Loaded Potato Pinwheels

1 bag (11.8 ounce) Green Giant Seasoned Steamers frozen backyard grilled potatoes
1 1/4 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese (5 ounces)
1/2 cup cooked real bacon bits (from jar or package)
3 tablespoons milk
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion tops (3 medium)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray large cookie sheets with Crisco No-Stick Cooking Spray. Microwave frozen potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes to thaw. In medium bowl, with fork, mash potatoes, leaving some small pieces. Stir in cheese, 1/3 cup of the bacon bits and the milk until well blended. Unroll dough on cutting board; press into 14-by-8-inch rectangle. Cut into 2 rectangles, 14-by-4-inches each. Spread half of the potato mixture on one rectangle within a quarter-inch of the long edges. Starting at one long side, tightly roll up dough; pinch seams to seal. Using serrated knife, cut roll into 14 slices. Place slices, cut side up, on cookies sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Bake 17 to 21 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to serving plate. Top each pinwheel with sour cream, the remaining bacon bits and the green onions. Serve warm. 28 servings.

Berry-filled Shortbread Brunch Tart

11/2 cups Pillsbury All-Purpose Flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter,cut into 1/2-inch cubes (do not use margarine)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest Northwest Triple Berry Preserves
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature*
1 tablespoon coarse white sparkling sugar
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In food processor, place flour, 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover, process until well blended.Add butter and 11/2 teaspoons of vanilla; process with pulses until mixture is consistency of fine crumbs. Press 11/2 cups of the mixture evenly inungreased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake 12 minutes.Remove to cooling rack, cooling for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir preserves to soften; set aside. *In another small bowl, mix mascarpone cheese, remaining powdered sugar and remaining vanilla until well blended. Cover and refrigerate. Spread preserves evenly over cooled crust to within 3/8-inch of the edge. Sprinkle remaining crust mixture evenly over top, covering preserves completely. Pat gently; sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Bake 18 to 26 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool 25 minutes on cooling rack, remove side of pan. Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 wedges. Serve warm with sweetened mascarpone mixture.

Honey Sesame Bagels

1/4 cup Smucker’s Simply Fruit Seedless Blackberry Spreadable Fruit
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1 can Pillsbury refrigerated Classic Pizza Crust
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 egg white
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; spray with no-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, gently swirl spreadable fruit into butter. Set aside. In a 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, bring honey and 10 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Meanwhile, remove dough from package but do not unroll. Cut dough crosswise into 6 pieces; shape each piece into a ball. Using your finger, form a 1-inch diameter hole in center of each ball to resemble a bagel. Gently add 3 bagels at a time to water for 1 minute. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, turn bagels over and simmer an additional 1 minute. Place on cooling rack. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds on a small plate. Dip bottom of each bagel in seeds; place 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. In a small bowl, beat egg white and 1 tablespoon of water; brush top of bagels. Sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds. Bake 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown. Remove to cooling rack. Serve with blackberry butter. 6 servings.

By The Numbers

The most recent campaign reports, from January 2013, show each candidate with the following:

Doug Gansler: $5,204,693

Anthony Brown: $1,633,398

Heather Mizeur: $381,250

David Craig: $200,736

Ron George: $21,288

Charles Lollar: 2013 affidavit says contributions and expenditures will not exceed $1,000

Larry Hogan: No record

Brian Vaeth: No record

Ralph Jaffe: No record

Who Can Be a Safe Streets Program Participant?

Participants must have at least four of the following risk factors, but participants are evaluated on a case-by-case basis:

• Gang/crew involvement — participant is thought to be a member of a gang or crew known to be actively involved with violence

• Key role in gang or crew — participant is thought to have key role in gang or crew known to be actively involved with violence

• Prior criminal history — including crimes against persons and pending or prior arrests for weapons offenses

• High-risk street activity — participant is thought to be involved in street activity that is highly associated with violence

• Recent victim of shooting — client has been shot within last 90 days

• Between the ages of 14 and 25

• Recently released from prison or juvenile detention — underlying offense was crime against person(s)

Mondawmin Safe Streets Worker Barksdale Arrested

The neighborhood violence prevention program Safe Streets employs reformed offenders to stop the cycle of violence by acting as credible messengers to mediate dangerous situations on the street before they become violent.

Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale was a Mondawmin Safe Streets worker and self-proclaimed inspiration for the Avon Barksdale character on HBO’s “The Wire.” Last week, U.S. Marshals arrested Nathan Barksdale on drug and gun charges. Barksdale remains in federal custody, and was not accused of involving Safe Streets in any illegal activity.

Safe Streets’ violence interrupters get through to potential participants because they are from the neighborhoods they canvass and have similar backgrounds and can access people at street level that would be inaccessible to police or other social workers. Mondawmin Safe Streets fired Barksdale when he failed to show up for work on Nov. 25, the week he was arrested.

The Baltimore Sun quoted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as saying, “We know that Safe Streets works. I am not going to let one person destroy that progress.”

With Security Plan Pitched, U.S. Optimism On Peace Talks Not Shared By Israelis And Palestinians

While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry returned from his Middle East trip last week with an optimistic message, following his latest attempt to foster progress in Israel-Palestinian peace talks and the presentation of a security proposal to both sides, Israelis and Palestinians aren’t sharing his positive outlook.

From Dec. 4 to 6, Kerry accompanied in Jerusalem and Ramallah by retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Allen presented Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with what Kerry and the State Department have carefully described as only “some thoughts” on the resolution of security issues that have been obstructing progress in negotiations.

“President Obama and I are absolutely committed to reaching a final status agreement that recognizes two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in peace and security,” Kerry said Dec. 7 in his keynote address to the Tenth Annual Saban Forum, sponsored by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Joining the secretary of state at the forum were major players such as President Barack Obama and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, while Netanyahu spoke via webcast.

“Peace is possible today because we have courageous leaders who have already taken significant political risks for peace—and the time is approaching when they will have to take even more,” Kerry said.

The exact contents of Gen. Allen’s proposal—compiled after months of conversations at the helm of a core group of security advisers and security officials on both sides—remain confidential. From the start, Kerry made certain that a strict gag order was placed on the negotiations, declaring that he will act as the sole source of information on the talks. The State Department insists that this level of secrecy is necessary to facilitate frank discussion and is one of the hard-learned lessons from past failures on the Israeli-Palestinian track.

But Elliott Abrams, former top National Security Council official and currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Baltimore Jewish Times, “I don’t know any Israelis or Palestinians who share Secretary Kerry’s optimism or can understand its basis.”

“The most recent Israeli polls show that very few Israelis think he will succeed in getting a final status agreement, and I don’t think so either,” Abrams said, referring to a recent poll compiled by New Wave Research for Israel Hayom. The poll showed 87.5 percent of Israeli Jews saying that they did not believe the new talks would lead to peace.

Israeli and Palestinian officials are also sounding pessimistic notes on negotiations. Top Palestinian Liberation Organization official Yasser Abed Rabbo told AFP that Kerry’s security proposals “will drive Kerry’s efforts to an impasse and to total failure.” Netanyahu said at a Likud party meeting on Monday, “We are not standing before a permanent accord. We have a set of specific terms that have yet to be met in the negotiations. … We are still not there, not even walking down that hall.”

“The two sides are too far apart,” Abrams told JT.

Though Abrams commended Kerry for striving to achieve peace, he questioned the resources the secretary of state is putting into the process.

“Is he really spending his own precious time well, pursuing an agreement that no one thinks he’ll get—and he won’t get—when so many world crises exist?” Abrams said.

Kerry and the State Department insist this round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is different from past U.S. efforts, even though most of the negotiators—led by former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk—have unsuccessfully negotiated in the region before.

“Both sides have shown a recent willingness to make some very difficult decisions in the face of domestic political opposition,” a State Department official said, “with Prime Minister Netanyahu agreeing to release Palestinian prisoners and President Abbas agreeing not to try to upgrade Palestinian status at international organizations for the duration of the talks.”

Amid the State Department’s optimism, The Times of Israel reports that Palestinian officials are saying Kerry used his trip as an ultimatum to force them to agree to his security demands, threatening to have Israel delay further phases of the release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners until the Palestinian Authority agrees to framework agreements.

Though not without some reservations on the current negotiations’ chances for success, Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Saban Center, told JT that the political situation in the Middle East has changed to where there may be more incentive for Israeli and Palestinian officials to come to an agreement.

“We’ve seen the Arab awakening—changes in Egypt, tragic changes in Syria that have turned into a terrible civil war, and fear that there may be instability elsewhere as well,” Sachs said.

“This of course is a cause for concern for the Israelis considering the advance of jihadi groups near Israel, in the Sinai Peninsula and in Syria, particularly if they win,” he said.

Sachs said that changes in Israeli politics might also help the talks. He explained that unlike previous pushes for a peace deal, when centrist Israeli prime ministers like Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak oversaw negotiations but could not convince Israel’s right-wing parties to support their efforts, the current Netanyahu government’s more hawkish stance could spell real solutions without appearing to compromise the security of the Israeli people.

Although not privy to Allen’s proposal, Sachs believes the contents are intended to appease Israel’s security concerns in a way that would not infringe on demands for the sovereignty of the proposed future Palestinian state.

A major sticking point for negotiations has been security in the Jordan River Valley and a series of Jordan River border crossings. The Jordan River Valley runs from Israel’s northern border with Syria, south into the Dead Sea. A large part of it makes up the border between the West Bank and Jordan.

Negotiators hope to find a security solution to appease Israel’s need to deploy troops along the valley in what is known as the “Eastern Front,” to prevent potential military threats from neighbors to the east. The Jordan River crossings, currently controlled by the Israel Defense Forces, are major points of entry into the West Bank and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Israeli security officials fear that these crossings could become routes for weapons and terrorists into the region, if Israel relinquished control. But Palestinians insist on securing the ability to have sole control over their borders in a future state, including control over who comes in and out of their territory. According to Sachs, both sides have presented what he terms as “non-starter” demands for a final-status agreement.

Kerry’s proposal outlines for the Jordan River crossings to be jointly administered by the IDF and the Palestinian Authority, while maintaining the IDF’s right to deploy troops in case of a potential threat, The Times of Israel reports. PA officials reportedly rejected that proposal, refusing to allow for any IDF presence along the border.

Other demands from the Palestinians include that negotiations be based on 1967 borders, with land swaps of equal size and value; right of return for an agreed-upon number of Palestinian refugees; and a division of Jerusalem to include East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

“The main sticking point remains the exact contours of the agreement in Jerusalem, and those the parties have never actually agreed upon. They’ve come closer in the past, but they’ve never agreed,” Sachs said.

At the Saban Forum, Kerry reaffirmed his support for Israel and its security needs. But Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, told JT that Kerry’s latest Mideast visit was a “charm offensive” to repair what Pollak sees as strained U.S.-Israel relations stemming from the interim nuclear deal that was recently reached between Iran and world powers. Netanyahu told the Saban Forum Dec. 8 that the U.S. should not back down from imposing new sanctions on Iran, despite ongoing negotiations.

On Israeli-Palestinian talks, Kerry maintains they are expected to reach a resolution by April 2014, the nine-month deadline established when negotiations began last July. The secretary of state is revisiting Jerusalem and Ramallah from Dec. 11-18, his ninth trip to the region since assuming office.

Dmitriy Shapiro is an area freelance writer.

What Is Migdal Ohr?

Migdal Ohr is one of Israel’s largest nonprofit organizations, annually providing much-needed services to the country’s underprivileged and impoverished children. With 14 schools on three campuses, it serves 6,500 at-risk students annually from across the religious and socioeconomic spectrums. Of its 800 professionals, 70 percent are alumni of Migdal Ohr programs. In addition, it touches another 7,000 youth weekly through its 160 youth clubs.

To learn more or support the efforts of Kfar Zoharim or other Migdal Ohr programs, visit migdal ohrusa.org or send checks to American Friends of Migdal Ohr, 1560 Broadway, Suite 807, New York, NY 10036.

Meet The Fellows

120613_c_emilyEmily Benoit
Age: 22
College: University of Florida
Major: Sociology
Why Repair? “Repair the World was the first chance I got to put things I learned in youth group, temple and Hebrew school into practice and real life.”

120613_c_arielAriel Nathan
Age: 22
College: State University of New York at Binghamton
Major: Philosophy, politics and law
Why Repair? “I don’t have a story of how I learned community service is important, it just was. It was something we just did.”

120613_c_yubyYuby Hernandez
Age: 22
College: Wellesley College
Major: Biology
Why Repair? “When [I heard] about the fellowship I was like, ‘Yeah, how can I not do this?’”

120613_c_alliAlli Lesovoy
Age: 22
College: University of California, Davis
Major: Sociology
Why Repair? “I’ve always been trying to find my path … but I have this intense desire to help people.”

120613_c_lauraLaura Vitiello
Age: 23
College: University of Delaware
Major: Organizational
and community leadership
Why Repair? “I’ve always wanted to do something meaningful in terms of making a difference.”

120613_c_amaliaAmalia Mark
Age: 23
College: University of Maryland Baltimore County
Major: Theatre, gender and women’s studies
Why Repair? “It is allowing me, for a year, to work on grassroots change, which I think is the catalyst, the most important thing, for creating larger systematic change, which is what I’d really like to see.”

120613_c_jaredJared Gorin
Age: 22
College: Franklin and Marshall
Major: Biology
Why Repair? “I was really attracted to how we would be doing community organizing and bringing together both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.”

120613_c_taliaTalia Shifron
Age: 22
College: Indiana University
Major: Legal studies, journalism
Why Repair? “I think it’s a really powerful thing to step back from your life and have 10 months to really dedicate to social action and making a difference.”

120613_c_aviAvi Sunshine
Age: 25
College: University of Pittsburgh
Major: Biology
Why Repair? “I saw this disconnect between the Jewish population of Baltimore and a lot of the ‘bad neighborhoods’ … and I always thought, ‘What would it need to bridge the gap between those neighborhoods?’

What The Numbers Say

According to the 2010 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study:
• There are 93,400 Jewish people over the age of 18 in Baltimore.
• Of the total population, 14,600 — almost 16 percent of the Jewish population — are between the ages 18 to 29.
• Of the 93,400 Jews in Baltimore, 4,500 live downtown, 6,600 live in Mt. Washington and 4,100 live in Guilford/Roland Park.
• Seventy-four percent of community study survey respondents say being Jewish is important to them, and 13 percent claim they are secular or non-denominational.
• Only 14 percent of non-Orthodox Jews ages 18 to 34 feel it’s important to be a part of a Jewish community.
• Seventy percent of survey respondents report some volunteer activity; 57 percent of non-denominational and secular Jews report volunteer activity.
• Eighty-seven percent of Jewish households made some charitable contribution in the year before the study.

According to the Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews:
• Financial contributions to Jewish causes are more common among religious Jews (67 percent) than non-religious Jews (20 percent).
• High-income households (those making over $150,000) are more likely to donate to Jewish causes.