Coming to America

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

Did you know that May is Jewish American Heritage month?

This month we’re using our weekly family activity packets to highlight different aspects of Jewish American history, inspired by our collections. This week’s activity packets focus on immigration. These activities celebrate all those brave individuals who left their homes and families to try to make a better life for themselves here in America.

Soviet immigrants aided by HIAS, reuniting with family in the US, c. 1970s. JMM 1997.134.10.

The U.S. is a country made almost entirely of immigrants and their descendants, including the Jewish community. The earliest Jewish individuals came here during the colonial era, before America was even its own country!

The majority of Jewish immigrants to America came between 1840 and 1920 from countries in central and eastern Europe like Germany, Poland and Russia. Deciding to immigrate was a huge undertaking, especially without the modern conveniences we have today like air travel, cell phones, and the internet. People had to plan for a long and challenging journey and the reality that they likely wouldn’t return to their original homes or see the families they left behind again.

Naturalization ceremony held at JMM, June 20, 2019.

Baltimore plays an especially important part in the story of our country’s immigrants. Locust Point was one of the largest immigration ports in the country, second only to Ellis Island in New York. New immigrants could either begin to make a home in Baltimore or easily travel across the U.S. via the B&O railroad.

The activities in this package explore some of the challenges faced by immigrants, both historically and today.

Don’t forget to share photos of you enjoying our crafts and activities on our FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Tumblr pages and use #MuseumFromHome.

Download the full Coming to America activity packet as a single pdf here.

Packing Up

‌Greeting new immigrants at the airport, c. 1970s. HIAS collection, JMM 1997.134.682; Hecht family steamer trunk. JMM 2012.115.1; Russian passport for Moses Pines, 1911. JMM 1989.177.1a.

Deciding what to take to a new country is a tricky decision. You need to find a careful balance of both everyday items plus things that will help you earn money, create a new home and keep you connected to your home and family. Plus you are sometimes limited by the size and weight of items you can bring with you!

Supplies‌ ‌needed:‌ ‌

Suitcase template


Scotch Tape


Immigration – Packing Up

Get Stitching

Giving a knitting lesson, 1935. JMM 1991.185.1; Baltimore tailor shop, c. 1908. JMM 1991.24.3a; Students from Holabird Academy learn about Baltimore’s garment industry in “Voices of Lombard Street” at JMM.

Did you know that the garment industry was once the largest industry in Baltimore? The textile industry is one that proved especially welcoming to new Jewish immigrants, requiring limited English and the skills many immigrants brought with them from Europe.

In this simple sewing craft you can develop your own sewing skills while also creating an “ear defender,” a particularly useful item in our current time.

Supplies‌ ‌needed:‌ ‌

Strong ribbon, 1 inch wide

Large buttons

Needle and thread



Lighter or candle

Download Instructions for Get Stitching

The New New Colossus

Handwritten manuscript of Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus,” 1883. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty by Edward Moran, 1886. Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York. Engraving of Emma Lazarus, 1889 by W. Kurtz. Via.

The Statue of Liberty welcomed so many immigrants to our country, but she is so much more than a statue! Learn a little more about the poem The New Colossus and create your own poem to welcome new immigrants to America.

Learn more about Emma Lazarus, author of The New Colossus, The Emma Lasazrus Project at  from the American Jewish Historical Society!

Supplies needed:



Download Instructions for The New New Colossus

Discovering Your Heritage  

Harvey Meyerhoff with baby Joseph Meyerhoff II, 1960. JMM 2004.80.84; Levy Family Tree. JMM 1991.20.30; A.D. Glushakow recording for Baltimore Jewish Radio Voice. JMM 1996.56.23.

The reason we know so much about immigrants to our city and our country, is through people sharing and documenting their family stories. This activity is a great way to connect all generations of your family and help you better learn and understand your own heritage.

Supplies needed:



Download Instructions for Discovering Your Heritage

Keep‌ ‌Discovering‌ ‌

Explore the online portion of the JMM original exhibit Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling. The scrap industry attracted many new immigrants, requiring a low level of financial investment as well as requiring little English to start a new scrap business.

Learn more about other jobs that were more welcoming to new immigrants to America in this archival exploration from the JMM education team!

Listen to the story Mendel’s Accordion and learn about Mendel’s journey to the United States, including the important role music plays in connecting old traditions to his new life.  

The Baltimore Immigration Museum is a great resource to learn about the different groups who immigrated to Baltimore in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Interested in helping new immigrants? The Baltimore-based Esperanza Center has many tips on how to help, including getting involved in advocacy work.


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