Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teaching Teachers

A blog post by Deborah Cardin, education director.

While the majority of the educational programs offered by the JMM focus on bringing school groups to our site for student field trip, providing professional development opportunities for teachers is a growing priority. Last year, we offered eight workshops on topics as varied as Holocaust education, immigration history, world religions, and making effective use of JMM resources. Together these programs reached 220 teachers from public, independent, Catholic, and Jewish schools and universities. Several programs take place here at the JMM while others take place at other museums, schools, and venues throughout the State. (Last year, my colleague Jeanette Parmigiani and I traveled as far Calvert County in Southern Maryland for a presentation on Holocaust best teaching practices at the Maryland Council for Social Studies.)

Holocaust survivor Rubin Sztajer talking to teachers
at the Summer Teachers Institute, August 2010

Teachers learning how to make journals as part of a workshop,
Teaching The Diary of Anne Frank, April 2010

Teachers at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum
during Summer Teachers Institute,
August 2010, learning about the history of
African-American / Jewish relations during the 20th century

I am currently working on two very different workshops that are taking place the first week of November. The first is in conjunction with our current exhibition, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People, and, in keeping with the theme of the exhibition, focuses on the importance of interfaith dialogue among educators of diverse backgrounds as a means for promoting tolerance.

Exhibition curator, Dr. James Buchanan
leading JMM docents on a tour of A Blessing To One Another

The other is a program for Baltimore City Public School (BCPS) teachers sponsored through the Teaching American History program. This workshop’s theme is Ethnicity in East Baltimore with sessions exploring the history of the neighborhood surrounding the JMM.

Neighborhood scene, Lombard Street, 1950s

So, how do we go about planning a program that provides teachers with a balance of content knowledge and pedagogical skills for teaching a specific topic? For the Blessing-related workshop, I am working closely with Jeanette Parmigiani (director of Holocaust Programs at the Baltimore Jewish Council) who always has terrific ideas for speakers and sessions. Our opening session will include an overview of the history of “The Parting of The Way”, documenting the path leading to the split between Jews and Christians led by educator extraordinaire, Father Robert Albright. This discussion will then help set the stage for a more detailed conversation about the history of antisemitism and the role of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust. We also rely on expert teachers who help frame a specific topic by sharing teaching techniques and strategies. Local educator Allene Gutin, who teaches at The Day School at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, will lead a workshop demonstrating classroom resources for teaching about the Righteous, the few individuals who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The program will conclude with a contemporary exploration of Jewish/Catholic dialogue since the Holocaust facilitated by Dr. Christopher Leighton, Executive Director of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies.

To plan the Baltimore City workshop, I have been working with Jennifer Frieman, who coordinates the TAH program for BCPS. The JMM has hosted three previous TAH sessions exploring a variety of themes such as immigration history and the history of religious pluralism in Maryland. The format for the TAH workshop is familiar: teachers spend the first hour listening to a scholar provide content on the given topic followed by a museum tour and review of relevant classroom resources. The afternoon is spent listening to master teachers share lesson plans on the topic that they have written that incorporate primary sources from the JMM archives. For some reason, this particular program has proven challenging to organize, and it has taken quite a few weeks to solidify speakers and participants. Fortunately, it is starting to come together thanks to the help of two of my colleagues, Anita Kassof and Deb Weiner who co-curated our Voices of Lombard Street exhibition. One of the highlights of this workshop will be a culminating panel moderated by Anita and Deb featuring former neighborhood residents of diverse backgrounds who will share their personal reminiscences of neighborhood life.

Baltimore City teachers participating in JMM workshop, November 2008

While developing the concept and organizing the myriad logistics for teacher training workshops is sometimes daunting, the benefits for the JMM are numerous. Teachers who participate in these programs become familiar with our Museum and are enthusiastic about the learning opportunities that we offer their students. Participants often become part of our Teacher Advisory Committee and serve as ambassadors to their schools and school systems on our behalf. In addition, they frequently take advantage of our programs and resources. And the education staff benefits from this opportunity to spend time with educators and to learn about the ways in which our Museum can improve the quality and relevance of our programs.

For more information about these programs and other JMM teacher training workshops, contact Deborah Cardin, director of education, at (410) 732-6400 x236 /

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time 7.23.10

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

Date(s) run in Baltimore Jewish Times: 7/23/10

PastPerfect Accession #: 2008.073.007

Status: Unidentified. Ner Israel Groundbreaking Ceremony, May 11, 1941. Dora Ginsberg is fifth from left.

Special thanks to: Sonia Greenspon

Monday, October 25, 2010

You don’t have to be Jewish to love the Jewish Museum of Maryland!

A blog post by Simone Ellin, marketing director.

People of a certain age will recall that famous commercial for Levy’s rye bread. As Marketing and Public Relations Director at the JMM, it’s part of my job to let people know that the Museum is here for everyone. It’s not always so easy though. In general, ethnic specific Museums have their work cut out for them. A quick internet search for the phrase “ethnic-specific museums and challenges” yields a great deal of information about this issue. One of the first documents to appear online is the abstract for Dr. Rosa M. Cabrera’s study, “Beyond Dust, Memory and Preservation: Roles of Ethnic Museums in Shaping Community Ethnic Identities”, (University of Illinois at Chicago, 2008.) Cabrera’s study also addresses another challenge that museums, (especially history museums,) face in attracting visitors.

Dr. Cabrera writes, “This study challenges the common perception that ethnic museums and centers are dusty, gloomy and trapped in the past. It proposes that they have the potential to impact individual and community identity because they are well positioned to understand and address their community's specific needs and challenges. They are able to engage not only multiple voices from their own community, but also broader constituencies in an intercultural dialogue because these organizations are viewed as trusted guardians and transmitters of cultural knowledge, as well as neutral meeting places. Having the capacity to engage multiple voices is a significant asset because individual and community identity are shaped and transformed by a range of voices and sociopolitical realities that extend beyond their community. It is through this dialogic process that communities seek positive recognition in order to advance a range of community goals; and, in this process, ethnicity takes shape and is given meaning.”

The JMM is constantly looking for ways to bring diverse communities together through our exhibitions and programs. Shows like Voices of Lombard Street, The Synagogue Speaks and our newest, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II & the Jewish People are all concerned with the way Jews interact with people from diverse ethnicities and religions. Programs like Catholicism/Judaism 101 on Nov. 18, and One Text: Two Traditions: Three Conversations: An Interfaith Text Study,and our school immigration project at Patterson High School, all speak to the importance of bringing people together to explore our differences and commonalities. This coming Wednesday, staff members from the Catholic Review, a media sponsor of the Blessing exhibition, will hold a reception and board meeting here at the JMM. Later in the month, we will also host staff from exhibition sponsor, Catholic Charities. We celebrate the way in which A Blessing to One Another has resulted in new relationships, and brought many new visitors to the JMM. We are honored to host these groups at the JMM, and look forward to being a gathering place for people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Learning through Looking

A blog post by Rachel Kassman, photo archivist.

This past Monday I had the good fortune to attend a discussion panel at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Library. This panel was held in conjunction with a meeting of the Maryland History and Culture Collaborative (a group I am a part of, though this was my first real meeting!) and in honor of American Archives Month. Presenters Barbara Orbach Natanson, Tom Beck, Doug McElrath and Joanne Archer spoke on "Using Images for Original Research." You can see why I, the JMM photo archivist, was interested!

Barbara Orback Natanson, of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division spoke first, focusing on visual literacy. She pointed out that while many people use images to illustrate their research after the fact, many don't realize that images themselves provide a great deal of information useful throughout the research process. Images provide a record of the environment, showing both continuity and change. They also "document what is hard to describe: and things that people "don't think to say." Images are an especially great source for discovering more research questions.

Click here to browse images from the JMM's collection!

Tom Beck, chief curator at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery at UMBC used the photography of Lewis Hine as a case study for images giving us "direct contact with the past." Showing Hine's photography of child labor in agricultural Maryland, he discussed how a photographer can make specific statements with his/her work and how different photographers were tapped for certain projects based on those statements.

Click here to see images from Bachrach, a well represented photographer and studio in the JMM's collections!

Doug McElrath, curator at the University of Maryland Special Collections library, spoke about the use of postcards for research. In his words, postcards are the "Rodney Dangerfield of visual research - they get no respect!" Although he also pointed out that the Metropolitan Museum of Art did have a recent postcard exhibit, so maybe the postcard's humble reputation is turning around. It is estimated that the years around 1910 saw over a billion postcards mailed in the United States. Postcards were used as communication devices - although early postcards were especially limited in the space available for writing, prompting Doug to declare them the "tweets of 1900!" But they also served as souvenirs and collectibles. Doug also discussed the importance of remembering that postcards are a highly manipulated product - "distractions" have often been removed, colors modified, even people erased from view.

Click here to see some of the postcards in the JMM's collection! Also, did you know deltiology is the study of postcards?

Joanne Archer, collections curator at the UMD Special Collections library, continued the postcard theme. She focused on the postcard as a provider of research questions, showing examples of postcards and the types of questions they might raise, such as gender relations of the time period, or exploring the 20th century idea of the exotic. She also spoke about the "anatomy" of a postcard and that the Golden Age of the postcard coincided with the rise of travel seen between 1900 and 1920. Joanne and Doug also mentioned that they have just opened an exhibit on travel and postcards at the Hornbake Library Gallery, Greetings from Vacationland.

Click here to read a little about the JMM's own past exhibit on vacations!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hot Off the Press!

A blog post by associate director Anita Kassof.

This past Monday, I traveled to Cheverly, Maryland with the Fleischmann family and Amy Freese, designer of Lights & Shadows, Arnold Fleischmann’s memoirs. Lights & Shadows, which I edited, is Arnold’s account of his family’s flight from Nazi Germany, his service with the U.S. Armed Forces, and his participation in the postwar transfer of power in Germany. The book is lavishly illustrated with historical photos and documents that trace Arnold’s journey.

Those photos and documents were one of the main reasons we traveled to Cheverly, home of Mosaic Press, which is printing the book. We wanted to make sure that as it came off the press, the photographs printed well, the colors were true, and the reproduction quality was consistent.

So, what does a press check consist of? Fortunately, Arnold’s son, Alan, snapped some photos of the process.

Arnold Fleischmann, the author, with Chief Quality Control Expert (his granddaughter, Natalia), waits in the “hospitality lounge” at Mosaic. He’s looking at PDFs of the book, which Mosaic had produced for Amy Freese and me to review before things went on press. A couple of weeks ago, she and I checked these proofs to make sure all the text and photos were in place, and the pages were in the right order.

Here’s Arnold with one of the first press sheets. (Though it came off the press first, these pages are actually in the middle of the book.) Groups of pages are printed more or less at random, cut down, and put in the right sequence. The press sheet is in a light box that enables you to see the colors as accurately as possible.

After approving the first press sheet (it looked great, though we did ask them to add a little more varnish to the photos to really make them “pop” off the pages), we toured the press room. With several huge machines running at once, the racket was quite something. Mosaic operates its presses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Here’s a sheet about to come off the press.

The pressman checks a sheet at random as it comes off the press to make sure the colors have remained consistent.

I’m standing in back next to Arnold, and Alan is in front, next to the press. Dafna Tapiero, Alan’s wife, holds their daughter, Natalia. Amy Freese, the book’s designer, is on the right.

Dafna, Natalia, and Arnold with some “make ready” sheets. Make readies are the first sheets to come off the press on a given print run, and they’re generally discarded because sometimes the color isn’t consistent. I sure hope these folks recycle!

This is a cutting machine. Once all the big sheets come off the press, they are collated, cut, folded, and then sent to the bindery where they’re bound and finished. And then . . .

We celebrate! Please join us at the Museum on November 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. for a book signing event with Arnold Fleischmann and see for yourself what a beautiful book we’ve produced.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SAM visits JMM

This past Sunday I hosted a group of University of Maryland students from Master of Library Science program. All of the students also belong to the Student Archvists at Maryland (SAM) group -- including former BHU intern Kristin Davidson (you won't see her as she's the one taking the pictures).

Archivists in training listen to my introduction to the museum

I've never given a tour to future archivists before. This was new and exciting because it gave me the opportunity to talk about all those things that fascinate me (organization, finding aids, and pH neutral folders), but don't generally fascinate other people. We started with a look at the photo archives.

Photos, of course, are the domain of our Photo Archivist, but they are part of any talk on archives. I would guess that most of the collections we receive have both paper documents and photographs together. The photographs also gave me the opportunity to talk about various preservation techniques and our digitization plans. We are far away from being able to digitize our entire archive collection, but we have been working on scanning our photographs. Preservation and digitizing are two of 'those things' that archivists get excited about, but not everyone else does.

Me showing the photographs in their archival sleeves

From photos we next visited paper -- my collections. Besides showing off some of the items in our collection I was able to talk about the quirks of working in an archive. As with all careers, what we learn in the classroom is neat and precise, but doesn't always transfer neatly and precisely to the real world. Each archive or museum is unique and has had many unique archivists bringing their own views to the care of the collections over the years. After fifty years of collecting the JMM archives has been managed in a variety of ways that reflect the nature of the materials and the evolution of the Archives field itself.

Me (again) displaying the smallest size of our manuscript collections

Our last stop was object storage. Though most of our collections are either paper and photographs or objects we often receive collections that involve all three. Objects and historic documents work together to give each other context and to not only tell but also show history to researchers and visitors. Not only are the objects interesting to look at (and the JMM has some amazing and quirky objects including department store hangers and a shelf full of spittoons) but archivists do need to understand the basics of their care and preservation. Just because someone ends up working in an archive doesn't mean they only have to deal with paper -- objects tend to sneek into collections.

SAM members look at some of our wood-based objects

After the collections tour I took the group through our exhibition Voices of Lombard Street and left them to view the other exhibitions on their own. From my side it was a success, and I hope they felt the same way.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Barry's Blog

A blog post by Dr. Barry Lever - the first post in this series can be found here.

When one attends a contemporary hasanah, a Jewish wedding, the guests generally know the names of the bride, kalla, and the groom, hosan. One of the fascinating ketubah elements, however is that these legal documents only identify the bride and groom by their first names. These participants are linked for identification to their respective fathers, as the daughter of, bas …, or son of, bar … with the father’s name. However, no surnames are used.

An example of this is seen in the Golombek Ketubah, 2000.110.001*:

Close up of the English translation.

Here the hosan, groom is identified in the Aramaic original as rebbe Z’eev,* the son of, rebbe T’vi Hersh and the bride, Tirtzah the daughter of Y’cheel. *(Please note that the groom’s name, Z’eev was inadvertently omitted from this English translation.)

So if we are to continue our detective efforts to learn more about the lives and times of these individuals we need more information. Fortunately there is an additional clue within the Golombek Ketubah and possibly you have already discovered it?

To find this clue you will have to view the bottoms’ of the original scans, both of the Golombek Ketubah, and its corresponding transliterated Aramaic text both reproduced here.

Even though the signatures are written in an old style script they are the only feature of the document decipherable to an English reader. Unfortunately only the top two signatures are readily legible.

The first signature is that of “Wolff Golden, ha’chosen.” The English name, “Wolff” is a translation of the Hebrew name, Z’eev, previously noted in the document as the bridegroom.

The second legible script signature, “H. Habal,” appears to be a person of German origin because the two dots (..)over the second letter of his name. This “omlaut” is a typical diacritical Germanic language symbol that indicates the correct pronunciation of a word, in this case the person’s last name.

With these two names, the bridegroom’s given and surname name, “Wolff Goldin,” and the surname name of the witness, “Habel,” the exploration for additional clues about these individuals moves beyond the Golombek Ketubah.

Our detective efforts begin with the witness “H. Habal,” as it was not initially clear whether the bridegroom’s scripted last name began with the letter S, therefore making his name Soldin, or the letter G, making his last name, Goldin.

However, we quickly found the name, Harman Habel with the occupation of grocer listed in the 1845 and 1851 Matchett’s Baltimore City Directory, operating his store at 138 Orleans Street. His residence is also listed at the same location in the later directory.

1851 Matchett’s Baltimore City Directory

Interior page including the entry on H. Harman.

Close up on Habal Harman's entry.

Our search for more clues will resume with the November edition of Barry’s Blog! Enjoy the beautiful foliage of the new Fall season.

*A portion of the conservation of the item was made possible through the Betty & Leonard Golombek Philanthropic Fund. Gift of the children of Betty & Leonard Golombek in honor of their parents 50th anniversary.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Programming Done Right

A blog post by Rachael Binning, outreach coordinator.

Because I only started my job as Outreach Coordinator a few weeks ago I currently have the luxury of observing and shadowing the other staff members on their various project. I got to watch Jobi lead a collections meeting where the Collections Committee decided on what objects should be accessioned into JMM’s vast collection. I’ve followed Deborah and Elena while they led school groups galore through the “A Blessing to One Another” exhibit, and most recently I got to be a participant in Ilene Dackman-Alon’s “Student Immigration Stories.” For the past two Mondays I have traveled to Patterson High School to visit Ms. Franklin’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Class. My experiences were so positive that I decided that I must share a few of them with you .

A few blog posts ago Ilene wrote a bit about “Student Immigration Stories” so I won’t go into the minute details of the program. Instead I’ll give you some visuals to accompany my story.

First, before the class started Ilene, Ms. Franklin, and myself pushed the desks to the side and made a big circle so that the students and teachers were able to sit together and talk. I love the idea of everyone sitting in a circle together because in this class everyone is equal and everyone has a story.

Preparing the room.

Soon the after the bell rang around sixteen students from countries as varied as the Dominican Republic, Nepal, and Eritrea rushed into the classroom. After the class settled down Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff, the storyteller and facilitator, asked each of us to say our names, where we are from, and how to say hello in our native tongue. What impressed me the most today was that despite the fact that there were about six students who spoke Spanish, they were from countries ranging from Mexico to Honduras. Although they spoke the same language, they each had their own accents and terms unique to their country. Lisbeth, who is from the Dominican Republic said that Dominicans tend not to pronounce “s” so when she says good morning in Spanish is sounds like “bueno dia” compared to “buenos dias.”

Lisbeth is from the Dominican Republic and Katie is from Honduras.
Both girls speak Spanish, but have different accents.

Ms. Sally Franklin and her students sitting together as we introduce ourselves.

Jennifer leading the class in a storytelling exercise.
Notice how the students face each other when they share their stories.

The three translators in the class who also shared their stories with us.

The premise of the class is to get students to share stories about their lives with each other. Each time I have participated in these storytelling exercises I have been extremely humbled by the students’ amazing tales and many hardships they have already endured.

I’d like to finish this blog with one final special moment from my experience. Jennifer told the class to think about a family member and a special memory we had with them. She had us actually travel in our minds back to a time with that person and visualize what we were doing with them. For this storytelling experience I was partnered with Agatha, a translator in the class from West Africa. I told Agatha about my memory with my Grandma Sharon. Grandma Sharon didn’t have a lot to give us monetarily, but she was so generous with her love and time. When my sister and I would stay over at Grandma Sharon’s house we would always have a tea party, which consisted of drinking tea heavily diluted with milk in special mini teacups and saucers. We would also have special frosted animal cookies, which was a big treat because we were not allowed to have those at home. Over glasses of tea we would sit around the table and talk and share stories. This was always the highlight of our trip to grandma’s.

Agatha heard this and was immediately reminded of her memories with her grandmother. She would travel from her urban home to her grandmother’s rural house to spend time with her. She would share stories with her grandmother while sitting around a fire and roasting maize. Agatha and I come from extremely different places and from different times, but we both had the same memory of sharing time with our grandmothers.

My entire experience at Patterson High School has been so moving and meaningful. On one hand I’ve realized how lucky and easy my childhood was compared to most of the students in Ms. Franklin’s class. At the same time, I’ve also realized how many similarities and common values I have with my new friends.

Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time 7.16.10

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

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: 7/16/10

PastPerfect Accession #: 2008.073.002

Status: Partially Identified. Congregation Shaarei Tzedek 4th Annual Banquet, January 28, 1945. Back Row (L-R) 1. Unidentified 2. unidentified 3. unidentified, Doris Gold, Ann Cohen, unidentified, Frieda Liebowitz, Hinda Feldman (Esterson), Ray Feldman, Reba Friedlander, Jake Feldman, Mrs. Alexander Front Row (L-R) Anna Eanet, Miriam Friedlander, Rochel Baila Friedlander, Ida E. Feldman, Mrs. Bernstein

Special thanks to: Morton Esterson, Ray Feldman

Friday, October 15, 2010

Building Our Collections!

A blog post by Jobi Zink, senior collections manager.

Tuesday was our quarterly Collections Committee meeting. The Collections Committee is comprised of staff members, board member and lay leaders with expertise in conservation, local history, local Jewish history and library science.

As the collections manger, I compile the list of all of the donations that have come in since our last meeting. This is called the disposition list. Fortunately, I can generate a report from PastPerfect with just this information on it rather than hand typing the list myself. With the assistance of the donors who fill out biographical questionnaires and interns who do the data entry, I can also include basic background and biographical information with each donation. This provides context for many of the items and helps the Collections Committee make their decision.

The committee meets to discuss possible
donations to the Museum's collections.

The disposition list includes the staff’s recommendation for each batch. Items that are offered can be accessioned into our permanent collection or they can be designated for one of our non-accessioned collections: study, vertical files, genealogy, library, oral history or A/V. Items can be returned to the donor if they do not meet our collecting criteria or duplicate materials already in the collection.

Debate around the table can often be very...lively to say the least!

The Committee reviews each item that has been offered to the museum. They ask important questions – Does it duplicate anything in the collection? Is it in stable condition or does it require conservation? Do we need to collect and document every immigration story? Do we have enough space in storage for the item? – and make their argument for the disposition of the items. Usually the Committee is in agreement, but occasionally they do need to vote on whether the items should be accessioned or not.

Committee Chair Duke Zimmerman takes
a closer look at a small set of coins.

In addition to the Disposition List, the Committee also discusses deaccessions (permanently removing items from the collection), potential purchases, conservation and other issues that affect our collections and storage facilities.

Jobi herself, working hard to document
the committee's comments and decisions.

And in case you were wondering, the Committee did agree to accept the immigration documents from Lisa Sommer that I mentioned in my last blog post.

And in case you're wondering who took all these lovely photos: former intern Sara! You may remember Sara as the poor intern who had to have her wisdom teeth removed this summer, forcing her to miss the previous collections committee meetings (which for her was a major bummer!) Happily, Sara has decided to continue her work at the JMM through volunteering and was thus able to attend this quarter's meeting. And we're certainly glad to have her very capable help!