Breaking Barriers

(Provided)

(Provided)

With the recent Ferguson, Mo., shooting fresh in everyone’s minds, children from Baltimore’s Jewish and African-American communities have detailed their own struggles with race relations — back in 2010, a highly-publicized altercation took place between an African-American teenager and two Jewish men in northern Park Heights — as part of a traveling photo exhibition in City Hall.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young unveiled the exhibit on Sept. 3, inviting more than a dozen girls between the ages of 10 and 14 for an event honoring their Girl’s Photography Project.

“This project is a way to foster a better Baltimore community and introduce girls to their not-so-different neighbors,” said Young. “After the 2010 incident, we wanted to create a positive spin on a negative situation.”

Hosted by Damion Cooper, director of the city’s Office of Neighborhood Relations, the Wednesday event celebrated the girl’s efforts with keynote speakers, a kosher reception and a certificate presentation by Young. Speakers included Community Conversations co-chairs Phyllis Ajayi and Nathan Willner, Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. (CHAI) executive director Mitchell Posner, Wide Angle Youth Media executive director Susan Malone, and program participants Aiyanah Muhammed and Daniella Friedman.

“I am thrilled that City Hall hosted us for the event,” said Ajayi. “The Girl’s Photography Project physically shows diversity in the eyes of our kids. Both sides saw that what they ultimately wanted out of life was the same. The only difference is the color of their skin.”

As an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the CHAI program helps fund, staff and manage the Community Conversations series. By bringing youths together through art projects, Posner believes that positive integration is the best way to build a better Baltimore.

“There is no secret formula to building a stronger Baltimore community,” said Posner. “However, we are giving our kids the education they need by introducing them to each other at an early age. Starting with our youth, we are building the people of tomorrow.”

Through Wide Angle Youth Media, the girls began the program in late January and took a five-week long photography course. While many of the girls were skeptical at first, they ended up forming lasting bonds with their Park Heights neighbors.

Encouraged by her grandfather to enroll, African-American participant Muhammad nervously joined in the program. After the 2010 dispute, she feared she would not find common ground with her Jewish counterparts. Within the first session, her reservations melted away.

“Because of prior experiences in my neighborhood, I didn’t expect the Jewish girls to be as nice as they are,” said Muhammad. “I made a lot of Jewish friends, and I have a new view of my Jewish neighbors. Our friendships have continued even past the program.”

Due to the success of the Girls’ Photography Project, similar programs are currently being designed. The Community Conversations series is hoping to create a comparable project between African-American and Orthodox Jewish boys in the future. As more programming continues, Young believes that Baltimore will become a more unified community.

“America is a melting pot, and we are all one people. This project gave the girls a chance to see that,” said Young. “By building positive relations and forming bonds now, events like the Ferguson shooting hopefully won’t happen here. We are setting up Baltimore for success.”

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

Set For Super Sunday

Volunteers at The Associated’s Super Sunday aim to raise $1 million this weekend. (Provided)

Volunteers at The Associated’s Super Sunday aim to raise $1 million this weekend. (Provided)

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore kicks off its annual campaign this Sunday, Sept. 14, with its largest fundraiser of the year: Super Sunday.

The event, which  raised $1.3 million last year, will see more than 100 volunteers flock to the Weinberg Park Heights JCC this Sunday to work phone banks and ask the Jewish community to give what they can to support The Associated’s annual campaign.

“I think Super Sunday is probably the most important fundraiser of the year for the Jewish community,” said Clara Klein, who is chairing this year’s event with her husband Michael. “The survival of the Jewish community is impacted by what we raise on Super Sunday. Our goal is to raise $1 million.”

The Associated, established in 1920, is a philanthropic organization that tackles charitable, religious, education, humanitarian, health, cultural and social needs of the local, national and international Jewish community.

“It meets the needs not only for our community, but for the Jews abroad,” Klein said.

In the past year, Associated partnerships such as the Odessa Partnership and the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership have not only connected the Baltimore Jewish community to those in need of solidarity, but have devoted resources to supporting those overseas Jewish communities in times of crisis.

“In light of current world affairs, I think people have a clear sense of how dire the straits can be beyond the borders of the United States,” Michael Klein said.

This Sunday, volunteers will work the phones from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in shifts of three hours or less to call on the Jewish community to donate.

Ellen Gillette, who’s been a familiar face at Super Sunday since the early ’90s when she first moved to Baltimore, said Super Sunday exemplifies the power of Baltimore’s Jewish community.

“I was just so amazed at how incredible this community is and how it works together and what The Associated is able to accomplish,” Gillette said of her first coming to Baltimore. “Super Sunday is the day that everyone joins together and reaches out, and it’s a wonderful experience.”

She loves hearing stories of why people give, and has seen firsthand what The Associated’s programs have done for the community.

“I’ve seen individuals’ lives really be transformed,” she said, “people either in situations they were struggling with or sometimes the transformative effect of connecting with the Jewish people.”

Gillette chairs Baltimore’s Hillel council, which works with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Johns Hopkins University; Goucher College and the University of Maryland, College Park. Because of The Associated, which contributes to the Hillel council, some UMBC students were able to connect with the Jewish community of Odessa by going to Ukraine on an Associated trip.

Like Gillette, the Kleins are also involved in several activities outside of Super Sunday. Clara, who sits on The Associated’s board of directors, is also on the Baltimore Israel Coalition’s board and the executive committee of the women’s steering committee, and is the incoming chair of the women’s committee of Israel Bonds, among other positions. Michael has served on the boards of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, The Associated’s board of governors and is a member of the Solomon Society, a men’s discussion group.

While the Kleins are doing what they can to make sure Super Sunday brings in as much as it can, The Associated is also launching a 100-day challenge. In the challenge, all new gifts or increased gifts given through December 31 will be matched.

“Anything [people] can give, no matter how big or small, will make a difference in our community,” Clara Klein said.

Those interested in volunteering at Super Sunday can contact Elizabeth Goldberg at egoldberg@associated.org or 410-369-9428. Volunteers can also walk in on Sunday.

mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

Bucking The Trend

The lawn and driveway were packed Sept. 4 for the UMd. Hillel’s welcome barbecue. (Photos by David Stuck)

The lawn and driveway were packed Sept. 4 for the UMd. Hillel’s welcome barbecue. (Photos by David Stuck)

When the American Studies Association decided last winter to endorse the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the rhetoric among many Israel advocacy organizations suggested that the Jewish state was at risk of becoming a target in the world of academia. But what was a just a possibility when students all across the country left for summer break has become a more immediate concern as students return for the fall semester.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza generated a slew of negative coverage over the summer and, observers note, groups aligned with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement are pursuing their campaign against Israel with renewed vigor.

“It’s difficult,” Aviva Slomich, international director of campus outreach for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), said of the experience of students who want to advocate on behalf of Israel. “Even on a campus that’s pretty peaceful, you’re talking about a serious subject.”

Last month, CAMERA held its annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference in Boston with 50 students from around the United States and Canada. Slomich said she hopes students walked away with even more confidence this year than in years past. In addition to the regular programs that the organization has had success with in the past, this year’s event featured some new additions, like tips on how to successfully debate and a program called My Zionism.

“It’s basically taking back the word ‘Zionism’ and being proud of the meaning of the word,” explained Slomich. “It’s something one would be proud to be recognized as, unlike what people are trying to smear it as, as a dirty word.”

Another project drew on the experiences of young people recently returned from trips to Israel and was called Witnesses of History. Students who attended the conference heard from others who had seen the Gaza conflict firsthand and could relay what it was like to be in Israel during the 50-day war.

“The goal is to get the voices out of the people who’ve experienced it,” Slomich said. “We have to make people understand that Israel is a very happy country.”

Prior to the convention, CAMERA received multiple letters from students who expressed nervousness about heading back to school. By the end of the conference though, Slomich said she felt the overall confidence of the students rise.

In Maryland, local college students have been following the news from other campuses, but say they feel lucky to attend school in an environment that is generally very supportive of Israel.

“We’re very fortunate,” said Michael Krasna, a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, from Boca Raton, Fla. At UMd., the student
population is nearly one-quarter Jewish, according to 2013 Hillel figures. “There’s not a lot [of student bodies] like this.”

Krasna, who worked at a table at the UMd. Hillel’s new student barbecue last week, described the College Park campus as “peaceful” and largely “a-political.” He said he was shocked to hear about some of the things that have been happening on other campuses around the country.

Late last month, Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent reported that a Jewish student at Temple University who was a CAMERA campus fellow was
hit in the face by another student standing at a Students for Justice in Palestine table during a verbal altercation between the pair. The incident occurred at the school’s move-in day student activities fair. The student alleged that he was also the recipient of anti-Semitic slurs hurled at him by the assailant and SJP members, but Temple’s SJP denied the use of hate speech and instead insisted the student had been harassing the organization’s table.

Elsewhere, pro-Palestinian students have held rallies on campuses, dispensed mock “eviction notices” to students and staffed fake check points they say symbolize the experiences of Palestinians living under Israeli control.

Krasna said he is confident in UMd.’s pro-Israel lean — the president of the university attended last year’s Hillel welcome barbecue and gave an impassioned pro-Israel talk — but he isn’t ruling out the possibility that things could be different this year, given the most recent conflict.

Amna Farooqi, a junior, has noticed one difference this school year in the two weeks she’s been back on campus.

“If anything, more people are definitely interested,” she said.

Farooqi manned the J Street U table at Hillel’s barbeque. She said the group — which is affiliated with the national J Street organization that recently failed to gain membership to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations over charges that it was not sufficiently pro-Israel in its outlook — plans to hold some debriefing events in the upcoming weeks to provide students with a space where they can feel comfortable asking questions and learning about the conflict.

“A lot of people have questions,” she said. “We want to give people that space.”

Capital Classrooms

Students and staff celebrate the new Jewish Education Center of Anne Arundel County. (Allie Freedman)

Students and staff celebrate the new Jewish Education Center of Anne Arundel County. (Photos by Allie Freedman)

The rabbi blows the shofar, the musical director belts out “Shalom Aleichem” and a new Hebrew school in Annapolis is born.

On Sept. 7, 108-year-old Kneseth Israel held an opening ceremony to launch its inaugural year as the Jewish Education Center of Anne Arundel County (JEC). The Sunday morning event invited students, parents and staff to commemorate the historic synagogue’s new addition.

Holding classes for kindergarten through grade 7 and youth programs for grades 8 through 12, the new religious school will bring more Jewish programming to Maryland’s state capital. After constructing and approving an eruv around Annapolis earlier this year, Kneseth Israel’s Rabbi Moshe Weisblum looks forward to expanding the Annapolis Jewish community even further.

“This is a big historical moment for our synagogue,” said Weisblum. “It is another dream come true for me. My shirt reads, ‘Chai Achievers of the Jewish Education Center of Anne Arundel County.’ I wear it proud.”

Handpicked by Weisblum, JEC’s director of education, Ellyn Kaufman, has 38 years of Jewish education experience, 13 of which are in Anne Arundel County. When she joined the JEC team, she expected to run a small religious school. However, as word spread about the school, so did the number of enrolled students.

“We started with just seven students, but the number kept growing and growing,” said Kaufman. “Right now, we have 46 students, but it might increase even more.”

Working closely with the new director, kindergarten and first grade religious school teacher Mariel Evers credits Kaufman’s visions and ideas as part of the school’s rising success.

“Ellen grew the whole school,” said Evers. “She makes the whole place come alive.”

From parading the incoming students in matching t-shirts to meeting this year’s teachers for the first time, Sunday’s opening ceremony was a small slice of the 2014-2015 school year. The school’s core curriculum focuses on Jewish holidays, fundamental values, religious customs, Hebrew, Israel and Torah. While the students eat apples and honey during recess and create Shabbat boxes filled with Kiddush cups and candlesticks, JEC takes a hands-on approach to teaching.

It recruited baritone opera singer, actor and voice teacher Shouvik Mondle to lead its children’s choir. Born in Calcutta, India, Mondle has entertained in operas around the world, and most recently, trained children to star on Broadway.

“I used to work with, teach and train children who starred in Billy Elliot and Mary Poppins on Broadway,” said Mondle. “Music is my passion, and I cannot wait to work the students at Kneseth Israel.”

Supplementary Sunday activities help advance the student’s education. Other activities include Jewish baking lessons, arts and crafts and monthly Israeli dancing.

“This school has already gone above and beyond my expectations,” said Kaufman. “Although I was a little hesitant to start a Hebrew school at first, I am so blessed that Rabbi Weisblum chose me.”

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

The Beatles Are Back In B’More

Morton Tadder views images he took at the September 1964 Baltimore  Beatles concert and press conference. Photos will be on exhibit and for  sale at Unicorn Studio Gallery & Frame Shop beginning Sept. 14. (Melissa Gerr)

Morton Tadder views images he took at the September 1964 Baltimore
Beatles concert and press conference. Photos will be on exhibit and for
sale at Unicorn Studio Gallery & Frame Shop beginning Sept. 14. (Melissa Gerr)

Fifty years ago, on Sept. 13, 1964, when the Beatles played to a screaming crowd at the Baltimore Civic Center, photographer Morton Tadder found himself in the right place at the right time — but for Tadder, who is no stranger to serendipity, his accidental attendance at the event was business as usual.

This month, 50 of Tadder’s images from the concert are on exhibit and sale, some for the first time ever, at Patrick Hill’s Unicorn Studio Gallery & Frame Shop in Fells Point.

Tadder, 86, now a resident in Cross Keys, grew up in Pikesville and has captured famous faces and glitterati for most of his life. He was first exposed to photography at about 14 when he answered an ad to assist Leon Perskie “to develop film and wash [film] tanks for 50 cents an hour.” He continued practicing photography in the military, but only by chance. Tadder was at Fort Meade for classification when an old camp counselor recognized him and stamped his assignment papers “critically needed specialist.” Suddenly, Tadder was a military photographer.

After a short-lived military career, Tadder began studies at Johns Hopkins University, when, he recalled, “this hand grabs me. It was Mr. Perskie,” who begged Tadder to quit school and work with him.

“We’re going to photograph the inauguration for the president of the U.S.,” Perskie told Tadder.

Just before the scheduled shoot, Perskie, who was the official photographer for four Democratic presidents, hurt his back and sent Tadder by himself to photograph Harry S. Truman. Since then, Tadder has photographed several other presidents, including John F. Kennedy; Queen Elizabeth II; performers Red Skelton, Arthur Godfrey, Pat Boone and Cary Grant, and spent 44 years photographing the Orioles. He was also sent to Cuba at a moment’s notice to photograph Fidel Castro.

“I’m like a movie, I really, really am,” said Tadder, seemingly surprised himself by the parade of events that have filled his career.

Tadder also shot for the Baltimore Playboy Club for seven years. He explained that the space required for lights and camera gear prevented him from shooting on location at the club, so Playboy bunnies would arrive at his studio dressed in their work clothes with just an overcoat, then remove the coats for the photo shoot.

“I could tell they were flashing the men … when I’d hear the yelling from the lobby of the studio,” he said, laughing.

Also read, THEY CHANGED EVERYTHING.

When Tadder wound up at the Beatles concert in 1964, he was a photographer with the Phil Burchman Agency, which Tadder described as a photography clearinghouse. He was sent to the downtown Holiday Inn across from the Civic Center to cover an assignment. But there was a bit of a ruckus because of a British rock and roll band that was in town.

“I called the [agency] and they said go ahead, but no one really wanted the [Beatles] photos for any reason,” Tadder recalled of the conversation, “but go ahead and take some. They told me to just shoot a single roll of film.”

So he grabbed a four-foot ladder he kept in his car and his cameras and went toward the Civic Center, now called the Baltimore Arena.

“There was all this screaming … I didn’t know what the hell was going on,” Tadder recalled. “So I went 25 feet up in the aisle, put up my ladder, there were four security people coming so I just took the picture of the girls screaming at me.”

Ultimately Tadder shot six rolls of film, covering one of two concerts and the band’s press conference in between performances. The Sun Newspapers hadn’t sent a photographer to the event, he said, and “[they] asked me to write 100 words about the experience.” Regarding his time spent photographing John, Paul, George and Ringo, Tadder remarked that “they were just a bunch of nice kids.”

The negatives might still be tucked away in a drawer somewhere if it weren’t for Tadder’s assistant from 1987 to 1996, Lillian Crowley, who was thorough on her follow-up of a request from an agency.

“When you’re searching for stock images, you look through everything. Even things that don’t make sense, just in case,” recalled Crowley who now owns Lombard Hardware with her husband, Ken. “The folder said Beatles, but [as late as 1987 or 1988] you’re not thinking [it’s] the band.”

She looked through the pile of negatives on the light table when her husband came in, who is about nine years older.

“So my husband is looking at them and said, ‘This is the real Beatles! These have never been seen?’” she recalled. “My husband was really going crazy, and asked ‘Can we make some prints?’”

A handful of images were printed and exhibited at the Prince Charming Gallery in Mount Vernon, part of Tadder’s studio at the time.

“Morton was so cool to work with we had a ball,” said Crowley. “He still has the energy of a 30-year-old.”

Also read, The Beatles’ Jewish Roots.

Images of the band wandering around the basement of the Holiday Inn are some of the more private moments and most collectible of the images, described Tadder. There is one shot featuring John Lennon standing indoors, wearing sunglasses and holding a drink while other band members mill around, and another image of someone leaning into the Beatle’s limo to shake a hand. The exhibit includes these images and more of the concert, the fans and the press conference.

One piece, however, offers a historical arc that connects the work of Tadder to that of his son. A successful Los Angeles-based commercial photographer, Tim Tadder has established his name with highly-stylized images featuring famous athletes from all disciplines in ad campaigns.

In 2005, the son “took a picture of [Paul] McCartney onstage at the Super Bowl in a pose that looks almost exactly like” a photo the father took of the singer in 1964, said Tadder. A composite of the two photos is included in the exhibit at the Unicorn Studio Gallery & Frame Shop.

Patrick Hill’s Unicorn Studio Gallery & Frame Shop

626 S. Broadway • Baltimore, MD 21231

Exhibit opens on Sunday September 14, 2014 • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Regular gallery hours • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. • Tues. through Sat.

Morton Tadder’s Beatles rare, limited-edition prints will be on view through December.

For info call 410-675-5412 • Orders for prints and framing are available through the gallery.

mgerr@jewishtimes.com

They Changed Everything

When The Beatles came to the Civic Center in September 1964, Jim Brazier wasn’t a huge fan, but he and a friend wanted to see what all the “Beatlemania” fuss was about.

“It was a phenomenon and I wanted to catch it,” says Brazier, a Baltimore native who now lives in Annapolis.

Although he and his friend were in their 20s, older than a majority of the screaming girls in their pre-teen and teen years, they went down there and either snuck in or had an usher who they knew get them in.

At the time, Brazier was playing in an R&B band that played songs by the likes of James Brown and others, and thought the Beatles were “hillbilly music,” he says.

“We were a band with a horn section and we thought we were hot s—t,” he says. “I thought they were a flash in the pan, gonna have a couple of hits and be over with. I didn’t think anyone with any musical chops would take them seriously. Shows you what I know.”

Also among the crowd that night was a 14-year-old Debe Stagmer, who was already a big Beatles fan. She claims she and her friend only “hollered a little bit.”

“You could hardly hear, the screaming was just unreal,” she recalls.

But as the show went on, she and her friend got closer and could hear the band somewhat.

“They sounded really wonderful,” says Stagmer. “From what I remember, it was just really really awesome.”

At the time, each girl had her particular Beatle crush.

“You were either into Paul because he was cute or you were into John because he was kind of the brainy one; George was the deep, silent one,” says Stagmer, a Hereford resident who grew up in Annapolis. “I just liked Ringo because he was goofy; he was always goofy and he had this funny head shake and when he sang, it was obvious he had a good voice.”

Although Stagmer grew up listening to folk music, she says the Beatles were contagious with their catchy songs; their music became a huge part of her teenage years.

“It’s like the soundtrack of our lives,” she says. “It’s like when I hear a certain song I’m immediately remembering a period in my life.”

It wasn’t much long after that concert that Brazier came around as well.

“I think the first thing I heard on the radio that made me think they were more than just a flash in the pan,” says Brazier, “was that show tune ‘Til There Was You,’ and I think, ‘This guy can really sing.’”

He found himself drawn to their simplicity in the beginning and after following the Beatles a bit, he realized “these guys are phenomenal. Every song, every album. Everything they did was magic.”

“It was a great time to be alive and witness that happen,” he says. “They not only changed [music], they changed everything. They changed the way people wore their hair, the way people dressed; they changed people’s attitudes.”

Brazier, still a Beatles devotee, even had a brush with the Fab Four that night back in 1964. He and his friend wandered over to the Holiday Inn where they heard the band was staying
and took the elevator up to the floor where the after-party was.

When they found the after-party, a security guard with a clipboard wouldn’t let them in. As they tried to grace their way into the party, George Harrison and Ringo Starr walked by smoking cigarettes, and Brazier and his friend waved at them. Although the two Beatles tried to get them in, the man with the clipboard wouldn’t listen.

“They didn’t have the clout then. It was cool just to see them, that they were actually real,” Brazier says. “They shrugged and went, ‘Ya know, sorry mate,’ George and Ringo puffing away, smoking their cigarettes.”

The Beatles’ Jewish Roots

Rabbi Lionel Chiswell, born in Liverpool England, attended the same  synagogue as Beatles manager Brian Epstein. (Marc Shapiro)

Rabbi Lionel Chiswell, born in Liverpool England, attended the same synagogue as Beatles manager Brian Epstein. (Marc Shapiro)

Congregants at the Greenbank Drive Synagogue in Liverpool, England, always knew when the Epstein family had arrived for Shabbat services.

“They all dressed in sync. The old man, Harry, and his sons Brian and Clive dressed with a nice black jacket and pinstripe trousers and … a bowler [hat], and they looked immaculate,” said Rabbi Lionel Chiswell, a Liverpool native who attended Greenbank Drive. “And everyone used to look in the audience and wink to each other, ‘The Epsteins have arrived.’ It’s almost like royalty.”

That Brian Epstein would later go on to manage arguably the most iconic band in musical history — the Beatles.

While some of the band’s Jewish connections are more widely known — Epstein’s Orthodoxy, Paul McCartney’s marriages to Jewish women, including his current wife Nancy Shevell, and Ringo Starr’s half-Jewish wife, Barbara Bach — the early days of the Beatles saw them performing at a Jewish-owned club, at Jewish community events and even generating a buzz in England’s yeshiva community.

Chiswell, 75, who first came to the United States in 1966 and has lived in Baltimore since 1993, was the same age as Epstein’s younger brother Clive and went to school and synagogue with Alan Swerdlow, a friend of Epstein and John Lennon who photographed the Beatles in the early days. While Chiswell had started rabbinical college in 1956 and left Liverpool to pursue the rabbinate in 1962, his visits home from school and stories from those who knew the Beatles kept him in the loop about Beatlemania. Chiswell now lives in Pikesville and is a member of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion.

Before Epstein became the Beatles’ manager, he was working in his family’s furniture store business. As it expanded, he became a manager at what they named NEMS (North End Music Stores).

“Brian was interested in classical music as was the whole family,” Chiswell said. “They had a furniture store and Brian was put in charge of the record department. People had to get with it because people were buying as much furniture as they were buying records. Lots of furniture stores went into having a corner for records. Basically, people were into the classical.”

But as early as the 1950s, American rock and roll started making its way to England. Chiswell recalls hearing artists like Little Richard and Elvis Presley. But as the English rock scene took hold, customers started to come in asking for rock records, including the Beatles. Those requests, and some buzz in local press, led Epstein to seek out one of the band’s performances at the Cavern Club.

The club, which opened at 10 Matthew Street in 1957 as a jazz club, later became a hub in the Liverpool rock scene, hosting the Beatles almost 300 times.

“You did go down steps. It’s below ground level and they called it Cavern. I once visited it,” Chiswell said. “It was a street tucked off a street which was tucked off. I think the only thing that was allowed to go in that street were the trucks dropping things off. It was an underground little warehouse.”

While Chiswell said Swerdlow, who went to Quarry Bank High School and later the Liverpool College of Art with John Lennon, offered to connect Epstein with the Cavern Club’s manager, the story goes that it was the editor of the local music publication that ultimately took Epstein to the club. The club’s manager, Alan Sytner, was also a member of the Greenbank Drive Synagogue.

Chiswell’s one visit to the Cavern was for coffee and a pastry. Sytner knew a lot of Jewish people kept kosher away from home so he’d allow them to patronize the café without buying full meals, Chiswell said. Since he was a rabbinical student and not going out to clubs and concerts, he never did see the band perform.

After seeing the band on Nov. 9, 1961, Epstein signed them in January 1962.

“It surprised his father,” Chiswell said of Epstein going into managing bands. “We say amongst ourselves, the Liverpool club, that Brian saw a mint when he looked at the four guys.”

The Epstein family was highly regarded at the Greenbank Drive Synagogue. Epstein’s father worked his way up to the equivalent of synagogue president and for a couple of years was one of two people who would stand on either side while the Torah was read. Chiswell said the father had enormous respect for rabbis, and with Chiswell also being a kohain, the elder Epstein would be the one who called Chiswell up for an aliyah.

Swerdlow ran the synagogue’s youth dances, which would be held on Saturday nights in the winter time, Chiswell said. Because of his friendship with John Lennon, Chiswell said the Beatles may have played at the synagogue, although he’s not sure. What he is sure of is that the Beatles played at an annual boat ride on the River Mersey that the Jewish community of Liverpool held in 1962.

Chiswell said that although the Beatles were riding high with hit records, they performed again the next year because of a promise they made.

Although Epstein was not as religious as the Beatles’ fame grew, he joined a synagogue in London when he and the band moved there. Chiswell had previously served as a rabbinical apprentice at the synagogue, St. John’s Wood Synagogue, which was on Abbey Road about a block from the famous recording studio.

“When I see that picture of them crossing, I know every stone,” Chiswell said of the “Abbey Road” album cover. “I crossed many times.”

To read more of Rabbi Lionel Chiswell’s recollections of the Fab Four, read this story.

mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

Truthseekers Among Us

Millennial Voices, a new program conceived by the staff of the Jewish Community Services prevention education department, is geared toward teens and young adults and designed to create safe spaces and modes of communication that allow members of the millennial generation to unburden themselves, receive support and make meaningful connections with others.

On Saturday night, Sept. 20, at Baltimore City’s Creative Alliance, Millennial Voices will present an interactive event featuring live performances by local artists who will “speak their truths” through various disciplines of performance.

Howard Reznick, JCS senior manager of prevention education; Sara Feldman, outreach supervisor for Join for Teens; and Serena Shapero, JCS health educator, have worked to think outside the box in order to design a project that would appeal to the age group.

The first phase of the evolving project began with an idea borrowed from Frank Warren of Germantown, Md. In 2004, Warren started the PostSecret Project and encouraged others to send him their secrets on postcards that didn’t reveal their identities. Since he began collecting them, Warren has received over 700,000 postcards. He has also published five New York Times bestselling books that compile — in his opinion — the most remarkable of the secrets.

“Intimacy is changing due to social media,” said Shapero. “Millennials may seem like they are communicating all the time, but communicating through social media is not always the same as communicating face-to-face. For example, last year, my mother passed away. I got like a million Facebook messages but only one person came to visit me at my house.”

“People think that [Facebook messages] are as far as they need to go [to show support],” agreed Feldman.

“Partly it’s a cultural shift,” explained Reznick. “As mental health practitioners, we want people to know it’s okay to be real, to connect with others, to come out from hiding behind the electronics. … We humanoids kind of need live communication.”

Some people create an online identity impossible to live up to in their actual lives, explained Shapero. For example, she said, social media users often photoshop their images so they appear more attractive than they are. Shapero admitted she deleted her own Facebook page for a year, when she found herself becoming too absorbed with her online presence.

Facebook users may also shape their online images to make themselves appear happier than they really are. Reznick said that he has observed this in his clients.

“I had one client who was planning to get engaged. Building up to the engagement, she was presenting this image that all was honky-dory,” said Reznick. “But as the therapist, I knew she was having grave doubts about the marriage. This is the world in which we’re living. How can we bring our social media selves and our real selves into alignment?”

Despite recognition of the risks posed by social media, both Shapero and Feldman are millennials and avid users of social media. Millennial Voices uses online tools such as YouTube and Twitter and platforms such as IfIknew.org and Joinfor Teens.org to facilitate prevention education and as catalysts for genuine communication.

“I think for some people who don’t have great communication skills, social media helps them to communicate. We want to reach people where they are,” said Feldman. “Maybe they’re not ready to share their secret face-to-face.

“But perhaps they are willing to share their secret by writing it on an anonymous postcard,” she added. “It’s a great first step.”

So Feldman, her colleagues and Millennial Voices volunteers went to local universities and gave out postcards that read, “If you really knew me, you would know …” to random students. When students returned their completed postcards, Feldman, Shapero and Reznick were struck by the depth and honesty of the responses they received.

So far, the team has received more than 1,000 postcards with many different secrets. For example, the anonymous participants, who also have the option of participating online, have expressed secrets about feelings of stress and anxiety, concerns about the future, being sexually abused, their addictions and shame about their sexual orientations.

“I’ve become much more accepting,” said Feldman. “You never know what someone is going through.”

In the second phase of Millennial Voices, the Mitchell David Teen Center and IfIknew.org, both JCS prevention education programs, facilitated group conversations where postcards were shuffled and handed out to participants, who were then asked to read them aloud. This provided an opportunity to discuss secrets without revealing the identities of the writers.

At the Millennial Voices launch event at Creative Alliance, staff and Millennial Voices ambassadors will showcase the postcards collected and feature performances by Brooks Long and the Mad Dog No Good, Christina Kim, Harmonic Blue, Kosha Dilz, Love the Poet, Queen Earth, Red Hot Blue and SOFSPOKEN. The emcee for the evening will be rap artist Timmy Grins.

Partner organizations include JCS, AVAM, Baltimore Love Project, Charm City Tribe, Creative Alliance, Georgetown University Health Education Services, Goucher College, Towson University, UMBC Hillel, Moishe House Baltimore, the Gathering, Documented Video Productions, Goucher ACE, IMPACT Society, Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, the Nikki Perlow Foundation, PostSecret, the Umbrella Syndicate, JQ Baltimore, Repair the World, Baltimore Single Carrot Theatre and IMPACT: The Young Adult Division of The Associated. Each partner organization will make 10-second video spots for the Millennial Voices website, still in development.

After the event, JCS staff will work with volunteers, and partner organizations to take the project to the next level.

“We don’t want to plan too much, because we want to be guided by the needs of the young people who are involved in the movement,” said Feldman.

sellin@jewishtimes.com

Cardin Opens Brotherhood Calendar

Opening dinner attendees included (from left, seated) Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Brotherhood president Greg Hill, Liora Hill, Rabbi Andrew Busch, Sen. Ben Cardin, Myrna Cardin, senatorial assistant Renee Cohen and (standing) Brotherhood executive vice president Sidney Bravmann and Diane Bravmann.

Opening dinner attendees included (from left, seated) Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Brotherhood president Greg Hill, Liora Hill, Rabbi Andrew Busch, Sen. Ben Cardin, Myrna Cardin, senatorial assistant Renee Cohen and (standing) Brotherhood executive vice president Sidney Bravmann and Diane Bravmann.

More than 140 people filled Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Sunday night to hear U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) talk about foreign relations and domestic policy.

Coming just hours before Congress was scheduled to return from a five-week vacation, Cardin’s address headlined the opening dinner of the BHC brotherhood’s 96th year.

Cardin, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opened his talk by discussing the recent conflict in Gaza.

The de-militarization of Gaza must be one of Congress’ top priorities this session, said Cardin. The United Nations is “anything but objective when it comes to these accusations,” he added, referring to the international organization’s criticism of Israel. Consequently, he suggested NATO be tasked with the de-militarization process.

Cardin later elaborated on his criticism of the U.N. when, after the floor opened for questions, a dinner attendee asked why the U.S. did not just leave the organization.

“There’s no question that the U.N. is just horrible to Israel,” said Cardin. Part of the reason behind the international body’s harshness toward Israel, he suggested, has to do with the religious and cultural makeup of the U.N.

“They do that because there are more Muslims in the world than there are Jews,” he said.

However, Cardin pointed out, he will be on the next Senate delegation to the U.N. and he wants to address this hostility

“There must be a price to pay for countries that blindly follow this anti-Israel sentiment in the United Nations,” he charged. Another major topic of conversation was healthcare.

“Was it perfect? No,” Cardin said of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act last fall. But the ACA will not be repealed, he continued, so Democrats and Republicans will need to find a way to cross party lines and work together to make sure the American people receive the maximum benefit.

One dinner attendee who also works at a local hospital asked Cardin about Maryland’s health care wavier, which rewards hospitals for keeping people out of the hospital rather than tying funding to the volume of people admitted. The questioner charged that the new system essentially requires hospitals to cut their budget every year.

Cardin responded by defending the waiver, which he played a role in approving while he was still in the Maryland state legislature.

“How’s it going to play out? I’m not sure, because there’s risk factors,” he said. “But if we do it right, we’re going to be a model for the whole rest of the country.”

Another questioner asked about the criticism President Barack Obama has faced from many in the Jewish community over Israel. In recent months, some have accused Obama of being unsupportive of Israel and an August survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press revealed that 45 percent of Republicans believe Obama had been favoring the Palestinian side too much over the course of the summer conflict.

“It’s hard for me to understand,” Cardin told the brotherhood and their guests.

He said he has talked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that the leader has been nothing but pleased with Obama’s handling of the situation.

He added that part of the fuel contributing to the anti-Obama fire might be politicians and partisans trying to use the international conflict to advance their own politics.

Cardin was 96th in a long line of past speakers at BHC that include people from all kinds of professions, from politicians to sports personalities to religious figures. While brotherhoods are struggling to maintain membership in other parts of the country, the men of BHC’s brotherhood say their organization is thriving.

“It’s wonderful comradery,” said Ira Kolman, a past-president of the brotherhood. The group has seen numbers drop in the past few decades, but has still stayed strong in comparison to other brotherhoods, he said.

“You can’t help but to become embedded,” past brotherhood president Joe Boccuzzi said of the effect of becoming involved in the organization. “In the end, you have a tie to the Jewish community.”

hnorris@jewishtimes.com

Outbreak Strikes Campers

This Gram-stained photomicrograph depicts Bordetella pertussis bacteria, which is the etiologic pathogen for pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

This Gram-stained photomicrograph depicts Bordetella pertussis bacteria, which is the etiologic pathogen for pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

An outbreak involving at least 15 cases of whooping cough in Montgomery County is being traced back to a teenager who attended Capital Camps, which just announced the resignation of its camp director.

Pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, is highly contagious and is transmitted through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. It also can be spread by sharing food or eating utensils with someone who has whooping cough, according to health officials.

It generally starts like a cold, with a runny nose. The first symptoms do not appear for some seven to 10 days. Within one to two weeks, a low-grade fever and a cough usually begin. As the disease progresses, the cough can be so severe that a person may vomit or crack ribs following a coughing fit.

“We have whooping cough cases every year,” said Mary Anderson, spokesperson for the Montgomery County health department. But “this is the first, I would say, outbreak in a number of years that people can remember.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is conducting an investigation into the outbreak as the camp is located in Waynesboro, Pa. A spokesman for that department said his office “cannot confirm or deny” any confirmed cases or details due to confidentiality concerns.

However, Anderson said that there have been confirmed cases at seven Montgomery County schools as of Tuesday, including Cabin John, Julius West and Robert Frost middle schools and Wootton, Walter Johnson and Sherwood high schools. Cold Spring Elementary School also has had a case. Those affected range in age from 9 to 18 years.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax, Va., also reported a case of whooping cough that could be traced back to Capital Camps, which is supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, and draws campers from both locales.

Reached on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Baltimore County Department of Health said that two potentially unrelated cases of whooping cough had been reported in the county since the beginning of June, but could not release details of those cases. Baltimore area Jewish schools, including the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and Krieger Schechter Day School, reported that they had not seen any cases of whooping cough among students since the beginning of the school year.

Parents who suspect their child may have whooping cough are urged to go to their doctor. It can be treated through antibiotics. The persons most vulnerable to serious problems are those whose immune systems are weakened, including infants and older adults.

No child was diagnosed with whooping cough while at Capital Camps, said Jonah Geller, the organization’s executive director.

“We had no idea while she was with us that she had whooping cough,” he said of the camper who was first traced back to the camp after coming down with whooping cough after she had left.

Geller said he was informed by the Montgomery County health department that 14 of the 15 cases could be traced back to attendees at the camp’s second session, which ended Aug. 10.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person with pertussis can infect up to 12 to 15 other people.

Capital Camps is accredited by the American Camp Association and therefore requires all its campers to submit medical forms that include their immunization history, said Geller. Everyone at Capital Camps “absolutely’ had the required vaccinations, including the 14 children who were diagnosed with whooping cough, he said.

The CDC calls pertussis vaccines “effective, but not perfect,” noting that protection decreases over time, a phenomenon called waning immunity.

“Vaccinating is not always a 100-percent guarantee that you won’t get an illness,” said Anderson.

Before the vaccine was widely available, in the 1940s, about 200,000 children became sick and about 9,000 died annually from whooping cough. Currently, there are between 10,000 and 40,000 cases reported each year and fewer than 20 deaths, according to the CDC.

One father, whose high school child had cold-like symptoms but was tested and found not to have whooping cough, said his daughter was placed on antibiotics after camp was over but before school started.

He praised Capital Camps, saying it handled the problem well. There was excellent contact between the camp and campers, he said. “They let us know. They were very, very professional about it.”

At least two emails were sent to parents or guardians to keep them abreast of the situation. Included in an Aug. 25 email was a fact sheet on pertussis and a list of Pennsylvania Department of Health recommendations on what to look for and what to do.

The Sept. 9 email, which was signed by Geller, expressed concern for those affected. “Please know that we are thinking of your children and your family, and we wish everyone affected a speedy recovery,” it said.

The day before, another email was sent out to campers and their families announcing the resignation of camp director Sam Roberts, who started work there in October 2011. Roberts said he was leaving to spend more time with his family, which includes a young son and a daughter.

“Being a camp director is not only a full-time job, but it requires total and complete commitment,” Roberts wrote. “Because of this, I have not always been able to be a part of the lives of my own children, family and friends.”

In a telephone interview, Roberts explained that as much as he has loved Jewish camping his entire life, it has become too difficult to hold a job for which he lives away from home during the camping season, especially because his oldest child is only 4 years old.

“I want to be the best dad and husband I can be,” he said.

While he said he had many great memories, his favorite times at Capital Camps are “that moment when that shy anxious child becomes the child that leads.”

Geller said Roberts’ decision to leave was his own, and that Roberts told him when his children are a little older, he plans to send them to Capital Camps.

“Being a camp director is a very demanding position,” Geller said.

Besides being available continually throughout the camping season, Roberts also had to spend the off season recruiting new campers, which often took place on weekends.

Geller also emailed those involved with the camps to “express my sincere gratitude to Sam for his efforts and accomplishments during the past three years as our camp director. Under Sam’s leadership, we increased the number of our campers, our summer staff retention rate and the overall positive energy and atmosphere of camp.”

spollak@washingtonjewishweek.com

alaz@washingtonjewishweek.com