Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jewish Baltimore

Top: 8th Day Jewish rock band will be in Baltimore next week. Middle and bottom: Scenes from the Cheder Chabad “Yaalili” rock video.

Top: 8th Day Jewish rock band will be in Baltimore next week.

“Our music is very influenced and inspired by the idea that every person has their own special note to play in this world, and we plan to get everyone excited and involved in the show, from the front row to the back,” said Bentzi Marcus, whose Jewish rock band, 8th Day, will hit Jewish Baltimore this Sukkot.

At a Sept. 24 concert in the Cheder Chabad auditorium (former Beth Jacob building, 5713 Park Heights Ave, Baltimore), 8th Day will play “all the hits off our last couple of albums and some brand new ones from our upcoming album.”

The band is most known for its hit “Yaalili,” a song that got nearly two million views on YouTube.

Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon, head of the school, said he was drawn to 8th Day because the band teaches the deeper meaning of Torah values and applications in a fun way. He told the JT that even the band’s name, 8th Day, represents a number beyond the natural cycle of events; there are only seven days in a week.

“It inspires Jewish people to look beyond the natural cycle, to live beyond, to go beyond what you think your limitations might be,” he said. “You can reach into your soul and find all kinds of energy to bring you where you want to be, where you should be, to receive Hashem’s bracha.”

The concert is serving as a fundraiser for Cheder Chabad. The school continues to expand, this year reaching 115 students in grades preschool through fourth grade. There are separate classes for first- and second-grade boys and girls.

To build excitement for the concert, Cheder Chabad worked with Beth Tfiloh graduate Joshua Land and his partner, Victor Fink, of MindinMotion Productions to produce a several-minute trailer to “Yaalili,” which starred its own students and the staff of the kosher grocery store Seven Mile Market. The music video shows the man who works behind the fish counter, the stocking staff and others dancing to the popular song, as students rock their way through the aisles. The video, which itself had more than 5,000 hits in less than one week, was the brainchild of Cheder Chabad parent Rivka Slatkin.

Concert tickets are available at or by emailing

Said Marcus: “We can’t wait to rock the stage in Baltimore! Sukkot is a holiday of true joy, and Baltimore is such a great town for Jewish concerts. It is going to be explosive energy.”

Walkabout Abilities

091313_walkaboutOn Sunday, Sept. 22, Goucher College will be the site for a mile-and-a-half walk to raise money and awareness for the services provided to Maryland residents with disabilities by the Abilities Network.

“It’s a bring-your-friends, bring-your-neighbors event,” said Paul Trinkoff, a member of the Abilities Network board.

This will be the seventh annual Walkabout Abilities, an event that has grown into the centerpiece of the Network’s fundraising and outreach efforts.

“It’ not heavy-handed at all,” said Trinkoff, who has participated in the event both as a fundraiser and as an organizer.

The money raised goes to serve those in the community with disabilities and their families. The organization works with people with epilepsy and autism, among other disabilities, and helps them with medical and social adaptation.

“I had epilepsy and got introduced to the Network when I was young through my aunt,” said Leete Garten, who is now on the Abilities Network board.

Garten said that the great experience his family had with the Network led to his father becoming a longtime member of the board, and he is proud to continue that legacy. The Walkabout, he said, plays a key role in informing the community about the Network.

“It’s a testament to our employees,” he said. “It’s become our flagship event.”

The event takes most of the year to plan, but its success has made it worthwhile. The Network engages with schools to improve inclusiveness, and it runs programs to help people with disabilities get jobs. It is also working on a new program for elderly clients who can’t stay in their homes any longer.

“It’s all very hands-on,” Trinkoff said. “It’s very individualized, not a cookie-cutter process.”

Although the Abilities Network is not a Jewish group, the Jewish community in Baltimore plays an important role, as Trinkoff and Garten, both Jewish, can attest.

“It’s a very open organization,” Garten said.

“And there’s a lot of Jewish community involvement,” Trinkoff added.

As for the Walkabout, entertainment and a variety of food vendors help draw large crowds.

“We’ve even had famous local athletes attend,” Garten said.

For more information on the Network and the Walkabout, visit

“It can make a big impact,” Trinkoff said.

The Eyes Have It For E-readers

There’s nothing like getting lost in a good book, whether you prefer “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Steve Jobs” or “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.” We each have our own tastes when it comes to what we think is a good page-turner.

However, choosing books is now just one part of the process, because it’s a question not only of fiction or non-fiction and author or genre, but also of how we are going to enjoy our favorites.

There are dozens and dozens of electronic readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and the Apple iPad, and they have bec-ome popular alternatives for reading enthusiasts.

Many people think it’s a no-brainer to carry an e-reader rather than books, because books are bulkier and heavier. With more than two million e-books available to download at the click of a button, e-readers are also easy to update. In fact, one in 10 Americans says that he or she currently uses some kind of e-reader.

Of course, as with any change, there is uncertainty. One of the questions I get most often is, “Do e-readers cause eye strain?”

For the most part, they do not. Let’s put things into perspective. Even when you are reading the print edition of a book, your eyes may feel fatigued, so it’s nice to take a bit of a break: Get up, stretch, look around, refocus and then go back to your book.

The same thing holds true with an electronic reader. If you’re staring at an e-reader for a long time, you might feel that same sense of tired or strained eyes that you would with the printed word. Simply follow your instincts to stretch, look away and check out something in the distance to allow your focusing muscles to recalibrate; then start again.

Eye strain can cause your eyes to be sore and feel tired and make your vision blurry. However, the symptoms are not permanent, and once you rest your eyes, the symptoms will disappear. If they don’t, however, and are accompanied by headaches and double vision, you should check with your doctor; they could indicate something else is wrong.

As someone who uses e-readers, I think they’re terrific devices. If you are like me and are a bit nearsighted, they can be very helpful. I have to wear reading glasses for regular books, but I never have to wear them when I use my e-readers because I can enlarge the text as much as I want.

In addition, it’s not your imagination if you notice differences among e-readers. LCD screens can be more difficult to read in bright sunlight, and in those instances I use a Kindle, which uses electronic ink, as opposed to an LCD screen, to cut down on the glare.

For the vast majority of people, e-readers are a good thing because they make reading accessible, and I don’t think you need to worry about additional eye strain.

Whether you select paper or electronics, I hope that you enjoy this latest chapter in technology.

Dr. Donald Abrams is chief of the Department of Ophthalmology at the LifeBridge Health Krieger Eye Institute.


[slideshow id=”Total Impact”]

IMPACT, a unique and site-specific public art program developed to extend contemporary art to communities in the greater Baltimore area, opened last week at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills Jewish Community Center. A public reception was held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 29.
A local artist collective, Global Humanity Now, has beenselected for this summer’s IMPACT project. GHN is comprised of artists Remina Greenfield, Janina Anderson, Janet Hong and Gabriel Quick. Their artwork installation, “Return,” was designed specifically for the JCC’s courtyard and is comprised of a woven fabric that will extend over the courtyard of the building, creating a pseudo canopy.

According to a release, “Return” is a metaphorical network, illustrating the dynamic relationship between individuals and the community they comprise. The title “Return” is derived from Holocaust survivor Leo Strauss’ essay “Progress or Return” (1952).

Return in Hebrew is teshuvah (often also translated as repentance), and the timing of the exhibit coincides with the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The 10 days between the two holidays are known as Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, the 10 Days of Repentance.

Photos by David Stuck

Make A Deposit

090613_make_a_depositMany people enter marriage believing that it will fulfill their every need and all the things they have longed for. When we expect our spouses to fulfill us, we may be setting ourselves up for frustration, disappointment and unhappiness.

On the other hand, successful couples look for opportunities to give to their spouses.

Dr. John Mordechai Gottman, world renowned for his research on marital stability in couples, finds that couples who try to reach out to their spouses and make “deposits” will have a stronger and more successful relationship. Therefore, when couples make deposits into their “marriage box,” they fortify the walls of the box, building and strengthening the trust and love in their marriage.

As a marital therapist, I often see couples who are frustrated or angry that they are not receiving and getting love. Therefore, I ask couples to start making “deposits” into their box by giving to their spouses. The “giving” doesn’t have to be expressed by purchasing expensive jewelry or vacations, but by doing something that your spouse would enjoy.

For example, Sara was upset that Avi never took time to walk with her. Since Avi had a very busy learning and work schedule, he didn’t see the need or have a desire to walk with Sara. After we discussed the importance of giving to each other (in the way that your spouse would like, unless it’s an unreasonable or demeaning request), Avi was willing to compromise and walk with his wife.

Part of filling your marriage box is making compromises. Even though Avi was uninterested in walking, he came to understand how meaningful the walks were to his wife, which then put a deposit into their marriage box.

As couples make their deposits, they are actually working on renewing their love. People who are in healthy relationships don’t just express “I love you” to their spouses verbally, but they do so in many different way.

Here’s are 10 ways to express “I love you” that do not cost money and may be meaningful to your spouse:

1. Spend time together: Take a walk, read a book, play a game

2. Talk about and share your dreams, wishes, goals

3. Give your spouse a back rub, kiss or hug

4. Cook your spouse’s favorite dish

5. Plan a surprise for your spouse

6. Say something uplifting or encouraging

7. Write your spouse a letter expressing your feelings

8. Say thank you and show your appreciation

9. Smile in a loving and caring manner

10. Say “I love you”

When you make deposits into your marriage box, it does not have to be difficult or costly, but it takes forethought. By taking time to make a deposit, you are expressing how important your spouse is and how much you value your relationship.

Lisa (Elisheva) Rabinowitz is a local licensed clinical professional counselor. She can be reached at 410-736-8118 or Her suggestions are for couples in healthy relationships and exclude those in abusive relationships.


[slideshow id=”Whodunnit”]

Beth Tfiloh Community Theatre just closed a performance of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” a Tony Award-winning, solve-it-yourself musical comedy. The four performances took place on Aug. 18, 20, 22 and 25.

“The Mystery” is based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens and introduces eight suspects, each with his or her own conniving motive. The mystery concludes with the audience voting for the character they believe committed the crime. The actors were prepared to perform one of eight different endings each night, depending on the audience’s vote.

Joining in the fun were many BT alumni and parents, including Max Spitz (class of ‘12), father David Spitz, Dr. Kevin Ferentz, wife Lisa Ferentz and sons Zack (‘08) and Noah (‘12). Current BT students likewise got into the fun.
Shown here: scenes from the play.

Photos by David Stuck

Love Her Sew

This Betty Rubble pillow was a ribbon-winner at the State Fair. (Provided)

This Betty Rubble pillow was a ribbon-winner at the State Fair. (Provided)

“Had it not been for my granddaughter, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Ellen S. Federoff, 63, of Randallstown.

“I died two years ago,” she said. “My heart stopped, my kidneys failed, and I was in a coma. People told me that while I was in a coma, my daughter, Rose, was there. She took my hand and put it on her belly and said, ‘Mom, this is the baby. … Mom, don’t do to me what your mother did to you.’ You see, we were supposed to be a three-generation family, but while I was pregnant with Rose, my mother died.”

Federoff survived, and her beloved granddaughter, Chloe Isla Blackmore, was born two months later. Although Federoff has been mostly bedridden since then, she hasn’t been idle, and she is a devoted grandmother to Chloe, now 2 and living in Westfield, N.J.

On bed rest, Federoff has spent much of her time stitching her award-winning needlework. She first learned to do needlepoint when she was 9 years old, but since her confinement, Federoff has had time to produce a huge body of work.

Almost every year since 1996, she has entered the Maryland State Fair’s needlepoint competitions. So far, she has won more than 160 ribbons. “Once I win, my husband, Fred, takes pictures of my ribbons. Then he frames the photos,” Federoff said. “God love my husband; he takes care of my IVs three or four times a day.”

This year, Federoff placed first, second or third in 21 of the 22 needlepoint competitions she entered. Among her submissions were a Chanukah-themed wall hanging that won second place and a wall hanging of the Orioles bird logo that won first place. A pillow with an image of Betty Rubble of “The Flintstones” took second place, as did a stuffed rocking horse. A figurine of Betsy Ross holding the American flag placed first.

In the crochet division, Federoff won first place for a doll-size ballet dress.

“When I’m in bed, either I read or stitch. It gives me something to do, and I know I’ll have something for [my granddaughter]— that’s most important,” said Federoff. “Or I have a present for someone, or I will enter it at the State Fair.”

Federoff said that needlepoint has always been part of her life and acknowledges she has always been artistic.

“With needlepoint, I’m creative in that I don’t necessarily follow the color scheme or the stitch pattern,” she said. “I like to have different textures. I do what pleases me.” And best of all?

“I got a nice surprise this morning,” she added. “My ‘baby,’ Courtney — she’s 31, called and said, ‘Mom, I’m super proud of you.’”

Simone Ellin is JT senior features reporter

Novel Flavors

Each Jewish New Year, as we greet each other with a joyous shannah tovah, I add a happy birthday for myself. Being born on Rosh Hashanah, a holiday with a tradition of tasting new food, as well as being the owner of The Classic Catering People, I relish in the discovery of novel flavors.

Rosh Hashanah is associated with many food customs, such as eating apples and honey, that are meant to symbolize a sweet New Year. The holiday is a natural reflection of local and seasonal foods prepared by using what’s available wherever you are. So, just as Jewish people have settled in different parts of the world, meals served during this time should be adapted based on what’s accessible in that region.

This Rosh Hashanah, I am approaching meal planning in a way that pays homage to the old and introduces unexpected elements of the new.

First. Why not seek out one of the many varieties of heirloom apples that continue to delight shoppers at Baltimore’s farmers’ markets? The blend of old and new that these apples represent serves as a tangible reminder of Rosh Hashanah and its meaning: reflection of the past year and the celebration of the New Year to come. This year, slice several types of apples to dip into honey, or mix an heirloom variety of apples in a traditional cake or cobbler.

Second. Pomegranates are often an expression of the New Year because they are a fruit that arrives in early fall, and eating them is a ritual that encourages us to appreciate all the fruits of the earth. Furthermore, the pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds, equal to God’s 613 mitzvot. This Rosh Hashanah, try toasting the New Year with a nonalcoholic libation made with pomegranate juice as the base. Another way to enjoy pomegranates is to add its red-colored seeds to a salad or its sweet-tasting juice to a vinaigrette dressing.

Third. For the daring, seek out the fruit of the Pawpaw tree. Pawpaw trees are native to Maryland, and, until recently, the fruit could only be found by foraging. Today, it is available during select weeks in the fall at farmers’ markets or can be purchased frozen in pulp form. The Pawpaw tree is a part of American history; it was grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, and the seeds traveled across the county with Lewis and Clark. It is often compared to a banana in taste, has tropical characteristics and is perishable. Its fleeting nature is a wonderful expression of celebrating the moment and a new ingredient that can enliven your Rosh Hashanah menu.

While Rosh Hashanah is a time of tradition, it is also a time of celebrating new and exciting things. This year, consider adding an unexpected twist to your holiday meal.


Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Harriet Dopkin is president of The Classic Catering People in Owings Mills.

Why ‘Princesses: Long Island’ doesn’t work

From left: Joey Lauren, Amanda Bertoncini, Casey Cohen, Ashlee White, Chanel “Coco” Omari and Erica Gimbel gave very few Jewish moments to their cringe-worthy reality show. Bravo/PR

From left: Joey Lauren, Amanda Bertoncini, Casey Cohen, Ashlee White, Chanel “Coco” Omari and Erica Gimbel gave very few Jewish moments to their cringe-worthy reality show.

The debut season of Bravo’s reality show “Princesses: Long Island” has finally come to a close, and I think it’s pretty safe to declare it a disappointment.

Not that you would have had to watch all 10 episodes to reach this conclusion. The trailer preceding the series pretty much said it all.

“Oh no!” every Jew who bore witness to this short horror film surely said aloud, the color draining from their faces. Who was this crew of materialistic, entitled, daddy-dependent, marriage-obsessed 20-somethings singing “Hava Nagila” and saying things such as “Shabbat Shalom, go f—k yourself”? Were they really willing to sell our people down the river in exchange for their 15 minutes?

After an episode or two it was clear, though, that the problem with the show did not simply lie in its egregious Bad For The Jews-ness. Another big crime was that in devoting an entire series to Jewish American Princesses, Bravo somehow failed to do justice to Jewish American Princesses.

As Chanel, the show’s least terrible princess, might say in one of her rabbinical-sounding voiceovers, “An old Jewish proverb says that stereotypes are usually somewhat based in reality.”

In other words, let’s be honest here: JAPs do exist. And while of course it was initially horrifying to think that our fellow Americans might see this show and assume it is illegal for Jewish women to leave the house without a Louis Vuitton bag, Bravo had already put this thing out there. And once it was out there, would it be so terrible to admit that deep down, a teeny, tiny part of me was sort of excited to spend Sunday night watching the exploits of the Froyo-eating, bagel-scooping, elliptical-addicted, parent-sponsored Murray Hill high-rise apartment-dwelling sorority-girls-turned-event-planners I went to college with? That, to me, sounded quite compelling.

At first, some Jewish viewers may have recognized glimmers of the more privileged and materialistic among us in Ashlee or Erica or Casey. But ultimately that fizzled. It wasn’t that we don’t know a few real-life princesses who go shopping with their dads’ credit cards. And yes, likely there are Jewish women out there who might label a perfectly fine neighborhood a “ghetto” upon seeing a sofa curbside awaiting bulk pickup. There are also probably a few with no real career goals who are camped out in their parents’ homes waiting for the three-carat rocks they know they deserve.

Ultimately, though, this is a reality show, which means the characters are the opposite of real. They are required to be over the top to the point of being cartoonish. Any of Bravo’s princesses could have been pulled from any of the other shows about women who seem to do nothing besides shop, drink, say ridiculous, scripted things during confessional interviews and get into producer-manufactured fights with one another at parties they’ve planned to launch their latest projects. Nobody does these things in real life.

And you know what nobody else does? Nobody drinks Manischewitz for fun or says “Shabbat shalom” and “mazel tov” so often and so inappropriately it seems like a tic. But that’s what happens when the singular thing that separates a show from “The Real Housewives” franchise is its Jewish angle.

There were the rare instances when the Jewish moments felt authentic, such as at the wedding of Chanel’s sister, for example. But the other attempts (usually by Chanel) to bring in some Judaism — be it at a Shab-bat dinner in the Hamptons or at her tashlich ceremony — were cringe worthy and inaccurate.

“Princesses: Long Island” is, of course, not a documentary. So perhaps it’s unfair to expect even the slightest genuine, non-maudlin glimpse of what it’s like to grow up a privileged Jew in America.

For that, it seems, we must turn to other television characters, such as Schmidt, Max Greenfield’s Jewish American Prince on “New Girl;” Zosia Mamet as a Camp Ramah alumna on “Girls;” and most recently, Jason Biggs as Larry, a New York Jew coddled by his overbearing parents on “Orange Is the New Black.” These characters have probably been criticized by some for perpetuating Jewish stereotypes on some level, and they probably do.

But as a great Jewish sage (or wait, maybe it was Homer Simpson) once said, sometimes something is funny because it’s true. At least a little.

Want Savings?

Jane Sacks Rice takes a ride in her Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle. ( David Stuck)

Jane Sacks Rice takes a ride in her Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle. ( David Stuck)

Six months ago, Laura Fugate, 28, bought a Toyota Prius.

She was looking for ways to cut expenses and save money, and the Prius has paid off.

“The savings in gas is ridiculous,” said Fugate, an office manager for a public research company who commutes to downtown Baltimore from Perry Hall each weekday.

The Prius is classified as a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), one that combines a combustion engine with an electric propulsion system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the electric powertrain is intended to achieve better fuel economy. Modern HEVs make use of efficiency-improving technologies, such as regenerative braking, which converts the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electric energy to charge the battery rather than wasting it as heat energy as do conventional brakes, according to the USDOE.

Fugate gets about 450 miles per 11.9-gallon tank, and the fill-up costs about $32. She is saving about $100 per month off of the car payment she had with her prior car, a Toyota Corolla, and she saves about $86 per month on gas. One weekend in June, she traveled to Atlantic City, N.J., Frederick, Md., and Annapolis on one tank of gas.

“I found out how much this would save on gas, and I couldn’t say no,” she said.

The car also suits her for other reasons. Her petite 5-foot-3 frame prevented her from seeing well in her Toyota Camry, and she often dealt with blind spots. The Prius is comfortable, and she can see well.

Most often, she keeps the car in economy mode, to generate the most savings. She also uses only the battery when she drives through her work parking lot at less than 10 mph.

“It’s a very smooth drive,” she said. “Going 65 feels like 25.”

Fugate considers herself a “trend-setter” among her friends, as none of them drive hybrid cars … yet.

More often, older generations are buying hybrids, namely people with larger expenses such as mortgages, property taxes and their children’s college tuitions.

Laurie Duhan, of Owings Mills, spent about a year researching hybrid vehicles, as she was “ready to stop being a minivan mom.”

“I was looking for decent gas mileage,” said Duhan, who bought a Prius in February 2009. The Prius, which starts at $24,200, is not an expensive car, so it does not negate the gas savings, Duhan explained.

Duhan’s research consisted of visiting dealerships, combing through Consumer Reports and talking to people. She and husband Danny needed to be sure there was enough rear head and leg room. At 5-feet-7, she’s the shortest member of her family. The car, she said, is comfortable, drives smoothly and provides “awesome gas mileage,” with a manufacturer’s estimate of 51 mpg on the highway and 48 mpg in the city.

“What’s not to love?” Duhan asked. “The car cost about the same as the non-hybrids; for me, it was all a win.”

According to USDOE statistics from September 2012, nearly 2.2 million hybrid vehicles have been sold in the United States. In Japan, about 1.5 million hybrid vehicles are on the road. The hybrid with the highest mileage is the Prius, with an estimated 53 miles per gallon. Just behind are the Honda Civic Hybrid at 44 mpg and the Lexus CT 200 at 43 mpg. Honda also makes a hybrid called the Insight, and Toyota produces a Camry Hybrid. There are also hybrid models made by Ford, Chevy, Nissan and Hyundai on the market.

The USDOE also verifies the Prius is the top-selling hybrid-electric vehicle in the U.S.

In addition, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2011 there were nearly 11 million alternative-fuel vehicles in use in the United States, including 2.1 million hybrid-gas-electric and diesel-electric vehicles.

Jane Sacks Rice and Marty Rice both bought hybrid vehicles in the last few years. Three years ago, Sacks Rice purchased a Prius due to her concerns for the environment and a desire to save money as the cost of gas continued to rise. Sacks Rice estimates her Prius achieves 50 miles to the gallon, and she fills up just once every 10 days. She’s spending half as much money as she did for gas for her Honda Accord.

Rice chose a Toyota Camry hybrid in January 2012, and he saves a few hundred dollars each month on his commute to Rockville with a Volkswagen Jetta. Rice estimates he gets about 38 mpg and 500 miles per tank, a generous improvement over the 23 mpg with the Jetta, a car with a similar-sized engine.

Sandy Newman also bought a Prius, replacing her Mercury Villager minivan.

“I figured I might as well get a hybrid to save money on gas,” she said.
Newman goes about two weeks before she needs to fill up, and she racks up about 400 miles.

“That’s pretty good mileage,” she said.

Newman especially likes the perks, like the premium parking she gets at Olive Garden, which has front-row parking for energy-conscious drivers.

Linda L. Esterson is a local freelance writer.