The year 5773 was packed with successes and challenges. At the Baltimore Jewish Times, our team of reporters wrote 889 articles about the happenings in this community and the rest of the Jewish world.Before Rosh Hashanah starts next week and we move on to 5774, here is a look at the top stories from the past year.
September 2012 — French Railway Won’t Run Here
The Maryland subsidiary of a French company accused of not fully acknowledging its Holocaust complicity did not receive a $204 million contract with the state railway. Keolis Rail Services America, a subsidiary of the French rail company known as SNCF, was among the firms beaten out in the bidding for a six-year contract to run two commuter lines.
SNCF trains transported 76,000 Jews and other prisoners from the suburbs of Paris to the German border from 1942 to 1944. The company was paid per head per kilometer, according to reports.
Holocaust survivors and their advocates contended that the company had failed to act quickly enough to make its archival materials accessible to researchers and was making the moves only to gain lucrative rail contracts in the United States.
The decision came months after a 2011 bill was passed that stopped any Eastern European transportation company from being awarded state contracts until the state archivist agreed that those companies had fully disclosed their World War II-era activities in the deportation of individuals to extermination camps or death camps.
October 2012 — Politics and the Pulpit
In October, a month before the presidential and local elections, Marylanders were focused on several state referendums. A heated debate in the Jewish community focused on Question 6, a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage, and Question 4, which provided in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.
Reform synagogues such as Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and Temple Oheb Shalom displayed signage encouraging support for marriage equality, while Bolton Street Synagogue organized phone banks and door-to-door canvassing to encourage community members to vote for Question 6. In his Rosh Hashanah sermon, Rabbi Ron Shulman at Chizuk Amuno Congregation alluded to Questions 4 and 6 when he told congregants: “Immigrant children raised in America deserve their place. Same gender couples deserve marriage equality. We can’t deny others what we insist on for ourselves.”
In sharp contrast, the Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore, the Vaad Harabonim, reaffirmed the Torah’s unambiguous stance in opposition to such unions and encouraged community members to vote no on Question 6.
November 2012 — A Century of Progressivism
In November, The Park School celebrated its 100th anniversary with special events, exhibitions and its traditional auction to raise money for the school’s financial-aid program. The school, located on a 100-acre campus off Old Court Road, continues to be a mecca for progressive education, a model for diversity and a place where students from fourth-generation legacy families mingle comfortably with newcomers. Happy Anniversary, Park!
December 2012 — Still Everybody’s Buddy
After 18 years serving as the Greater Baltimore Jewish CommunityCenter’s executive director, Louis “Buddy” Sapolsky announced that he was stepping down from the role.
More so than for his title alone, Sapolsky, 68, is being remembered for the countless contributions he made that set up the JCC to be sustainable, vibrant and significant for years to come.
“He is known and respected for his ability to focus on the big picture of planning for JCC success while never losing interest in the details,” said Rabbi Lawrence Ziffer, executive vice president of the Macks Center for Jewish Education. “He has demonstrated to the community that the JCC is capable of changing with the times and meeting the ever-changing needs and interests of a vibrant community.”
Sapolsky tirelessly worked to upgrade the center’s facilities and put into place programs such as Israel’s 50th anniversary celebration, Jerusalem 300 and the JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest.
In 1995, when Sapolsky started at the JCC, there were 8,000 members. Today, there are 17,000.
“If we hadn’t changed the facilities, we wouldn’t be around today,” Sapolsky said. “We live in a consumer-driven word, and there is no loyalty to organizations anymore. We have to run it like a business, be strategic. … We always need to stay ahead of the curve and try to see around the bend.
Staying still is going backward and not a viable option.”
January 2013 — Day School Teacher Charged With Abuse
Physical education teacher Foye Minton, at the now closed Day School at Baltimore Hebrew, was arrested and charged with child abuse of a former student.
The student, now 20, told police that Minton’s alleged abuse began when she was a minor while enrolled at the now defunct Shoshana S. Cardin School. Minton was the school’s dean of students and its director of athletics at the time. He previously worked at the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland.
After the charges were filed, Minton claimed the relationship was consensual, and his attorney, Adam P. Frank, offered the following statement: “Any sexual involvement with the alleged victim … occurred when she was over the age of 18 and with her parents having full knowledge of the relationship throughout.”
According to reports, the abuse continued for about four years, and the victim told police that Minton repeatedly attempted to contact her after she severed the relationship. Maryland law prohibits adults in a position of trust, authority or guardianship (such as a teacher) from having a sexual relationship with a minor, regardless of consent.
David Prashker, then the current head of school at Cardin, declared his desire to cooperate fully with the investigation.
Said Barbie Prince, who was head of school at the time of the alleged abuse, “If I suspected anything inappropriate, he would not have remained an employee.”