Everyman Adds 3 to Board

Everyman Theatre has announced the appointment of three new members to its board of directors. Jean W. Brune, Leonard Sherman and Kelly Keenan Trumpbour officially began their tenures in July. These additions to the board ensure Everyman will continue to benefit from a  diversity of experience and voices.

“As the Founder of Everyman Theatre, I am excited and honored at the level of expertise and support for governing that these three leaders in the Baltimore community have to offer,” said founding artistic director Vincent M. Lancisi. ”The future of Everyman is in very good hands.”

Brune was the head of school at Roland Park Country School for the past 24 years and retired this past May. She was named one of The Daily Record’s Top 100 Maryland Women in both 2012 and 2016. She serves on Baltimore Education Scholarship Trust as a trustee emerita and is the president of the Association of Maryland and D.C. Schools Board.

Sherman is the COO and CFO of Evergreen Health  Cooperative in Baltimore and has served formerly as CFO with the Kentucky Health Cooperative, a health insurance nonprofit based in Louisville. Sherman serves on the boards of the Maryland Association of Health Underwriters and a healthcare technology company.

Trumpbour is a founding venture partner of NextGen and a board member of the Baltimore Angels. She is also the founder of See Jane Invest, where she invests in startups founded or co-founded by women. Trumpbour also serves as an advisory board member to Venture for America, Betamore and Baltimore’s Social Impact Hub.

Freeman Joins Klein

Klein Enterprises has announced the hiring of Andy Freeman as development manager. Freeman brings more than 30 years of real estate experience to the Baltimore-based commercial and residential real estate  development and management firm.

“Andy’s extensive experience in real estate will serve as a great asset to our team,” said Daniel Klein, president of Klein Enterprises. “We look forward to his contributions as we continue to seek new  opportunities for investment and development throughout the community.”

As development manager, Freeman’s responsibilities will include assessment of potential deals and development projects, land acquisition and disposition, negotiation and preparation  of project and partnership documents, preparation of  development budgets, lender interface, rezoning, procurement of entitlements and permits,  selection of contractors and oversight of project development.

His experience comes from his time as a construction and development consultant for 28 Walker Development, as vice president of development for Jerome J. Parks Companies and director of business development for Swirnow Capital Management Corp.

County Rules on Woodholme, Hidden Waters Zoning


Signs such as this one could be seen on Old Court Road leading up to the county council’s CZMP vote.

A rezoning request approved Tuesday night paves the way for the Woodholme Country Club to move forward with its plans to build high-density housing adjacent to its Pikesville property.

Another vote by the Baltimore County Council also denied a developer’s request for homes to be built in higher density than current zoning allows at the Hidden Waters property on Old Court Road.

The decisions were part of the council’s Comprehensive Zoning Maps Process (CZMP), which occurs every four years and allows property owners, businesses and community organizations to petition the seven-member council to request zoning changes on specific properties.

Council chair Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat who represents District 2, weighed input from developers, community organizers, the Planning Board and council to help in her decision-making process.

“I believe that I have made decisions to bring quality, mindful development, while preventing the over development of our beautiful and thriving district,” Almond said in a statement.

This property adjacent to Woodholme Country Club was recently rezoned to allow for 153 townhomes.

This property adjacent to Woodholme Country Club was recently rezoned to allow for 153 townhomes.

The council voted 7-0 to approve the rezoning of a 40.94-acre parcel along Mount Wilson Lane and Iron Horse Lane that serves as the final piece of the puzzle for Woodholme to build 153 townhomes. Under its original proposal, Woodholme had sought to build 225 townhomes on the land, reducing the number of homes in the approved legislation by about 35 percent.

Throughout the process, residents voiced concerns about increased traffic flow and safety in an area they feel isn’t equipped to handle large-scale construction.

In another case that stirred community debate, the council denied an application from the Bozzuto Group, a Greenbelt, Md.-based real estate and development firm, to upzone at Hidden Waters. The Bozzuto Group requested to build 85 units on 25 unprotected acres of land, but the council ultimately decided that was not ideal for the area, and went with its own recommendation of DR 1, which will allow one home per acre to be built.

Neighbors of the property on Old Court Road were pushing for the property to be downzoned to RC 8, which is intended to encourage agricultural use.

The council’s decisions capped the CZMP for 2016.

All told, there were 37 changes that were requested throughout the second council district, which covers parts of Pikesville, Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Lutherville-Timonium and Ruxton.

This story is developing. Check the Sept. 9 JT for an update.

To Lose Weight, Ravens’ Suggs Cuts Back on Gefilte Fish

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has sacked his favorite Jewish food in favor of a healthier diet. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has sacked his favorite Jewish food in favor of a healthier diet. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

As he prepares for his 14th NFL season, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs insists he is in perhaps in the finest physical shape of his career thanks to a healthier diet.

Suggs, 33, is known as a large, menacing force on the field, wreaking havoc against opposing team’s offenses and altering games with his stellar performances. He is the franchise’s all-time sacks leaders (106.5), was named the 2011 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year and led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XLVII four seasons ago.

But coming off a year during which he played one game after suffering an Achillies tendon tear — the second of his career — in the 2015 season opener, Suggs is intent on  returning to his dominant form even if it means giving up some of his favorite foods — which includes gelfilte fish.

For the time being, Suggs, the longest-tenured Raven, has cut his intake of the Jewish holiday favorite, among other tasty selections, as part of his new diet and workout regimen.

“I’m not a big fan of food, but when I do eat, I like to eat,” Suggs said Aug. 18 during a news conference. “I like my fried chicken, my pizza, my peaches and my gefilte fish. I had to cut all that out. I still eat the peaches and a little bit of the fish, but that’s about it.”

While that’s likely refreshing news to the Ravens, it comes as a bit of a surprise to some local deli owners.

Mark Horowitz, co-owner of the Suburban House, noted Suggs would often frequent his Pikesville establishment to get his fix of whitefish. Although he can’t recall the last time Suggs was at his restaurant, Horowitz said Suggs’ business will be greatly missed.

“How many football players eat gefilte fish? Look, we all know certain players enjoy certain foods, and that just happens to be his,” Horowitz said. “I hope he comes around to eating more gefilte fish again sooner rather than later.”

Alan Smith, owner of Lenny’s Deli, said Suggs is a regular at his Owings Mills location but has yet to purchase any gefilte fish from the restaurant since it is only offered during the holidays.

But if and when Suggs decides to increase his consumption of the traditional Ashkenazi dish, Smith may just have a special order waiting for him.

“I think it’s pretty neat that he knows just what [gefilte fish] is,” Smith said. “I asked my manager the other day if [Suggs] had been in lately, so maybe I should set aside some gefilte fish for him sometime when we have it.”

When asked which brand of gefilte fish Suggs prefers, a Ravens spokesman declined to comment.

Interestingly, Suggs has  developed a Jewish history during his time in Baltimore. Suggs considers himself “half-Jewish” and even went as far as to get a Star of David tattoo on his right arm after the 2009 season to prove his faith.

“I had to rededicate myself to the game,” Suggs said at the time. “I had a lot of things I was dealing with, so I pretty much got this tattoo, just kind of, to remind me of who I am, the real me.”

If Suggs’ approach now is anything like it was back then to his faith, both he and the Ravens could be in store for a big season.

“He’s in excellent condition,” head coach John Harbaugh said at the Aug. 18 news conference. “He’s been away for a while, and he’s like, ‘I really love this. I love playing football. I love being a part of the team.’ He’s just been great with the players. Of course, the  energy level, the things he says, they’re just irreplaceable.”

Suggs’ favorite fish has also been on the agenda of none other than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. One of her emails released by the State Department last year caught the eyes of many Jews.

“Gefilte fish” read the subject of the 2010 email, sent to two top aides. Its body contained a simple question: ”Where are we on this?”

Apparently the issue at stake was a shipment of carp (a crucial gefilte fish ingredient) to Israel that had been blocked due to tariff issues just before Passover, when Jews traditionally enjoy the pungent patties. Fortunately, Clinton was able to pull strings to get the cargo approved, ensuring that no seders in Israel would go without the beloved dish.

JTA contributed to this report.


300 Orthodox Rabbis Condemn Child Sexual Abuse

A segment of the international modern Orthodox Jewish community is doing its part to raise awareness about child sexual abuse in institutions such as schools and synagogues.

Three hundred rabbis signed a letter last week that condemned Jewish leaders for silencing victims and called upon institutions to implement reforms such as more thorough screening processes for hiring employees, including, larger number of adults in rooms with children as safeguards and teaching children about what constitutes appropriate or inappropriate adult  behavior. The letter came in  response to a series of suicides that were determined to be a  direct result of child molestation.

“I think our community has been working toward this commitment to address and prevent child sexual abuse for some time. They are incredible in their support of the Safety Kid Program, a nationally recognized sexual abuse program,” shared Nancy Aiken, the executive director of CHANA, a Jewish organization devoted to protecting victims of abuse. “The Orthodox community has been quite forthcoming in wanting these types of programs in their institutions. CHANA has worked closely with the Orthodox schools to instate this programming.”

Among the signers of the letter were rabbis from the United States, Israel and Europe. A number of the rabbis were from Maryland including Rabbi Dr. Tsvi G. Schur, a chaplain at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“Orthodox rabbis do care about the situation, and publically we want to say that we do not want this to be swept under the carpet,” he said.

Retired Rabbi Jack Bieler, who served as the rabbi of Kemp Mill Synagogue in Silver Spring, Md., for 30 years and continues to serve as a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, said the issue of child abuse is something the organization has worked extensively on in terms of writing protocols for institutions to adopt.

Bieler said a statement such as this one that spells out specific proposals could have a meaningful impact, but the “devil’s in the details.”

It underscores one’s values that this is really significant, and when you have a written document, it has to be followed appropriately.” — Rabbi Yitzhok Merkin, headmaster of the  Yeshiva of Greater Washington


“Many of these changes, logistically, are costly and require manpower,” he said. “And volunteer organizations have a very narrow bottom line. And for them to donate portions of their budgets is not simple. On the other hand, by having a large number of people make this statement on this issue, that it has to be addressed will hopefully precipitate it.”

Bieler said child abuse has been a cultural issue for Judaism that is sometimes ignored, but a heightened sense of awareness has led to more leaders taking action.

“I don’t think you can talk about the Orthodox community in a monolithic sense,” he said. “There are many different groups within the Orthodox community that have addressed this in different ways. The general climate has made it that much more acceptable and understandable that these things have to be talked about, and changes have to be made to prevent this.”

Other signatories include Rabbi Mitchell Ackerson, director of pastoral care at Sinai Hospital; Rabbi Marcel Blitz of Baltimore; Rabbi Moshe Hauer of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion; Rabbi Binyamin Marwick of Congregation Shomrei Emunah; Rabbi Yisrael Motzen of Ner Tamid Greensping Valley Synagogue; and Rabbi Shmuel Silber of Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim.

The letter also found its way to the desk of a staff member at the Yeshiva of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, said headmaster Rabbi Yitzhok Merkin. Merkin said in reviewing the proposed reforms, they “support it 100 percent.”

“It underscores one’s values that this is really significant, and when you have a written document, it has to be followed appropriately,” he said. “I think the fact that you have a great number of strong personalities who are well respected in the community makes it clear that’s it not appropriate to deny things.”

Merkin said the Yeshiva has an ombudsman who is unaffiliated with the school to investigate complaints as a measure to  comply with both Maryland and federal laws.

Safeguards against child abuse are also in place at Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Md., says headmaster Josh Levisohn. Levisohn said the school performs background checks of its employees and has three guidance counselors available to students should they wish to discuss anything confidential.

“There are support systems in place for kids that feel uncomfortable with one another,” he said. “By and large they are common-sense practices. We have a board that oversees what we do, and we have a committee that looks through our policies.”

Levisohn said he understands the awareness about child sexual abuse that have been raised and thinks it resonates strongly due to the intimate nature of religious communities like the Orthodox world.

“I think that there is concern overall about sexual abuse in all communities, and religious communities tend to be tighter knit than others, and that’s why it gets attention in that way,” he said.

Daniel Nozick contributed to this report.


FBI Seeking Public’s Help in Finding Bank Robber

The FBI Baltimore Violent Crimes Task Force is seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who is wanted in connection with a series of bank robberies in Baltimore and Baltimore County. Investigators believe the same man is responsible for three robberies in the last two months; the most recent incident was on Saturday August 20th.

Witnesses describe him as a black man, about 6’2” tall, with an athletic build. The suspect approaches the counter, hands the bank employee a note announcing an armed robbery, and demands money. He threatens to shoot the teller. No one has been hurt in any of the robberies.

The list of banks:

  • July 18 – Bank of America, 3621 Old Court Road, Pikesville, Maryland
  • July 22 – Wells Fargo Bank, 2847 Smith Avenue, Pikesville, Maryland
  • August 20 – Wells Fargo Bank, 5121 Roland Avenue, Baltimore City, Maryland

If anyone has any information about the robber or robberies, you are asked to call the Baltimore FBI at 410-265-8080. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest in this case.

The Baltimore FBI Violent Crimes Task Force is made up of FBI agents, Baltimore City Police detectives, Baltimore County Police detectives, and Anne Arundel County Police detectives. They investigate significant violent crimes, including kidnappings, robberies of commercial institutions, armored car and bank robberies, extortions, and fugitive felons.

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21st-Century School Plan Draws Community Concern



Baltimore residents are worried about unforeseen consequences that could result from one of the largest ongoing projects in the city, the 21st Century School Buildings Plan.

Approved by the Board of School Commissioners in 2013, the planned 10-year project calls for “a massive building modernization initiative … to transform all of the district’s buildings and give its students the 21st-century learning environments they need and deserve.”

Community concerns about the project’s budget and schedule and discrepancies in the city’s plan are rising as a result of how the 21st Century plan affects two local high schools, Forest Park and Northwestern. The two schools are in the process of merging because changing demographics resulting in lower enrollment have led to both campuses being underutilized. A city official spoke about the city’s plans at a community meeting held by the Baltimore Jewish Council on Aug. 18.

For the next two years, Forest Park and Northwestern students will be engaged in separate classes and curriculums within Northwestern’s existing campus while Forest Park is renovated to accommodate more students. Following renovations, Northwestern will close permanently. These  renovations will provide a 177,479-square-foot campus with modern amenities and technology. Although Forest Park’s projected enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year is 812 students, the new building is being built for approximately 1,208 to accommodate students who will choose to attend  Forest Park once Northwestern has been closed.

For the next two years, Forest Park and Northwestern students will be engaged in  separate classes and curriculums within Northwestern’s existing campus while Forest Park is renovated to accommodate more students.


However, members of the community are worried about whether or not the project  is on time and on budget.  According to Marnell Cooper, a member of Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners since 2002 and chairman since 2015, by 2020 the city is “supposed to complete 28 new buildings and close at least 26 in a city that does not have space to build new buildings.” Additionally, the plan states that the school system must “contribute $3 million a year in addition to money already set aside for maintenance.”  Although Cooper assured the community that the project was meeting both time constraints and budgetary demands, the fears of the community are not off base.

According to Forest Park’s website, “the classes of 2019 and 2020 are projected to graduate from our new state-of-the-art 21st Century School building. The transformation begins this year, with renovations projected to be completed by August 2018.  On Aug. 1, 2016, our transition commenced with the first stage, moving to our temporary location, at 6900 Park Heights Ave., for two years.”

Even this blurb brings the community’s questions into focus. According to the initial plans for Forest Park located online, construction was slated to begin in June 2015 with the building fully occupied by August 2017. However, the city’s website says that it is currently in the process of designing schematics for the school, which was meant to be accomplished by August 2014, according to the original plans. The renovations will cost $70 million, according to the city schools’ website.

Community members were concerned that if renovations are not completed on schedule, the populations of two local high schools will be left in the lurch after Northwestern closes in 2020.

Sandy Johnson is a member of the Fallstaff community, which is home to an elementary school that will be affected by the 21st Century Plan. While she voiced concerns about time and budget, her main contention was that there must be at least a plan for what to do with the buildings that are slated to be closed, which currently there is not. She said, “I agree with Mr. Cooper that the board can’t do everything at the same time, which I think they have been guilty of trying to do. You have to just decide to do certain things that you believe are actually going to move the needle of kids. The board has not been effective enough in making those decisions. Empty school buildings will not influence kids positively.”

Cooper conceded the point, proposing that the main concern now is that “when we started this program, we did not address it in terms of what money is recouped by closing facilities. If it is recouped, how is that money then spent and funneled back into education? We also need to talk about what is going to be done with the building. This is the real challenge; if we have more than 26 empty school buildings in Baltimore City, what do they become? They become havens for crime. We have to come up with some answers, because we know that in 2020, the buildings are going to be empty.”

Although hypothetical solutions such as turning schools into athletic complexes have been suggested, Cooper firmly believes that getting both local and international businesses involved in converting campuses is the most reasonable solution proposed.

“We have to figure out the entry points for businesses to participate, and it can’t just be the businesses that are billion-dollar industries, because in Baltimore City specifically, there is a large entrepreneurial space of people who want to contribute to the school system but are unclear how to do it,” Cooper said. “We have about 10,000 students in our career technology education program. We need help understanding what the community wants or needs, because their education is not complete unless they can match it with you, the community.

“The school system has plenty of buildings to use,” Cooper continued. “We just don’t own them. The question now is how can the school system get control of a building or buildings to use as an economic engine?”


Talmudical Academy to Expand Campus

A virtual rendering of the Academy’s renovated campus (Talmudical Academy: talmudicalacademy.org)

A virtual rendering of the Academy’s renovated campus (Talmudical Academy: talmudicalacademy.org)

The Talmudical Academy is undergoing a fundraising campaign to expand its campus.

Originally built to serve a population of 450 students, the Academy has approximately 1,050 enrolled, according to Rabbi Yaacov Cohen, the Academy’s executive director.

“We are currently in the middle of our fundraising campaign; it has been very successful so far. Construction of the new buildings will start very soon,” shared Cohen, although dates for construction are not yet set.

Currently, the campus is composed of a main administrative building, a dormitory and two shared buildings of classrooms. One building contains both the preschool and elementary school, and the other contains the middle and high schools. Additionally, the campus has a number of portable trailers that serve as makeshift classrooms.

“The new renovations will involve an expansion of the campus from 9.5 to 11.5 acres,” said Cohen. The plans also include two new buildings, which will house the high school and early childhood education respectively.

“We very excited to add additional playgrounds and an extra gymnasium to the campus as well,” Cohen added.  According to the Academy’s website, the new campus will also incorporate “a spacious cafeteria and multipurpose rooms, technological aids in every classroom and expanded therapy and resource rooms.”


Bikers Ride For Renewable Energy

“Ride for the Over Ride” participants leave Druid Hill Park on Aug. 20 (Provided)

“Ride for the Over Ride” participants leave Druid Hill Park on Aug. 20 (Provided)

This past weekend saw a group of bikers travel 373 miles across Maryland, from Ocean City to Deep Creek Lake, in support of renewable energy legislation. Dubbed the “Ride for the Over Ride,” the campaign was led by public health advocate Vinny DeMarco and his son, Jamie. The goal of the group was to raise awareness and support for a renewable energy bill that was vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan.

According to DeMarco, “We want to highlight that across the state, in every region, the majority of Maryland residents support renewable energy legislation. Seventy-one percent of Marylanders want the law in place, and we hope that the Maryland General Assembly will override the governor’s veto to create jobs and save the climate.”

According to a news release by the campaign: “The Clean Energy Jobs Act would increase Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), committing Maryland to receiving 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, an increase from the current goal of 20 percent by 2022.”

In the same release, Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, shared, “The CCAN strongly supports the Ride for the Over Ride. We know that this kind of commitment will help mobilize public support to override the governor’s veto … and will help convince the governor to drop his opposition to critically needed climate measures.”

A three-fifths vote of the elected membership of the General Assembly is necessary to override the governor’s veto.


Jewish Jazz Comes to An Die Musik

Steve Loew (left) and Daniel Weiser (Photo provided)

Steve Loew (left) and Daniel Weiser (Photo provided)

A new chamber music organization in Baltimore will bring jazz and klezmer together in two concerts this weekend.

AmiciMusic presents “Jewish Jazz” at An Die Musik, which features clarinets Steve Loew and pianist Daniel Weiser.

“This program will highlight the close connections between Jewish klezmer music and early jazz, especially at the beginning of the 20th century in New York City, where the two musical strands met and synthesized into a new type of American sound,” a news release said. “The program features music by Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman and Leonard Bernstein, as well as klezmer-inspired works by Jacob Weinberg, Bela Kovacs and John Williams.”

Weiser hopes audience members will hear the commonalities in the different styles of music and come away with a new appreciation of the connections.

“Once they hear a piece of klezmer and go back and forth between klezmer and ragtime and jazz, they’ll hear how it sounds similar, and I’m hoping they’ll hear things in a little different light, hear how it all comes together.”

AmiciMusic performs “Jewish Jazz” at An Die Musik on Saturday Aug. 27 and at a house concert on Sunday Aug. 28. Tickets for both shows are available at amicimusic.org.