‘Women of Power’ Concert Artists of Baltimore opens Maestro Series at Gordon Center with eclectic lineup

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Simone Dinnerstein (provided)

Entering his 29th year as founder and artistic director of Concert Artists of Baltimore, Maestro Edward Polochick has assembled a delicious, eclectic musical evening for the first concert of the Maestro Series on Oct. 3 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts.

Polochick promises the audience will leave the concert “feeling like their souls have been rejuvenated” because “that is the power of music,” he said.

“Women of Power” features guest artist Simone Dinnerstein performing the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 with the orchestra; Polochick calls her a “beautiful pianist — her tone, her color will bring tears to your eyes.”

Dinnerstein first worked with Polochick last year in Lincoln, Neb., where he is the symphony’s music director (though he resides in Baltimore). She said right away they felt like “musical soul mates and wanted to do something together again.”

Often, when you play with an orchestra, “it’s like going on a blind date,” said Dinnerstein. “You’ve never met the conductor or the orchestra and you don’t know if you’re going to hit it off or not.” The synergy between conductor and musician “completely changes the feeling of the concert.” She added, “[The Brahms piano concerto] is a very complicated piece and requires a lot of delicate communication with the conductor and orchestra. [Polochick is] an extremely great listener, that’s kind of rare among conductors.”

Also part of the evening is “My Shalom, My Peace,” written by former Peabody Institute faculty member turned rabbi, the late Morris Cotel. Described as “haunting and beautiful,” it features the voices of the Concert Artists of Baltimore Women’s Chorus in addition to percussion and harp. The piece is based on a 1975 book of the same name, full of poems and drawings created by Israeli Jewish, Arab and Palestinian children who had “witnessed at least one war, slept in shelters, known too much about death but understood one dream — peace.”

Ligeti’s “bizarre, incredibly virtuosic aria,” “Mysteries of the Macabre,” guaranteed to intrigue the audience, rounds out the evening and features soprano soloist Melissa Wimbish.

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Edward Polochick (provided)

Polochick, who is also on staff at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said the idea to start the Concert Artists of Baltimore developed years after he came here in 1976 from Philadelphia to study at Peabody.

“I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people,” said Polochick, who completed double master’s degrees in piano and conducting and by 1979 was on staff at Peabody and at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He took stock in his great fortune to work with high-caliber and different sized orchestras, operas and choruses during that time and wanted to pay it forward.

“I thought to myself, ‘if you love Baltimore as much as you say you do, why shouldn’t Baltimore have a fully professional chamber orchestra?’” recalled Polochick.

Though it took a lot of time and funding, Polochick said he “blindly went forward with it” in 1987 when the orchestra debuted at the former Har Sinai Congregation building, sponsored by the Peggy and Yale Gordon Trust, and “it’s been quite a journey since then.”

“I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I get to do what I love to do, realize my passion and make a living at it,” said Polochick. “I’m so terribly grateful that in my home, I can do these programs and this music and share this love of my art with my ‘family’ in Baltimore.”

CAB is dedicated to an innovative approach to musical presentation and “the more people I can get into our concert hall to experience this, the more Baltimore will appreciate what we’re trying to introduce them to,” said Polochick. “There’s nothing to be afraid of in classical music. We’re there for you.”

The Gordon Center For Performing Arts
3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.,
Owings Mills
Saturday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m.

Pre-concert reception hosted by Henry and Dorothy Rosenberg, honoring women leaders in Baltimore arts, education and government.

For tickets and more information, visit cabmusic.org or call 410-625-3525, ext. 101.

mgerr@midatlanticmedia.com

Dreaming Big Local teen looking to teach peers about finance

Tal Boger, 14, is crowdfunding the money necessary to publish a book aimed at kids to teach the basics of investing. (provided)

Tal Boger, 14, is crowdfunding the money necessary to publish a book aimed at kids to teach the basics of investing.
(provided)

Most parents can expect their teenagers to spend their birthday money on video games or going out with friends.

But Tal Boger, 14 and a recent graduate of Krieger Schechter Day School, is not a typical teenager.

“I bought my first mutual fund when I was 7 and my first stock when I was 9,” said Tal.

From analyzing “Romeo and Juliet” through a financial lens to reading investor extraordinaire Warren Buffet’s letters addressed to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Tal has a passion for investing. He is now looking to publish a book aimed at his peers, called “Investing for Kids: Small Beginnings for Big Dreamers,” by raising money through Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website.

Tal’s interest in finance began several years ago when his parents asked what he wanted to do with money he received for his birthday. Eventually, Tal’s father, Yuval, made the suggestion that he invest it.

After having his investment adviser speak to Tal about different ways to invest and use his money, Tal’s passion was sparked.

“[Tal] is very bright, very curious and very good at learning by himself. Every few years he picks up a hobby and he immerses himself in it and becomes an expert,” Boger said about his son. “Investing hasn’t left him ever since.

“He owns a dozen books on investing, reads everything at the local library and I joke with him that he’s read half the Internet by now.”

“In school, no one really learns about finance unless they want to do it by themselves.A part of my schedule
is to donate a copy of my book to local schools and libraries so it’s easier for kids to access.”

Boger explained his son’s idea to publish a book came from an expression his father (Tal’s grandfather) says, “Knowledge is like fire, you can give some to others without having less for yourself.”

Although Tal has learned a lot on his own, he is a minor and requires his father’s help to execute the moves he wants to make in the stock market. Boger helps Tal carry out his ideas through his own brokerage account but always questions his son on his decisions.

“I always try to ask him questions and make him justify his thoughts,” said Boger. “Why do you like this company?

“What makes you interested in this sector?”

Beyond sharing his knowledge with friends, Tal hopes to make finance a subject more widely taught in schools. He made publishing a book one of his goals after blogging and writing about investing for several months.

“In school, no one really learns about finance unless they want to do it by themselves,” said Tal. “A part of my schedule is to donate a copy of my book to local schools and libraries so it’s easier for kids to access.”

When Tal brought the idea of publishing a book to his parents, they saw it as a positive long-term project with a tangible result.

“I think [publishing a book] sort of dovetails nicely on his desire to teach others. The process of finding a publisher and editing, it’s educational,” said Boger.

When Tal brought the idea up to his parents, his father said, “Great, if we need to tackle a new project, then a book sounds wonderful.”

Tal has even offered his parents advice on how to invest their money. Boger said that he is always willing to hear Tal out and has even taken his advice in some situations. But overall, Boger doesn’t see the money as his primary concern; he’s more interested in seeing his son learn about long-term decision-making and resisting the urge to spend money immediately.

“Like every new investor he’s made a few mistakes,” said Boger.

“But over time he has developed more of a method for how to invest, and we’re very proud of him in that respect.”

jkatz@midatlanticmedia.com

Lauren Chornock Gluck will be 2015 Friedman Fellow

(provided)

(provided)

Gaithersburg resident Lauren Chornock Gluck, regional director of logistics and Baltimore Day School coordinator for the Atlantic Seaboard Region of the Orthodox Union’s international youth program NCSY, was accepted into the 2015 Friedman Fellowship Program at the Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development at the Weinberg Center in Baltimore.

“I am honored to be receiving this prestigious fellowship and to represent NCSY in the community,” said Gluck. “I look forward to utilizing this opportunity to the fullest to gain new skills to help NCSY grow to new heights.”

The Institute is named for Darrell D. Friedman, who was president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore for 16 years and known for his passion for the community and his talent for building partnerships and coalitions in that role. The Institute provides training and leadership development opportunities to professionals and lay leaders serving the Jewish community.

“The fellowship is awarded to the best and brightest young professionals who work in top-tier Jewish organizations in the Baltimore area,” said Rabbi Jonah Lerner, regional director of Atlantic Seaboard. “This fellowship is designed to provideprofessional development opportunities over the next two years” … and “puts [Gluck] in a cohort with nine other young professionals in the Baltimore Jewish community.”

In addition, NCSY will receive a stipend for Lauren to use, over the next two years, for further professional development with seminars, courses and coaching.

“Leadership training and development is an important part of the OU agenda,” said Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the OU. “I am especially pleased, therefore, that Lauren Gluck has been awarded this prestigious honor. The knowledge Lauren will bring back will be shared with her colleagues, and the result will be an even stronger region. I wish her a hearty yasher koach.”

mgerr@midatlanticmedia.com

Law Enforcement Lounge Opens in Pikesville

Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum at his newly opened law enforcment lounge in Pikesville. (Melissa Gerr)

Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum at his newly opened law enforcment lounge
in Pikesville. (Melissa Gerr)

Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum, director of the Jewish Uniformed Services Association, opened a law enforcement lounge in the Pikesville Plaza building at the corner of Reisterstown Road and Slade Avenue to welcome officers during their time off.

“The law enforcement member could come in between shifts or when they needed some down time,” said Tenebaum, who has set up the space with a break area offering coffee, refreshments and cold drinks. He added, the lounge is for any law enforcement member; police, fire, military, Jewish or non-Jewish, men and women are welcome. He has worked to create a heimishe atmosphere, he said.

“An officer once mentioned to me that when they have to do their reports they want a quiet place, and the [main enforcement] office is generally not a quiet place” to do any type of paper work, he said. “That’s what got me thinking … it would be a good idea. I also offer one-on-one counseling here.” He added there is also a computer available for general use in the lounge.

Tenenbaum also provides cultural sensitivity training to non-Jewish officers through the Baltimore Police Academy for those who may end up serving communities in the northwest of the city.

The Jewish Uniformed Services Association, established about three years ago, covers the rental of the space, and Tenebaum, who is also a chaplain for the Baltimore City Police Department, raises funds for the organization, most coming from private donations, he said.

Tenenbaum is still working out a schedule of established hours for the lounge and is spreading the word throughout the force that it’s available for use. The space is “in the beginning phases, but is already in working order,” and he is there each day except for holidays.

mgerr@midatlanticmedia.com

BJC’s Future in Hands of Next Director Within nine months, the Baltimore Jewish Council’s top two leaders will have departed the organization

Cailey Locklair Tolle (File photo)

Cailey Locklair Tolle (File photo)

Last week, Baltimore Jewish Council deputy executive director Cailey Locklair Tolle was named president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

And around June 2016, longtime executive director Arthur Abramson will be stepping down for a yet-to-be announced post that he said will be a “behind-the-scenes” political position.

Although the organization’s top two leaders will have both departed the organization within about nine months, those involved in the search for Abramson’s replacement say it’s an opportunity for the council.

“There is inevitable change at all viable organizations and that is upon us now, so The Associated, working in tandem with the leadership of the Baltimore Jewish Council, has launched a national search to get the best possible candidate for the needs and aspirations of the council and of our community into the future,” said Marc Terrill, president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. “So right now we have several incredible candidates who are being vetted through the search committee’s process. Ultimately the hope and every expectation is that we will have a successor in place before Art leaves the council.”

Whether or not Tolle will be replaced, and who her replacement might be, is up to the board and Abramson’ssuccessor.

BJC president Lainy LeBow-Sachs said that Abramson has been an “incredible executive director,” and called him the face of the BJC.

“On the other side of the coin, it’s very exciting. We have wonderful candidates, and they’ll bring a new vision to the council, which is always refreshing,” she said. “At a certain time it’s nice to have a change and bring a new vision into the council, and we’re excited about that.”

At a certain time it’s nice to have a change and bring a new vision into the council and we’re excited about that.

Abramson, who will have been at the BJC for about 26 years come June, said that when he came to the organization, there was need for great change.

“Over time, I think most people would agree that for most of my tenure we moved into the position of being the best of its kind in the country and unique in many ways,” he said. “And now the future is up to those who choose my successor and set the path for the organization. And they can either move more inward, or they can continue on the path of understanding that we’re all in this together.”

He said he’s always operated under one of the rabbinic sage Hillel’s famous sayings: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah, the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

“That means I saw, very simply, that the council needed to work with its ethnic and religious and inter-religious partners to build a better society for everyone, including the Jewish community, and if we were insular it wouldn’t work,” he said. “And I hope we’ll continue along that path.”

He expects the council to hire someone in a temporary capacity to lobby during the 2016 Maryland General Assembly since there are millions of dollars of resources at stake that the BJC has lobbied for over time.

Abramson echoed that Tolle will not be replaced prior to his departure because it would not be fair for him to choose his successor’s second-in-command.

Tolle, 30, has been at the BJC for four years and championed budget issues; access to pre-kindergarten; denouncing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel; Iran procurement and divestment; and she worked with the state and the liquor industry to increase the number of kosher wines available in Maryland. She successfully lobbied for a number of budget items for the Jewish community, including the Maryland/Israel Development Center, elder care, housing, security and health care funding.

LeBow-Sachs said Tolle’s departure is a big loss to the council.

“Cailey is just such an asset to us and she’s done a phenomenal job in the legislature,” she said. “We really feel happy for her because she’s going on to something she’s excited about, but we’re so sorry to see her leave.”

At the Maryland Retailers Association, where she begins her new post on Oct. 1, she is tasked with attracting new members and serving as the organization’s chief lobbyist.

“They’ve seen a bit of a decline, and they’re really looking for the next generation, if you will, to come in and reinvigorate the organization,” Tolle said.

Although she’s moving on from the BJC, the organization gave her something she never had and will carry with her.

“I did not grow up in a Jewish community. I was born in Florida, and then we moved to rural Washington state when I was very young. So I was never part of a Jewish community, and when I was hired at the council, it was just instantly special to me,” she said.

“I’m walking away with Jewish community, which is incredible, with a rabbi and so many mentors. It has been very special for me to work there, especially under Art.”

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

Beyond a Backpack HoCo community helps students in need

Roy and Sue Appletree have coordinated the Prepare for Success program in Howard County for eight years. (Justin Katz)

Roy and Sue Appletree have coordinated the Prepare for Success program in Howard County for eight years. (Justin Katz)

When Roy and Sue Appletree began donating to Prepare for Success, a nonprofit program that collects school supplies for students undergoing financial hardship in Howard County, they didn’t anticipate they would eventually be asked to coordinate the program.

Howard County, with a median household income of $109,865, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has been consistently ranked as Maryland’s wealthiest county and one of the country’s five most affluent behind Virginia’s Loudoun County, which tops the list with a median household income of $122,238.

Other contenders for the title of most affluent include Falls Church City ($120,000) and Fairfax County ($110,292), both in Virginia. For comparison, Baltimore County and Baltimore City’s averages were $66,486 and $41,385, respectively.

Despite the county’s wealth, there are a number of students whose families have been going through financial hardship during the past decade.

“[These students] are really invisible,” said Sue Appletree, who is a retired Montgomery County school teacher of 34 years. She explained that each of the collection boxes the organization sets up in places such as Temple Isaiah, of which the Appletrees are members, have a phone number displayed. “I spoke to a grandmother; her grandchildren needed school supplies, and the mother was working full time but couldn’t afford it.”

The impetus for the organization came 13 years ago when the help hotline of an Episcopal church noticed a significant increase in the calls requesting help to buy school supplies. Over time the church brought in other organizations around the community to help by collecting supplies, making donations or volunteering to prepare backpacks of supplies. In 2010, Prepare for Success partnered with the Howard County Public school system and Community Action Council.

Eight years ago, Roy and Sue were asked to take the helm at Prepare for Success.

The Appletrees emphasized the goals of the program are to alleviate financial hardship for parents and to help students feel more confident when the first day of school comes around.

“It can be very difficult when the kid next to them has new clothes, new supplies, and paying for things like soccer league registration wasn’t an issue,” said Roy Appletree, who was a nonprofit manager before he retired.

The program has struck a chord with different organizations and corporations around the community, from Girl Scout troops and home security companies to realtors and health care agencies. The memories of purchasing school supplies are present in the minds of many.

“When I talk to an organization, I’ll say, ‘Can you remember what it was like when you did your shopping or took your children and they wanted a certain color of backpack,’” said Sue Appletree. “Everybody is sitting there nodding because they all remember opening up that new notebook.”

Once the backpacks are prepared, they are sent off to individual schools where there are lists of students in financial need.

As a part of the National School Lunch and Breakfast program, Howard County participates in the Free and Reduced Meal program, which allows students whose families meet federal guidelines based on income, to receive free or discounted meals during the school year.

According to the Maryland State Department of Education, 8,315 students were enrolled to receive free meals in 2013, roughly 15 percent of the county’s student population. MSDE reports that 40 percent of Baltimore County students and nearly 80 percent of Baltimore City students were enrolled for free meals that same year.

Beyond monetary contributions, residents of the county have also given their time. Ellen Rappoport has been involved with schools, secular and religious, at multiple levels. From serving as the principal at Franklin Elementary school in Baltimore County and the director of Bet Yeladim preschool in Howard County, she understands the need for programs such as Prepare for Success.

“I’ve seen the collection boxes throughout Howard County and I thought, ‘That is something I’d like to do,’” said Rappoport.

The volunteering aspect of the program presents an opportunity for residents not only to do a good deed, but also to bond with one another. Rappoport has brought her two granddaughters, whose mother is a teacher in the Howard County school system, to volunteer and she said, “They were so excited to be able to do it.”

“Having been a parent and now a grandparent, a teacher and an administrator and I know that there are kids who would otherwise have to come to school without supplies they need,” said Rappoport. “And how embarrassing it is for those kids and how hard it is for them; I was so touched by the meaningfulness of this program and the outreach to the community.”

For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit http://www.prepare forsuccess.org/index.html

jkatz@midatlanticmedia.com

The Stuff of a Legend Career-spanning Paul Simon exhibit comes to Jewish Museum

There’s Paul Simon’s first acoustic guitar, early lyrics of legendary song “The Boxer” scrawled inside a 1968 issue of Mainliner magazine and a notepad with early lyrics for world-music fusion hit “Graceland.” Those pieces, along with a letter Paul Simon wrote to Art Garfunkel from summer camp and the duo’s first record contract, which their parents had to sign because they were too young, are among a treasured collection coming to the Jewish Museum of Maryland, when Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit “Paul Simon: Words and Music” opens on Oct. 11.

It’s the first tour stop for the exhibit, which opened in Cleveland in October 2014. Alongside more than 80 artifacts that chronicle Simon’s life and career are videos of select performances and the man himself narrating his life, discussing some of the artifacts and his creative process through interviews conducted by the Hall of Fame.

“He is a master, master, master songwriter, and you can see that, not only that, but he’s always grown. He’s never stagnant,” said Karen Herman, vice president of curatorial and collections affairs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. “His music, it just crosses over so many lines.”

From his folky roots in Greenwich Village in New York to being at the forefront of folk-rock to pioneering the fusion of American and African music, Paul Simon has permanently etched himself in popular music history.

“[He went] from a rock ’n’ roller to a folk-rocker to a genuinely original American songwriter, and that’s also the evolution of his generation,” said Richard Goldstein, author, professor and former executive editor and longtime rock critic at The Village Voice. “He eventually becomes a real pioneer of world music by the time he’s doing ‘Graceland’ … you can see that he is a superb synthesist of different musical styles from around the world. So he has a tremendous trajectory as an artist.”

Goldstein is part of a robust schedule of programs, film showings and lectures that the Jewish Museum will host in conjunction with the exhibit to further explore Simon, folk music and the connection between folk and the Jewish experience.

In addition to Goldstein’s lecture on Nov. 15, entitled “Paul Simon and the Birth of Folk Rock,” there are performances by Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cantor Robbie Solomon alongside New York Cantor Jeff Klepper, a major figure in American Jewish music, and Baltimore native and Grammy winner Sonia Rutstein of Disappear Fear; a folk movie festival featuring four films; and lectures on Woody Guthrie’s Yiddish connection by his daughter, Nora, the New York folk revival and the Jewish entrepreneurs who recorded, promoted and celebrated the music, among others. There are 15 performances, film and lectures and three opening events.

“We talk about celebrating the life of the Jewish community and not just the religious life of the community, the community as a whole,” said Marvin Pinkert, the Jewish Museum’s executive director. “It seems to me that this is providing just an ideal opportunity to broaden that scope, and we are going to be able to really introduce a much wider community to what’s happening in the Jewish
experience.”

Pinkert also curated the pop-up exhibit “An American Tune: Jewish Connections to Folk and Folk-Rock,” a small display in the museum’s lobby that explores the Jewish roots of Simon and fellow folkies Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Phil Ochs and Baltimore’s Cass Elliott, as well as the Jewish entrepreneurs who worked to bring the music to the masses.

The Birth of the Exhibit and Its Move to Baltimore
All it took was a visit. When Paul Simon, who has been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice — as a member of Simon and Garfunkel and as a solo artist — visited the museum, he liked what he saw and began talking with museum President and CEO Greg Harris.

“The next thing we knew, he was all in for an exhibit,” Herman said.

Although Simon didn’t save a lot of stuff from his Simon and Garfunkel days, he saved everything when he went solo and now has an archivist. The Hall of Fame’s curators were able to go through his personal collection to find the combination of objects that would best tell Simon’s story. Simon even suggested a few things himself, including his first guitar, which he got as a birthday present when he turned 13.

Herman, who has a background in oral history, thought they should get Simon to narrate his own story. So in addition to talking about his life, videos in the exhibit have Simon playing guitar and discussing some of the objects, including the time he broke a string on the first guitar and hid it under his bed because he didn’t want his father to find out.

“You really get a sense of how he kind of thinks in music and how comfortable he is with a guitar in his hand,” Herman said. The videos are projected on screens above mini-stages with stools on them.

Joanna Church, collections manager at the Jewish Museum, said this exhibit is a different direction than the museum has taken in the past,
especially in terms of artifacts.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had to put up guitars. I don’t think we’ve had Grammys on display,” she said. “There’s ephemera from his childhood. I love the letters that he wrote to Art Garfunkel when they were both at different summer camps. … I think a lot of visitors are also going to really enjoy the lyrics he wrote on random pieces of mail.”

She’s already hearing from a wide spectrum of people who are anticipating the exhibit’s opening.

Music aficionado and Jewish Museum board member Ira Malis, who traveled to Cleveland to see the Paul Simon exhibit at the Hall of Fame, helped get the ball rolling when heard the exhibit, which was built to tour, was going to be traveling.

“Much like when the museum had a very successful exhibit that involved comic books and [Jewish writers and illustrators], I think it exposed a lot of people to that fact, but also exposed a wonderful historical museum to people who were maybe coming in for the cultural items,” he said. “So I think it’s a win-win to get those kind of exhibits with broader appeal.”

Folk-Rock and the Jewish Experience
Paul Simon is Jewish, and many Jews like his music. So what? How do Paul Simon and all the other Jewish folk singers represent being Jewish?

Pinkert’s pop-up exhibit and Goldstein’s lecture, among other presentations, will answer that question in various ways.

“I met him not long after ‘Sounds of Silence’ came out because I was doing my column. … Like a good New York Jew he knew a good cheap Chinese restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and he took me to it and we had to climb this flight of linoleum-covered stairs,” Goldstein recalled. They talked about the music industry over egg rolls and fried rice. “It felt to me like a typical New York Jewish experience.”

But Chinese food aside, Simon and his Jewish contemporaries such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen created their own forms of music with common lyrical themes.

“Jewish performers are most strongly associated with original folk music,” Pinkert said. “People like Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen are literally writing new folk music. Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs grew up in non-Jewish communities as outsiders. They could look at other folk traditions and could see it with an eye and an angle and be able to write something new.”

Goldstein said this outsider view inspired songs that sang of an idealized view of America.

“These writers tend to create an ideal, larger-than-life America,” he said. “This is true of a lot of great Jewish American artists who write or sing popular music. Where would American music be without them?”

From Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” to Bob Dylan creating new music from traditional folk forms to Neil Diamond’s “hyper-American songs,” Goldstein said, “Rather than Jews creating a Jewish music in America, they created an American music that is informed by their views as outsiders.” While Simon fit this tradition, Simon’s lyrics often took on a more critical edge.

“There’s kind of an edge of uncertainty that really reflects a more modern vision of America,” Goldstein said. “These are really American themes.”

For Pinkert, the question was why so many Jewish people are connected to folk and folk-rock. His pop-up exhibit aims to answer that.

Jewish involvement in progressive politics at the time was very strong, and folk singers and folk-rockers captured that energy in their music, Pinkert said. There were a lot of connections between the Jewish and African American communities at the time, and these connections were often centered around folk music, with the Civil Rights movement as another forum and inspiration for the genre.

“Being born in an environment with tikkun olam as a major tenet is probably something that has an impact,” Pinkert said. “I think that within the tradition, there are elements about social justice among other things that made [folk music] attractive.”

The exhibit and the programs curated around it offer up a wealth of experts and knowledge in a variety of areas, but Pinkert thinks people just need to come see the exhibit themselves.

“The quality of the Paul Simon exhibit really speaks for itself,” he said. “It’s a chance to check out all the ways Jews and folk music have been connected.”

“Paul Simon: Words and Music” runs from Oct. 11 through Jan. 18 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd St., Baltimore. Visit jewishmuseummd.org for a complete schedule of events.

 

Jewish Folk Entrepreneurs

Jews weren’t just prominent performers of folk music when it experienced a resurgence during the 1950s and 1960s. Members of the Tribe had record companies and magazines, owned venues and wrote articles that helped the scene grow and remain abundant.

Author Stephen Petrus, who curated the Museum of the City of New York exhibit “Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival,” will give a lecture of the same name on Sunday, Dec. 13 at the Jewish Museum to discuss some of these important figures in folk and what made New York City the center of folk revival.

Petrus hesitates to call them businessmen because he believes these men, mostly of Eastern European background, were motivated by their left-leaning, progressive values.

“[They thought] almost from an anthropological point of view, ‘this is the people’s music. We’re here to disseminate it, we’re here to preserve it,’” Petrus said.

He’ll talk about people such as Moses “Moe” Asch, who founded Folkways Records in a mission to record the sounds of the world “as an expression of people’s culture,” Petrus said.

“He wanted to come up with this kind of chronicle of world music, what we call world music today,” Petrus said. “He saw this as a cultural and political imperative. He’s not ranking musicians in a hierarchy or cultures in a hierarchy.” The liner notes in Folkways albums included historical context and information about the cultural backgrounds of the musicians as well.

There were people like Jac Holzman, who founded of Elektra Records in his dorm room at St. John’s College in Annapolis and worked to get albums out by new folk singers in the Greenwich Village scene. And Irwin Silber, co-founder of Sing Out! magazine, who Petrus said came from a leftist background with strong commitment to the labor movement. A provocative character who criticized The Weavers for playing African-American music but not having any black members, Silber was interested in folk music as a means to advance political change.

Petrus will discuss Robert Shelton, a New York Times critic who chronicled the music scene.

“That would be the best if you got your set reviewed by Robert Shelton,” he said. Bob Dylan got a major boost from a Shelton review in 1961.

There’s a wealth of people Petrus plans to discuss, with Jewish people also involved in sheet music publication, venues and more facets of the industry.

“There’s really just a tremendous amount,” he said. “[The Jewish community] was particularly critical in pushing forward folk music.”

 

Folk Music Goes to Synagogue

There weren’t always guitars in synagogues, but that’s just one of the ways folk music has made its way into Jewish ritual.

Jewish leaders of today took some of the music of their childhood with them, whether it was growing up in New York City during the folk revival of the 1950s and ’60s, going to to Jewish summer camps where folk music was sung and or listening the music of Shlomo Carlebach.

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cantor Robbie Solomon and New York-based Cantor Jeff Klepper, both influential figures in American Jewish music, will speak, perform and demonstrate various folk instruments during a presentation called “Jews and the Folk Revival: When Change was in the Air and the Music Mattered” at the Jewish Museum on Sunday, Oct. 18.

“Folk music went from Greenwich Village to the summer camps to the Jewish summer camps and eventually ended up in the synagogue,” Solomon said. “That’s quite a journey. A lot of us who grew up in that time, that’s the way we developed our music.”

In addition to the ideas expressed in folk music, Solomon and Klepper plan to talk about their own musical journeys and their music, including Klepper’s band, Kol B’Seder, and Solomon’s band, Safam, and their more well-known songs.

They’ll trace the journey of Jewish music, starting with “the singing rabbi” Shlomo Carlebach, who Solomon said was the first well-known Jewish clergy member to play Jewish music on guitar. They’ll discuss the Jewish influence of The Weavers, of which Pete Seeger was a member.

“Pete Seeger came to Jewish summer camps in his early years,” Solomon said. “Then the camps became the breeding ground for the leaders of the synagogues. [Folk music] was their memory of what worked in Judaism.”

Although Paul Simon and his Jewish contemporaries didn’t necessarily make Jewish music, they influenced future Jewish leaders such as Solomon and sang about Jewish values, whether they knew it or not.

“[The lyrics had] a lot of social concerns, the concerns of tikkun olam, repairing the world, it’s a Jewish idea,” Solomon said. “So you have these guys singing about the ills of the world and how we should try to help where we can. It’s powerful stuff.”

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

Praying with Their Feet 200 rabbis complete march from Selma to Washington

WASHINGTON — Rabbis and reverends, black and white, stood together on the bimah of Washington Hebrew Congregation and raised their voices in a triumphant rendition of the civil rights protest song, “We Shall Overcome.”

The clergy were celebrating, along with hundreds of attendees, the completion of America’s Journey for Justice, a 1,000-mile march from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C. It began Aug. 1 on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and ended Sept. 15 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Hundreds of rabbis joined the march, spearheaded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “praying with their feet,” under the banner of “Our lives, our votes, our jobs, our schools matter.”

Addressing the crowd during the Sept. 16 advocacy rally are (from left) Rabbi Jonah Pesner, head of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau leader; and Rep. Terri Sewell, (D-Ala.). (Melissa Apter)

Addressing the crowd during the Sept. 16 advocacy rally are (from left) Rabbi Jonah Pesner, head of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau leader; and Rep. Terri Sewell, (D-Ala.). (Melissa Apter)

Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, called attention to the faith leaders who joined in the 46-day journey and in particular to the 200 rabbis who heeded the “Macedonian call” to march.

Brooks, noting the weight of the Torah, said, “Whether it was carried by someone of the Reform tradition or the Conservative tradition, Baptist or Methodist, Pentecostal or Evangelical, whether it was carried by agnostic or an atheist, by a regular synagogue attender or someone who attends infrequently — some of our church folk understand that — we found that whether it was carried by a man 6 feet, 8 inches tall or by a child 4 feet tall, what we found is that no one was able to carry the Torah the entire distance, what we discovered is that it took the hands of many to carry God’s word 1,002 miles.”

“What we found is that no one was able to carry the Torah the entire distance, what we discovered is that it took the hands of many to carry God’s word 1,002 miles.

The Torah scroll that journeyed from Selma to Washington was on loan from Chicago Sinai Congregation, whose senior rabbi, Seth Limmer first proposed the Torah make the journey and was on hand for the beginning and conclusion of the march. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis were coalition members from the start of the journey and helped coordinate the 200 rabbis and countless Jewish lay leaders and youth group members who participated.

When they arrived in Washington, Brooks said the weight of God’s word reminded him of a passage from the Bible: “God gave these words to Joshua: Be strong and of good courage.”

At the Lincoln Memorial the afternoon of Sept. 15, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the RAC, held the Torah and offered final words to the marchers on the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke decades ago.

“As a country, it is past time to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and afforded equal opportunities,” Pesner said in a statement. “We have been honored and humbled to be part of this journey. May the year ahead and those beyond be filled with righteousness and justice.”

That evening, Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, senior rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation, welcomed the marchers into his sanctuary for an interfaith prayer service.

Through songs, readings and speeches, the clergy, sitting two rows deep on the bimah, recounted their journey and the work ahead of them. Brooks and Lustig paid homage to Middle Passage, a 68-year-old disabled veteran who died on the journey. Another marcher picked up his American flag and made sure it reached Washington.

Following the service, advocates made their way to the front of the sanctuary for a legislative teach-in with Hilary Shelton, director to the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and senior vice president for advocacy and policy. He spoke of the specific pieces of legislation the advocates — many of whom were still wearing their yellow Journey for Justice shirts or blue shirts with the word “shalom” scrolled across the back — lobbied for on Sept. 16.

The NAACP and its coalition members called on Congress to support the Raise the Wage Act, End Racial Profiling Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015.

Limmer, joined by his young daughter, offered his thoughts at the Sept. 16 morning rally in the Upper Senate Park in Washington. Afterward, advocates breaking off for their lobbying sessions.

Speaking before the hundreds of clergy, union leaders, environmentalists, LGBTQ rights activists and NAACP members, Limmer described the 10 Days of Awe and the Jewish tradition of sharing the burden of repentance and then launched into a rendition of “Al Chet,” the confession of sins that is part of the Yom Kippur service, that he customized for the occasion.

“For the sin of letting the powerful Voting Rights Act of 1965 fall back, for letting voting rights be stripped, for letting disenfranchisement happen,” said Limmer.

“For letting the working class become the lower class, for making work not equal to dignity, al chet shechatanu lefanecha …”

Democratic members of Congress, including Sens. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Mark Warner (Va.), Jeff Merkeley (Ore.) and Reps. John Conyers (Mich.) and Bobby Scott (Va.) took to the microphone in support of restoring the Voting Rights Act and called on their Republican counterparts to do the same.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and partner to Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York, donned a rainbow-patterned kippah and gave an impassioned speech to the awaiting crowd.

“This fight will not end unless every ally is a part of it,” Weingarten said.

“So we need anyone who is religious to work with their sisters and brothers — it’s a good time, the pope is coming, it’s a Muslim New Year, it’s the Jewish New Year — to talk to their sisters and brothers in the pulpit, to say, ‘If you believe in justice, you must fix the Voting Rights Act.’”

mapter@midatlanticmedia.com

Making Her Mark in Macedonia Baltimorean takes on the Peace Corps experience

Reisterstown native Jen Stutman has embarked on a 27-month journey to Macedonia, where she hopes to effect change in the Balkan country and dig deep into the issues facing its people.

Stutman, 23, left on Sept. 19 to volunteer with the Peace Corps as a part of her graduate program at American University, where she is studying for a master’s degree in social enterprise.

“I’ve always been interested in history and how people are affected by it,” said Stutman. “I couldn’t imagine working for an NGO without going to the place first and actually understanding what people need.”

The Peace Corps, an international service organization established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, sends Americans around the world to tackle the social, economic and governmental issues of the countries it serves. According to a spokesperson, 195 Marylanders are currently serving in the Peace Corps, 76 of whom are from Baltimore; 5,836 Marylanders have served in the organization since its inception.

Jen Stutman left last Saturday for a 27-month assignment in Macedonia as a member of the Peace Corps. (Marc Shapiro)

Jen Stutman left last Saturday for a 27-month assignment in Macedonia as a member of the Peace Corps. (Marc Shapiro)

Stutman’s involvement with the Peace Corps began when she interned at its office in Washington, D.C., during her undergraduate studies. After learning how much thought and care the organization puts into selecting where volunteers would have the most impact, she decided to let the Peace Corps select her destination, Macedonia. After studying Eastern Europe in college, she said she “couldn’t be more excited.”

“When I went to graduate school, I realized how often organizations throw money at a problem without understanding what the people [in the country] need,” said Stutman. “I like that the Peace Corps is all about putting people in the field to understand the real problems in the long run.”

Stutman’s desire to help others and enact change began as an undergrad at George Washington University. She was active in a group called GW Students Against Sexual Assault, which educates students on ways to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault on campus. She is continuing that work in her thesis by discussing ways to reduce violence in certain situations.

Stutman’s family, although sad to see her leave, knows this trip is one she wants, and is ready, to go on.

When I went to graduate school, I realized how often organizations throw money at a problem without understanding what the people [in the country] need. I like that the Peace Corps is all about putting people in the field to understand the real problems in the long run.

“She’s always been that person who really wants to help others,” said Stutman’s sister, Sandy Sanders. “She looked at other organizations, but this is the best fit. It allows her to travel, immerse herself in a community and make a difference.”

Stutman’s stepfather, Gary Shapiro, described Stutman as determined and dedicated.

He said he knew the Peace Corps would be a part of her life as soon as she brought it up to him.

“Her mother and I are already planning our first trip, next August, to see her, but I’m also very excited for her,” Shapiro said.

“She’s at the beginning of a wonderful adventure. Her entire family is very proud of Jennifer, and we are looking forward to her safe return in 27 months.”

Once Stutman lands in Macedonia she’ll spend her first three months near the capitol. After training with other volunteers and learning the language, she’ll travel to her host family. Of the several different areas of work for Peace Corps volunteers, Stutman will be focusing on education and teaching.

She believes that working with the people who may run the country in 20 or so years is a great way to make a tangible change.

As for her family, she intends to keep them close by, at least in spirit.

Said Stutman, “I’m sorry to leave my family here; if I could bundle them up and take them with me I would. But they are excited for me, and I just got a bunch of photos printed so they’ll be all over my walls.”

jkatz@midatlanticmedia.com

‘3-2-8 Hope’ Dancing for cancer awareness, prevention in Baltimore

The Baltimore Full Circle Dance Company practices at Morton Street Dance Center every Tuesday and Thursday. While many of the members live in Baltimore, some members travel from Washington, D.C. twice a week.

The Baltimore Full Circle Dance Company practices at Morton Street Dance Center every Tuesday and Thursday. While many of the members live inBaltimore, some members travel from Washington, D.C. twice a week.

The Baltimore Full Circle Dance Company will celebrate its 15th anniversary by putting on “Fight and Flight,” a benefit concert for the Baltimore City Cancer Program, which is a part of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Since 2001, BCCP has provided thousands of Baltimore’s residents with mammograms, free clinical exams and screenings in its effort to detect cancer in its early stages. According to the Susan G. Komen foundation, Jewish women of Ashkenazi descent are at higher risk of a mutation in the BRCA 1 and 2 genes, a condition that has been linked to causing cancer.

The dance company, which was established in 2000, is led by breast cancer survivor Donna Jacobs, who graduated from the New York School for the Performing Arts. After establishing the Morton Street Dance Center in 1992, Jacobs recognized the school had many talented instructors, but they were missing one thing.

“We had many talented dancers who were teaching but who wanted and needed their own outlet for
performance,” said Jacobs. “So I pulled several together and said, ‘Do you want to perform?’”

While there has been turnover in the company, which is now 15 members strong, most of them live in Baltimore and have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dance. In the past several years, the company has focused on pieces that tackle specific issues such as race dynamics, the role of religion and body image.

Jacobs explained that as she brainstormed with the company each year, one issue would always rise to the surface. However, due to how close to home breast cancer is to Jacobs in particular, her dancers were unsure about suggesting it.

“I was a bit hesitant to suggest a concert revolving around the topic of breast cancer to [Jacobs]. I didn’t want to cross the line or invade a cancer survivor’s space in sharing their story if they weren’t ready to,” said Allison Powell, who has been with the company for eight years.

Despite hesitations the company settled on the issue of breast cancer. As a way to prepare for the piece, “3-2-8 Hope,” which is also the phone number to contact the BCCP, some of the dancers visited with several survivors of breast cancer to hear their stories at a local support group.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect going to the support group,” said Angelica Daniele, who began dancing with Full Circle after graduating from Goucher College in 2009. “It was very emotional. The women there take their journeys so personally, and they conveyed that very openly to us. They all stressed how the support of other people is what helps them get through their journey.”

After undergoing two surgeries and many radiation treatments, Jacobs understands exactly what the journey is like.

“When you hear you have cancer, things come at you very quickly and you’re trying to get over the shock. I felt fortunate about the specific cancer I had because I work within this industry,” said Jacobs, who is a vice president of government and regulatory affairs in the University of Maryland Medical System. “I could get a keen understanding quickly, but I kept in mind how complex it was for people who are not in the health industry.”

For Jacobs, her own experiences battling cancer have been a motivation to make the benefit concert for BCCP a success. Jacobs’ hard work both as a lawyer and a director has earned her the respect of her dancers.

“Donna Jacobs is something else,” said Hope Byers, who started at Full Circle in 2006. “I call her a miracle woman because she does so much. I’m in awe of what she has accomplished. She is sort of a mentor to me; I look up to her and am proud to be a part of her company.”

Apart from dancing, many members in the company are also wives and mothers.

“We went through a big boom of weddings, and now we’re in the baby boom. We call them our ‘half-full circle,’” said Powell, laughing. “We’re slowly growing our mini-company to replace us.”

Fight and Flight:
A Benefit Concert for the Baltimore City Cancer Program

Saturday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m. Chesapeake Arts Center
194 Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park, Md.

Tickets: $20
Post-performance
reception: $10
VIP Angels Tickets: $50

To purchase tickets and  for more information, visit fullcircledance.webs.com

jkatz@midatlanticmedia.com