The Power of Personal Voice

Posted on March 18th, 2013 by

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin.

On Monday, March 18, JMM staff members and volunteers gathered for an oral history training workshop.

The training session was led by senior collections manager Jobi Zink.

The training session was led by senior collections manager Jobi Zink.

An eager group of students gathered in the board room for the workshop.

An eager group of students gathered in the board room for the workshop.

With more than 700 interviews in our collections, oral histories form an important part of the JMM collections. Like the artifacts in our collections, JMM oral histories are eclectic in nature and range in topic from major historical events like the Holocaust and civil rights era to more mundane subjects such as shopping in Jewish owned businesses and daily life in Maryland’s small towns.

The goal of this workshop was to teach proper techniques for conducting interviews as well as the mechanics of using our recording equipment.

 Esther Weiner practices how to properly use the digital recording equipment.

Esther Weiner practices how to properly use the digital recording equipment.

When I first started working at the JMM, we used cassette recorders that were considered top of the line when they were originally purchased. Today we use digital equipment that allows for greater flexibility in how interviews can be used. While the new equipment produces interviews that are higher quality than the older models, the technology can also be intimidating to volunteers (and to staff as well).

Here you see Jobi “patiently” answering a question posed by curator Karen Falk with one of her trademark stink eyes!

Here you see Jobi “patiently” answering a question posed by curator Karen Falk with one of her trademark stink eyes!

Hence the importance of our training.

Oral history interviews provide listeners with the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of specific historical events. As listeners of the acclaimed Story Corps project are aware, the subjects of interviews do not need to be famous – nor do the topics under discussion need to be momentous events from long ago – in order for the interview to be compelling.  (To learn more and to listen to archived interviews, visit storycorps.org/)

A search through our oral history database turns up interviews with Jewish business owners, former residents of East Baltimore (whose memories can be found in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit),

Three separate oral history quotes greet visitors as they enter the exhibit gallery and help set the exhibit’s tone.

Three separate oral history quotes greet visitors as they enter the exhibit gallery and help set the exhibit’s tone.

This colorful quote helps bring the Lombard Street market section to life.

This colorful quote helps bring the Lombard Street market section to life.

and food mavens (whose favorite Jewish food traditions and recipes helped inform the recent Chosen Food exhibit.) We also have on file interviews with Jacob Beser who discusses his World War II military career that included  flying in both missions that dropped atomic bombs on Japan (OH 0141 and OH 0331)and Mitzi Swan (OH 0658) who participated in the protest to integrate the tennis courts at Druid Hill Park.

Excerpts from Mitzi Swan’s interview can be found in the 2004 edition of Generations that focused on the theme of Jews in sports.

Excerpts from Mitzi Swan’s interview can be found in the 2004 edition of Generations that focused on the theme of Jews in sports.

Oral history interviewees are sought as part of the research for each new exhibit. Some of my personal favorite interviews were conducted with young campers, whose enthusiasm for their camping experience helped shaped the look and feel of Cabin Fever: Jewish Camping and Commitment (2005).

At the entrance to the exhibit, visitors encountered a quote expressing the magical feeling that campers experienced as the camp bus approached the entrance to camp.

At the entrance to the exhibit, visitors encountered a quote expressing the magical feeling that campers experienced as the camp bus approached the entrance to camp.

Exhibitions, programs, and publications are all enriched thanks to our vibrant oral history program. We are so excited to have a new corps of trained oral history interviewers who are now capable of collecting new fascinating stories to add to our collections.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




GENERATIONS: The Magazine of the Jewish Museum of Maryland

Posted on November 1st, 2012 by

To order your own copy of Generations, email eweiner@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x211

Generations 2011-2012: Special Theme Issue: Jewish Foodways

Table of Contents:
Intro: Baltimore Jewish Foodways by Avi Y. Decter
“Processions, Debates and Curbstone Encounters”: The Struggle over Kosher Meat in Baltimore, 1897-1918 by Avi Y. Decter
Family Fare: Baltimore Jewish Food Businesses by Jennifer Vess
Bedlam with Corned Beef on the Side: The Jewish Delicatessen in Baltimore by Barry Kessler
Romancing the Coddie by Gilbert Sandler
Photo Essay: HENDLER’S: The Velvet Kind by Rachel Kassman
Book Review: The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic reviewed by Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin
Field Notes: The Pearlstone Center by Jakir Manela
Chronology: Baltimore Jewish Foodways compiled by Avi Y. Decter

Cost: $10

Generations 2009-2010: 50th Anniversary Double Issue: The Search for Social Justice

Table of Contents:
Introduction by Avi Y. Decter and Deborah R. Weiner
“Remember that You Were a Slave”: Rabbis and Slavery on the Eve of the Civil War by Avi Y. Decter
“Poor Man’s Boarding School”: The Hebrew Orphan Asylum under Tabbi Samuel Freudenthal, 1886-1910 by Anita Kassof
“The Great Influence of the Mothers in Israel”: Baltimore’s Jewish Community Confronts the Woman Question by Caroline Young Friedman
A “Children’s Playground” and “Centre for Adults”: The Story of the Jewish Educational Alliance, 1909-1952 by Jennifer Vess
Two Lives in Labor: Jacob Edelman and Sarah Barron edited by Avi Y. Decter
Enduring Idealism: Baltimore Jews in the Communist Party by Leonard M. Helfgott
Social Justice through Medical Ethics: Dr. Jacob Morgenstern’s Legacy at Crownsville State Hospital by Suzanne Richmond
My Father’s Crownsville by Doris Morgenstern Wachsler
Demonstrators: Reform Rabbis Confront Segregation by Gilbert Sandler
Everyday Heroes:  A Baltimore Couple Recalls the Civil Rights Movement by Deborah Rudacille
CHAI: Making a Stand in Upper Park Heights by Simone Ellin
Keepers of the Earth: The Jewish Environmental Movement Comes of Age by Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin
Book Review: Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City reviewed by W. Edward Orser
Field Notes: National Museum of American Jewish History: Core Exhibit by Josh Perelman and Ivy Weingram
Chronology: Ten in the Twentieth: Baltimore Jews and Social Justice by Deborah R. Weiner

Cost: $10

Generations 2007-2008: Bridges to Zion: Maryland and Israel

Table of Contents:
Introduction by Avi Y. Decter and Deborah R. Weiner
An American in Palestine: Mendes I. Cohen Tours the Holy Land by Deborah R. Weiner
The American Delegate(s)* at the First Zionist Conference by Avi Y. Decter
Revolutionizing Experiences: Henrietta Szold’s First Visit to the Holy Land by Henrietta Szold
Why I was a Zionist and Why I Now Am Not by Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron
“Israel” by Karl Schapiro
Mahal Days by Raphael Ben-Yosef
Photo Gallery: Maryland Philanthropy and Israel by Rachel Kassman
The Blaustein-Ben-Gurion Agreement: A Milestone in Israel-Diaspora Relations by Mark K. Bauman
The Comeback Kid: Leon Uris Returns to City College, 1995 by Rona Hirsch
“Who is a Jew” by Shoshana S. Cardin
Book Review: A Dream of Zion: American Jews Reflect on Why Israel Matters to Them by Melvin I. Urofsky
Field Notes: The Jewish Journey: The Jewish Museum in New York by Fred Wasserman
Chronology: Maryland and Israel

Cost: $10

Generations 2005-2006: Telling Time: Stories and Storytellers in Honor of Gil Sandler

Table of Contents:
Introduction by Avi Y. Decter and Deborah R. Weiner
The Bard of Baltimore: An Interview with Gilbert Sandler
“The Dispersed of Judah”: A Speech on the Jew Bill, 1825 by John S. Tyson, Esq.
The Publisher Departs: The Rabbi as “Black Republican” by Rabbi David Einhorn
Three Bloody Days: Letters from the Bialystock Pogrom, 1906 by Chaim Goldberg
A Smelkinson’s Eye View of the World: Place, Memory, and Stories of an East Baltimore Childhood by Deborah R. Weiner
The Married Bachelor by Ethel Rubinstein Berman
The Great Escape: A True Story of Jewish Intrigue in Baltimore, circa 1930 by Gedaliah Cohen
Israel Bonds, Kosher Chickens, and the FBI by Harry Diamond
Photo Gallery: Every Picture Tells a Story by Jobi Zink
Dad’s Store, 1920-1968 by Hilda Perl Goodwin
Starting Out by Irene Siegel
Marching for Soviet Jewry by Shoshana S. Cardin
Divided Lives: A Generation of Baltimore Jewish Women Tell Their Tales by Pamela S. Nadell
Hand-Made Haggadot: The Zaben Family Haggadah
Chronology: Telling Time: A Century of Maryland Historical Writing
Field Notes: Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust by Louis D. Levine
Review: Gil Sandler: An Appreciation by Michael Olesker

Cost: $10

Generations 2004: Recreation, Sports & Leisure

Table of Contents:
Introduction by Avi Y. Decter
A Club of Their Own: Suburban and Woodholme Through the Years by Deborah R. Weiner
The Dancing Schools of Baltimore’s Jewish Society by Gilbert Sandler
Equine Passion: The Cohen Family at Pimlico Race Course by Robin Z. Waldman
Match Point: Fighting Racial Discrimination in Druid Hill Park by Barry Kessler with Anita Kassof
City of Champions: Major League Sports and Baltimore Jews by Diane L. Jacobsohn
“A Nice Clean Room”: Pool Hall Portraits from 1950s Baltimore by Michael A. Lang
Amateur Jewish Athletes: Then and Now by Jobi O. Zink
Chronology: The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore
Field Notes: National Museum of American Jewish History by Mike Silver and Ari Kelman
Review: Martin Abramowitz, Jewish Major Leaguers by Raphael Alvarez

Cost: SOLD OUT!

Generations 2003: Entertaining Maryland

Table of Contents:
Introduction by Avi Y. Decter
“Always Have Kind Words for the Place that Feeds You”: Jews on “The Block” by Deborah R. Weiner
A Front-Row Seat on Cottage Avenue: Memories of Boyhood Entertainment in the Depression Years by Gilbert Sandler
Now Playing at the Hippodrome: Baltimore’s House of Vaudeville, an Interview with M. Robert Rappaport by Dean Krimmel with Steve Liebowitz
Photo Gallery: Performing Community by Avi Y. Decter with Erin L. Titter
Barry Levinson’s Baltimore: An Appreciation by Stephen J. Whitfield
Building Bridges: A Conversation with Liz Lerman by Melissa Martens
Chronology: Entertaining Maryland by Avi Y. Decter
Field Notes: National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting
Review: The Jews of Prime Time by David Zurawik by Joyce Antler

Cost: $10

Generations 2002: Jewish Family History

Table of Contents:
Introduction by Avi Y. Decter
All in the Family: Jewish Women in Baltimore Family Business by Jayne Guberman and Shelly Hettleman
Second Cousins, Card Parties, and Chickens in the Back Yard: Family Life and Jewish Community in Rural Maryland by Deborah R. Weiner
Dispossession and Adaptation: The Weil Sisters Rebuild Their Family in America by Anita Kassof
From the Collections: A Jamboree, A First Grandchild, and A World at War: Glimpses of Family Life from the Schapiro Family Papers by Robin Z. Waldman
Photo Gallery: Family Photos: Images of the Jewish Family in Baltimore by Erin Titter
“I Think It Will Go”: Robert Weinberg Creates the Jewish Heritage Center by Avi Y. Decter
Field Notes: Center for Jewish History, NYC
Chronology: Jewish Family Services by Melissa Goldman with Gail Lipsitz

Cost: $6

Generations 2001

Table of Contents:
Introduction 
by Avi Y. Decter
New Light on an Old Landmark: Recent Discoveries at the Lloyd Street Synagogue by Barry Kessler
Strangers No More: Jewish Life in Maryland’s Small Towns by Karen Falk
From the Collections: Saul Bernstein, Baltimore Artist by Jobi Zink
Photo Gallery: Dressing the Part by Melissa Martens
Field Notes: Small Jewish Museum
Chronology: Baltimore’s Downtown Department Stores compiled by K. Meghan Gross

Generations 2000: Fortieth Anniversary Edition

Table of Contents:
Introduction 
by Avi Y. Decter
Isaac Hamburger and Sons: Memories of a Family and a Store by Albert Berney
The Jews of Western Maryland: Cumberland and Beyond by Leonard Schwab
Growing Up with Jacob Blaustein: Personal Memories by Barbara Blaustein Hirschhorn
Strange Journey: From Lithuania to Baltimore by Way of Aergentina by Dorothy Tucker Katzenstein
Young Voices on Yom Kippur: The Tzemach Tzedek Boy’s Choir by Howard E. Siegel
Paradise Lost: A Retrospective of Liberty Road’s Jewish Community by Steve Liebowitz
The “Frum” Community: Not All Black and White by Margie Pensak
Maryland’s Jewish Treasure House: The Jewish Museum and its Collections by Anita Kassof
Photo Gallery: The Jewish Museum of Maryland
Chronology: The Jewish Museum of Maryland by Barry Kessler

Cost: $6

Generations 1999

Table of Contents:
Introduction 
by Avi Y. Decter
A Rabbi’s Daughter Remembers by Clementine Lazaron Kaufman
Every Year a New Rabbi by Morton Ellin, M.D.
Baltimore’s Little Jerusalem by Barnett B. Berman, M.D.
The Saga of Samuel Shapiro & Company, Inc. by M. Sigmund Shapiro
Remembering “Pa” by Richard Lansburgh
Orthodoxy in East Baltimore: A Retrospect by Melvin J. Sykes
Cost: $6

For information on older issues of Generations, please contact Archivist Jennifer Vess, jvess@jewishmuseummd.org, 410-732-6402 x213.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




They Ate Kosher at Fort McHenry

Posted on April 25th, 2012 by

In honor of the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, I’d like to submit an excerpt of an article that appeared in our Generations magazine back in December 1979, written by Albert J. Silverman. ~Historian Dr. Deb Weiner.

"A view of the bombardment of Fort McHenry." Drawing by J. Bower, 1819. Public domain. Via.

The two best known Jewish families in Maryland during the first half of the nineteenth century were the Cohens and the Ettings. When the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British occurred in September, 1814, two members of the Cohen family and one of the Ettings were among the defenders. They were Philip and Mendes I. Cohen and Samuel Etting. Philip and Mendes were twenty-one and seventeen, respectively, and Samuel was eighteen. All three were members of Captain Joseph Nicholson’s Artillery Fencibles, which was attached to the First Regiment of Artillery, commanded by Lt. Col. David Harris. The eldest of the Cohen brothers, Jacob, was also a member of the Fencibles, but he was on leave and in Philadelphia taking care of a sick uncle—probably  Jacob Cohen, a Revolutionary War veteran—at the time of the bombardment.

19. Historic American Buildings Survey. Portion of a lithograph of Fort McHenry, by E. Sachse, 1862. Peale Museum, Baltimore. – Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine, East Fort Avenue at Whetstone Point, Baltimore, Independent City, MD. Courtesy Library of Congress.

The Fencibles were home guards recruited locally. All were volunteers. Although paid monthly they drew no rations; each man furnished his own provisions. Many, like Philip, Mendes and Samuel, were supplied by their families. Every morning a covered cart loaded with edibles set out from Howard and Baltimore Streets for the fort. Inasmuch as the Etting family lived on Baltimore Street, between Howard and Eutaw, in all likelihood the Etting home was the cart’s point of departure. The Cohens likewise lived on Baltimore Street. Years later, Mendes Cohen, in a memoir narrated to a great-nephew, related that the Cohen famiy “had a large stone jug around which was tightly sewn a cover of carpet, which was filled with coffee each morning and sent by the cart, always arriving there good and hot.” Other families living in the neighborhood no doubt also used the cart to provision their relatives in the Fencibles. This arrangement was perfect for the Cohens and the Ettings. Both families were devoutly Orthodox and adhered to the dietary laws. Moreover, as Samuel Etting’s father Solomon was certified to slaughter food animals in accordance with the ancient rite, the boys at the fort must have been well-provided with kosher viands.

16. Historic American Buildings Survey. Portion of a plan of Fort McHenry, by William Tell Poussin, 1819, National Archives, Records of the War Department, Cartographic Section, Record Group 77, drawer 51, sheet 2. Plan of fort and enclosed buildings. - Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine, East Fort Avenue at Whetstone Point, Baltimore, Independent City, MD. Courtesy Library of Congress.

During the worst of the bombardment, a shell struck a powder magazine in the fort. Mendes Cohen was one of several Fencibles who rushed in, rolled out the barrels of powder and removed the cases of cartridges. . . . In 1836 Governor Veazey of Maryland appointed him one of his aides with the rank of colonel in recognition of his services during the defense of Baltimore. . . . Of the three young defenders, only Samuel was wounded during the bombardment. This was on September 13, 1814. It was not a serious wound, and he made a rapid recovery. . . .

18. Historic American Buildings Survey. Portion of an anonymous watercolor painting of Fort McHenry bombardment of 1814. Peale Museum, Baltimore. View of southeast bastion and sally port. - Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine, East Fort Avenue at Whetstone Point, Baltimore, Independent City, MD. Courtesy Library of Congress.

During the war, Solomon Etting (Samuel’s father) represented his ward on the city-wide Committee of Vigilance and Safety. The committee charged him with the responsibility of finding quarters to house the military units stationed in Baltimore and for preparing facilities for the care of the sick and wounded. He carried out his responsibilities with energy and competence.

1818 portrait of Mendes I. Cohen by artist Joseph Wood. Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1978.67.1, museum purchase.

Postcript: Mendes I. Cohen went on to a career as a world traveler (one of the first Americans to visit the Holy Land), raconteur, state legislator, and banker. He died in 1879 as “one of the oldest and most highly respected citizens of Baltimore,” according to a local newspaper. Into his eighties, “his tall and commanding figure could frequently be seen on North Charles and Baltimore streets.” Well known as the oldest living survivor of his artillery company, he frequently regaled his fellow citizens with stories of the bombardment. For more on his fascinating life, see our Generations 2007-2008 issue.

For more about the War of 1812 and to find out about Maryland’s celebration of the 200th anniversary, see http:///starspangled200.org/.  


Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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