JFHC’s Pre-Rosh Hashanah Celebration Is ‘Huge Success’

A family event sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Howard County brought almost 80 children, parents and grandparents to the National Trolley Museum in Colesville for a pre-Rosh Hashanah celebration of Jewish literacy.

Dressed in costume, Rabbi Deborah Bodin Cohen read from her book “Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride” for the Sunday, Sept. 14 production of the local PJ Library.

The event, which featured trolley rides, snacks, stories and crafts, “was a huge success,” proclaimed Michelle Goldberg, the Federation’s director of outreach and family planning.

PJ Library, which counts more than 78,000 families in more than 145 North American communities as clients, provides free books to children from 6 months old to 6 years old in Howard County as part of a partnership between the Federation and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

“PJ (as in pajamas) Library mails free, high-quality, Jewish children’s books and music to families every month,” said Goldberg. “We are proud to offer this gift to the families in our community.”

Cohen, a Columbia native who was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1979, serves as director of congregational learning at Congregation Har Shalom. She has written many Jewish children books, including the “Engineer Ari” series, “Nachshon Who was Afraid to Swim” and “Lilith’s Ark.”

“The kids could not believe they rode the trolley with the author,” said Goldberg.

For more information about PJ Library, visit pjlibrary.org.

JEA Celebrates 105 Years

The Jewish Educational Alliance celebrated its 105th year with a reunion at Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Congregation on Sunday.

WMAR’s “Square Off” host Richard Sher hosted the evening, which saw the induction of WJZ-TV reporter Ron Matz into the JEA’s Hall of Fame.

The group has a long history in Baltimore dating to the early 1900s. It was first founded in 1909 and opened the doors to its first physical location at 1216 E. Baltimore St. in April 1913. The organization was a hotbed of activity, hosting citizenship classes, sewing, a religious school, a day camp, dances, athletic clubs, drama groups, art classes and more.

“There was something to do for everyone,” said Melvin “Mickey” Crystal, the group’s president.

Many prominent Baltimoreans were members of the organization, Crystal said.

In 1951, the JEA, the Young Men’s Hebrew Association and Camp Woodlands merged to become the Jewish Community Center.

The JEA re-emerged in 1974, Crystal said, and formed the JEA Hall of Fame, which first honored those with athletic prowess and then those who had reached major achievements in their fields, later expanding to include volunteers. Matz, who has emceed the yearly receptions for the past decade, was inducted for his work and journalism and his family’s history with the JEA. More than 160 people came to the reception, which featured kosher food, musical entertainment, tributes and door prizes, said Crystal. “They come in on walkers, they come in on motorized units, they come in with two canes, they come in with an oxygen tank. Most of them are in their 90s.”

Barbara Weiss, who said she might be the youngest JEA member at almost 64 years old, said she joined the group because of its history.

“When our parents talk about the JEA, their eyes light up,” she said. “These were the children of the original immigrants who came [to America].”

County GOP Passes Pro-Israel Resolution

The Baltimore County Republican Central Committee unanimously passed a resolution in support of Israel’s self-defense on Sept. 8.

“The Central Committee is effectively the face of the Republican party for the county,” said Rudy Stoler, the primary author of the resolution and a county council candidate for District 2. “We wanted a way to connect with our Jewish voters.”

All 25 committee members voted in favor of the resolution. Although there are only three Jewish members, the resolution passed with flying colors after some fine-tuning.

The resolution cites Baltimore’s support of Israel as well as Baltimore’s sister city, Ashkelon, which has been subject to rocket attacks during fighting in Gaza.

The resolution “calls on all American legislators to uphold Israel’s right of self-defense; condemns the use of Palestinians by terrorists as human shields; calls on the United States ambassador to the United Nations to resist unfair treatment of Israel; calls on the U.S. government to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; states our concern for members and families of our community serving in the Israel Defense Forces; extends our support to the government of Israel and particularly the municipal government of Ashkelon as they seek to re-establish commerce, routine and security; and wishes Jews around the world a sweet new year.”

The resolution was endorsed by Republican candidates for U.S. Congress, statewide offices and state and local legislative seats in Baltimore County and Montgomery County as well as by Diana Waterman, chairman of the Maryland GOP.


Nowhere to hide

Daniel Ellsberg was working for the Rand Corporation when he released “The Pentagon Papers” in 1971.

Daniel Ellsberg was working for the Rand Corporation when he released “The Pentagon Papers” in 1971.

The Maryland Institute College of Art celebrated Constitution Day last week with a symposium headlined by 1970s-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and a diverse panel of other guests.

Described in his instruction as “the first person in America to be arrested for leaking top-secret documents,” Ellsberg was responsible for the release of “The Pentagon Papers” and was the subject of an Academy Award-winning documentary called “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” Although most of the audience in the Brown Center’s Falvey Hall auditorium were MICA students and therefore too young to remember firsthand Ellsberg’s arrest, they listened attentively to the 83-year-old economist and former military strategist for the Rand Corporation.

Joining Ellsberg on the “One Nation Under Watch: Surveillance, Privacy and National Security in America” panel were art professor Hasan Elahi, whose work looks at issues such as surveillance, citizenship, migration and borders; and Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty project at the ACLU of Massachusetts. WYPR broadcaster Aaron Henkin moderated the Sept. 17 program, which was co-sponsored by the Maryland chapter of the ACLU.

Ellsberg, whose 1971 release of a 7,000-page classified report on U.S. strategy in Vietnam to The New York Times and other outlets began a legal battle over the First Amendment and national security that reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and led to his prosecution on charges of espionage, began his talk by referencing modern-day leaker Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor whose release of documents stunned the nation and its intelligence apparatus.

He said he expects to learn more from Snowden in the future and referenced a Times op-ed by James Bamford that appeared earlier that day. Describing Bamford as the “chief chronicler of NSA operations,” he noted that the column revealed that on a “routine basis,” the NSA had “turned over tremendous amounts of raw, unedited transcripts of emails and telephone calls made by Arab and Palestinian Americans, which the Israelis were using to blackmail their relatives in Israel, turning them into informants or keeping them silent about information that could implicate the U.S. and Israeli governments for illegal activities.”

Ellsberg, who is of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry but was raised as a Christian Scientist, likened these current events to similar tactics used against him in the 1970s.

“When President Nixon and [Henry] Kissinger sent people into my former psychoanalyst’s office to get information … it’s often described that what they wanted was to smear me,” explained Ellsberg. “Actually that’s incorrect. They were there to get information to threaten me, to vkeep me from revealing information that they knew I had, but they thought I could document Nixon’s nuclear threats to North Vietnam and plans to” escalate the war in Vietnam.

“I have little doubt that information the NSA is collecting is and certainly will be available for such political purpose over time,” he continued. “We are not yet a police state, or I wouldn’t be standing here. … We’re not being called in for questioning routinely on the basis of this monitoring or detained on a mass basis. I think that one more 9/11 and possibly an anti-war movement of sufficient size could change that. We’re what Edward Snowden has called a ‘turn-key away.’ It would take virtually the turning of a switch to turn us into a police state.”

Ellsberg said that once the government begins to use the information they have collected, especially about Palestinian and Arab Americans and people who are regarded as interfering with the president’s plans, mass detention would not be far behind.

He acknowledged that in the past few years, many Americans have downplayed the significance of government surveillance on their lives.

“People say, ‘I have nothing to hide. Why should I care about this?’” said Ellsberg. But “everyone has something to hide.” Besides, he added, “the mission of investigative journalists depends upon their use of anonymous sources. That simply cannot be done without privacy. No journalist can offer that privacy with any confidence now.”


GOP Hopeful Campaigns in Pikesville

Larry Hogan

Larry Hogan

Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan made the rounds
of local businesses last week in Pikesville, but he started the day with an appearance at the Baltimore Jewish Council’s board meeting.

“He talked about his general campaign themes and his background,” said Arthur Abramson, executive director of the BJC. “He said the election is a lot closer than people believe, and he thought that his campaign has a lot of shared values with members of the Jewish community.”

Hogan, who according to polls has a hill to climb in his battle against Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, then toured a few businesses with the help of attorney Jay L. Liner, who agreed to help a friend close to Hogan’s campaign and extend introductions for the candidate.

Hogan started out at Gourmet Again and spoke briefly with owner Andy Hoffman, sampled some brisket tips and “introduced himself to customers and did some general schmoozing,” said Liner.
Next, they stopped at the Pikesville Senior Center, and Hogan spoke to an assembled group after a scheduled program. The day’s visits were intentionally low key with no planned speeches, said Liner.

A stop at the Trader Joe’s in Festival at Woodholme was next, where Hogan greeted customers at the door and made his way down the mall to the J.S. Edwards men’s clothing store and a stop at Lexington Lady, a women’s apparel store, where Liner introduced him to store owners Bernard and Richard Krieger.

“He’s very personable, very straightforward,” said Richard Krieger, who sits on the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce and called Hogan “a candidate worth looking at.”
“With candidates, it’s about the verbal statement and what they’re going to do,” he said. “How they’re going to do it is the question. … What’s the reality?”

Hogan plans to return in the near future with stops at Goldberg’s Bagels and Seven Mile Market.
“I think Pikesville is critical, he has to win in Baltimore County to have a shot at this race,” asserted Liner. “Pikesville is prime territory for that.”


The Day After

Participant Michael Greenbaum displays rocket scraps from the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Participant Michael Greenbaum displays rocket scraps from the Iron Dome missile defense system. (Courtesy of the Associated)

When the 15 Baltimoreans who attended a mission to Israel last week initially signed up for the trip, they had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” said Ira Malis, who, along with the rest of his fellow travelers, signed up for The Day After mission coordinated by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore before the current cease-fire. “Signing up was easy.

Malis saw the trip as an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the people of Israel. Hesitant to believe much of anything he heard reported on the summer conflict secondhand by news outlets, Malis wanted to experience the situation himself.

“You hear of, yeah, they’ve been bombing, they’ve been bombing, they’ve been bombing. You almost get numb to it. But I think when you actually talk to the people who are on the ground, you see just how disruptive [it is] and what they have to live with day to day, minute to minute,” he said. “You can see why it really has to stop.”

Mark Neumann, who was also on the trip, agreed.

“Here, we discuss it, but then move on and talk about the Ravens,” said Neumann. “There, it’s just front and center in their lives.”

The group left Baltimore at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 15 for Newark Liberty International Airport, where they caught a flight to Tel Aviv. They then traveled from Tel Aviv to Ashkelon, Jewish Baltimore’s sister city, where they spent two days hearing from citizens and experts about the recent conflict and its aftermath.

Participants heard from doctors and staff at Barzilai Hospital about the challenges of operating a hospital while at constant risk of attack. They then heard from teens involved in Ashkelon’s Baltimore-funded AMEN teen program. For the 50 days of the war with Hamas, the teens volunteered their time to care for the young children of parents who had to go to work but had no way to ensure the safety of their children while they were out of the house.

“The thing that keeps going through my head is the resilience of the people and the way they were doing their utmost to bring some normalcy to their lives during a crazy time,” said Neumann.

Making the trip even more important, Neumann said, is the fact that talks have since resumed between the two sides in extending the cease-fire. In the U.S., he said, people view the immediate conflict as over, but for many he met in Israel, peace comes with a hint of tension; citizens of the oft-targeted southern region are waiting for government officials to decide their future, he pointed out.

Rabbi Steven Fink of Temple Oheb Shalom was proud to travel to Israel so soon after the violence. He was impressed by what he described as the “resilience” of the people who choose to live in the settlements surrounding Gaza and the lone soldiers who choose to move to a country away from all friends and family to serve in the Israel Defense Forces

“These people are on the front lines on the war facing all of us,” said Fink. “Every Jew and every American is a combatant in this war against Israel and Western civilization.

“The question is not if it’s going to occur again, the question is only when,” he added. “And we have to do our very best to ensure that the people of Israel are ready to meet the next challenge.”



Open 24/7


Photo provided

Photo provided

It may be old, but the Chabad House at Johns Hopkins University is still going strong.

Now in its 12th year, the Jewish center located on North Charles Street offers Shabbat dinners, High Holiday services and other enrichment activities to university students.

“We are a 24/7 Chabad,” said director Rabbi Zev Gopin. “Many of our students have never had an authentic, Jewish family experience until now. My family actually lives in the house, and we are always available for a warm bowl of chicken soup.”

While students have flocked to the Chabad House in recent years — Gopin describes growth as a constant process with each year’s activities bigger than those before — and a summer gala banquet drew Northrup Grumman president and CEO

Wesley Bush as its guest of honor, a dust-up with a local neighborhood association resulted in the filing of a lawsuit regarding the upkeep and maintenance of the Chabad House’s facility.

The Guilford Association’s lawsuit highlights necessary renovations, including, among others, leaks in the gutter system, old window glazing, peeling paint and rotting wooden railings.

Gopin maintains he is working hard to settle the problems.

“A house of this size and age requires repair,” said the rabbi,

emphasizing that he is committed to keeping the suit from necessitating a trial. “We are currently working to raise the funds in order to make the necessary repairs. It is something we look forward to achieve in the very near future.”

Despite the legal battle, the students are thrilled with the house. Former president of the organization’s board, Debra Schwitzer, loved spending time at the house during her four years of college.

“The house itself is absolutely gorgeous, and the rabbi and his wife, Chana, make you feel so at home. Chana is my second Jewish mother,” said Schwitzer. “It was my home away from home throughout college.”

Schwitzer says the Gopin family and Chabad were responsible for her pursuit of a Jewish studies minor.

“I joined some religious seminars and workshops at Chabad,” said Schwitzer. “It really opened my eyes to what Judaism can do for me. Soon, I started taking Judaic studies classes through Johns Hopkins. Before long, I achieved my minor without even trying.”

Sophomore Sam Sands looks forward to raising even more interest in the Chabad House for the upcoming year. Coming from a Chabad family, Sands entered the Hopkins Chabad House for the first time as a freshman and has never looked back.

“I am so excited to be acting as the board president this year,” he said. “We lost a lot of students due to graduation this year. My biggest focus is outreach to the community to increase overall involvement.

“From lighting a large menorah on Chanukah to apples and honey during Rosh Hashanah,” he added, “we are a strong, Jewish community on campus.”

Reminiscing on her past experiences with Chabad, Schwitzer realizes how influential the center was on her college career.

“There were many Jewish students who would not step into Hillel but kept coming back to Chabad,” said Schwitzer. “It was that kind of community.”

At the end of the day, students agree that it is not how the house looks, but what happens inside that counts.

“We are not your typical Chabad House,” said Gopin. “We do not have hours, and we definitely do not close. For the next four years, we are your neighborhood Jewish family.

“Even after you graduate, you are always welcome back,” he continued. “It is not my home, it is our home.”



Fun Run




Locals were off to the races in Mount Washington last Sunday, as the Sinai Hospital Auxiliary’s 10th annual Race for Our Kids welcomed 1,000 people for a day of walking, running and raising money for children.

Starting at 8 a.m., runners took their marks for 5K and 10K chip-timed runs to benefit the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai. All told, the race raised more than $180,000 for the children’s hospital, adding to the $750,000 raised over the previous nine races.

A part of Lifebridge Health, the Samuelson Children’s Hospital treats children from birth to 18 years of age.

Dr. David Tuchman, a Samuelson pediatrician, runs the 5K portion of the race with his wife every year.

“The whole hospital comes out for the race,” said Tuchman. “The race helps provide money and support to families who cannot afford medical bills for their children. Now, many of my former patients bring their children to me. It is great to see families, co-workers and patients support this cause. Many of the hospital departments even make their own teams.”

Winners of both the 5K and 10K runs received medals, while the top finishers of the 10K also received cash prizes totaling $4,100.

Kevin McNabb of Washington, D.C., and Megan DiGregorio of White Marsh placed first in the men’s and women’s divisions of the 10K, and Baltimoreans Josh Rosemore and Kathy Daumer were at the top of their respective divisions in the 5K.

Parents and children also participated in a one-mile family fun walk. The interactive, themed event looped around the Levindale and Sinai Hospital campuses and featured 14 stops highlighting different children’s books.

“We spruced up the walk this year to attract more families,” said Kelly Meltzer, special events manager for Lifebridge Health. “We focused the walk on children’s literature this year. We had different costumed characters at every station. We had pirates for ‘Peter Pan,’ bears for ‘The Berenstain Bears’ and Minnie Mouse. … We even gave train lollipops for ‘The Little Engine That Could.’”

Scott Sax, a project manager for Loyola University, ran his second 5K this year. When his son, Landon, was just 2 months old, he contracted a virus and required care at Samuelson. Now, the whole family comes out to the race, “because we are so grateful for Sinai and the Samuelson Children’s Hospital,” said Sax. “As I ran the 5K, my wife, daughter and son walked the one mile.

“We have come every year since Landon was born, and this year was no exception,” added Sax. “We had a whole team to help our son. It takes special people to be in this line of work, and we come out to support them and thank them for their efforts.”


Baltimore Gets a Glimpse of Obama

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(Photo by Marc Shapiro)

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

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

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

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

IMG_4405 copy

(Photo by Marc Shapiro)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Jewish Times reporter Marc Shapiro contributed to this report.

Neighbors, Secret Service Prepare for Obama



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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