20 questions to help determine if a college is taking appropriate precautions to protect students

Robin Hattersley Gray, editor of Campus Safety Magazine, suggests that students and parents refer to a list of 20 questions the magazine has prepared that may help them to determine if a college is taking the appropriate precautions to protect its students. See the full article for more details at bit.ly/1pgfkqL.

1. Does the college or university have appropriate sexual violence prevention programs?

2. Do the school’s crime/Clery Center for Security on Campus incident numbers make sense when taking into consideration the campus location and student population size?

3. Does the college have an on-campus counseling center that is fully staffed and well-funded?

4. Does the campus have a multidisciplinary threat assessment team that can respond quickly to individuals exhibiting concerning behavior?

5. Is a background check conducted on every staff member, faculty member and administrator?

6. Does the college have a designated Clery compliance officer?

7. Does the college have a designated Title IX coordinator?

8. Is the campus’ police or security department adequately staffed?

9. Is the campus public safety force adequately funded?

10. Does the campus police department incorporate best practices, and is it accredited by a reputable accreditation organization?

11. Do campus police and security personnel receive regular and frequent training [on sexual violence and assaults]?

12. Do non-security personnel and administrators on campus receive regular and frequent training on [sexual violence and assaults]?

13. Does the university allow anonymous reporting by campus public safety officers, staff and faculty or provide some other way to protect whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting security and/or safety concerns?

14. Does the campus avoid using zero-tolerance policies?

15. Does the college’s police chief or top security executive report to an administrator high up on the campus food chain, such as the university president or CEO?

16. Has the institution conducted a threat and vulnerability assessment of the campus to determine what risks are present?

17. Does the university have an emergency plan and a comprehensive emergency management program that is all-hazards based?

18. Does the school have robust emergency communications systems?

19. Does the college incorporate security technology?

20. Does the university incorporate security and safety into building design and campus landscaping?

EARLY SUMMER GREEN BEANS

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped shallots or red onion
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced sun-dried tomatoes, softened
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, optional
scant 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place cleaned string beans in a large saucepan. Fill with enough water to cover beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. In a bowl, stir together the shallots, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and oil. Pour over green beans. Scatter pine nuts on top. Cover and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight. Serve cold. 8 servings.

STRAWBERRY MOZZARELLA WITH BALSAMIC GLAZE

061314_foodI love this one — very impressive, yet easy. Use as an appetizer, side dish or even dessert.

2 balls natural fresh mozzarella, sliced (or buy 2 packages of already-sliced mozzarella in a log shape)
1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced
1⁄2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar (or you can use Splenda)
1 to 2 fresh thyme sprigs, optional but good

In a very small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar, sugar and thyme to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer, uncover and let cook until sauce is reduced by a third, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, discard the thyme and let cool. If refrigerated, bring to room temp. Spread cheese slices on a plate in one layer and top with the strawberry slices. Drizzle syrup just before serving. 6 to 8 servings (serve with a small spatula, if possible).

ILENE’S CORN CHIP SALAD

2 cans crisp sweet corn (1 white, 1 yellow), drained
1 whole yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped small
1⁄2 purple onion, diced small
1 can petite diced tomatoes, very well drained, optional but really good
1 scant cup low-fat or regular mayonnaise
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese, sharp if possible
4 to 5 ounces regular Scoops corn chips (or sturdy tortilla chips of your choice; coarsely mash three-quarters of them, leaving a few whole

Mix all the ingredients except the chips. Add the chips just before serving, saving a few whole ones for top garnish. 12 to 15 servings.

In Community Service: Almond Wins Easily

While I found most of your article about the District 2 race (“The Battle for District 2,” June 6) to be accurate and helpful, I take exception to characterizing both candidates as  having “a wealth of community advocacy experience.”

As documented in your article, Herbst’s resume of community service dates back two or three years at the most, beginning after he lost to Almond four years ago. Almond’s extensive history of community service spans at least 25 to 30 years, as you also detailed in your article. There is no comparison.

Ruth Goldstein
Pikesville

Breaking Ground

060614_towson

Groundbreaking for the new Chabad Student Center is the first step in a $3 million building that will include a synagogue and guest suites. (Provided)

On Sunday, June 1, the Chabad Jewish Student Center at Towson and Goucher celebrated the official groundbreaking for the organization’s new building. The new location will allow the expansion of programs at a time when both Towson University’s and Goucher College’s Jewish student populations are growing, according to Rabbi Mendy and Sheiny Rivkin, who currently operate the center from their two-story home in Towson.

The Rivkins, who moved to the area in 2008 to offer a welcoming Jewish experience for college students, have always felt strongly about Jewish youth and the need to strengthen their Jewish ties.

“We want to give students the opportunity to explore, to figure out who they are as Jews,” said Mendy Rivkin. “It’s their journey of self-discovery, and we want them to own it.”

At the decidedly rustic and airy outdoor ceremony, a video documented student and alumni reflections of the Chabad House. Speakers included academic and political officials and donors, including Baltimore County Councilman David Marks and Towson University vice president Gary Rubin.

“It’s a wonderful development,” Rubin said of the expansion. “Towson is a very diverse and cultural campus. It’s very important to understand all religious beliefs.”

Sharing in the celebration was a longtime friend of Rivkin’s from rabbinical school, Rabbi Yudi Steiner of Chabad GW.

“Jewish life will grow in places that no one expects,” said the fellow campus rabbi. “All you have to do is answer the call.”

Towson alumna Danielle Gold, who was co-president for a year-and-a-half at Chabad House, spoke highly of the warm environment that the Rivkins cultivate. From Sheiny’s delicious Shabbat dinners to a menorah lighting in town, Gold learned that there was always room for one more at the center, she said.

Above all, “I learned how to be a leader and delegate,” she said. “Having never considered myself a religious person, I learned more about Judaism, what it meant and what it means to be a Jewish woman.”

She added that she has used her Judaic knowledge to lead the best and most informational Passover Seder her family has ever celebrated.

Parents also attended.

“[The Chabad House] is a place to go as a home away from home — that’s really how they make you feel,” said Robyn Barnett, whose daughter recently graduated.

Mendy Rivkin recalled that even from his first years in the area, Shabbat dinners routinely drew a crowd. It became so popular, he said, that students worried they would lose their seats if they stood up.

And with three young children and another on the way, the expansion, his wife noted, is coming at the right time for his own family.

“As our family is growing and with the new Chabad House, it will allow for more programs at varying times,” said Sheiny Rivkin. “We want to work very hard to keep the [student] family atmosphere.”

The new building will have three floors and will include a library and conference room for in-depth research and debates, a synagogue, a large dining room that can accommodate more than 120 students, a professional kitchen, a student lounge and guest suites for visitors and parents.

“I’m very happy to see this come to fruition,” said Rabbi Joshua Snyder, director of Hillel at Goucher College. “The more resources the better.”

Donors have covered 60 to 70 percent of the total cost for expansion, approximately $3 million, according to the Rivkins. Construction is expected to start as soon as possible and is estimated to take six to eight months.

The Chabad House offers a variety of programs, including inter-student education, social events, Birthright trips to Israel and a Shabbaton in New York City. Of the students he serves, Mendy Rivkin said, “We challenge them.”

For more information, visit jewishtowson.com or call 410-825-0779.

Lauren Root is a local freelance writer.

Chaplain, Major, Rabbi

Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum helps a Methodist pastor connect with his Jewish roots in February 2014. (Provided)

Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum helps a Methodist pastor connect with his Jewish roots in February 2014.
(Provided)

Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum describes the path that has led him to his role as director of the Jewish Uniformed Service Association of Maryland as sheer “divine providence.”

Almost 10 years ago, Tenenbaum was serving as a chaplain at a local hospital in Montgomery County when he struck up a conversation with a stranger at a Shabbat service. They spoke for a little about military service — the man was retired military, and Tenenbaum had an uncle who had served as an Army chaplain. A few months later, the man called him to offer him a job.

“He asked me the question: ‘How would you like to become a chaplain in the Maryland Defense Force?’” said Tenenbaum, a resident of Park Heights. “I said, ‘That’s something I never thought about. That’s something that’s very interesting, and I’ll definitely think about it; however, I know there’s a problem with wearing a beard in the military.’”

A year later, Tenenbaum, who had experience as chaplain of his local volunteer fire department, got the approval to wear a beard and became the first-ever Hasidic chaplain to sport facial hair in any American state defense force.

Today, he serves as part of the religious services for the state’s National Guard as well, in addition to building up his own organization: JUSA, which is run under the auspices of Lubavitch of Maryland.

Tenenbaum, 34, founded JUSA as a support mechanism for Jews serving in the military, police, fire and other public safety services. In addition to organizing meetings and events in recognition of Jewish holidays, Tenenbaum, as director, provides those involved with religious and spiritual support and counseling. He is always on call, whether a service member needs help affixing a mezuzah to a door or needs a visit in a hospital.

Another major component of Tenenbaum’s job involves attending conferences for military chaplains. In February, he attended an annual training conference for National Guard chaplains at Camp Frederick. It was there that he met a United Methodist chaplain who had been born to Jewish parents in Odessa and had converted to Christianity in the United States.

Recognizing his Jewish-sounding name, Tenenbaum began talking to the man and found out he had never had a bar mitzvah. As the only Jewish chaplain at the conference, Tenenbaum offered to give him one.

“It was really an amazing experience,” he said of the first-ever bar mitzvah to be held at the camp. Many of the other chaplains at the conference attended the event to watch as Tenenbaum presented the pastor with a camouflage yarmulke and the pair said the Shema prayer together.

On another hot May day, Tenenbaum gathered as many service members as he could into the upstairs of a building on the campus of the MDDF in Pikesville. Though it was three weeks early, he celebrated Shavuot with the soldiers, who ranged in religiosity from observant Jew to gentile.

“I’m learning so much,” said Brian Kelm, commanding general of the MDDF who is Catholic but tries to attend as many of Tenenbaum’s holiday events as he can. “It’s not as different as people think.”

“He has done a fantastic job,” said Yakov Schultz, an MDDF forensic nurse who, since learning about the presence of a Jewish chaplain, has spent about two days each week with the rabbi studying and talking.

As Jewish service members, said Schultz, “we’re excluded.” Now, with the creation of a Jewish organization on base, “it gives us a community. It gives us a feel of community.”

Community is the goal for Tenenbaum. He is currently working on getting tags for servicemen and women to wear with their uniforms that will feature the Shema written in both Hebrew and English, something Jewish to carry with them while they serve.

Tenenbaum sees it as giving back.

“Putting your life on the line,” he said, “is the greatest mitzvah.”

Common Core & Day Schools

(iStockphoto.com/ferrantraite )

(iStockphoto.com/ferrantraite )

With the federally backed Common Core State Standards making waves in Maryland’s public schools, local day schools — although private — may not be totally immune to the controversial changes.

It is “important for us as a school that the school and the faculty be aware of what our students’ peers are learning at other schools — both public and private,” said Robyn Blum, assistant head of Krieger Schechter’s middle school.

The standards, developed in a joint effort between the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, were adopted unanimously by the Maryland State Board of Education in 2010. Among other changes, the new standards shift the writing focus from narrative writing to evidence-based writing and stress the importance of the mathematical process rather than simply giving the correct answer to a mathematics problem.

Prior to the Common Core standards, every state was responsible for developing its own statewide criteria. Creators touted Common Core as a means to ensure that all students across the country were equally prepared for college or the workforce by the time they graduated high school, regardless of the state in which they live.

From there, it was up to states to determine whether or not they would adopt the standards, but many opponents have pointed to federal incentives as a means of leaving the states no choice but to adopt it.

The Obama administration’s Race to the Top program challenged states to submit plans to reform their schools. The administration’s website counts 19 states that have been awarded more than $4 billion for their K-12 plans, including Maryland, which was awarded $250 million over the course of four years in 2010. The Race to the Top website acknowledges 48 states that it says have “worked together to create a voluntary set of rigorous college- and career-ready standards.” While the program made no direct mention of Common Core, those states that adopted the standards were eligible for the grant.

While Krieger Schechter hasn’t implemented any of the Common Core changes yet, the school and its teachers have kept a “thoughtful eye” on what is happening in public schools, Blum said.

And what is happening in public schools is a mix of emotions and reactions.

Across the country, parents, teachers and politicians have cried foul on the new standards. Republican officials have branded them a federal takeover of education. In Maryland, every Republican gubernatorial candidate has vowed to either stop Common Core in the state or place a moratorium on the implementation of the new standards.  In September, a Howard County man drew national attention after he was escorted out of and later arrested for interrupting a meeting on education standards in Towson to voice his opposition to the new education standards. The charges were eventually dropped, but the story took off on talk radio and cable news. On May 16, Baltimore County Schools superintendent Dallas Dance admitted errors in the implementation of the program, which took affect across the state last fall.

Marta Mossburg, a senior fellow at the Maryland Public Policy Institute has reservations about the new standards, but Krieger Schechter is on the right path, she said.

The independence that day schools and other private schools have from state mandates is one of their biggest assets, but the fact that the redesigned SATs, which will begin in 2016, will closely reflect the Common Core standards could muddle that autonomy, said Mossburg.

“One of the biggest impacts is going to be the fact that the SATs are changing to reflect K-12 curriculum versus what colleges want to see in college readiness,” said Mossburg. “It’s going to force the homogenization of curriculum, not just at the public school level, but at the private school level [too] because those kids are also going to be taking the test in order to get into college. That’s a big issue.”

Parents who think that sending their children to private schools exempts them from dealing with the new standards will be disappointed, she said.

“We’re talking about an indirect effect,” she added. “Even if people aren’t going to be forced to use Common Core standards, children are going to be tested based on Common Core standards, that’s just how it is, it’s a reality. It’s going to impact everyone, regardless of whether they’re in public school or private school.”

Marc Kramer is executive director at RAVSAK, a New York-based non-denominational Jewish day school network. His organization includes Jewish elementary, middle and high schools from across North America. RAVSAK doesn’t have an official stance on the new state standards, but he said he and the rest of his staff have been watching as many of their member schools decide how to approach the changes in their own states.

(iStockphoto.com/bowdenimages)

(iStockphoto.com/bowdenimages)

“The Common Core is a game changer for education in this country,” said Kramer. “Now, in what direction it’s going to change the game, I think we don’t know.”

While state accreditation or state funding may affect the freedom of private schools in some states to choose which parts of Common Core, if any, they want to implement,  “church-exempt” private schools in Maryland are entirely excused from the new standards regardless of accreditation or funding, according to the state’s education department.

Many schools Kramer has heard from are still grappling with how much of the standards, if any, they want to apply to their own day schools.

“In some places schools will simply have to take it on full score, and in other places schools will be informed by it and may choose to adopt or adapt certain aspects of it,” he said.

Kramer’s own children attend a day school that has chosen to incorporate some of the Common Core. Though some of the publicized problems with the standards are frightening, he said he trusts in the school’s leadership to do what is best for his children’s education.

“I know it’s not going to be perfect. I’m not looking for perfect,” he said. “We have to agree that there is no place in this world called ‘Perfect.’”

While some of the kinks in Common Core are still being worked out, Kramer said he is encouraged by the notion of a standard set of skills and knowledge.

“There are educators who are very, very intrigued by the premise of the Common Core and its notions of essential skills and knowledge and the standards and the ability to use those structures as evidence of the vibrancy and success of the Jewish day school,” he said.

For parents who sometimes worry that the education their children are receiving is not as good as may seem, he added, the standards could provide a means for them to see how much their kids are really learning.

Unlike other schools however, Jewish schools must balance any new standards or subjects they decide to take on with the core parts of their curriculum that make them Jewish schools.

“That’s their value-added, that’s their raison d’etre,” said Kramer. “So the challenge will become: How does a school stay focused in an unwavering way on Jewish peoplehood, on religious purposefulness, on Jewish literacy, on building the Jewish future and at the same time be responsive to and aware of and able to embrace changes in the world of education?”

At Pardes Day School, in Phoenix, Ariz., Jill Kessler, head of school, thinks she has found the answer.

“The Common Core has been very politicized, but we do not engage in any of the politics regarding Common Core,” she said. “If you look at the [subject] strands, it’s a higher level of excellence.”

The standards, renamed in Arizona the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, were adopted by the state in 2010. The school has been working on slowly adopting the Common Core standards, subject by subject, for three years.

A major factor in Pardes’ decision to implement  the standards was the SAT, the test most high schools juniors and seniors are required to take to get into college.

Three-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core State Standards from CGCS Video Maker on Vimeo.

“The new SATs are all going to be aligned with the Common Core, and our students coming from Jewish day schools must be competitive, they must have an excellent secular education as well as Judaic education in order to be competitive in today’s environment,” she said. “I really believe that it would hurt enrollment in our Jewish day schools if we, in fact, don’t get on the bandwagon and deliver the level of excellence that parents expect in any excellent independent school.”

The school’s slow implementation has been key, said Kessler. When the standards were first approved by the state, the school’s teachers looked through the subjects and highlighted the points Common Core included that were missing in their own curriculum or were placed at a different grade level. Departmental meetings were spent realigning their own subject standards to those laid out by the state.

The benefit of being a private day school came in the school administration’s ability to pick and choose which aspects it wanted to adopt. This was especially beneficial to the school’s need to include a Jewish curriculum in addition to the secular aspects. But Kessler said she and her staff found that a lot of the new standards meshed nearly seamlessly with the Jewish education their students were already receiving.

“The reality is that a lot of the other standards can help strengthen the Jewish aspects,” said Kessler. “When you talk about the language arts standards, the writing standards — they really talk about the writing across the curriculum — well students do a fair amount of writing for Jewish Studies and do some extraordinary critical thinking and problem solving when they’re working on texts, so its application actually works beautifully in Jewish Studies, and Hebrew as a second language — in second language acquisition — is also terrific.”

Kessler dismisses one of the major concerns vocal opponents of the standards have had — that the guidelines ask too much of children at too young an age.

“When our students are debating, say, Cain and Abel, all of this has to do with higher level,” she said. “You’re analyzing the characters, you’re getting into moral issues, right and wrong, and Jewish history and all that that provides actually aligns beautifully with the core.”

At Aleph Bet Jewish Day School in Annapolis, the school administrators and teachers are silently launching their own adoption of the Common Core.

Nan Jarashow, head of the school, said the school has focused primarily on the standards for math and writing, the two areas where she said it made most sense to the administration to incorporate the changes. This is the first year of Aleph Bet’s incorporation of the state standards, and Jarashow said the school plans to reflect on how it went after the school year ends next month.

“Because we’re not taking it lock-stock-and-barrel we’ve done it mostly internally,” she said of the school’s decision to not boast about its adaption of Common Core like some schools. “We haven’t made a big deal about it.”

While she is waiting for the year-end assessment to find out a more detailed description of how the first year went, Jarashow is confident that the decision to try utilizing Common Core was a good one.

Said Jarashow: “If there is some sort of national standard, we ought to at least know what it is and take that into account as we work on curriculum or instruction.”

hnorris@jewishtimes.com

Jewish Agency Helps Ukranian Olim with Flights to Israel Amid Airport Battles

The Urina family of Donetsk pictured at their hotel in Dnepropetrovsk before their JAFI-facilitated flight to Israel.

The Urina family of Donetsk at their hotel in Dnepropetrovsk before their JAFI-facilitated flight to Israel.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) facilitated an alternate flight to Israel for six Ukrainians after fighting erupted near the civilian airport in Donetsk between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels following the country’s presidential election on Monday.

The group of six, including a couple from Donetsk with twin baby girls and a couple from Mariupol, was set to depart for Israel Monday night. But due to the battles, the airport was shut down, all flights were cancelled and the access road was blocked, according to a news release from JAFI.

JAFI’s Russian-Speaking Jewry unit evacuated the Ukranians to Dnepropetrovsk and put them up in a hotel until they boarded a plane to Kiev, where they then boarded another plane for Israel Tuesday morning. They arrived in Israel later on Tuesday, the release said.

“Due to the current situation in the country, we have significantly expanded our activities, assisting those who wish to immigrate to Israel, bringing young people to experience life in Israel on a variety of Jewish Agency programs, providing Hebrew classes, and so on,” Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive for JAFI, said in the release.

JAFI’s Russian-Speaking Jewry Unit is preparing to bring additional families from the area to Israel in a similar manner if necessary. JAFI has more than 90 employees in Ukraine.

According to JAFI, immigration to Israel from Ukraine increased 142 percent in the first four months of 2014. More than 200 Ukrainians had booked flights to the Jewish state for May and June.

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore gives approximately $3 million annually to JAFI. The federation is keeping its own tabs on the situation in Ukraine through the Baltimore-Odessa Partnership, which hired its first coordinator to work in Odessa, Marina Moldavanskaya, this year. The Associated has also raised about $100,000 in its Ukraine Assistance Fund.