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A Mystery Solved, A Gift Shared

November 16, 2018
The story begins in February 1966, when GBMC’s chapel was first dedicated. As part of that ceremony, a number of religious articles were dedicated, including five unique, handcrafted pieces of Judaica. The items had been in storage for a number of years and GBMC’s Director of Spiritual Support Services, Reverend J. Joseph Hart, wanted to have them displayed.

“There’s a bit of a mystery connected to these items,” Reverend Hart explains. “We didn’t know where they had come from. All I had was an archive folder with information about some of the chapel items. The folder only contained a few pieces of paper, a 3 x 5 card that said, ‘Hebrew items made by Dr. Daniel Blumberg of Philadelphia’, and an inventory that simply listed ‘Jewish articles’ that weren’t named or described. The only other clue was a paper that said Mrs. Helen Dalsheimer hosted a tea to help raise money for a Hebrew fund, which I assumed was used to purchase these items. We were putting the items on display in our new Kosher pantry at the hospital, but I had a burning question. How did Judaica created by a dentist from Philadelphia end up at GBMC and who arranged for the donation?”

That question led Reverend Hart on an odyssey to discover the items’ origin and history. As a history lover, the extensive research he undertook was a labor of love. He started at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, where he learned about Helen Dalsheimer and her husband Hugo, who were well known philanthropists in the Baltimore community and frequent patrons of the arts. Mrs. Dalsheimer was also the first Jewish woman elected to serve on the Women’s Hospital Board, a philanthropic organization funded by the proceeds from the sale of the former Hospital for the Women of Maryland, of Baltimore City, one of the two downtown hospitals that merged and relocated to Baltimore County to become GBMC. His next step was to talk with his rabbinical contacts in the area and get connected with Mrs. Dalsheimer’s children, who are now in their 80s. Unfortunately, none of them had knowledge about the Judaica’s origin.

His first break in the search came by accident. “I was walking down the hall at GBMC and ran into a community rabbi,” he says. “I told him I was trying to make a connection between Dr. Blumberg, Mrs. Dalsheimer, and the collection of Judaica. He knew Dr. Blumberg from his first congregation in Philadelphia and was friends with his daughter, Judith Blumberg Maislin. He asked if I would like to contact her and I felt like I had just won the lottery.”

Reverend Hart called Mrs. Maislin and was finally able to unravel the mystery. Mrs. Maislin had written a book on Dr. Blumberg’s Judaica handiwork. Dr. Blumberg had been invited by a Baltimore synagogue to exhibit his work, where Reverend Hart believes Mrs. Dalsheimer saw it and commissioned him to create the Judaica that’s now on display at GBMC. Mrs. Maislin was able to provide the original receipt for the work, which contained Mrs. Dalsheimer’s name, as well as an article from The Philadelphia Inquirer about the creation and donation of the pieces.

“So, after 53 years, the mystery was solved,” says Reverend Hart. “It shows how, since its beginnings, GBMC has always been a hospital that welcomes people from all faith traditions. This is just one of many examples of how the diversity of our community has been and continues to be honored and celebrated.”
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