Author Archives: Ebony Brown


Baltimore Stands with Israel

The events unfolding in Israel are geographically far from Maryland, but Jewish Baltimore showed its solidarity and support for the Jewish state through prayer, gatherings and messages sent directly to the soldiers taking part in Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip this past week.

National, state and local politicians joined with religious leaders, community members and an Israeli embassy representative Monday, July 21, at a gathering of solidarity at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC. The event, which was hosted by the Baltimore Jewish Council and co-sponsored by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, was organized to create an opportunity for the Baltimore community to demonstrate its support for the State of Israel and the country’s right to defend itself.

“When your home is under attack you have to defend it,” BJC President Lainy LeBow-Sachs said to the packed auditorium.

Oren Marmorstein, counselor for public affairs and national coordinator of academic affairs at the Israeli Embassy, used the opportunity to thank the Baltimoreans in attendance for their support of Israel.

“Every person in Israel is aware of this support,” he said. He described to the community members gathered his own experiences with hearing warning sirens and having to take cover with his wife and young daughter, and said much of what is portrayed of the conflict in the media is incomplete or inaccurate. It is hard, he added, to describe to people what life is really like in the Jewish state.

“This is not happening only one night,” he said of the sirens. “It’s happening every single night. This is something that is happening every day.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who has been a vocal supporter of Israel during his tenure in office, also spoke at the rally, thanking the people who came to show their support and asserting Israel’s right to defend its citizens. He was followed by Amian Kelemer, whose daughter recently completed her service in the Israel Defense Forces. Kelemer talked about her experience as a “soldier mom,” fearing for her oldest daughter every day.

Meanwhile, another crowd gathered at Light and Pratt streets from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to protest racism and war, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the situation along the Mexican border and the city’s newly stricter youth curfew.

“The racist apartheid settler state of Israel is once again attacking the people of Palestine in Gaza and the West Bank,” read a release promoting the rally. “The pretext this time was the death of three Israeli teenagers, but the results are all too familiar,” it added, pointing to the number of Palestinian casualties.

Rabbi Moshe Hauer of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation, who spoke at the Gordon Center event, has put a call out to Jewish camp directors asking that campers design small notes or cards that will be included in care packages for soldiers. He extended his request to anybody in the community who would like to create and send a note of solidarity to Israeli troops.

Hauer will be traveling to Israel and plans to deliver the cards himself.

Agudath Israel of America is asking that all Jews pray for the safety of the Israeli soldiers and the citizenry of Israel, and “to undertake meaningful acts of kindness, charity, Torah study and special observances to help merit divine protection of our brothers and sisters in [Israel], on the front lines and everywhere else,” a statement read.

The Shmira Project, an organization that enables people to “adopt” one or more soldiers by doing a specific mitzvah in their honor and praying for their protection, was recently reestablished. Shmira means “guarding” or “protecting” in Hebrew.

“Any mitzvah that you do on behalf of a soldier truly makes a difference, to the soldier and to Jewish unity,” states the Center for Jewish Education’s website. “Write your soldier’s name out and post it where you’ll see it … near the Shabbat candles, on the refrigerator, in your car, in your phone. Then, when you are going to do something positive in the world, stop and think of your soldier and include him or her in your mitzvah.” For more information about the Shmira Project, go to or text 240-393-4836.

Photo by David Stuck

Pleasantly Surprised!

I was surprised and pleased that the JT would print “IDF Launches Gaza Operation” (July 11) because of your “partnership in liberalism” with the J Street nut jobs, who must be working up an apology to their friends in Gaza. I guess you and they can forget about a two-state solution, and J Street should return all the funds they duped gullible people out of. The JT was, not too long ago, fair and balanced. If I had my way, I would cancel, but there are two of us in this household, and she has to read about weddings, births and obituaries, which you still do right.

Norman Wolfe

An Appreciation of Diversity

“I am now a vegetarian,” our daughter, 11, announced proudly one night in 2001. “Why now,” I wanted to know? “I just bought one of your favorite foods — hot dogs.”

To many people, becoming a vegetarian can appear to be a phase until the newness and excitement wear off. Our Gila, however, is a person who stands by her beliefs. When she is committed to a goal, she follows through no matter what. To her dismay, my husband, of blessed memory, our 6-year old son and I were not going to change with her. After all, we were already limited to what we could eat by keeping kosher and watching our weight. My husband was in remission from cancer and finally starting to enjoy food again. No way was he going to give up eating meat, chicken and fish.

Now that we had a vegetarian in the family, I had to rethink my view of vegetarians. There was, perhaps, some sense to their idealism, even though I wasn’t ready to make that change for myself. As a child of the 1960s and 1970s, I remember eating meat or chicken for dinner almost every night, except during the nine days before Tisha B’Av, a time which still is quite difficult for us carnivores.

With the transition to a vegetarian way of life, Gila developed a great interest in cooking and trying out new foods and spices. While I don’t always enjoy everything she cooks, I am amazed and fascinated by her creativity in the kitchen and the joy she finds in putting together a healthy and attractive vegetarian meal.

Do I wish to call myself a vegetarian and become a “member of the club?” I am not ready to make that commitment now, but I do consider myself to be a vegetarian sympathizer.

Vegetarianism, I have learned, has become much more common and accepted. Although eating animals is so much a part of Jewish culture, the Jewish community is more open to the ideas of those who avoid eating meat. The world of food, including the kosher industry, has also expanded, making it easier for vegetarians to enjoy creative and gourmet meals.

My family members may not all agree on our lifestyles and values, but there is room for diversity. Over the years, we have made peace with our choices, and we try to accommodate one another’s needs. Our sages had various opinions about Judaism and vegetarianism. Richard Schwartz, an Orthodox Jewish vegetarian, writes about this topic in his book, “Judaism and Vegetarianism.” I will be presenting a workshop on this subject at Baltimore’s third annual LimmudFEST at Goucher College on Sunday, Sept. 7.

As Jews, we can learn from one another and appreciate our diversity, a core value of Limmud. At LimmudFEST, Jews of all ages and levels of religious observance will unite in celebration of Jewish study, culture, and identity. Coming together to celebrate our commonalities and differences helps us build lasting connections with one another, just like my family and our vegetarian trailblazer.

Hannah M. Heller is Torah reading coordinator at Chevrei Tzedek Congregation, a Bnei Mitzvah tutor at Beth El Congregation and a standardized patient educator for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.For more information, contact

Governor’s Office Announces Expanded Outreach Plan for Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition

Gov. Martin O’Malley was on hand July 15 to help Maryland’s Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition celebrate its second year.

While the primary focus of the organization in its first year was the Baltimore area, the 2014 coalition includes faith leaders, experts in domestic violence and victim support organizations from Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City.

The coalition was started in 2013 by Baltimore’s Judge Karen C. Friedman, a former chair of CHANA and current Baltimore City Circuit Court judge, and comprises more than a dozen organizations including CHANA, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Muslimat Al Nisaa, Sinai Hospital, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, the Governor’s Office of Crime, Control & Prevention and the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, among others.

Last year, the organization worked with faith leaders to encourage discussion of a topic often considered a taboo in many synagogues, churches, mosques and other places of worship. During the Weekend of Ministry last October, interfaith leaders from across the Baltimore area dedicated part of their service to broaching the subject of domestic violence in the hopes that religious leaders may come to be viewed as an ally by victims of domestic violence, willing to listen to them and connect them to help.

More information about the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition can be found at


JCC Employee Charged

   Charles David Beaver is charged with sexual solicitation of a minor. (Provided)

Charles David Beaver is charged with sexual solicitation of a minor. (Provided)

A JCC Aquatic Center employee has been charged with sexual solicitation of a minor after telling an undercover detective posing as a juvenile that he wanted to engage in sexual activity with two teenage boys, according to Baltimore County Police.

Charles David Beaver, 58, of the 3000 block of Main Street in Manchester, was held at the Baltimore County Detention Center and released on $100,000 bail.

Barak Hermann, president of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, and Will Minkin, chairman of the board of the JCC, sent an email to members and guests explaining the incident and saying they are “deeply disturbed and concerned.”

“Obviously we’re very disappointed and troubled by the situation,” Hermann said. “We want to make sure that all of our professional staff and everyone who works at the JCC puts the best intentions of children, individuals and families first.”

The letter he and Minkin wrote said that all prospective JCC employees have a rigorous background investigation that includes fingerprinting and a search of the Criminal Justice Information System.

“He had a completely 100 percent clean record,” Hermann said. “Obviously, we hire people to work with children, parents and families, and we do a very rigorous check.”

Beaver has been terminated from the JCC effective immediately, the letter said.

Hermann said Beaver was a member of the aquatic staff who taught American Red Cross certification classes, lifeguarded and gave swim lessons at both the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC and the Weinberg Park Heights JCC. Although police reported that Beaver told detectives he was in charge of the summer camp pre-K through third grade, Hermann said that is not true and Beaver had no management responsibilities.

On July 15, police got a tip that Beaver wanted to pay for sex with a 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy, the news release said. A detective posing as a pimp began online communication with Beaver and later posed as a 15-year-old boy. A meeting with the boys was scheduled at a Baltimore County hotel room. When Beaver arrived, an undercover investigator answered the door and took him into custody.

Detectives also said that Beaver is a retired Carroll County school teacher who had been a soccer coach.

The investigation was conducted by Baltimore County detectives and members of the Maryland Child Exploitation Task Force, which includes Baltimore County Police, the FBI and other local jurisdictions.

Detectives are not sure if Beaver actually abused anyone but are asking anyone with information to contact police at 410-307-2020.