Becoming an Upstander

While the museum is closed the JMM team is coming together to bring some of our favorite activities from our recent family programs direct to your homes. Each collection of materials will be inspired by either one of our exhibits, Jewish History, or a Jewish holiday. All of the activities we share will be designed for families to complete together and only require supplies you are likely to already have in your home. The activities we offer will be varied from crafts, activities, games, scavenger hunts, and online story times. You can check out previous activity packs here!

~The JMM Programs Team

For us, an Upstander is the opposite of a bystander.

An Upstander is someone who sees a problem and works to solve it. They can see when something is wrong, and they stand up for what’s right. These types of people practice the Jewish value of Gemilut Chasadim, or גְּמִילוּת חֲסָדִים in Hebrew, which means Loving Kindness. They help the sick, feed the poor, and complete other acts of service to help individuals in their community. As we approach Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, an important part of observing the day is remembering those who worked to be Upstanders during that terrible time, through protecting or helping others.

We invite you to observe Yom HaShoah, coming up April 21st, by becoming an Upstander right now. As we face this new, confusing time, being an Upstander and practicing loving kindness is especially important to keep our communities strong and vibrant. We have lots of ideas of how to do so, below, and we invite you share the results of any of them with us on social media, with #Upstanders. Who knows, you may inspire someone else to be an Upstander too!

We know that Yom Hashoah can be a sensitive topic to teach to children, so we encourage you to use your best judgement when working on these activities with young ones. Please tailor the focus of these projects and necessary, and we encourage you to use the concept of Gemilut Chasadim, or Loving Kindness, as a jumping off point for all of these activities.

Take a look at the hands-on activities below, which each include a downloadable PDF that  outlines what supplies and materials you will need for each activity and instructions on how to enjoy the activity.

Make sure to share photos of you enjoying our crafts and activities on our FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Tumblr pages and use #MuseumFromHome!

Download the full Becoming an Upstander activity packet as a single pdf here.

Yellow Star Butterflies

(left) Uncut patch to be worn by concentration camp evacuees, c. 1945. JMM 1963.51.2. (right) Armband used in Luxemburg, c. 1945. JMM 1963.51.1.

Inspired by Yom HaShoah, this activity takes a symbol with a complicated past (the yellow Star of David) and turns it into something beautiful and inspiring.

Supplies needed:

Yellow paper


Decorating/craft supplies – we encourage you to use recycled materials like pictures from magazines, leftover art supplies, veggie stamps, greeting card cut outs or whatever else you have around the house.

Download Instructions for Yellow Star Butterflies

Consider taking a virtual tour of Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story, an exhibit created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, that tells the story of one family’s experiences during the Holocaust from the point of view of a child named Daniel. Please note, this exhibit is recommended for children ages 8 and up.

Join our community in observing Yom HaShoah on Sunday, April 19th with Baltimore Jewish Council’s virtual experience.

Spreading Cheer: Neighborhood Art

(left) Chalk star created by Juliette and Caroline Kassman, 2020. (center) “Stained glass” window art. (right) Creating a construction paper rainbow at Chizuk Amuno Nursey School, c. 1998. JMM 2002.111.162.

In these challenging times we can all do our bit to help lift the spirits of those in our community. In this activity, create public art in your neighborhood!

Supplies needed:

Sidewalk chalk


Craft Supplies

Download Instructions for Spreading Cheer

Projects for Donation: 

These next two activities are projects created by Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) to meet the needs of organizations in the community. We encourage you to create a project to keep for yourself and one to donate later!

While we wait for travel restrictions to lift, consider making a container to hold your donations. We recommend using a recycled shoebox, which you can also decorate to show how special the items inside it are.

Bookmarks for JVC Bookworms

(left) Bookmark ad for Hochschild Kohn & Co. JMM 1987.226.12b. Bookmark ad for Edwin C. Burt & Co. from Levi Weinberger. JMM 1990.93.3. (center) Sample homemade bookmarks. (right) Embellished ribbon bookmark, c. 1900. Temple Oheb Shalom Collection, JMM 2004.97.81.

This craft is great for everyone – consider making some bookmarks to donate, some to give as gifts, and some to keep for yourself!

Supplies needed:

Paper or cardstock, any kind or color


Recycled decorations, such as tassels, collage paper, scrap art supplies, scrap vegetables for vegetable stamping, or any other supplies you have around the house.

Download Instructions for Creating Bookmarks

Recycled Chew Toys

Making recycled chew toys at Mitzvah Day 2019.

You may remember this activity if you attended our annual Mitzvah Day on December 25th! It was a lot of fun and popular with folks of all ages, and our furry friends are always looking to replace old and worn out toys.

Supplies needed:

T-shirt or other textile fabric


Download Instructions for Making Recycled Chew Toys

Keep Discovering

If you are still interested in learning more about how to be an upstander check out some of the resources below!

Follow along with a reading of  One Good Deed, a children’s book about how a neighborhood is transformed by one good deed:

Also, JVC could use your help with two other donation projects:

Project 1: Mailing Joy

(left) Rosh Hashanah greeting card, late 19th century. JMM K2016.3.3. (center) Embroidered birthday card from Rose Lutzky Beser’s scrapbook, April 1919. JMM 1993.173.234.79. (right) Valentine’s Day card for Ann Givner from husband Nathan, 1923. JMM 1992.192.10.

You can write greeting cards to send well wishes to seniors living at Weinberg Village. Take an existing card or make your own out of paper and craft supplies and write a thoughtful message inside. You can write or draw about yourself and your favorite things to do, tell a joke or funny story, or simply let them know you are thinking about them.

Mail your completed card to this address:

7 Slade  #808

Attn: Activity Director Gayle Newman

Pikesville, MD. 21208

Project 2: Make Some Noise

Assemble noisemaker craft kits for children who are living in shelters. Follow the instructions here or download a pdf.

Staying Safe

One of the main ways you and your family can be upstanders right now is by practicing social distancing measures.

This means staying inside and only going out to go on walks or go to places like the grocery store or pharmacy. When you do go out, it’s important to stay 6 feet away from other people and wear a mask.

The Center for Disease Control has an excellent tutorial on how to wear, clean, and make your own fabric facemasks here. You can also download a pdf.

Some other useful facemask tutorials include:

Good Housekeeping – No Sew Homemade Face Masks

Craft Passion – Face Mask Patterns

New York Times – Pleated Face Mask Pattern


jewish museum of maryland Programs and Events Upstanders

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