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Museum of Jewish History for Kids to Open Next Year

May 24, 1996
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The Jewish Historical Society of Maryland is moving toward completion of a permanent interactive museum of Maryland Jewish history for children.

The museum, scheduled to open next year, will be housed in a gallery in the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue in eastern Baltimore. The historical society’s center is located next to the 151-year-old synagogue.

The children’s museum is an attempt for the center, which preserves documents and memorabilia pertaining to the state’s Jewish life, to attract young families to the facility.

“We want to reach out in a significant way to young families with children, and make it interesting and fun for them to come to the center,” said Barry Kessler, assistant director and curator of the society. “We are looking to do educational and fun things to reinforce their Jewish heritage.”

School groups will also visit the museum, Kessler said.

Completion of the museum is being made possible by a $22,000 grant from the Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

The proposed museum is partially a reaction to a successful traveling Jewish children’s museum on display three years ago at Baltimore’s Jewish Community Center. The traveling museum included a look at Bible stories and Jewish life in the Old West and modern Israel.

“A number of cities do traveling Jewish museums,” Kessler said. “But when you have kids, you schedule is not your own. There might be a great traveling show that you miss because of conflicts.”

Because the new museum will be permanent, “parents will be able to bring their kids with them to the museum, when there’s an exhibit the adults want to see. Now, there’ll be something for all ages.”

Irving Cohn, the Blaustein Fund’s chairman, said his foundation’s grant was large for the fund, but the museum;s permanency was taken into account when the amount was decided.

“This museum will pull families and children into the scheme of things and teach the children where we came from,” Cohn said.

Fishman said he is hopeful that the children’s museum will encourage Jewish families to visit the center’s neighborhood, which is rich with Jewish history.

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