A Higher Calling

When Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced his long-anticipated run for governor, he joined a crowded Democratic primary with eight other candidates, including a former NAACP president and CEO, Michelle Obama’s former policy director and the Prince George’s County Executive. All are hoping to take on highly popular Gov. Larry Hogan in next November’s general election.

As you’ll read in Justin Silberman’s cover story, Kamenetz is positioning himself as a more progressive alternative to Hogan, noting, for example, the governor’s failure to support the Trust Act, which would have prohibited state and local police from helping with federal immigration enforcement. Although Kamenetz connects Hogan’s lack of support for the act to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, Hogan has actually distanced himself from Trump and didn’t vote for or endorse the president last year.

That’s just one of the many interesting issues Silberman addresses in his piece. For his part, Hogan says he isn’t spending too much time thinking about his challengers or partisan politics. Will the people of Maryland elect one of many progressive Democrats trying to turn them against Hogan or stick with a popular governor who aims to stay the course?

Kamenetz’s story is also a Jewish one. His grandfather, David, escaped what is now part of Russia in 1906, and over the generations, the family became embedded in Jewish Baltimore.

“My grandfather came to view America as the greatest place on earth,” Kamenetz said. “I think we as Jews have an obligation to make sure others have those same opportunities that we have been granted.”

Other parts of the community are remembering Jewish history, too. As Erica Rimlinger reports on page 32, a performance Sunday at Beth El Congregation commemorated the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht with “Childhood Memories of the Holocaust: A Cantata.” In the performance, an adult reads his brother’s Holocaust-era diary as his grandchild asks questions about that time. A choir punctuates the story with song.

As Holocaust survivors age and pass away, the younger generation is tasked with keeping these stories alive and finding their own personal connections to them. For the young members of Sunday’s choir, it was an experience they won’t soon forget.

Choir member Ezra Medina, 13, was powerfully affected by participating in the program — so much so that his father, seeing the emotional toll it was taking on him, suggested he not do the production. But Ezra did it anyway. “He wanted to. He believed in the message,” his father said.

In divisive political times, we should take comfort in the fact that both a seasoned political candidate and a teenage choir member are both able to connect with threads of Jewish history in different ways. The sense of continuity that pushes them — and us — forward, even as we look back, is something to celebrate. More than ever, we are here, and we are resilient.


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