Greetings Graham: Halloween Edition

Posted on October 21st, 2016 by

No Tricks, Just Treats!

Greetings Graham,

I am always on the hunt for other worldly spirits and was looking for a new location to explore. Do you have any suggestions?

The Ghost Busters


Dear GB:

While we have not heard of our Museum campus being haunted, I would encourage you to take one of our regularly scheduled tours of our two historic synagogues, Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel, to learn about the different congregations that worshipped there as well as to admire the beautiful architecture. On the tour, you will also be able to appreciate the building in a whole new light (with fewer dark shadows) as we have recently completed some improvements to the Lloyd Street Synagogue. We have repaired missing lamps, installed new carpeting, cleaned the cushions for the pew seats, and repainted areas that suffered scars and scuffs from wear. There is also a new mezuzah affixed to the doorpost of the synagogue. While we did not find any ghosts, we did uncover a beautiful spiritual place.

A spruced up synagogue!

A spruced up synagogue!


Greetings Graham,

In my travels around the world, I overheard you have a wonderful exhibit on Jews and Medicine.  Could you tell me a bit more about it?

The Golem

Dear TG:

Yes, we are in the last ninety days of the Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America exhibit, as the exhibit closes on January, 16, 2017! Inside the exhibit, you’ll journey through the worlds of health in the mid-20th century, from med school to the doctor’s office, hospital, lab and pharmacy-and even a trip to the gym. You will also view rarely seen historic manuscripts, experience hands-on encounters with medicine and ethics, and examine the links between traditions and contemporary practices. You may also learn some surprising facts in the exhibit. For instance, did you know that in the 20th century, Jewish nurses were expected both to learn to serve tea properly AND to sing Christmas carols! Or that in the 19th century, anyone who could afford to pay tuition could attend medical school (a high school diploma was not even needed). If you would like to find out more, please visit our website. We hope you will visit soon, and maybe you can even bring a friend or two!

Come explore Beyond Chicken Soup!

Come explore Beyond Chicken Soup!


Greetings Graham,

I am the headmaster of a wizarding school and a student of mine told me that he flew into your Museum last month to see the world premiere of Henrietta Szold’s performance. Can you tell me more about Henrietta and how can I arrange the actress to perform at my school?

Professor Dumledore

Dear PD:

We launched our newest living history character, Henrietta Szold, last month to rave reviews. Henrietta Szold, was the daughter of a rabbi who broke with the traditional role of women to become a champion of Jewish engagement. Her tenacity and courage played a vital role in the expansion of social services, medical services and the founding of the state of Israel.

Natalie Pilcher Smith as Henrietta

Natalie Pilcher Smith as Henrietta

Henrietta is eager to begin performing at schools, senior centers, synagogues and other organizations. Please contact me at 443-873-5167 or by email at to schedule your visit. The cost is $300 plus mileage per performance, but we also offer subsides for schools. If you are at the Museum you may also try and spot the bust and plaque of Henrietta!


Greetings Graham,

I’m normally pretty busy this time of year, but a few of my friends are asking of things to do in the area. I usually go drinking on Halloween itself, but do you have anything to get me in the mood the day before?

Count D

Dear CD:

We have planned our ghoulish stuff for pre-Halloween, Sunday, Oct. 30th (which is also our Free Fall Day, freaky, right?) Our special lecture will be “Collecting, Preserving and Exhibiting: Exploring the Collections of the Nation’s Medical Museum”. You never know what lurks in their basement. When you are in the Museum, check out our shop where we have some medically themed merchandise, some of which might make nice gifts for Dr. Moreau or Dr. Frankenstein or other similarly disposed physicians on your Halloween treat list.

Some perfectly spooky options for this Halloween!

Some perfectly spooky options for this Halloween!

For more creepy fun you can also stay connected to the JMM by visiting our social media pages where we are featuring the hashtag #PageFrights, which is a month long social media celebration of Halloween. And if you need a break from the radio’s endless repetition of Monster Mash – we have something for you too: The ShowTime Singers will also be offering a free after hours concert at 5pm where they will be performing songs that audiences can easily relate to – and perhaps even sing along with – like Broadway tunes, patriotic numbers and even a little rock and roll.


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Once Upon a Time…01.29.2016

Posted on October 18th, 2016 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church by email at


1997122021Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  January 29, 2016


PastPerfect Accession #:  1997.122.021


Status: Unidentified – do you recognize these young women? Photographed at an Aisquith Street studio, Baltimore, circa 1900.


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Modernizing the JMM: Behind the Scenes

Posted on October 14th, 2016 by

At the Jewish Museum of Maryland we are dedicated to preserving the past.  We have a great appreciation for classic artifacts.  But we are drawing the line on “antiques” when it comes to our electronic infrastructure.

Because we have grown steadily but slowly from our early days as the Jewish Historical Society, our business operations were patched together as needs arose (and budgets allowed). When we needed software to track memberships, we found one (actually, it was a module of the software we were already using to track our collections). When we wanted better software to track donations, we bought the best we could afford. When we wanted to be able to offer online ticketing, we found yet another third party software. We needed a way to process transactions at the front desk. We owned a cash register already. We made do.  As recently as a year ago, if a visitor wanted to buy their admission with a credit card, we had to send them into the Gift Shop to complete their transaction.

The net result of this patchwork process was that the Museum found itself in a situation where we had a host of solutions which all worked, but didn’t work together. When we wanted to learn more about a member or donor—so that we could make sure we were inviting them to engage in the most appropriate ways—we had to look them up in multiple places to get a full picture. In order to report on attendance data or fundraising progress or basic metrics like average revenue per visitor, JMM staff were spending a great deal of energy tabulating, calculating and second-guessing manual reports.

The new "daily sales screen"

The new “daily sales screen”

About a year ago, I began the search for a new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system that would allow us to maintain a single “database of record.” My goal was to find a system would allow us to see an individual’s membership history, giving history, and event attendance all in the same place. I wanted to find a software that would allow us to create reports both at regular intervals and on the fly so that the management and the Board can make informed decisions about strategy and business operations.

I interviewed a number of systems. Some did a great job at tracking donations, but had weak front desk and ticketing solutions. Others were amazing ticketing solutions, but didn’t serve the membership needs. Still others did both fundraising and membership, but couldn’t help with some of our other revenue sources, such as facility rental and group sales. In the end, we found a product called Altru, produced by Blackbaud, the same company that built the CRM used by our colleagues at the Associated.

At the end of last month, Altru went live.

Altru does (almost) everything that we need, including:

– a robust system of membership tracking that will allow us to create a nuanced renewal process that provides members with opportunities to renew online;

– a comprehensive (if slightly slower) front desk operation that accommodates all of our various admissions fees, member discounts, special programs and tours;

– an e-commerce solution for tickets, memberships and gifts that integrates with our website, and for which Blackbaud maintains the security, ensuring that our customers are as safe as possible;

– a module for group sales that will allow us to track reservations, special requests, amounts owed, and even contracts;

– a point-of-sale solution for Esther’s Place that will allow members and other special categories to receive their discounts automatically (or to renew their memberships right there in the gift shop!); and

– the capability to export data in a very report-friendly way. This will allow us to overlay external data (e.g. weather or Ravens home games) with data on our admissions, membership or fundraising.

The daily events calendar

The daily events calendar

What’s more, because Altru is cloud-based, we are able to take it on the road to events where we might want to sell merchandise (e.g. the annual JCC Block Party or the upcoming Strathmore Shop Around where we’ll be selling merchandise from Esther’s Place). (Sadly, one thing it doesn’t do is online merchandise sales. We are investigating other options to allow you to browse and select Esther’s Place merchandise from home.)

We began the implementation back in May as members of a cohort of four museums and/or cultural institutions who were adopting the software at the same time. We started processing transactions through Altru in the second week of September. During those nearly five months, there were regular webinar calls and lots of homework for JMM staff. We needed to articulate our business rules and then configure the software to match those rules. The implementation required between five and fifteen staff hours per week, and we’re not done. We are still ironing out kinks, and discovering new scenarios we didn’t anticipate.

All of this time investment will pay off over the coming months and years as the JMM develops more and more (accurate) data about our extended family (members, donors, visitors).

As we continue to ferret out the bugs in the new system, we hope you’ll be patient with us—it will get so much better! If you have any questions about how Altru works, why we went with the solution we chose, or what it will allow us to do, please feel free to reach out to me about it.

Front desk volunteer Betsey Kahn poses with the new touch screen system!

Front desk volunteer Betsey Kahn poses with the new touch screen system!

In the meantime, I hope I’ll see you at the new touchscreen at our front desk!

A blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

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