JMM Insights: The Amazing Mendes Cohen Returns

Almost six years ago, as Baltimore celebrated the bicentennial of the Star-Spangled Banner, JMM shared the story of one of the unsung heroes of the battle of Ft. McHenry, Mendes Cohen.

The more we explored Mendes biography the more fascinated we became. It covered not only the War of 1812; but also the lottery that built Baltimore’s Washington monument, the Maryland Jew Bill, a relationship between the Cohens of Baltimore and the Rothschilds of England, as well as Cohen’s activities as an early Egyptologist, among the first American tourists to Jerusalem and as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.

The exhibit remains a personal favorite because of the way it connected Baltimore’s early Jewish history to world events (and because it allowed me to work again with professional maze designer, Kelly Fernandi). Now with our “digital museum” we have the opportunity not only to revisit this project, but also to open the amazing story of Mendes Cohen to the whole world.



In this week’s digital museum offering, we are returning to the award-winning A-Mazing Mendes Cohen.

Many of you may remember this maze of an exhibit on view at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015, which was recognized by the Association for State and Local History with a “Leadership in History Award.”

Now you can relive the experience (or explore it for the first time) at our new online exhibit, The Amazing Mendes Cohen! After exploring the exhibit itself, you’ll definitely want to check out the many hands-on activities we’ve put together.

Director of Programs Trillion Attwood has put together a great set of family projects related to Mendes’ time as a world traveler while our education team has shared some of their primary source learning materials and School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse put together the Where in the World is Mendes Cohen quiz!
We also want to invite you to send Mendes a letter – if you write to Mendes, he will write you back!
Letters and postcards can be sent to:

Mendes Cohen
c/o The Jewish Museum of Maryland
15 Lloyd Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

In addition to the online exhibit, we encourage you to check out these recordings of some of the public programs that were held during the run:

Dr. Betsy Bryan on Egyptian Funerary Beliefs

Dr. Rafael Medoff on How Jews Entered American Politics

You may also enjoy reading this blog series based on Generations article by Dr. Deb Weiner, An American in Palestine: Mendes I. Cohen Tours the Holy Land.
Plus, you can check out this collections spotlight post on the Cohen family’s early 1800s wine cooler, which was featured in the original exhibit and this post on the conservation of Mendes’ handmade, 1832 American flag.

There is so much to see, explore, and learn about the life and times of this prominent Baltimore citizen – we hope you’ll take some time to dive into the world of the Amazing Mendes Cohen.


What Makes a Hero?

What qualities do you think make someone a hero? Mendes Cohen went on many kinds of journeys during his life – just like our heroes in science fiction books, comics, and movies!

Learn about the hero’s journey and heroes in your own life – then create your very own hero.


This week on the JMM blog we’re exploring some of the many ways you can be an upstander during this time – from self care to civic education to cheering up your neighborhood, there’s something that everyone can do to make each day better.


Staying at home doesn’t have to mean missing our friends and loved ones – why not send them a small gift to let them know they are in your thoughts?

We’ve got some great options at Esther’s Place, from our custom Shalom Hon magnets, to protective mini-hamsas and car mezuzahs, to custom JMM postcards!

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


Earth Day Extravaganza!

Sunday, April 19, 2020
at 3:30pm

In celebration of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, join JMM and the DBJCC for a live family program from the comfort of your own home. This program is open to all, and the activities are particularly perfect for children ages 3-8.

Please register for the program here.

Baltimore Jewish Council:

Yom Hashoah 2020
Sunday, April 19, 2020

This year we will join together as a community for an online Yom HaShoah experience, as we collectively remember and honor all of those who were lost in the Holocaust.While not being broadcast live, this video will premiere on April 19th.

Jewish Women’s Archive

Quarantine Book Club
Thursday, April 23, 2020
at 8:00pm

Featuring Sarah Hurwitz, author of Here All Along and former speech writer for Michelle and Barack Obama.


This week’s #WhatWereReading comes from some of our amazing volunteers – including our Board President (did you know that our Board of Trustees are all JMM volunteers?).

From JMM archives volunteer Vera K.: I am reading the biography of Abba Eban by Asaf Siniver. I am at the beginning, but I find it very interesting, because it also tells about the early life of Palestine-Israel.

JMM volunteer docent Karen R. highly recommends A Gentleman in Moscow. She read it several years ago and then reread it recently for the January meeting of her book club. It is an amazing work of fiction about a man who was confined in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow for many years and how he managed to lead an extraordinary life despite the restrictions.

From Robert Keehn: Read Influenza by Dr. Jeremy Brown, written in 2108 and scary reading it in 2020.

Last week read American Dirt by Jeannie Cummins about a mother and 8 y/o son who travel to the US from Acapulco after the cartel kills 16 members of her family. Next up, I pulled Naomi Ragen’s 1st book, Jepthe’s Daughter off my shelf yesterday after watching “Unorthodox” on Netflix last week.

Speaking of Unorthodox, did you read Talia’s excellent review of the show yet?

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


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