The final blog post from Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.
Today marks my last day at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. After working here for 17 years, and enjoying just about each and every day, I have decided to move on to embark on a new adventure. As difficult as this decision has been, one of the most challenging aspects of leaving has been cleaning out my office, a true Herculanean task if there ever was! And as I have been emptying out file folders and deleting old emails, I have enjoyed reminiscing and being reminded of how much the JMM has grown and evolved over the years.
When I first started as the Museum’s Director of Education on December 11, 2000, the JMM had only recently transformed itself from the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland. Exhibits on display at the time included Cornerstones of Community: Historic Synagogues of Maryland and Tchotchkes! Treasures of the Family Museum. Since then, the JMM has installed 24 exhibits in the Feldman and Cardin galleries (before the 2007 opening of Voices of Lombard Street, we regularly changed out both galleries.) To view a full listing of past exhibits going back to 1987, check out https://jewishmuseummd.org/exhibits/past-exhibitions/.
Some of my favorites exhibits include: Enterprising Emporiums: Baltimore’s Downtown Jewish Department Stores, Cabin Fever: Jewish Camping and Jewish Commitment (the first exhibit I ever curated), Lives Lost, Lives Found: Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1945, Loring Cornish: In Each Others Shoes and The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (installing the exhibit maze was truly a team effort and turned out to be a ton of fun too!)
Back in 2000, the Lloyd Street Synagogue looked quite different from how it does today. Visitors were greeted by a building whose exterior was marked by exposed brick and imposing columns that were painted white. After conducting analysis of paint samples and researching archival documentation, we were able to determine that the brick was hidden under paint for much of its history. In 2010, in conjunction with the Museum’s 50th anniversary, we repainted the Lloyd Street Synagogue’s exterior to look as we believe it did in 1860. It’s hard to imagine today, as we have grown accustomed to its lovely pink hue, but when we first unveiled the restoration, many visitors were shocked!
The lower level of the Synagogue has also gone through extensive changes. Gone are the Beit Midrash with its wooden bookshelves and tables and the Golden Land children’s exhibit. In its place The Synagogue Speaks! an exhibit that explores how the building was adapted by each of the different congregations that worshipped within its walls.
While some things have changed, it’s heartening to know that certain traditions continue. Shortly after I started, the JMM held our very first Christmas Day program. With more than 600 visitors that year for a program that celebrated “Chanukah in Prague” with musical performance, puppet shows and art activities, the event affirmed the fact that members of our community were interested in attending Jewish-themed activities on a day traditionally devoted to Chinese food and movies. (For the past several years, we have been pleased to be part of our community’s Mitzvah Day and to give visitors the opportunity to participate in meaningful community service opportunities). To learn more about this year’s program visit https://jewishmuseummd.org/single/mitzvah-day-at-the-jmm/.
So what will I miss most about the JMM? The people! I feel so lucky to have had the chance to work with such an amazing group of co-workers, board members, volunteers, Jewish communal professionals and colleagues from other museums and cultural organizations. And I will miss all the wonderful interactions I’ve had with visitors, members, researchers, school children and teachers.
Starting in January, I will be working at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, just a short drive around the harbor. I’m looking forward to making new memories at a new museum and I hope you will come visit me there!
10 replies on “Farewell JMM!”
Hay Debbie , you didn’t ask me if you could resign !
Seriously it has been a pleasure working with you since ,hard to believe , 2000. You always have been pleasant and helpful and who can forget your smile Your contributions to the museum have
been well thought out.While I am no longer on the Board I will miss you on my trips to the JMM. However I can only wish you the best on your future endeavors .
The JMM is always on our list of museums to see, and that is in large part to the vibrant array of exhibits and events under your leadership. Plus, you always gave a welcoming vibe to the institution; it was always a thrill to see you. The legacy of your work continues at JMM. And we are excited to see what is next at BMI!
What a wonderful opportunity for you! Mazel tov on your new professional adventure. And a special thanks for your 17 devoted years at JMM. It was a pleasure working with you when I was at The Associatd.
As a volunteer it has been my honor to get to know and work with you. My best wishes for your success in your new endeavors. You will be deeply missed.
All the best to you in your new position at the BMI, a museum where my late husband Phil Kahn, was on the Board for many years. I hope you enjoy it as much as he did. I will miss seeing you as I walk toward the door to the desk area. You aways have a smile and a warm hello. Good luck and have a very happy New Year.
That’s “kibbutz” of course.
A Baltimore treasure moves to another Baltimore treasure. I look forward to seeing ya’ ’round the kibbut.
Deborah, I first met you with Lauren Silberman when I was still teaching in BCPSS. I remember working with you to coordinate a field trip for my predominantly African American students to go to the JMM in the morning & the Lewis Museum in the afternoon. A very multicultural day! It was a pleasure! Wishing you the best in your future endeavors!
The very best to you as you transition to a new challenge. I have enjoyed our interaction over the years immensely and feel secure that we will engage again in your new venue.
I remember working with you back in the early 2000s to develop an interactive archive project for my 10th grade students. You were so wonderful to work with! You have made such important contributions to the JMM during your tenure there. You will be missed.
B’hatzlacha on your new venture. May you go from strength to strength!