Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time 9.24.2010

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or jzink@jewishmuseummd.org.

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: 9/24/10

PastPerfect Accession #: 1989.109.011

Status: Identified. Group of Azoans, c. 1955. Front: L-R Ernestine “Tine” Stiffman, Dorothy Bark, Dora (Naviasky) Rockman, Mrs. Diener Back L-R : Mr. Bark, Mr. Diener / Alternate ids: Hannah Kotzin, Numa Levy, ? Katzen, Betty Goldstein, Rabbi Rosenblatt, Manny Shenker

Special thanks to: Steve Steinberg, Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman, Shelia Friedman, Debbie Rockman Greenberg, David Earle, Helen Naviasky, Harriet Naviasky Sollod

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time 9.17.2010

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or jzink@jewishmuseummd.org.

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: 9/17/10

PastPerfect Accession #: 2007.016.010

Status: Partially identified. Talmudical Academy boys with their dean and principal. Adults: L-R Simon Isaacson (principal) and the man wearing the glasses is Hyman Sampson (dean). Seated row: 1. Leon Levin 2. Jerome Joseph Mondell 3. Simon Isaacson 4. Hyman Sampson 5. unidentified 6. unidentified Standing row 1. unidentified 2. unidentified 3. unidentified 4. Barney Kandel 5. unidentified 6. Leon Milner 7. unidentified Standing row back: 1. unidentified 2. Irving Milner 3. unidentified

Special thanks to: Arnold Levin, Ben Mondell, Michelle Kandel, David Milner

Monday, December 20, 2010


A blog post by shop manager Esther Weiner.

One of the best parts of my job at the Jewish Museum of Maryland is meeting the people who take the time to come and visit the museum. Granted, it is a very special place, or so we think (those of us that work and spend a great deal of time there)…so I have always felt that visitors deserve to see our “best face forward”. After all, in a way, they are our guests in a unique kind of way.

Managing the Museum Shop has its share of difficulties, which I won’t touch on now, but my favorite thing is to be in the shop and meet and greet our visitors. Our special volunteers are most often there, but when they cannot come, that means I get to talk to the children, their parents, the visitors from California, France, Israel, Brazil, and most of the states all across the country. So now I can show off our hand-picked pieces of jewelry, menorahs, seder plates, artwork, listen to music on our CD player, and make the visitor feel comfortable and at home.

Let me tell you about a recent visitor to the museum who moved to the Baltimore area from Raleigh, North Carolina. As she looked at the merchandise in the shop we started to chat. I told her that I was born in Raleigh, and that my father started his rabbinical career in Raleigh. She told me about an exhibition in Raleigh at the North Carolina Museum of History called Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina. Interesting, I thought.

In about two weeks, an envelope arrived from my new friend from North Carolina, with a brochure from the exhibition. I read it with much interest, then on the very last page of was a small picture of a group of children, standing on steps with adults in the last row. The picture was labeled “Raleigh Sunday School, 1928”…..I could not believe my eyes, there was my father, standing in the very last row of the picture! I had never seen that picture, in fact, I knew very little about my parents life in Raleigh.

I phoned the museum in Raleigh and spoke with a really helpful Education Chief, who turned out to be Jewish, and when I asked if it would be possible to get a reprint of the picture, he made it possible for that to happen. I was thrilled, and so was our family.

Finally, to round out this incredible tale, there were oral histories taken of people who lived through the time period when my father was the rabbi of the House of Jacob. I was able to read those stories, read what the congregants thought of my father, and how much they respected him, and the work he did while he served the people of Raleigh. I felt so good about it, my father would have been so pleased to read these comments. Our family’s history has been enriched by this experience.

All this because a visitor came to the Museum Shop of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. And we made her feel welcome. Because that’s what we do.

I love it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A New Look!

Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, we have exciting news! This week the JMM launched a new website and, in conjunction, a new blog! As such, we'll be moving our operation over to the new blog url, which is

So refresh your feed, change your bookmars, and follow us over to the new site. To read all about the redesign, read the newest post on the blog, and to see the new JMM site, visit http://jewishmsueummd.org

Hope to see you over there!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time 9.10.2010

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or jzink@jewishmuseummd.org.

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: 9/10/10PastPerfect Accession #: 2009.040.5192

Status: Unidentified. Past presidents of the (Baltimore Hebrew University) Sisterhood.

Monday, December 13, 2010

When Cholent Goes Bad

A blog post by Sr. Collections Manager, Jobi Zink

Some people would argue that all cholent* is bad. But some cholent is badder than others.

Genuine cholent recipe from our
Voices of Lombard Street exhibition

Take for example, the full, unopened can of cholent beans that was accessioned into our collection in 1992. This can of beans is probably more than 20 years old because, let’s face it, the can was probably in someone’s pantry cabinet for at least 2 years before they decided to give it to the Museum rather than to the Boy Scouts’ canned good drive.

In its early years, said can sat quietly on our collections shelves with various other kitchen-related items, including packaging from many garden variety Kosher foods, c. 1980s.

Then one day, Karen Falk, curator of the upcoming Chosen Food exhibition was perusing the collection for available artifacts. I can’t believe we have this in our collection. A full can? Who has a full can of cholent beans? she thought, holding the can in her gloved hand. Well, we have other, odder things in our collections, she shrugged.

Months went by and Karen continued collecting, planning and developing the exhibit. Then, during a routine inventory of items to be used in the exhibit, she noticed that the can would not sit flat on the shelf. That’s not right, she thought. Was it like that before? she wondered. Nope. The top and bottom lids were distended. Puffy. Ready to blow! Botulism?! Time to bring in the collections manager, Jobi Zink.

No need to panic, I told Karen. I know exactly how to handle this. (Thanks to Things That Go Bump in the Night: When Collections Strike Back, a session presented by Rosie Cook, Registrar (The Chemical Heritage Foundation and Museum), Anna Dhody, Curator (Mutter Museum) and Michael Leister, Director (Air Mobility Command Museum) at the 2010 MAAM Conference.)

It’s a simple 12 step program:

1) Confirm with the Collections Committee that the contents of a collections item potentially containing botulism should indeed be properly disposed of, while the container and its packaging should be saved if possible.

2) Gather the entire collections staff outside to the parking lot on a super-cold day to observe the event. Remind them to stand back to avoid splatter.

3) Charm the custodian into assisting with a very important collections project.

4) Have said custodian pierce the top of a can with a drill to relieve pressure.

5) Flip the can over and employ a standard can opener to open the bottom of the can, releasing 20 year old beans onto newspaper.

6) Discard contents. Preferably wrapped in layers of newspaper. Then industrial strength- plastic bags. Bury deep inside dumpster. Do not inhale. Do not attempt to touch with bare hands.

7) Without using the new kitchen sponge or Esther’s dish towels, wash the inside of the can thoroughly with a lot of soap and hot running water in the industrial sink.

8) Wash again.
9) Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

10) Contemplate ways to eliminate the odor. (oooh yeah, 20 year old beans smell much worse than you imagine!)

11) Do not store the item in your office. Do not store the item in your collections storage. Make sure you identify the can as part of the collection and not something to be recycled!!!!

12) Congratulate yourself on:

a. saving the collections from a potential explosion (… now about that nitrate film)
b. not poisoning yourself with botulism
c. writing an exciting blog post about a can of beans

*Cholent is a stew made of meat, vegetables (onions, carrots), and a variety of beans such as red kidney beans, white beans, cranberry beans, etc. Many people love cholent because it takes hours and hours (like 18 hours!) to make in a crockpot and is therefore Shomer Shabbes friendly.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The JMM at the Conservatory!

If you loved our Enterprising Emporiums exhibition about the historic downtown department stores, you wont want to miss the Winter Windowland display at the Rawlings Conservatory. Many of the photographs used from the JMM exhibition will be featured, along with hat boxes and our handsome text panels!

Two Birth Control Pioneers

A blog post by historian Deb Weiner.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on the upcoming edition of Generations magazine, which will soon go to press. The theme of the issue is “Social Justice,” and without doubt it’s going to be one of our best ever. There will be orphans running away from the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and feminists clashing with male charity leaders in the 1890s, Communists sponsoring illegal “mixed race dancing” in the 1930s, rabbis and ordinary citizens taking a stand for civil rights in the 1960s. And (as always) much more.

For this blog post, I thought I’d highlight the career of Dr. Bessie Moses (1893-1965), who is featured in an article about ten Baltimoreans who stood up for social justice in the 20th century. Committed to women’s health care from an early age, she became the first female obstetrical intern at Johns Hopkins. In 1927, she and a few other doctors from Hopkins founded Maryland’s first birth control clinic, the Bureau for Contraceptive Advice (in the 1940s it became Planned Parenthood of Maryland). She was the clinic’s medical director, a post she held until 1956.

Dr. Bessie Moses

When the clinic opened, many of its activities were actually illegal according to the Comstock Law, which restricted the dissemination of contraceptives and birth control information. The clinic stayed on the right side of the law by positioning itself as a research institute—and it took its research mandate seriously, conducting important studies on birth control methods such as diaphragms and condoms. It also provided desperately-needed care to women who had nowhere else to turn. As a rigorous scientist and compassionate physician, Moses guided both the research and patient care components.

To avoid controversy that might lead to the clinic’s demise, it served only married women, mostly poor and working-class mothers who already had large families and couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. But Moses didn’t shy away from controversy on a personal level—she became a strong advocate for legalizing birth control, speaking out publicly and testifying at Congressional hearings for repeal of the Comstock Law. (In 1936, a federal court ruled that the Comstock Law did not apply to doctors providing contraception to patients.) Her clinic served blacks as well as whites, although on segregated days, as local custom demanded. In 1938 Moses founded the Northwest Maternal Health Center to serve black patients, the first women’s health clinic in the nation staffed by African American physicians.

Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher

Moses mentored another Baltimorean who became a nationally-known birth control pioneer, and since he didn’t make it into Generations, I’m glad to have an opportunity to mention him. Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher (1898-1974) was the son of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Rabbi Adolph Guttmacher and his wife Laura, a feminist, social worker, and leader of local Jewish women’s groups in the early 20th century. He joined the birth control movement as an intern at Hopkins in the 1920s, “after witnessing a woman die from a botched abortion,” according to a profile on the Alan Guttmacher Institute website (more on that later). He became involved in Moses’s clinic, while also teaching at Hopkins and becoming chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Sinai Hospital. In 1952 he moved to New York and held a similar position at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

At age 64, Guttmacher retired from medical practice to become present of the national Planned Parenthood organization. The 1960s were a time of great change in the arena of reproductive rights, and Guttmacher was in the middle of it all, as perhaps the most visible advocate for expanding the availability of birth control and legalizing abortion. “No woman is completely free unless she is wholly capable of controlling her fertility, and … no baby receives its full birthright unless it is born gleefully wanted by its parents,” he stated.

In 1968, Planned Parenthood created the Center for Family Planning Program Development, which became the nation’s leading institute for research, education, and policy analysis related to reproductive health. After Guttmacher’s death, the institute was renamed in his honor.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sadie Stay…Just a little bit longer!

A blog post my marketing director Simone Ellin.

Don’t miss the JMM’s new traveling exhibition VOTE: The Life and Work of Sadie Jacobs Crockin 1879 – 1965. The new and original exhibition, curated by former JMM curator Barry Kessler will open this Sunday, December 12 from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. and will be on display in the JMM lobby until January 3, when it will move to the Women’s Heritage Center in Baltimore.

As JMM p/r and marketing director, I wish that Sadie could stay with us just a little bit longer… Folks’ schedules being what they are, compounded by the holiday season, makes me worry that some will miss the exhibition at its original home. But such is the life of a museum p/r person. It seems I’m always trying to promote exhibitions and programs early, but there’s always some glitch. Openings have to be scheduled around holidays, football games, weather, conflicting Jewish and secular events of all kinds, and dates are always changing. Even naming exhibitions can slow things down! Do you know how long it took the JMM staffers to agree on the name for the Sadie Crockin show? Actually, I take that back, not everyone is in agreement even now. I can’t create press kits without knowing the name of a show, the opening and closing dates, and all the information about the funders.

Items above will be on display ONLY at the JMM! Don't miss them!

I wish I’d had more time to let people know that this great show will be with us for a few precious weeks. Of course, people can see the exhibition at other local venues, but really – you should see it here! I hope you will join us for the opening reception this Sunday. You’ll learn that Sadie Jacobs Crockin was a really important and influential woman who made great strides in the early women’s rights movement, and in support of children. She led the Baltimore chapters of the League of Women Voters, as well as Hadassah. At the opening, admission to the Museum will be free, refreshments will be served, and you will be part of a special celebration in honor of the League of Women’s Voters 90th anniversary. Hope to see you there!

A quick sneak peek at the exhibit!
Don't forget to come and see it in all its glory this Sunday at the JMM!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time 9.03.2010

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or jzink@jewishmuseummd.org.

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: 9/3/10

PastPerfect Accession #: 2009.040.5186

Status: Identified. Graduating class of Isaac Davidson Hebrew School, 1951. Maniloff, Marshall Feldman, Ina Rosen, Barbara “Bunny” Schoeffer, Ilene Kramer or Tema Sussman or Zelda Cohen, Annette Noh, Marcia Radin or Ellen Weinstein (Pozornik), Earl “Buddy” Weiner
Middle Rows: Warren Silverman, Herbie Sachs, Zelig Wolfe, Larry Wolf, Alvin Bard, Howard Pierce, Leon Stern, Myron “Maishe” Bloom, (?) Mendelson, Jerry Rabinowitz
Back Row: Billy Eisenberg, Mike Flaxman, Eugene Padow, Irving Friedman, Joel Sinsky and Sidney Krome

Special thanks to: Larry Wolf, Alvin Bard, Ellen Weinstein Pozornik, Toba Falk, Nadine Goldman, Marcia Radin Craven

Check out "Thanksgiving in Connecticut!"

Pop over to our sister blog "Chosen Food" to read the most recent post about Thanksgiving and leave us some comments about your own T-day celebrations!

"This was an exciting year for me – I don’t usually like to travel around Thanksgiving (too many cars doing too many stupid things on the roads), but because of a backlog of vacation time I was able to take a whole week off and, avoiding holiday traffic, head up to my family in Connecticut to celebrate Thanksgiving in style!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Celebrating Hanukkah, Modern Style

A blog post by Outreach Coordinator Rachael Binning.

Happy Hanukkah! This year I’m celebrating Hanukkah away from my family which means that I’ve had to be a bit more creative about how I celebrate this year. I can’t rely on feeling festive though the boxes of decorations my family has collected over the years or by eating my mom’s homemade applesauce (with Red Hots to make it pink and spicy), or by being with my family as each of us lights our own special menorah. Instead, I’ve resorted to some more non-traditional and modern takes on celebrating the holiday on my own. So instead of eating my dad’s homemade latkes and scheming with my sister over what night we should open which gift, I’ve been doing this:

Listening to Surprisingly Modern (and good!) Hanukkah Songs:

Songs in the Key of Hanukkah by Erran Barron Cohen

I’ve actually been listening to “Songs in the Key of Hanukkah” by Erran Baron Cohen for a few years now, but when I rediscovered it last night I was so glad I did. Erran Baron Cohen, the brother Sacha Baron Cohen (think Borat), released a Hanukkah album a few years ago which I love. The songs on the album, which are performed by a diverse group of musicians, are ones that I would not mind listening to throughout the year. In an NPR interview Cohen said that he created this album because he was unsatisfied with the Hanukkah songs he group up listening to. The album is a compilation of modern takes on traditional songs and new music. One of my favorite songs is “A la Luz de la Vela” (In the Light of the Candles) a beautiful song that is sung in Ladino (Spanish and Hebrew) by Yasmin Levy. The album probably isn’t for everyone (I can see some people being turned off by the modern takes on traditional holiday favorites), but it’s worth at least checking out listening to Erran Baron Cohen’s interview and the few songs posted on NPR’s site.

Miracle by Matisyahu

Matisyahu has a new Hanukkah song called “Miracle,” which is so catchy that I think it should be played on the radio right now! Matisyahu was recently interviewed on NRP about the new song, being a Chasidic reggae singer, and Hanukkah. Visit Matisyahu’s website to watch the very entertaining music video for the song.

Hosting a Holiday Party With My Roommates:

Chrismakah Tree

I live with two roommates (who I love!) who are not Jewish. However, we all appreciate getting into the holiday spirit and enjoy spending times with friends and family around this time of year. This year we are hosting a holiday decorating party, which I’m very excited about because we will be making Christmas and Hanukkah decorations while frying latkes and drinking mulled wine. Does it get any better than that? I also love the idea of this holiday party because we get to share our different traditions and cultures with each other. I’ve never lived in a house with a Christmas tree and this year I will be able to partake in that tradition. My roommates will get to assist me (or knowing my cooking skills, take the lead) in attempting to fry up some latkes.

I asked some of my friends who now live on their own what they do for Hanukkah and one of them said that she just came back from a Hanukkah party where they had a gift exchange. This isn’t a new idea, but it’s a good one for young adults on a tight budget. I love giving and receiving gifts, but the cost quickly adds up. My roommates and I are also thinking of adding a charity component to our party. Our ideas included donating to a local charity or having each guest bring canned goods. I really love this idea and I think it’s a great way to get in the holiday spirit.

Listening to Stories:

My sister’s fireproof menorah.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually not a great muti-tasker (talking on the phone while typing is not my forte). I am however great at listening to stories (such as NPR or This American Life) while cleaning my room, walking the dog, or participating in other relatively mindless activities. Last night rather than eating latkes and spinning dreidles I ended up listening to NPR’s yearly program called Hanukkah Lights while cleaning my room and eating Thai food. This is the 20th Anniversary of the program and that each year presents an hour of commissioned stories focused on Hanukkah. Based on the other links I’ve posted in this blog post I’m sure you’ve noticed I am an avid NPR listener, but I think this program is especially great. Hanukkah Lights puts Judaism’s strong oral tradition in a modern context while remaining entertaining and educating the public about some of the many themes of Hanukkah. Jews love to tell stories, and indeed most of our holidays are based around stories, so it’s important to see that the storytelling tradition (both fiction and non-fiction) keeps up in the modern age.

I’m not saying that I don’t miss celebrating a traditional Hanukkah with my family because I do, but I’m glad that there are alternative ways for me to participate in the themes and tradition of the holiday this year. Finally, I’ll leave you with a picture of my family celebrating Hanukkah about 20 years ago (oy!). My sister Sarah is wearing a tiara (she’s always thought that she was a princess) and I have the red bow in my hair. Those days, including my mom’s long red nails, are long gone.

The Binning Family Celebrates Hanukkah!

Friday, December 3, 2010

November at the JMM

A blog post by education director Deborah Cardin.

I just finished compiling stats for November 2010 at the JMM. Every month, I tally our on-site attendance with separate categories dedicated to walk-in visitors, adult group members, schools, special events, and rentals. I am now in my 9th year as “keeper of the stats” and it is interesting to compare and contrast the ebb and flow of visitation over the years as we try and track trends and determine the various factors (weather, season, new exhibitions, popular programs, etc.) that seem to encourage higher numbers of visitors. School groups, in particular, are a special area of interest. As we work to promote our programs and resources to even larger numbers of school groups, I always pay particular attention to our monthly totals in an effort to discern how we can continue to grow our program.

November was a banner month for school groups. During the month, we served 834 students, teachers, and chaperones (as compared to just over 400 last November). One of the most influential factors driving school group visitation during the month was our installation of the exhibition, A Blessing To One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People. While many groups booked visits to see this exhibition – and we also saw the number of walk-in visitors rise – Catholic schools, in particular, demonstrated a high level of interest in bringing groups to see the exhibition. During November alone, we served 606 students, teachers, and chaperones from Catholic schools and universities.

One of the challenges in serving such large number of student groups is the limited space within the gallery housing A Blessing To One Another. As many of our docents have pointed out, ideal group sizes for a guided exhibition tour is 15 or fewer and yet, the average size group of students is larger than 50. It, therefore, becomes necessary to break the classes into smaller groups and rotate each group through various stations. This also necessitates bringing on additional volunteer docents and staff to help facilitate.

On November 16, 75 students from The Catholic High School, an all-girls school in Baltimore City, visited for a half-day trip. The large number of students necessitated some creative thinking as to how we could break them into smaller groups and facilitate meaningful activities with each group. We decided to split them into four groups. Two groups were combined for an Introduction to Judaism program in the Lloyd Street Synagogue (which can accommodate larger numbers of students) where students learned about Jewish history, traditions, and customs. This station proved to be a terrific complement to the Blessing To One Another exhibition where students could ask questions and probe the significance of Jewish ritual items.

Catholic HS girls participating in an Introduction to
Judaism program led by JMM docent Lois Fekete.

The other two groups were split between A Blessing To One Another and The Synagogue Speaks! exhibition that explores the histories of the three different congregational groups (including a Lithuanian Catholic church) that occupied the Lloyd Street Synagogue at different times in history. The Synagogue Speaks! station included hands-on interactive activities that encouraged students to work together in teams and to solve mysteries of how the building changed over time.

Catholic HS students creating watercolors in The Synagogue Speaks!

The program culminated with a presentation by Holocaust survivor Rachel Bodner who shared her personal experiences of life before, during, and after the Holocaust.

Catholic HS students listening to Holocaust survivor, Rachel Bodner

Through these various activities and presentations, students received an intensive learning experience that touched on many aspects of their classroom lessons. One of the teachers from The Catholic High School shared his feedback about the field trip with JMM staff: “Thank you so much for helping to plan our experience at the museum. My students had an amazing experience and are still talking about it today. I cannot express how grateful I am for the museum, you, your staff, the volunteers, and the wonderful programs that you have available. The other faculty members and myself were discussing how we can incorporate the museum into our curriculum to make it a yearly event.”

The next day, we received a visit by a joint group of students visiting from St. Frances Academy and Shoshana S. Cardin High School. This interfaith gathering of students of Jewish and Catholic faiths was inspired by the Blessing To One Another exhibition. Students were split into small mixed groups and toured the exhibition with the assistance of worksheets looking for examples of how Pope John Paul II worked towards building positive relationships between Jews and Catholics throughout his life. As I walked through the exhibit asking students if they needed assistance finding answers to worksheet questions, I kept hearing from students that they were equally interested in getting to know their peers from the other school and they were conversing about mutual interest in sports, music, etc. I took this as a sign that the program was successful!

Again, we received positive feedback about the field trip from both teachers and students. “I just wanted to thank you for the experience yesterday. It proved to be a wonderful example of Judeo-Christian camaraderie and dialogue. I thought it went great, and my students were genuinely interested throughout the visit. I could not even get anyone to admit to liking one part of the day over the other, they said again and again, that it was great from beginning to end.”

While we are always pleased to serve high numbers of students and teachers, we are even more concerned with the quality of the programs. Feedback that we receive through teacher and student surveys (such as the comments shared above) provides guidance as we plan new programs and activities. We are grateful to all of the JMM staff and volunteer docents who provided such superior service for school groups this month and look forward to developing new tours, resources, and activities in the months ahead.

While it was an exhausting month, comments from students such as this St. Frances Academy student, truly make it all worthwhile!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

MS 186 Ohel Yakov Ledger Collection, 1921-1960

After a little hiatus, your peak into our archival collections is back! Today I have an excerpt from one our newest finding aids for the Ohel Yakov Ledgers of 1921 to 1960. Ledgers don't usually excite a lot of interest in people, but they can give us insight into an institution and the people connected with it. The Ohel Yakov Ledgers not only show numbers and accounts, they can also provide genealogical information.

This page shows the accounts pertaining to one of Ohel Yakov's members in 1923.

Detail of ledger page showing the full name of one of the congregants and his address.

Ohel Yakov Ledger Collection

MS 186

The Ohel Yakov Ledgers were purchased by the Jewish Museum of Maryland in 2006 as accession 2006.031. The collection was processed by Jennifer Vess in July 2010.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.

Ohel Yakov was founded in 1875 by immigrants from Bialistock, which gave it the additional name of the Bialistoker Shul. Later it acquired the nickname Die Franzaizisheh Shul – the French Shul – because of the formal way in which officers dressed rather than any connection to France. The first synagogue was located at Aisquith and Gay Streets where the congregation stayed until 1958. They moved to Glen Avenue and used a pre-existing building until 1962 when the original building was raised and a new synagogue built. Ohel Yakov is an active congregation.

Weinstein, Joseph. “On Tour Thru Baltimore.” Baltimore Jewish Times. May 30, 1975 pg. 26. http://www.ohelyakov.org/hist.html

The Ohel Yakov Ledger collection consists of photocopies of five ledgers which track members’ payments from 1921 through 1960. Accounts for the years 1937 through 1941 are not part of the collection. The ledgers are written in English and Hebrew or Yiddish. The information within the first ledger is organized alphabetically by the last name of the congregation member. Information in the rest of the ledgers is organized by date.

The boys choir of Ohel Yakov, 1938. 1998.128.1

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Barry’s Blog

A blog by Dr. Barry Lever. Click the links below for earlier entries in this series.

Post One
Post Two
Post Three

The last blog recounted our research at the Edward C. Papenfuse Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, Maryland. It was there, in the microfilm records of the Baltimore County Court’s marriage licenses that we first encountered the name of the “Minister- Ansell,” who two days subsequent to the issue of the marriage license officiated at the wedding that the Golombek Ketubah documents.

We also pointed out that the July 14, 1845 license No. 273 was granted to Wolf Solden and Teressa Habal. This revealed the bride’s English name and clarified the groom’s last name to begin with the letter “S,” rather than a “G”
as initially interpreted on the Golombek Ketubah.

Another very important issue however is raised by these few entries. The spelling of the groom’s name Solden on the marriage license differs from the last name he personally inscribed on his own ketubah. The Golombek Ketubah records the spelling of the groom’s name as Soldin, spelled with the letter “i” rather than with the letter, “e.”

This is a graphic example of how an individual’s name could move from its original spelling in the person’s native language to a different anglicized spelling, and even to a complete name change. Because of these spelling and translation anomalies it is often difficult to ascertain whether or not a researcher is tracking the same individual in the historical records.

The marriage license entry for the name of the Minister,”Ansell,” opened an opportunity to explore and clarify the role, if any, that this individual played within the hierarchy of the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue.

In a 1905, on the occasion of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation 75th Anniversary, Rabbi Adolf Gutmacher wrote the History of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation: Madison Avenue Temple.Author Rev. Dr. Adolf Guttmacher
Title page
The Madison Avenue Temple

According to this Baltimore Hebrew Congregational record the congregation occupied four locations prior to the dedication, on September 26, 1845, of its new building now known as “The Lloyd Street Synagogue.”

Lloyd Street Synagogue, c. 1864, 1997.71.1
Photo by D.R. Stiltz & Co. photographers.
Courtesy of the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection.

Lloyd Street Synagogue today.

Participating in these dedicatory events was Rabbi Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia.

Rabbi Isaac Leeser

At the time, Leeser was a prominent rabbi who also served as editor of the Occident, one of the first Jewish journals published in the United States.

In the November 1845 issue of the Occident, Leeser describes in great detail those dedicatory events under the title of “Consecration of a Synagogue at Baltimore.”

Click the excerpt to read the full article.

From this we learn that the marriage license Minister, Ansell,” functions as Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s Hazon or Cantor. This is also confirmed on page 33 of Rabbi Guttmacher’s book, History of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, where we also learn that Cantor Ansell first name began with the initial “A.”

Our next blog will continue the exploration of the lives and times as revealed through the Golombek Ketubah.

I want to thank my colleague, Deb Weiner, JMM Research Historian and Family History Coordinator, for bringing the website for the Occident to my attention.