Author Archives: Ebony Brown

For Fresh Produce, Come to Pikesville

I read with interest “Come And Get It!” (July 11) about farmers’ markets popping up all over town.  There is nothing that says summer like a fresh juicy peach, a delicious ear of corn or a ripe tomato that is both locally grown and sold.  For those who are unaware, Pikesville has its own farmers’ market sponsored by the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce. The market has grown substantially over the years and is now conveniently located at Pomona Square, right off of Reisterstown Road.  Open every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the market hosts more than 18 vendors offering an assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, baked goods and wines and an array of other products and services.

Marcy Gorman
President, Chamber of Commerce

Sharpening Operation Protective Edge

An Israeli soldier directs a Merkava tank at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 17. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

An Israeli soldier directs a Merkava tank at an army deployment area near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip on July 17.
(Gili Yaari/Flash90)

This week, the combat in Gaza grew increasingly deadly, as Israeli ground troops sought to pursue the elimination of “terror tunnels” and Hamas fought back and increased efforts to infiltrate Israel through those very tunnels. By press time on Monday, Israel had suffered 25 military deaths, and 565 Palestinians had been killed since fighting between Israel and Hamas began on July 8.

We mourn the mounting loss of life. At the same time, neither the legitimacy of this war nor its success can be measured based upon a simple number count of military and civilian casualties. This conflict is not a numbers game.

Growing Palestinian losses do not make Hamas righteous or its cause sympathetic. Hamas has engaged in a cruel and blindly hateful series of attacks, which have brought Palestinians under its control nothing but calamity. Hamas encourages the death of its own civilians as a mark of martyrdom and directs (and sometimes forces) civilians to stand directly in harm’s way, knowing they will be killed by Israeli defense activities.  That callous disregard for its own citizenry and perverse encouragement toward “glory and martyrdom” debases the value of human life.

And while Israel was fortunate to be able to minimize the loss of life through the protective shield of Iron Dome, the ground offensive and extended rocket attacks increasingly jeopardize Israeli lives.  Each loss is painful, and the mourning for each loss is deep. But Israel has no alternative.  It must protect its citizens and eliminate the ongoing threats.

More than in any of its recent conflicts, Israel successfully has taken control of the narrative of Operation Protective Edge with a clear, focused message — a stated goal to remove the terror threats of rockets and tunnels. And while there have been protests  against Israel, international support for the effort appears to be holding, at least for now. This is due, in large part, to Hamas’ diminished support in the West and even in the Arab world. Other Arab states might not like Israel, but they seem willing to look the other way while Hamas is battered.

When the fighting began, many predicted it would soon be brought under control by a cease-fire agreement. This was a war neither side wanted, the thinking went. But the ongoing dynamics — including Egypt’s failure to negotiate a cease-fire agreement (agreed to by Israel but one that Hamas would not endorse) — have confounded the early predictions.

World support for Operation Protective Edge will eventually run out. The longer the fighting continues and the more lives that are lost, the more pressure will be placed on Israel (even from the United States) to stop its effort — even if the job isn’t finished. Israel clearly understands this and appears to be making every effort to remove the terror threats with speed and precision. We support that effort and pray for a rapid conclusion.


Boys’ Night Out

The grills were fired up and the strong smell of Scotch filled the air on a recent Sunday, as approximately 150 Jewish men spent the evening with the Etz Chaim Center for Jewish Living and Learning to “raise the steaks.” Literally.

Raise the Steaks II, held at Bruce Sholk and Beth Kaplan’s private Baltimore estate, celebrated Etz Chaim’s impact on the Baltimore Jewish community. The lavish evening affair featured a steak barbeque, live music, wine tasting, local microbrews and a Corvette car display. With corporate sponsors Quarry Wine and Spirits, Union Craft Brewing, DC Dental, Purgistics, Allstate, Northwest Savings Bank, Shimmy Braun and LA Properties, the one-night-only event was meant to bring out both current and future heavy-hitters.

“We planned the Etz Chaim Raise the Steaks event to engage the next generation of donors,” said Rabbi Yisroel Porter, director of Etz Chaim Owings Mills. “We wanted to throw a benefit that would attract a broad audience and find common ground across generations. I mean, steak, beer, wine — can’t go wrong with that recipe, right?”

With a mission to attract Jewish students from every walk of life, Etz Chaim works to cultivate Jewish learning and identity in a non-threatening atmosphere. It offers guest speakers, Shabbat dinners, Israel tours and community-based programs.

“We are a people with a mission,” said its executive director, Rabbi Nitzan Bergman. “We have a purpose, a homeland and, ultimately, a Jewish identity. I love the members of the Etz Chaim community, and I want to continue doing more good work.”

The July 13 affair kicked off with a Scotch and bourbon tasting for donors who had contributed at least $360 to the organization. Other guests arrived for the dinner that followed. Italian glassblower Gianni Toso was among those who joined the festivities.

“When I moved to Baltimore, I wanted to find a Jewish community,” said Toso. “I started going to Beth Tfiloh, and soon after, I met Rabbi Porter and Rabbi Bergman. I think the two have done a wonderful job, and I have given them artwork from my studio. I’m thrilled to be a part of this special group.”

Between the main course and dessert, a series of Etz Chaim speakers provided insights on the organization as a whole. Following opening remarks from Porter and a gift presentation for hosts Sholk and Kaplan, the microphone was handed to a number of Etz Chaim enthusiasts who discussed their relationship with the organization. Marcus Rothberg, 27, a former skydiving instructor with an engineering degree, emphasized how his relationship with Etz Chaim led him to a life-altering decision.

“Etz Chaim means the tree of life,” he said. “I am looking at the roots of this organization right now. I always dreamed of going to Israel. Etz Chaim provided me with the golden ticket to go. I have now decided to make aliyah and become a tour guide in Israel. Etz Chaim has changed the entire course of my life.”

After Rothberg’s testimonial, several tables of men broke out in song and dance. As the dessert buffet opened, raffle winners claimed prizes including a Baltimore tour for two on a private plane, a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Covenant Winery, two tickets to an Orioles game, a 15-year old bottle of Tomatin Scotch, two round-trip tickets to Atlantic City or New York, free dry cleaning and one airplane ticket to anywhere in the United States.

“The Raise the Steaks event, like last year, came out great,” proclaimed Porter. “Events like these showcase the past, present and future of our organization. Everyone had a wonderful time, and I believe Etz Chaim is growing stronger and stronger every day.”

Allie Freedman is a local freelance writer.


12-Year-Old Makes Video for Humane Society

Max Sternlicht (provided)

Max Sternlicht (provided)

An aspiring young filmmaker made an online video for the Baltimore Humane Society that drew more than 1,000 views in its first week.

“I love animals and I wanted to find a way to help, and my favorite hobby is filmmaking,” said 12-year-old Max Sternlicht, whose mother volunteers at the Reisterstown no-kill shelter.

Max, who will be in sixth grade at the Gilman School in the fall, spent about a week at the shelter, taking about four hours of footage each day.

“I had an outline in my head and tried to follow it as much as I can,” he said. It took about a month of after-camp editing to get the video together.

“I’ve been getting a lot of friendly feedback,” he said. “Someone from the Middle East commented on my video a few days ago, so that was pretty amazing. Someone from the other side of the world liked my video.”

Max, who also sold lemon sticks at a stand at last year’s DogFest to raise money for the Humane Society, plans to film a video at DogFest this September.

The young filmmaker has been making movies since kindergarten, when he started filming his toys on camera. In first grade, he started making videos with his friends dressing up like Star Wars characters, and by third grade he had learned how to make films with Lego stop-motion. He made a Gilman-centric music video with Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy,” called “Gilman Happy,” which took first place in the Gilman Film Festival. He’s also written screenplays in recent years.

“I either want to be a filmmaker or cardiologist,” Max said. “I haven’t decided which one.”

The Baltimore Humane Society, located on Nicodemus Road in Reisterstown, is an independent, no-kill shelter, which offers veterinary care, a pet cemetery and grief support services.

Watch Max’s video.

Stand Up, Be Counted

Dear Jewish communities and Israelis overseas: This is not a time for complacency. We cannot afford it.

At 9 a.m. on July 15 the Israeli Cabinet ratified a cease-fire and stopped the bombardment of Gaza. Hamas waited 10 minutes, then fired more missiles, covering almost all of Israel. On the news, we see waves and waves of anti-Israel-ism. Let me tell you all something: Silence is not golden.

Not long after there was a demonstration at Zion Square in Jerusalem of the extreme right wing with the intention of marching on the Arab Quarter of the Old City to show them ‘who’s boss.’ A group of peace-loving left-wing Israelis stood in front of them with banners and songs facing the insults and curses hurled at them. My daughter was there, and together, with other likeminded men and women and the police, succeeded in avoiding a potentially violent and explosive confrontation.

Silence is not an option — not for us. Those who promote anti-Semitism are very clever. Their multileveled strategic agenda over the last 15 years is now paying off with dividends. They are winning on every level. International public opinion is being manipulated. They are the vociferous majority, and the world is feeling a vice-like grip tightening by sheer numbers.

You cannot allow yourselves to be turned into the silent minority. Speak out: Let your voices be heard.

The terrorists’ unscrupulous tactics are working because you are not coming. The empty hotels, beaches and restaurants are a testament to their master plan.

We cannot hear you!

Stand up and be counted. Time has run out. Raise your voices to avoid disaster.

Howard Burns
Haifa, Israel.