ADL Sends Recommendations to College Campuses

The Anti-Defamation League shared recommendations with American university officials on how to deal with a predicted uptick in anti-Israel activity on college campuses as the High Holy Days near.

In a letter sent from the ADL’s headquarters earlier this month, the organization discussed its concern that anti-Israel organizations might take upcoming holidays as an opportunity to increase their efforts. Those efforts, the letter said, could effectively “isolate and demonize Israel and Jewish communal organizations.”

The ADL pointed to one national campus organizations as a potential threat. American Muslims for Palestine, it said, has planned an “International Day of Action on College Campuses,” for Sept. 23, just a day before the start of Rosh Hashanah, and is advocating for the abolition of study abroad programs that send students to Israel in addition to boycotts of Israeli institutions and faculty travel to Israel.

“Such tactics disrupt campus life and stifle the ideals of inquiry, free expression and the civil exchange of ideas – precisely the foundation on which university communities are built,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL.  “No university should countenance attempts to discourage and suppress free speech, or harass and intimidate Jewish and other students.”

The letter went on to request that campus officials provide security during events on campus and reach out to students with educational and support services that encourage acceptance and respect in the campus community.

Baltimore Gets a Glimpse of Obama

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(Photo by Marc Shapiro)

More than 200 people lined the streets of northwest Baltimore Friday afternoon in the hopes of catching a glimpse of President Barack Obama on his way to a fundraising dinner for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Yosef Wiener and his wife left their Shabbot meal cooking to walk about a half mile from their home to the corner of Green Meadow Parkway and Edenvale Road to show their young children the presidential motorcade. They had heard about the president’s visit through word-of-mouth and thought it might be a good learning opportunity for their kids, who stood on the curb waving American flags as they waited.

Friends Zacharya Volosov, Chaim Lejtman and Shuli Katz took the advantage of the downtime between dismissal at Talmudical Academy and the start of Shabbat to try to see the president in their neighborhood. The visit was the talk of the school all week, they said, and it had become a kind of game to guess where the president’s helicopter would land in the area.

While the majority of the people gathered had come to watch the black limousines make their way through the Cheswolde streets, some had come to send a message to the country’s highest executive.

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(Photo by Marc Shapiro)

“Justice Delayed is Justice Denied,” read one sign held by an attendee with the CASA de Maryland group that had arrived to protest the president’s recent decision to delay any immigration reform.

“Stop Terrorism, Support Israel,” read another sign on the opposite side of the street.

“The Jewish community needs to realize that Democrats are not their friends,” said Ruth Goetz, who brought signs with her for people to borrow protesting the Obama administration’s policies on Israel.

The president landed in Port Covington just before 4 p.m. and headed straight to FortMcHenry, where he, along with Gov. Martin O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin; Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake viewed the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner.

The dinner was hosted by former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) president Howard Friedman, along with Josh Fidler, an area developer who hosted another fundraiser attended by Obama in 2012. Tickets to the event cost between $10,000 and $32,400 and featured a 10-minute sppech by Obama concerning some of the most high-profile issues of the day followed by questions from dinner attendees.

“And if you want to know why we’re here today, it’s because having a strong Democratic Senate allows us to continue to pursue a vision of an inclusive, progressive, economic agenda that is going to continue to give more and more people the chance to pursue the American Dream in the way that I have and Howard has, and so many people around this room have,” Obama told guests. The president also took questions after his speech.

In addition to the Senate, the president spoke about international conflicts, including Ukraine and ISIS.

“I made a speech this week discussing what is the most prominent threat that we face in the Middle East when it comes to terrorism, and that is the organization ISIL, that has not only taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria but displayed the kind of brutality that even by the standards of terrorists is extraordinary,” Obama said. “And I am very confident that with an Iraqi government in place that is committed to the kind of inclusive government that is needed there and sadly has not been there for some time, and the kind of coalition that we’re putting together internationally, and most importantly, the incredible courage and dedication and skills of our men and women in uniform, we’re going to be able to push them back and ultimately destroy them.”

Baltimore Jewish Times reporter Marc Shapiro contributed to this report.

Neighbors, Secret Service Prepare for Obama



Residents of Green Meadow Way in northwest Baltimore may get a glimpse of President Barack Obama Friday afternoon as he heads to a fundraiser at the home of Howard Friedman.

“The secret service, or people who look like secret service, have been here since Sunday,” said Josh Hurewitz. “They’ve been driving back and forth.” He thought they did a test-run of the motorcade in the early morning hours once this week.

Green Meadow Way resident Sandra Glazer said the road was supposed to close around 1 p.m., and only people who lived on the street would be allowed to come and go. They’d have to show identification to get back home if they left, she said.

Hurewitz said all the neighbors have received notices about how the day was going to go. Residents were told to move cars off the street and into driveways or garages.

Although people are a bit upset the president’s appearance is so close to Shabbat, Hurewitz said people plan to watch the motorcade.

“Everyone’s getting excited,” he said. “Everyone wants to get a spot on the block if they can.”

According to an invitation obtained by, the president will attend a reception and dinner at the home of Howard Friedman, along with U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin of Maryland. The event is a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to the invite.

A group calling itself Citizens of Pikesville plans to protest near the site of the reception. A press release from the group said it is a group of neighbors who support Israel’s right to defend itself.

“President Obama has not supported Israel. He halted flights out of the United States for 2 days this summer,” the release said. “President Obama halted Hellfire missiles to Israel. He appealed Israel to a building freeze. We want Obama to release Jonathan Pollard.”

Following Through

Barbara Bloom keeps newspaper clippings about her late husband’s work nearby at all times. (Heather Norris)

Barbara Bloom keeps newspaper clippings about her late husband’s work nearby at all times. (Heather Norris)

During Leonard Bloom’s life, he helped hundreds, maybe thousands of inventors successfully launch their creations. Now, in his death, his wife has taken on his mission.

“I’m just trying to complete what he started,” said Barbara Bloom, Leonard’s wife of more than 44 years. “It helps a lot.”

Growing up, Leonard was fascinated with adventurers and inventors. After receiving his degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins University and working for a time at Westinghouse as a patent engineer, he received his law degree from the University of Maryland and entered the field of patent law.

For years, Leonard worked at Black & Decker, handling corporate patents before beginning his own private firm with a few other lawyers in Towson.

Although Leonard was working at a time when thorough explanations and drawings were enough to file for a patent, he was fascinated by the history of invention. When he heard about an auction selling several prototypes submitted with patent applications in the 19th century, he bought them without hesitation, said his wife.

Leonard beat out all other bidders to secure seven original tool prototypes, including a rotary engine from 1879, a rug cleaner from 1860 and a bolt cutter from 1871. He displayed the relics in his office for years before moving them to his home office when he formally retired, but Barbara said he had always had plans to donate them to the Patent and Trademark Office. On Sept. 7, Barbara followed through with his wish when officials at the National Inventors Hall of Fame officially accepted the donation during a ceremony celebrating the gift.

The antiques have been valued at thousands of dollars, but Barbara said she wanted to make sure such unique pieces of history were accessible to future generations of inventors and patent professionals to inspire them in their own work.

“This is part of history,” said Barbara.

For Leonard’s own part, his work on negotiating the patent on the Black & Decker workbench was one project in which he took special pride, as was an improved defibrillator. In the early 1990s, the Jewish Times ran an article about Leonard that featured another one of his projects: a feminine hygiene product that helped a Baltimore housewife pay off her debt, buy a home and send her children to college.

“He didn’t just work with big corporations,” said Barbara. “He also took ideas from regular people.”

Even in retirement, he consulted with some clients on securing patents and trademarks. He found it hard to just simply quit a field that had been his life for so long, said Barbara. And now, in the months since his passing, she has found that carrying on some of his work herself has become its own form of therapy.

“I’m trying to carry through everything that he was working on,” said Barbara, who also keeps up on some of the inventors Leonard had worked with and is given regular updates on the progress of some of the inventions her husband had had an interest in. “I want to follow through so that that time wasn’t wasted.

“That’s what keeps me going,” she added, “completing what he started.”

Breaking Barriers



With the recent Ferguson, Mo., shooting fresh in everyone’s minds, children from Baltimore’s Jewish and African-American communities have detailed their own struggles with race relations — back in 2010, a highly-publicized altercation took place between an African-American teenager and two Jewish men in northern Park Heights — as part of a traveling photo exhibition in City Hall.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young unveiled the exhibit on Sept. 3, inviting more than a dozen girls between the ages of 10 and 14 for an event honoring their Girl’s Photography Project.

“This project is a way to foster a better Baltimore community and introduce girls to their not-so-different neighbors,” said Young. “After the 2010 incident, we wanted to create a positive spin on a negative situation.”

Hosted by Damion Cooper, director of the city’s Office of Neighborhood Relations, the Wednesday event celebrated the girl’s efforts with keynote speakers, a kosher reception and a certificate presentation by Young. Speakers included Community Conversations co-chairs Phyllis Ajayi and Nathan Willner, Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. (CHAI) executive director Mitchell Posner, Wide Angle Youth Media executive director Susan Malone, and program participants Aiyanah Muhammed and Daniella Friedman.

“I am thrilled that City Hall hosted us for the event,” said Ajayi. “The Girl’s Photography Project physically shows diversity in the eyes of our kids. Both sides saw that what they ultimately wanted out of life was the same. The only difference is the color of their skin.”

As an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the CHAI program helps fund, staff and manage the Community Conversations series. By bringing youths together through art projects, Posner believes that positive integration is the best way to build a better Baltimore.

“There is no secret formula to building a stronger Baltimore community,” said Posner. “However, we are giving our kids the education they need by introducing them to each other at an early age. Starting with our youth, we are building the people of tomorrow.”

Through Wide Angle Youth Media, the girls began the program in late January and took a five-week long photography course. While many of the girls were skeptical at first, they ended up forming lasting bonds with their Park Heights neighbors.

Encouraged by her grandfather to enroll, African-American participant Muhammad nervously joined in the program. After the 2010 dispute, she feared she would not find common ground with her Jewish counterparts. Within the first session, her reservations melted away.

“Because of prior experiences in my neighborhood, I didn’t expect the Jewish girls to be as nice as they are,” said Muhammad. “I made a lot of Jewish friends, and I have a new view of my Jewish neighbors. Our friendships have continued even past the program.”

Due to the success of the Girls’ Photography Project, similar programs are currently being designed. The Community Conversations series is hoping to create a comparable project between African-American and Orthodox Jewish boys in the future. As more programming continues, Young believes that Baltimore will become a more unified community.

“America is a melting pot, and we are all one people. This project gave the girls a chance to see that,” said Young. “By building positive relations and forming bonds now, events like the Ferguson shooting hopefully won’t happen here. We are setting up Baltimore for success.”

Set For Super Sunday

Volunteers at The Associated’s Super Sunday aim to raise $1 million this weekend. (Provided)

Volunteers at The Associated’s Super Sunday aim to raise $1 million this weekend. (Provided)

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore kicks off its annual campaign this Sunday, Sept. 14, with its largest fundraiser of the year: Super Sunday.

The event, which  raised $1.3 million last year, will see more than 100 volunteers flock to the Weinberg Park Heights JCC this Sunday to work phone banks and ask the Jewish community to give what they can to support The Associated’s annual campaign.

“I think Super Sunday is probably the most important fundraiser of the year for the Jewish community,” said Clara Klein, who is chairing this year’s event with her husband Michael. “The survival of the Jewish community is impacted by what we raise on Super Sunday. Our goal is to raise $1 million.”

The Associated, established in 1920, is a philanthropic organization that tackles charitable, religious, education, humanitarian, health, cultural and social needs of the local, national and international Jewish community.

“It meets the needs not only for our community, but for the Jews abroad,” Klein said.

In the past year, Associated partnerships such as the Odessa Partnership and the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership have not only connected the Baltimore Jewish community to those in need of solidarity, but have devoted resources to supporting those overseas Jewish communities in times of crisis.

“In light of current world affairs, I think people have a clear sense of how dire the straits can be beyond the borders of the United States,” Michael Klein said.

This Sunday, volunteers will work the phones from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in shifts of three hours or less to call on the Jewish community to donate.

Ellen Gillette, who’s been a familiar face at Super Sunday since the early ’90s when she first moved to Baltimore, said Super Sunday exemplifies the power of Baltimore’s Jewish community.

“I was just so amazed at how incredible this community is and how it works together and what The Associated is able to accomplish,” Gillette said of her first coming to Baltimore. “Super Sunday is the day that everyone joins together and reaches out, and it’s a wonderful experience.”

She loves hearing stories of why people give, and has seen firsthand what The Associated’s programs have done for the community.

“I’ve seen individuals’ lives really be transformed,” she said, “people either in situations they were struggling with or sometimes the transformative effect of connecting with the Jewish people.”

Gillette chairs Baltimore’s Hillel council, which works with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Johns Hopkins University; Goucher College and the University of Maryland, College Park. Because of The Associated, which contributes to the Hillel council, some UMBC students were able to connect with the Jewish community of Odessa by going to Ukraine on an Associated trip.

Like Gillette, the Kleins are also involved in several activities outside of Super Sunday. Clara, who sits on The Associated’s board of directors, is also on the Baltimore Israel Coalition’s board and the executive committee of the women’s steering committee, and is the incoming chair of the women’s committee of Israel Bonds, among other positions. Michael has served on the boards of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, The Associated’s board of governors and is a member of the Solomon Society, a men’s discussion group.

While the Kleins are doing what they can to make sure Super Sunday brings in as much as it can, The Associated is also launching a 100-day challenge. In the challenge, all new gifts or increased gifts given through December 31 will be matched.

“Anything [people] can give, no matter how big or small, will make a difference in our community,” Clara Klein said.

Those interested in volunteering at Super Sunday can contact Elizabeth Goldberg at or 410-369-9428. Volunteers can also walk in on Sunday.

Medal of Honor

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced he would recommend the late Jewish World War I veteran Sgt. William Shemin for the Medal of Honor. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced he would recommend the late Jewish World War I veteran Sgt. William Shemin for the Medal of Honor. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

Jewish veterans had a lot to celebrate at their recent convention in Charleston, S.C., not the least of which was an announcement by Baltimore resident Erwin A. Burtnick, a retired colonel and commander of the Jewish War Veteran’s Department of Maryland, that World War I veteran Sgt. William Shemin is being posthumously recommended for the Medal of Honor by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“I have been fighting for years for Sgt. Shemin to receive the Medal of Honor,” said Burtnick, one of several locals among the approximately 150 people in attendance at the JWV’s 119th National Convention, which ran from Aug. 17 to 24. “We don’t have many Jewish Medal of Honor recipients. Many people think he was overlooked because of his religion. Four decades after his death, he is going to get one.”

Founded in 1896, JWV is the oldest active military veteran organization in the country. It was formed by Jewish Civil War veterans after a newspaper falsely reported that Jews had not served in the war. Supporting the rights of veterans, JWV focuses on national security, veterans’ affairs, support for Israel and combating anti-Semitism.

“The Jewish War Veterans is as important today as it was during the Civil War era,” said Burtnick. “Historically, the percentage of Jews who served in the military is larger than the percentage of Jews who lived in the U.S. Keeping the Jewish War Veterans alive is so critical, and I’m thrilled three of us made it down from Baltimore to this year’s convention.”

Receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in 1918, Shemin ran into no-man’s land three times to carry wounded soldiers back to shelter. At 19-years-old, Shemin took over his platoon, leading his soldiers to safety and suffering a bullet wound to the head.

With the reading of Hagel’s letter line-by-line at the convention, it was indicated that once a waiver revision is made, Shemin simply needs Obama’s approval to receive the esteemed award.

In addition to Burtnick’s announcement, several other speakers gave presentations at the convention, including retired Gen. Baruch Levy of the Israel Defense Forces. In his speech, he shed light on the current military situation in Israel.

“The Jewish War Veterans is, of course, a huge supporter of the IDF,” said Burtnick. “Levy’s speech this year truly ties everything together.”

Many new officers were elected at this years’ convention, including new national commander Col. Maxwell Colon, National Museum of American Jewish Military History president Joseph Zoldan and National Ladies Auxiliary of Jewish War Veterans president Petra Kaatz. In addition, committee groups met throughout the convention to work on different aspects of the JWV organization.

A former computer programmer at the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Grounds, retired Sgt. Stephen Mintz was among attendees.

“It is important to spread the veterans’ stories of how our nation is protected,” said Mintz. “Through my committees, I help record and computerize Jewish veterans’ stories. [At] Jewish War Veterans … we feel a strong sense of patriotism. Everyone has a story in the war effort, and I want them to be heard.”

Next year’s convention is scheduled for Tampa, Fla.

“The Jewish War Veterans have served from the Civil War to today,” said Burtnick. “We have been in Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, World War I, World War II, Operation Desert Storm and more. If you look through history, we are, and always have been, defending our nation.”

Capital Classrooms

Students and staff celebrate the new Jewish Education Center of Anne Arundel County. (Allie Freedman)

Students and staff celebrate the new Jewish Education Center of Anne Arundel County. (Photos by Allie Freedman)

The rabbi blows the shofar, the musical director belts out “Shalom Aleichem” and a new Hebrew school in Annapolis is born.

On Sept. 7, 108-year-old Kneseth Israel held an opening ceremony to launch its inaugural year as the Jewish Education Center of Anne Arundel County (JEC). The Sunday morning event invited students, parents and staff to commemorate the historic synagogue’s new addition.

Holding classes for kindergarten through grade 7 and youth programs for grades 8 through 12, the new religious school will bring more Jewish programming to Maryland’s state capital. After constructing and approving an eruv around Annapolis earlier this year, Kneseth Israel’s Rabbi Moshe Weisblum looks forward to expanding the Annapolis Jewish community even further.

“This is a big historical moment for our synagogue,” said Weisblum. “It is another dream come true for me. My shirt reads, ‘Chai Achievers of the Jewish Education Center of Anne Arundel County.’ I wear it proud.”

Handpicked by Weisblum, JEC’s director of education, Ellyn Kaufman, has 38 years of Jewish education experience, 13 of which are in Anne Arundel County. When she joined the JEC team, she expected to run a small religious school. However, as word spread about the school, so did the number of enrolled students.

“We started with just seven students, but the number kept growing and growing,” said Kaufman. “Right now, we have 46 students, but it might increase even more.”

Working closely with the new director, kindergarten and first grade religious school teacher Mariel Evers credits Kaufman’s visions and ideas as part of the school’s rising success.

“Ellen grew the whole school,” said Evers. “She makes the whole place come alive.”

From parading the incoming students in matching t-shirts to meeting this year’s teachers for the first time, Sunday’s opening ceremony was a small slice of the 2014-2015 school year. The school’s core curriculum focuses on Jewish holidays, fundamental values, religious customs, Hebrew, Israel and Torah. While the students eat apples and honey during recess and create Shabbat boxes filled with Kiddush cups and candlesticks, JEC takes a hands-on approach to teaching.

It recruited baritone opera singer, actor and voice teacher Shouvik Mondle to lead its children’s choir. Born in Calcutta, India, Mondle has entertained in operas around the world, and most recently, trained children to star on Broadway.

“I used to work with, teach and train children who starred in Billy Elliot and Mary Poppins on Broadway,” said Mondle. “Music is my passion, and I cannot wait to work the students at Kneseth Israel.”

Supplementary Sunday activities help advance the student’s education. Other activities include Jewish baking lessons, arts and crafts and monthly Israeli dancing.

“This school has already gone above and beyond my expectations,” said Kaufman. “Although I was a little hesitant to start a Hebrew school at first, I am so blessed that Rabbi Weisblum chose me.”

The Beatles’ Jewish Roots

Rabbi Lionel Chiswell, born in Liverpool England, attended the same  synagogue as Beatles manager Brian Epstein. (Marc Shapiro)

Rabbi Lionel Chiswell, born in Liverpool England, attended the same synagogue as Beatles manager Brian Epstein. (Marc Shapiro)

Congregants at the Greenbank Drive Synagogue in Liverpool, England, always knew when the Epstein family had arrived for Shabbat services.

“They all dressed in sync. The old man, Harry, and his sons Brian and Clive dressed with a nice black jacket and pinstripe trousers and … a bowler [hat], and they looked immaculate,” said Rabbi Lionel Chiswell, a Liverpool native who attended Greenbank Drive. “And everyone used to look in the audience and wink to each other, ‘The Epsteins have arrived.’ It’s almost like royalty.”

That Brian Epstein would later go on to manage arguably the most iconic band in musical history — the Beatles.

While some of the band’s Jewish connections are more widely known — Epstein’s Orthodoxy, Paul McCartney’s marriages to Jewish women, including his current wife Nancy Shevell, and Ringo Starr’s half-Jewish wife, Barbara Bach — the early days of the Beatles saw them performing at a Jewish-owned club, at Jewish community events and even generating a buzz in England’s yeshiva community.

Chiswell, 75, who first came to the United States in 1966 and has lived in Baltimore since 1993, was the same age as Epstein’s younger brother Clive and went to school and synagogue with Alan Swerdlow, a friend of Epstein and John Lennon who photographed the Beatles in the early days. While Chiswell had started rabbinical college in 1956 and left Liverpool to pursue the rabbinate in 1962, his visits home from school and stories from those who knew the Beatles kept him in the loop about Beatlemania. Chiswell now lives in Pikesville and is a member of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion.

Before Epstein became the Beatles’ manager, he was working in his family’s furniture store business. As it expanded, he became a manager at what they named NEMS (North End Music Stores).

“Brian was interested in classical music as was the whole family,” Chiswell said. “They had a furniture store and Brian was put in charge of the record department. People had to get with it because people were buying as much furniture as they were buying records. Lots of furniture stores went into having a corner for records. Basically, people were into the classical.”

But as early as the 1950s, American rock and roll started making its way to England. Chiswell recalls hearing artists like Little Richard and Elvis Presley. But as the English rock scene took hold, customers started to come in asking for rock records, including the Beatles. Those requests, and some buzz in local press, led Epstein to seek out one of the band’s performances at the Cavern Club.

The club, which opened at 10 Matthew Street in 1957 as a jazz club, later became a hub in the Liverpool rock scene, hosting the Beatles almost 300 times.

“You did go down steps. It’s below ground level and they called it Cavern. I once visited it,” Chiswell said. “It was a street tucked off a street which was tucked off. I think the only thing that was allowed to go in that street were the trucks dropping things off. It was an underground little warehouse.”

While Chiswell said Swerdlow, who went to Quarry Bank High School and later the Liverpool College of Art with John Lennon, offered to connect Epstein with the Cavern Club’s manager, the story goes that it was the editor of the local music publication that ultimately took Epstein to the club. The club’s manager, Alan Sytner, was also a member of the Greenbank Drive Synagogue.

Chiswell’s one visit to the Cavern was for coffee and a pastry. Sytner knew a lot of Jewish people kept kosher away from home so he’d allow them to patronize the café without buying full meals, Chiswell said. Since he was a rabbinical student and not going out to clubs and concerts, he never did see the band perform.

After seeing the band on Nov. 9, 1961, Epstein signed them in January 1962.

“It surprised his father,” Chiswell said of Epstein going into managing bands. “We say amongst ourselves, the Liverpool club, that Brian saw a mint when he looked at the four guys.”

The Epstein family was highly regarded at the Greenbank Drive Synagogue. Epstein’s father worked his way up to the equivalent of synagogue president and for a couple of years was one of two people who would stand on either side while the Torah was read. Chiswell said the father had enormous respect for rabbis, and with Chiswell also being a kohain, the elder Epstein would be the one who called Chiswell up for an aliyah.

Swerdlow ran the synagogue’s youth dances, which would be held on Saturday nights in the winter time, Chiswell said. Because of his friendship with John Lennon, Chiswell said the Beatles may have played at the synagogue, although he’s not sure. What he is sure of is that the Beatles played at an annual boat ride on the River Mersey that the Jewish community of Liverpool held in 1962.

Chiswell said that although the Beatles were riding high with hit records, they performed again the next year because of a promise they made.

Although Epstein was not as religious as the Beatles’ fame grew, he joined a synagogue in London when he and the band moved there. Chiswell had previously served as a rabbinical apprentice at the synagogue, St. John’s Wood Synagogue, which was on Abbey Road about a block from the famous recording studio.

“When I see that picture of them crossing, I know every stone,” Chiswell said of the “Abbey Road” album cover. “I crossed many times.”

To read more of Rabbi Lionel Chiswell’s recollections of the Fab Four, read this story.

White House Sparks Ire

Several Jewish organizations have expressed their disappointment in President Barack Obama’s delay on addressing immigration until after the mid-term elections in November.

Speaking to the new host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd, on Sunday, the president justified breaking an earlier promise that he would reform immigration policy by executive order by the end of the summer, because waiting until the fall will be “more sustainable and more effective.”

Several organizations, some of whom had written the White House at the end of last week, expressed their disappointment in the president and in Congress for failing to help immigrant families and children who have come to America to escape Central American violence.

“Delay means that thousands more hardworking immigrants, some of whom have been in this country for decades, will be needlessly torn from their homes, jobs, communities and families,” Melanie Nezer, vice president of advocacy and policy at HIAS, a global Jewish organization that aims to protect refugees, said in a statement. “Delay means support and solutions for the children and others seeking relief from relentless violence in Central America will remain on hold. The delays have gone on long enough.”

Some see the delay as a calculated political move to avoid potential impacts an executive order would have on the November elections.

“We are deeply disappointed that the president is bowing to the pressure of those who fear that taking a stand will impact their chances of reelection in November,” Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, said in a statement. “While we believe that the president’s commitment to comprehensive reform is sincere, we question how the administration can continue to allow 1,100 undocumented residents to be deported each and every day.”

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism focused its sentiments on the various effects a delay on immigration will have.

“Because of Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, family members remain separated, employers continue to face challenges meeting their needs, our nation’s security is weakened and undocumented young people who wish to contribute to the only nation they know as home — and their families — live with uncertainty about their future,” Barbara Weinstein, director of the commission on social action of Reform Judaism, said in a statement. “The time for action on immigration reform is long past due.”

Earlier this month, a coalition of 40 interfaith leaders — including Kaufman; Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of the HIAS; Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder and president of Uri L’Tzedek Orthodox Social Justice and Jared Feldman, vice president and Washington director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs — sent the president a one-sentence letter about potential executive action on Central American immigrants.

“While we celebrate the potential of executive action to alleviate the suffering caused by our nation’s broken immigration system — particularly in light of political inaction in Congress — it must not come at the cost of due process and access to humanitarian protection for children and families fleeing violence in Central America,” it read.

In a conference call prior to the president’s decision, Kaufman spoke about the Passover story and how Jews were once “strangers in a strange land” as well as the Jews of Europe being prevented to enter the U.S. and other counties during the Holocaust.

“We recall not only our ancient history, but our more recent history when we were rejected at the door of this country and most countries in the 1940s and as a result lost millions of our people,” said Kaufman. “Passover tells a story of liberation, and we remember that we were strangers, and we remember that it is our mandate to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, feed the hungry.”