Hettleman’s Sexual Assault Bill Moving Forward

Shelly Hettleman (Provided)

Shelly Hettleman

Freshman legislator Shelly Hettleman is calling for increased efforts on the issue of sexual assault at Maryland colleges.

Hettleman’s bill, HB 571, had a hearing in the House Appropriations committee on March 10. A vote on whether or not to move the bill to the House of Delegates’ floor is expected soon.

“It is an important issue that is finally being discussed,” the District 11 Democrat, who won election as a delegate last November, said.

The bill would remove at least one barrier to reporting sexual assault incidents, establish agreements between institutions and crisis centers and mandate sexual assault climate surveys on Maryland campuses.

“My work in domestic violence has taught me that people who are abused have to be given back some power themselves,” she said. “So they have to be at the center of the decision making.”

The bill would give students who come forward as victims or witnesses immunity from possible student conduct violations, e.g. an alcohol violation, if the violation occurred around the time of the incident and didn’t put others at risk. It requires institutions to enter into formal agreements with local law enforcement as well as a rape crisis program, sexual assault coalition or both to provide services to victims of sexual assault and improve the institution’s response to sexual assault incidents.

The bill also mandates an annual “sexual assault survey,” the first of which would need to be administered by June 2016 at Maryland higher education institutions. The survey would act as a campus climate survey, gauging students’ perceptions of sexual assault on campus, prevalence of incidents and awareness of resources, Hettleman said.

Institutions would then have to report findings to the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), which would in turn publish results online and report to the state.

In the event that her bill does not pass, Hettleman, who sits on the Appropriations committee, said she added budget language that passed the committee that would require campus reports on their progress in sexual assault policies and for the MHEC to report on progress campuses have made as well.

She said the University System of Maryland has gotten in front of the issue and passed a comprehensive sexual assault policy in June but said some other institutions have more work to do. Her bill covers private universities in the state as well.

United Through Motherhood Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project holds conference in Baltimore

Two hundred Jewish mothers from nine countries descended on Baltimore for three days of leadership building and learning as part of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project’s third annual conference.

The women attended workshops and presentations at the Pearlstone Center in Reisterstown during the March 9-11 conference, which focused on building leadership qualities. According to JWRP co-founder Lori Palatnik of Rockville, the goal of the conference was to give participants “really concrete skills” such as public speaking, board management and the utilization of social media.

“We feel that if you inspire a woman, you inspire a family, and if you inspire enough families, you inspire a community,” said Palatnik, who was recently named to Hadassah’s annual list of Most Outstanding Jewish American Women of Our Time.

Two hundred Jewish mothers filled the Pearlstone Center in  Reisterstown for three days of learning and leadership training. (Photos provided)

Two hundred Jewish mothers filled the Pearlstone Center in
Reisterstown for three days of learning and leadership training. (Photos provided)

JWRP was founded in 2008 with the mission of empowering women to change the world through Jewish values. Its flagship program, the Momentum Trip, takes mothers to Israel for eight days. To date, more than 5,000 women from 17 countries have participated. The trips are conducted through a partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs.

“One of the Jewish values we teach on the trip is to be responsible,” said Palatnik. Often, “we stand in the way of our own potential. Here, we help women reach their own potential.”

When I went on the trip I was so absolutely moved and inspired. I felt in touch with my roots, and I wanted to build more on that experience.

Sitting in the Pearlstone conference room, where the Israeli movie “Beneath the Helmet” had been screened the night before, participants pored over thick binders full of follow-up curriculum, as presenters coached them through sample lesson plans, which are also available for members online. What JWRP leadership found, according to board president and co-founder Manette Mayberg of Silver Spring, is that city leaders wanted uniform content and additional guidance in crafting follow-up programming back home. (Mayberg is part of the ownership group of Mid-Atlantic Media, which publishes the Jewish Times.)

At the core of JWRP, said Mayberg, are three goals: first, to connect Jewish women to their Jewish legacy; second, to connect them to the land of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces; and third, to understand the communal responsibility they carry as a Jewish woman.

Those goals resonated with Adrienne Gold, a city leader from Toronto. At 40 years old with a husband, two sons and a successful fashion television show, she began studying and “fell in love with what is in our bones.” She left television, went to the Village Shul and became a teacher. She now leads three trips a year with JWRP and is one of the co-hosts of soon-to-debut “Momentum TV,” JWRP’s take on the popular daytime talk show “The View.”

“In every Jewish woman there is the potential to change the world,” she said. “You have to see her neshama like a coal and fan it.”

JWRP is an outreach organization, although Gold insists the approach is not to push a particular brand of Orthodoxy on participants.

“My goal is not to make you anything but more Jewishly identifying than before you left, whatever that looks like for you,” said Gold.

Edana Heller Desatnick, an executive coach and leadership consultant from New Jersey who gave the opening and closing remarks at the conference, found herself identifying more after her 2010 trip. Though she was active in leadership at her conservative synagogue, the mother of three admitted she didn’t have much religious knowledge.

Photo provided

Photo provided

“I really didn’t know anything. I’d never met an Orthodox person in my life,” she said. On the trip, “they spoke in such a beautiful way about heritage, what it means to be Jewish, to give back to Israel, and not in a guilt-driven way, but in a change-the-world tikkun olam way.”

The impact on her family was noticeable right away. They began lighting candles each Friday night and slowly incorporated more practices in their daily life. Her 15 year-old daughter will attend an Orthodox youth group camp in Israel this summer, and her 19-year-old daughter went on a Birthright Israel trip through Aish HaTorah. The older daughter will spend a semester studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Erin Chado of Baltimore, who describes herself as looking outwardly “more secular or Reform,” attended the conference to build on her experience from the Momentum Trip she took in December through the Etz Chaim Center in Park Heights. Looking around the room at the conference, she was impressed by “the sheer willpower that we have as women.”

“When I went on the trip I was so absolutely moved and inspired. I felt in touch with my roots, and I wanted to build more on that experience,” she said.

Chado, the mother of a 2-year-old daughter, said that she is constantly approached by other mothers inquiring about her experience.

“I tell them it’s a safe and exciting way to really connect with your Judaism. They will not only get a connection themselves with their religion, they’ll get a connection to other mothers,” she said. “For any woman who’s even thinking of it, don’t second guess. Do yourself and your family a favor and go.”


Jewish Voice for Peace Converges in Baltimore


Photo by Jules Cowan

A progressive look at the Middle East with an emphasis on sympathy toward the Palestinian people may not be the mainstream approach to Israel in the organized Jewish community, but Jewish Voice for Peace is proudly bucking the trend.

The organization met in Baltimore last weekend for its national membership meeting, with the growing organization celebrating its accomplishments while hearing from Israeli, Palestinian and American scholars and activists.

“We are helping redefine the progressive Jewish worldview and that must include speaking out for the rights of Palestinians,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, JVP’s executive director, said at the organization’s opening plenary on Friday, March 13. “We are creating an alternative to the Jewish institutions in this country that demand loyalty to political ambitions that are antithetical to our Jewish values.”

According to its website, the organization conducts campaigns to defend and free Israeli and Palestinian human rights activists and fights censorship of debate and misuses of the charge of anti-Semitism. But it has also drawn the ire of the mainstream Jewish community for its support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. It also works with Arab, Muslim, Palestinian and Christian groups to fight bigotry and end an Israeli presence in the West Bank, facilitates congressional outreach and supports alternative Jewish rituals that include Palestinian narratives.

“JVP is our political home, the place where we can bring our full selves, the place where we don’t have to leave our politics for Israel and Palestine at the door,” Vilkomerson said in her opening remarks.

Rev. Heber Brown III, of Baltimore’s Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, spoke at the Jewish Voice for Peace National Membership Meeting about Palestinian voting rights and the racism he said he experienced in Israel. (Provided)

Rev. Heber Brown III, of Baltimore’s Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, spoke at the Jewish Voice for Peace National Membership Meeting about Palestinian voting rights and the racism he said he experienced in Israel. (Provided)

Over the summer, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas targets in Gaza, more than a dozen JVP chapters opened, and members were busy protesting for peace and against Israeli military actions. Later in the summer, those same JVP members protested in solidarity with those angered by the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

“Our anti-racist principles make us part of a broad coalition, one that brings many movements together,” Vilkomerson said. “Whether we’re fighting for immigrant rights or against the prison-industrial complex or for justice in Palestine, they’re simply difference facets of the same fight — for full equality and dignity and collective liberation of all human beings.”

Following her remarks at Friday’s opening plenary, a panel addressed the current Israel-Palestinian situation, which featured the Rev. Heber Brown III, pastor at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore. For Brown, there are obvious parallels between the civil rights movement and what is happening in Israel right now.

He started his talk by speaking about his experience in traveling to Israel five years ago. As the only African-American in the delegation, he said, he was stopped and questioned by Israeli soldiers at the airport. He said that pattern repeated throughout the trip.

A number of others, including organizers from the Black Lives Matter organization and African-American Jew and chef Michael Twitty, have similar stories from recent travels to the country, Brown pointed out.

“It’s not about my individual experience; I’m more so concerned about the pattern of discrimination. That is a greater issue for me,” Brown said. “What I faced at that airport that day was something my grandparents faced at airports, restaurants and on highways in this country 50 years ago and so much longer ago than that.”

Brown said that stories of Palestinian disenfranchisement resonates with him as a civil rights activist.

“Anybody would see disenfranchisement from voting as a knock or forging against democracy,” he said. “I don’t think we have the luxury to be silent in that no matter where your political persuasion might be. Whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Palestinian, whether black or white, I don’t think we can justify people not having the right to vote.”

Angela Davis, political activist and author, earned a standing ovation after her keynote address. (Jules Cowan)

Angela Davis, political activist and author, earned a standing ovation after her keynote address. (Jules Cowan)

Brown takes a middle of the road approach on the BDS movement. He said he is hearing and heeding to the call of Palestinians pushing for BDS because he doesn’t think someone from the outside can tell those most directly impacted what to do.

“At the same time,” he said, “I recognize that BDS by itself is not the answer either.”

Brown plans to continue working with local Jewish organizations on issues of importance, including the various issues Black Lives Matter has brought to light. The night before he spoke at the JVP conference, he was testifying in Annapolis in favor of a bill that would reform Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

“We have to work to a commitment for justice for everybody,” he said. “I think justice helps bring about peace.”


Baltimore Jewish Council and D.C. Counterpart Lobby Annapolis

Maryland’s Jewish community turned out in full force Tuesday evening in the state capital to lobby legislators for a number of Jewish causes.

More than 240 Maryland Jews met with more than 30 state legislators and legislative staff members at the state Senate and House of Delegates office buildings at the annual Advocacy Day, hosted by the Baltimore Jewish Council and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. Talking points focused on budget items the community would like to see funded, but also included support of the Maryland Education Credit, which would provide a tax credit to companies that donate to non-public schools, the reevaluation of the state’s stormwater management fee and the expansion of services for the disabled and affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families.

Jewish support “had a lot to do with me being here,” Gov. Larry Hogan told the crowd in his dinnertime address. He noted his long working relationship with BJC Executive Director Arthur Abramson and the fact that his first public appearance after announcing his candidacy in 2014 was at a BJC meeting.

“You have a friend in the governor’s office,” Hogan said, noting the work he has been doing to push for the passage of the education credit, a longtime Jewish community priority.

Comptroller Peter Franchot called the Maryland Jewish community the most active and engaged in the country before promising to build a legacy as a fierce advocate for Israel.

“Your organizations succeed because of you,” he told the group. “You don’t just advocate for the Jewish people, you stand up for Jewish values and, here’s the essence, Jewish values are Maryland values.”

Barry Bogage, director of the Maryland/Israel Development Center, was encouraged by the events of the evening. One of the talking points disseminated to participants was the push for a $275,000 grant to the MIDC to support staff.

“Economic development is his thing,” Bogage said of the Republican governor, adding that the MIDC is just the kind of program Hogan seems to want to support in Maryland. The other legislators he met with in smaller breakout sessions appeared supportive as well, he said.

Nathan Willner, who attended the event with the Baltimore contingent, walked away confident that the new legislature and executive branch are committed to working together on behalf of Jewish issues.

“It shows the importance of this group,” he said of the swelling crowd of community members, legislators and legislative staff, which spilled out into the hall during the governor’s speech.

Cailey Locklair Tolle, whom Abramson credited with putting the event together, said this year’s Advocacy Day was likely the most important Advocacy Day she has ever been involved with. With dozens of new legislators and a new governor’s office, the work has been nonstop.

After making a point to meet with as many new legislators as possible, seeing several of them pack into the banquet as soon as they got out of their day’s hearings was gratifying, she said. “It’s so important that we have a presence here.”

Created with flickr slideshow.

Saying Goodbye

Jory and Barbara Newman plan to close their longtime Northwest Baltimore shop, Pikesville Silver and Antiques, by the end of spring. (Pam Stegemarten)

Jory and Barbara Newman plan to close their longtime Northwest Baltimore shop, Pikesville Silver and Antiques, by the end of spring. (Pam Stegemarten)

In a few short months, Pikesville will lose two of its longest-lasting storefronts with the closure of Pikesville Silver and Antiques and Pikesville Jewelry & Coin.

At the end of the month, Pikesville Jewelry & Coin will close its doors in favor of switching to a consult-only business model, and, just more than two months later, Pikesville Silver and Antiques will close up shop when the owners retire and move to Florida to be closer to family.

“It wasn’t like a spur-of-the-moment decision,” said Jory Newman, who along with wife Barbara has been operating Pikesville Silver and Antiques out of a shop in Suburban Square Center for more than a decade. “We planned it out. Like a life plan.”

Pikesville Silver and Antiques has been a Northwest Baltimore-area staple for three decades after Newman’s father, Jay Newman, opened shop in a warehouse south of Reisterstown Road Plaza in the 1980s.

A longtime eyeglass manufacturer, the elder Newman opened the store after he returned to Baltimore from a 15-year stint living and working in Barbados. While in the Caribbean islands, he became well-versed in the art of silver polishing when the family’s silver was constantly getting tarnished by the harsh tropical climate. Having regularly used the machinery in his manufacturing plant to polish glasses, he decided to apply the same practice to his silver. When he returned to Baltimore, he decided to make a business out of his hobby.

“My father was really a gutsy kind of guy,” said Newman. “When he came back, he ended up buying a polishing machine and putting an ad in the Jewish Times.” From there, Pikesville Silver and Antiques was launched. Newman’s mother ran the business’ books while his father handled the physical labor of polishing antiques and family heirlooms brought to the store from all over the region.

About 12 years ago, when Newman’s father had retired and Newman and his wife took over the family business, the couple decided to move the shop to a more shopper-friendly space.

The Pikesville location was an easy decision.

“Pikesville was the mainstay of our customer base,” said Newman. Though he has taken great pride in all his work, Newman describes a special feeling of pride that comes from helping someone restore a piece of silver that has been passed down from generation to generation — “l’dor v’dor” he calls those pieces. Some pieces he cares for are a family’s only artifacts to have survived the Holocaust.

“It was never a money-maker. It was never a dynasty type of thing,” he said. “It was a little Ma and Pa dinosaur of a business in the sense that nobody does that kind of work.”

With the popularity of modern designs and stainless steel, silver polishing is becoming a sort of “lost art” said Newman. Business has quieted down as of late. But he describes the pieces he’s seen over the years as “like artwork.”

“I am not going to miss getting dirty, but I’m going to miss the pride and the customers,” he said.

At Pikesville Jewelry & Coin, business partners Marc Schauder and Rich Bardach expect they’ll be as busy as ever but in a different way.

“We’ve had a ton of fun here and some great customers,” said Bardach. But it is time to “shake things up a little bit.”

Later this month, when Pikesville Jewelry & Coin’s lease runs out, the store will close its doors for the first time in three decades.

Over those three decades, Bardach said, “We’ve seen every trend you can possibly imagine.” But it’s the latest trend — an overwhelming majority of business coming through estate sales — that led the pair to revamp their model.

Bardach remembers a time when Pikesville Jewelry & Coin was one of many similar businesses in the Pikesville area. After years spent watching competitors close down, the time came for the store to think about its future.

Instead of operating their longtime storefront on Reisterstown Road, the owners will now deal exclusively with customers who contact them directly.

A New York native, Bardach describes his Pikesville clientele as “some of the nicest, warmest people I’ve ever met.”

“Nobody needed to shop with us,” he said, but they chose to support the business anyway, and many more still referred friends and family members to the store.

Today, Bardach said, the business is buying from and selling to its third generation of Pikesville customers.

“My fear is that I’ll be busier [now] than I was,” said Bardach with a laugh. “I want to get a little golf in.”


Common Ground

Rabbi David Lapin (Provided)

Rabbi David Lapin (Provided)

PHILADELPHIA — Professional and lay Jewish day school leaders gathered in the City of Brotherly Love for three days to forge “uncommon connections” with their peers.

The fifth North American Jewish Day School Conference, which ended March 10, brought an estimated 1,000 participants to the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, where the stated goal was to learn about systems intelligence. PARDES Day Schools of Reform Judaism, Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network, the Schechter Day School Network and the Yeshiva University-School Partnership co-hosted the conference, with sponsorship from the AVI CHAI Foundation, the Kohelet Foundation and Jewish Federations of North America.

The packed schedule featured workshops, plenaries and “Constellations of Learning” blocs, in which participants could pick and choose among sessions ranging from free-wheeling, unstructured conversations to three-hour intensive discussions.

New this year were opportunities for participants to study Torah, excursions to Philadelphia educational and cultural landmarks and a special track for small school communities.

The focus on small Jewish day schools grew out of last year’s joint RAVSAK-PARDES conference in which a sort of conference within a conference for small schools and communities was hosted. According to Dr. Marc Kramer, co-executive director of RAVSAK, the endeavor was wildly successful.

At this year’s conference, Kramer’s back-to-back small schools sessions were packed, particularly a session that examined four case studies ranging from dealing with donor stipulations to dealing with dissatisfied families. Case studies, explained Kramer, are a useful tool for identifying problems and digging beyond the superficial to find a meaningful answer. Work shopping the cases together with a wide range of voices helped small school leaders gain insights they might not otherwise have opportunity to hear.

“One thing that we heard, which we knew, is leadership is lonely business,” said Kramer. “If the next Jewish school is two or three hours away that’s really limiting, but when you can sit in a room with other Jewish leaders from small schools you can have relationships with your colleagues that are missing throughout the year.”

To further facilitate conversation, the NAJDS conference featured an interactive meeting environment dubbed “The Playground” designed by Fielding Nair International, the architects behind creative learning spaces around the globe. The room was divvied up into learning spaces — campfire, cave, watering hole and life — where attendees took advantage of sitting down for one-on-one conversations or learning about blended learning techniques from the multitude of educational technology companies present.

Just across from the technology-laden tables, Rivky Ross, head of school at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori in East Brunswick, N.J., sat on the floor surrounded by classroom objects and demonstrated how the Montessori multisensory approach is incorporated into Hebrew language learning.

Ross explained that a benefit of a smaller school — her school has 125 students from infant through eighth grade — was the sense of community created.

“We’re a school where the children feel they’re a close-knit family, and that has a lot of value,” said Ross.

At the Monday afternoon address, Rabbi David Lapin, CEO of Lapin Consulting International, and his daughters, Ashira Lapin Gobrin and Bruria Lapin Martin, urged a return to traditional Talmudic methods of study as a means of giving Jewish students an edge in an automatized future.

“What do we have to give to our students?” he asked the audience. “The capacity in the future to compete with robots. To be able to do what robots cannot.”

He impressed upon the audience that Talmudic methodology makes sense to children growing up in the digital age. Unlike traditional education, he continued, where students are taught that to get from one to three you must go by two, the study of Talmud allows a leap from one to three, to go out of order and ask questions. It is the asking of questions that will give Jewish students the advantage, he contended.

Lapin urged the crowd to “change [the] conversation from competitive advantage to Jewish advantage.”

To drive the point home, Gobrin had the audience study the first tractate that discusses the Shema and share their results and conversations.

Concluded Gobrin, “Western education teaches students to answer our questions. Jewish education inspires students to question our answers.”

Workshops on fundraising, building endowments and affordability were threaded throughout the conference.

In an 80-minute Constellation session held Monday, Harry Bloom, strategy manager at PEJE, and Zipora Schorr, director of education at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Pikesville, gave a joint presentation on “What does governance have to do with Fundraising? Everything!”

Bloom posited that the secret to school board success is a combination of strategic board meetings, board education about programs and budget, formal board education and conflict-of-interest avoidance agreements in place. He also highlighted the sometimes uncomfortable, but necessary, task of profiling board members’ ability to give financially — the ideal being that board members’ gifts to their schools be among their top three donations yearly.

Schorr presented BT as a board model that has been restructured for success, using the steps Bloom outlined.

“We created a board, a board that was interested in what we were doing,” said Schorr. “We made sure that we gave them some very formal board education. We actually encouraged them to see themselves as fiduciary responsible. And we did something that seemed so counterintuitive, but Harry pointed it out as one of the most important things ever: we got them to sign conflict of interest statements.”

There was some fall-out from the restructuring, she admitted, but the transition was worth it. “It’s very important for you, whether you’re the head of school or whether you’re in development, to surround yourself with people who understand the mission of the school and who understand the fiduciary piece of their position on the board.”

By creating an environment of philanthropic engagement and transparency, BT made notable gains. One hundred percent of board members donate to the school, she said, and the endowment grew to $12.5 million.

This spring, Schorr said, BT will celebrate the successful completion of an $18 million capital campaign.


Hearing Held on Life Insurance Bill

Legislation forbidding life insurance providers in Maryland from limiting coverage, discontinuing coverage or requiring larger payments from clients based on future lawful travel plans — such as to Israel — could be inching closer to law.

In a hearing two weeks ago on House Bill 352 in the House Health and Government Operations Committee, lobbyists scheduled to testify against the bill said that they would be willing to support a version of the legislation that includes two amendments of their own specifying the standards necessary to meet before a provider can choose to charge a client more or deny coverage for the timespan the client is in a particular region.

As things stand now, life insurance providers cannot discriminate against clients based on past lawful travel. If this legislation, which is sponsored by Del. Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-District 41), is passed with the amendments included, life insurance providers would have to provide coverage to clients while they travel to any region not actively affected by Centers for Disease Control-recognized deadly outbreaks or ongoing armed conflicts involving the nation in question and another structured military organization.

“This is something that affects people of different faiths” and backgrounds, Rosenberg told the committee.

The Attorney General’s office is currently reviewing the amendments offered by the insurance industry advocates. The Insurance Subcommittee met on Tuesday, but no vote was taken on the bill.


Freundel Resigns from Towson

Rabbi Barry Freundel (provided)

Rabbi Barry Freundel

Rabbi Barry Freundel, who pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism on Feb. 19, has resigned from Towson University, effective March 27, according to a universityspokesperson.

Freundel, who started teaching at Towson as a tenured professor in 2009, was suspended from the university after his arrest in October. He will have received $30,830 since the suspension, with the final $4,746 of that amount to be paid by March 27.

“Because he resigned, as a result, there will be no administrative hearing,” said Towson spokeswoman Gay Pinder.

Freundel’s attorney, Jeffrey Harris, said Freundel’s resignation was worked out with the university.

“Towson was amenable to it, and it seemed to us the best way to proceed,” he said.

Freundel faces a maximum penalty of 52 years of incarceration and could be ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines. His sentencing is set for Friday, May 15.

The conviction stems from Freundel’s setting up hidden cameras inside a clock radio and a fan in the National Capital Mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath next door to Kesher Israel Congregation in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Freundel was terminated from the synagogue in November.

While he was charged with 52 counts of voyeurism, prosecutors said Freundel videotaped more than 150 women undressing at the mikvah. The 52 counts of voyeurism he was charged with are for the 52 victims within the statute of limitations.

Shortly after Freundel’s arrest, a search of his Towson office turned up several hidden cameras, a handwritten list of names, computer storage devices, batteries, charging cables, remote controls and a laptop. There is no indication that students were filmed at the university.


Time to Celebrate Shabbat Across America

031315_briefs_shabbat_americaWhen the sun sets this Friday, thousands of Jews across the United States will come together to learn and observe Shabbat as part of Shabbat Across America, a project organized by the National Jewish Outreach Program.

A number of local congregations are switching up their normal Shabbat routines to celebrate the 18th year of the national effort.

According to Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro, at Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah in Pikesville, 150 people are expected to participate in a “Happy Minyan” Friday night with a Carlebach-style Kabbalat Shabbat service, followed by dinner and a guest lecture from Jerusalem Post reporter Jeremy Yonah Bob on the upcoming Israeli parliamentary elections and that country’s security issues.

Shabbat morning at MMAE will feature a large Kiddush to welcome the congregation’s new associate rabbi, Rabbi Joel Dinin, and his family. For a change of pace, the synagogue will host a third meal that afternoon and have board games and kids’ games available between services.

Shapiro noted that Shabbat Across America corresponds to this week’s Torah portion of Vayakhel-Pekude.

“First thing [Moses] says is, ‘Keep the Sabbath, observe the Sabbath,’” said Shapiro. “Sabbath is the common core connection between people and God. Six days a week are action and one day a week is rest and introspection, and that’s why it’s so important, it’s key. Everyone deserves to have Shabbos.”

Also adding spice to its normal Shabbat programing is Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia. It’s putting its own twist on the theme by celebrating Shabbat Across the Americas, complete with a Latin American and Caribbean-themed dinner and a guest lecture from Carmel Nitsani, the Jewish Federation of Howard County’s Israeli cultural emissary who will speak about the history of Ladino and Sephardic culture. Rabbi Susan Grossman will share a lesson on how the Jews, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, went on to found communities in South America and North America.

Baltimore Hebrew Institute and B’nai Israel Congregation in Baltimore have teamed up to host Barry Gittlen as a scholar-in-residence. Gittlen will deliver a lecture following dinner titled “The Amazing Aquatic Adventures of Noah and Moses.”


Delegate Consents to Protective Order

Freshman Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi (D-District 10) agreed to a restraining order on Monday barring him from contact with his daughter for one year.
“He took fierce exception to the allegations,” Jalisi’s lawyer, former Montgomery County Del. Luiz Simmons told the court on March 9. Nevertheless, Jalisi agreed to not contact his daughter or enter her residence or school, Johns Hopkins University, for 12 months.
The hearing, before District Court Judge Sally Chester, was in response to an incident on Feb. 21 in which Jalisi’s 18-year-old daughter claimed Jalisi slapped her “with his left hand on my left cheek and almost hit me again to quiet my screams, but my brother pushed us away,” according to a request for a protective order filed with Baltimore County District Court late last month.
An earlier hearing scheduled for March 2 was postponed last week after the court learned Jalisi had not been formally served with a summons, though he had acknowledged the affair to a number of news outlets. According to Simmons, Jalisi contacted the Anne Arundel County sheriff’s office last week in order to obtain the summons.
Under the new order, Jalisi is still permitted to pick up his teenage son, whom the order does not protect, from his daughter and wife’s residence on Greenspring Avenue in Lutherville-Timonium, though he may not enter the house. Court filings list his residence as an address on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills, though he maintains a temporary residence in Annapolis during session.
“My client is happy that she has the protections that she had sought,” said Alan Silverberg, the daughter’s attorney, outside the courtroom. He added that she stands by her allegation of assault, along with other allegations of intimidation and verbal harassment noted in the protective order filing.
Jalisi’s lawyer said that the decision to consent to the order rather than fight the allegation in court stems from Jalisi’s wish to spare his family the ordeal of a court hearing. Jalisi’s brother, whom Simmons said Jalisi called immediately after the incident, and father were present at the courthouse and prepared to testify on Jalisi’s behalf. His wife stood beside their daughter in front of the judge.
Jalisi’s daughter needs space, said Simmons, and “he wants to give her the space she wants.”
If Jalisi is found to violate the order by contacting his daughter at any point before March 9, 2016, he could be found in contempt of court and face criminal charges.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-District 30A) announced late Monday night that Jalisi will be removed from the House Judiciary Committee and reassigned to the House Environment and Transportation Committee.