In Every Generation

In Every Generation was originally on display in the lobby of the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus during the spring and summer of 2015. Some changes have been made below, including the removal of items loaned specifically for the physical exhibit and the addition of new items accessioned into the collection after the physical exhibit.

The civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Photo by Peter Pettus, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

A brief introduction, May 2015:

This has been a challenging few weeks for all of us who know and love Baltimore.  While we are grateful that JMM and its Historic Jonestown neighborhood were spared any physical harm in the events of the past few days, we are all scarred by the damage that the violence has caused to our city and deeply saddened by the underlying conditions that preceded the violence.

As I write this, none of us can be sure what comes next, but JMM is committed to be a part of the healing process.  As keepers of an important piece of the community’s records we know that our history has the ability to show us what we have overcome and to strengthen our will to build a better future.  You will find a piece of this history in the A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit – where Jews and Christians in early Baltimore worked together to break down walls of prejudice. You will find a piece of this history in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit – the story of how Jonestown rebuilt itself in the wake of the riots of 1968.  In our archives, we have hundreds of other images and records of personal courage in the pursuit of social justice in Baltimore – from Rabbi Einhorn’s support of abolition to the desegregation of Gwynn Oak Park.

To help create a space for discussion, we have set up a pop-up exhibit of some of these images and records.  We invite your ideas for moments, people and events that should be a part of this display.

-Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director, Jewish  Museum of Maryland

Button worn by Jack L. Levin, leader of the Maryland chapter of the American Jewish Congress contingent, at the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, August 28, 1963. Donated by Jack L. Levin. JMM 1992.103.1
Poster advertising a “Mass Protest Mass-Meeting” against the persecution of Jews in Poland, held at the Palace Theatre, June 25, 1936. Donated by A.D. Glushakow. JMM 1999.38.1
Program from a “Freedom Seder,” held jointly by the Black/Jewish Forum of Baltimore and the Northwestern Chizuk Amuno Alliance, circa 2005. Donated by BLEWS. JMM 2013.44
A group of young men design their own signs for a protest against the oppression of Soviet Jews, at Baltimore’s Center for Jewish Education, January 1973. Photo by Sussman Photography. Donated by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore. JMM 2006.13.1553
“Freedom for Soviet Jews – Baltimore Jewish Council” button. Gift of Ellen Kahan Zager, JMM 2015.46.26.

On Friday, May 1, 2015, Baltimore United for Change joined with other grassroots organizations to hold a rally for police reform and justice for Freddie Gray.

Sign created by Baltimore Hebrew Congregation for the rally. Collected by JMM staff. JMM K2015.2.1
One of several signs created by Jews United for Justice for the rally.  The other side of this sign declares, “None of us is free until all of us are free,” attributed to Emma Lazarus and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Collected by JMM staff. JMM K2015.2.3

Rabbi David Einhorn (1809-1879) served Baltimore’s Har Sinai Congregation from 1855 until 1861. A prominent leader in the Reform community, Rabbi Einhorn was not afraid to speak his mind, and he was vocal on the subject of many social justice causes, as well as questions of religion. At the onset of the Civil War, he preached vigorously against the practice of slavery, asking, “Is it anything else but an act of ruthless and wicked violence, to reduce defenseless human beings to a condition of merchandise, and relentlessly to tear them away from the hearts of husbands, wives, parents, and children?”

Portrait of Rabbi David Einhorn.Gift of Har Sinai Congregation. JMM 2012.108.32

Baltimore activist Sadie Jacobs Crockin (1880-1965) founded or led nearly a dozen women’s organizations – including the local chapters of Hadassah and the League of Women Voters – during her busy lifetime, acting upon her progressive belief in the power of reason, dialogue, and education to reform institutions and solve social problems.  She used her prodigious energy, intelligence, and leadership abilities to rally women for many causes, including women’s rights, aid to immigrants, Zionism, good citizenship, efficient government, and world peace.

Portrait of Sadie Jacobs Crockin. Donated by Arthur Crockin Grant. JMM 1996.21.5

These men were among those who walked off the job at Sonneborn’s Clothiers to protest working conditions in 1914.  Their actions precipitated a 16-week strike, which in turn led to the first contract between a Baltimore firm and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers union. Donated by Jacob Edelman. JMM 1963.2.1
Local organizations are responding to current events in a variety of ways, fulfilling a variety of community needs. The Associated has set up donation boxes to collect essential items for those in need. Courtesy of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

More on this topic can be found in “The Search for Social Justice,” a double issue of Generations (2010).

You can read selected essays here at the JMM blog or purchase a print copy from our online shop!

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