Glimmers of Jewish Glory Days in Baltimore

GEOGRAPHY

Glimmers of Jewish Glory Days in Baltimore
The once-vibrant Jewish community of Baltimore, Maryland, is on the rebound. Jewish identity is being rediscovered by institutions as varied as the busy Jewish Museum of Maryland and the delis of “Corned Beef Row.”

Baltimore is home to one of the oldest standing synagogues in the U.S., the Lloyd Street Synagogue.Photograph by Shir Kalmanson

Baltimore is home to one of the oldest standing synagogues in the U.S., the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
Photograph by Shir Kalmanson

Discussion Ideas:

  • The article on Baltimore’s Jewish heritage is classified as a “Personal Journey.” The writer traces her grandparents’ and other ancestors’ Jewish identity by exploring the history of the urban geography of Baltimore. People have many identities (religious, cultural, ethnic, linguistic, etc). If students were to create a “Personal Journey” to trace one of these identities, where would they go? (It could be down the street or across the world.) What sorts of geographic features would they investigate?
    • physical geography. The writer of the article on the Jewish community in Baltimore does not focus on physical geography, but it may be important to other personal journeys.
      • landscape. How did the landscape (mountains, lakes, etc.) influence the identities pursued in students’ personal journeys?
      • climate. How did weather and climate influence the identities pursued in students’ personal journeys?
    • human geography. The writer focuses on a small section of Baltimore that was home to the city’s thriving Jewish community. What institutions, cultural markers, or other aspects of human geography influence the identities pursued in students’ personal journeys?
    • political geography. Political geography is broadly defined as the study of how spatial relationships influence government or social policy. Migration or immigration can be a part of the political geography of a student’s personal journey, as well as its human geography. What are some other aspects of political geography?
      • education. Many cultures have schools to help young people understand the traditions of their ancestors. The writer mentions cheders, or Jewish schools, for instance. Do cultural groups associated with the identities pursued by students in their personal journeys offer formal or informal educational opportunities for members?
      • intra-group conflicts and cooperation. The writer talks about a “rift” that grew between the founding members of Baltimore’s Jewish community and the community’s newer immigrants in the 1870s. Has intra-group conflict helped shape the identities pursued by students’ personal journeys? Has intra-group cooperation strengthened these identities?
      • inter-group conflicts and cooperation. The writer mentions that Corned Beef Row was adjacent to African American and Italian communities in Baltimore. How did the identities pursued in students’ personal journeys interact with other groups? What are some instances of conflict or cooperation?
  • Use our MapMaker Interactive to map students’ personal journeys. The map’s zoom feature can focus on a specific area, and use the “Link” feature in the “Markers” tab to customize the personal journey map with explanations, images, and links. Review this blog post to understand this tool.

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