaro’s

The interns after getting cannoli and gelato at Vaccaro’s

Most of the collections projects have been wrapped up – quite literally in some cases. The traveling exhibit is mostly condition reported and packed besides larger items that need specialized crates. Our files have been organized and new accessions have been put into PastPerfect. Our podcast is finished and edited and will be up shortly too. Ultimately, as the summer has been coming to an end so too have been our projects. There is one last remaining thing to look forward to however: The Summer’s Teachers Institute next week; I am excited to learn about teaching the Holocaust and visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C.


 

My Museum Story

by education intern Erin Penn

In one of the first workshops for the interns, Marvin asked us about our museum story. I have always loved museums whether it was a day trip with my family or a school fieldtrip. They were always a place that made me feel comfortable and excited to learn. Ten weeks later, I have an even richer and more personal museum story. I have been able to help every department in both big and small ways. With Just Married!, I was able to help steam the dresses to ensure they were picture perfect for the exhibit. I was lucky to help create posts for all of the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s social media platforms. My specific work with education and programs has provided me with great lessons about the inner workings of both museum education departments and programs. There, I’ve had projects that ranged from creating curriculum for students to organizing the crafts for family day programs. This internship has added a huge chapter to my museum story.

Here I am with the other Summer interns. Now when I think of museums, each one of them will be included into my Museum story.

Here I am with the other Summer interns. Now when I think of museums, each one of them will be included into my Museum story.

This internship has been full of great and educational memories. I loved helping with intern night gathering the prizes and calling companies. It felt like I was in a race across town to get every last gift card and certificate in a ten mile radius. I also loved being able to sit in on the staff meetings. It was so fascinating to watch the JMM’s staff tackle the upcoming weeks in a fast-paced and exciting environment. I challenged myself to transcribe what each staff member shared. I am excited to look back on the minutes and reflect fondly on the experience of seeing everyone at work.

Harris Teeter was one stop on the hunt for great intern night prizes.

Harris Teeter was one stop on the hunt for great intern night prizes.

With the internship wrapping up, the education interns’ projects are in great shape. Our research for the Iraqi Jewish Archives lent itself over for education tools and activities for future school visits to the museum. Our experimental crafting and googling will be used to ensure Iraqi Family Day and other programs are a total blast! The search for Jewish entertainers and performers will help create an exciting line up for JMM Live in March and April. The Lloyd Street display case is now exhibiting our designed and curated look into Talmudical Academy’s 100th year. Summer Teachers Institute opening day quickly approaches and the education interns are making sure the event runs smoothly creating folders and organizing the resources. While most of the projects from the summer will not go into effect until after the internship is over, they allowed me to dive into museum operations and really give back to the JMM.


A Sizeable Dent

By collections intern Joelle Paull

As the internship draws to a close, it is nice to reflect back on the past 10 weeks. As a recent graduate, I went into this summer hoping to explore different interests and gain new experience. Ultimately this summer re-enforced many of future goals and raised new questions for me.

In the basement, but not forgotten. Our fellow interns made us these name signs!

In the basement, but not forgotten. Our fellow interns made us these name signs!

We have wrapped most of our projects up. Over the past couple months we have inventoried a portion of the collection, packed boxes to send a JMM exhibit on the road, and processed new donations. Inventory is ongoing, but we definitely made some a sizeable dent in the list. It was a fun project to begin the summer with, as it gave us the chance to explore the collection.

Intern Lunch Break!

Intern Lunch Break!

I really enjoyed spending time with the other interns and our daily lunch conversations. Highlights from the summer include taking a small trip to look at a recent accession and planning intern night. I loved having the opportunity to live in and explore Baltimore including visiting other museums and going out to dinner with fellow interns. I am looking forward to the Summer Teachers Institute next week and excited for new adventures!

 

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Intern Weekly Response: Get Social!

Posted on July 27th, 2017 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to read a selection of articles on Museums and Social Media, and write a brief response focused on the JMM’s use of social media in a particular channel. We also asked them to recommend other museums’ social accounts and to try their hand at creating their own posts for the JMM’s twitter, tumblr, and instagram channels! To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


 

The Wonderful World of the JMM Instagram

By collections intern Joelle Paull

Recent JMM instagram posts.

Recent JMM instagram posts.

The JMM instagram @jmm_md shares stories from the collections and exhibits, behind the scenes looks featuring JMM staff, and highlights from programming at the museum. Ultimately it is what you would expect from an institution like the JMM. My favorite recent posts are the series of weddings related to the ongoing Just Married exhibit. Who doesn’t love looking at wedding photos from weddings throughout the decades? They are the perfect way to engage followers with fun stories and share content related to the exhibit.

It would be interesting to see the account taken over by a staff member in a different department, visiting curator, or even a partnership with another museum or institution. Whether a day or a week, it would be a change from the institutional voice of the account and could equally engage long term followers and new users alike.

The Storm King & The Hammer!

The Storm King & The Hammer!

My Instagram feed is often full of posts from museums around the world. Two of my favorites are the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (@hammer_museum) and the Storm King Art Center (@stormkingartcenter). Hammer often posts images of visitors interacting with the exhibits, permanent collection, and their Thomas Heatherwick Spun chairs. Especially during rainy weeks like this one, who wouldn’t welcome images of the beautiful open air museum on their Instagram feed? The incredible views of the Hudson Valley and great art inspire social media envy. The Storm King Art Center, like the Hammer, often reposts posts from other visitors. It is a fun way to see how people interact with the landscape and art in a unique way. Check both of them out!


 

Tweet a little tweet on twitter!

By exhibitions intern Ryan Mercado

The world of Twitter is a crazy one! Almost everyone is on it expressing opinions, announcements, policies, or winners to contests. It’s no wonder that museums eventually got into this practice too. This week, we interns were asked to look at a social media channel and respond to the JMM’s use of it after reading an article. I got Twitter as my assigned channel, and I read the article, “The Institution as a user: Museums on social Media.” The article is mainly about how social media can make a museum seem more human and personable. Some examples listed in the article include museums responding to questions that visitors tweet at them.

Does the JMM have a specific voice on social media, specifically twitter? Scrolling through the twitter account of the JMM is like scrolling through a current event’s page of a catalog. There are many articles and links to the museum’s website and to the blog. Pictures of images are showcased with beautiful resolution images, and of course, retweets from other institutions!

However, there are some personable tweets that make you feel more connected to the museum. #MapMondays is a weekly tweet of cool maps that I otherwise would not see, #marryingmaryland also appears on the twitter page to showcase stories of weddings, and like any social media account, throwback Thursdays or #TBT are tweeted as well. Those posts are interesting and give me, the user more insight into the museum, and into things I would not normally see in exhibits. The Twitter page therefore does have its own voice, it’s a more personal voice that shows us more of the JMM than what we normally would not see.

Map Mondays is just one of several series of tweets the JMM sends out every week!

Map Mondays is just one of several series of tweets the JMM sends out every week!

 


 

The JMM on Tumblr!

By exhibitions intern Tirza Ochrach-Konradi

I like that the JMM posts very consistently on this platform. There is a steady stream of original content going up on the blog.  My favorite post is one that I found got significantly more interaction then most other posts. This was the canoe day post. I think this post did so well because it was photo heavy and text light.  All of the content was readily available, without needing to click through to reach a full text or to follow a link to a different website. I also appreciate the tags used: canoe day, canoes, boats, summer, boating, collections, and museums. Good tags do a lot to get posts in front of people’s eyes.  In comparison tags are doing less work for a post from this past week which links to a magazine article entitled, “Solving the Mystery of ‘La Estrellita,’ the Spanish Dancer who was Really a Nice Jewish Girl from Cincinnati”. The tags on this post are: la estrellita, stella, hurting, dancers, jewish, and tablet magazine.  La estrelllita, stella, and tablet magazine are all relevant tags, but they are not tags that will help the post spread. Good tags to add for this picture could include: dress, beaded dress, sepiatone, San Francisco, California, nice jewish girl, museum, and museums on tumblr.

Posts on Tumblr tagged with ‘sepia tone.’  A lot of our collection would fit right in!

Posts on Tumblr tagged with ‘sepia tone.’ A lot of our collection would fit right in!

I love that the Tumblr site links to the JMM’s other social media, but the theme lacks a search bar. There is a lot of careful tagging of posts which is awesome.  By having a search bar and a list of the tags associated with each exhibition people would be able to search the site to finds all the posts the Jewish museum made about Just Married, Beyond Chicken Soup, or whatever caught their fancy.  One of the museum blogs I’m recommending does this particularly well, Museums on Tumblr. (Although it isn’t strictly a museum Tumblr blog.) It reblogs the best content from museum blogs across Tumblr so you can find a bunch of museum blogs through browsing its archive. This is where it’s search-ability comes in handy. If you want to find all of the posts they have shared from the Exploratorium’s blog you can search for them. My other museum Tumblr recommendation is the Tate Collectives blog. This blog is incredible for its level of interaction with the Tumblr user community. Lots of its content is rebloged for other sources and it also offers young artists the chance to have their art featured on the blog. This isn’t a level of investment that is possible for the JMM, but it’s exciting to see the breadth of what is possible!

Check out the Tate Collectives submission page!

Check out the Tate Collectives submission page!


Damn, What a Gram!

By education intern Sara Philippe

The JMM does a great job of including a great variety of material on its Instagram account. The account consists of everything from professional-looking images from the museum’s archives to casual, often humorous posts that are very clearly from a real person (Rachel, the social media manager), to promotional material for upcoming events at the museum. It is clear, after going through many posts, that there is an effort to humanize the museum through snapshots that provide glimpses into daily life at the museum and the work the staff does, while emphasizing the museum’s principal role as a place that houses valuable historical artifacts, some of which can be accessed through visiting its exhibits, and others of which can best be shared on a social media account such as an Instagram. I really enjoy the posts that give the public access to some of the many of the museums treasures that are not physically available to the public.

A recent collections item featured on Instagram.

A recent collections item featured on Instagram.

For example, this post! It consists of a telegram sent by Henrietta Szold, an important figure in Baltimore Jewish history, congratulating parents on their daughter’s wedding in 1927. I love that this post offers a tidbit of insight into the life of a fascinating historical character while also keeping things current by keeping with the theme of weddings and reminding followers to check out the museum’s wedding-related information and artifacts on display in person at the museum itself. One suggestion I have for the museum’s account would be to post more photographs of visitors to the museum, and to then use this a platform to encourage followers to post their own photos that highlight their trip to the museum. I also would love to see more video posts, which would make the JMM’s Instagram all the more exciting!

Two other great museum's instagrams!

Two other great museum’s instagrams!

The Field Museum in Chicago has a great Instagram account that features beautiful images accompanied by very interesting information about animals, plants, and other items from its collections. The account is full of fun facts and detailed descriptions that make you want to see what else the museum has to offer by making a visit. You really get the feeling that experts are contributing their scientific knowledge to the content of the Instagram. Check out their account here.

I also recommend the Studio Museum of Harlem’s account, which showcases wonderful photos of its artwork, videos of talks and events hosted at the museum, and images of people at the museum, engaging with and enjoying its exhibits. Check them out here.


 

Getting Social: The Use of Twitter and the JMM

By collections intern Amy Swartz

This week, we learned about social media and museums and read three different articles about the ways a museum can use social media. However, one of the key themes I drew from the readings was about how museums have a dual identity in social media. Often in many social media accounts run by museums there are posts catered to different audiences. There are posts that feature accessions and objects in the collection and there are more personable posts such as blog posts and retweets, and then there are promotional posts such as events. However, museums are increasingly trying to bridge the gaps between the Me/Us/Them or the Museum/Museum Employees/Visitors or Guests.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland (@jewishmuseummd) uses all three forms of content on their Twitter channel. The account frequently displays various accessions, often related to daily holidays and has trending hashtags for exhibits. It also features blog posts from employees and interns in its posts which fulfills the Us in the museum content. However, there are less posts by guests or visitors on the JMM channel. One thing that the JMM account does particularly well is its use of catchy hashtags for exhibits. One of the best examples is the current hashtag #MarryingMaryland and #JustMarried. These are successful for two reasons. Firstly one is the name of the exhibit and the other is catchy (the use of alliteration is often successful as a hashtag) and can be used by anyone married in Maryland.

Recent posts from High Clere Castle and The Met.

Recent posts from High Clere Castle and The Met.

Two other great museum accounts to follow are the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Twitter account @metmuseum and Highclere Castle’s Twitter account @HighclereCastle which not only provides cool background looks into its collections but also caters to current pop culture. The best example of this was a recent post that the Met posted regarding a recent series of tours centered on the 50th anniversary of the well-known book “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”  The Highclere Castle account also caters to pop culture, fully accepting its identity as the place where the tv show Downton Abbey was placed, using the hashtag #TheRealDowntonAbbey and hosting events related to the series.


 

Terrific Tumblr

By education intern Erin Penn

Some recent JMM tumblr posts.

Some recent JMM tumblr posts.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland’s tumblr serves as a great site to display all of the happenings of the museum. As a one-stop shop, JMM’s tumblr contains recent blog posts, interesting articles, and photos from the JMM’s collections. I really enjoy the range of posts and the continuous flow from pages. There is a culmination of posts directly related to the museum and pieces for all museum lovers. For example, “Ink for the Arts” hangs next to an intern blogpost.

NYPL and GW Textile Museum Tumblrs!

NYPL and GW Textile Museum Tumblrs!

Other museum tumblrs use this social media platform to share exhibits and show behind the scenes of museums. I recommend the George Washington Univeristy Textile Museum and The New York Public Library. The GWU textile Museum tumblr page shares not only great high-resolution images but also shows close up shots on how the employees manage and display these textiles.  This website even has several posts showing the storage units—a real behind the scene treasure! The New York Public Library’s tumblr is great for several reasons. I personally love seeing their book suggestions for subway reading. It’s cool to picture scrolling through this tumblr while riding public transit from your smart phone.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Intern Weekly Response: Catalog Reviews!

Posted on July 13th, 2017 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to read a selected JMM exhibit catalog and write a short review!  To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


 

Vacations and the Jewish American Dream: Contrasting Identities

By Collections Intern Amy Swartz

 Cover of the catalog.

Cover of the catalog.

The JMM’s catalog on Jewish Vacations, titled The Other Promised Land: Vacationing, Identity, and the Jewish American Dream, discusses where and how Jewish Americans vacation. Each article takes on a different place including Atlantic City, Miami Beach, or discusses a theme such as Heritage Tourism or Anti-Semitism. One theme that struck me was the conflicting identities Jews has in the context of these getaways.

Placard of the Warsaw Ghetto. These stone inserts cover the extent of the wall and are all that remain to tell people where the Ghetto once stood.

Placard of the Warsaw Ghetto. These stone inserts cover the extent of the wall and are all that remain to tell people where the Ghetto once stood.

A consistent conflict is between who is Jewish: German Jews/those who have been in the United States for longer vs. Eastern European Jews. German Jews had assimilated into American culture and were generally wealthier than their newer counterparts in society. These differences often manifested themselves during vacations. Another conflict discussed was the conflict between religion and vacation. Some Jews chose to be less religiously involved while on break which led to fierce criticism from fellow Jews.

The POLIN Museum in Warsaw, which tells the history of the Jews in Poland from medieval times until today.

The POLIN Museum in Warsaw, which tells the history of the Jews in Poland from medieval times until today.

 

The article titled “Heritage Tours” also touched on the idea of identity and who/what is Jewish. Jews who visited Warsaw realized that the Jewish history now remembered was explicitly about the Holocaust rather than the centuries of history prior. Many felt their history was no longer accessible there, specifically because most of the buildings and neighborhoods were destroyed during WWII. Having just visited Warsaw in March, and toured the Warsaw Ghetto, I understand the frustration as there is a less tangible history due to destruction. Identity plays a key role in most people’s lives, however, for Jews, vacations were an intersectional moment where conflicting identities emerged.


 

Chosen Food: How the Chosen People create a Food Culture

By Education Intern Erin Penn

What do you call a cat you can read? A catalogue! Here is the cover art for Chosen Food.

What do you call a cat you can read? A catalogue! Here is the cover art for Chosen Food.

I got to read and review Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture and American Jewish Identity for this week. The catalogue contains numerous essays about Jewish eating traditions, recipes, and the importance of food for a community.  In the midst of the essays, there are shorter pieces called “Contemporary Voices.” The entire catalogue was fascinating—it excited my interests and my taste buds.

The “Contemporary Voices” pieces were originally published in the Jew and the Carrot Website.

The “Contemporary Voices” pieces were originally published in the Jew and the Carrot Website.

I really enjoyed reading Ted Merwin’s essay about how the Jewish community and Jewish practices changed as the immigrated to America. He focused on the popularity of kosher restaurants and delicatessens as a central meeting place.  Merwin writes, “The corner kosher deli competed with the synagogue as the cornerstone of the Jewish neighborhood” (29). The essay was interesting because it did not focus on one specific city or type of cuisine and instead showed the widespread custom of eating out. I am curious if there are similar comparisons between other cultures and their eating customs and traditions. Don’t all immigrant communities hold onto and adapt their traditions, especially their food, in new American towns?


 

Beyond Chicken Soup: Jewish and Medicine in America

By Collections Intern Joelle Paull

Excerpt and photo from “Chicken Soup: Women and the Making of the Modern Jewish Home and Nation.

Excerpt and photo from “Chicken Soup: Women and the Making of the Modern Jewish Home and Nation.

In his introduction to the exhibition catalogue for Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America, JMM Director Marvin Pinkert, wrote sought “to illuminate how scientific and cultural concerns have intertwined to shape not only the American Jewish experience, but an important field of human endeavor.” (Pinkert, 5). The essays in the catalogue do exactly that. From the role of the immigrant’s body in assimilation to representation of Jewish physicians in pop culture, the catalogue and essays within it show the process of assimilation and cultural exchange culminating with American Jewish doctor’s complex image in our culture.” (Merwin, 90).

The Marx Brothers in A Day at the Races, 1937. Courtesy of Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy, Inc. CP20.2016.2

The Marx Brothers in A Day at the Races, 1937. Courtesy of Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy, Inc. CP20.2016.2

The collection of essays as a whole are most successful in illustrating the many ways the Jewish immigrants were successful in making a place for themselves in the United States and the struggle of fighting stereotypes, prejudices, and in turn images of self-worth. It illustrates the role of health in many Jewish cultures and details various traditions surrounding health, medicine, and the body.


 

Small But Significant

By Exhibitions Intern Ryan Mercado

Catalogue cover

Catalogue cover

When I first arrived at the JMM back in June to begin this internship, I found a large blue booklet in the back pocket of my intern binder. This blue booklet, Enterprising Emporium: The Jewish Department Stores of Downtown Baltimore, is the catalogue for the corresponding exhibit of the same name that was on display at the JMM from 2001-2003. I was tasked with reviewing this catalogue for today’s blog post – but how does a person review a catalogue for an exhibit that they have not seen? That is the primary concern I had in terms of reading this catalogue. The layout of the catalogue helped me try to understand what I could not see with an intro and three scholarly essays. I’m guessing the essays correspond with the sections of the exhibit.

The Judaica collection of Florence Roger. This was on display at Hutzler’s Department Store next to other pieces of artwork. The displays were part of the store’s 90th anniversary commemoration.

The Judaica collection of Florence Roger. This was on display at Hutzler’s Department Store next to other pieces of artwork. The displays were part of the store’s 90th anniversary commemoration.

The introduction by former Museum Director Avi Decter set the stage for what I was about to read and what images I was going to see. I must admit that when I think of Jewish Baltimore, I don’t think of department stores, but the JMM is a Jewish heritage museum that tells the story of Baltimore Jews, and the fact that many historic department stores were owned by Jews is significant and it makes sense that an entire exhibit was devoted to the tropic. I think the intro well established me and gave me the necessary facts and figures one would need to know about the topic. After all, publications by the JMM should help educate non-Jews, and this catalogue does a good job at that. The one essay that I was immediately drawn to was one entitled: “Expressions of Jewish Identity in Baltimore’s Downtown Department Stores.” I immediately turned to that essay and began reading.

Hutzler’s 1960 Calendar which featured religious architecture. The Lloyd St Synagogue is featured for the month of March. This was one of many ways the store owners expressed Jewish identity, with little things such as this. 

Hutzler’s 1960 Calendar which featured religious architecture. The Lloyd St Synagogue is featured for the month of March. This was one of many ways the store owners expressed Jewish identity, with little things such as this.

I assume that museum catalogues offer supplementary information and history than the actual exhibit itself did. After all, you can’t possibly fit large essays onto exhibit placards. What I found in this essay was extremely interesting to me, and it taught me more of how Baltimore’s Jews sought to carve a space out for themselves. In this arena, they’re in Department Stores. How does a Jew express their Jewish identity in a Department Store? A store that remains open on the Sabbath! According to the essay, the sheer fact that the stores were owned by Jews meant that a relaxed atmosphere about working on the Sabbath or other Jewish holidays existed. Jewish employees could get off early or stay home. But expressing Jewish identity is more than just getting Saturday off.

The “Israel 67” Fashion show occurred at the Hochshild Department Store as a way to commemorate the new Jewish State in its early years and its fledgling culture.

The “Israel 67” Fashion show occurred at the Hochshild Department Store as a way to commemorate the new Jewish State in its early years and its fledgling culture.

I learned that to express Jewish identity, little things were done, sometimes things that weren’t noticeable to the trained eye. For example, one Department store celebrated its 90th anniversary by displaying a Judaica collection alongside other art pieces. Advertising of Jewish organizations in windows was also quite common. In company newsletters, news of Jewish employees and their families was also commonplace. One department store even printed a calendar that featured Baltimore religious architecture, in which the Lloyd St Synagogue was featured, which was truly significant since Baltimore was/ is predominately Christian. Finally, in a very department store-esque fashion, a store paid tribute to Israel 67 by featuring Israel art and products at their store, even dressing up mannequins in Israel fashion and having a fashion show. All these are small but significant. They showcase a community that had the power to assert their Jewish identity from a powerful soapbox that reached all Baltimoreans: through shopping. Their attempts at expressing their Jewishness is what stayed with me after reading the catalog.


 

Filling In the Blanks: The Voices of Lombard Street Exhibit Catalogue

By Education Intern Sara Philippe

The Voices of Lombard Street exhibit catalogue is an important, maybe necessary piece of work because of the added depth it provides an exhibit that seeks to cover a century’s worth of time. It provides detailed information wherever the exhibit lacks the space, including articles about the pre- 20th and late 19th century state of Jonestown, close-by Little Italy, and the area after the departure of most of its Jews towards the second half of the 20th century, among other topics.

An image from “A Different Kind of Neighorhood”

An image from “A Different Kind of Neighorhood”

I was really interested in the article A Different Kind of Neighborhood: Central European Jews and the Origins of Jewish East Baltimore because it touches on a part of the history of the neighborhood that is largely left out in the exhibit itself. While in the exhibit and on the synagogue tours, the shifts between Central and Eastern European immigration over time is discussed, there is little mention of what Jewish Baltimore looked like before the influx of Eastern Europeans towards the end of the 19th century. I appreciate how this article explains the reasons for the dispersal and lack of a principal residential area for Jews before mass industrialization took place causing ethnic enclaves like the Lombard Street neighborhood to form.

An Image from “Public Notions, Private Lives”

An Image from “Public Notions, Private Lives”

Public Notions, Private Lives: The Meanings of Place in an Inner City Neighborhood charts the history of the neighborhood as the Jewish population began to diminish significantly in the 1930s and the rise of the Flag House Courts housing developments in the 1950s. I love how the article focuses on the residents of the Flag House Courts in a way that Voices cannot given the extensive timeline it covers, while also detailing the ever-present racism that made Jonestown look as it did over time. It does a good job of detailing the role of racial segregation in the neighborhood and the factors that always allowed for white upward mobility. The article makes clear the factors that led to the transformation of the Flag House Courts as a racially mixed development to one that was 97% black. However, I believe the article falls short in analyzing the white flight that led East Baltimore’s Jews to move to other areas of the city and to the suburbs in the first place, while also depicting what that “exodus” looked like. Both the exhibit and the catalogue make me want to no more about this period and the phenomenon of white flight specifically as it affected Baltimore and the communities that were its victims rather than its benefactors.


 

Catalogue Review: Lives Lost, Lives Found

By Exhibitions Intern Tirza Ochrach-Konradi

Catalogue Cover!

Catalogue Cover!

I read the exhibition booklet for Lives Lost, Lives Found; Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1945. I never personally attended the exhibition that this book expands upon, so I cannot comment on how it ties to the physical presentation. However, this means that I can better interrogate the book as a lone production. I believe the publication works well as a standalone. The five essay sections are easy to follow and full of human detail that brings the facts of this period to life. The essays build a comprehensive picture of the reality of these immigrant’s lives. I most enjoyed the essay, “Knocking at the Door: The German Jewish Refugees and the U.S. Immigration Policy,” which focuses on the immigration of Bernard Mansbach and his subsequent fight to bring his family to the US.

Taken by Leo C. Hess on April 3, 1994 in Druid Hill Park. Bernard Mansbach is furthest right. To his left is his wife, Hertha Mansbach. (JMM 1994.142.062.001)

Taken by Leo C. Hess on April 3, 1994 in Druid Hill Park. Bernard Mansbach is furthest right. To his left is his wife, Hertha Mansbach. (JMM 1994.142.062.001)

The content of this exhibition was particularly suited to book form. I’m sure there are some objects that appeared in the physical exhibition that could not be represented well in the book, but a lot of materials associated with immigration, family photos, visa papers, newspaper reporting, and government documents, all lend themselves to inclusion in the print form. Although, my favorite part primary source inclusion is the quote collection which makes up the last section. They are fantastic to read. The one thing that I wish the section included was some manner of getting additional information on the experiences each quote references. This could have either been captions that give slightly more context to each quote or perhaps a page number from within the essays where the topic the quote references is discussed. This would also encourage readers to return back to the essay sections they may have skimmed on their first pass through the catalogue.


 

All of these exhibit catalogs are available for purchase at Esther’s Place, the JMM Shop!

Stop in or contact Devan Southerland, Shop Assistant at 443-873-5171 / dsoutherland@jewishmuseummd.org.

 

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Next Page »