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How Jews Entered American Politics: The Curious Case of Maryland’s “Jew Bill”

Speaker: Rafael Medoff, The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 at 1 pm.


During Maryland’s first decades, a “Christians Only” policy applied to those seeking public office. Dr. Rafael Medoff, a noted scholar of Jewish involvement in American politics, will take a candid look at the Maryland legislature’s debates in the early 1800s over political rights for Jews and other non-Christians –a controversy that sheds fascinating light on the process by which Jews entered the American political arena.

Mendes & Egypt: An Adventure in Collecting

Speaker: Dr. Betsy Bryan, Johns Hopkins University

Sunday, March 29th, 2015


Dr. Bryan offered  insight into Mendes Cohen’s collection of antiquities and  discussed both the collection as a whole and the way in which it represents ancient Egyptian funerary beliefs. The talk predominantly  focused upon standards within wealthier members of the community especially Tutankhamun. However there was a particularly interesting discussion regarding ordinary members of society and the simpler grave goods that can be found in their burials based upon Dr. Bryans current work in Egypt.

A 19th-Century American Jew Visits the Holy Land: Mendes Cohen in Jerusalem

Speaker: Dr. Deb Weiner

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 at 1pm


Travel to the Holy Land with Mendes Cohen, early 19th century adventurer and proud citizen of the young American republic. Cohen’s account of his Middle Eastern journey, entertainingly recorded in his letters home, paints a fascinating portrait of the Jewish community of Palestine and offers a remarkable glimpse into one man’s evolving American Jewish identity.

“One Apron…One Handkercheif…2 Brass Candlesticks”: America’s Jewish Women, the Early Years

Speaker: Pamela Nadell, American University

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 at 7pm


In honor of Mother’s Day we took a closer look into the life of Mendes’ A-Mazing mother, Judith Cohen. Pamela Nadell of American University will be exploring what it meant to be a Jewish woman and mother during the 18th and 19th centuries. In this lecture we learn more about the first Jewish women to make homes in Americaand discover the wider world of Judith Cohen’s son, “The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen.”

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