Green and Healthy How to tweak your spring salads

052915_foodThe new food movement/trend is eating well and healthy to look and feel better. And what better time than spring to jump-start lighter, delicious eating. From blueberries and strawberries to asparagus and spinach, good choices can improve moods for all ages.

Local fresh foods really are healthier. You will enjoy higher nutrient levels because they are not shipped from around the globe and still labeled “fresh.”  So now is the time to watch for the early openings of farmers’ markets: There won’t be the selections of prime summer, yet it’s a good beginning on cooking or planting with locally grown healthy ingredients.

Salads as entrees are always welcome, and you can customize them to any ethnic flavor. Tweak your salads to include grilled poultry, seafood or meat. Chopped salads are all the rage now, and using different harvest grains such as farro and beans can give your salad a whole new dimension. Add thinly sliced fennel including its lacy, soft frond-like leaves in place of celery. I always top my salads with something crispy, and the choices available are endless for chips, nuts and seeds.

But it is the dressing that is the finishing touch, and it’s so easy to make your own without the preservatives or additives in store-bought varieties. Try a lighter-flavored vinegar, such as rice wine vinegar, with a little sesame oil and a splash of soy sauce and sugar, especially for an Asian theme. A simple oil-and-vinegar vinaigrette can be kicked up by just adding a few extra ingredients such as finely minced shallots or herbs. It will transform a regular ho-hum salad into a four-star meal.

EASY CAESAR SALAD (Dairy)

ILENE’S MEXICAN CORN CHIP SALAD (Dairy)

BOK CHOY SALAD (Pareve/Meat)

BASIC VINAIGRETTE (Pareve)

Midlife Health Clinics allow for whole health approach to women’s care

052915_insider_healthYounger women typically rely on their gynecologist as their only physician, says Dr. Katharine Taber, director of the Women’s Wellness Center at Northwest Hospital, “but at midlife that really changes.”

A single doctor can’t realistically provide all of the specialized services needed for midlife health, she explains, but women’s clinics have a network of expertise to draw upon, “and we try to work together and communicate well, so that the whole patient is really addressed and taken care of.”

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), by 2020 approximately 46 million women in the U.S. will be older than 55, and an estimated 6,000 women will reach menopause every day, the average age of which is 51.

It’s no surprise then that Taber cites some of the top concern of patients, ages 45 to 65, visiting the Women’s Wellness Center, are about perimenopause and menopause transition.

Dr. Neil Rosenshein, medical director of the Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine at Mercy Hospital agrees.

“This is a dramatic change for the individual and for the family, and I think that’s an important life landmark for these women,” says Rosenshein. “This is one of the more common issues our group deals with, and there are a variety of issues [that arise with menopause]. But the most important thing we try to relay is that this [life transition] is normal, this is natural.”

Since about half of all women who reach age 50 are expected to live to age 80 or even older according to ACOG, women may spend 40 percent of their lifetime in a post-menopausal stage.

“So when you have someone in their 60s and they have potentially 20 good years” and good quality health is their desire, says Rosenshein, “our job is, to the best of our ability, to make sure they achieve that.”

Which is another reason why Taber likes to take a holistic approach to health.

Though women may initially visit a women’s clinic to voice concerns about menopausal symptoms, she says, doctors also look at the patient’s weight, blood pressure and whether they’ve kept up with health screenings such as mammography, colonoscopy, Pap smears and  routine blood work.

“We look at those because most women will die from heart attack or stroke, so these are the risk factors,” that we want to see maintained at normal levels, says Taber.

A significant decrease in estrogen hormone — a common signal of menopause — can cause myriad changes in a woman’s health ranging from libido fluctuations to hot flashes to depression. During menopause, women may also become more susceptible to some cancers, which, after heart disease, is the second most common cause of death for women.

“Part of the overall process as women get into this [life stage] is also cancer awareness, says Rosenshein, who is also director of the Institute for Gynecologic Care and the Lya Segall Ovarian Cancer Institute at Mercy. He stresses the importance of cancer screenings and “paying much more attention to family history.” In some cases, he says, a patient may be advised to get genetic testing or evaluation, which he asserts, will become more important in cancer prevention and early detection.

Taber cannot stress enough that for women at midlife or any age, “it’s about maintaining a good weight, exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep,” which she outlines, along with other health tips that range from daily flossing and laughing to bladder control advice, in a comprehensive pamphlet she designed for patients. “Those are really the fundamentals.”

But, she admits, “health education is complicated,” and though she lauds the knowledge some patients acquire, she warned that the Internet can provide unreliable information.

“I think that women who come in [to the clinic] in this age group are much more informed and savvy about their health issues,” says Rosenshein.

“But there are many messages out there that are conflicting,” says Taber, “so it’s important to have a good physician you can trust to get accurate and up-to-date information.”

mgerr@midatlanticmedia.com

Sweetness of Freedom Memorial Day weekend welcomes Shavuot

052215_food

(Photo ©Stock photo/Catherine Lane)

Memorial Day brings the holiday weekend that ushers in the beginning of everything summer. And Shavuot occurs at the same time, reminding us of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The Torah was given to the Jews, as their journey was one from misery to a country flowing with milk and honey. So, eating dairy on Shavuot commemorates the sweetness of freedom and the new life of the Jewish people.

And food is no exception for both celebrations. Fresh berries are making their early appearance, making me think about using them in dishes from light to hearty entree salads. What about making some good sandwiches for picnics at outdoor games? Don’t forget to try adding sun-dried tomatoes and a pesto spread for your regular turkey or even tuna sandwiches. Bring along some soft pita pockets, peasant bread slices, fresh sprouts, the filling and set up a mini-sandwich bar at your picnic!

Strolling through the produce, I see early strawberries and blueberries, but it’s those blackberries that really catch my eye. They are such a simple fruit — dark and juicy, and there is no question about their ripeness. Easy pickings. Eat them, bake them, and cook them, or simply garnish a fruit tray with them. It’s one of the “short harvest” things such as Honey Bell oranges in winter, fiddleheads and fresh peas. So grab them when you see them.

Here is a “buffet” of sorts to choose from that could enhance or create the holiday weekend menu.

Tips
• Enhance roasted cauliflower with a little sprayed olive oil and curry powder. Serve with fresh peas garnish.
• Warm two serving plates for hot foods by placing on top of your toaster oven while heating something.

YE OLDE BLINTZE SOUFFLE

FRESH BLACKBERRY COBBLER

GRILLED SALMON PESTO WITH ANGEL HAIR PASTA

TUNA, WHITE BEAN AND ESCAROLE SALAD

A Music Man Memorial to beloved Pikesville native hit all the right notes

Steven Michael Stern (Provided)

Steven Michael Stern (Provided)

The room was filled with posters and statues of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest names — the Iron Lady, the Three Stooges and the Dark Knight — but the name on everyone’s mind that night at the Pikes Theater was not Christian Bale or Meryl Streep,  it was Steven Michael Stern.

Stern, raised in Pikesville, loved music from a young age and never stopped playing until the day he passed away from cancer at 47.

Although he hadn’t lived in the area for more than 20 years, his friends organized two memorial events, one on May 12 in Pikesville and the other in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where Stern lived with his wife and two children until his untimely death last month.

“He just started picking up instruments and playing them by the time he was 9,” said Maureen Kessler, Stern’s cousin. “He must have played 20 instruments.”

After discovering a passion for music, Stern joined a band, Prophecy, as a teenager.

“I think [the band] was very important because a lot of people knew him,” said Stern’s father, Linas Richard Stern.

Prophecy quickly grew in popularity through winning multiple battles of the bands.

“They were the cool, cute guys who played in a band,” said Danielle Stettner, another of Stern’s cousins.

Stern attended Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory and then the Berklee College of Music. After finishing school, he went on to compose with the world-renowned German film composer Hans Zimmer, under whose tutelage he helped to score films like “The Lion King,” “The Renaissance Man” and “I’ll Do Anything.” As the owner of Sternmusic/Catmandude Music he continued to score music for clients such as MGM, Fox Sports and CBS.

In 1999, Stern partnered with childhood friend Stuart Hart to create Selectracks Music Library.

“We’ve been friends since we were 10 years old,” said Hart. “He showed me my first guitar chords, and I ended up teaching him jazz proficiencies.”

Stern helped secure a deal to sell Selectracks to Bug Music, which was later acquired by APM Music. Immediately following both purchases, he was invited to serve as a senior vice president and vice president, respectively, for each company.

His last project, an APM custom music division called Resonate Music Group, boasts such credits such as “Lincoln,” the re-recording of the Baltimore Ravens’ fight song and “Hawaii Five-O. “

But one of Stern’s most notable accomplishments became the centerpiece of the memorial held at the Pikes. The celebration began with a video made by Allen Markow, a childhood friend and organizer of the event.

“Steven use to sit in his room and re-record scenes from videos with his own music,” said Markow.

The video Markow produced included pictures of Stern throughout his life with various family members and friends set to a background of music from Prophecy.

After watching the video, Stern’s friends did what he loved his entire life: They played music.

Stuart Keiser covered the song “Different Worlds,” originally co-written and produced by Stern. In 2012, the song reached No. 1 on the Australian iTunes charts after it was sung by a contestant on “The Voice Australia.”

Other performances at the Pikes included covers by Scott Lean and Scott Garfield, original members of the band Prophecy, Stuart Hart and Markow’s son, Alex, who performed Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” replacing the word “she” with “Steven.”

“He was our coast-to-coast music man,” said Kessler.

jkatz@midatlanticmedia.com

Off to See The Wizard First spring musical of JCC’s theater program showcases its growing popularity

051515_wizard1The week before opening night, the cast members of the Owings Mills JCC’s “The Wizard of Oz” transformed a small rehearsal space first into the cornfields of Kansas, then swirled it into the opulence of Oz, just by the sheer force of their song and dance. One can only imagine the magic in store when set to the backdrop of sets, lights and the Gordon Center stage.

The annual spring musical, featuring first- through eighth-graders, is this year’s culmination to the brand new (and bursting at the seams) theater arts program that includes the Habonim arts camp — doubling in size from 70 participants last year to 140 this summer — and the after-school Culture Club curriculum, all offered through the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore.

The staff was shocked when 70 kids showed up for the audition, said Randi Benesch, JCC managing director of arts and culture.

“We’re obviously filling a need in this community, and we’re going to grow this program,” she added. “It’s so exciting, we’ve always had great performances for people to see, but this is the first program our kids can be part of and not only perform, but they’re really learning a lot of skills in the process.”

For instance, CJay Philip, new director of Children’s Theater at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, said a concept they’re working on in rehearsals is “look, listen, learn.”

“In theater, 85 percent of the information you’re going to receive is by looking and listening,” she explained during a “circle-up” time, in which they discussed actions and values and how those affect working together as a group. “Only 15 percent is by talking.”

The concept has really sunk in for the kids, she said. They realize if they stop and listen during directions
instead of interrupting to ask a question, the process is more productive, satisfying and fun for everyone.

This is the first show Philip has directed and choreographed for the JCC program, and though she’s been a consultant to arts and educational programs for more than 15 years, she said it’s been exciting to “start a theater program fresh, planning with longevity and sustainability and bringing families together.” She credits the support she receives from Benesch and Melissa Berman, director of arts and culture education.

But Philip, who is also a teaching artist at Center Stage and an award-winning actress, singer, songwriter and choreographer with a host of serious Broadway productions on her resume, understands the deeper lessons of theater aren’t only about being on stage, and she weaves that into the program.

“It’s also learning about what it means to be a theater community, the relationships to one another and the confidence” that comes along with the rehearsing and performance, she said. The young cast talks a lot about respect and generosity and are aware enough to point it out in others when they see it.

The JCC theater program is designed primarily for third- through eighth-graders, but there was
so much interest from first- and second-graders that there will be a Story Time Theater, where the little ones act out fables and folk tales while stories are read aloud by older children.

CJay Philip, director of Children’s Theater at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, is excited about starting the program fresh and bringing families together.

CJay Philip, director of Children’s Theater at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, is excited about starting the program fresh and bringing families together.

Since they didn’t realize the overwhelming response they’d get for this show, the staff worked to include as many of the younger children as possible. Some will be in the chorus ensemble or in the specially created junior design team that works on props and costumes and other “jobs that work well with little hands,” such as adding flowers to sets and sparkles on costumes, and, said Philip, “their names will be in the program and they’ll have a little bow” after the performance. “It helps them see there are many parts of being in a show.”

The kids are having a blast, but the parents are also getting into it.

“At the JCC we have families for the swim team — sports league families — but now the arts and culture department is growing this community within a community,” said Benesch. “Everyone’s having a positive experience, and they’re impressed with the quality of the program.”

“We’ve incorporated Jewish values throughout the theater program,” she added. “Each week, there is a value of the week, like chesed, being kind, or kavod, respect.” All kids are welcome to participate in the theater program, she said, but “whether they are Jewish or not, these are values all kids should have.”

mgerr@midatlanticmedia.com

Poetry Place

Lag B’Omer is behind us, yet Sinai still seems so far away. We taste yesterday’s bitterness even as we attempt to shed our enslavement, even as we begin to breathe in our freedom. We count the days, 49 in all; seven days a week for seven weeks. Each day is another step from liberation to revelation as we trod through the wilderness within our own souls.

Each evening we hold an omer (a measure) of grain in our hands. We know this grain grew from the earth. Holding it and counting it grounds us. Counting each omer reminds us that we are moving forward, just a bit, every day.

In Joyce Wolpert’s poem, she refers to the sephirot, mystical emanations of God, that we discover on our journey. She mentions two of these specifically: chesed (loving kindness) and gevurah (strength), emanations we seek and fear. Each day when we count the omer, we are ascending toward Sinai. With each step, we struggle to find balance at this particular place in our journey. As you read this poem, we invite you to feel the grain in your hands as we take another step forward, and count another day.

Counting the Omer
By Joyce Wolpert

First footfalls forward
we slough off
our weighty ties
our rough edges,
Our outer bondage lays behind
in Mitzrayim,
Now we have 49 days — 7 times 7 —
that mystical number,
the emanations of the Sephirot,
7 weeks to cast off and to ascend.
We lift the stalks,
delicate barley leaves,
That the soft wind could
easily blow asunder,
We marvel how each day’s
quiet harvest
adds to our bounty.
We feel the press of our being,
the loom and the weight
on our hearts,
Our breath is caught,
we are barely able
to intake, “Yud,”
We who still smart
from the red welts
of our binding
are stymied
to stretch out, “Hay,”
We whose small selves
have been locked
in the darkest corners of our minds
cringe from saying
“I,” much less, “Thou.”
The pile begins to mount
Our steps take us deeper in,
Can we who have come
from the darkest of endings
learn to embrace the Ain Sof?
One measure per day,
uncounted steps in the abyss.
The moon gives birth
to our becoming,
Golden stalks reflect
their powerful quietude,
They begin to be woven
into a yet mysterious fabric.
We fear the Gevurah
which judges
with every measure,
We yearn for Chesed
to embrace us
for missing the mark.
Dare we trust the
now subtle urging
that senses
a power transcending?
What do we make
of a force
verging on magnetic
that draws us
to its fulcrum?
We are but shepherds
and brick haulers,
The earth is our heritage
not the stars,
We eat our twice daily supplement
never marveling at its origin,
We still see with our eyes,
do not yet hear with our hearts.
But our steps catch more rhythm,
our flock assembles
with increasing purpose.
The grain has now changed
from pale barley stalks
to sun-baked wheat sheaves.
How do they come from a source
not yet named
to a harvest
our rough hands
can touch?
We take care
to measure
even more precisely,
Every count, every step,
We are being pulled,
even as we pull back,
Our feet reach higher
before thudding down,
Our jangled hearts
beat steadier,
Our smell senses
a sudden sweetness,
Our ears hear murmuring
beyond the sound
of our voices,
Our minds’ eyes
see inward and outward,
Our dreams begin to weave
with the golden sheaves
into an arching bond
between the Infinite
and the multitude,
We go with all
the hope and fear
we could ever imagine
Toward the Ineffable …

5K or Bouquet Unique ways to commemorate Mother’s Day

Participants in the Maryland Half Marathon and 5K, founded by Michael Greenebaum and Jon Sevel of Pikesville, are raising funds for the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, a research and teaching facility gifted by Greenebaum’s father, Stewart, and named in honor of his mother, Marlene, a two-time breast cancer survivor.

Now in its seventh year, the race, which typically falls on Mother’s Day weekend, has raised more than $2 million for cancer research, some of which has directly affected Greenebaum’s mother.

“Part of what I like about this whole story,” said Greenebaum, “is that I’m raising money for research,” and it’s Dr. Angela Hartley Brodie, professor of pharmacology and researcher at the Greenebaum Cancer Center who was so instrumental in developing a highly effective breast cancer treatment called aromatase inhibitors, the same class of drugs Greenebaum’s mother takes now, he said.

The race happens on May 9, in the Maple Lawn community of Howard County.

Jewish Women International is providing another special way to appreciate mothers. The Mother’s Day Flower Project is delivering a bouquet and small gifts to mothers living in battered women’s shelters across the United States for a $25 contribution. JWI will also send a Mother’s Day card to any woman a donor chooses to thank for being an inspiration and helping women in need.

“We started the Mother’s Day Flower Project to remember those women who are struggling to rebuild their lives and to remember those children, who are the youngest victims of abuse,” said Lori Weinstein, the organization’s CEO.

“People look forward to it every year,” said Faith Savill, community relations specialist at House of Ruth Maryland, Inc. in Baltimore, a recipient of the program for several years.

Savill said House of Ruth receives many vases of flowers, and they are displayed in common areas so all the clients can appreciate them. In addition, they receive dozens of bottles of OPI nail polish or other small beauty products for clients to choose from as well.

“When you’re experiencing trauma and you don’t have many things around you that belong to you,” she said, “it’s nice to be surrounded by things that are beautiful.”

To order a bouquet visit jwi.org/mothersday.

mgerr@midatlanticmedia.com

Playful, Poignant Faunette

Artist Ruth  Channing inspects a print in her Mount Vernon studio. .

Artist Ruth
Channing inspects a print in her Mount Vernon studio. .

Ruth Channing moved to Paris after a two-year stint at the Rhode Island School of Design to study printmaking and etching at the acclaimed experimental studio Atelier 17 in her early 20s. She quickly became enchanted and smitten with the history, culture and sensuality of her surroundings.

There, she said, “everything seemed to be soaked in art and beauty, and I hadn’t seen anything like that before,” compared with her rather puritan and insular upbringing in Boston.

It was in art-drenched Paris that the concept of impish Faunette was born — an imagined statue from the city’s sumptuous Luxembourg Gardens that came to life at night. The sprightly, mischievous half-woman, half-goat character has revisited Channing’s work ever since.

“Faunette Gets In,” Channing’s latest etchings on view at the Unicorn Studio in Fells Point beginning this week, illustrate the antics that ensue when the satyr Faunette mistakenly wanders into a home. The whimsical pieces explore what can occur while trying to balance domesticity and self-fulfillment.

Channing met her husband, Raoul Middleman, just five years after her move to Paris, where she intended to stay and live as an artist. But, she said, she fell in love with him, and because he was on sabbatical from his position at Maryland Institute College of Art, they returned to Baltimore, married in 1971 and raised three children and a foster son in a large old house in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, where the couple also maintain working studios.

Their home became a meeting place for many other women artists of the time, such as Noelle Zeltzman and Suzan Rouse, and all would arrive with children in tow.

“We’d babysit while others would paint and draw,” said Channing. “We’d pool our resources so we didn’t go crazy. It’s hard to bxe an artist and then just [instantly switch to] be a mom. Our husbands were out working and we were making art. That’s what we did to support each other.”

As a wife, mother and daughter, Channing has embraced the roles seriously and lovingly over the years. But there were times, she said, she felt trapped as an artist.

“I’ve done work the whole time, and it’s difficult when you’re busy nurturing other people,” said Channing without a hint of regret or disdain. “And Faunette is representative of me trying to do all that.” The goat is the wild part, full of natural impulses and wanting to run out into the woods, she said, and the woman represents the effort it takes to be tame and nurturing of others.

“It’s about wanting it and also resisting it,” Channing continued. “Motherhood can drive you crazy and you begin to express it in art. It’s simultaneously love and frustration. … I think any woman artist probably has a similar story if they’re married.”

All their children are grown, but recently, while caring for her ailing mother, Channing revisited some
familiar feelings of the tension between creating art and full-time nurturing, and Faunette seemed to reappear.

“My grandmother just passed a few years ago,” said Channing‘s youngest son, Nate, 35, a sound engineer and owner of Above Ground recording studio. “For the last five years of [my grandmother’s] life my mother was the main person to take care of her. She stopped her career and did whatever it took to make sure [my grandmother] was OK.”

“Faunette Gets In” features 14 etched prints created with a method new to Channing . Years ago, she stopped using the toxic nitric acid baths typically used for etching in metal plates. More recently, she
has embraced the salt-and-copper method learned from fellow artist Alan Grabelsky. Still prolific at her art, she has an additional show at Creative Alliance in June.

“I was so excited about the results [from the new method] that all these ideas kept popping into my head about what Faunette was doing when she was trapped in the house,” she said.

Even amid still running the household and caring for others, Channing said, “Sometimes it looks as though there’s no time to do artwork, but there’s always time.”

mgerr@midatlanticmedia.com

Handle with Care

Haverford College President Daniel Weiss will take over as head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this summer.

Haverford College President Daniel Weiss will take over as head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this summer.

HAVERFORD, Pa. — Visiting the Memorial de Caen museum in Normandy, France, in 1996, Daniel Weiss was captivated by eight photographs showing the public hanging of three partisans in Minsk, Belarus, on Oct. 26, 1941.

The two male victims’ identities were known, but the female was anonymous, and Weiss set out to learn who she was. By the following year, Weiss had co-authored an article in the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies revealing that the 17-year-old’s identity — Masha Bruskina — was long known but suppressed because she was Jewish. In 2009, a new plaque was placed at the execution site with Bruskina’s name.

His research was off the beaten track, given that Weiss was then a professor of art history at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In an interview, Weiss explained that he was motivated to ascertain the truth, just as when conducting research in his own field of expertise.

“I have wide-ranging interests,” said Weiss, now the president of Haverford College. “And when I saw that photograph, I was just drawn to it.”

The scope of Weiss’ career will expand significantly this summer when he leaves Haverford to become president of one of the country’s great cultural institutions, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. As president, Weiss will be responsible for running much of the day-to-day operations of the third most-visited museum in the world, according to the London-based The Art Newspaper.

In 2013, the Met had $661 million in revenue, 2,547 employees and $3.3 billion in net assets. Besides its flagship building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, the museum includes the Cloisters Museum of medieval art uptown and next year will add a third site in midtown.

“It’s something like being the manager of the Yankees,” Weiss said of his new gig.

Those who know Weiss, 57, say he brings to the position a rare combination of art expertise, academic standing, business experience and leadership skills.

Raised in the New York City borough of Queens, Weiss possessed a commanding presence that was
evident by age 5 or 6, when he organized the neighborhood boys in an army-like outfit and marched them in formation down the street, according to his mother.

Queens was also where Weiss saw his first masterpiece, Michelangelo’s sculpture “The Deposition,” at the 1964 World’s Fair. A moving sidewalk took spectators past the dramatically lit work — “an interesting combination of the celebration of Renaissance art and a tribute to modernity,” Weiss says.

Weiss went on to study art history at Johns Hopkins and earn his MBA at Yale. In 2005, he became the president of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and, eight years later, took the same post at Haverford. He will depart after completing two school terms at the campus near Philadelphia.

On an afternoon in March, Haverford students entered the cafeteria for an event billed as “Donuts With Dan.” With a fire roaring nearby, the students encircled Weiss, their friendly banter with the ultimate
authority on campus suggesting a sweet comfort.

“He’s very easygoing,” said Claire Dinh, a student council co-president who meets with Weiss weekly. “But if there’s something that needs to get addressed, he [does it] right away.”

For Weiss, a specialist in medieval art, the Met job brings his professional and geographic arcs full-circle. As a professor of art history, he brought his undergraduate students to the Met on field trips.

“It is one of the great cultural institutions in the world,” said Weiss, who calls himself culturally Jewish. “The opportunity to become part of an organization that has that kind of reach and that kind of capacity  and that kind of talent — it’s a great place to be.”

The demands of running the institution may slow his latest intellectual endeavor: a biography of Michael O’Donnell, an American helicopter pilot shot down over Laos in 1970.

As with Bruskina, Weiss is delving into the life of a young person killed in wartime and deserving of acclaim. In his wallet, Weiss carries a poem composed by O’Donnell, and he reads it aloud for a visitor.

Weiss began exploring O’Donnell’s life after reading the untitled poem in a book. He located the friend to whom O’Donnell had sent his poem, then the soldier’s sister, and compiled every imaginable scrap of paper on the man.

The O’Donnell files are “an incredible, historical trove of documents that tell the story that the family has entrusted to me, and so I feel bound to do that — like for Masha — because it speaks to me,” Weiss said. “I guess I’m drawn to stories about courageous people who have sacrificed and whose stories aren’t otherwise told.”

A Real Hit

Vegetarians will love the offerings at Nationals Park.

Vegetarians will love the offerings at Nationals Park.

I have spent nearly 40 years covering all kinds of sports, but I must admit that I love baseball the best. There is nothing better than an afternoon at the ballpark in the warm sun with a couple of hotdogs (mustard and relish, of course), a bag of unshelled peanuts and a cold beverage.

Vendors at ballparks still carry the old fare, but they are now beginning to cater to a Major League fan base that has a much more discerning palette. Yes, the “foodies,” have taken over baseball, and both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Nationals Park now offer some amazingly diverse food options that include plenty of kosher.

The Baltimore-Washington region is considered a shared market by Major League Baseball; as a matter of fact, Oriole Park and Nationals Park are closer to each other than the stadiums for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angles. We have Nationals fans living in Baltimore and Orioles fans living in Washington.

So as a public service, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what you might be able to eat at the ballpark if you keep kosher outside your home as I do.

Last year, when the Nationals and the Orioles won their respective divisions and made it to the playoffs, the teams together drew a more than five million fans, and that’s a lot of mouths to feed.

The front offices for both franchises should be commended. If you are strict about eating only kosher food outside the home, then you will be happy to know that both the Orioles and the Nationals have you covered.

Delaware North Sportservice manages all the food at Oriole Park, and it offers an extensive variety. It features kosher beef sausage, and hotdogs, hamburgers, pretzels, beer and water are all offered at its kosher stands.

Fans can also find a wonderful vegetarian selection that includes vegan hot dogs and hamburgers that are very tasty, along with gluten-free falafel and spiral zucchini “noodle” salads that are worth waiting for.

At Nationals Park, Jonathan Stahl, executive director of ballpark operations, is in charge of food. He grew up in a kosher home in Silver Spring, and he clearly has a very unique understanding of the Jewish food scene.

“We wanted everything to be fresh and local, so both the Kosher Grill and Shawafel, are our two main kosher food outlets,” he said. “We partnered with Max’s Kosher Cafe, and they are a locally based fan
favorite. Together, we serve kosher hot dogs, knishes, falafel and shawarma to name a few of the wonderful items. My personal favorite is the shawarma, which is outstanding. Both of our kosher stands are certified under the supervision of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington.”

If you want to go vegetarian, Nationals Park has an outstanding grilled cheese stand that is very popular. And there is Field of Greens, a great vegetarian food stand that offers plenty of tasty gluten-free items, including beer.

Both parks offer fans the opportunity to bring food. All food items must be contained in single serving bags within a soft-sided container or cooler that does not exceed 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches.  Beverages must be nonalcoholic, and they must be contained in plastic bottles.