Ask Our Docents: A Blog Series Part III

During tours of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, volunteers are often asked, “What is your favorite part of giving a synagogue tour?” In this month’s Ask Our Docents post, JMM’s volunteer docents shared their personal answer to this common question.

Interested in reading more Ask Our Docents posts? Check out Part I and Part II. What was your favorite part of our synagogue tour? We would love to hear about it! Send your answer to Paige at

Please note that some answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Three people stand inside the sanctuary of the Lloyd Street Synagogue with their backs to the camera. They are facing the bimah. In the background of the photo is the ark and stained glass window.
Visitors standing in the sanctuary, facing the ark, while on a tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Question: What is your favorite part of the Lloyd Street Synagogue & B’nai Israel Tour? Why?

JMM Docent Harvey shared: My favorite part of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel tour is the moment I and the tour group enter the sanctuary of the Lloyd Street synagogue. That is my favorite moment for a couple of reasons. First, every time I walk into the Synagogue sanctuary, I feel my family connection to the building as if it is the first time I have ever been in it. The family stories I was told about the synagogue flash through my mind and I feel that I am once again in the presence of my ancestors who prayed there, going back to my great grandfather whom I never met. Another thing I enjoy about that moment is watching the expressions on the faces of the group members. For many it is the first time they are in the building and the looks on their faces as they take in the history of the sanctuary are always interesting. 

Docent Helene: For me, it is the questions that visitors ask.

Equally wonderful are their faces when they see the Aron Kodesh of B’nai Israel. I also love learning things from them.

A group of people in winter coats stand outside the Lloyd Street Synagogue as they listen to a docent begin a tour.
A group of visitors stand outside the Lloyd Street Synagogue as a docent begins their tour.

JMM Docent Bruce shared: I’ve always been into history. With my background knowledge of early 19th century European and Baltimore history, I most enjoy the 5-10 minute introduction standing across from the Lloyd Street Synagogue. I enjoy pointing out the lack of external Hebrew writing and symbols. I then engage my guests’ thoughts about why that was. I then offer my own thoughts and transition to the Synagogue Speaks.

JMM Docent Michael answered: My favorite part is pointing to the pews and asking tour takers questions about who sat there. Why did poor people with packs on their backs feel it necessary to contribute to synagogue that today would cost $400,000—was $20,000 at time of construction? Why was a synagogue necessary? Answer: They could be “Americans” outside, and Jews inside the synagogue.

Docent Sarah: All I can say is I just love entering and being inside the Lloyd Street Synagogue. I love the feel and the history. The downstairs room is so well done I think, and laid out. The pictures are great, and moving around the room, speaking and showing the history is extremely engaging to most of our guests.

Walking through the doorway to the mikvah and showing how the stone was cut out is so up close and personal and makes the past feel so real. That feeling is continued and enabled in the mikvah room, where you have the past being present beneath and around you. 

Love it!! Can’t wait to get back!

Blue, cursive text reads: Lloyd Street Synagogue. 175 Year Anniversary 1845 - 2020. A geometric design of a star of David is in blue and yellow.

This blog series is shared as part of our year-long 175th Lloyd Street Synagogue anniversary celebrations. Keep an eye out for next month’s edition! Interested in learning more about the Lloyd Street Synagogue? Visit JMM to see our temporary lobby exhibit The Lloyd Street Synagogue at 175.

Collections JMM Synagogue Stories Lloyd Street Synagogue Volunteers

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