Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekly Report: 12.18.09

Dear Friends,

Much of our time recently has been devoted to preparations for our 50th anniversary year in 2010. Anita Kassof, Deb Weiner, and Jenn Vess are hard at work with their team to complete work on our new core exhibition, The Synagogue Speaks, which will open in March. Deborah Cardin and Simone Ellin are planning for our kick-off events in March, while Lauren Silberman, Rachel Kassman, and Mindy Glaser McShane are dealing with the many administrative tasks associated with the 50th. Jobi Zink and Karen Falk are staffing up two Anniversary initiatives, Telling Time (oral histories) and Stories We Live By (video interviews). Other staff are pitching in as needed, and a dozen JMM trustees are involved on steering committees for various anniversary events and programs. We are very grateful to The Herbert Bearman Foundation for generously supporting our opening events in March.

This high level of activity and engagement is very likely to persist throughout calendar 2010 as we rev up our programs and activities. In the meantime, a lot of other things are going on-and here are some highlights:

GIFTS AND GRANTS: We are delighted to acknowledge a grant from the Leo V. Berger Fund in support of our acclaimed Immigrant's Trunk program; a grant from M&T Bank Foundation in support of our Museum-School Partnership program; a grant from the Number Ten Foundation (Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Brunn) in support of A Blessing to One Another, a major exhibition on Pope John Paul II and the Jews, which we will host in fall 2010; and a gift for general operating support from the Dopkin-Singer-Dannenberg Foundation. We are very grateful to all our benefactors for their commitment, generous support, and kind encouragement.

COLLECTIONS: The JMM Collections Committee, chaired by Duke Zimmerman, met this week to review proposed accessions to the collections. This was, as usual, a lively, thoughtful meeting. Our thanks to the Committee and the JMM collections staff, especially Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

Archivist Jennifer Vess reports that the archives inventory is complete at 94.6%. The next step will be to address the issues and problems raised by the inventory. With the inventory complete, Jennifer has begun cataloging new accessions once again. This week she also began organizing and cataloging institutional archive photographs pertaining to B'nai Israel and the Museum building. Also, two new volunteers began work in the archives this week, processing a collection of scrapbooks from the CJE, and moving forward with the organization of the Institutional Archives.

PROGRAMS: On Monday 14 December the JMM and BJC held a jointly-sponsored Holocaust-themed teacher-training workshop. A group of 40 educators, representing Jewish day schools, public, private, and home schools, and universities spent the morning studying the multi-media curriculum, Echoes and Reflections presented by Anti-Defamation League educator Deborah Batiste; after lunch the group moved to the Lloyd Street Synagogue to hear survivor testimony from Warsaw native Sam Ponczak, followed by a tour of the Synagogue. Many of the participants "discovered" the JMM with this workshop and are planning a return visit with their students.

OUTREACH: On Saturday 5 December, the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Shabbat Shelanu Mini-Kiddush featured JMM Special Projects Consultant Dr. Barry S. Lever representing the Museum's Speakers Bureau, sponsored by Attman's Delicatessen. Dr. Lever's delivered an interactive presentation of an art project, The Heart is a Pump!? based on his personal experience with heart disease. On Monday 14 December, Barry Lever and Esther Weiner brought a JMM Speakers Bureau presentation, sponsored by Attman's Delicatessen, to Roland Park Place. The residents delighted in blessing the candles and singing the traditional holiday melodies. Barry's discussion of the fascinating history this festival and Esther's delicious latkes made for a lively program. The delights of this JMM program also engaged residents of other faiths to share in the festivities. The Tot Shabbat programs are part of the JCC's program, "JCC Beyond the Borders" funded by the The Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment Jewish Education

The JMM participated in the Community-Wide Chanukah Celebration on Tuesday, 15 December at the JCC. Deborah Cardin, Ilene Dackman-Alon, and Simone Ellin distributed information about the JMM and helped children make edible dreidels using marshmallows and chocolate kisses. This activity was a big hit with families!

IN-REACH: On Sunday 13 December, the Shimanov family held their son's Bar Mitzvah at the synagogue, followed by a reception in the lobby. Over 70 people attended the simcha. Also on Sunday, members of the Downtown Jewish Family Network participated in their monthly family program at the JMM. The program featured a Chanukah celebration, and participants created beautiful Chanukiot using recycled materials, decorated cookies, played dreidel, and sang Chanukah songs.

On Tuesday 15 December, the Maryland-Israel Development Center held a wine and cheese Chanukah party at the Museum for over 80 people. Attendees included members of the business world in both Maryland and Israel, as well as other important figures, including Doug Gansler, Maryland's Attorney General, and Ken Ulman, Howard County Executive.

EDUCATION: On Wednesday 16 December, several D.C. home school families visited the Museum as part of their American Girl book club. They are currently reading books about Rebecca Rubin, a young Jewish girl in New York in 1914, whose grandparents immigrated from Russia. The families toured the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue as part of the Introduction to Judaism program, used the scavenger hunt in Voices of Lombard Street, played Chanukah related games and sang songs, and held a book discussion. On Friday 18 December, 80 high school students from Washington DC-based Schools Without Walls visited the JMM for an immigration-themed field trip. Students toured our historic synagogues and Voices of Lombard Street exhibition and participated in a staff facilitated exploration of the Leo V. Berger Immigrant's Trunk.

STAFF ACTIVITIES: Esther Weiner hosted Sen. Barbara Mikulski's Director of Constitutent Services, Marianne Kreitner, who came in to shop for a menorah for their office at the recommendation of Councilwoman Rikki Spector. Marianne was absolutely delighted with her purchase, which is now gracing a Chanukah display in their office.

On 13 December, Simone and Esther participated in live interviews on WJZ's morning show. To view, click here and here.

Simone Ellin, Rachel Kassman, and Lauren Silberman are making excellent progress in completing re-design of the Museum's website. The JMM website development team met their goal of having all text dropped into the new website's shell. Currently, our web designer is "theming" the site in preparation for its launch at the end of this month. Also on the digital front, Jobi Zink uploaded 17 Once Upon a Time photos to our blog and images to Past Perfect.

Deborah Cardin and Jeanette Parmigiani met with Jeremy Swerling of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Erika Schon, and Katherine Lyons to discuss plans to produce Brundibar, an opera performed by a children's choir at the Theresiendstadt concentration camp during the Holocaust. Ilene Dackman-Alon and Deborah Cardin met with curatorial and program staff at the Lewis Museum to learn more about the Lewis's plans to host a traveling exhibition, Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges. The JMM hopes to partner with the Lewis Museum on collaborative programming exploring the exhibition themes.

On Thursday, Anita Kassof convened the board of Historic Jonestown, Inc. at the Fairfield Marriott. Logan Bailey-Perkins of A&R development spoke to the group about plans for the parcel on the southwest corner of Lombard Street and Central Avenues. They are planning a mixed-use development that includes retail and parking at grade (with stores fronting both Lombard and Central), and a four story, 104-unit apartment building above. They are currently working with the City to consolidate the properties in the parcel.

Ilene Dackman-Alon attended "Knit One Learn Two" at Chizuk Amuno Congregation led by Melton educator Judy Meltzer. Ilene also attended the Historic Jonestown Meeting at the Fairfield Hotel to discuss with community neighbors the JMM's upcoming Street Festival for Fall 2010.

Best wishes to everyone for a peaceful Sabbath, a delightful last night of Chanukah, and a pleasant weekend.


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