Baltimore Bound

102414_coverstory-Ariel-BedineAccording to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, approximately 3,600 new Jewish families have moved to Baltimore over the past three years. With 15 Jewish day schools and 17 preschools from which to choose, many are lining up to join the thriving Jewish community.

“We just love Baltimore,” said new arrival Howard Goldstein. “The whole community is so tightknit. There are numerous Jewish schools, synagogues on every block and of course, the delicious kosher supermarket Seven Mile Market. This community is very unusual and special. There is no place like it.”

According to The Associated’s 2010 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study, the number of Jewish households in the greater Baltimore area has increased by 16 percent over the past decade. While 54 percent of all Baltimore Jews hail from Maryland, 10 percent of new Baltimore residents come from outside the United States, with 4 percent from the former Soviet Union.

Reporting that 47 percent of Jewish children to 4 years old are enrolled in a Jewish preschool or nursery school, that more than 40 percent of children are enrolled in Jewish day school and that almost all are enrolled in some sort of Jewish educational program, one likely conclusion of the study is that Jewish families are attracted, among other draws, to Baltimore for the schools.

Ariel (right) and Dvir Bedine are loving their Beth Tfiloh education. (Photos Provided)

Ariel (top) and Dvir Bedine are loving their Beth Tfiloh education. (Photos Provided)

“The schools play a huge role in why Baltimore is so top-notch,” said Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, director of Agudath Israel of Maryland/Mid-Atlantic Region. “My job is to advocate for Jewish rights, and my office opened up seven years ago. I am proud of how strong the Baltimore Jewish community has grown.”

Since he promotes and lobbies for policies benefiting the Jewish community, such as for the adoption of universal pre-K programs in Maryland, he is thrilled by how the Baltimore Jewish community is prospering. After growing up in Silver Spring and attending Ner Israel High School/Rabbinical College in Baltimore, he decided to establish his home here.

“As a Baltimore resident myself, I can see how Baltimore entices the greater Orthodox community,” said Sadwin. “The housing and tuition prices are affordable, and there is a lot of harmony between the different groups. With Washington, D.C., and Baltimore City so close, Baltimore provides tons of job opportunities for residents. I also think The Associated and its various programs play a big role in growing the community.”

But the attraction isn’t solely among Orthodox families.

As the only egalitarian Jewish Day School in the Greater Baltimore area, Krieger Schechter Day School (KSDS) serves grades K through 8 in a coeducational, small classroom environment.

“Many people find out about Krieger Schechter from word of mouth,” said Liz Minkin-Friedman, the school’s director of community outreach and engagement. “This year, we had families move to Maryland from Massachusetts and Virginia. Many of our families learn about our school from colleagues when they move to Baltimore for a job. Others hear about it from mothers at the playground.”

Owned by Chizuk Amuno Congregation, KSDS caters to all Baltimore Jews. It boasts a 9:1 student-faculty ratio, and according to Minkin-Friedman, one of the biggest draws is its dual-language curriculum.

“We teach 40 percent in Hebrew and 60 percent in English,” she said. “Our curriculum involves both general and Judaic studies. We are part of a national movement, and we provide a strong Jewish foundation for our students.”

After sending her children to a Solomon Schechter Day School in Boston, new Baltimore resident, and parent of two, Vicki Williamson felt that KSDS was the most natural fit.

“We moved to Pikesville over the summer because we wanted to be closer to our extended family,” said Williamson. “Krieger Schechter was exactly what we were looking for. They match up perfectly with our Jewish values, and I think the academics speak for itself.”

Howard and Sally Goldstein recently moved to Baltimore to find programs for their two younger adopted children. The family of six moved from St. Louis, Mo., and enrolled the pair in the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.

“My wife and I always wanted more children, so we adopted two children from Texas: one Hispanic and one African-American,” said Goldstein. “We had to send our first two children away for school when we lived in Missouri because there were no strong Jewish schools in our area. We didn’t want to repeat that with our younger two.”

102414_coverstory-Sarit-GoldsteinSince their older child attends the University of Maryland, College Park, they believed that Baltimore was ideal for its proximity.

“We have a multicultural family, and Beth Tfiloh truly caters to our children’s needs,” said Goldstein. “Even though our children look different, they have never felt out of place. We heard rave reviews about Beth Tfiloh from students and alumni and thought it would be perfect for our children.”

Shifra Weinstein, who moved to Baltimore 10 years ago from Riverdale, N.Y., stressed that Baltimore has many educational options. Before she moved to the area, she went “school shopping” in three different communities in three different states. The moment she came to Baltimore, she knew she found her new home.

“We were looking for all-girl schools at the time,” said Weinstein. “I remember visiting Bnos Yisroel on my own. Immediately, I wanted to send my girls there. I called my husband that day and said, ‘That’s it, we’re moving!’”

While Weinstein could not wait to send her five daughters to the Bnos Yisroel School of Baltimore, first-week classroom complications reassured Weinstein that she made the right choice.

Howard and Sally Goldstein’s two adopted children, Sarit (above) and Elisha, feel at home in Baltimore. (Photos Provided)

Howard and Sally Goldstein’s two adopted children, Sarit (above) and Elisha, feel at home in Baltimore. (Photos Provided)

“My daughter, Yocheved, started getting sick during the first week,” she recalled. “She is asthmatic, and we realized she was having problems with the school building since her classroom was in the basement. I called up the principal, Sara Itzkowitz, [and I] panicked. We did not want to switch schools now.

“[Itzkowitz] said, ‘Give me two days. We’re not losing you.’ She then hired an industrial cleaning purifier,” continued Weinstein, who went on to serve as president of the school’s parent-teacher association for three years, “and our daughter never had a problem with asthma in the school again. At Bnos Yisroel, the kids come first. After Yocheved’s first year, she was never in a basement classroom again. Mrs. Itzkowitz made sure of it.”

Three years ago, Odeya and Jeremy Bedine moved to Bethesda from Atlanta for job opportunities. Falling in love with Beth Tfiloh and the Baltimore Jewish community, the family left their D.C.-area home and moved to Pikesville in May.

“Pikesville is the full package,” said Bedine. “While we looked at schools in D.C., nothing quite fit like Beth Tfiloh. My husband was commuting back and forth from Baltimore to D.C. before landing a job in Columbia, but we knew it was worth the commute.”

As families move to Baltimore for the schools, Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. (CHAI) helps new arrivals transition into the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Park Heights. In the last fiscal year, 32 percent of families seeking housing assistance from CHAI were out-of-towners.

“Last year, we helped many families moving into Baltimore,” said Rachel Elliot, CHAI’s director of organizational advancement. “We helped seven from out of state and two from Baltimore County. Of the out-of-staters, we assisted three families from Israel, two from New Jersey, one from Canada and one from Iran.”

Providing $253,000 in loans and assistance and another $80,000 in grants for new home buyers, CHAI’s mission is to make Baltimore easier to afford.

“We know that many Jews want to live in Baltimore. We try to make it easier for them,” said Mitchell Posner, executive director. “Many of our houses have two sinks and multiple bedrooms for large families. We are set up for the Jewish migration.”

Concentrating on Northwest Baltimore, CHAI also rebuilds playgrounds, creates neighborhood programming and provides home-buyer counseling. In 2014, CHAI implemented 38 enrichment programs in Baltimore schools with a total of 893 participants.

“Many people move to Baltimore for the schools. We want to keep the community strong once they arrive,” said Posner. “We have renovated over 20 houses and even knock on doors to ask people in the community how we can best serve them.”

With the kosher restaurants, numerous synagogues, several Jewish community centers and educational choices, Bedine said it’s easy to be comfortable amid such Jewish infrastructure.

“People who are from Baltimore have no idea how special it is,” said Bedine. “We moved here for the schools, but we stayed for the community. It took a long time to find, but we are most definitely home.”

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

Hoffberger Takes Stock

 LeRoy E. Hoffberger (File photo)

LeRoy E. Hoffberger (File photo)

It’s nearly impossible to talk about Baltimore history without talking about the Hoffberger family. Natives and transplants alike are aware of the family’s historic ties to the Orioles and the National Brewing Company, former producers of Natty Boh, Charm City’s beloved hometown beer. The Hoffberger name graces buildings on college campuses, hospitals, synagogues and museums across the region.

The family made fortunes manufacturing and distributing ice, coal and fuel oil. They were sole or major shareholders in businesses such as the Baltimore Transfer Company, the Pompeian Olive Oil Company and Grecian Formula as well as real estate developers and supporters of the city’s arts, educational, medical and Jewish communal organizations.

In his new memoir, “Measure of a Life: Memoirs, Insights and Philosophies of LeRoy E. Hoffberger,” Hoffberger, 89, reflects upon his childhood, young adulthood, career and philanthropic endeavors. In the process, he gives readers an engrossing, honest and introspective history of the life of a man, a family and a city.

When he first began to write, in his early 80s, Hoffberger said it was a means of testing his memory. In recent years, he had noticed that he was having some short-term memory lapses, and he wanted to see whether his long-term memory was still sharp.

“When I got to page 100, I said, ‘Hey, I’m getting pretty good at this,’” said Hoffberger. “One hundred years from now, what will my great-grandchildren know about me? They might be able to find information about my education, my professional successes and failures, my philanthropy. But they may want to know who I am, my insights and philosophies, my struggles with clinical depression; what I have done with my life considering both my talents and my disabilities. God puts us on earth for a purpose. How did I deal with the hand that God gave me?”

He grew up in Baltimore, the son of Jack and Mildred Hoffberger, and the younger of two brothers. His father’s grandparents, Sarah and Charles, immigrated to Baltimore from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1881. Jack Hoffberger was one of seven brothers, and by the time LeRoy was born, the brothers had already achieved some success in the business community. The family lived in the Forest Park section of Baltimore, next door to four of Jack’s brothers and their families. As he grew up, the extended Hoffberger family remained closely knit.

“My generation of Hoffbergers had been raised to understand that we were to work in one of the family’s businesses,” he wrote.

After serving in a Navy officers training program during World War II, Hoffberger completed his education at Princeton University. When he graduated in 1947, his father asked him to get his law degree so that he would be qualified to work in his Uncle Sam’s law firm, which provided counsel to the family’s many business interests. Hoffberger agreed, and graduated from the University of Maryland in 1950. Following in his Uncle Sam’s footsteps, he gravitated toward real estate. He made many investments but was most proud of the development of 2,000 acres of farmland in Montgomery County 25 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.

“Today, Germantown,” Hoffberger said proudly, “is the third largest urban area in the state and home to 80,000 people.”

In his role as an attorney, Hoffberger also became active in fundraising for Democratic candidates, helping to get Sen. Barbara Mikulski elected. A highlight in his political career came in December 1973, when he was on President Richard M. Nixon’s “second enemies list.”

“This meant that I, along with 574 other Americans, was to be harassed by the IRS for having played an active role in Sen. George McGovern’s
unsuccessful run for president,” he wrote in his memoir. “My Democrat friends and I considered this a badge of honor.”

Though his career was flourishing, a bout with depression required Hoffberger take time off from his work.

Although he would soon return to his job, Hoffberger’s anxiety and depression required treatment with psychotherapy and anti-depressant medication throughout his life.

His service to the Jewish community was another source of personal pride.

“Soon after I began working for Uncle Sam’s company, I was told that he wanted me to be very active in the Jewish community,” he recalled. “He even told me what board he wanted me to join. It was Levindale [Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital]. I served 60 years on that board, was a board president and am still an emeritus.”

Recognizing that not everyone who was elderly needed to be in a nursing home, he and Bob Weinberg built Concord House, now known as Weinberg Gardens. When The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore created Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. (CHAI), Hoffberger became the new agency’s first president.

“I was incoming president of The Associated when the battle over whether to open the JCC on Shabbos began,” he recalled. “It was a 30-year battle.”

Although at the time Hoffberger was a Reform Jew, he felt The Associated needed to represent all parts of the Jewish community and feared that opening the JCC on the Sabbath would alienate the Orthodox community.

“It seemed like hypocrisy to me that the JCC was closed on all these obscure Jewish holidays but open on Shabbos,” he said.

After his marriage to his second wife, Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, with whom Hoffberger founded the American Visionary Art Museum, he became more interested in Judaism. Hoffberger left Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and joined the Conservative Chizuk Amuno Congregation. As he became more religiously observant, Hoffberger became more concerned by statistics that showed increasing levels of intermarriage and assimilation among American Jews. He discovered the work of Rabbi David Fohrman and raised money to launch the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Studies so that more peopl could benefit from Fohrman’s lectures.

Perhaps Hoffberger’s way of life is best described by the handwritten message printed on the jacket of his memoir. In contrast to the words of authors such as C.S. Lewis, who wrote: “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind,” Hoffberger wrote: “What we leave behind is far more important than how far we get ahead.”

sellin@jewishtimes.com

Unlikely Mix

The Bible Players Andrew Davies (top) and Aaron Friedman combine Torah, comedy and improv to bring Jewish stories and values to life for young audiences and adults. (Provided)

The Bible Players Andrew Davies (top) and Aaron Friedman combine Torah, comedy and improv to bring Jewish stories and values to life for young audiences and adults. (Provided)

The Bible Players, also known as Andrew Davies and Aaron Friedman, love Jewish teachings for their rich stories, interpretations and values. They also love comedy and understand its effectiveness as a method of engagement, and they bring that surprising combination to their performances.

“It all started on a rainy day,” when they worked at Camp Ramah, recalled Friedman, 32, stand-up comedian and artistic director. The camp director asked Friedman and Davies to quickly devise an activity that could entertain 200 campers indoors and keep attention away from the gray weather.

“We wracked our brains, wrote scenes, came up with some Jewish [improvisational] games, and that started the whole ball rolling,” said Friedman. The campers had a great time, and the Jewish comedy duo received repeat requests for material, so they knew they were on to something.

Officially begun in 2011, the Bible Players now tour about twice a week to different synagogues, Jewish day schools and organizations around the country representing all Jewish denominations and even at some churches.

“The goal of the show is to use theater and improv to live out the Jewish values,” explained Davis, 30, artistic director and trained in improvisational comedy. “We want to make everyone laugh, have a good time, and we love the stories and values that we grew up with, so if we can make people laugh and learn about those values at the same time — that’s the idea.”

Davies and Friedman grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and met at Akiva Academy, now known as Barrack Hebrew Academy, while in a production of “The Music Man,” and have been friends and collaborators ever since. Now they live in New York City and work hard to keep their performances fresh, often using pop culture references, and they cleverly infuse ancient Jewish stories with modern-day relevance.

“There’s an amalgam of thousands of years of Jewish learning” to draw from, said Friedman, who marvels at how his double major in creative writing and Jewish philosophy is
relevant to his “real job.”

The Bible Players’ shows might include a Jewish tale sung in rap style, musical “Mitzvah Moments,” dancing, singing and always lots of hands-on participation, which they consider key for the enjoyment of the audience, but also to allow the Jewish content and values to take root. Most of the audience participation comes through improvisational games.

Davies said that mastering improvisation, which he’s practiced for over a decade, transformed many aspects of his personal life and saw that it worked to teach Torah stories and values as well.

“You have to be a great listener,” said Davies. In improv “you need to hear what someone is saying and add on to it. … You have to say, ‘Yes, and …’ but a lot of time [in life] we spend saying, ‘No, no thanks, I’m not interested.’

“But improv forces you to say yes, jump in and build stories,” he continued. “It’s a community, and you have to work together with others” to make it happen.

Rabbi Stuart Seltzer, director of congregational education at Chizuk Amuno Congregation, has invited the Bible Players to perform multiple times, including a performance for a family Shabbat weekend Nov. 15.

“They provide a methodology that integrates the arts and Torah study to reach students on their level, in a different way,” said Seltzer. “The language of biblical text is difficult, so they unpack it in a way the kids can understand.”

A interactive story the pair share with audiences is called “Kindness at the Well” in which they combine three biblical stories that start at a well — Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel and Moses and Tsipora — who all meet and become partners because of acts of kindness performed at a well. It creates lots of fun and physical comedy for the audience, said Davies, and the message is “even though [today] we don’t meet people at a well, we still form relationships through those acts of kindness.”

“Luckily, Andrew and I are both very immature for our age,” said Friedman laughing, in reference to the constantly updated pop-culture references in their material. “We do keep aware of what kids are watching, write parody songs of what songs are popular. … It’s how you stay relevant.”

Davies and Friedman hear comments such as, “These guys make Torah cool,” and “I hated coming to Hebrew school but my kids love coming to your shows.” On return engagements, in anticipation of their arrival they’ve been met by groups of kids delivering their latest Bible story learned with rap, emulating the Bible Players’ methods. In addition to Chizuk Amuno, they’ve performed at Johns Hopkins Hillel and Temple Beth Ami Hebrew School in Rockville.

Seltzer said he likens the Bible Players’ performances as another lens through which kids can experience Jewish holidays, texts and values. He added that through the arts, students can ask themselves deep questions and find their own interpretations.

“I think [what we do is] important because I really want to make Jewish kids proud of our culture and our heritage and the stories we’ve inherited and have been passed down for so many generations,” said Davies. “I love passing down that tradition.”

For more information about the Bible Players and to see video of their shows, visit thebibleplayers.com or contact Aaron Friedman at (347) 994-9386 or TheBiblePlayers@gmail.com.

mgerr@jewishtimes.com

Firing Back

Hasan “Jay” Jalisi, a Democratic candidate for District 10 delegate, has responded to the petition filed earlier this month by a Republican challenger intent on removing him from the Nov. 4 ballot on the basis that he is not a resident of the district he seeks to represent.

“I live in Owings Mills, within the boundaries of my 10th legislative election district,” Jalisi asserted in an email last week. “The allegation that I do not is a pure fabrication and a malicious attempt by the Republican candidate to influence the election, which he otherwise cannot win. My driver’s license shows my Owings Mills residence as my place of domicile, and I am registered to vote from there as well.”

Jalisi said he was not aware of the petition until days after it was filed.

“I condemn the negative politics by the Republican candidate — who has run twice before for the same seat and lost both times — and look forward to winning the general elections on Nov. 4, and thereafter working for the benefit of the residents of my district in the Maryland General Assembly.”

Jalisi ran for District 11 representative on the Democratic Central Committee in 2010 and lost with only 6 percent of the vote. In June, he secured a spot on the general election ballot by winning the primary for delegate in neighboring District 10.

The suit, which was filed on Oct. 7 in Anne Arundel Circuit Court by Republican candidate William Newton, claims that Jalisi lives in District 11, not District 10. The Democratic primary race for delegate in District 11 ended in a landslide victory for incumbent Dels. Dana Stein and Dan Morhaim, as well as newcomer Shelly Hettleman, the former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin. Del. Adrienne Jones was the only incumbent in the Democratic primary for District 10 delegate.

The JT first reported discrepancies in Jalisi’s residency claims in June, citing property and tax records that suggest the Democratic candidate’s primary residence is an address on Greenspring Avenue in Lutherville-Timonium rather than the address he has used in campaign filings on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills. Jalisi has been receiving a homestead tax credit at the Lutherville address, which is valued at almost $575,000, since 2009. The tax credit is only applicable to a person’s primary residence.

Jalisi recently told The Daily Record that the reason for the confusion is that he and his wife separated in 2013 and he moved out. But his wife has been spotted with Jalisi numerous times during the campaign.

Maryland law makes it difficult for a candidate to be disqualified for reasons relating to residency, especially if — as in Jalisi’s case — the candidate owns multiple properties in the area. The deadline to challenge the residency of a candidate is just days after the deadline for declaring one’s candidacy and election law requires only that the candidate be domiciled in the district in which they run for office, a legal standard that does not necessarily mean that their primary residence is in the district.

Missing Baltimore County Teen Found Alive and Well

Rachel Elizabeth Morrison

Rachel Elizabeth Morrison was found alive and well.

Rachel Elizabeth Morrison, 16, who was reported missing on Sunday, Oct. 19, was located alive and well the following night.

The Timonium resident was staying with a family outside of Westminster in Carroll County, according to Baltimore County Police. The father was watching TV on Monday evening when he saw a news report about Rachel, at which point he took her to the Westminster Barracks of the Maryland State Police.

She was reported missing on Sunday after last being seen on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 11:20 p.m., when she left home in an older model brown car with “an alleged friend,” police said.

She is a member of Temple Oheb Shalom and active in the JCC.

A Bookworm’s Delight

Author and songwriter Barry Lou Polisar records his self-written songs. He is one of the nine authors presenting at the Jewish Literary Festival. (Provided)

Author and songwriter Barry Lou Polisar records his self-written songs. He is one of the nine authors presenting at the Jewish Literary Festival. (Provided)

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore is inviting readers young and old to come face-to-face with their favorite authors at its Oct. 26 Jewish Literary Festival and Local Author Fair at The Gordon Center for Performing Arts in Owings Mills.

The one-day event starts at 1 p.m. and showcases three-to-five-minute TED-style talks with selected writers.

“This is the first time we have ever done this type of program,” said Melissa Berman, the JCC’s assistant director of arts and culture. “We are hoping to attract art lovers throughout the Jewish Baltimore community.”

Featuring authors Zackary Sholem Berger, Sydney Krome, Wendy Cohen, Carl Jacobs, Ed Kleiman, Barry Louis Polisar, Susan Schneider, Judy Pestonk and Judy Pachino, the event also includes a viewing of  the film “Rock the Casbah” and opportunities to meet and purchase guest authors’ books.

“This is a 21st-century approach to encourage reading books,” said JCC film festival coordinator Danielle Feinstein, who helped plan the book fair. “There is something so special about reading novels from cover to cover. When you first open a book, you have no idea what adventure is in store. I hope the book fair can inspire more people to read.”

Polisar will discuss his new book, “Retelling Genesis.” Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., he spent most of his life in Maryland. His latest claim to fame is “All I Want is You,” a song he wrote and performed to open the Academy Award-winning film “Juno.”

“I am a man of many hats,” said Polisar. “I began recording in 1975 and published my first book in 1985. Many people have heard my songs or read my stories without even realizing it. My newest creation takes a step away from children’s books and songs, as I delve into my Jewish roots.”

Raised as a secular Jew, Polisar claims that his bar mitzvah was “the first and last time his family entered a synagogue growing up.” After joining Shaare Tefila Congregation in Montgomery County, he became more invested in religion.

“When my wife and I had kids, we enrolled them in the local synagogue nursery school and then the Hebrew school,” said Polisar. “When they were required to attend services, I promised them that I would never drop them off at the door and leave but would always attend as well. During the Torah service each week, I read things as an adult that I had never read before — and discovered layers of subtlety and nuance in stories I thought I knew.”

Joining Rabbi Jonah Layman’s Torah class 14 years ago, Polisar used his new Jewish learning as inspirations for books. After penning “Telling the Story: A Passover Haggadah Explained” — an alternative look at the Passover story — Polisar wrote “Retelling Genesis” as a means to retell the stories from the Book of Genesis through the secondary characters’ points of view.

“‘Retelling Genesis’ puts the background characters in the limelight,” said Polisar. “I feel like I had been waiting for a project like this.”As a primarily secular writer, Polisar feels his Jewish roots spill into his mainstream pieces.

“Other than the Haggadah I adapted and wrote, most of my books are for children and are considered secular. However, if you look at my secular books from a Jewish point of view, you’d see many Jewish values and ideas — respect for animals and the earth; listening to alternative viewpoints; looking at things from two different perspectives — all very Talmudic and Jewish,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to sharing his work with other “Jewish bookworms.”

“My TED talk will mainly discuss the book and how I was inspired to write it,” said Polisar. “We are meant to wrestle with these stories, and I hope what I have written will inspire others to go back and read the original narratives, question and engage.”

For more information, go to jcc.org/Gordon-center/Gordon-center.

 

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

Painting the Holocaust

101714_goucher2Two panels, 125 drawings and endless stories to tell. Using small pen and ink, pencil and watercolor paint, acclaimed artist and illustrator Nancy Patz carefully brought artifacts of the Holocaust to life. They are on display through Dec. 4 at the Goucher College Library.

“The Artifacts Drawings” showcases artifacts from Holocaust museums in Washington, D.C., Jerusalem, Houston, New York City and the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore.

“Six million people died in the Holocaust. That is a huge number to digest,” said Patz. “Through my art, I wanted to show individual stories. Each person who died in the Holocaust was an individual. As the survivors of the Holocaust slowly die out, we need to turn our attention to the artifacts to help remember each story.”

Along with the art, there is a case display of Holocaust artifacts from the Lowy family. For the exhibition, Goucher Theatre Department chair Michael Curry and Baltimore artist Peter Bruun devised a 14-minute video to accompany the drawings. Narrated by Goucher students and faculty, the video shares the stories behind the artifacts and features music composed by Goucher students.

“We wanted to capture it on film. The video pans across the drawings and talks about the importance of the artifacts and the stories,” said Patz. A native Baltimorean, Patz attended Goucher College before finishing her undergraduate degree at Stanford University. Devoting her career to illustrating children’s books, Patz won the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Sydney Taylor Award for “Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat?” Inspired by an artifact she saw at the Jewish

Historical Museum in Amsterdam, she wrote and illustrated the introductory book to ease people into Holocaust studies. That book helped pave the way to her newest collection.

“I was moved by the hat,” said Patz. “I found all these questions running through my head. Who was the woman? What was her life like? I translated the ideas in my head to a comprehensive book. [It] helped inspire and really pioneer this exhibit.”

A fan of the book, editor Karen Shaw asked Patz to illustrate her 2014 issue of “PRISM: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators.” After her artwork was published in the Yeshiva University journal, Patz and Shaw wanted to cast the net even further.

“After PRISM was published and the drawings received such high praise, we wished that they could serve a wider educational purpose — reach more people, especially students, who, we thought, would benefit from the study of artifacts as a way to learn about the Holocaust,” said Patz.“The Artifacts Drawings” was born.

“Karen said, ‘Education.’ I said, ‘Goucher!’” said Patz. “I’d attended Goucher long ago, and my books, sketches, etc. are in the Special Collections Library there. I know from experience that Goucher is a thriving, stimulating place, and I immediately called Nancy Magnuson, director of the library, who involved Lynne Lyon, president of the Friends of the Library, and the rest of the library team. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Highlights of the exhibit include a wedding dress worn by brides in a displaced persons camp, a teddy bear named Refugee and a prayer book bought with bread. One of her favorite portraits was of a Torah that was taken during Kristallnacht. “I remember seeing the Torah at the Lloyd Street Synagogue in

Baltimore,” said Patz. “I remember holding it and touching it. I was shaking. This Torah is still used regularly. This is what I mean by these artifacts have stories.

History student Justine Ruhlin participated in the exhibit as a graduating senior at Goucher College.

“As the student coordinator of this exhibit, I’m thrilled that I could cap my experience at Goucher with this project,” said Ruhlin. “This project provides a new way to commemorate the stories of the Holocaust.”

The exhibit will also be on display from March 11 to April 30 at the Anne Frank Center USA in New York.

“This project was painful to draw. I drew them like they were portraits. I could feel a responsibility in retelling the stories,” said Patz. “It is so wild that it will travel after Baltimore. I want as many people to see this project as possible.”

 

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

‘Glue That Holds Us Together’

101714_shabbosPut down your cell phones and grab a prayer book, because the Shabbos Project is coming to Baltimore. From sundown to nightfall on Oct. 24-25, the project is encouraging locals to join Jews around the world and keep Shabbat for one weekend.

Starting in South Africa in October 2013, the Shabbos Project introduced many Jews to Shabbat observance for the first time, say organizers. Going global this year, more than 212 cities — including Baltimore — in 33 countries will participate in the 25-hour event. Festivities will begin with a women’s Challah Bake at the Owings Mills JCC on Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and conclude with a Jewish Unity Havdallah service and concert at the Park Heights JCC on Oct. 25 at 8:30 p.m.

“Shabbat is a common denominator for all Jews. It is the glue that holds us all together,” said Rabbi Nitzan Bergman, executive director of the Etz Chaim Center for Jewish Living and Learning, which is coordinating the Shabbos Project in Baltimore. “We are tailoring our events to be more specific to Baltimore and hope to reach as many people as possible.”

Geared toward people who do not always observe Shabbat, the project hopes to inspire people to keep Shabbat more frequently. Max Abelson, a former master’s student at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University, is coming down from Philadelphia to participate in the event. Raised as a secular Jew, he became more involved in Judaism after meeting Berman during his time in Baltimore.

“I do not keep Shabbat regularly, and I cannot wait to come down for this weekend,” said  Abelson. “This is such an important initiative. The Baltimore Jewish community really elevated my involvement in Judaism, and I cannot wait to take part in the weekend’s events.”

Playing trumpet in the Saturday night concert, Abelson will take the stage with Diaspora Yeshiva Band member Avraham Rosenblum in the debut of the Brisket Brothers.

“I am known as the ‘Rockin’ Rabbi,’ and I can’t wait to perform in the Shabbos Project,” said Rosenblum. “When I heard about the Shabbos Project, I felt inspired. I volunteered my services because I feel like just being in each other’s presence during Shabbat is important.”

Helping run the Challah Bake, Jen Gaither hopes to encourage women to come out for that event.

“The Challah Bake is a time for Jewish women to bake challah together on the Thursday evening leading up to the Shabbos Project,” said Gaither. “Baking challah is a powerful and easy way for Jewish women to connect with their culture and religion and for mothers to show their daughters that Judaism is important and relevant to them. Just as they shape the challah, women can help shape the world they want for their daughters.”

Gaither believes people should take a break from their daily lives and enjoy the beauty of Shabbat.

“When the boundaries between work and home have faded and technology is a constant distraction, families need a time to unplug and connect,” she said. “And we all need to be reminded that there is something bigger than our egos. Committing to one Shabbat is a very doable way to do this. Individuality is important but not more important than community and relationships, so let’s all observe one Shabbat together to bring back that balance in our lives.”

Rabbi Moshe Hauer of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation is looking forward to the event and cannot wait to see how it impacts the Baltimore community.

“It is a magnificent project, and I encourage all to participate,” he said. “Whether you celebrate Shabbat regularly or not, Shabbat is a beautiful weekly unifier and is meant to be observed by everyone.”

For more information, visit website.

 

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

Heating Up

-The Republican candidate for District 10 delegate filed a motion last week to have one of the three Democratic candidates, Hasan “Jay” Jalisi, removed from the Nov. 4 general election ballot over residency concerns.

The move follows months of speculation over Jalisi’s address. His candidacy filings report an address on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills, but in campaign contributions to other candidates, tax records and phone book listings, he has been tied to an address on Greenspring Avenue in Lutherville-Timonium, which would make him a resident of District 11. Other official documentation, such elections and court records, list his address as a suite at Greenspring Station, but the postal service confirmed that the listing is a P.O. box, not a physical address.

William Newton filed an official complaint with the state Board of Elections and a writ with Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on Oct. 7 alleging that Jalisi is not a resident of District 10 and requesting that he be removed from the ballot. The petition also claims Jalisi is in violation of state election law by serving on the Democratic Central Committee for District 10 without residing in the district.

Maryland law refers to domicile in issues of residency. The 1998 court case Blount v. Boston established that, in Maryland, “domicile” does not necessarily need to be the place the person in question actually lives. Rather, it refers to a place the person has a settled connection, where they conduct their affairs. As such, it is difficult to prove a candidate’s domicile when, as in the case of Jalisi, the candidate is in the real estate business and owns several properties.

“It, in large measure, has to do with one’s objective intention to make [any one place] their permanent home,” Larry Gibson, a University of Maryland professor who teaches an election law course, told the JT in June. Essentially, Jalisi’s domicile is wherever he feels most connected.

The Board of Elections reported having heard talk about Jalisi’s residency, but Donna Duncan, assistant deputy administrator for election policy, said the deadline to challenge any candidate’s residency with the board passed in March 2014. The content and arrangement of the ballot was finalized in September.

State Sen. Delores Kelley, who has represented the District 10 area in the General Assembly since 1991, has also heard the complaints about Jalisi.

“It’s disheartening,” she said. “Anybody in the state should be concerned.”

Kelley and the only incumbent delegate in District 10, Del. Adrienne Jones, both backed different candidates in the June primary. Jalisi, who had no endorsements from any legislators in June, collected more votes than all three of the official-backed candidates in the primary election, falling short of only Jones when all votes were tallied.

Jalisi has maintained that his residence is the Reisterstown Road address, out of which he also runs his campaign office.

Jalisi and Newton are in a five-person race for three District 10 delegate seats. In addition to the incumbent Jones, a Democrat, other candidates include Democrat Benjamin Brooks and write-in Democrat Michael Tyrone Brown Sr. The Board of Elections’ Duncan said any action from this point on is in the hands of the Anne Arundel Court. As of press time, the court had not responded.

 

hnorris@jewishtimes.com

RCS Offers Course on Love

Women looking to explore love and marriage from a Jewish perspective will have a new resource beginning this December.

 
The Rosh Chodesh Society, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s Rohr Jewish Learning Institute women’s division, will kick off SoulMates, a seven-session course that begins Dec. 14 and runs through April 2015. Pulling from different Jewish sources, the course will offer participants the chance to examine the intricacies of love through a Jewish lens.

 
“Anyone who attends this course will leave every session not only inspired, but with tangible, concrete tools to enhance their relationship,” said RCS director Shaindy Jacobson in a release. “Whether they are currently married, considering someday tying the knot or simply seeking to better understand the spiritual root of love and marriage, SoulMates will forever change how they think about marriage in all its beauty and complexity.” The course, which will run once a month in more than 200 locations around the world, is open to women at all stages of life and all levels of Jewish knowledge.

 
“Today, the timeless teachings of our 3,000-year-old tradition on love and marriage are more relevant than ever,” said Rochel Kaplan, RCS’s Baltimore facilitator and director of the Aleph Learning Institute at the Lubavitch Center of Pikesville. “This course will challenge us to think deeply about ourselves and our relationships and give us practical tools to enhance them. It will allow us to see marriage in a whole new light and experience it with new meaning.”

 
Kaplan will teach the course on Sunday evenings at 6701 Old Pimlico Road from 8 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.