JMM Insights: Sharing Stories that Matter

This week’s edition of JMM Insights comes from Archivist Maggie Hoffman.

I spend a good deal of time considering how events are documented and how stories are shared. And often, I wonder about the stories we don’t know—stories that would offer insight and knowledge if only we’d held onto them. In many cases, these have been purposeful omissions, the result of power structures that push people into the margins of society and the stories we tell about it. In other cases, stories have been lost to time simply because they weren’t recorded. As an archivist, my goal is not to persuade you that everything should be saved. Rather, it’s to encourage you to share the stories that matter to you.

Combing through JMM’s collections, I’m continually reminded of the marked effects an individual can have on their communities, often without realizing the ripple effect they create, or the lessons their story offers. After all, it can be easy to forget the ways your experiences leave an imprint on those around you. Although I spend much of my time preserving and sharing evidence of people I will never meet, I still have to remind myself that my own stories have external value—that what feels important to me may also raise critical questions for others.

At the JMM, we are committed to holding up the stories of Jewish Marylanders from all walks of life. Our recent collecting initiative Preserving the Present is no exception. We’ve recorded stories from teachers, stay-at-home parents, rabbis, and medical professionals, among others. Much of the value in this growing collection comes from the breadth of experience that we’ve gained as a community. 

The image above is a screenshot from a Collecting These Times interview of Rabbi Uri Topolosky conducted by Laurie Margolies

As we all consider how to effectively heal from the pandemic and other recent disruptions, I hope you’ll reflect on whether sharing your story might be cathartic. Because whether you spent the past fifteen months working on the front lines or just trying to keep yourself busy, your experience has value, and it is part of our shared history. We hope you’ll consider sharing it with us so that we might learn from it now, and preserve it for future generations to take their own lessons from.

Below are some ways you can add your voice.

Ready to reflect? In Pausing Together, a weekly journaling group, we’re spending time together writing and reflecting on life right now. Join us on Wednesdays at 12:30PM to spend a moment each week doing introspective work in a community setting.

Register to join us for the next session here. 

Gathering Stories logo

Only have a few minutes to spare?

Respond to a series of written prompts through our Gathering Stories form or download the Story Aperture app from the Jewish Women’s Archive.

Interested in sharing your story out loud? We’d love to interview you for Collecting These Times, a project in partnership with the Council of American Jewish Museums. Email to be set up with an interviewer so that you can share your story from the comfort of your own living room.

The image above is a screenshot from a Collecting These Times interview of Atara Margolies conducted by Laurie Margolies.

Have a photograph, drawing, or another object you’d like to donate?

We’d love to learn more! Use this form to share your material, or email Joanna Church, Director of Collections & Exhibits at

You can learn more about each of these initiatives by visiting our website. If you’re not sure of the best way to share, or if you have any questions, please reach out via email: We’d love to hear from you. And if sharing your story doesn’t sound cathartic, we encourage you to press pause. We’ll be here in the future if that changes, and your story matters regardless of who hears it.

Register for this upcoming program series here:

The Associated Annual Meeting: Looking Back and Looking Forward
Wednesday, June 16th, at 5:00PM Eastern

Let’s come together to acknowledge a year of shared loss and triumph.

Join us for the 101st Annual Meeting to celebrate the tremendous efforts of our entire Associated network. Let’s look toward a bright and hopeful future, as we say “Hineni – Here I am” for all of Jewish Baltimore.

Featuring a special tribute to the dedicated professionals whose passion and efforts are the backbone of The Associated network.

Register for free here.

Esther’s Place Online:
School’s Out! Bundle

Check out the latest bundle available exclusively through the online shop. 

This collection of items will keep you and your family entertained and engaged during the summer months.


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