UPDATE: Suspect in Barricade Situation in Police Custody

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After a nearly eight-hour barricade that closed sections of Reisterstown Road in the northern part of the city, Baltimore Police arrested a man who refused to come outside when sheriffs tried to serve him a warrant, according to police spokesman T.J. Smith.

Shots were fired from the house, located in the 6900 block of Reisterstown Road, but no officers were injured. His name has not been released, and he was not harmed during the ordeal. He was arrested around 5 p.m.

Police blocked off Reisterstown Road from Seven Mile Lane to Labyrinth Road beginning around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Officers from the Baltimore City Sherriff’s Department arrived at the house around that time to serve a warrant, Smith said. When the officers arrived, the individual inside the house refused to come out and “implied” that he was armed, Smith said. The Sherriff’s deputies backed off and called Baltimore Police to the scene. At least two armored police vehicles arrived and officers from the SWAT team began staging in the area.

Shots were fired at officers within an hour before the man’s arrest, Smith said. As of press time, charges had not been filed, but Smith said there will be “applicable charges” in connection with the man firing at officers.

Support was provided by Howard County and Baltimore County police and the Baltimore City Fire Department, and the MTA provided a bus for first responders and those who were evacuated from their homes to use as a cooling station.

Howard County Federation Director Resigns

Michelle Ostroff (File photo)

Michelle Ostroff (File photo)

Michelle Ostroff has resigned from her position as executive director of the Jewish Federation of Howard County, according to an email distributed to the community last week. Ostroff will officially step down at the end of July.

“This decision was made so that I can spend more time with my family, as the demands of this role began to present greater and greater challenges to my time,” said Ostroff in a written statement. “I will continue to call Howard County home and remain an active and involved member of our Jewish community.”

Ostroff, who became the executive director four years ago, has taken a part-time position at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Also, Beth Millstein became the federation’s president at a June 23 annual meeting, succeeding Richard B. Schreibstein. Millstein previously served as the federation’s executive vice president. She works at Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored enterprise for mortgage lenders.

jkatz@midatlanticmedia.com

Brexit’s Unintended Consequences

The United Kingdom’s vote last week by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the  European Union promises to present a primer in the law of unintended consequences. From its economic and trade ramifications to the integrity of the U.K. itself, the referendum is leading the world into uncharted territory.

The vote highlighted a split in the country between young and old, the cosmopolitan and provincial and the economically well off and the economically struggling, and it exacerbated pre-existing fractures between the national power center of England and the lesser countries of Scotland, Wales and Northern Island. The less wealthy voters who opted to leave Europe appeared to be voting against their own economic interests when they voted to leave a system that has brought the continent peace, stability and prosperity for the first time ever. But people will vote against their economic  interests if it supports a higher interest.

The higher interest among pro-Brexit voters appeared to be anger at a Brussels-centered system that was perceived to have enriched the few at the expense of the many. While some of those concerns may be justified, the politics of anger isn’t always carefully conceived. And in this instance, the fear is that the growing negativity reflected in the vote will continue to feed populist sentiment and energize extremist camps throughout the U.K. and the rest of Europe.

The Brexit vote dovetails with the similar politics of anger we see growing in the United States. It too is directed against  so-called elites and is based upon a nativist hue of nostalgia for a better time that likely never existed. But once those “grievances” are voiced, someone needs to be identified to blame for the problems. And while Jews — and Israel — have historically been the b’te noire of the political fringes, the role of scapegoat is also played today by immigrants and foreigners who are believed to have taken away jobs and diluted the purity of the nation’s way of life.

We have seen this movie before in Europe, and it gets ugly. And we have always thought that the United States was immune from what historian Robert Paxton defined as  “a form of political behavior marked by  obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity.” But we are seeing just such developments in this year’s presidential race, and it is a cause for concern. Indeed, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, praised the Brexit vote as a “great thing,” because the people of the U.K. have “taken back their country.”

Trump’s view on the Brexit vote is  the subject of legitimate debate. But that debate can’t ignore the many unintended consequences of the outcome — including whether the Brexit decision strengthens or weakens the politics of anger being expressed by Trump’s own campaign.

Incoming Arts Chair Prepares to Make Her Mark

Shelley Morhaim. (Photo provided)

Shelley Morhaim. (Photo provided)

Pikesville resident Shelley Morhaim is poised to make an impact on Maryland artists as the incoming chair of the Maryland State Arts Council, the organization that supports and promotes the arts across the state.

Morhaim was appointed to the council by former governor Martin O’Malley in 2013 and re-appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan earlier this year. With her election as chair, she takes over the Arts Council on July 1.

Morhaim, who began her professional career as a lawyer, has worked as a writer and filmmaker; she wrote, produced and directed the documentary “The Next Industrial Revolution” in 2002. She also plays the folk harp as a therapeutic musician at Mercy Hospital. Her husband, Dan, represents Baltimore County’s 11th District in the Maryland House of Delegates and is an emergency room physician.

Since her appointment to the Arts Council, Morhaim has served as secretary-treasurer and chair of the council’s grant committee.

“The Arts Council does a lot of things, but one of the most significant is that we give away a lot of money,” she said, referring to the grants administered by the council to arts organizations, artists, schools and other local arts projects.

With a budget of over $20 million, the Arts Council helps fund more than 300 different organizations in the state, including the Gordon Center for Performing Arts at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC and Stevenson University’s art exhibitions department.

“It’s a really great thing, because not all states do as good a job as we do. We’re kind of a model; I’ve gone to national conferences, and Maryland is one of the model states in how we get the dollars to the artists and the arts organizations,” she said.

She hopes to see the addition of an arts and entertainment district to the Pikesville area. These districts are a statewide initiative to offer incentives to artists and arts organizations to set up shop in parts of the state of Maryland; currently, there are 24 districts but none in Baltimore County.

Shelley Morhaim, incoming chair of the Maryland State Arts Council, plays the folk harp at her home in Pikesville. She plays part time for patients at Mercy Hospital. (Photo provided)

Shelley Morhaim, incoming chair of the Maryland State Arts Council, plays the folk harp at her home in Pikesville. She plays part time for patients at Mercy Hospital. (Photo provided)

A possible future district would act like those already in place at Station North and the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower in the city, which serve as hubs for local artists. “There’s a lot of artists in Baltimore County, but we don’t really have a center that could convene those artists,” she said.

The Arts Council also funds works of public art and pop-up art exhibitions across the state and offers technical help such as upgrading websites or suggestions to improve social media outreach to arts organizations in the state.

“The legislature and the governor have been very, very supportive,” she said. Maryland’s first lady, Yumi Hogan, is a painter and professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and has stated publicly that she will work to support the arts as first lady.

“We’re very fortunate to live in a state that appreciates the arts,” said Theresa Colvin, executive director at the Maryland State Arts Council. With one of the highest-funded arts councils in the country, Colvin said it is important that leaders such as Morhaim have an affinity for the arts.

Colvin said Morhaim brings a ‘unique perspective’ to the council as an artist and that Morhaim’s involvement with the council has been highlighted by her transparency and integrity. “Her leadership is coming at a particularly important time,” Colvin said, as the Arts Council is entering its 50th year.

Barbara Berschon chaired the council from 2012 to 2014 and has seen Morhaim’s work in promoting the state’s art and art organization firsthand. “Shelley has always been a wonderful contributor to the arts council in so many ways,” she said.

The two attended national conferences held by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and Berschon said these trips helped her see Morhaim’s leadership as she made significant contributions to the council’s work.

“When you’re chair you get to go around the state of Maryland and be the ambassador for the arts around the state,” she said. “With Shelley at the helm, I think we’ll keep moving forward.”

Adam Barry is an intern at the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Israel’s Conversion Muddle

Israel’s chief rabbinate system has long been known as inflexible about strains of Judaism that do not match its approved brands of Orthodoxy. The bureaucracy and chosen path of the rabbinate has alienated ordinary Israelis from Judaism and complicated the lives of those who get tripped up on its increasingly narrow strictures. Having become a stronghold of Haredi Orthodoxy, the rabbinate has, in effect, become a non-Zionist institution, working not to preserve the unity of the Jewish people, but intent instead on drawing an increasingly smaller circle around those who can be part of the Jewish people.

The bureaucracy of the rabbinate also appears not to communicate well with  itself. That was made clear in the recent case of a U.S.-born convert who wished to marry an Israeli man. The rabbinical court in Petach Tikvah, where the man lives, ruled in April that his fiancee’s conversion was invalid. The woman was converted by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, a prominent New York modern Orthodox rabbinic leader. After a protest, the head of the chief rabbinate’s department of personal status and conversion, Rabbi Itamar Tubul, wrote the Petach Tikvah rabbinate, saying the conversion certificate was “approved by the chief rabbinate of Israel.” Nonetheless, the Petach Tikvah rabbis in June again rejected the conversion on the grounds that Lookstein’s name was not on the  rabbinate’s list of approved rabbis.

So is Lookstein on the list or not? Keep in mind that the issue is only about Orthodox rabbis. Rabbis from other streams of Judaism aren’t even considered for the list and are struggling just to be recognized in Israel.

According to Itim — an Israeli group that is critical of the chief rabbinate, is supporting Lookstein’s convert and which sued in court to get a copy of a list of Diaspora rabbis certified by the rabbinate — Lookstein and other major Orthodox rabbis in the United States are not on  the list.

“The right arm doesn’t know what the left is doing,” Rabbi Seth Farber, the founder of Itim, said. “Sometimes the rabbinical court says yes and Tubul says no. Sometimes Tubul says yes and the rabbinical court says no. There’s absolutely no transparency.” And there is no predictability either.

An increasing number of Israelis who are frustrated by the exclusionary policies of the rabbinate have chosen to get married outside the country and away from the “control” of the rabbinate. That’s great for them. But what about those who both take their religion seriously and see Israel as the promised Jewish homeland? For those Jews, many of them born outside of the country, the exclusionary policies  of the rabbinate cause Israel’s promise to fall short.

Associated Announces New Board, Celebrates Fundraising

Associated president Marc Terrill with Associated Women campaign chair Nina Rosenzwog (left) and Associated campaign chair Nancy Kohn Rabin. (Photos provided)

Associated president Marc Terrill with Associated Women campaign chair Nina Rosenzwog (left) and Associated campaign chair Nancy Kohn Rabin. (Photos provided)

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore announced its new board and celebrated reaching its campaign goal at its annual meeting on June 22 at Beth Tfiloh Congregation.

The organization reached its annual campaign goal of $30.6 million, and thanks to government funds, contributions from foundations and gifts for specific projects, The Associated raised $47 million this past year.

Mark Neumann ended his two-year term as chair of the board. “This has been an invaluable experience for me,” he said.

The new board includes chair Linda Hurwitz, chair-elect Debra Weinberg, annual campaign chair John Shmerler, community planning and allocations chair Beth Goldsmith, philanthropic planning and services chair Philip Sachs, marketing chair Morry Zolet, Associated Women president Michele Lax, women’s campaign chair Linda Elman, audit chair Robert Russel, secretary P.J. Pearlstone, treasurer Fritzi Hallock and Associated Jewish Charities president Nancy Hackerman.

Associated president Marc Terrill said The Associated helps community members navigate the challenging world.

“What we have witnessed this evening is a culmination of a year’s-plus work in making our community a bit smaller, a bit more welcoming and supportive, with more understanding, with a lot of resolute behavior of advancing what we care about in the sustenance of the Jewish community,” he said. “What we also have witnessed in these handful of minutes is a snapshot of how we collectively make a difference in making the world — our corner of the world — somewhat smaller and more fulfilling, and all the time wrapping community members in the cloak of love and support that we gained local national and international acclaim for.”

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

Modernizing Mental Health Dr. Steven Sharfstein reflects on his legacy at Sheppard Pratt

“You know, a lot of people think that Sheppard Pratt is for the wealthy, that it’s for profit, it’s not true. We take care of everyone.” — Dr. Steven S. Sharfstein (All photos are courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

“You know, a lot of people think that Sheppard Pratt is for the wealthy, that it’s for profit, it’s not true. We take care of everyone.”
— Dr. Steven S. Sharfstein
(All photos are courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

After a 30-year term at Sheppard Pratt, including 25 years as CEO, Dr. Steven Sharfstein retired on June 30, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and growth.

Under Sharfstein’s watch, the Sheppard Pratt Health System maintained quality patient care as the organization underwent exponential growth, expanding its geographic footprint and treatment offerings and shifting to an outpatient-focused model.

His term has seen Sheppard Pratt grow from two sites to 38, expand into outpatient care from inpatient and provide exceptional care to Maryland’s residents. Under his supervision, Sharfstein boasts that the organization excelled in “providing care and treatment near to where people live and work.”

“We had to reinvent ourselves, transform ourselves,” Sharfstein said. “What we decided to do after a lot of internal conversation and external review was to expand. Even though we were contracting as a hospital, we wanted to expand as a health system.”

The 73-year-old grew up in a Jewish household in the community of Great Neck in Long Island, N.Y. An active member of the Reform movement, Sharfstein found one of his first leadership roles in the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) before becoming engaged in the civil rights movement.

He attended Dartmouth College for his undergraduate career and earned his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Following his education, Sharfstein had a 14-year career as a psychiatrist in multiple capacities, including both inpatient and outpatient care in which he performed research at the National Institutes of Health, wrote some of the first papers on the AIDS epidemic and worked with the administration of President Jimmy Carter on the Mental Health Systems Act.

“Steve Sharfstein is a visionary in the mental health field, and I am honored to follow in his footsteps.”    — Dr. Harsh K. Trivedi

 

Rather than seek out a job at Sheppard Pratt, Sharfstein was recruited by Robert Gibson, his predecessor as president. In 1986, Sharfstein came on board as medical director and vice president of the hospital. He became president in 1992.

Sheppard Pratt was founded by Moses Sheppard, a local Quaker. The sect of Christianity is known for being pioneers in the quality and humane care for the mentally ill through the 18th and 19th centuries. Sheppard devoted his entire fortune to what was then known as the Sheppard Asylum, which later became the Sheppard Pratt Hospital with the arrival of philanthropist Enoch Pratt.

Top: In 1992, Dr. Sharfstein was named the health system’s fifth president. (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

In 1992, Dr. Sharfstein was named the health system’s fifth president. (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

However, Sheppard Pratt has changed more since Sharfstein arrived than it had since its founding in 1891, growing into the largest mental health nonprofit in Maryland.

The differences bet-ween then-Sheppard Pratt Hospital and the Sheppard Pratt Health System of today are both numerous and vast. The shift from inpatient to outpatient care over the course of the past few decades is one of the most notable changes. When Sharfstein first arrived at the hospital, it provided almost exclusively inpatient care — the average stay of a patient was 80 days. Today, the average patient will stay for nine-and-a-half days.

This shift resulted from the first crisis that Sharfstein faced as CEO. The issue was money. Insurance for inpatient care had changed with the start of managed care, which cut both patient tenure and profits at the hospital.

“Understand that Sheppard Pratt is not for profit, and we still have a Quaker heritage,” he said. “You know, a lot of people think that Sheppard Pratt is for the wealthy, that it’s for profit, it’s not true. We take care of everyone. Most of the payment comes from public funds.”

Sheppard Pratt established itself as a service system by expanding both its inpatient and outpatient programs. This was achieved by developing a number of subspecialty areas that had programs for children and adolescents, geriatrics, eating disorders, brain injury and autism among others.

 Above: In 1986, Dr. Sharfstein joined Sheppard Pratt as vice president and medical director. (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)


Above: In 1986, Dr. Sharfstein joined Sheppard Pratt as vice president and medical director. (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

The growth of Sheppard Pratt as a health care system is obvious. It has expanded from being almost entirely inpatient to having inpatient, outpatient, residential and rehabilitation programs. Sheppard Pratt had two locations when Sharfstein started in 1986. It now has 38 locations across the state of Maryland, including the original Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, a Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Ellicott City and a number of outpatient sites through affiliates such as Mosaic Community Services in Timonium, Way Station, Inc. in Frederick and Family Services, Inc. in Montgomery County.

Over time, Sheppard Pratt has absorbed about a dozen nonprofits from across the state into its health care service system, which strives to uphold its Quaker heritage by providing health care to anyone in need. Of the health system’s almost $400 million budget, 80 percent of its money comes from government funding via Medicare, Medicaid, grants and contracts and funding for schools in which Sheppard Pratt provides special education.

As CEO of the Sheppard Pratt Health System, Sharfstein was kept plenty busy with his daily duties, let alone by his involvement with various organizations. However, adding more to his plate does not give him the slightest hesitation if it is a worthwhile cause.

Dr. Sharfstein poses in front of the newly opened Integrated Health Care Center, which was named in his honor. (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

Dr. Sharfstein poses in front of the newly opened Integrated Health Care Center, which was named in his honor. (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

When Annette March-Grier was preparing to open Roberta’s House, a haven in Baltimore for people dealing with the loss of a loved one, she was advised by Sen. Barbara Mikulski to seek out Sharfstein. He not only agreed to talk with March-Grier, but he became a coach, adviser and mentor to her and the nonprofit that is located on St. Paul Street.

“He has really been an anchor to getting Roberta’s House grounded and the support it needs from the greater community,” said March-Grier, Roberta’s House founder and president. “He has been with me since the inception” and continues “to remain loyal” and available.

“He is very meek and humble but powerful and very influential,” she continued. “He has a lot of respect in the Baltimore, Maryland region and probably nationally as well.”

Sharfstein served on the board for five years and now, three years later, he is just as involved, she said. “We definitely love him. He’s gone above and beyond, helping guide and direct” Roberta’s House.

“As busy as he is — and we are a small local nonprofit — he is present,” attending meetings and leading capital campaigns, March-Grier said. And most important, she said, Sharfstein helped her make the connections needed to start Roberta’s House and keep it vibrant. He plans to remain involved with the organization.

Dr. Sharfstein celebrates a Health System milestone with many of its employees. (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

Dr. Sharfstein celebrates a Health System milestone with many of its employees. (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

As he prepares to become president emeritus of Sheppard Pratt, Sharfstein is increasing his leadership role at his synagogue, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, where he became president of the board in the first week of May. He will serve a two-year term.

During his roughly 25 years of membership at Baltimore Hebrew, Sharfstein has been “a very strong member” of the synagogue’s executive committee and has “been very available to us” whenever a congregant was experiencing a mental issue, said Rabbi Andrew Busch. “He is a familiar face around the synagogue” who values both the heritages of Reform Judaism and Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Busch said. “He is very smart. He has a very flexible mind, open to hearing new information.”

The stereotype of psychiatrists being great listeners is true of Sharfstein, the rabbi said, adding that when involved in synagogue business, he listens to all parties.

Dr. Sharfstein with his wife, Dr. Margaret Sharfstein (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

Dr. Sharfstein with his wife, Dr. Margaret Sharfstein (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

This awareness of those around him has been a pervasive force in Sharfstein’s life, which was apparent to those who attended his final lecture, “Reflections on 30 years at Sheppard Pratt and the Future of Behavioral Health Care,” on June 22.

The lecture hall was filled with Sharfstein’s friends, family and co-workers. When the time came for the audience to ask questions, many simply expressed their thanks to him or shared stories about how remarkable he is in his capacity as both CEO and a personal confidant.

One such attendee was Dave Buller, a recently retired mental health worker who worked at Sheppard Pratt for 43 years. He had the opportunity to witness the entirety of Sharfstein’s leadership firsthand. He stood up and shared how Sharfstein helped him when he was having a difficult time — he would always tell people that a real person ran Sheppard Pratt, not just a managerial figure.

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Dr. Sharfstein’s executive team. Top row (from left): Catherine Doughty, Marguerite Kelley, Ernestine Cosby, R.N. and Gerald A. Noll; Bottom row (from left): Robert Roca, M.D., Dr. Sharfstein and Bonnie Katz. Not pictured: Scott Rose (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

In fact, Sharfstein has always been “open to people coming to him,” Buller said. “He introduced a hotline to go straight to the top.” Buller recounted telling Sharfstein that he was going to call the hotline later as they passed in a hallway, which Sharfstein countered by inviting Buller to just come to his office to talk. “If something wasn’t going well and he knew about it, he would fix it.” This is the ideal that Sheppard Pratt’s incipient CEO, Dr. Harsh K. Trivedi, will be following.

“Steve Sharfstein is a visionary in the mental health field, and I am honored to follow in his footsteps,” Trivedi said. “For 30 years, he has been at the forefront of innovations in psychiatric care, always emphasizing the importance of providing compassionate, patient-centered care and evidence-based treatment to those in need. I look forward to continuing this work and ensuring that every patient, student and family member receives the very best care and is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Sharfstein will remain active in both the community and the hospital — his office is merely moving across the street to another building on campus. He plans to teach and write. In fact, he is currently writing two books — one on involuntary treatment and the other on the changing mental health system in America focusing on hospitals. He also intends to see clients in an outpatient setting at the newly named Steven S. Sharfstein, M.D. Integrated Health Care Center in Baltimore City.

 Above: Incoming president Dr. Harsh K. Trivedi and Dr. Sharfstein (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

Incoming president Dr. Harsh K. Trivedi and Dr. Sharfstein (Courtesy of Sheppard Pratt)

As he transitions roles, Sharfstein does not have any immediate plans. He explained: “Whenever I start something new, [my mindset] comes from Hippocrates, ‘Do No Harm.’”

He hopes that in the future Sheppard Pratt will expand its services beyond Maryland to other locations in the country and maintain its reputation for providing quality care. Steven Sharfstein becomes president emeritus at Sheppard Pratt on July 1.

dnozick@midatlanticmedia.com,
spollak@midatlanticmedia.com

Seasons’ Reasons: ‘It’ll Be Worth the Wait’

Seasons. (Photo by Daniel Nozick)

Seasons. (Photo by Daniel Nozick)

Summer has just arrived, but Seasons remains unchanged. The long-awaited New York-based kosher market has been preparing to open a store in Pikesville since as early as 2014, but it has not given an opening date.

Seasons currently operates four stores in New York and one in Lakewood, N.J., and also plans to open stores in Clifton, N.J. and Cleveland. The Pikesville store will open at 1628 Reisterstown Road in a 15,000-square-foot space that formerly housed an Office Depot.

The store will offer a variety of produce, baked goods, prepared foods, fish and dairy. Additionally, it will feature a deli with a butcher, a floral department and an option to shop from home with delivery services.

The delayed opening of Seasons has been a hot topic of discussion among the community. Confusion has mounted over when the store will open to the public. Zachary Richards, general manager of Seasons of Maryland, said via email, “Construction is an unpredictable and often frustratingly slow process. It involves the juggling and coordination of several unrelated entities and unexpected twists and turns.”

Initially, there was an issue was over parking; however, Richards said that “parking was a challenge but, thankfully, has been resolved.”

On June 1, 2015, the Baltimore County Council passed Bill No. 49-15. This legislation allows for retail stores to lower the number of parking spots required by providing an approved parking plan and documentation of investiture in the property.

Summer has just arrived, but Seasons remains unchanged.

 

The typical parking requirement for retail is five spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area. Now, the bill dictates that “in the Pikesville Commercial Revitalization District, three [parking spaces] per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area are required for retail use.”

The bill continues: “However, a minimum investment of $2 million in interior or exterior improvements is required. The improvements shall be made within six months of the filing of the parking plan.”

Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler confirmed that on April 16, 2015 Seasons applied for both interior demolitions and interior alterations permits. The interior demolitions permit was issued immediately, and the interior alterations permit was issued on June 9 of this year.

“There are some plumbing and electrical items to be completed before we move to equipment installation and then finishing and designing elements,” Richards said. “In further commitment to our Baltimore location, we have purchased a property on Naylors Lane, and we are currently discussing the best use of that property.”

The property is Lash Logic Studio, Seasons’ immediate neighbor at 3837 Naylors Lane. Its lease is not being renewed, an employee confirmed.

Richards concluded, “We appreciate the patience of the Baltimore Jewish community. We’re excited to be bringing them the warmest kosher shopping experience. We know that it will be worth the wait.”

dnozick@midatlanticmedia.com

Groups Push for BWI-Israel Flights

American Airlines discontinued its nonstop service from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv in January after six years, citing financial concerns. Jewish community and business leaders in Baltimore and Washington, who previously used the flight, have called for direct service from BWI. (iStock)

American Airlines discontinued its nonstop service from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv in January after six years, citing financial concerns. Jewish community and business leaders in Baltimore and Washington, who previously used the flight, have called for direct service from BWI. (iStock)

There are roughly 350,000 Jews living within the Greater Washington and Baltimore regions, and within that number are many business leaders, politicians and diplomats who travel to Israel multiple times per year. With this in mind, Jewish community leaders have taken steps to bring a nonstop flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

The idea so far has been a grassroots effort that has been championed by organizations such as the Maryland Israel Development Center — a collection of more than 30 American and Israeli companies that frequently engage in business between the United States and Israel.

MIDC member and Baltimore Jewish Council president Abba David Poliakoff has taken the lead in the effort by meeting with Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill as well as John Hammond, Anne Arundel County’s budget officer, and BWI officials. He said the meetings have been positive, and they have been open to exploring the option of adding a flight.

“They acknowledged that they would need to get some supporting data in order to make the case, which of course we understood. There’s no question they need that support,” he said.

Last month, the MIDC sent out a survey to its members asking whether they would have use for such a flight. Poliakoff declined to release the results of the survey.

Poliakoff and others in Maryland have said they were using American Airlines’ (formerly US Airways’) nonstop service to Tel Aviv from Philadelphia, but after the flight was discontinued in January, they were forced to travel farther and navigate the more stressful Newark International and New York-JFK International airports. Options of flying nonstop to Israel from the East Coast are limited to these airports along with Boston Logan International Airport, and Poliakoff thinks BWI would attract a large clientele.

“BWI is an easy airport to get in and out of. It services both the Baltimore and Washington communities, and one doesn’t need to travel an hour-and-a-half to two hours to reach the airport,” he said. “With the concentration of people traveling to Israel in this area and the number of businesses in this area that have relationships with Israel, as well as the diplomatic people who shuffle back and forth between Tel Aviv and the States, this provides a perfect opportunity to get in and out of the airport quickly and really cements that relationship.”

To help make the case for adding the flight, Poliakoff has partnered with Addison Schonland, who works as an aviation consultant for AirInsight. Schonland previously helped implement a direct flight on Southwest Airlines from BWI to Las Vegas. In order for an airline to be interested, he said, there must be a minimum “load factor” of 65 percent on each flight, meaning the number of seats that are sold.

“The question is, can we find a way to utilize that potential more effectively than was done in Philly?” he said. “It’s a very long process. It requires an inordinate amount of patience.”

Schonland said one challenge their mission faces is the fact that BWI serves as a hub for Southwest, which is a mostly domestic airline that he thinks will not be interested in international service due to financial concerns. That was the main reason for American’s cancellation of the Philadelphia flight.

BWI is an easy airport to get in and out of. It services both the Baltimore and Washington communities, and one doesn’t need to travel an hour-and-a-half to two hours to reach the airport.  — Baltimore Jewish Council president Abba David Poliakoff

“The way that this might evolve is that one of the airlines that flies between here and Europe could continue [to Israel] beyond a European hub,” Schonland said.

Robert Mann, president of the airline consulting firm RW Mann & Company in Port Washington, N.Y., said the number of international flights in a region generally depends on economic factors. He noted that El Al has been particularly aggressive in establishing new flights to U.S. cities due to the amount of increased business it is doing with Israel, particularly in the technology sector.

“I think El Al comes at this from the standpoint that they often have to initiate to get new service established,” he said, adding that it would be wise for those advocating in Maryland for a direct flight to Tel Aviv not to “put all of their eggs in the U.S. carrier basket.”

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington executive director Ron Halber said there have been efforts in the past to get a flight from Dulles International Airport to Tel Aviv, but nothing ever materialized.

“I would think that this region, whether Dulles or Baltimore, could sustain a flight,” he said. “We’ve got a significant number of people here who go to Israel for holidays. We have members of Congress and other national figures who go. And it would be good for economic development.”

MIDC member Steve Dubin, who chairs the board of the nutrition company SDA Ventures, said he travels to Israel five times a year, making the two-and-a-half-hour trip to Newark to do it. He too was a frequent user of the Philadelphia flight and said his fellow Marylanders did the same.

“There’s a lot of traffic going to Israel from the Washington area,” he said.

Dubin said companies often decide where to locate based on a metropolitan area’s resources, noting that one Israeli environment company had a U.S. subsidiary in South Carolina but moved it recently to Baltimore in order to be closer to other Israeli companies. An air link is yet another reason for a company to locate somewhere.

“If you’re traveling for business where logistics are important, it could be the difference between locating in Maryland or locating in New York,” he said.

MIDC member Rob Frier said he too thinks a direct flight provides an economic incentive for companies looking for a better place to operate.

“It cuts down on costs, it cuts down on time, and that’s important too,” he said. “So it would be great.”

dschere@midatlanticmedia.com

Howard County Federation Director Resigns

Michelle Ostroff

Michelle Ostroff

Michelle Ostroff has resigned from her position as executive director of the Jewish Federation of Howard County, according to an email distributed to the community Friday morning. Ostroff will officially step down at the end of July.

“This decision was made so that I can spend more time with my family, as the demands of this role began to present greater and greater challenges to my time,” said Ostroff in written statement via email. “I will continue to call Howard County home, and remain an active and involved member of our Jewish community.”

Ostroff, who became the executive director four years ago, has taken a part-time position at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

While the process of replacing Ostroff begins, Beth Millstein became the federation’s president at a June 23 annual meeting, succeeding Richard B. Schreibstein. Millstein previously served as the federation’s executive vice president. She works at Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored enterprise for mortgage lenders.