27 photos trace Jews' route into mainstream Exhibit shows life in Annapolis

October 10, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff writer

The picture of Annapolis residents in Colonial costumes laughing from the back of a float in a 1949 parade to celebrate the city's 300th birthday may not seem remarkable at first glance.

But what makes it special is that they are Jewish faces on the float, World War II veterans and others, proudly waving American flags. The photo is a symbol of the integration of Jews into Annapolis society, says Eric Goldstein, who is speaking this afternoon in Baltimore about a photographic collection of Jewish history.

The 27 photographs -- on display at the Lloyd Street Synagogue -- show the transformation of Jewish people from an immigrant population to being part of the main stream in Maryland's capital.

Mr. Goldstein and Gary Rosenblatt, an Annapolis native and editor of the New York Jewish Week, are to discuss Jewish life in Annapolis from the 1940s to the 1960s at 1 p.m. today at the synagogue.

The photo exhibit is accompanied by oral histories from residents such as Anna Greenberg, who remembers the 1949 parade.

"What stands out in my mind . . . was that for the first time as a Jew I was participating in something citywide in the name of Judaism. . . . I was being part of the city, even though there were parts of the city that didn't want to include me," she says.

Mr. Goldstein, a graduate student in modern Jewish history at the University of Michigan, says the Annapolis experience mirrors Jewish history throughout the United States as Jews began to express themselves in American ways.

"In earlier years when Annapolis Jewry was mainly composed of Eastern European immigrants, social life centered in the home, because people worked so many hours in stores they had little time for leisure," Mr. Goldstein says.

By the 1940s, as Jews were moving from a "mainly merchant community to a native-born community," they developed a social life similar to other middle-class residents, Mr. Goldstein says.

The Jewish Community Center was founded in the 1940s, with New Year's Eve parties, pingpong tournaments and bridge games.

Annapolis, home of the state government and the Naval Academy, provided many symbols of American life that helped Jewish people identify with the mainstream culture, Mr. Goldstein says.

For example, Jewish midshipmen at the academy had a "Jewish Church Party" and marched to synagogue for services.

Mame Warren, curator of photos at the Maryland State Archives, helped Mr. Goldstein develop the photographic exhibit from a collection taken by the late Annapolis Jewish activist Morris Lieberman.

The exhibit and program are sponsored by Kneseth Israel, Annapolis' oldest Jewish congregation, along with the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, and were made possible with funds from the Maryland Humanities Council Inc.

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