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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!


 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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

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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


 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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




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