Trails to the Future

Guests enjoy a dinner made with ingredients from Pearlstone’s gardens in addition to local farms. (Melissa Gerr)

Guests enjoy a dinner made with ingredients from Pearlstone’s gardens in addition to local farms. (Melissa Gerr)

It was a farm-to-table experience on Monday night at the Pearlstone center, honoring outgoing board chair Ilene Vogelstein and incoming board chair P.J. Pearlstone, and attendees were invited to partake in all that nature offers in typical Pearlstone style.

Visitors could try their hand at pickling or goat’s-milk cheese-making or even play with baby goats and peek in at newborn chicks in the center’s newly acquired portable chick-hatching cart.

It was a family-friendly evening with approximately 150 people seated at tables stretched out upon the west lawn, overlooking the 160 acres of rolling hills that are Camp Milldale in the distance and the pastures, woods and farmland of Pearlstone in the foreground. The center’s potted plants and cut flowers decorated the tables, and fresh mint mojitos and watermelon coolers were offered to guests, as they arrived on a typically warm Baltimore summer evening.

The evening opened with a moment of silence in memory of the three teenage boys kidnapped in Israel whose bodies were found earlier in the day.

After the brief interlude, the program continued with First Vice President Rachel Steinberg Warschawski, who thanked the community for their support and reflected on the “justice, kindness and profound thanks for our natural gifts that is core to Pearlstone.”

Linda Hurwitz, chair of planning and allocations at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, addressed the crowd next, praising the “innovation and reflection” that the center has provided for the community and introducing incoming board chair P.J. Pearlstone.

Pearlstone thanked the staff at the center for their “passion, talent, dedication and creativity” that has made the center what it is today. He also acknowledged the importance of standing “on the shoulders of past leaders” in anticipation of the leadership he will bring to the center.

He also announced the investment by the Pearlstone family of more than $2 million toward a capital expansion, including enhancements to the current facilities, an eventual on-site community village, a retreat center expansion and more farm facilities.

Moving forward, Pearlstone explained, the campus and grounds — including Milldale, which is owned by The Associated — will now be “managed holistically and known as the Pearlstone Campus for Living Judaism.” He added that he hoped the campus will have “an amazing impact for years to come.”

Pearlstone said that under the new direction, Pearlstone’s “warm hospitality, living Judaism and environmental stewardship” will still prevail and invoked the vision and generosity of his grandparents, Jack and Peggy Pearlstone, founders of the center.

Executive Director Jakir Manela said he was “inspired for the partnership of working together in the future” with the incoming chair and touched upon the many other partners in the community who support Pearlstone.

Manela had the honor of presenting the 2014 Pearlstone awards. The Retreat Group of the Year went to CLAL (the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership); Baltimore Hebrew Congregation received the Program Partner of the Year award; Volunteers of the Year were Eddie Wingrat and Aaron Shamberg; and Artist of the Year went to Balage Bologh for the murals of ancient Jerusalem he is currently painting in one of the meeting rooms.

Finally, Manela recognized outgoing board chair Vogelstein and called her “a no-nonsense woman” and thanked her for being “direct, honest, strategic and savvy.” She was presented with a plaque, which featured a painted landscape of the Pearlstone grounds and honored her service on the board.

Guests were invited to a dinner catered by the center with ingredients from Pearlstone’s gardens in addition to some local farms. The menu featured fresh kale chips, gazpacho, shaved fennel salad, poached salmon, vegetable strudel, corn muffins with raspberry jam and a chamomile and blueberry tart for dessert. JT

mgerr@jewishtimes.com

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