A Volunteer Field Trip – Right Next Door!

Posted on March 19th, 2018 by

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

One can learn much about a building, but it doesn’t come to life until you have seen it filled with people using it for its intended purpose.    On Shabbat, March 3rd, a group of Jewish Museum of Maryland volunteers had that opportunity.  At the invitation of Rabbi Etan Mintz, we participated in the morning service and had a delicious lunch at B’nai Israel, one of the two historic synagogues on the Jewish Museum of Maryland Berman campus.  We were warmly welcomed by the congregants and the rabbi.  All of our male volunteers who were present at the service were given honors during the Torah service and I had the honor of walking with the Torah in my arms in the women’s section.

Inside the sanctuary with some of our volunteers, Phil Sagal, me, Marvin Spector, and Larry Levine.

Instead of a sermon by the rabbi, after services, Fred Shoken, a congregant who is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the history of B’nai Israel spoke to the entire congregation using questions we had previously submitted as his general outline.  Did you know that when the building was built, Hebrew words were carved in stone above the exterior doorway?  It originally identified that the building was the Chizuk Amuno Congregation and the date of the building.  When B’nai Israel moved into the building, the original congregation’s name was filled in and recarved with the name of the new congregation.    When the exterior was restored in 1987, some of the filling in of the letters was removed, leaving an overlap of both names.  In the sanctuary, all the beautiful woodwork is original except for the mechitzah (the fence separating the men from the women) and the railings leading to the ark.  Rabbi Mintz showed everyone interesting historic objects from the congregation’s collection including a list of yarhtzits written on parchment.

Standing outside the synagogue.

Typical for synagogues, at the end of the service, the president of the congregation, Shelly Mintz, who is also a JMM volunteer, made announcements.  As expected, she included information about upcoming events and services. But her words also expressed how this oldest continuously operating synagogue building in Maryland is still the place of active Jewish involvement.

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Volunteer Spotlight on Jacob Davenport!

Posted on March 5th, 2018 by

Post by Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis. Periodically we highlight one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, send an email to Sue Foard at sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org or call 443-873-5162! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland was very fortunate when Jacob Davenport applied for a volunteer position.  When Jacob moved from Syracuse to Baltimore this past January, he started volunteering once a week in the gift shop and is making a transition to also volunteering at the front desk.  What has impressed him are the nice people with whom he interacts.

And he impresses us with his quiet demeaner, thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and willingness to help in any way possible.

Jacob studied history in college.  Most of his courses focused on national histories and he wanted to explore an area he hadn’t learned about.  He wanted a sense of local history. That is what initiated his reaching out to JMM.   In between his volunteer responsibilities, in addition to taking tours of the historic synagogues, he explored the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit which gave him a detailed sense of what the Lombard Street community has been and of the individual lives.

In June, Jacob will start his master’s program in liberal arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis. He wants to continue volunteering at JMM, but he might have to reduce his time to only twice a month.  To support his desire to become a writer, Jacob hopes to continue his education at Sarah Lawrence College. We at the JMM look forward to seeing his work in print!

 

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Volunteer Spotlight on Harold Toppall!

Posted on February 15th, 2018 by

Post by Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis. Periodically we highlight one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, send an email to Sue Foard at sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org or call 443-873-5162! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

Make sure to say hi to Harold at the front desk!

Harold Toppall joined the Jewish Museum of Maryland volunteer corps in November.  His friendliness and attention to details have proven to be wonderful assets for our museum.  His background is working for the IRS in the tax exempt organization area.  When he heard about the volunteer opportunities at JMM, a tax exempt organization, he considered it a good fit. He now volunteers at the front desk, enjoying meeting people, having conversations with them and learning where they come from.

Since Harold enjoys working with numbers, he also fills his volunteer time entering volunteer hours and compiling responses to visitor’s questionnaires into the computer.  After retiring from IRS, Harold prepared tax returns in the private sector for several years and then operated his own tax return preparation business for four years.

Harold enjoys reading mysteries and suspense thrillers and has travelled extensively with his wife, Marcia.  He hails originally from Albany, NY, and has lived in Buffalo, NY, Newark and Old Bridge, NJ, and Silver Spring, MD.  He came to Maryland in 1979 and to Pikesville in 2003.  His daughter and son and their families live in Maryland and Virginia.  We are very thankful that Harold moved to the Baltimore area and chose to donate his time and efforts to the JMM!

 

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