Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lloyd Street Synagogue and LEGOs?

Is the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue (1845) related to LEGOs ®? You decide!

Photo courtesy of board member Duke Zimmerman.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Jobi is SO SAD! Why so sad Jobi?

I miss the interns! And it’s not just because I need someone to flip my desk calendar (time has frozen since August 19th),

to file my closed-out loan folders (a nice big pile is mounting – see the pencil pup for reference!), and to make phone calls to lenders about retrieving their materials!

I miss all of their energy and enthusiasm; their delight as they discover fun, interesting (and sometimes bizarre) items in the collection; the pencil competitions; conversations at the picnic tables outside…

Sure, interns take a lot of time and work: staff has to train them to be the little collection managers/curators/educators of tomorrow. We need to answer questions that often seem self explanatory (but only until we realize we’ve been doing our job for years and it really ISN’T that obvious!), try and arrange for cool field trips and remember to bring in the occasional snack. But interns help us be more efficient, more productive and better behaved (we have to set a good example you know!).

Who is going to scan that photo for the next issue of Generations magazine? Who is going to help put together the packets for the board retreat? Who will run downstairs and complete object measurements? Who will eat all of these delicious cupcakes…?

My piles have grown, the data entry is mounting, and there are projects just itching to be worked on. Bottom line: we need a few hardy interns to brave Baltimore’s winter weather (and welcome in the spring!) in our collections and exhibition department. If you can get to the museum 1 or 2 times per week we want you! Work for class credit, to build up volunteer hours or simply for the joy of getting to pick your own awesome pencil from the cup on my desk!

Interested? (And why wouldn’t you be!?!) Send me, Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and official Intern wrangler, an email at, and let’s talk!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Student Immigration Stories

The Baltimore Jewish Times recently. wrote a great story about our student immigration stories program. Check it out here!

One more day to eat in the Sukkah!

Tomorrow, Friday - from 11 - 2pm - will be the last day that the sukkah at B'nai Israel Synagogue will be open during the week for people to enjoy for lunch. Please visit for more information. Visiting is free but please bring your own lunch. Additionally, it is the last day that the Chabad sukkah at Power Plant, 601 E Pratt St (on the right side of the Hard Rock Cafe) will be open. Please visit for additional information.

New Cemetery Resources!

We've just updated our records of Jewish Cemeteries in Maryland!

Cemetery burial listings are now available on-line for
Rosedale, Beth Jacob-Finksburg Cemetery, Beth Tfiloh Cemetery, Mikro Kodesh-Beth Israel, Other East Baltimore cemeteries, West Baltimore cemeteries, Chevrah Ahavas Chesed, Cumberland Eastview Cemetery, and Frederick, Maryland!

family history collection at the Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center contains many additional primary source materials, including:
  • Baltimore Jewish Times obituaries, 1919 to present
  • Jack Lewis Funeral Home records, 1924-1939, 1956-1965
  • Published and unpublished genealogies of Maryland Jewish families
  • Baltimore City directories on microfiche/film, 1752-1930 (some years missing)
  • U.S. manuscript census, Baltimore and other parts of Maryland, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
  • Passenger index for ships that arrived in the Port of Baltimore, 1820-1952
  • Passenger manifests of ships that arrived in the Port of Baltimore, 1840-1920
  • Memoirs of Jewish Life in Maryland and Europe
  • Records of Jewish cemeteries in the Greater Baltimore area
  • Circumcision (1836-1870, 1940-1967), midwife (1892-1919) , and marriage (1850-1944) records of individual Baltimore-area mohels, midwives and rabbis
  • H.I.A.S. arrival records (1911-1914, 1938-1953)
  • Historical Database of Baltimore Religious Personnel
  • Yizkor (Memorial) books of East European towns
  • Hebrew Orphan Asylum records, 1873-1917
  • Registries of Maryland military personnel in World Wars I and II

Additional resources include: archival collections from several Baltimore-area synagogues; records of local Jewish agencies, institutions and businesses; personal papers of prominent individuals; profiles of individuals and families in A History of the Jews of Baltimore (Blum, 1910) and other locally-published books; biographical, institutional and subject files related to Baltimore and Maryland Jewry; and oral histories of Maryland Jews. Periodicals that offer information on Maryland Jewry include the Baltimore Jewish Times (1919 to present), Jewish Comment (1895-1918), Jewish Chronicle (1875), Jewish Exponent (1887-1888), Sinai (1856-1860), Generations (1978 to present) and American Jewish Year Book (1899-1985). We also maintain a photograph collection related to immigration, Jewish life in Maryland, and the many institutions of Baltimore Jewry.

Our library contains publications on Jewish genealogy, including Shtetl Finder, Where Once We Walked, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames From the Russian Empire, Jewish Roots in Poland, and the periodical Avotaynu. We also maintain a collection of publications and newsletters from genealogical societies across the nation.

To find out more, please contact our historian, Deb Weiner, at 410.732.6400 x224 or

Friday, October 2, 2009

Your Secret is Safe with Me!

Tuesday morning a safe cracker came to the Lloyd Street Synagogue to open the enormous old safe in the basement and I got to watch!

The cast iron concrete-insulated safe likely dates between 1880-1920. It doesn’t have manufacturers markings, but the expert thinks that it could be either Miller or York, two companies that were making this type of safe at the turn of the last century. My goal was to see what was saved inside so we could decide what to do the safe. If it held great treasures from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation or St. John the Baptist we might want to save it, otherwise we might chose to scrap it. Either way, it will have to move to make room for The Synagogue Speaks exhibition.

The safe cracker quickly ascertained that the lock was in the open position but the door still seemed to be sealed tight. Using a crow bar and a block of wood for leverage it took him about 5 minutes to pry the heavy door open. Someone was serious about protecting the contents of the safe – the door had five insulated layers and an interior door!

Imagine my surprise when there was an interior set of doors!

My fingers were tingling with anticipation as the safe cracker opened these also unlocked doors. There were two rows of small cubby holes at the top of the safe and a big open section below. And everything was empty! No important minute books, no bills of sale, no bodies!

So, if this were a mystery novel we would know that someone else had already opened the safe. We’d have to backtrack and do research to figure out who beat us to the punch! – and find out what had been locked inside! Now I just have to figure out a way to get ‘the beast’ out of the basement.