Soul Daughter Sings

Neshama Carlebach (Photo Michael Albany)

Neshama Carlebach (Photo Michael Albany)

At 39, Neshama Carlebach says she is seeing herself clearly for the first time. The daughter of the legendary “Singing Rabbi,” Shlomo Carlebach, and a successful vocal artist in her own right, she will perform at Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia on March 8. As Beth Shalom’s scholar-in-residence, and in observance of Shabbat Across America and Canada — a continentwide event to unite Jews of all denominations — Carlebach also will participate in and perform at a congregational Shabbat dinner on Friday night, March 7 and during Friday and Saturday morning Shabbat services that weekend.

Ivy Konel, Beth Shalom’s president, said that the congregation has long included Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s music in its services.

“We are so excited to have Neshama come to Beth Shalom,” said Konel. “It will be a great way to reconnect with one another.”

The performances come in advance of Neshama Carlebach’s new album, “Soul Daughter,” which features music from “Soul Doctor,” the 2013 Broadway musical about her father that she co-created. Carlebach said the album, to be released later this spring, reflects her inward journey.

“I am just coming back to work after a year off, and I’m feeling very serious about my Jewish journey,” she said. “There have been a lot of changes in my life, and I’ve become a bit disenfranchised from the Modern Orthodoxy with which I grew up.”

In addition to her religious transformation, Carlebach said she has been dealing with the end of her marriage and finally coming to grips with the death of her father, who passed away 20 years ago.

“After my father died, my first solo concert came 30 days later. I sang through death, pregnancies and two babies,” she said. “I started singing at 20 and never before had the heart to stop and look at my life. I mourned my father for the first time, and I dealt with my deepest self. It was a gift.

“When I decided to turn the light on, I had to be honest with myself,” she continued. “I couldn’t ignore the fact that much of my life was wrong. Like many other people are, I was a stranger to myself. It’s been the most painful but the most worthwhile time in my life.”

In December, Carlebach made headlines in the Jewish media when she announced her “aliyah” to Reform Judaism. The announcement was lauded by some and criticized by others, but Carlebach is quick to point out that both she and her late father have been known to step outside the boundaries of Orthodox Judaism before.

“When I was growing up, my father was always on the edge, and he was often attacked for his choices,” she explained. “He searched for a new path and looked for ways to unite. He got into a lot of trouble. It was only after he died that many of his detractors accepted him.”

Recently, Carlebach became the first woman to sing for the March of the Living, a Holocaust education program that takes participants to the sites of concentration camps in Poland and then on to Israel. She also performed in Japan as part of an interfaith program called Prayer for Peace.

For the past eight years, Carlebach has collaborated with Rev. Roger Hambrick and the Green Pastures Baptist Choir. The album, “Higher & Higher,” that grew out of the musical collaboration was an official entrant in the 2011 Grammy Awards. Carlebach said she feels most Jewish and closest to God when singing with the choir.

Carlebach’s new album was produced by Josh Nelson, another frequent collaborator. She described the music on the recording as vulnerable, organic and more contemporary than her previous records.

“My band is incredible; they’re some of the best musicians in New York,” she said. When she performs at Beth Shalom, Carlebach will be performing songs from the new album.

“I feel very blessed to be able to offer my music, and I’m looking forward to coming” to the Baltimore area, she said. “Expect to be moved.”

Jewish Museum Buys Building Next to Synagogue

The new purchase will allow the Jewish Museum to install an elevator for the synagogue’s handicapped visitors. (Google Maps)

The new purchase will allow the Jewish Museum to install an elevator for the synagogue’s handicapped visitors. (Google Maps)

The Jewish Museum of Maryland purchased the warehouse directly north of the Lloyd Street Synagogue at an auction in late February.

The 4,800-square foot warehouse, located at 5 Lloyd Street, will allow handicap access to the Lloyd Street Synagogue, said Marvin Pinkert, the museum’s executive director. The purchase price at the Feb. 27 auction was $315,000.

“We have been talking about the question of the surrounding area to the museum for some time,” said Pinkert. “The building has been mentioned a number of times because, realistically, it’s the only space that would permit … ADA access to the historic synagogue so you wouldn’t have to invade the historic space.”

The new acquisition will allow the museum to install an elevator that would bring handicapped visitors into the synagogue. Pinkert expects the Lloyd Street Synagogue, which was built in 1845, to remain the cornerstone of the museum into the future.

Two of the four buildings owned by the museum — the main museum building and Lenny’s Deli on Lombard Street — are ADA accessible, but the Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel Congregation, a modern Orthodox synagogue, are not.

Pinkert said the museum, which is enjoying a 32 percent increase in visitors since last year, is working with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore on a plan for the building. Possibilities include using it for storage or knocking it down and building a new structure, he said.

Minimum Wage Bill Passes Committee

030714_Minimum-Wage-Bill-Passes-CommitteeMaryland is one step closer to becoming the 22nd state to raise the minimum wage above the federal standard of $7.25.

The House Economic Matters Committee voted 13 to 8 on March 3 to approve legislation backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley that would raise the minimum hourly wage to $10.10 over the course of the next three years.

“No one who works full time should have to raise their family in poverty,” O’Malley said in a statement after the bill was approved. “I commend the members of the committee for their hard work, and I look forward to the bill advancing to a vote before the full House of Delegates.”

The bill didn’t make it through without a couple changes though. Instead of the original July 1, 2014 effective date, the first hike — to $8.20 — will be pushed back to Jan. 1, 2015; and additional hikes — to $9.15 and then $10.10 — will take effect on Jan. 1 of the two subsequent years.

Additionally, exemptions were made for the restaurant industry and businesses with gross incomes less than $250,000. Wages for tipped workers will remain at a minimum $3.63 and employers will be responsible for making up the difference if employees don’t make enough in tips to reach the $10.10 mark. The automatic increase related to inflation, which would have taken effect after 2017 in the original proposal, was also stripped.

Jacob Levin

030714_Jacob-Levin-obitJacob (Jake) Levin was known to family and friends as a man with a huge heart of gold. Levin died March 1 at the age of 98.

Many remember him from his years behind the counter at Levin’s Bakery on Patterson Park and Fairmount avenues or from his longtime membership in the Jewish Educational Alliance. Still, others knew him as the “mayor” of the Envoy of Pikesville, where he was a resident in his last few years.

Levin was quick to offer a warm smile and ready with a joke, always willing to brighten someone’s day.

Family was with him every day at the Envoy and even if he was feeling frail or a bit under the weather, he always had a kind word and showed great care toward others. Levin was also very proud of his Jewish faith, said family members and friends.

At a young age, Levin sold bread and rolls door-to-door to help out the family business during tough times before he was old enough to work at the bakery. When he returned from serving four-and-half years in the military during World War II, he and his wife, Charlotte, took over the bakery from his parents and brought it to greater success. Levin’s Bakery — eventually Levin Brothers — was a fixture in the Jewish community.

Levin created a successful business, raised a caring family, showed unwavering dedication to his parents and served in two wars.

Steve Levin, his son, described his father’s legacy very simply: “He’s led an ordinary life in a very extraordinary way.”

Levin was husband of the late Charlotte Levin (nee Katzoff); father of Stephen Levin and Anita Levin (Harold) Felinton; brother of Irvin (Louise) Levin; grandfather of Joseph Golden and Sara (Adam) Pearlstein; and great-grandfather of Hayden Pearlstein.

That’s Debatable

Pikesville Branch, Baltimore County Public Library  (Photo David Stuck)

Pikesville Branch, Baltimore County Public Library (Photo David Stuck)

It’s rare that the left-leaning J Street, a 5-year-old political advocacy organization that supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the conservative voice in the room. But that was the case on a recent Sunday, when about 75 people gathered at the Pikesville branch of the Baltimore County Public Library to hear Mark Gunnery of the Jewish Voice for Peace and Rebecca Kirzner, J Street’s mid-Atlantic director, debate the merits of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

Sponsored by the Baltimore Jewish Cultural Chavurah, the Feb. 16 gathering in the library’s meeting room did not include a presence from the much-larger American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which will have its annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., at the beginning of March. The event was moderated by the BJCC’s co-president, Bob Jacobson, who noted that his organization does not hold a position on the global BDS campaign that has resulted in several sectors of academia boycotting Israeli professors and high-profile boycotts of businesses in the West Bank.

Jacobson brought with him a handwritten sign that read “Choose Civility,” a nod to the strong emotions that debate on the conflict typically evokes. As it turned out, there was little need for the sign; the crowd was remarkably calm and respectful. Each side spoke for between 15 and 20 minutes, and a long question-and-answer period followed.

Gunnery, who grew up in Pikesville as a member of Beth Tfiloh Congregation and attended Beth Tfiloh Dahan High School, began his presentation by referencing the hypocrisy he sees in the Jewish community’s response to the Middle East crisis.

“I came up with values like respect for human rights, concern for my fellow human being, the need for justice, the yearning for peace. … I learned that the world is ruptured and full of conflict and that it is my responsibility as a human and as a Jew to work toward healing,” he said. “I learned that Jews historically have been at the forefront of struggles for social justice … that we’ve organized in the labor, feminist, environmental, civil rights and gay rights movements; we’ve protested against countless wars; we’ve fought for equality and peace whenever inequality and violence stood in the way. But I also learned that when it came to Israel, it was a different story.”

Gunnery went on to say that JVP supports the use of boycotts, divestments and sanctions designed to influence Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. He explained that JVP’s goals are ending the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands, equality for Arab Israelis and respecting Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

The BDS campaign has earned headlines in recent months due to the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli universities. Conversely, a bill under consideration in the Maryland legislature would disallow public funding for departments in the state university system that support the BDS campaign.

Kirzner, a former Philadelphia public school teacher, shared J Street’s perspective.

“J Street is a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization that supports U.S. advocacy for a negotiated two-state solution for Israel and Palestine,” she said, explaining that her organization opposes the BDS campaign because J Street believes boycotts undermine the achievement of a solution “where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.”

“The two-state solution is the only answer,” said Kirzner. “The BDS movement is agnostic on the issue of a two-state solution, and for me that’s a nonstarter. … The reality on the ground is that this is a conflict between two competing narratives, two competing nationalist narratives, two populations who have claims on the same piece of land and two populations who want their own states.”

Kirzner said that Secretary of State John Kerry’s diplomatic efforts have brought Israel and the Palestinians closer than ever to a solution; she urged American Jews to support the secretary in any way possible.

Home Invasion Shakes Pikesville Community

(Google Maps)

(Google Maps)

A man and his teenage daughter were tied up and robbed after two men forced their way into a home in the 3200 block of Hatton Road in Pikesville Tuesday night.

The men stole computer tablets, jewelry, a camcorder, a wallet, cash, an iPod Touch and a cell phone, according to a statement from Baltimore County police. The suspects moved a television, but did not take it, and fled the scene after the man told them he activated the home’s alarm, police said.

Nathan Willner, a Shomrim spokesman, said the Northern Park Heights community has never seen this type of crime.

“This is extremely frightening and we’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “It’s definitely shaken the community to its core.”

Police believe this may be related to an incident that occurred earlier that evening in the 700 block of Leafydale Terrace in Pikesville.

In the Hatton Road incident, the men knocked on the door at 8:15 p.m., and one was holding an empty cup and asked for some water. The man who answered the door took the cup, and turned to go to the kitchen, at which point the two men entered the home. One of them brandished a handgun, forced the man and his teenage daughter into the living room, tied them up and robbed them, police said. They suffered minor injuries that did not require transport to a medical facility, police said.

Police responded to the scene at 8:36 p.m.

At 7:50 p.m. Tuesday, two men wearing masks and armed with handguns approached a man getting out of his car in front of a home in the 700 block of Leafydale Terrace. They took the man’s cell phone and wallet, walked him to a nearby house and went inside. The robbers noticed many people inside the home, and fled the scene towards Milford Mill Road after one of them commented that there were too many people there, according to police.

The Baltimore County Police Pikesville Precinct Investigative Services Team are investigating the incidents and trying to determine if the victims were targeted, police said.

Shomrim President Ronnie Rosenbluth said that crime in the neighborhood has progressed over the past year from shed break-ins, to burglaries when residents are not home, to burglaries while residents sleep, to this recent incident.

“I haven’t heard of anything like this in the last 25 years in our neighborhood,” he said.

After Shomrim received a call from the family at 8:41 p.m., Rosenbluth sent Shomrim members to the home. Shomrim received another call from a family that said two suspicious men had knocked on their door, and Rosenbluth relayed the description of the men to Shomrim members at the scene, who relayed it to police.

“We followed through and somebody checked in on the family again last night, and we’re hoping these guys get caught,” Rosenbluth said.

He estimated that Shomrim had more than a dozen people on the street last night looking for possible suspects to help police in their investigation.

In the Leafydale Terrace incident, one suspect was described as a black male, 30 to 40 years old, 6 feet tall, was wearing a black leather jacket, ski mask and dark blue jeans and had a silver handgun. The second suspect was described as a black male, 18 to 26 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, was wearing a black jacket, ski mask, black jeans, brown boots and had a dark colored handgun, police said.

In the Hatton Road incident, one suspect is described as a black male, 28 to 30 years old, six feet tall, wearing a black parka-style jacket, a brown mask that covered his face from the nose down, black pants and brown work boots, and had a silver handgun. The second suspect was described as a black male, 18 to 20 years old, 5 feet 10 inches, wearing a black jacket, black mask that covered his face from the nose down and black pants, police said.

Police reminded residents to not open the door for strangers and to report suspicious activity to police. Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call Baltimore County Police at 410-887-1279.

Jewish Hospitality

Rabbi Tsvi G. Schur puts the finishing touches on the suite. (Provided)

Rabbi Tsvi G. Schur puts the finishing touches on the suite. (Provided)

For Sheryl Grossman, a short visit to Baltimore from Morgantown, W. Va., for  a small procedure quickly turned into a nightmare last winter, until Bikur Cholim, the Johns Hopkins Minyan and other local community groups got involved.

“I would not have made it without the generosity of the community,” said Grossman, who came to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in January 2013 with stage IV lymphoma, the sixth of seven cancers she has battled since childhood.

When doctors and staff at Hopkins decided to start her on chemotherapy, Grossman, who made the trip without friends or family, found herself in need of support. She called out for help in a Facebook post, and within a day she was enveloped by a network of volunteers from the Baltimore Jewish community.

In the span of just a few days, Bikur Cholim, along with Jewish doctors and other professionals working at Hopkins, had given Grossman a support system she could count on for just about anything she needed.

On Feb. 19, Grossman again traveled to Johns Hopkins from West Virginia, where she returned home last fall in remission, to celebrate with her friends and adoptive family the grand opening of Bikur Cholim’s new Jewish Hospitality Suite at the hospital.

Located in a quiet hall off the Blalock lobby, the suite, which officially opened its doors in October, offers Jewish patients and their families a peaceful space to get away from the bustle of the hospital. Amenities include kosher snacks and coffee, two microwaves, a refrigerator and separate sinks for dairy and meat.

At the end of the ceremony, which was attended by the hospital’s leadership and Baltimore rabbinic leaders, including Rabbis Moshe Heinemann and Moshe Hauer, hospital chaplain Rabbi Tsvi G. Schur affixed a mezuzah to the room’s door frame.

Aron Katz, president of Bikur Cholim of Baltimore, read a letter from the parent of a sick child to the dozens of people gathered to officially dedicate the room. In it, the parent described how the room helped both parents and children looking to escape the stress of the hospital. Often, said Katz, families that have to rush to the hospital unexpectedly or stay longer than anticipated don’t have the chance to prepare small comforts such as kosher snacks or gather reading material. The new room helps with that.

In January 2012, Bikur Cholim and Sinai Hospital opened a Bikur Cholim Kosher Hospitality Room, where patients and their families can access Shabbat meals, electric candles, kosher foods and other items to help make their stays more comfortable. The organization also stocks a kosher suite at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Bikur Cholim of Baltimore was founded in 1985 to assist Jewish patients. It is run entirely by volunteers and helps both members of the Baltimore Jewish community and others, such as Grossman, who were drawn to Baltimore by the city’s well-known hospitals and medical centers. In addition to the establishment of kosher suites, the organization also helps those struggling with illness get to and from appointments, find temporary housing and access free-loan medical equipment.

State Slashes Health Care Enrollment Goals

A screenshot of Maryland's online health care exchange website.

A screenshot of Maryland’s online health care exchange website.

With little more than a month until a March 31 deadline, Maryland health exchange officials revised insurance enrollment goals and terminated their contract with the company that built the state’s health exchange.

Noridian Healthcare Solutions, the North Dakota company behind the state online exchange that crashed when it launched Oct. 1, will no longer operate the site. The nine-member board governing the voted to terminate Maryland’s contract with Noridian on Sunday night.

In the interim, the exchange will be taken over by Optum/QSSI, the Columbia-based firm that was hired by the federal government in October to fix

The board also slashed Maryland’s private insurance enrollment goal by more than half, from 150,000 to 70,000. The move was reportedly attributed to an error found in data that a nonpartisan analyst group used for Maryland’s enrollment projections. The state still appears unlikely to hit its goal by March 31, with only 33,251 individuals enrolled in private plans through Feb. 15, according to Maryland Health Connection, the state’s online insurance marketplace.

The changes come two weeks after a bipartisan “oversight” committee of lawmakers met for the first time to probe Maryland’s troubled implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.

In a project that has been marred by skepticism and scrutiny, those watching health care even have doubts about what the oversight committee will accomplish.

“If the oversight committee could be neutral people that really care about the technical aspects, then that’s really good,” said Larry Burgee, associate professor and chair of Stevenson University’s Department of Information Systems. “If it’s loaded with politicians from either side of the fence, there’s going to be problems. It’s too political on both sides.”

Even the change in vendors was met with skepticism. Tracey Paliath, director of economic services at Jewish Community Services, said changing a vendor on a big government project is never an easy process.

“If the problem was with the vendor, then absolutely move it and cut your losses now,” said the former assistant director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. “But if there is a problem with the communication … switching the vendor may or may not fix it.”

As far as lowering the enrollment goal goes, it remains to be seen if Maryland can more than double its enrollment numbers in little more than a month. How well the exchange is working depends on who’s doing the talking.

Sheila C. Bennett, an exchange navigator who works in the Randallstown area, said the glitches in Maryland’s health care website have diminished significantly since its launch.

“It’s tremendously better than it was in the beginning,” she said.

Bennett walks people through the enrollment process and answers any questions they may have. She said it takes people an average of one hour to sign up for insurance with her help, depending on the size of the family.

Steve Land, a support services coordinator at Jewish Community Services, said it took him and one client five-and-a-half hours over the course of three separate sessions to enroll in health care. The client was on disability but had an income too high for Maryland’s Primary Adult Care program. PAC participants are being rolled into Medicaid, which has expanded its availability.

“When they wrote this Affordable Care Act, if there was a client tailor-made for it, this client was,” said Land, who would not reveal the gender of the client for privacy reasons.

The two of them experienced delays with Maryland’s website, which wouldn’t move to the next page, locked up and quit. After finally getting through, the pair experienced issues with the start date of the Medicaid plan and records of the application being submitted.

“For a client that really deserved and really would have benefited from this, this would have been the person,” said Land. “It was discouraging.”

The client wound up going to the Medicaid office in Baltimore and getting the plan figured out.

Paliath worked with another client who applied for insurance in November. He was supposed to have a subsidy through CareFirst, according to the exchange, but CareFirst didn’t see that subsidy in its paperwork. After reaching out to a “high-level contact,” the client, a small business owner, was set to get his subsidy in February but had to pay the full premium in January.

For the Evergreen Health Co-Op, a new nonprofit health insurance company, the woes of the exchange have hit hard, especially since the co-op doesn’t carry the name recognition of the bigger insurance companies on Maryland’s exchange.

“We depended on the vast majority of our enrollees to come off the individual exchange, which crashed in Maryland,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson, the co-op’s founder, president and CEO. “We’ve had to take care of ourselves, and since we’re not able to sell on the individual exchange, we’re now starting to sell to small business.”

About 500 people have enrolled in plans with Evergreen, he said.

Beilenson’s assessment is that the online exchange has been fixed “modestly,” and he thinks Maryland might switch over to the federal exchange site between March 31 and the next open enrollment period, which is proposed to start in November.

As far as Maryland’s decreased goals are concerned, some think enrollment will increase in future years, as penalties for not having insurance increase. This year, penalties are 1 percent of annual income or $95 per person, $47.50 per child under 18, with the maximum set at $285 per family. In 2016 and beyond, the penalty will be 2.5 percent of yearly income or $695 per person, according to

Paliath, having worked in government, said it’s possible that issues related to the website and enrollment numbers could be chalked up to bad communication between different levels of government.

“However, you would think that on a project like this, with as much public attention as it was going to get and scrutiny, that there would have been some point person who would have had the ear of someone in power to do something,” she said.

Only time will tell how these recent changes will turn out.

“This is a conjecture on my part. If it was a vendor problem, they did the right thing,” added Paliath. “If it wasn’t, this won’t be the end of the story.”

French gov’t to announce Holocaust rail reparations

(REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

(REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

The French government is expected to announce this summer how much it will pay in reparations to Holocaust survivors now living in America who were deported to Nazi death camps in French trains, according to Stuart Eizenstat, a special adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry on Holocaust issues.

Eizenstat, a D.C. lawyer, said there have been about four “informal discussions” between the French and American governments. As of the fall of last year, the French government took over negotiations on behalf of the rail company Society Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF).

SNCF transported 76,000 Jews and thousands of others to the death camps, according to Baltimore resident Leo Bretholz, who as a young man was forced onto one of these transports.

“We are not looking into issues of guilt. They admitted they did the wrong thing,” Eizenstat said of the French government. There has not been any talk about actual amounts of money, he said, adding French Holocaust survivors who rode the trains as well as their spouses have been paid a “really quite considerable” amount.

Keolis America, a U.S. affiliate of SNCF, has been invited to submit a bid to operate Maryland’s proposed Purple Line rail project but has come under scrutiny over the reparations issue.

The Coalition for Holocaust Justice, which has been speaking out for reparations for many years, said in a statement, “We welcome this news with cautious optimism, and we wholeheartedly support any negotiations that would provide fair and reasonable compensation to the victims and their families.”

Shabbat Across America

Rabbi Shmuel Silber (Justin Tsucalas)

Rabbi Shmuel Silber (Justin Tsucalas)

For the seventh year in a row, Suburban Orthodox Congregation will play host to Shabbat Across America, a multidenominational celebration of Shabbat set to take place March 7.

“The goal really is a very simple one,” said Suburban’s Rabbi Shmuel Silber, “to achieve a togetherness within our community.”

The event will kick off just after 5 p.m. with a candle lighting followed by prayers and a Shabbat dinner featuring prime rib and chicken, in addition to more traditional options.

“I think one of the greatest challenges that we face as a people is there are so many issues that divide us, [we] also have a preoccupation with labels,” explained Silber. “The truth is, the one unifying experience is Shabbos. We may celebrate it differently, we may observe it differently, but we all try to expand upon the beauty that it is to our lives.”

Although the event is free, organizers request that those who wish to attend register ahead of time. Space at the synagogue is limited, and attendance usually reaches maximum capacity, said Silber. In addition to a cross section of the Baltimore Jewish community, in the past the event has also attracted people from places as far as Gaithersburg and Frederick.

The event is part of the larger Shabbat Across America and Canada organized by the National Jewish Outreach Program. When the candles are lit on March 7 at Suburban, attendees will join thousands of other Jews from every denomination celebrating Shabbat together across North America.

At Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia, Rabbi Susan Grossman is preparing for a guest appearance by Jewish musician Neshama Carlebach, who will participate in the service and give a presentation about “finding light in the darkness.” On March 8, Carlebach will lead the congregation in prayers, offer a d’var Torah and perform in a concert that night.

“When she sings she brings a bit of heaven down to earth,” said Grossman. The synagogue will also offer parallel tot Shabbat services and programs for older children that same night.

This is Beth Shalom Congregation’s 16th Shabbat Across America. For Grossman, the event represents the Jewish sense of unity.

“Here we’re identifying across communities and across borders, recognizing what we share,” she said. “One of the most beautiful things we share is Shabbat.”

Other local congregations participating in the event include Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah in Baltimore and Columbia Jewish Congregation. The NJOP also encourages those who cannot attend a community Shabbat to join in at home by visiting and following the instructions provided by the organization.
Ian Zelaya contributed to this report.