JMM Insights: February 2014

Posted on February 21st, 2014 by

When life leaves you in a pickle…  make a battery???

Pickle_logo4Last fall, Marvin asked the staff to think about different scenarios for the Feldman Gallery once Project Mah Jongg leaves the JMM at the end of June 2014.  The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen would not be finished until September and it did not seem like a good idea to leave an empty gallery for nearly three months.   We’ve been enjoying a steady increase in the Museum’s attendance and we did not want to lose momentum.  What could the JMM do in that space that would be fun, inexpensive and engage visitors during the summer months? During our brainstorming session, we discussed the increasing emphasis on STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and we came up with the idea of hosting a Technology Fair.  Our staff liked the idea that innovation and creativity would once again be highlighted in historic Jonestown, where many immigrants got their start as innovators on Lombard Street and the surrounding neighborhood.

I have to be honest.  Initially, I was a bit skeptical about the idea. I am not a “science person” and I remember struggling through my physical and natural science classes at university.  I am not a MAVEN about anything technological and Marvin asked me to spearhead this project!   I am pleased to say that what has happened over the past few months has been magical, informative and lots of fun.  We have been meeting people from throughout our community who are passionate about technology and science, and are excited about involving many people in project planning.

What has evolved from our initial brainstorming sessions has become a unique visitor experience. The Electrified Pickle is designed to appeal to budding scientists, DIY-ers and anyone curious to learn about how things work and Jewish innovations in the fields of arts and science.  With the help from our partner, The National Electronics Museum in Linthicum, MD, our Feldman Gallery will be transformed into a participatory lab-style environment. Visitors can discover the mystery behind scientific principles such as magnetism, electricity, solar power, and other fun and engaging interactive activities. The gallery will serve as a community gathering space where people can come to experiment, create, and learn from one another.

For five Sundays (beginning July 13), we will invite community members to come to the Museum and share their expertise and passion for specific fields such as engineering, crafts, robotics, electronics, and architecture with our visitors. Each Sunday will have a specific theme. Our kick-off  on Sunday, July 13th is Power This! with a wide range of activities and demonstrations related to batteries and electricity. Other Sunday themes are: Fly This!, Imagine This! Decode This! and Print This!  We will offer exciting hands-on demonstrations and workshops for people to try their hand at activities like robot building, 3D print imagery, barcoding with POS (point of sale) software and, of course, electrifying pickles (visitors can test which kinds of pickles – sour,  dill, sweet work best!)

The Feldman Gallery will  also include objects from our own  JMM collections, examples of technologies from the past that were vital to Jewish trades and home life but are no longer in use such as old sewing machines, kitchen implements, typewriters, and phonographs.  These items will be displayed in a way that visitors can make comparisons with newer technologies and gain insight into the process involved in scientific innovation.  The gallery experience will also include a community art project, in collaboration with a local artist that will evolve throughout the summer with the help of visitor engagement.

Be on the look- out for the cutest, little green gherkin complete with electrical adaptors letting you know that The Electrified Pickle is coming soon!

ileneThis month’s JMM Insights was written by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon.


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Museum Matters: February 2014

Posted on February 7th, 2014 by

If you thought we were going to let Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War slip away quietly, rest assured, that is not at all how we do things at the JMM. Be sure to check out the exciting programs we have planned over the next few weeks and you are sure to be impressed by the wide array of farewell activities we have planned!

Closing February 27th!

Closing February 27th!

We are marking the President’s Day weekend with a special opportunity to meet our 16th president. On February 16th Abraham Lincoln will be visiting the Museum and you will have the chance to rub shoulders with him while enjoying some fun activities for the whole family.  At 1pm Honest Abe and I will take to the stage, where I will be interviewing him, which is an exciting and terrifying prospect! I have many questions inspired by the exhibit, as well as some questions about the myths that surround Lincoln. I would also love to ask some of the questions that you have for the president. Please send me your questions (, and I will do what I can to pass them along to the president.

The following weekend is sadly the final weekend of Passages Through the  Fire but we plan to end on a high note with not one, but two fabulous events!  On Saturday night, February 22nd, beginning at 7:30pm, dance with us at our Civil War themed Farewell Cotillion. Entertainment will be provided by Choreographic Antique (of Goucher College) and Brad Kolodner and Friends. Enjoy an evening of dance and music all washed down with a glass of Civil War era punch! Costumes are not necessary, but this is your chance to release your inner Scarlett or Rhett.

The next day Harold Holzer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will visit to deliver his talk, Kaddish for Lincoln. Holzer is an expert on Lincoln and was recently a scrip consultant for the movie Lincoln. He will discuss how Lincoln came to be the first American gentile for whom the Jewish community said Kaddish and how he came to have the title of American Moses.

See below for more information about these programs and others.

~Trillion Attwood, Program Manager


Upcoming Programs

Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / For more information on JMM events please visit


February 2014

lincolns-city-logoJewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s city

Sunday, February 9, 2:00pm

Program free with Museum Admission

Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City is a temporary exhibit currently on view in the JMM lobby on loan from the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. Laura Apelbaum, JHSGW’s Executive Director, will talk about some of the most fascinating characters who were living in the city at the same time as Lincoln.

Laura Cohen Apelbaum is a native of the Washington area and has been executive director of the Jewish Historical Society since 1994. She has a master’s degree in taxation from Georgetown University, a law degree from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in American History from Duke University.


3b50609rLate Night on Lloyd Street: The Dating Game

Wednesday, February 12, 6:00pm


Join us for this “romantic” Late Night on Lloyd Street as we play our very own version of the Dating Game! Test your knowledge of Jewish Baltimore History and our collections, and a very special bonus round about the language of fans, inspired by our upcoming Cotillion. You will also have a chance to decorate your own fan or manly handkerchief, the ultimate in 19th century style!

As with all Late Night on Lloyd Streets there will be plenty of snacks and drinks. This event is generously supported by the Grandchildren of Harvey M. and Lyn P. Meyerhoff Philanthropic Fund.


JMM_February_PC-1Family Day: Lincoln Comes to Baltimore 
Sunday, February 16, 11:00am to 3:00pm
Abraham Lincoln living history performance at 1:00pm
Program Free with Museum Admission

What better way to celebrate President’s Day weekend then by joining us for an Abraham Lincoln themed day filled with family fun activities.  Actor Jim Getty will bring Lincoln to life in this unique living history performance. JMM Program Manager, Trillion Attwood will interview the 16thPresident about his recollections of the role that Jews played in the Civil War. 

This program is part of “Absolutely Febulous” Baltimore’s first combination Hotel Week, Restaurant Week, and Museum week taking place February 14-23. As part of the promotion, we are pleased to offer “Buy One, Get One Free” tickets to our special February 16 Family Day. For more information, check out


March book coverReading Your Way Through the Civil War, Part Two: “March” by Geraldine Brooks

An Imagined Civil War:  Civil War Fiction Book discussion of March by Geraldine Brooks
Discussion leader: Anne Sarah Rubin
Thursday, February 20, 6:00pm
Free Admission

This Maryland Humanities Council Book Talk takes place at Enoch Pratt Library, Light Street Branch
Anne Sarah Rubin leads our second book program as she discusses the Pulitzer Prize winning March by Geraldine Brooks. The conversation will consider the relationship between March and Little Women, some of the biographical connections to Louisa May Alcott, and the way in which the novel reflects an alternative Civil War experience.

Anne Sarah Rubin is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Digital History and Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  She received her AB from Princeton University and her MA and PhD from the University of Virginia. Dr. Rubin is currently President of the Society of Civil War Historians. Register for this talk today, so you can have a good read ready for the cold winter months. Copies of the book are available and can be borrowed at no cost from the Museum. Register now with Trillion Attwood or 410-732-6400 ext.215.
This is a Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War partner program! Making Sense of the American Civil War, a reading and discussion series, is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. Additional support has been provided by the Maryland Humanities Council.


PC frontPassages Through the Fire Farewell Cotillion

Saturday, February 22, 7:30pm

Tickets $15 – $20 

Join us for an evening of dancing and fun as we send our exhibit Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War off in true Civil War-era style. Chorégraphie Antique, the dance history ensemble from Goucher College will be on hand to demonstrate and teach us the most popular dances of the time period.

While costumes are not required, there will be prizes for the most impressive outfits of the evening. This is your chance to channel your inner Scarletts & Rhetts! So pull out those hoop skirts, polish up your genteel manners and enjoy an evening you won’t soon forget.

Punch and provisions included, as well as alcoholic beverages for those guests 21 and over. Tickets are $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers. Tickets can be purchased over the phone and online at


abe-lincoln(1)Sadie B. Feldman Family Lecture: Kaddish for Lincoln

Sunday, February 23, 1:00pm

Speaker: Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Program Free with Museum Admission

By tradition, Abraham Lincoln was the first American gentile for whom Jews said Kaddish–the Hebrew prayer for the dead. The story may approach the realm of legend, but reverence for Lincoln among many Jews of his time was real, and the mass national mourning after his assassination reached not only the church but the synagogue. In this discussion of Jewish attitudes toward Lincoln–and Lincoln’s evolving attitude toward Jews, Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer explores the 16th president’s legal decisions and personal attitudes on Jews and Jewish issues during the Civil War, and assesses whether the Great Emancipator deserved the name many contemporaries gave to him in the 19th Century: American Moses.

Harold Holzer is Chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, official successor organization of the U. S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which he co-chaired for nine years, appointed by President Bill Clinton.  Holzer is the author, co-author, or editor of 46 books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, most recently Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America (2012), the official young-adult companion book for the Steven Spielberg film, for which he served as script consultant. In his full-time professional career, Holzer serves as Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he has spent the last 21 years.

More Programs

The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit or check out BIYA on facebook.

BIYA Boot Camp

Certified Personal Trainer David BenMoshe will whip you into shape every Sunday morning from 10:45-11:30am at B’nai Israel in the cold months and at the Patterson Park Pagoda in the warm months. $18/month or $5/session

Go to for more info.


Current exhibits

Exhibits currently on display at the JMM include Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, The Synagogue Speaks! and Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War on display through February, 27, 2014.

Hours and Tour Times

The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm. We offer tours of our historic synagogues each day at 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00. We are delighted to announce the debut of a new themed “1861 Tour” of the Lloyd Street Synagogue that focuses on Baltimore’s Jewish community during the Civil War. This tour is offered Sunday-Thursday at 3:00pm (in place of the regular tour).

Get Involved

The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or


Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.

All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street. Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchase online! For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or

Gift Shop

Civil War booksThe JMM gift shop is the place to find all kinds of wonderful merchandise, from books on a wide variety of topics related to Jewish history and culture to one-of-a-kind jewelry created by Jewish artists to beautiful and unique Jewish ritual objects. Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases. For more information about our gift shop, contact Esther Weiner, gift shop manager at (410) 732-6400 x211 /


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JMM Insights: January 2014

Posted on January 17th, 2014 by

People are often surprised to hear how long it takes from the time an exhibition idea is conceived to its installation in one of our galleries. In fact, exhibition development is a long and multi-tiered process and involves the contributions of a team of individuals each of whom brings diverse skills and areas of expertise to the table that are necessary to create a rich and engaging high quality exhibition. In addition, we often find that the final exhibition is vastly different from what we had anticipated when the project was conceived as we follow the trail of research that often reveals new exciting discoveries suggesting a different interpretive tact than what was originally proposed.

Curator Karen Falk

Curator Karen Falk

At the JMM, we are fortunate to have a skilled exhibition curator, Karen Falk, who takes the lead on developing original exhibitions (including Chosen Food and the upcoming Jews, Health, and Healing project). The curator plays a pivotal role in shaping the exhibit’s big ideas and concepts; conducting research; selecting photographs, documents, and objects to include and determining where in the exhibit they best fit; writing the exhibit script and label text; and supervising the exhibition design and fabrication process. While the curator guides the process, exhibition development at the JMM is very much a collaborative effort. Other members of the team from within the JMM include our collections manager (Jobi Zink), who oversees loan processing, artifact conservation, and exhibit installation; our education director (Ilene Dackman-Alon) who ensures that exhibit content and interactives meet the needs of school audiences; CFO (Susan Press) who develops project budgets; and our executive director (Marvin Pinkert) and assistant director (Deborah Cardin) who participate in various stages of exhibition development. Additional JMM staff members play significant roles in other important aspects such as program development, marketing, gallery preparation, and fundraising. The JMM also relies on the talents of consultants to assist in the critical areas of exhibition design and fabrication. The exhibition designer is typically brought in early in the process and works closely with the project team to refine concepts and to create floor plans, interactive activities, and a graphic identity for the exhibit. Once the design stage is complete, exhibition fabricators work to build exhibit elements including printing panels, labels, and background images. This entire process from start to finish takes a minimum of two years.

Mark your calendars!

Mark your calendars!

Because we do not have enough resources in house to develop original exhibits to install something new in the Feldman Gallery once, much less twice a year, we also rent exhibitions for display that originate at other museums. While traveling exhibits do not involve as much work, JMM staff still must oversee details large and small from negotiating contract agreements to taking care of shipping and insurance arrangements to modifying the exhibit’s design to fit the specifications of our galleries. Some exhibits, such as the upcoming Project Mah Jongg which comes to us from the Museum of Jewish Heritage, are installed more or less as they were originally designed with just a few modifications. For others, we make larger adjustments to the exhibit’s design so that we can add materials that reflect the Maryland experience. For example, for our current exhibit, Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War, we conducted extensive research into the history of Maryland Jewish involvement in the war and added many new stories and artifacts. The resulting installation in our gallery is quite different from how it originally appeared at Yeshiva University Museum.

Mendes Cohen, 1818

Mendes Cohen, 1818

We often get asked how we come up with ideas for exhibits and there really is no simple answer to this question. Topics come to us from many sources including staff, volunteers, board members, visitors, and interns. Sometimes an exhibit project is proposed for a specific reason such as a desire to showcase a particular collection or to tie in with larger communal events.  One current exhibit under development, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, was initially proposed by executive director Marvin Pinkert as we were looking to fill in what we thought was going to be a small gap between two other exhibits. The original rationale for this project was an interest in participating in Baltimore’s anniversary celebration of the War of 1812 through the creation of a small scale exhibit focusing on Mendes Cohen, a member of one of Jewish Baltimore’s early prominent families who was a traveler, adventurer, and collector. Our initial proposal was to focus on his wartime involvement at Fort McHenry. We also were eager to display some of the artifacts that we have on display belonging to Mendes including a portable writing desk and jacket.

A puzzle preview

A puzzle preview

As we began exhibit research, we uncovered many new discoveries about Mendes and his family and what began as plans for a small temporary exhibit have turned into a full-fledged interactive exhibit taking the form of a maze (designed by Minotaur Mazes) that will be on view for nine months. The maze format serves as an apt metaphor for Mendes’ life which took many twists and turns. At certain points in the maze, visitors will have to make choices that simulate decisions that Mendes made. Thanks to the efforts of researcher Joseph Abel, who has been working with us on the project for the past few months, we have been able to immerse ourselves in his life by exploring a treasure trove of letters written by Mendes housed at the Maryland Historical Society that provide meticulous accounts of his journeys to Europe and the Middle East (Mendes was the first American citizen to receive official permission from the Ottomans to visit Palestine). Through Joseph’s analysis of these letters as well as of documents housed in other archives, he has uncovered some wonderful new insight into the difficulties of traveling in the 1830s as well as new information about the places he visited during his journey.

The resulting research has led us in a new path. Our latest concept for the exhibit focuses on the search for identity and tasks visitors to explore the many different ways that Mendes defined himself through his family relationships, religious observance, professional obligations, and search for adventure through travels. At a recent meeting with our exhibit designer, Kelly Fernandi of Minotaur Mazes, we were delighted by how he captured the essence of this concept through interpretive panel designs and interactive activities. We all left the meeting feeling enthusiastic about our plans for The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen and are continuing to research new sources and explore new avenues for bringing Mendes’ incredible story to life. We look forward to keeping you apprised of our progress and hope you will join us to discover Mendes for yourself when we open the exhibit in September 2014.

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