Selling Purple Sports store owners soldier on despite Ravens’ woes

The Sports Nut recently relocated to Main Street in downtown Sykesville. It sells merchandise from all 32 NFL teams. (Daniel Schere)

The Sports Nut recently relocated to Main Street in downtown Sykesville. It sells merchandise from all 32 NFL teams. (Daniel Schere)

With the Orioles’ disappointing season at an end and the Ravens off to their worst start in franchise history at 1-6, Charm City residents haven’t  had much to cheer about this fall in the sports world. But the doom and gloom hasn’t held back a number of Jewish sports store owners from pursuing their passion.

For Barbara and Arnold D. Cohen, opening Kids Stuff in the North Point Plaza Flea Market 15 years ago was a second act. Barbara, a former elementary school teacher, said the store began as a hobby for her and her husband, a former accountant with the IRS.

“It was just something we loved to do together,” she said.

Kids Stuff is open only on weekends during the flea market and sells clothes targeted at kids

between the ages of 1 and 5. They sell mostly

Orioles clothing in the spring, and in the fall it shifts to Ravens attire. Barbara Cohen said a stronger performance by the Ravens on the field would benefit them greatly but is not essential for their survival.

“It’s not going to help, but we’ll still sell Ravens,” she said of the team’s bad start. “It helps when they win, but there are people who just love the Ravens, and whether they win or lose, they still want to buy something for a kid.”

Cohen said the team’s performance often leads to a slight increase in sales, but its niche fan base keeps them in business.

“We’re still doing pretty good,” she said. “We have really adorable things that most people don’t have.”

The Cohens had a previous business endeavor that became the springboard for Kids Stuff, which is located in Dundalk.

“We opened a store in Glen Burnie when my son graduated from college and he wanted a business,” she said. “We opened a paint store, and I had a

little corner [where] I was doing gift things.”

Arnold D. Cohen said he enjoys operating Kids Stuff because the couple likes “dealing with people.”

“We just enjoy this type of business, and it gives us something to do on the weekends that we like,” he said. “And if it was open seven days, I’d still be there.”

While the Cohens operate their business on the side, retail is a way of life for Andrea Magee, who owns The Sports Nut in Sykesville. Magee previously owned Andie’s Candies in Eldersburg until its closing in 2012. At that point she decided it was time to switch gears from candy to clothes.

“There was no NFL store in Eldersburg, and people around here don’t like to go out to other towns,” she said. “They like to stay here.”

Magee and her husband, Jesse, decided to open a store containing apparel representing all 32 NFL teams, something in which he had an influence.

“He helped me in the football factor, but I’ve been owning my own business since I was 15 years old,” she said.

The couple’s store recently relocated to a more central spot on Main Street and celebrated with

a grand opening on Oct. 24. Magee said it was

difficult to determine whether the Ravens’

performance has had any impact on the store in the month it has been in its new location.

“I understand the Ravens are doing badly,” she said, “but we still get a majority of fans who stick with their team.”

Business has been slow at Marc Levy’s Sportsmart in East Baltimore but for an entirely different reason. Levy’s store was looted during the April riots, virtually wiping out his entire inventory.

“It’s just taken a while to get back to where things were before the looting,” he said. “It’s been real frustrating for everyone trying to get merchandise in here to sell and trying to get insurance to

reimburse us for the rioting situation.”

Levy is one of the brothers in his family-owned business and said in a normal year his store would be popular around tax-refund season during the spring and back-to-school shopping in the late summer. But this year, those patterns have been

disrupted. He said despite the setbacks, he expects football fans to show up to his store regardless of the team’s struggles.

“The Ravens’ diehard is going to buy a shirt or a jacket because they’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” he said.

Netanyahu: ‘Stop spreading lies’ Current grand mufti denies presence of Jewish temples at Jerusalem holy site

An Israeli soldier calms a bystander in the aftermath of a fatal Palestinian stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station earlier this month. Palestinians have claimed the violence is in response to a change in the status quo on the Temple Mount, which Israel vehemently denies. (NOAM MOSKOWITZ/REUTERS/Newscom)

An Israeli soldier calms a bystander in the aftermath of a fatal Palestinian stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station earlier this month. Palestinians have claimed the violence is in response to a change in the status quo on the Temple Mount, which Israel vehemently denies. (NOAM MOSKOWITZ/REUTERS/Newscom)

Countering historical evidence and a publication released decades ago by a precursor to his office, the grand mufti of Jerusalem denied the historical presence of Jewish temples atop a contested holy site, which has been a flashpoint in the ongoing violence wracking the Jewish state.

Speaking in Arabic to Israel’s Channel 2, Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein said that the Temple Mount, known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims, was a mosque “3,000 years ago and 30,000 years ago” and “since the creation of the world.”

The grand mufti, who was appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2006, said in the same interview, “This is the al-Aqsa Mosque that Adam, peace be upon him, or during his time, the angels built.”

During the interview, the Times of Israel reported, Hussein denied there had ever been a Jewish presence atop the Temple Mount, in clear contradiction of historical evidence, including “A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” published in 1924 by the Supreme Moslem Council, which was led by the then-grand mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

The document, circulated widely online, acknowledges the sanctity and long history of the site.

“Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute,” the document reads in part. “This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.’”

There’s a sentence associated with the holy site, said Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, that says, “The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is the site of Solomon’s temple, and al-Aqsa is the site of Muhammad’s ascension to heaven.”

“One is a faith statement, and the other is rooted in fact. Both are power- ful and relevant, but it’s a mistake to equate the two statements,” said Satloff. “And that’s regrettably what the mufti has done, and in so doing, he erases history, which is self-defeating, because the whole point of building the al-Aqsa Mosque” was to enshrine the history of the space.

The al-Aqsa Mosque was commissioned in the eighth century by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.

Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offering.’

What Hussein said on Israeli television underscores “the fact that the current denial of the historical Jewish presence on the Temple Mount is a political statement of recent origin,” said Satloff. “It’s a political fact that reflects a political dispute and, in that sense, needs to be addressed in a political fashion.”

Haj Amin al-Husseini was the grand mufti of Jerusalem in pre-state Israel when the pamphlet was published. He is the same Husseini whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said inspired Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews. Netanyahu walked back his comments after harsh criticism from prominent historians and Holocaust memorial organizations, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated Germany’s responsibility for the genocide of six million European Jews during World War II.

Nevertheless, Husseini, who died in exile in Beirut in 1974, was a fierce anti-Zionist and ally of Hitler. He met with the Nazi leader in Nov. 1941, extracting support for the eradication of a Jewish presence in the Holy Land, although there is no evidence that he told Hitler to exterminate the Jews. Husseini focused his meeting on obtaining Nazi backing for “the independence and unity of Palestine, Syria and Iraq” under Arab rule.

The Temple Mount is frequently a flashpoint in Jerusalem. Non-Muslims may visit, but only Muslims may pray there. The site is administratively overseen by the Jordanian Waqf, with security provided by Israeli forces. Palestinian authorities blamed unspecified Israeli moves to change the status quo for the flare-up of violence that has seen Palestinians resort to stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians.

The Israeli government vehemently denies that any change had taken place atop the holy site.

Whether Jews should visit the site at all is contested.

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef issued a statement last week reiterating a decree barring Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, lest they accidentally stumble upon the site of the biblical “holy of holies,” where only specific people may tread and “infringe on the purity” of the sacred place.

Others, such as Rabbi Yehuda Glick, campaign for expanded Jewish access on the Temple Mount. Glick was shot four times in the chest last year. The suspect in the shooting was Mutaz Hijazi, who was killed by Israeli police. He allegedly said to Glick before firing: “I’m very sorry, but you’re an enemy of al-Aqsa. I have to.”

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Europe and then Jordan last week in an effort to resolve the ongoing violence.

Speaking alongside Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Saturday, Kerry announced that Netanyahu and King Abdullah II had agreed to 24-hour video coverage of all sites on the Temple Mount. Kerry characterized the installation of cameras as a “game changer” that could discourage “anybody from disturbing the sanctity” of the site.

Satloff believes that while the cameras may offer a technical solution,  they do not address the political nature of the issue, the cameras are “regrettably, unlikely to impact the situation.”

Judeh underscored Jordan’s interests in the contested holy site and called Jordan a “stakeholder” in any negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“When it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli peace, all of the final status issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis touch the very heart of Jordan’s national security and national interests,” as Jordan is home to millions of Palestinian refugees, Judeh said.

Israeli police intervened Monday when technicians, at the behest of the Jordanian Waqf in charge of the Temple Mount, began installing cameras. Israel maintains that the cameras will be installed after Israeli and Jordanian technical teams finalize the arrangements.

In remarks to the press days before, Netanyahu said, “I think it’s time for the international community to say clearly to President Abbas: Stop spreading lies about Israel, lies that Israel wants to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, lies that Israel wants to tear down the al-Aqsa Mosque and lies that Israel is executing Palestinians. All that is false.”

JTA contributed to this report.

Sharing in their Pain Baltimore Jewish community pours out its heart for Israel in wake of recent violence

Baltimore’s Jewish community is once again keeping a close watch on the Middle East, this time over a rash of violence in Israel that has killed more than 40 Israelis and Palestinians through a series of stabbings and shootings.

Many Jews are concerned about the violence potentially spiraling into a Third Intifada, including Baltimore Jewish Council executive director Art Abramson, who said the BJC is outraged over the accounts by Palestinian officials blaming Israeli security forces for the deaths of their people.

“Obviously, we are extremely concerned and deplore and condemn the false statements, mis- information and propaganda that the Palestinians are now disseminating,” he said.

In a statement released by the BJC Monday, Abramson singled out American media outlets as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for creating the perception that Israelis are chiefly responsible for the violence.

“Abbas recently alleged that Israelis executed Ahmad Manasrah, a 13-year old Palestinian, although there is photographic evidence that he was being treated in an Israeli hospital at the time of the statement,” he wrote.

Abramson also praised Secretary of State John Kerry for his diplomatic efforts in meeting with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week.

Earlier last week, Sen. Ben Cardin released a statement offering support to the Israelis and calling for an end to the violence.

“The brutal attacks against men and women, young and old, religious and secular, soldiers and students are deplorable terrorist acts which must be condemned forcefully and cease immediately,” he wrote.

Spiritual leaders have reacted to the attacks with a variety of emotions ranging from outrage to sadness. Rabbi Susan Grossman of Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia said she and her congregation are grieving for the victims and have planned to hold a ceremony on Nov. 15 to show solidarity for Israel.

“It’s a terrible tragedy, but what we can do on the Jewish side is strengthen the elements of Israel [that encompass] peace-loving law-abiding citizens,” she said. “The Conservative community is reciting a prayer of peace which was contributed by the conservative movement. And as a Howard County community, the board of rabbis is exploring what we can do as a community to mark these tragedies in a positive way.”

Rabbi Craig Axler of Temple Isaiah in Fulton said he included several special prayers for the State of Israel as a part of a musical Shabbat service on Oct. 16.

“It breaks the hearts of everybody who cares for and loves Israel and wants peace,” he said. “One of the things that I am seeing is an increased unity in the Jewish people rallying together.”

Axler said his congregation is also in the process of launching an exchange program with Israeli students by way of the Gimmel Foundation in which they will communicate by Skype with American students.

“For me, though this was a program that we had in the works for a while,” he said. “What it allows is for us is to feel a deep connection to our brothers and sisters in Israel.”

Chabad of Owings Mills’ Rabbi Nachum Katsenelenbogen said the most important thing for Israel in the face of ongoing violence is to show strength and not consider ceding any of its land to the Palestinians.

“Once again we see that if we don’t show strength, then that already is a sign of weakness,” he said.

Katsenelenbogen said that during a crisis, Jewish tradition teaches people to “strengthen the three pillars upon which the world stands” by studying Torah, doing good deeds and committing acts of charity. He is also encouraging all Jewish men over the age of 13 to take two minutes out of their day to put on tefillin and recite the Shema.

“As Jews, especially in times of crisis, we get our advice and inspiration from the Torah,” he said.

Rabbi Etan Mintz of B’nai Israel Congregation said his congregation is also heartbroken over the current situation in Israel.

“When you hear Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas talking and praising those who are doing this, I think it’s obvious that Israel doesn’t have a true peace partner,” he said.

Attitudes toward Israel were on display on Oct. 14 at Beth Tfiloh Congregation, when Rabbi Dov Lipman, a Silver Spring native who moved to Israel in 2004 and eventually became a member of the Knesset, spoke about the position in which Israel finds itself. Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg introduced Lipman by calling him a “bridge builder” and said he often finds the two see eye-to-eye on Israel.

“The Jewish people today find themselves facing many challenges,” he said. “We are separated from the Arab world. There’s a division between American political leaders. One of the conflicts within the Jewish community is that what we Jews seem to be lacking are bridge builders to bring us closer together.”

Lipman began by acknowledging that the situation in the Middle East is grim but said there is hope.

“When we’re experiencing the times that we’re experiencing in Israel and you say to yourself, ‘How are we going to get out of this? What can we possibly do in a society where we give Arabs the right to walk around freely, and any 13-, 14-, 15-year-old might have a knife in his pocket and attack, like this evening [with the stabbing of] a 70-year-old woman at a bus station in Jerusalem? How are we going to get out of this? What’s the exit strategy?’ I don’t know what the exit strategy is, but I know we’re going to get out of this,” he said.

Lipman and his wife were inspired to make Aliyah after participating in a high school mission trip to Israel. They settled in Beit Shemesh, a city 20 miles west of Jerusalem, and upon moving there, he was greeted with the unpleasant reality of an inter- religious conflict. He was struck in the leg by a rock from ultra-Orthodox protesters who had clashed with police. Lipman said he was shocked that Jews would attack other Jews and that there were no headlines in the next morning’s newspapers.

“Very often the term ultra-Orthodox is thrown out there,” he said, “Haredi in very general terms. The ultra-Orthodox population in Israel is 800,000, [and] out of 800,000 people, the number who would actually throw rocks at anyone about anything is very, very small.”

Lipman said a key problem in Israel that fuels much of the violence is the education gap, which has resulted in a great number of citizens who lack the necessary skills to enter the workforce. He has called upon the government to institute math and English in more schools.

“I thought back to my years in Baltimore, and my friends who went to Ner Yisroel with me are Talmudic scholars on the highest level, and they’re fervently committed religiously,” he said. “But they’re doctors and they’re lawyers and they’re accountants and they’re entrepreneurs. And as a result, they’re moderate, they’re part of society. They’re not extreme in their nature.”

Lipman had not considered a political career until he had been living in Israel for eight years and was introduced to Yair Lapid, Israel’s former minister of finance and chairman of the Yesh Atid Party. He met Lapid at an event he had helped organize in Beit Shemesh, and the two bonded instantly.

“At the end of the conversation Yair Lapid looks at me and said, ‘Dov we come from different planets. You’re Orthodox from Silver Spring, Maryland. I come from a very secular family in aristocratic Tel Aviv. But we agree about 80 percent of the issues, and unfortunately Israeli culture has told us that we have to be in two different camps. I’m in a secular camp, you’re in a religious camp.”’

Lipman said Lapid’s perspective was “music to his ears” and was soon offered a place in his party to which he said he was “honored.”

Lipman served in the Knesset for two years before losing his seat in the March elections. He said there were many passionate disagreements over policy issues, but he was reminded of what unifies them when, during a heated argument over the draft at 2 a.m., a Knesset member banged on his desk and announced, ‘Maariv [evening services].’ He said it was remarkable to watch everyone come together for prayer before they resumed their argument.

“Even people that I disagree with vehemently, they all think what we are arguing about is what’s best for Israel,” he said.

Lipman’s remarks left attendee Judi Raphaeli with a sense of hopefulness for Israel’s future in spite of the current unrest.

“I think what he said is very optimistic, and I hope it comes to fruition, but it’s going to take a long, long time and a lot of hard work,” she said.

Raphaeli’s ties to Israel stem from her husband, who is Israeli, and all of her in-laws. She also lived there for 10 years and said she is naturally emotional about what is happening there.

“There’s always unrest in Israel,” she said. “It comes, it goes, but Israel is going to always be there.”

Ada G, who preferred only to use her last initial, said there are dramatic differences in the manner that terrorism in Israel is viewed in the world.

“No one says anything when an Israeli is attacked and killed,” she said. But when they try to defend themselves, the whole world suddenly says, ‘send sanctions.’ And if two very extreme people, Haredi people, did something terrible, it means the whole country are killers. Six million people are all killers. Here, if somebody kills somebody, they are criminals. But there, if two people do something, they right away start sanctioning Israel. The whole country for two people. The world is very unfair to Israel.”

Ada G, an Israeli, said despite the violence, she would go there tomorrow because she cares that much about her native land.

“The Israelis aren’t going to sit still,” she said. “They’re very tough.”

Saying Goodbye Jones & Jones to close after serving Baltimore women for more than four decades

Jones & Jones owner Florence Sokol (left) and manager Karen Ciurca-Weiner announced the closing of the store after 45 years on Oct. 22. (Provided)

Jones & Jones owner Florence Sokol (left) and manager Karen Ciurca-Weiner announced the closing of the store after 45 years on Oct. 22. (Provided)

After 45 years, one of female Baltimoreans’ favorite go-to clothing stores is closing its doors for good. Customers will soon say farewell to Jones & Jones, an upscale boutique located in The Village of Cross Keys.

Owner Florence Sokol announced Thursday Oct. 22 that she is retiring in order to spend more time with her family. In an interview with the JT, Sokol said her decision was partly financial in addition to being personal.

“My lease is up, and I just think it’s that time in my life when I want to spend time with family and friends,” she said. “It’s a tough decision, and I’m going to miss everyone terribly.”

Sokol said she has not actively tried to market the store or the name but may try harder now that the going-out-of-business announcement has been made.

“If there was someone who wanted it, it would be wonderful,” she said.

Sokol has owned the store for 10 years but has been involved with it since 1989. She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she met Debbie and Sally Jones, who started the store in 1970.

“I knew Sally, and when she needed someone to manage her store, I was in Baltimore at that time,” she said.

Sokol said the store’s defining characteristic has been the family-friendly atmosphere created by her employees, some of whom have worked there for 20 years.

“It’s the atmosphere without a doubt,” she said. “Everyone is warm and welcoming. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you have on.”

Sokol also touted the store’s reputation for customer service, which has brought people from as far as Texas and Georgia to Charm City simply for the Jone & Jones experience.

“These girls haven’t bought anything from anywhere else in 10 years,” she said.

It’s the atmosphere without a doubt. Everyone is warm and welcoming. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you have on.

Jones & Jones is one of the three original stores to open in Cross Keys that are still there today. A number of prominent women have frequented the store including Oprah Winfrey, a former Baltimorean.

In the store’s heyday, Sokol said it was common for the wives of baseball players to shop at Jones & Jones.

“We’re part of the original culture of Cross Keys,” she said. “And it used to be that all the sports teams stayed here; then the Inner Harbor developed, and it changed a little bit.”

Jones & Jones has also been the destination for many prominent local women including WJZ anchor Denise Koch and Kennedy Krieger Institute vice president and Baltimore Jewish Council president Lainy LeBow-Sachs. Sokol said many of these customers are so regular that they have become friends with the employees over the years.

“Baltimore’s small so we do see them out and about socially,” she said.

LeBow-Sachs has been shopping at Jones & Jones for more than 20 years and said Sokol is a “super-duper lady.”

“I just walk in there and feel comfortable; I feel like I’m at home,” she said.

LeBow-Sachs said she is disappointed that her favorite store will no longer be around and plans to pay another visit there while she still has the chance.

“I’ve been going there forever and ever, and [the employees] are easygoing and have such great taste in clothes,” she said. “There are other stores, but there’s nothing like Jones & Jones.”

Manager Karen Ciurca-Weiner, who has worked there for five years, said all of the employees plan to stay in touch after the store closes.

“I can truly say that this is an atmosphere that is like family, and you really don’t find that anymore,”
she said. “And that really stems from Florence who is tremendously positive and upbeat.”

Ciurca-Weiner said she will switch industries and begin working as a salesperson at Northern Pharmacy & Medical Supplies in January.

“It’s a family-owned business, which is one of the things that led me over to them,” she said. “So I’m sort of taking something from this position over to somewhere else.”

As for Sokol, she hopes to spend more time with her children and grandchildren.

“We have some big trips we want to take,” she said.

Meaningful Mitzvahs

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‘One Step Closer’ HoCo Autism Society hosts annual 5K

The Howard County Autism Society hosts its 9th annual “One Step Closer” walk and 5K race on Nov. 1 at Centennial Park in Ellicott City.

“Autism is a complex condition affecting many aspects of an individual’s life: the ability to communicate [and] one’s education, emotional well-being and social relationships,” said Theresa Ballinger, treasurer of HCAS whose son was diagnosed with autism at age 4. “It’s a spectrum that manifests in different ways. One person with autism may have sensitivity to light and prefer to be in the dark [while others] may have a sensitivity to touch.”

Runners for the 2014 5K, hosted by the Howard County Autism Society, line up for the start of the race. (Provided)

Runners for the 2014 5K, hosted by the Howard County Autism Society, line up for the start of the race. (Provided)

A 2014 study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that one in 68 children are diagnosed showing symptoms on the autism spectrum. Additionally, the HCAS has found that autism affects nearly 700 children in Howard County.

The HCAS, which was started by families in the community 15 years ago, offers support groups, educational resources and other forms of aid to help individuals and their families manage the disorder. The 5K is one of two fundraisers the organization hosts each year, but it also offers a wide range of activities for families that are designed for individuals on the spectrum.

Eric Adler, whose son is on the spectrum, and his family are among those who are active with HCAS and are helping with the 5K.

“Nothing is easy. It’s all about trying to figure out a space where you can get assistance,” said Adler, referring to coping with the disorder. “There are government agencies and there are people who can help with services, but there’s no easy road map.”

Nothing is easy. It’s all about trying to figure out a space where you can get assistance. There are government agencies and there are people who can help with services, but there’s no easy road map.

Students completing school on the spectrum often earn high school certificates instead of diplomas, and those are not accepted by colleges or the military for admission or the majority of companies for employment applications, according to Autism Speaks, a global autism science and advocacy organization. Adler added that even if a student does earn a high school diploma, it doesn’t mean he or she is equipped to succeed in college or maintain employment.

Adler explained that helping individuals with autism gain independence after a K-through-12 education is a major challenge because many services provided to them during that time are no longer available. He thinks the school systems have improved when it comes to helping with student transition, but there is still work to be done.

“I know families with kids who graduated 10 years ago, and there was nothing there [in terms of   transitioning support],” said Adler. “[Schools] are recognizing the problem, but you can only stay in the school system until you’re 21.”

When students age out of the school system and if they can’t find employment, they become reliant on adult services administered through the Developmental Disability Administration. If a student graduates high school but isn’t 21, they face even more challenges, as the DDA requires applicants to be 21 years old.

HCAS also provides resources to help families work with the school system and allows people to benefit from the collective past of others.

“I have a child with autism as do most of our board members,” said Lisa Maiorana, HCAS board secretary. “[HCAS] provides social settings where [your child doesn’t] feel out of place and you don’t have to worry about [his or her] behavior. It helps build their social network as well as broaden your own social network.”

Among this year’s 5K participants will be Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.

“I’m looking forward eagerly to this year’s Autism [Society] 5K walk and run because I believe there are great possibilities and exciting opportunities to make progress in meeting the challenges of autism,” said Kittleman in a written statement. “If we work together, we’ll reach our goal: better understanding and better lives for the many families touched by this disorder.”

For more information or to register, visit

Surveying with the Stars Mason and Dixon’s original plotting instrument at MHS for one week only

The original Bird Transit, designed by John Bird, and used by Mason and Dixon. (Provided)

The original Bird Transit, designed by John Bird, and used by Mason and Dixon. (Provided)

Mapping a couple of perfectly straight lines isn’t typically a prelude to infamy. But for British surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, the engineering feat — surveying hundreds of miles through wilderness that resulted in the razor-edge borders shared by Maryland with Pennsylvania and Delaware and calculated by navigation of the stars — is something for which they are lauded and memorialized, and it is considered one of the most exceptional engineering and scientific achievements of the 18th century.

The original Bird Transit instrument, named for its designer John Bird and used by Mason and Dixon to calculate longitude and latitude to create the borders 250 years ago, was recently restored and unveiled at the Maryland Historical Society. Its discovery and restoration is thanks in large part to the passion and intense curiosity of David Thaler, president of civil engineering firm D.S. Thaler & Associates, Inc. The Bird Transit, which was present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, is “arguably America’s most historic scientific instrument,” he said.

About 100 history lovers, engineers and surveyors gathered at the Maryland Historical Society last week to hear the story of the find and get a glimpse of history revealed.

About five years ago surveyor Todd Babcock sent a photograph to his close friend Thaler that he took of an artifact he saw at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The photo was “this instrument sitting on a shelf as a decorative item,” said Thaler. “Sitting between two globes that are 18th century but have no connection to Independence Hall and I’m thinking (Thaler’s eyes grow large) ‘it’s the Mason and Dixon instrument.’”

Thaler contacted the National Park Service, which manages Independence Hall, and “got in a funny fight with them,” he said. They claimed it was a Transit of Venus instrument, and Thaler insisted no, it’s the Mason Dixon instrument, “and I kind of demanded to see it,” said Thaler, laughing. “For some reason, I have no idea why, Carrie let me see it.”

Carrie Diethorn, chief curator at Independence Hall, worked closely with Thaler to complete the restoration. She called the historic discovery “the Hubble telescope of its age.”

“This restored priceless artifact was solely responsible for the first-ever astronomical and geodesic effort to accurately chart long lines across the Earth’s face,” said Dawn Lipsey, Maryland Society of Professional Engineers executive director, in a written statement.

Mason and Dixon’s method, simplified and summarized: There is only one fixed spot in the sky, which is the meridian, or True North, and the Bird Transit instrument was used to determine the meridian. The earth rotates, which gives the impression that the stars rotate, or pass over the meridian.

With the meridian known, Mason and Dixon utilized another instrument also designed by Bird, called a Zenith Sector that measures the distance from the zenith, the point directly overhead to a reference star. That angle, when subtracted from 90 degrees, gives the latitude of the observer (his point on earth).

Mason and Dixon’s original field journal, (also on display at the MHS) noted the times at which stars transited the meridian in America then compared the same stars’ time at the Greenwich, England observatory (repository of perhaps the largest of all transit instruments) and that allowed them to compute longitude.

It took the men five years to complete 83 miles for Maryland’s Delaware border, slogging through peninsula swamps, and 233 miles for Maryland’s Pennsylvania border, which took them through primordial forest, mountains and negotiations with Native Americans living on the land.

“It would take them with weeks, with many complicated details, to determine latitude, and today we do that in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee,” said Thaler.

The Mason-Dixon survey, which lasted from 1763 to 1768, was commissioned to settle a long-standing boundary dispute between the Penns, proprietors of Pennsylvania, and the Calverts, proprietors of Maryland.

A nationwide fundraising effort organized by local Maryland surveyors and engineers paid for the instrument’s restoration, which cost tens of thousands of dollars. The Bird Transit travels back to its permanent home at Independence Hall after a brief stay at the Maryland Historical Society.

Also on display as part of the 250th anniversary of Mason and Dixon’s survey completion are the bill for services rendered signed by Lord Baltimore, the map created of the survey and replicas of the Crown Stone and Mile Stone markers, each 4 feet tall and weighing about 400 pounds. The replicas will be placed at the Mason-Dixon Line later this month, one on York Road and the other in a farm field now owned by Larry Malone.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamentez attended the event along with representatives from the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, the Baltimore County Department of Public Works and the County’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Bird Transit will be on display at the Maryland Historical Society through Oct. 18. For more information, visit or call 410-685-3750.

Unmasking the Myth CHANA commemorates two decades of hope, help and healing for victims of abuse

Michelle admits she was “kind of a statistic” in that it took three protective court orders before she finally left her abusive husband. But her experience is not uncommon. A victim averages seven attempts to leave an abuser before he or she is successful, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

The first time Michelle acquiesced, her husband dramatically begged forgiveness and pledged his fiscal and caretaking responsibility to the family, on bended knee, in the courtroom.

“I thought OK, sure, everyone needs a second chance,” she recalled, even though, her 3- and 5-year-old children “didn’t want Daddy back in the home.”

Two more times she found herself in a courtroom requesting protective orders, then finally, after her husband threatened to kill her, she said, “OK, I’m done.”

It was 10 years ago that Michelle — who is now 53 and with a civil divorce but no get after waiting four years because her ex-husband refuses to pay for it, along with his refusal to pay child support and alimony even with a court order to do so — sought assistance from CHANA, an organization she calls “a gem that’s hidden until you need it; then when you find it, you’re so thankful for all the people who make it possible.”

For 20 years, the staff, board, volunteers and donors at CHANA have dedicated time and dollars to assist and support their clients — child, adult or senior victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse — and to disarm the stigma of speaking out about abuse in the community. For a long time, people assumed it didn’t exist.

Brenda Brown Rever was on the board of The House of Ruth, a women’s shelter in Baltimore City, in the 1990s. Jewish women, they found through data, might call The House of Ruth helpline and receive assistance, but they didn’t use the shelter. Some inquiries were occasionally made for kosher shelter facilities, but those didn’t exist.

Rever believed a safe haven was needed for Jewish women, though after checking with Jewish Family Services and a handful of rabbis, she was told that from time to time they might receive such a request, but it was rare.

Someone directed her to Rebbetzin Chana Weinberg who told Rever, “Well, let me tell you that every year I have at least nine women I help get to a safe place.” For years Weinberg helped Jewish women escape abusive domestic situations and did so in a safe and discreet manner.
“We do have this problem,” Rever said during a meeting with Darrell Friedman, then president of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. “I asked Darrel, ‘If I can raise the money for this, can we start it?’ He said yes.”

Rever, who was also president of the [then] Women’s Department of The Associated, raised $300,000 from 10 people in about two weeks. “It was the easiest ask of my life,” she said.
CHANA, named for Rever’s dear friend and philanthropic mentor Annette (Netsie) F. Lieberman, began as a partnership drawing resources from The House of Ruth, JFS and The Associated.

With Shelly Hettleman, now a delegate for District 11, as its first director, CHANA began in 1995 equipped with only a phone hot line, a safe house and a group of volunteers, said current executive director Nancy Aiken, adding that Howard Brown from David S. Brown Enterprises has provided a safe house for CHANA free of charge since its beginning. The location of the house regularly changes to maintain protection for clients.

“[The founders] began to take this issue and open the Jewish community’s eyes to something we didn’t want to look at,” said CHANA chair Diane Israel. “Because of that, [we are] finding our voices and ending the silence.”

When Aiken came to CHANA 15 years ago, the organization was a cubicle within The Associated offices, she said. Now it has 11 employees and two office locations in addition to the safe house and countless volunteers. And thanks to a board member, a large luxury hotel chain provides short term emergency lodging when a client must vacate his or her premises in a crisis situation.

CHANA’s mission is to provide a Jewish response to trauma and focus its support on Jewish victims of abuse, but anyone can ask for and receive help.

William, 35, found himself in a hospital about three years ago as a result of an emotionally, physically and mentally violent relationship.

“I really didn’t know which way to turn,” he said, and a friend referred him to CHANA, which William felt was “a sanctuary.”

CHANA offered him a safe place to stay and legal representation and educated him on safe behaviors such as changing daily routines and routes to deter stalking and other dangerous situations. He received individual counseling and was accompanied by a staff person when he filed legal paperwork and attended court.

“I felt very held and very safe and provided for with them,” he said. “They were like Hercules. I didn’t know up from down, and it was a huge exercise for me to trust someone who was actually helping me and not harassing me or abusing me. It’s a huge part in the healing process to trust someone. It’s indicative of the heart and commitment of the organization and their programs.”

Over the years, said Aiken, CHANA and all the services it provides could have collapsed — such as the demise of other desperately needed social service programs — from lack of funding or volunteer support, so she feels fortunate they are still strong and sees that as a reflection of Baltimore’s dedicated community.

“We have a beginning that was so filled with passion and compassion, it started as a unique program that didn’t just treat people but advocated for a cause,” said Aiken. “That’s why it’s remained such a beloved program in the community.”

Aiken said she’s proud of the fact that several foundations as well as individuals fund CHANA year after year because they “believe in our cause but also believe in our vision” even after 20 years. Aiken noted another hallmark of success, though she admitted it may come off as a peculiar one. Many potential clients now call the office directly rather than use the anonymous helpline.

“Now people call up and give their names, so we’ve made it OK for us to talk about this,” she said. “That’s very different from 20 years ago,” when clients were concerned that their calls were being traced and refused to give their names and were reticent to discuss their situation out of distrust and fear.

“I feel like the shame has shifted from the victim to the perpetrator,” said Aiken. “Now people feel safe” coming to us.

I feel like the shame has shifted from the victim to the perpetrator. Now people feel safe” coming to us.

Another part of CHANA’s evolution is it can provide a comprehensive approach to a client’s situation in addition to physical safety. There are legal advocates, counselors and attorneys on staff, and instead of waiting for a client to contact them, CHANA also works with police to identify abuse victims and proactively offer assistance, whether from CHANA or other safety organizations.

“As we expand our definition of what abuse is, we have to expand our response,” said Aiken. “We came to find that emotional and verbal abuse in our clients’ worlds can be much more harmful and painful than the physical abuse,” she said. Both require a different type of intervention. “Sheltering is not the first thing that comes to mind, we’ve had to think of other responses so we’ve expanded” the types of support we offer.

One emphasis has been on evidence-based art therapy, and client-created art will be featured at the Oct. 29 gala to commemorate CHANA’s 20 years of success and hard work. As part of the evening a silent auction, including masks — some whimsical and some powerfully raw — created by clients in the theme “Unmasking the Myth,” will be displayed.

The idea is to combat myths such as abuse doesn’t happen to the wealthy or to professionals or in the Orthodox community, said Naomi Taffett, LCSW-C, director of service coordination at CHANA for nine years. She also spoke of the profound power of the activity.

“When you give somebody a crayon they immediately become a kid,” she said. “There’s so many things, especially when it comes to trauma, when words don’t come out, when one can’t articulate. So when you give [a client] an opportunity for another form of expression, we see it — a lot comes out; they’re able to connect on a different level.”

“And through creative expression they can share their journey, and that was our vision for this project,” added her colleague, Cynthia Ohana, legal advocate at CHANA.

Taffett, who is the first point of contact when a client calls, said staff also reaches out to hospitalized clients who have received physical injury. But 90 to 95 percent don’t experience actual physical abuse, she said, contrary to what people imagine when they think of domestic violence.

It’s not uncommon for abusers to charge at, chase, threaten or scream right into the face of their victims — anything short of physical contact to avoid being accused of assault. A type of non-physical abuse is also what Elaine experienced.
Elaine’s husband never hit her, but the last 10 years of her marriage “were horrendous,” she said. About two years ago she finally went to CHANA and met with Taffett.

“She said something I will never forget,” said Elaine. “Emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse because if you cut [yourself] open, there would be bruises on the inside. That was the most powerful thing anyone said to me, and I said ‘Wow, this is real.’” Elaine admitted at times she hoped her husband would hit her “so I could say, See? He hit me” and take legal action.

Elaine finally “got up enough courage” to contact CHANA, but it was a couple of years before she and her children finally left their abusive situation. She never felt pressured, only supported in her decisions and planning unlike what might happen with a family member or friend who could beleaguer her once she declared her situation unlivable.

“[CHANA] didn’t say, ‘He’s doing this to you so you have to leave,’” said Elaine, who has received a get but is still awaiting a final civil divorce. “I had to do it on my own terms. I didn’t feel like I’d let them down if I didn’t leave.”

She felt that whether she was ready — or not — she received the support and resources she needed. “It was important … I needed it to be my decision, and that’s how they made me feel.”

Hope Toward the Future

In looking toward the next decades, Aiken has two overarching goals for the organization.
“[Addressing] elder abuse has been on my mind for years. When dealing with possible domestic abuse at age 42, a push is a push, but at age 76, it’s life threatening,” she said, citing The Associated’s 2010 study that 21 percent of Baltimore’s Jewish community is older than 65 and that the percentage will continue to grow.

She predicts supporting and preventing elder abuse is going to be a larger part of CHANA’s work, and dealing with the perpetrators of seniors provides new challenges. When both parents are in their 80s and the children are in their 50s and 60s, there is a different family dynamic that happens, she said.

“Children say, ‘I don’t know what to do. I have to care for my 80-year-old father, but I know he’s likely to kill my 80-year-old mother,’” said Aiken.

Compassion isn’t typically the response used toward perpetrators in domestic abuse situations, she said, “But in older adults we need that. It’s going to be a challenge, and I look forward to it.”

In 2013, CHANA initiated SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders, in conjunction with Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Home and Hospital and Jewish Community Services, to provide safe accommodations if a senior client requires emergency shelter within a facility. The organization also is building a senior-friendly safe house set to open in 2016.

Another hope of Aiken’s is to cultivate more consultation and collaboration with institutions, such as working to draft real policies and procedures around abuse so there is a structure in place if something should happen. Creating such frameworks stems from open conversations and education, which is the focus of Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C, director of outreach and advocacy who joined CHANA just over a year ago, moving here from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Fischler has been focused on building relationships and working to implement educational programs within the Orthodox community. He engages students, staff, administrators and parents to help prevent abusive situations.

“The Safety Kid Program is really a big one for me,” said Fischler. “It’s going to take a tremendous amount of teamwork” — school volunteers, teachers, parents — “because we are doing this as a community.”

Debbie Fox, LCSW, who is Orthodox and spent about a year developing the Safety Kid program with an eye to the cultural sensitivities of the Orthodox community, based it on the National Department of Missing and Exploited Children’s program.

The success of the program is all about relationships, said Fischler, with clergy, schools and lay leaders, and all of the schools contacted are on board.

“I can’t do it by myself so I need people to be supporters and be a part of it, and thankfully they are. Hopefully, it will be implemented this year,” Fischler said. “Once the community owns the program we want it to be ongoing.”

Fischler, who maintains a private clinical practice, also works on the continuing Boy to Mentsch program for teens that is in partnership with Jewish Women International and also trains CHANA’s network of pro-bono clinicians and legal counsel, providing workshops to learn how to work with victims of trauma as well as adhere to the unique cultural requirements of the community, which is the kind of help Michelle needed.

“I was going for help within the Jewish community because I’m Jewish and I felt [most comfortable] reaching out to my own community” instead of a county- or city-based resource, said Michelle, who is now a pediatric massage therapist and aromatherapist, specializing in treating patients with trauma.

She compares CHANA to that of one big “collective Jewish mother. They sit with you, help to validate your feelings and give you safe ground,” she said.

Michelle is on stable footing now, although 10 years later she still experiences abusive behavior from her ex-husband. Now, however, she has the tools to deal with it and stay safe, and she shares that knowledge with others.

“It’s very powerful when you come from a powerless state to [finally] find a voice to speak up for yourself and your kids,” Michelle said. “You’re able to speak up for others — like you were when you didn’t have the language. Then you have a stronger sense of self, and you regain your identity as a strong Jewish woman.”

Michelle’s story, like countless others, fuels the work of Aiken and her volunteers, staff and donors.

“Dealing with abuse, 20 years into it is not just about keeping people from dying,” said Aiken, “but healing them so they can be whole again and be active, productive members of our community.”

Anyone’s Race With Stephanie Rawlings-Blake out of the picture, Baltimore’s mayoral election is an open contest

In a city that’s seen violent crime spike, with a homicide rate surpassing that of many other major American cities, and anxiety still in the air from April’s uprising following the police-custody death of Freddie Gray, the stakes are high for Baltimore’s next mayor.

Uptown, in the Northwest’s Jewish community, tension is also high with what residents say is an increase in car break-ins, home invasions and muggings.

With Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Sept. 11 announcement that she will not be seeking re-election, the mayor’s seat is open to — experts say — anybody.

“It pretty much opens the door for any and every challenger,” said Nina Kasniunas, associate professor of political science and international relations at Goucher College.

But who the challengers will be remains to be seen with the deadline to file for candidacy four months away. As of press time, Baltimore City District 12 Councilman Carl Stokes; former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who resigned from office in January 2010 after an embezzlement conviction; state Sen. Catherine Pugh (District 40), who earned the second-largest number of votes in the 2011 Democratic mayoral primary; and several lesser-known candidates have announced their bids for the city’s high office.

District 7 Councilman Nick Mosby and Del. Jill Carter (District 41) are both weighing possible runs. Author and educator Wes Moore, who had entertained a mayoral run, announced he will not be running.

“At that point, it’s a complete free-for-all,” Donald Norris, director of the School of Public Policy at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said of more candidates entering the race. “I think in a race like that, Sheila Dixon has an opportunity to come back.” And a large candidate pool means a candidate would have to earn a lesser percentage of votes to win, he added.

Concerns of the Jewish Community

For some, what they want in the next mayor is simple.

“As in any mayor, I’m hoping to find someone who is dedicated to the city, and by that I mean all parts of the city from north to south to east to west,” said Ronnie Rosenbluth, Shomrim’s vice president and director of operations. “Who’s going to pay attention to all the neighborhoods?”

Rosenbluth echoes the sentiments of many members of his community, who claim that issues such as crime and high taxes haven’t been addressed to the extent they would like.

“As far as Cheswolde is concerned, the main factors would have to be safety and which mayoral candidate is going to have a plan to really get into the community and into the neighborhoods and address some of these quality-of-life issues,” Isaac Schleifer, vice president of the Cheswolde Neighborhood Association and District 5 Council candidate, said, referring to home invasions and car break-ins. “We would need a focus on the community.”

While Schleifer said police response times have improved under Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis — the Northwest community has long criticized the Baltimore police for slow response times — he would like to see public safety resources spread evenly throughout the city so that police arrive as quickly to the scene of a violent crime as they would a home break-in.

Avrahom Sauer, president of the Cross Country Improvement Association, criticized city officials for this very issue.

“The people in our community understand that while we don’t necessarily have the issues that face other crime-ridden areas in the city such as daily murders, in our neighborhood someone coming up and stealing a lawn chair or breaking into your car means as much and is related to quality of life,” he said.

He and Schleifer noted that the city’s high taxes make it harder to get people to choose to live in the city versus the county. In recent years, Sauer has seen trash pickup go from twice a week to once and other services and city responses decline somewhat. He credits CHAI (Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.) with helping people settle in the city but wishes the city would help more by matching some of the Northwest community’s programs.

“We’re desperately trying to find ways and be creative to keep people in the area,” he said. “All of these [issues] make it very difficult to continue to present as a viable option.”

Schleifer suggests providing incentives for people to move to the city as well as for first-time homebuyers. Sauer argues that there should also be tax incentives for private schools to either remain in the city or move to the city.

“The Jewish community saves the state, the city, the federal government a fortune by sending our kids to private schools,” he said. “They don’t offer incentives for them, and yet we pay an inordinate amount of taxes.”

Those in the organized Jewish community hope the city’s future leaders take a hard look at the underlying issues that led to April’s uprising.

Molly Amster, Baltimore director of Jews United for Justice, hopes leaders take note of the light that’s been shed on the “longstanding racial and economic disparity in the city,” she said, as well as issues on which JUFJ has focused such as affordable housing, protection of low-income renters, affordable water access, police accountability and raising the minimum wage.

“I think this election is really an opportunity for people who want to be our leaders to share how they’d best address these critical needs for people struggling in Baltimore,” she said. “The racial and economic disparity is unbelievable. For a quarter of our city to be living in poverty is unacceptable. … There are so many issues facing our city, and I hope they’re focused on the ones that really impact people.”

Baltimore Jewish Council executive director Art Abramson shared Amster’s citywide perspective.

“I think the Jewish community shares the same goals as the rest of the community, the residents of the city, which is to stop the increase in crime specifically in terms of the murder rate — it’s gotten to terrible proportions — to alleviate many of the problems that precipitated the riots [and] get back to a strong sustainability of what worked to get people to move here and stop what led to a decline in population,” he said.

Abramson said the city needs a leader with charisma, one who people will listen to even if they disagree.

“When somebody is a leader you tend to be very willing to let this person try to work their magic whatever it takes, and that’s what it’s going to take,” he said. “There’s a new mindset among the people, the voters of Baltimore. The citizens have to be convinced you’re going to make their lives better.”

The Dialogue So Far

While some believe Rawlings-Blake when she said she decided not to run for re-election in order to focus on the immediate issues facing the city, others think she realized how significantly her popularity declined following April’s unrest.

“Her electability, yeah, it took a hit, no question,” UMBC’s Norris said. “But that’s the short-term hit. The primary’s not until April. She has plenty in the bank and [would have] multiple candidates [running against her]. The more candidates who run against an incumbent, the better it is for the incumbent.”

I think this election is really an opportunity for people who want to be our leaders to share how they’d best address these critical needs for people struggling in Baltimore.

Most do agree that Rawlings-Blake being out of the picture will change the dialogue of the race.

“I think the election now will be about the future, which is what elections should be about, instead of pointing fingers backwards about what did or didn’t happen [surrounding] Freddie Gray’s death,” said Del. Sandy Rosenberg (District 41). “What we do for communities like Sandtown-Winchester and other neighborhoods where you have concentrated poverty and what comes with that … it’s crucial to the city’s well-being, and therefore I think every candidate will speak to that.”

Kasniunas, the Goucher College professor, said it gives candidates an opportunity to call attention to certain issues in the city.

“You might hear candidates talk about issues of inequity, social justice, whatever it may be, maybe police reform,” she said. “But it certainly takes the focus away from kind of a referendum on how Rawlings-Blake handled the situation.”

Pugh said she thinks Rawlings-Blake will leave the city in a good place to move forward, and she plans to focus on systemic problems in the city from economical to educational to policing.

“I have a vision for moving the city forward,” she said. “I believe that I am … the person who stands with the community during unrest, when we’re having difficult times, and will be here as we continue to move [forward].”

Pugh said she would focus on engaging communities and the city’s various institutions including nonprofits and colleges, bringing manufacturing jobs to the city, having a work force prepared for the expanding biotechnology industry and using data to help move the city forward.

Stokes is calling for economic policies that uplift Baltimore’s neighborhoods, rather than give tax breaks to “wealthy developers who make very comfortable campaign contributions,” he said, and focusing on early childhood education as well as neighborhood infrastructure. He would like to help small businesses and residents by re-evaluating certain taxes and fees and making sure tax money is being spent well by auditing city agencies, something he has started as a councilman.

Educationally, while Stokes wants make sure elementary school students remain on track in proficiency, he would also like to focus on job skills in students entering the work force.

“We’ve got to find a way to give skills and, in some cases, a little more re-education, so we can hire and employ a great percentage of young people who are standing on our corners and doing jobs that don’t sustain them,” he said.

While Stokes believes his ideas will lower crime as they come to fruition, he also would like to institute policing in which some officers spend their shifts without cars so they can walk around and engage with their assigned neighborhoods.

“It doesn’t work unless you’re on the street, stopping, talking to people proactively,” he said.

Unlike Stokes and Pugh, Dixon went on the offense regarding Rawlings-Blake.

“I’ve been really disappointed in what has happened over the last five years since I left office,” she said.

Dixon said some of her focuses would be on getting police officers more engaged in neighborhoods and making sure that troubled neighborhoods have access to resources in mental health, medical care, physical well-being and nutrition, noting that her administration was “beginning to deal with human development issues.”

“It’s going to take someone with experience to get the city moving, not a learning curve of a couple of years,” she said.

As for the embezzlement conviction involving misappropriating gift cards that resulted in Dixon’s resignation, she addressed those who are bringing it up as she tries to win her old job back.

“For me, it was some choices that I made that I can’t take back, but I made so many corrections in who I am as a person and in my life, and that [the conviction] does not define who I am,” she said.

Dixon’s recognition could go both ways during the campaign, Kasniunas said.

“Name recognition does matter in a positive way,” she said. “But she has name recognition with an asterisk next to it. For some people that’s a positive situation; for some people that’s a negative situation.

Norris said that in a race with no incumbent and a large candidate pool, Dixon could come out victorious.

“What I’m hearing from people in the city and observers in the city is that she’s got a residual popularity that’s pretty significant,” he said. “She would not be the first disgraced politician to get re-elected.”

Whether it’s Dixon, Stokes, Pugh or a candidate that has yet to declare, Baltimore City’s residents in the Jewish community and beyond are hoping for some action.

“There are so many issues facing our city, and I hope they’re focused on the ones that really impact people,” Amster said.

“Baltimore has so much to offer as a city, and we are fortunate as far as geography and so many different things that we have going for us [that] we need to keep it positive [and focus on] the potential we have for doing good instead of harping on the bad,” Sauer added. “I think it’s a great place to live.”

Netanyahu’s Silent Treatment Prime minister skewers international community during UN address

In a pointed moment during his 40-minute address to the 70th United Nations General  Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped speaking for 44 seconds,  scanning the room with a stern look on his face, to  underscore his indictment of the international community for its “deafening silence” in the face of Iranian threats against the Jewish state.

After days of praise for the Iran nuclear agreement from world leaders, including Pope Francis, when Netanyahu took the main podium in New York on Oct. 1, he told the international observers present to “check your enthusiasm at the door.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasts the international community for its support of the Iran nuclear agreement. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasts the international community for its support of the Iran nuclear agreement. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The prime minister asserted that the deal makes war more likely and denounced Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region, alleging that Iran has sent thousands of soldiers into Syria to “prop up Assad’s brutal regime” and has threatened to open up two new terror fronts against Israel.

Not one to shy away from props to make a rhetorical point, Netanyahu held up a book authored by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that he called a “400-page screed” that outlines Iran’s plans to destroy Israel.

“Iran’s been doing all of this, everything I just  described, just in the last six months when it was trying to convince the world to remove sanctions,” said Netanyahu. Without sanctions in place,  Netanyahu said, “Iran will go on the prowl devouring more and more prey.”

He acknowledged that it would be easier to keep quiet rather than stand in opposition to the majority of the world that supports the nuclear agreement. But, he said, “I refuse to remain silent.”

“The days when the Jewish people remained silent in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over,” Netanyahu said.

Despite the repeated castigation of the global community, Netanyahu praise President Barack Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security, and he  reiterated the “unshakable” bond between the United States and Israel. The two leaders have sparred  frequently this year over the nuclear negotiations and expected implementation.

The days when the Jewish people remained silent in the face of genocidal  enemies, those days are over

Toward the end of his address, the prime minister addressed the stalled peace process and — in  response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech the previous day in which he stated that the Palestinians would not be bound by previous agreements — called for renewed negotiations without preconditions.

Abbas said, “We declare that as long as Israel refuses to commit to the agreements signed with us, which renders us an authority without real powers, and as long as Israel refuses to cease settlement activities and to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with our agreements, they leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of those agreements.

“We therefore declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must  assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power.”

Abbas, who was on hand for the inaugural raising of the Palestinian flag outside United Nations headquarters, did not specify when or how the Palestinian Authority would withdraw from the agreements.

Tension has been building, and fear of a third  intifada is brewing. Four Israelis were killed in the span of three days following weeks of tension over the Temple Mount.

While Abbas has laid the blame on Israelis and condemned Israel for killing two of the Palestinian attackers responsible for the recent murders,  Netanyahu said that Israel has maintained the  status quo on the Temple Mount.

“Israel expects the Palestinian Authority to abide by its commitments,” said Netanyahu. “The Palestinians should not walk away from peace.”