Discover the Lloyd Street Synagogue

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 our historic Lloyd Street Synagogue.

The Lloyd Street Synagogue was built in 1845. It is the oldest synagogue in the whole of Maryland and the third oldest still standing in the United States. The Synagogue has seen a lot over the last 175 years! Carte-de-visite, c. 1864. JMM 1997.71.1.

It was originally built for Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, serving new Jewish immigrants from central Europe as they tried to establish themselves in the US. A little later it served a brief time as St. John the Baptist Lithuanian Catholic Church, again welcoming new immigrants but as a Catholic church.

In 1905 it returned to being a synagogue, this time for Shomrei Mishmeres Ha-Kodesh, a congregation of mainly new immigrants from eastern Europe.
Today there is no congregation worshipping in the synagogue. Instead, the Lloyd Street Synagogue is an important part of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, used for education, performances, and even the occasional wedding.

With the activities below you will learn more about the history of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and synagogues in general. You might want to start with this glossary, which will help you understand some of the terms and vocabulary used throughout these activities.

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 Discover the Lloyd Street Synagogue activity packet as a single pdf here.

Take a Virtual Tour

‌While visiting the Lloyd Street Synagogue in person isn’t possible right now, we have created an interactive virtual tour so you can explore this important, historic building.

You definitely want to start with this tour before heading on to the other activities, as it will help connect each activity to the history of the Synagogue.

Whether you’ve visited the Synagogue before, or just getting introduced, this virtual tour is a great chance to test your knowledge!

Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass window from the Lloyd Street Synagogue during the 1964 renovation of the building. JMM IA 1.0024.

One of the most iconic parts of the Synagogue is the beautiful stained-glass window showing a Star of David. You can use just a few simple supplies to create your own stained-glass windows!

Supplies‌ ‌needed:‌ ‌

6 Popsicle sticks, you could also use strips of cardboard

Colorful tissue paper

School glue

Needle and thread

Optional – A hot glue gun, for adult use only

Download Instructions for Creating Your Own Stained Glass Window

Building Your Own Synagogue ‌

Painting by Harry Evans, Jr. showing a composite of Baltimore synagogues. Pictured are: Baltimore Hebrew Congregation – Lloyd Street Synagogue, Har Sinai – High Street, Oheb Israel – Eden Street, unidentified, Tzemach Tzedek – Fairmont Avenue, Ohel Yakov – Aisquith Street, Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol – Baltimore Street.) Museum purchase with support from the Ellen Kahan Zager Accession Endowment, JMM 2002.82.2.

Building your own synagogue model is a great chance to think about the key elements we see on most synagogues while also using your imagination to make some unique architecture. We had a lot of fun with this activity a few years ago, and think you will too.

Build your model out of blocks, Lego, Magna-tiles, clay, or get really creative and use recycled materials from around the house! You could also make a drawing or create a collage of your synagogue design.

Supplies‌ ‌needed:‌ ‌

Recycled materials such as boxes, containers and magazines

Craft supplies such as paper, scissors, glue and markers

Optional printed decor

Blocks, Legos, or other building materials

Download Instructions for Building Your Own Synagogue

Digging Up History

Artifacts found during the archaeological excavation of the Lloyd Street Synagogue’s 1845 mikveh. JMM IA 1.0460.

‌A great way to learn about the history of old buildings is through archaeology. Archaeology is the process of carefully digging into the earth to gather evidence that helps us to better understand a place or building. When the Lloyd Street Synagogue was being renovated and repaired, we found many items in the ground that helped tell us the story of the Synagogue and the people who lived in the neighborhood.

In this activity you will create your own archaeological dig! While the instructions here are based on how we share this activity on-site at the Museum, you can also go bigger and expand your dig into a sandbox or even your whole backyard (be sure to check where it is safe to dig and that you are destroying anything planted in your yard).

Supplies needed:

Foil pan, at least 10” x 12”

Soil or sand, if you have both even better

Small objects you are willing to bury


Paint brush or small excavating tools

Download Instructions for Digging Up History

Keep‌ ‌Discovering‌ ‌

Want to know more about what being in the Lloyd Street Synagogue was like a long time ago? You can read our fabulous children’s book, The Synagogue Speaks, written by Anita Kassof and illustrated by Jonathan Scott Fuqua here.

You might also like this short video tour of both our historic synagogue buildings, the Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel.

Or check out this blog post from Lauren Mitchell, who wrote about the Lloyd Street Synagogue and historic preservation as a high school senior: Preservation in My Community.


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