JMM Insights: It’s Groundhog Day

It’s Groundhog Day!

Ok, I know that yesterday was April Fool’s Day, but today still feels like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. 

The monotony and stress of self-quarantined life, the same news stories when we wake up each morning, and the depressing notion that this will not end soon. Bill Murray’s character is able to escape from his confinement in Punxatawney, PA only by accepting his situation, improving himself and improving the lives of his neighbors.

At JMM, we’ve taken the important first step of accepting reality. We will not reopen our doors until at least the middle of May, and we have cancelled or postponed all public programs through June. As Dr. Fauci has advised, we don’t set the timeline the virus sets the timeline. We will follow that advice.

For those holding paid tickets for events in April, May or June we hope you will consider donating the cost of the ticket to our continued operations or hold onto your tickets to exchange for credit toward a rescheduled or future program. Every gift makes a difference as we work hard (from home!) to maintain our capacity to create great programs you care about. (If neither of these options are feasible for you, please let us know and we will make arrangements for a refund.)

The second step in Ground Hog Day liberation is self-improvement.

While we haven’t spent time learning to speak French or play the piano, we have been retooling JMM as a digital museum (temporarily). Last week we introduced you to Wondernauts, this week we are sharing resources related to our current exhibit Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling.

Scrap Yard was originally scheduled to close on April 26, but our revised plan will keep the exhibit on the floor through July, in the hope that more of you will be able to enjoy it after we reopen. In the meantime, we’ll be adding content to our digital museum every week.

The last step in freeing ourselves from the Coronavirus Groundhog Day involves helping our neighbors.

Everyone who is reading this while restricting their travel outside of home is already off to a good start. Those of us who are also able to give to the Associated as well as JMM, are fulfilling a double mitzvah, helping those in urgent need and preserving our heritage so that it’s there for our children and grandchildren when this dark winter finally recedes.

If you are looking for other ways to volunteer from home, let me recommend this link to our partners at Jewish Volunteer Connection. The Passover narrative tells us that our people endured 430 years of slavery before liberation, I think that working together and supporting each other we can make it through a few months of isolation.



Experience Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling through our eyes!

As part of our digital museum offerings, we’ve put together a few extra experiences for you related to our original exhibit Scrap Yard. We hope you’ll take a little time this week to explore this bonus content and let us know what you think.

First, check out this awesome series, Talia’s Tour Highlights. Talia Makowsky, our Visitor Services Coordinator, spends a lot of her time creating engaging experiences for our adult group visitors, including special tours for our exhibits – including for Scrap Yard.

And we didn’t want to leave our younger visitors out, so here’s a Blue’s-Clues-style series with Museum Educator Marisa Shultz and a fun design-your-own poster experience!

Plus our programs team has put together an awesome set of hands-on activities for everyone to try at home.

Already an expert on what’s in the exhibit from your previous visits? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with this series of “Making Of” videos sharing behind-the-scenes information you won’t find anywhere else. Hear from Marvin, Tracie, Joanna and more on some of their favorite stories, facts, and finds of making Scrap Yard – we’ll be adding to this series as we go, so be sure to check back often!

Don’t forget, we also have a whole website dedicated to learning more about Scrap Yard, the history of the industry, and the people involved.

From a breakdown of recyclable materials and their uses to an in-depth glossary of scrap vocabulary (and slang!) to the stories of Scrappers past and present, told in their own words, our Scrap Yard website is worth exploring.

And in case you missed them the first time (or just want to relive the experience), you can watch recordings of a selection of our Scrap Yard lectures:

Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America

Lives Built on Scrap: A Family Biography

Secondhand Travels of a Global Scrap Man

And, for your reading pleasure, a story that hits a lot of boxes – good news, recycling, Maryland, and COVID-19: A Recycling Company Just Discovered 36,000 N95 Masks in a Dumpster.

As always, we thank those who helped make the Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling exhibit, website, and programs possible, including: Institute for Museum and Library Services; National Endowment for The Humanities; Boston Metals Co. in Memory of Morris Schapiro; The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries; David Berg Foundation; Baltimore Scrap: David, Larry, Ken, and Joe Simon; A gift in Loving Memory of Samuel Simon, from the Simon Family; Liebherr. See the full list of contributors here.


Be a part of our Jews in Space: Members of the Tribe in Orbit exhibit!

Calling all young wondernauts! What would you bring with you to space? Why?

Astronauts living and working on the International Space Station can bring a Personal Preference Kit (PPK) into space with them. This Kit is used to carry their personal belongings. These Kits have size and weight restrictions – just like a suitcase you use for vacations. Imagine you are getting ready for a trip into space. What would you choose to bring with you? Maybe something to entertain you – a favorite book, perhaps? A favorite food or drink? Maybe something that reminds you of your family? Something to represent your culture? Something to practice your religion?

But remember, space is limited so you can only choose 5 things to fit in your PPK.

Students are invited to create an artwork inspired by your choices! Follow the directions found here and submit your work to potentially be included in our upcoming special exhibit!


This week on the JMM blog, Talia introduces her new #Upstanders series of Mental Health Monday posts, offering some suggestions for those of us struggling to work effectively from home.

For those of us looking for more exotic escapes from work, the JMM program team has prepared a compilation of resources, including musical performances and craft activities, related to our 2017 exhibit Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage while Talia takes us into the virtual world with a quick review of the newly released video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons and its in-game museum!


With Passover fast approaching, you might pull out your old Passover Seder plate and notice it is time for a replacement; maybe it’s chipped in some places or the colors are faded, or maybe it is just time for a change.

If this is the case, take a look at our burgundy and gold glass Seder plate (left) currently offered on our online shop. With deep, pre-formed spaces for placing traditional foods, the colorful decorations and metal inlay are guaranteed to add an impressive display to your Passover meals. The change in scenery during your Passover celebrations will add a little more excitement and calm to this stressful time.

Don’t see something you’re interested in at the online shop? Contact Shop Manager Chris Sniezek at and let us know.



Jewish Community Action

JCA Virtual Seder
Sunday, Aprul 5, 2020
at 4:30pm

Join a virtual seder with Jewish Community Action (Minnesota), Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (New York), Detroit Jews for JusticeCarolina Jews for Justice and Jews United for Justice (DMV).  Here the story of Exodus, connect it with our modern struggles for liberation and come together as a community to take action and stand together in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

92nd Street Y Presents:

Camp Girls: Fireside Lessons on Friendship Courage and Loyalty
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
at 7:00pm

Join author (and JMM board member!) Iris Krasnow as she discusses her newest book, Camp Girls, about her life-long experiences with Jewish summer camp and how camp gives us character traits that can form the spine of a successful life.

Live From Our Living Rooms

Music Festival
April 1 – 7, 2020
Various Times

Organized by NYC musicians Sirintip, Thana Alexa, Owen Broder and their nonprofit partner MusicTalks, the festival is proud to present a stellar lineup of artists contributing their time and talents to this cause.


This week’s #WhatWereReading comes from Director of Education Ilene Dackman-Alon, and two of our Trustees, Roberta Greenstein and Toby Gordon!

From Ilene: Being home over the past few weeks, has allowed me to do things that I never really have time to do. One of the first things I did at the start of my “new work schedule” was to head to the bookcase and grabbed Ernest Hemingway’s, The Sun Also Rises.  I don’t recall reading the book, in fact, I can’t recall ever reading any of Hemingway’s books. I liked to read F. Scott Fitzgerald in high school! Check out the rest of Ilene’s review here.

From Roberta: A charming, hilarious, and sweetly inspiring celebration of bad food and good company, Love Nina makes a young woman’s adventures in a new world come alive.

In 1982, 20-year-old Nina Stibbe moved to London to work as a nanny to two opinionated and lively young boys.  In frequent letters home to her sister, Nina describes her trials and triumphs, among them, a cat nobody likes, visits from a famous local playwright, and other adventures.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not so genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English Castle. She strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. By the time she pens her final entry, she has “captured the castle” – and the heart of the reader – in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler is a collection of ideas, stories, and questions about the stuff of life, big and small, funny and sad. The book is largely a portrait of confidence. Reading it, some of it rubs off on us. It demonstrates the skill of the excellent comedic actress, a funny woman who roots hilarity in specifics.

From Toby: I am reading The Splendid and The Vile, Eric Larson’s new book about Churchill. It helps to read about his leadership in a crisis, and to think how people coped with the bombing of London. Next up is Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman!

What are you reading this week? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

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