Soreq Stalactite Cave

The Soreq Stalactite Cave features a large number of cave formations in a small cavern that was discovered in 1968 during routine blasts for a nearby quarry. (Photo by Marc Shapiro)

The Soreq Stalactite Cave features a large number of cave formations in a small cavern that was discovered in 1968 during routine blasts for a nearby quarry. (Photo by Marc Shapiro)

This cave had been forming for hundreds of thousands of years on Mount Ya’ala in the Judean Hills. It was discovered accidently in 1968 during routine blasting for a quarry.

The small cavern has a large number of stalactites, hanging structures that resemble icicles that are made up of mineral deposits from dripping water. The natural sculptures are up to 13 feet long and range from a few millimeters to a few feet in diameter, and some have fused with stalagmites to form columns.
Some formations date back at least 300,000 years and have helped scientists track historic climate changes.

With several active areas of the cave, which has constant heat and humidity all year, the formations continue to grow.

Just three years ago, lighting of certain shades of orange, blue and green were added, not to enhance the tourist experience, but to combat algae, a threat to the cave that was introduced when it was opened in the 1970s to tourists, who changed the cave’s carbon dioxide levels. The idea is that photosynthesis won’t occur if LED lights in limited colors, as opposed to traditional white lights, are used in the cave, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

“Just by opening the cave, we changed it and hurt it, so we’re always thinking about what’s best ecologically for the cave,” Tomer Saragusti, manager of the Soreq Cave Nature Reserve told the Times. “And it’s working. The cave is still alive and growing.”

The Ramon Crater

The Mahktesh Ramon contains “a quarter-billion years of history.” (Photos by Marc Shapiro)

The Mahktesh Ramon contains “a quarter-billion years of history.” (Photos by Marc Shapiro)

Israel is home to a unique landform known as a mahktesh, a crater formed by erosion, and the Ramon Crater, referred to in Israel as the Mahktest Ramon, is the largest of the five in the country. With parts dating back 220 million years ago, Mahktest Ramon is about 25 miles long and ranges from about 1.2 miles to 6.2 miles in width.

“Mahktesh Ramon is the geological window of the universe,” said Oded Schickler, a guide with Ramon Desert Tours. “A quarter-billion years of history [are here].”

In addition to breathtaking views, 70 percent of the world’s minerals and fossils of ammonites, an extinct class of invertebrates, can be found at Mahktesh Ramon, which is located in Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel.

The tall walls and hills of the mahktesh are diverse, containing rock forms that are red, yellow and dark brown in color.

The deepest point of the crater, the Saharonim Spring, is the mahktesh’s only natural water sources and sustains much of its wildlife. The Mitzpe Ramon area is home to ibex, leopards, striped hyenas, sand foxes, gazelles and desert rats.

Ibex are a familiar sight near Sde Boker in the Negev Desert.

Ibex are a familiar sight near Sde Boker in the Negev Desert.

Neely Tal Snyder, Program Director at Pearlstone, Dies in Fatal Crash On Route 30

Neely Snyder, program director at the Pearlstone Center, was killed in a car crash Monday morning in Route 30. She was 37.

According to police, Snyder’s Hyundai was stopped on Route 30 waiting to make a left turn onto Mount Gilead Road when a Peterbilt tractor trailer struck the car from behind. Police responded to the crash at 7:28 a.m. She was transported to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where she was later declared deceased. The driver of the tractor trailer was not injured.

The Baltimore County Crash Team is still investigating to determine if charges will be filed and will present the report to the State Attorney’s office when the investigation is complete.

When contacted, the Baltimore County Police Department had no further information on the incident.

Snyder was a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and program director at the Pearlstone Center. She had also served as director of teen engagement at the Center for Jewish Education.

Snyder is survived by her husband, Rabbi Joshua Snyder, executive director of Goucher Hillel; her daughters Shalva, Ayelet and Nava; her parents Jordan and Sheila Harburger; and her brother Noah Harburger and sister Aleeza Wilkins.

Funeral services will be held at at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, at Mount Wilson Lane on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 3 p.m. Interment at Chizuk Amuno Congregation’s Garrison Forest Cemetery in Owings Mills. Please omit flowers.

Contributions in her memory may be sent to Goucher Hillel, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204 or Pearlstone Center, 5425 Mount Gilead Road, Reisterstown, MD 21136 or JQ Baltimore, 1601 Guilford Ave., 2 South, Baltimore, MD 21202.

Glick: President Threatens Jewish Civil Rights Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor speaks to crowd at Beth Tfiloh

Upwards of 500 people assembled in Beth Tfiloh Congregations’s sanctuary to hear Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, expertly unfurl her thoughts about President Barack Obama’s promotion of the Iran nuclear deal, what its outcome could mean for Israel and the United States and his alleged threat to American Jewish civil rights.

In conversation with BT Rabbi Jonathan Gross, Glick, who made aliyah after college from her native Chicago, first took President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to task for their criticism of Jewish leaders, such as AIPAC, lobbying against the deal. She challenges the criticism by asking why it is acceptable for the teacher’s union to lobby billions of dollars to prevent principals from firing teachers but “standing up to a deal that enables Iran to acquire nuclear weapons” is somehow corrupt, disloyal and treacherous in some way.

“He acts as though there’s something illegitimate about Jews expressing concern … as if there’s something dirty about Jewish money and lobbyists,” she said.

Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor, speaks to a full sanctuary crowd at Beth Tfiloh, urging American Jews to fight against “a deliberate attempt on behalf of the President of the United States to scapegoat American Jewry.” Photo: Melissa Gerr

Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor, urges American Jews to fight against “a deliberate attempt on behalf of the President of the United States to scapegoat American Jewry.” Photo: Melissa Gerr

Glick then detailed what she sees as a gross inconsistency of the president’s public remarks about the deal and the message he gave to American Jewish leaders in a private meeting earlier this week, for which she obtained the transcript.

She speaks from experience and with credibility, not only because of her role as a journalist but also as a core member of Israel’s negotiating team with Palestinians from 1994 to 1996 and then serving as assistant foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Glick also earned her master’s in public policy from Harvard in 2002.

She continued, Obama explains “every morning, noon and night” to the public, “‘If congress kills the deal [Iran] will re-engage in high-level uranium enrichment and as a result the U.S. will be required to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities,’” ostensibly starting a war.

Then, she said, the president changed his narrative and told the Jewish leaders, “‘there won’t be a war, Iran is going to engage in asymmetric retaliation and that will involve attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East but mainly against Israel, and Tel Aviv is going to have missiles raining down on it. The only one that will pay a price for this is Israel.’” He essentially threatened American Jews that the outcome is in their hands, she asserted.

Rabbi Menachem Goldberger of Tiferes Yisroel Congregation, who started the evening with a reading of Psalm 121 said, “I’m here because I strongly oppose the treaty with Iran. I think it’s dangerous to the entire world. I’m here in support, I’m expecting to hear more details.” He’s contacted Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and Rep. John Sarbanes to voice his concern.

“You can’t negotiate with people who want to destroy you. It’s a simple thing,” said Goldberger.

When asked about the Israelis’ perspective on the deal, Glick said they are uncharacteristically unified and are “praying that Congress will kill it,” citing that they recognize that if the deal disintegrates Israel may “get war with rockets and conventional missiles” but if it goes through there could be nuclear war, meaning that as a country, Israel knows how to “pick our poison.”

Israel has long understood the benefit of “catering to the United States for our national security,” she said, though now the country must adapt — psychologically and militarily — to the “sense of betrayal that the United States has abandoned us, that the U.S. administration is really siding with Iran against Israel.”

Glick then ramped up to her most impassioned message regarding American Jews’ civil rights.

In her words, Obama threatened American Jewish leaders that he will “scapegoat American Jews and claim that you are disloyal to the United States of America and that you owe your loyalties to a foreign government, because you’re concerned by a deal that places Israel at existential risk. Unless you abandon your right, as American citizens, to lobby your lawmakers to oppose a deal you think is a disaster … you can expect me to continue to scapegoat you.”

Glick found the president’s message “stunning.”

“I feel it’s important for American Jews to recognize what we’re dealing with,” warned Glick. She said that it is a calculated campaign to “delegitimize political actions on the part of Americans on behalf of issues that they care about as a community. This cannot go unanswered.”

She urged that there needs to be “serious thinking on behalf of American Jewish leadership” about how to fight against the president’s attempt to “disempower and disenfranchise” Jews in the U.S.

The talk was interrupted by numerous bursts of applause and several announcements urging people to contact politicians and voice their opinion on the deal.

Attendee Arnie Feiner said has already contacted Sens. Cardin and Chuck Schumer and will do so again. He and his wife Lisa, both 72 and members of Chizuk Amuno came to the open event, sponsored by BT congregants Eli and Mila Burman, because “This is extremely important — one of the most important foreign affairs issues since the end of World War II,” said Arnie. “And the way we perceive it, it’s about the very existence of Israel as well as a threat to not only America but the world in general.”

“I don’t think American Jews can stand for this,” Glick continued, and called it “the Alamo of American Jewry,” and said that “American Jewry [could] completely lose its political power as a community in America.”

“This is really about Jewish civil rights,” she said. “When the president of the United States tells the American Jewish leadership, ‘if you don’t back off in your opposition to this deal I’m going to continue scapegoating you as a community’ … It doesn’t matter if [American Jews] think it’s a good deal or not, the very notion that the president of the United States should speak that way to citizens of the United States of any ethnic background and any ethnic persuasion, is basically un-American.”


073115_miles_celebration_HabermanA beloved resident at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital celebrated a milestone 103rd birthday, more than a century in the making.

Elizabeth was born in 1912, the same year the Titanic sank, Arizona and New Mexico became states, Oreo cookies first appeared on store shelves, the average annual income was $1,033, and a loaf of bread cost five cents.


8 slices whole wheat bread
    (look for new peasant-style ones)
1 cup store-bought hummus
4 tablespoons store-bought
    tapenade (olive spread)
1 cup seedless cucumber,
    thinly sliced
3-4 coarsely grated peeled carrots
thin slices of firm ripe avocado
some fresh sprouts

Spread 1 slice of bread with hummus; spread top slice with the tapenade.  Top hummus with the cucumber slices and grated carrot. Carefully add avocado and sprouts. Put together to form 4-6 sandwiches, depending on bread size.




8 skinless and boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained
wooden skewers

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white wine or sherry
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

In a shallow glass dish, combine all the marinade ingredients. Stir in the chicken and pineapple pieces and mix until well-coated. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Preheat grill to medium-high. Lightly oil the grill. Thread chicken and pineapple alternately onto the skewers. Grill for 15-20 minutes, turning often or until chicken is done. Serves 8.


4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded
    and chopped
4 shallots or 4 spring onions, chopped
2 red or yellow peppers,
    cored and chopped
16 black or green olives
    (or a combination), stoned
    and chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 small dill pickle, chopped
large loaf of French bread
olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and freshly ground pepper
    to taste

Combine tomatoes, shallots, red pepper, olives, capers and pickle.  Cut bread in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the bread.  Add half of the bread “crumbles” to the tomato mixture, a little olive oil, basil and salt and pepper. Fill the empty bread crust shells with the mixture and press together. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill. Slice to serve 4.

Most Jewish Federations Find ‘Plethora’ of Opinions on Iran Deal

Jewish federations around the country are responding to this month’s Iran nuclear deal with words such as “worried,” “mistrustful,” “fearful” and “grave concerns.” Most are counseling their communities to use the 60-day congressional review period to learn about the agreement and share their opinions with elected officials.

“There is a plethora of diverse opinions,” said Gregg Roman, Community Relations Council director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “For Federation to come out with a position would be irresponsible. We’re not going to pretend we’re nuclear experts.”

Some federations have come to the opposite conclusion: Seven federations – including Boston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, South Palm Beach, Fla., Houston and Dallas – have come out in opposition to the Iran deal.

“We cannot be silent in our opposition to an agreement that takes far too many risks with one of the world’s most dangerous regimes,” said the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in a statement.

“Each community is different and each federation is different,” said Steven A. Rakitt, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. “We’re looking carefully at this, and we’ll come to our own conclusions.”

The Greater Washington Federation’s public position is that it is “concerned, but hopeful.” Through the website of its Jewish Community Relations Council, it is disseminating a range of articles on the agreement, ranging from Washington Post commentators Charles Krauthammer’s flat-out-no “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history” to The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky’s grin-and-bear-it “Keeping Iran’s Feet to the Fire.”

The Pittsburgh Federation is looking ahead to what happens after the vote in Congress, Roman said. Policy positions include: Israel should receive security guarantees through legislation; Israel and pro-American Arab regimes should be allowed to maintain their military qualitative edge; and “U.S. and Israel need to move forward to assure that there is a vibrant relationship by negotiating a 10-year aid package,” Roman said.

Behind Every Great Man …

Though the Panther Club is definitely a men’s group, the Panther wives are revered, honored and welcomed, and a social bond has naturally formed among them as well.

“You never have to be alone being a Panther wife,” said Ethel Barrish, wife of immediate past president Jim. “Already today, I’ve spoken to two Panther wives, and I’m calling a third” to check about a recently hospitalized family member.

A Panther Club anniversary affair at the Belvedere Hotel, circa 1955. (Photo provided)

A Panther Club anniversary affair at the Belvedere Hotel, circa 1955.
(Photo provided)

Barrish cited sharing holiday meals and vacations with other Panther couples as meaningful to the life she and her husband made after moving to Baltimore from Philadelphia years ago and that even running into other Panther wives and husbands at restaurants or stores and always stopping to chat “is just a warm feeling we get as Panther wives. Panther women have really enriched my life.”

Sue Sher, married to Bernie, has her connection with Panther wives at the mah jongg table among other social activities.

“If it wasn’t for the Panther Club I don’t think I’d be as happy as I am,” she said, “and I know that Bernie adores [the Panthers]. It’s a very big part of his life.”

Each Tuesday afternoon Claire Jacobs plays cards — hand and foot canasta — with five Panther Club wives. She was impressed with the men’s close bond and camaraderie from the beginning of her involvement 55 years ago, when she married David.

“I love supporting this man that I adore,” said Jacobs, “and being the wife of a member has brought me a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction and added to my joy in life.”

She added, “This is a great men’s club. It’s done very well without wives [getting involved] all these years, and I’m not going to start now.”

Many of the wives, such as Barb Bazensky, have dinner together on some Tuesdays when their husbands are meeting. She added that there is a group of snowbirds that travels to Florida for the winter. They meet for a Valentine’s Day lunch with what is jokingly referred to as Panther Club South.

“I just think it’s a great bunch of guys and great bunch of gals,” said Bazenksy, wife of current president Al, “and [the guys] call us the Pantherettes.”

All of the wives spoke of the care and dedication the Panther Club shows when someone becomes ill, whether it’s through visits, calls or delivering soup.

“It’s just a feeling you have being a Panther wife,” said Barrish. “In sickness and health the Panthers are there.”

Even after a member passes away, wives of Panther members are still eligible to attend affairs and are kept abreast of information on all of the members.

Betty Handwerger married Panther Club member Arnold Besser in 1953. He passed away at age 56, and Betty said while he was ill, the members showed a lot of care for her and her husband. Because Betty was still included in the club’s social events, she began attending with Joel Handwerger, her second husband. Joel took such a liking to the group he joined. He has since passed away, but Betty is still invited to attend affairs with her boyfriend, Ed Sless.

“It’s a very wonderful bunch of guys, and they really are all dedicated to each other,” said Handwerger. “I feel like I belong to the club.”

“We always say [the Panther club is] keeping them alive,” said Jacobs, laughing. “It’s good to have such close friends to confide in, laugh with and talk to.”