It’s interesting to me; is it interesting to you?

Posted on July 9th, 2015 by

What do people find interesting? This is what I thought about as I scrolled through the 50 page exhibit script, looking for the best items.  Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, opening in Spring 2016, will be a traveling exhibit. This means that it will start here at its “home institution” and then it will travel to other museums for display. But first, other museums need to agree to host the exhibit, and to do this they will look at a marketing package which includes a list of its best objects, photos, and documents. This list is what I worked on.

Many questions popped up as I determined which items were the “best”. Would people other than me find this interesting? Does it sort of summarize the section of the exhibit that it is in? And is it instantly visually interesting, or would someone need to know the context of the item to understand it? A good number of items in the exhibit will also be loans from other institutions, so I had to make sure we were actually on track for a successful loan before I added it to my “best objects” list.

So what did I choose? 36 objects, items, and documents out of the 400 some items in the exhibit. The items work together to capture the big idea of the exhibit as well as being just plain interesting! The items described below are three of my personal favorites.

Ma’aseh Tuviyya, Tobias Cohen, 1708, Germany National Library of Medicine

Ma’aseh Tuviyya, Tobias Cohen, 1708, Germany
National Library of Medicine

This image is from an early 18th century book about medical practices. Written in Hebrew, and published in Germany, it provides a fascinating look into how medicine and the human body were viewed in the past. This specific image is a metaphor between the human body and a house. Intricately detailed, one can see the different rooms of the house on the right that symbolize parts of the body.

JMM 1991.35.24

JMM 1991.35.24

This is quite possibly the strangest piece in the exhibit, a ring made with vulcanized rubber and a porcelain molar. It was made by Edmund Kahn for a marriage proposal to Gertrude Fried in 1904. Being a student in dental school, he could not afford a ring. He created this interesting thing from things he found in the lab, and it is without a doubt very strange. But it shows more than just a man’s craft skills, it gives a view into life into what dental school was like for students.

JMM 1995.151.15

JMM 1995.151.15

When Sinai Hospital in Baltimore was built, it was primarily a Jewish institution. However, it was obvious that it would need to cater to other cultures in order to survive. So these foreign language phrase cards were made to help with this diversity. The hospital staff could use these phrase cards to communicate with non-English speaking patients, resulting in a hospital that was truly for “everybody”.

These three items stood out to me among the 400 some items in the upcoming exhibit. They are visually interesting and vital to the understanding of the exhibit. Hopefully other institutions will see this too and want to host the exhibit, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America.

SophiaA blog post by Exhibitions Intern Sophia Brocenos. To read more posts by interns click HERE.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Volunteer Spotlight On: Aileen Bormel, Museum Shop!

Posted on July 8th, 2015 by

Aileen Bormel has been volunteering in the JMM Museum Shop for three years.  She enjoys educating the customers about the beautiful merchandise and many unique items. She occasionally ends up buying for herself too.   She began volunteering in the shop as a way to support the JMM and she appreciates the opportunity she gets to meet people from not only the Baltimore community, but all over the world.

photo Aileen Bormel

Aileen in the Museum Shop

Aileen formerly taught deaf students at the Maryland School for the Deaf in Columbia, and also in Baltimore City.  She did sign language interpreting too, mostly for children.  She is an active Hadassah member. She was recently President of the Greater Baltimore Chapter and currently sits on the National Board where she is co-chair of the Society of Major Donors.  She was previously co-chair of the National Mission to Israel and has enjoyed visiting there many times. Her husband, David works for Merrill Lynch/Bank of America. Her daughter, Allison lives and works in DC as the communications director for a US Congressman from the East Bay of San Francisco.  Her son, Eric lives and works in New York City as an investment banker.

Recently a visitor from Indonesia asked Aileen why our shop was selling a handcrafted box in the shape of a pyramid. The customer had no idea that Jews had any connection with Egypt.  Aileen was delighted to share information regarding Judaism, the tie with Egypt, and teach this particular visitor about something that most visitors to the Museum take for granted.

The box in question.

The box in question.

Aileen likes that her volunteer position is easy and not stressful, like many other facets of life can be. She does however wish that there were more customers in the shop and reminds us that one of the benefits of JMM membership is a 10% discount on all merchandise.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday(ish) of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Once Upon a Time…11.14.2015

Posted on July 7th, 2015 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 at 410.732.6400 x236 or email


1994112006037Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  November 14, 2015

PastPerfect Accession #:  1994.112.006.037

Status:  Identified! The choir of Baltimore Hebrew, around 1960, used in a 1974 photo album prepared for Rose Greenberg’s retirement. Left to right: 1) Arlene Levitas, contralto 2) Phyllis Frankel, soprano 3) Darcy Goodman, contralto 4) Rodney Hanson, organist 5) Ralph Marquiss, tenor 6) Jim Mitchell, baritone 7) Helena John, soprano 8) Judy Tormey Schwartzman, soprano

Special Thanks To: Judy Tormey Schwartzman


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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