Cheswolde Celebrates National Night Out

Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer

Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer

The Cheswolde Neighborhood Association came together on Sept. 6 for its National Night Out event.

National Night Out, a  nationwide initiative that has been held annually since 1984, is meant to foster police-community relations.

“We always try out hardest to get out to community events during back-to-school season; we like to be involved,” an  officer who attended said. “National Night Out is a great way to just let people know we are out here, and we are keeping an eye out for everyone in the community.”

The event was hosted in the backyard of Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, the uncontested Democratic nominee for Baltimore City’s 5th District council seat.

For Schleifer, hosting the National Night Out in his backyard was also an opportunity to magnify his community’s needs to officials in attendance, such as Democratic mayoral candidate Catherine Pugh.

“This neighborhood has no park; there are no real open spaces here,” Schleifer said. “This celebration stopped for years because there was nowhere to have it without blocking the street, so I volunteered to host.”

Schleifer hopes highlighting the lack of recreational facilities in a neighborhood brimming with young children will help to bring new amenities to Cheswolde.

Baltimore’s Lithuanian Jewry Stays Connected

Within Baltimore’s flourishing Jewish community, there are organizations that are working to keep alive connections to  ancestors. The B’nai Abraham and Yehuda Laib Family Society (BAYL) is one such organization that is committed to maintaining relationships among descendants of the society’s progenitors. According to Phil Shapiro, a member of the society, nearly three-quarters of Baltimore’s Jewish population have roots from Lithuania.

BAYL hosted its 115th  anniversary picnic on Sept. 4 in Baltimore. The society normally hosts reunions every five years. It was attended by approximately 170 individuals from all over the nation and was recognized with letters from the president of Lithuania as well as both the Israeli and American ambassadors in the country.

Originally founded in Baltimore in 1901, BAYL is believed to be oldest Jewish family society in the world. The idea was that the first relatives who came to the United States from Europe would save their money to help other members of their families immigrate. While family societies were common in the 1930s, very few are left today.

The two families that formed BAYL are linked by Rella Krok, whose first husband was Yehuda Laib Romm, and she later remarried Abraham Abramson. The members of the families used to get together every Saturday night to pool pennies, bringing over another family member when they had accumulated $20. All of the members in attendance at the Baltimore reunion are descendants of the original family society.

Another organization dedicated to Lithuanian Jewry,  Remembering Litvaks, Inc., “undertakes projects dedicated to remembering the Jewish communities that existed in Lithuania, including educational programs dedicated to researching and teaching the history of Jewish life in Lithuania and improving the physical condition of Jewish gravesites and other locations of historical significance to Lithuanian Jewry,” according to its website. Shapiro is involved with that organization as well.

The organization recently introduced the Ruvin Bun Award, which “will be given for research and education  regarding the original vision of the Lithuanian state as a tolerant, multicultural society with a Western-style constitution that established a democratic government.” More information on the award can be found at

Quarry Lake’s 6th Annual Fall Festival Looms

Sunday, Sept. 18 will see the sixth annual Quarry Lake Fall Festival. With more than 80 local vendors, the festival will feature activities and fun for  all ages. All proceeds from the event will be go to the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce.

Sponsored by Morgan Stanley, the event will feature a concert series over the course of the day. Shadowcall is set to perform at noon, followed by the Cheyanne Canyon Band at 1:45 p.m. and Gary & the Groove at 3:30 p.m. On the other side of the festival, there will be local musicians performing throughout the day.

Additionally, there will be an array of booths from community organizations and businesses and interactive  performances for kids. Throughout the day, children will have an opportunity to participate in face painting, jump on a moon bounce and engage in a magic show with Tim Hall from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Booths will offer balloon animals and caricatures as well. Also, Torah Tails, an educational petting zoo, will be in attendance. Jay Harris, the event coordinator for the festival, said, “There will most likely be rabbits and ducks, but we never know what they’re going to have there; they always surprise us and bring something different.”

Restaurants on-site will be selling their food, in addition to independent local vendors who will be showcasing homemade wares and foods.  According to Harris, “there will be great American food, great Indian food. … It’s just a very nice one-day event where people can come out, enjoy the nice day and see what a variety of local vendors have to offer.”

Jewish Times Wins Awards

Baltimore Jewish Times employees won a number of awards in the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association’s Advertising Contest.

The contest awarded print and online work completed between June 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016.

The awards are as follows, listed by employee, entry name, placement and category:

> Michael Jankovitz; Baltimore Humane Society; Third Place; Business (non-retail)-Large Print only

> Cortney Geare, Lindsey Bridwell; Summer at Friends; Third Place; Business (non-retail)-Small Print only

> Erin Clare; Glyndon Swim Club; Second Place; Business (non-retail) Small Print only

> Lindsey Bridwell; The Associated: Jewish Women; Second Place; Custom Publication

> Lindsey Bridwell, Lonna Koblick; Hillel College Guide; Third Place; Custom Publication

> Michael Jankovitz; JT Chanukah Subscription; Third Place; House Promotion Ads

> Michael Jankovitz; Remax  Advantage; First Place; Real Estate-Small Print only

> Erin Clare, Lindsey Bridwell, Michael Jankovitz; Baltimore Guide to Jewish Life; Second Place; Special Publication-standalone

> Ebony Brown, Jennifer Perkins-Frantz; Insider Camps 2; Second Place; Special  Section- in-paper product

Repair the World Relaunches in Baltimore

Diana Goldsmith and Josh Sherman are asking the Jewish community to be involved in social issues. (photo by Daniel Nozick)

Diana Goldsmith and Josh Sherman are asking the Jewish community to be involved in social issues. (photo by Daniel Nozick)

Repair the World has been a national Jewish voice for service and volunteerism since its  inception in 2009. The organization, which has been in  Baltimore since 2013, recently came off a hiatus to relaunch as a partner organization of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Heading this effort are two local Jewish millennials, Diana Goldsmith and Josh Sherman. The organization’s goal is to build a culture of service among the young populace in Baltimore — it focuses its efforts on social justice and  education and aims to mobilize young Jewish professionals to aid individuals and partnered organizations within the local community.

Across the nation, Repair the World has a few different models that it uses to integrate itself into the community. Originally, Baltimore’s branch was a fellowship program. However, according to Mordy Walfish, Repair the World’s vice president for programs, “we paused to decide how to make more of an impact on the community. We are excited to partner with The Associated  because their brand and connections and infrastructure are invaluable, and our goals align in spite of being vastly different organizations.”

Sherman said, “I think that partnering with The Associated has really given us a base that we did not have previously with the fellowship model. Most of the fellows were not from Baltimore originally and were not a part of the Jewish community.”

Goldsmith and Sherman each have a lot of experience with volunteering and tikkun olam. Goldsmith did community service through Jewish Volunteer Connection —The Associated agency Repair the World is now housed under — earlier in her life and was  actively involved with Students Helping Honduras at Towson University.

“Service should really be a part of everyday life,” she said. “We want people to be able to access it as easy as possible. We like to say that we bring the volunteering to people, I think you should give back to the community that you live in and be engaged and involved in the social issues facing the area because they effect everybody. We all want to see the community succeed and thrive. The best way to help is to get your hands dirty, to meet the community members that are affected by the social issues that we are fighting and learn it on a personal level as  opposed to from a distance.”

Sherman graduated from Kenyon College in 2014 and participated in a service trip to Israel that lasted 10 months. When he came back, he wanted to put his degree in  religious studies to work, and Repair the World proved to be the perfect stomping ground.

He shared: “This position  allowed me to see Baltimore through a different lens. I have lived here my whole life, but this is a Baltimore that I didn’t know. A personal goal of mine is to get as many people as possible to see Baltimore through that lens, to step out of their comfort zone and meet these people in the communities.”

Goldsmith explained, “The program now is just Josh and me as full-time staff members, so we do everything. We are both really involved in one  another’s work, and we are both passionate about all of the issues, so we split the work based on who has better relationships with which partners.”

Repair the World is currently involved in its High Holiday campaign for this year, which is focused around the concept of justice. The  organization is holding a Shabbat dinner at the end of the month and will discuss the intersection of racial justice and food justice. In addition to planning service events, there will be a food-justice event with Charm City Tribe at Max’s Taphouse in October. It is also creating a mobile sukkah to connect the food-justice theme to the holidays and will be driving around to bring the sukkah to local communities in an effort to share and educate.

The Jewish ‘Jersey Boys’ Writers of the Baltimore-bound smash hit talk about the musical’s Jewish-Italian connection

Rick Elice (left) and Marshall Brickman (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Rick Elice (left) and Marshall Brickman (Photo by Joan Marcus)

If there’s one thing that our Italian cousins and we Jews share, it’s a needling sense of conscience. We’re each compelled by our own personal and shrill Jiminy Cricket forever prodding us to spill the beans. About ourselves, about our worldview, our foibles, what we wish we were and, inevitably, what we wish were not.

Whereas the prototypical Italian Catholic finds reprieve through private congress with an unseen priest, we Jews tend to accomplish the same via public confessionals … by way of making movies, television shows and, often, Broadway spectacles.

Which is why it should be of little surprise that two good Jewish boys from the hoighty-toighty Upper West Side of Manhattan would end up the chosen ones anointed to tell what has become one of the most salient representations of the Italian-American’s 20th-century experience, working-class Jersey-style.

“Aside from possibly speaking another language or believing that Jesus is the savior, do I feel something in common with the Italians? Of course I do,” said the first of the writers in question, Rick Elice.

Along with his sometimes writing partner Marshall Brickman, Elice penned the hit Broadway musical “Jersey Boys,” which won multiple Tony Awards when it first premiered in 2005 and which will be playing for the second time since its initial run in Baltimore at the Hippodrome Performing Arts Center from Tuesday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 2.

“Jersey Boys,” adapted into a film (also written by Elice and Brickman) helmed by actor-cum-director Clint Eastwood in 2014, tells the unabashedly warts-and-all, rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, who found international success with such chart toppers as “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” throughout the ’60s and ’70s.

Along with being “intensely family-oriented,” Elice suggested that what Brickman and he discovered in common with their background and those of the Four Seasons — four Italian toughs, some of whom served jail time before they were 30 — is “a real sense of ‘the other’ and having to fit into a larger society.”

“Jersey Boys” tells the story of the Four Seasons and features performances of their hits from the 1960s and ’70s. (Jeremy Daniel)

“Jersey Boys” tells the story of the Four Seasons and features performances of their hits from the 1960s and ’70s. (Jeremy Daniel)

“There’s the possibility in all of our backgrounds to have felt marginalized or disenfranchised at one time or another, being immigrants. Certainly that was true of the Jews, Italians, Irish, the blacks,” said Elice.

Even in the “great bastion of Judaism” that was New York City during the time he was growing up, Elice encountered anti-Semitism, something he still sees as prevalent today and that, he worries, may in fact be on the rise.

This shared, profoundly palpable sense of being “othered” made it easier for Brickman and Elice “to understand  another demographic’s sense of isolation.”

While Elice, 59, aligns himself with Conservative Judaism — in his teens he considered becoming a cantor and in fact heard the music of the Four Seasons for the first time at a Jewish summer camp — Brickman, 73,  refers to himself as “culturally Jewish.” A self-professing “red diaper baby” raised in what he calls a socialist home environment by his mother and union-organizer father, Brickman’s Jewish identity was one of “pride for our history” more than religious conviction.

His bar mitzvah, therefore, was “more an excuse to have a little bit of a coming-of-age ceremony” held in a hall his parents rented and to which were invited a few friends and relatives who watched as the young Brickman, in lieu of reading from the Torah, gave a short speech whose content he can’t today recall but was likely “something about peace in the world.”

Brickman asserted Elice’s and his dissimilar religious ethos “doesn’t preclude our being very close friends.”
The duo first met in the mid-’90s, courtesy a series  of auspicious circumstances revolving around mutual friends who included filmmaker Stanley Donen, writer Peter Stone and actor Roger Rees, Elice’s longtime domestic partner and husband-to-be who passed away in 2015.

It was some point around 2002 that Elice, working in  advertising and music promotion, received a call from an associate who had secured the rights to the Four Seasons’ catalogue. Elice thought it would be a wonderful idea: he loved Vivaldi.

“No,” the aspiring producer clarified. “Not that Four Seasons. The singer-songwriters behind ‘Rag Doll’ and other favorites.”

“Oh,” Elice countered. “Why?”

“To produce a musical based around the quartet’s songs. You know,” the fellow on the other end proceeded, “like the ABBA-based Broadway show ‘Mama Mia!’ that just came out to rave reviews and huge ticket sales.”

Elice balked at the concept. For one thing, he had no interest in writing a musical like “Mama Mia!” Someone else had already done that … and it was called “Mama Mia!”

There was also the problem that Elice had never written  a Broadway-bound musical. When the producer metaphorically and perhaps literally got down on his hands and knees to ask if Elice would at least  have lunch with principal songwriters Valli and Bob Gaudio, Elice asked, “Can I bring a friend?”

Brickman and Elice had been lackadaisically kicking around the notion of working together on a project, but they had been considering something along the lines of a film. Elice nevertheless rang his comrade in arms up and announced they were being tapped to  potentially write a musical about the Four Seasons.

Brickman’s immediate  response: “Why?”

The cast of “Jersey Boys” lines up to sing the hit “Walk Like a Man.” (Jeremy Daniel)

The cast of “Jersey Boys” lines up to sing the hit “Walk Like a Man.” (Jeremy Daniel)

Besides, Brickman reminded his friend, “I don’t know how to write a musical.” Elice conceded neither did he, but, “We’ll only be wasting our own time, they’re not gonna pay us anything, and if we screw it up, we screw it up. Maybe it’ll be fun.”

And, as Elice recalled, “That’s all it took.”

The fateful lunch with Valli and Gaudio would be a revelatory one. Brickman and Elice marveled at the many songs they hadn’t known were originally by the Four Seasons (and, it should be added, did lead to the selling of 175 million records). They also learned the unheralded story of the musical group that was so fascinating to the two that they couldn’t help but lean forward and ask why these astounding tales hadn’t been made public before.

It seems that while the Four Seasons had their fair share of hits and notoriety, as individuals they didn’t get many write-ups due to the mainstream press at the time’s zeroing in on contemporaries such as The Beatles and the bands of the British Invasion that, frankly, made for more popular headlines.

Of course, there was also a certain self-generated circumspection in talking with the press due to the Four Seasons’ checkered background. It was a different time back then, Valli and Gaudio reminded Brickman and Elice. That was back when brushes with the law tarnished one’s public image and career.

“So this true story turned out to not only be good, but untold,” Elice recalled. “And that’s really a mother lode for a writer. Marshall and I looked at each other and we knew. It was a eureka moment.”

Next came the unforgiving arctic glare of the blank page for two men who had never before done what they were about to do.

Though they were admittedly inexperienced at this particular form of artwork, they had one obvious ace in the hole: Brickman’s well-seasoned background in film, television and musical performance.
“Marshall would hate me saying this, but he was one of the ‘bold face names’ of the people I most aspired to be,” said Elice, audibly swooning on the other end of the phone about the “pleasure of meeting Marshall, someone who is like an icon,” the first time on what would be “a big day for me.”

Brickman “was and is a part of the cognoscenti, especially when one is an over-privileged, overeducated, Jewish, liberal, left-leaning New Yorker who wants to think of himself as a potential person of letters,” Elice said.

“Marshall is like a lion of the culture, and I’m just a kid who got lucky.”

Brickman would humbly disagree with Elice’s sentiment that “there is absolutely no equality in our stature at all,” reciprocating the seemingly lavish praise.

“He may say something different because Rick’s very generous in his evaluation of our relationship,” Brickman said, “but I never thought of him as a protégé. I thought really early on after meeting and working with him that he was a great, undiscovered talent. So smart, so bright, so funny, so knowledgeable, and he knew so much more about the machine and process of Broadway than I.”

The almost neurotically modest, if you will, Brickman sees himself as less a lion and more someone whose career was “all about making sure I never fell on my face.”

We had a great time and ended up writing ‘Jersey Boys’ very quickly. — Rick Elice

To better understand Elice’s pseudo-fanboyistic gushing, it’s necessary to realize Brickman’s career has been as culturally impactful as impressively protean; if anything, it’s been one of a continual fall upward, with such steps along the way as: playing on the ubiquitous version of “Dueling Banjos” incorporated into the 1972 film “Deliverance,” producing “The Dick Cavett Show,” working as head writer on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” co-writing the pilot to “The Muppet Show” with Jim Henson and gigging with John and Michelle Phillips in their group the New Journeymen before Brickman “fled as though from a burning building” a year later with the Phillipses soon creating a subsequent project, the Mamas & the Papas.
And, of course, as anyone with even a cursory knowledge of contemporary film is aware, there’s ’60s folk-music-playing Brickman’s fortuitous sharing of management with an upstart comedian who at first baffled New York coffee shop audiences before honing his skills to become the Woody Allen we (think) we know of today, leading to a  series of collaborations between Brickman and Allen not limited to the Academy Awards’ Best Picture winner for 1977 and one of the most influential films of modern cinema, “Annie Hall.”

As he learned while working with Allen, Brickman found that “in every collaboration, there must be one side that is the ‘dominant force’ so that what comes out the other side has a semblance of elegance and consistency.” Here, the “lion of culture” confessed then that, yes, “there probably were times when Rick did defer to me.”

But it was always a healthy working relationship, the pair agree, with Elice stating that, “We had a great time and ended up writing “Jersey Boys” very quickly.”

The occasional disagreement would be easily salved by the underlining fact that, to Brickman, “when you have two people in a good working relationship who are sufficiently intelligent, the best idea usually wins.”

How this syllogism played out over the course of the writing could be illustrated by the distinct difference between Elice and Brickman in the employment of soi-disant sentimentality.

“Rick is by definition a much warmer and more open person than I, generally,” Brickman said. “And I tend to run screaming from sentimentality.”

Elice would bring to the table “a kind of warmth and emotion to the story of ‘Jersey Boys’ that I think really deepened it enormously and helped it to reach an audience on a different level than I would have been able to manage myself,” Brickman said.

Brickman’s incisive comedy-writing skills came in handy to “undercut” Elice’s more sympathetic moments to keep the overall framework relatively lambent and, ultimately, veiled with a humanistic humor that years of working with a master such as Allen helped manifest.

The “Jersey Boys” give it their all during a scene in the recording studio. (Jeremy Daniel)

The “Jersey Boys” give it their all during a scene in the recording studio. (Jeremy Daniel)

There was a scene early on in the writing process in which the characters of Valli and Gaudio were talking about going back out on the road again after a lacuna in their career. Valli confides in Gaudio that he’s nervous people might not like him anymore. In this earlier draft, Gaudio leans into Valli and encouragingly supports his fraternal friend, “This is your time.”

“Nuh-uh,” thought Brickman, who changed Gaudio’s line to an equally brotherly jibe more accurately depicting the true-to-life, complicated relationship of both the boys individually and fellow members of their social niche  generally: “Who says they ever liked you?”

As writers and artists themselves, Elice and Brickman know that where any story gets  interesting is in the conflict.  Including such counterpoint and, again, a “warts-and-all” version of the Four Seasons story was an essential component to the writers’ process.

There’s the possibility in all of our  backgrounds to have felt marginalized or  disenfranchised at one time or another, being immigrants. Certainly that was true of the Jews, Italians, Irish, the blacks.
— Rick Elice

When telling the life story of someone else (four someone else’s, at that), it can be a real tightrope walk. Contractually, Valli and Gaudio were given carte blanche to pull the plug if they didn’t like what they read or saw. Brickman revealed that early on in the creative process, there was a scene dealing with a woman who had had an affair with more than one of the quartet members.

“Oh, no,” Brickman said Valli pronounced, effectively knocking the scene onto the cutting room floor. “You can’t put that up on stage.”

“The impulse to include the warts in the story came from the fact that the warts is what made the story good,” Elice said. “As Marshall’s fond of putting it, you have these movie posters that say, ‘Based on a true story.’ With ‘Jersey Boys,’ we were able to say, ‘Based on a good story.’”

It’s this quality of the art beyond anything else that attracts Ron Legler, president of the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center in which the Hippodrome is housed, to the story and is why he’s proud to be bringing “Jersey Boys” to Baltimore.

“I think ‘Jersey Boys’ hit home on so many levels for me,” Legler said, fondly recalling his first seeing the show during its premiere run.

Legler is equally excited by the galvanizing of what he says is a relatively new core audience.

“So often, you have these shows specifically geared toward women,” Legler said. “This is the kind of show you could take a guy to who never has been to Broadway, and he’ll say, ‘Hey, that was a great show, and I could do that again!’”

Legler sees the match of “Jersey Boys” and Baltimore to be “perfect. There’s a lot of similarities between the people of that time and today in a drive to be better than you ever thought you could be.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that in the future, you’ll see ‘Jersey Boys’ back on Broadway,” Legler said, referring to the Broadway production’s closing in January 2017. “It’s such a compelling story, and you can’t help but feel fantastic after  seeing it.”

‘Jersey Boys’ plays at the  Hippodrome Performing Arts Center, 12 N. Eutaw St.,  Baltimore, from Tuesday, Sept. 27 through Sunday,  Oct. 2. For more information and tickets, visit

To read more about Elice’s and  Brickman’s work with Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood, visit

Baltimoreans Protest, Rally for Trump on Monday

Owen Silverman Andrews believes Donald Trump is regarded as anti-Semitic. (Justin Silberman)

Owen Silverman Andrews believes Donald Trump is regarded as anti-Semitic. (Justin Silberman)

No matter where Donald Trump visits as the Nov. 8 presidential election draws near, appearances from the polarizing Republican nominee always seem to stir up fervent  debate for his advocates and opponents.

That trend held true when Trump visited the Baltimore Convention Center on Monday afternoon to address the annual conference of the National Guard Association of the United States. In his address to military officers from around the country, Trump slammed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for describing his supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” telling the audience that the remark “disqualifies her from public service.”

Hours earlier, dozens of Trump advocates at a nearby rally described the 70-year-old business mogul-turned-politician as the candidate who could best unite the country.

Phil Kaplan, a 37-year-old Jewish lawyer and Towson resident, said Trump would make good on his promise to tighten national security and strengthen protection at the borders.

“There is absolutely no constitutional right to come to America,” Kaplan said, “and if we have to shut down immigration in certain ways for our protection, we may have to. I say that as a lawyer, and we need to do what we need to do for our basic, physical safety.”

Trump protestors, on the other hand, say he is unfit to serve as commander-in-chief in large part because of his lack of experience and short-fused temperament.

Sean Yoes, a journalist and West Baltimore native, said Trump supporters — the majority white with a mix of other races and ethnicities — were not representative of the country as a whole. Also, he does not think Trump’s hard-charging, aggressive rhetoric will solve the socioeconomic, racial and violence issues that persist in major cities with large African-American populations such as Baltimore.

“I simply believe that we have enough issues and troubles in our city without having Trump here stirring up hatred,” Yoes said. “Honestly, after what we’ve been through as a city over the last two years, he wants to make our city a backdrop for his hatred.”

It was Trump’s first appearance in Baltimore since earning the GOP nomination in late July. Addressing the National Guard officers as national  security has become one of the focal points of the presidential race, Trump spoke about beefing up the entire military to help squash threats of terrorism.

A Trump supporter (left) and a Trump protestor argue near the Baltimore Convention Center, where Trump spoke Monday. (Justin Silberman)

A Trump supporter (left) and a Trump protestor argue near the Baltimore Convention Center, where Trump spoke Monday. (Justin Silberman)

“We will empower our generals to do the job they were hired to do, and that begins with defeating and destroying ISIS,” Trump said. “Instead of endless wars, we want a real plan for victory. We will abandon the policy of reckless regime change favored by my opponent, and we will instead work with our allies to advance the core national security interests of the United States.”

Nina Therese Kasniunas, a political science professor at Goucher College, said the visit from Trump had a lot more to do with him portraying a certain image than his message.

“As he comes to cities like Baltimore, he’s trying to show he is expanding his reach to minorities, not just visiting cities populated mostly by working white middle-class men,” Kasniunas said. “It was very convenient for him to visit with him opening his new hotel in Washington, D.C., earlier in the day and then visiting Asheville, North Carolina later in the day.”

More than 100 people stood side-by-side outside the Transamerica Building at 100 E. Pratt St. to welcome Trump. Organizers sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” chanted “U.S.A. U.S.A.,” waved American Flags and encouraged drivers to honk their horns in support of Trump.

Elam Stoltzfus, 66, a real estate agent from Lancaster, Pa., sold Trump hats, T-Shirts and buttons at a roadside table. He said he is the third-largest  independent contributor to the Trump campaign, having spent more than $10,000 while following Trump to 13 different states across the country. All the money he generates through the sales go directly to the Trump campaign.

“He can balance a checkbook,” Stoltzfus said. “He does it every 30 days. The folks in Washington, D.C., don’t have a clue, so I just want to support someone who is going to put Americans first before anyone else.”

On the other side of the street, meanwhile, the Peoples Power Assembly organized a raucous demonstration to denounce Trump, whose adversaries shouted, “Black lives matter,” “Dump Trump” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

Owen Silverman Andrews, a 29-year-old member of the Jewish community who teaches English as a second language, said he has a number of reservations with Trump. For one, Andrews feels Trump has a troubling image that is widely regarded as anti-Semitic, citing the example of Trump stereotyping Jewish business people.

“I just want to call on people here in the Jewish community in Baltimore and elsewhere to get involved,” Andrews said. “This is not someone else’s problem — this is our problem. We shouldn’t be the people of ‘never again’ for us, but we should be the people of ‘never again’ for anyone.”

In heavily Democratic Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, the state has not voted for a Republican presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan won his second term in 1988. A poll conducted last week by Annapolis-based OpinionWorks concluded that Trump was trailing Clinton by 29 points in the Old Line State.

Even with Trump making a last-ditch effort to appeal to Maryland voters, Kasniunas isn’t convinced it will be enough when the election rolls around.

“I still don’t think Trump will generate much support from voters in Maryland despite the visit,” Kasniunas said. “For him, it’s all about getting as much support from outside his core constituents as possible and rallying independent voters to come out to the polls for him.”

Updated 9/14/16 from an earlier 9/12/16 post.

Baltimore Hatzalah’s 10th Anniversary Carnival

Hatzalah of Baltimore will hold its 10th Anniversary Carnival at the Bnos Yisroel campus on Sunday, Sept. 11.

Hatzalah’s executive director Dovid Heyman laid out a full day of activities and tasty carnival favorite foods that will be offered and will allow for a “very, very family-friendly” event whose proceeds will go to the continued support of this local Hatzalah chapter.

Launched in 2007, Hatzalah of Baltimore is a group of volunteer emergency first-responders that services the Northwest  region of the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. According to Heyman’s numbers, his organization responds to as many as 1,500 calls a year.

“And we take all kinds of calls,” he said, adding that his team can operate quickly over a large area due to its 30 trained volunteers ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice. The volunteers are assisted by 20 “dispensers” or those who take calls and coordinate with emergency volunteers.

Each member of Heyman’s group must attend special education classes every two weeks and is consistently working on strengthening his or her skills.

“We’re an organization that always goes the extra mile,  because we feel a connection to the people we are serving,” Heyman said.

The 10th Anniversary Carnival will be a celebration bustling with rides, face painting and balloon animal booths, along with the sale of hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn and cotton candy. Considering that it falls on Sept. 11, Heyman said the carnival will also be an opportunity for a reverent remembrance of the tragic events of 9/11.

Heyman explained that New York’s Hatzalah volunteers were some of the first to respond to the 9/11 attack sites. It is partly for this reason that Hatzalah will screen a short documentary about the events of 9/11 that showcases New York Hatzalah’s heroic work during this traumatic  period in American history.

The documentary will be shown every two hours during the event.

“Attendees can expect a good time while supporting a great cause for our community,” Heyman said.

>>Baltimore Hatzalah presents its 10th Anniversary Carnival on Sunday, Sept. 11 at Bnos Yisroel, 6300 Park Heights Ave. For more information and tickets, visit hatzalahbaltimore.

Stevenson Dedicates New Academic Building, Schools

From left: Malcolm and Sandra Berman, Stevenson University president Kevin J. Manning, State Sen. Bobby Zirkin and Stevenson board chair Jim  Stradtner take part in a ribbon cutting for the  university’s new academic center. (Photo provided)

From left: Malcolm and Sandra Berman, Stevenson University president Kevin J. Manning, State Sen. Bobby Zirkin and Stevenson board chair Jim Stradtner take part in a ribbon cutting for the university’s new academic center. (Photo provided)

Last week saw the opening of Stevenson University’s new state-of-the-art 200,000-square-foot academic center, which university officials say will  enhance the Stevenson educational experience, grow its student population and expand its programs to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving workforce.

The event, held on Aug. 30, included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the announcement of two major naming gifts for two of the schools that are housed in the new center.

The large expansion of Stevenson University over the past two decades is largely due to the vision of its president, Kevin J. Manning. In his brief discourse at the event, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said to Manning, “I remember your vision for the growth of Villa Julie College at the time. And I thought to myself, ‘He’s a dreamer. … I’m glad that he thinks he’ll be able to do these things that are critically needed for our community.’ I didn’t  realize that he would actually exceed even the plans that he presented on that day.”

It was announced at the ceremony that Manning is being honored by the university, which has named the new building the Kevin J. Manning Academic Center. Manning is serving his 17th and final year as the president of Stevenson University — he will retire in June 2017.

In his speech at the event, Manning said, “The opening of this building is the latest in a fantastic journey that we have taken, and there is much to celebrate. It has been an enormous undertaking and is a culmination of years of planning and building. The results are incredible and will give Stevenson students access to some of the best academic space around.” More than $13 million has already been raised by benefactors to fund the continued growth of Stevenson University.

The first school dedicated in the new academic center was the Sandra R. Berman School of Nursing and Health Professions. Berman has been on the Stevenson board of trustees since 2013. Through her philanthropic service, she has actively worked to guarantee that Baltimore’s health care and education systems are thriving. Malcolm Berman, Sandra’s husband, said in his speech, “This is all about Kevin Manning: his  direction, his commitment and his hard work … We have a big space in our heart for Stevenson, and we’d like to continue to see it grow.”

Additionally, the Beverly K. Fine School of the Sciences was made possible by the Beverly K. and Jerome M. Fine Foundation. The foundation’s trustees, Louis and Phyllis Friedman, selected Stevenson as the beneficiary of the gift this year because of Mrs. Fine’s keen interest in helping community health care initiatives. The Friedmans believe that this naming gift is an ideal project for the foundation and a fitting way to honor and  remember Beverly Fine.

Phyllis shared, “Beverly Fine loved to help other people. When we went through this school and saw the incredible ability to educate the children for the 21st century, we thought there could be no nicer gift for Beverly than to have her name associated with this marvelous school and the wonderful vision of President Manning.”

According to Susan Thompson Gorman, Stevenson’s new executive vice president for academic affairs, the new academic center features “a nursing simulation laboratory suite … that allows student nurses to engage in very realistic clinical experiences right here on campus [and] a nursing resource  center that … functions just like typical hospital rooms so that students can practice nursing skills and patient care in an  authentic clinical setting. You’ll find 25 laboratories dedicated to the natural and applied sciences, as well as a dedicated learning laboratory for mathematics, that collectively will allow  inquiry to serve as the foundation of a creative synergy among our faculty and students that will enhance student learning.”

Gorman added, “The new academic center will launch and support Stevenson’s next steps into the future, serving the university and our students for many years to come. The scale and caliber of this facility will permit growth while fostering the learning, inquiry and discovery that characterize the excellence of the Stevenson learning experience.”

U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes also attended the event. “Every time you build a building, you make a statement about having confidence in the future,” he said. “When you build a building that’s going to serve students, you make a special statement about your confidence in the future. Sen. Cardin and I, and our whole delegation, are constantly looking at the need to match the skillset of people coming along with the emerging workforce, and you need institutions that are nimble and know how to turn in the direction of where that next opportunity is going to come from. Nobody does that better than Stevenson in my experience.”

The new academic center is located adjacent to student housing on the Owings Mills campus of Stevenson, and a future footbridge will join the two areas.

A ‘Lot’ of Memories: Sugarville Boomers Reunite



In the mid-1950s, the Jewish community of Baltimore was moving along the Park Heights corridor toward what is today known as Pikesville. In this area, local developer Gordon Sugar built what would become known to the neighborhood as Sugarville. In this enclave, a group of local youths would end up discovering their own “Field of Dreams.”

Sugarville was comprised of a small group of approximately 100 houses bordered by Park Heights Avenue, Stevenson Road and the Druid Hill Cemetery, ending just south of the beltway. Some chance in fate resulted in this small neighborhood having anywhere between 25 and 50 boys living in and around the area at any given time. However, the greatest chance of luck came in the form of the empty lot in the center of it all.

To this day, the kids who grew up in Sugarville do not know what twist caused a prime lot of real estate to be left open in the middle of the neighborhood. There are two theories: that a piping or zoning issue made it impossible to build on the lot; or that Gordon Sugar himself had seen that children played in the open space every day and chose to leave it open because he liked that the kids in the community used it so well.

Now that the Sugarville crew has grown up and dispersed across the U.S., they still stay in touch, having reunited in 1987 and in 2004. August 27 saw the group’s third organized reunion since childhood, where it met up to play a game of softball together, eat lunch and commemorate their childhoods. Although the original lot is now occupied by a house that was built by Gordon Sugar’s successor, the group played their softball game on the campus of the Park School, which was appropriately donated to the school by Gordon Sugar himself.

We were so lucky to have this experience as kids, to have an empty lot just to play and congregate.” — Bert Polan


William “Bill” Schapiro grew up in this idyllic Sugarville. He reflected, “Our whole lives were centered around this lot. We were there day and night. I don’t remember a parent ever setting foot on the lot. It was our base of operations from the time that we were 7 or 8 years old until we were about 14. Parents didn’t have to worry about us; we were just on the lot playing our games.”

“It was an innocent ‘Leave it to Beaver’ world,” Schapiro reflected, “We played three sports a year, depending on the season — baseball or softball, football and a little bit of soccer. Every kid had their own unique call from their parents to come in for dinner. We were 13 when Kennedy got assassinated, and the age of innocence ended. A lot of kids can’t have experiences like ours anymore; it was just an innocent time.”

“I remember one of our older friends, Richard Kress, collected over a hundred dollars to put up goal posts in the lot back then. It was amazing how fortunate we were to have had those times,” reflected Jack Goldenberg, another member of the gang. “And to get to see those guys again, to be able to share those memories with all of those people is just wonderful.”

Bert Polan also grew up in the Sugarville of the ’50s. “It was so simple and easy,” he said, “nothing bad ever happened. Often we had to play with imaginary men for the games if we didn’t have enough people. Once we organized a tackle football team and went and played up at Dunbar Heights. It was just the simple, beautiful experience of our childhood.”

About 80 percent of the Sugarville kids still live in the area today, and not much has changed about their neighborhood. Schapiro recalled, “Those homes were mainly $50,000 in that day and age, but it’s probably the equivalent of today’s million-dollar home. Other than that, the generation before us was in the Forest Park area, but this place is the same profile, it hasn’t changed. It is still the Jewish neighborhood.”

Polan added that their childhood crew has changed a lot as well — “It’s a group of very accomplished people. Some guys that we perceived as not very academically oriented turned out to be stars and are really people who are tremendously positioned in their communities.”

The largest change in Baltimore since their childhood, however, is the growth, strength and generosity of the Jewish community. “When we were in college, it wasn’t so fashionable to be at Beth El,” Polan recounted. “Now all the kids want to be there. I’ll visit with friends who look around and say they’ve never seen so many synagogues tossed together in one spot.”

Polan now resides in Sacramento, Calif. He reflected, “The community is about 20,000 Jews, while Baltimore has 90,000. However, the giving of the Federation in Sacramento each year is less than half a million. There is no history there, people don’t have a sense of the Jewish community. There are no long-standing Jewish families that have a sense of community, that want to be giving and be part of that. We were so lucky to have this experience in this community as kids, to have an empty lot just to play and congregate. What more could you ask for? We were fortunate to have it and are fortunate to continue to have the connection 55 years later.”