Civil Lawsuit Filed Against Freundel’s Former Employers

122614_Freundel_BriefWhile the criminal trial of Rabbi Barry Freundel, formerly of the Kesher Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., on six counts of voyeurism has not yet begun, some women who allege they are Freundel’s victims have joined a class-action civil lawsuit against his former employers, seeking to be compensated for emotional injuries.

 
A team of attorneys from the Baltimore-based firm Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White LLC, led by attorney Steven Kelly, held a news conference at the National Press Club last week announcing the addition of the Rabbinical Council of America to the list of defendants in the civil action they filed earlier this month.

 
RCA now joins Kesher Israel, the National Capital Mikvah and Georgetown University as defendants in the suit, all of which are accused of negligently failing to oversee Freundel prior to his arrest in October, despite previous RCA inquiries into improper conduct between Freundel and conversion candidates.

 
Two plaintiffs who believe themselves to be victims of Freundel (the U.S. Attorney’s office has not publicly released the identities of the six victims listed in the criminal complaint) were also added to the case. They are Emma Shulevitz, 27, of Rockville, and Towson University student Stephanie Smith.

 
“For years, Defendants turned a blind eye to obvious signs of Freundel’s increasingly bizarre and obviously improper behavior, ignoring the bright red flags that Freundel was acting inappropriately with women subjected to his authority,” said the plaintiffs in their complaint.

Good As New

Congregants packed the halls of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation for a once-in-a-lifetime experience: the chance to help repair a Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust and dates back at least 250 years.

“It was great,” said Linda Speert, who helped write an aleph on the scroll the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 14. She wanted to bring her grandkids along for the experience, but with them out of town, she decided to sign up on her own.

“I just wanted to be part of the tradition and to be part of what people will read in this Torah even after I’m not here,” she said.

The congregation has been working for months to restore nine of its 14 Torah scrolls. While most of the scrolls have either been sent to a rabbi in Florida who specializes in restorations or will soon be on their way, one of the congregation’s scrolls — the 250-year-old scroll that survived the Holocaust in Europe — is being restored largely on-site so that congregants may take part in the process.

BHC Cantor Robbie Solomon reads from the  congregation’s 250-year-old Holocaust Torah scroll. (David Stuck)

BHC Cantor Robbie Solomon reads from the
congregation’s 250-year-old Holocaust Torah scroll.
(David Stuck)

“In a sense, it’s a community activity we’re doing,” said Cantor Robbie Solomon. “The Torah, it’s the center — can be considered the center — of our religion. It’s a thing that’s been with us for many thousands of years.”

Over the span of three sessions, more than 300 community members have done their part to help refurbish the fading and weathered script in the congregation’s Holocaust Torah. After signing up for a 20-minute slot — congregation leaders are now determining how to address the wait list that developed by the end of the last session — participants arrived early to speak with the clergy and cleanse their hands. When they were ready, they proceeded to the table where the scribe, Rabbi Moshe Druin, who is also restoring the congregation’s other Torahs at his home office and has traveled to Baltimore from Florida for each of the three sessions, sat with the scroll.

Druin told the participants, who included individuals, couples and families, as well as representatives from brotherhoods and sisterhoods, about the letters they helped him write. From there, the participants held the top of the quill as Druin guided the strokes to darken the letters.

“This scroll, it has really seen a lot in its career,” Druin told Richard and Ann Fishkin as they prepared to write the letter zayin on the parchment. Druin was referring not only to the Torah’s Holocaust past, but also to the history that predates even the world wars.

Like many of BHC’s scrolls, the congregation’s Holocaust Torah has remained in use up until its restoration. Clergy read from the Torah on special occasions each year. But when the rest of the parchment was unrolled to begin the restoration, Druin noticed something that has since captivated all of BHC’s clergy: the form of the letters throughout the scroll varies from Ashkenazic to Sephardic to Kabbalistic traditions in different passages, something that adds a layer of mystery for the more detail oriented.

Most Torahs are written in one style or another, but the variation in style in BHC’s Torah, which was brought to the congregation by the late Rabbi Morris Lieberman when the rabbi returned from serving as a chaplain in the Army in 1945, seems to suggest that the original scribe was trying to send a message of his own through his scroll. Though they know the Torah was rescued from a synagogue destroyed by Nazi forces in the Czech Republic, little else is known about the scroll.

“Combined, [Cantor Solomon and I] have been clergy for over 50 years and neither of us has seen a Torah like this,” said Rabbi Andrew Busch. “He’s trying to make some kind of point,” Busch said of the scribe’s decision to include various styles of writing.

The most puzzling part of the writings, though, is that no one knows what that 250-year-old point is. Instead, the clergy are left to speculate and admire the occasional extra decorations on some of the letters.

And the congregation’s other Torahs are no bore either. The oldest of the Torahs appears to have originated in Italy and features Sephardic text, an anomaly at Baltimore Hebrew, Maryland’s oldest synagogue and a community founded by mostly Ashkenazic immigrants from Germany. By looking at the text, Druin estimates that the scroll was first written some 400 years ago.

“There’s been a lot of excitement,” said Annette Saxon, director of development at BHC. “The buzz has been building.”

For BHC’s clergy, the benefit of the project has been threefold. In addition to providing an opportunity to learn more about their own Torahs, money is being raised to sustain regular Torah maintenance and congregation staff and clergy are getting the chance to interact with congregation and community members they might otherwise had never had to the opportunity to get to know.

“A lot of the people who’ve come through this aren’t the people who make appointments with us,” said Busch, adding that he’s enjoyed the chance to talk to some of the less involved members of his congregation.

“We’ve reached out and touched a lot of people who, you know, aren’t so attuned to going to services every week and doing your mainstream type of participation in Torah,” said Richard Gross, who chairs the congregation’s Torah restoration project. “There are people who have come out of these sessions crying.”

Martha Weiman, president of BHC, said the decision to participate was easy. In addition to her interest as a congregation leader, she wanted to experience the restoration of such an important text.

“It was very special. There was a certain spirituality that went with it,” she said. “If the opportunity ever came up again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

A Holocaust survivor herself, Weiman said she especially enjoyed the chance to work so closely on the restoration of a Torah salvaged from Nazi Europe. The connection, she said, made the experience extremely personal.

“That made it particularly moving for me,” she said. “Looking at it and touching it and just thinking about where it’s been” was fascinating.

Some of the participants have come from outside the BHC family as well. One woman who came to help write in the scroll used to be a BHC member but had, in more recent years, let her membership expire. After writing on the parchment with Druin, she decided to rejoin the congregation. Even a couple of church groups made an appearance, wishing to observe the process and see the historical Torah for themselves.

“It’s been better than we even anticipated,” Gross said. “We knew we would reach some people who would not be your mainstream congregants
involved in your men’s club, sisterhood, things like that, social action committees. These people have been touched, and we hope to build on it.”

To watch the scribe and participants at work, visit jewishtimes.com. For more information about BHC’s Tikkun Torah project, visit bhcong.org/tikkuntorah.

Our Obligation

122614_hunger1“May the odds be ever in your favor,” Effie Trinket says in the early scenes of the first “The Hunger Games” movie, but for many in Howard County the odds are not in their favor, and issues of hunger, poverty and housing are of daily concern.

With that in mind, Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia used the movie as a leaping-off point to examine area hunger as part of its participation in Human Rights Shabbat, an initiative of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

On Dec. 5, a few days ahead of International Human Rights Day, 150 participants walked into a Beth Shalom transformed into the world of “The Hunger Games” with the sanctuary taking on the feel of the wooded coal-country home of heroine Katniss Everdeen and the social hall taking on the look of an opulent Capitol gala.

The evening began with 60 people joining together for Shabbat dinner and discussion. On each table, Adam Kruger, youth director and family programmer, placed a Capitol-produced propaganda photo and talking points that posed such questions as: “What was the intention behind this propaganda? Does this remind you of any time in Jewish or world history?”

The children seated at Rabbi Susan Grossman’s table were perceptive and insightful, she said. “We actually do a unit on the Holocaust with the kids in school, and they got it immediately with the elements of propaganda there.”

At a table with younger children, an image of young girl dressed in tattered clothes and with dirty hands grasping an apple elicited a discussion of hunger at home and in the world.

In many ways, the poverty and desperation displayed in the “The Hunger Games” books and movies is a “social commentary on our times,” said Grossman, who invited Anna Katz, cold-weather shelter coordinator for Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, to speak to the community.

While the kids were whisked away for separate age-appropriate programming, adults gathered in a religious school classroom to listen as Katz detailed startling numbers. Behind the manicured landscapes of wealthy Howard County are thousands who live on the edge. Last year, 22,000 individuals were served by Grassroots, which runs a family and men’s shelter, motel shelter and cold-weather shelter, offers 24-hour crisis intervention and runs a day resource center, she said. That need has not abated.

Beth Shalom has a longstanding partnership with Grassroots, but the presentation has the congregation’s social action committee looking into ways to further help the crisis center.

Beth Shalom’s social hall was transformed to take on the look of an opulent capitol gala from “The Hunger Games.” (Submitted by Beth Shalom)

Beth Shalom’s social hall was transformed to take on the look of an opulent capitol gala from “The Hunger Games.”
(Submitted by Beth Shalom)

Following Kabbalat Shabbat services, Grossman gave a presentation on “What ‘The Hunger Games’ teaches us about Jewish values,” which focused on the obligation to feed the hungry and care for the poor and correct income disparity, as well as the idea of self-defense, enshrined in Jewish texts.

When the discussion turned to tithing, one astute elementary school student asked: What if you are very rich? Can you give more than 10 percent?

Grossman replied that the “very rich” should give 20 percent, the comfortable should give 10 percent, the poor should give 5 percent, and the very poor should give two pennies.

“You should always give something, but no one should give so much that they impoverish themselves,” she said. “Judaism is a religion of deed, not just of faith, so we have to live what we believe.”

mapter@jewishtimes.com

SAFE and Sound

Michelle Mills, director of Adult Day Services/Care Management for Levindale, says programs like SAFE are helping a vulnerable population.

Michelle Mills, director of Adult Day Services/Care Management for Levindale, says programs like SAFE are helping a vulnerable population.

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, approximately 8,000 baby boomers will turn 65 years old, per day, for the next decade. AARP also reports that one in 10 healthy adults over age 60 claim some type of neglect or maltreatment — physical, psychological or emotional — and this is most likely to happen in their home by a relative or trusted companion.

 
These statistics are behind the creation of SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders, a new program co-administered by three agencies of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. CHANA (Counseling Helpline and Aid Network for Abused Women), the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital and Jewish Community Services (JCS) have joined forces to provide much-needed support and education to elderly victims, their families and professionals in Northwest Baltimore’s Jewish community.

 
“When a lot of people think of elder abuse, they assume it takes place in a nursing home or is inflicted by a paid caretaker,” said Ellyn Loy, SAFE’s director at CHANA. “The fact is, abuse and neglect of the elderly is usually committed by an unpaid spouse or family member, and that makes it a more difficult problem to handle,” she said.

 
“You can fire a paid caretaker and you can move someone to a different facility, but it is more complicated when it is a family member,” said Michelle Mills, director of Adult Day Services/Care Management for Levindale. “It can be a situation where a family member is continually yelling or berating a person,” said Mills. “And there is physical abuse like pushing or shoving. But physical abuse for an elder can also mean keeping their walker or glasses in a place where they can’t reach them. There is a lot of controlling behavior just as there is in other types of domestic abuse, but it plays out differently with elders.” Mills added, “The caretaker might justify the controlling behavior by saying, ‘You don’t understand. If I don’t take her walker away, she will wander around and get into trouble. I can’t watch her all the time.’”
Elders dependent on others can also find themselves victimized by trusted caregivers who exploit them financially. Financial exploitation “looks different in different situations,” said Loy.

 
“It could be a situation when an elder needs a higher level of care and the caregiver won’t arrange for it
because he or she wants to save the money for him or herself. Or sometimes a caregiver gets power of attorney and manipulates the elder’s money.”

 
Loy said that another scenario may be the elder meets someone who starts out helping them or filling a need but then takes advantage of the situation. “For instance, maybe the new friend says, ‘You don’t need that nurse, I’ll move in and take care of you instead,’” explained Loy. “At some point, when the elder realizes something is wrong, there is guilt and concern about what he should do. Often, the elder is afraid to tell his children what is happening.”

 
That’s when the SAFE staff hopes the elder or someone with the elder’s best interests at heart will contact the program. In addition to education, SAFE provides assessment, counseling, social services and also provides a safe shelter place that is adaptable as to location and level of care required.

 
“Whereas most shelters are geared toward younger people,” said Mills, “SAFE’s shelter is especially targeted toward elders who require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).”  Another difference in the SAFE shelter model is that it is not housed in a dedicated space. Instead, elders who meet the criteria for admission are sheltered at Levindale’s hospital or another skilled nursing facility, if a bed is available at the time of assessment.

 
“When they are admitted,” said Mills, “we have a SAFE team made up of staff from CHANA, Levindale and JCS come out to do an assessment and create an action plan. For example, we might ask, ‘Do we need to get a protective order? Do we need to stop checks?’”

 
If a bed isn’t available at the time of admission, Mills said the SAFE house staff makes alternative arrangements to protect the elder. In addition to providing a safe haven, SAFE staff will also provide counseling and help elders to apply for social programs such as permanent housing and Meals on Wheels.

 
“It’s a great partnership,” said Loy. “CHANA knows domestic violence and trauma, JCS knows counseling and entitlements, and Levindale has expertise in providing a safe environment.”

 
SAFE is good news for the community, said Mills. “Programs like this have a great impact and are helping the most vulnerable population.”

Ulman Heads to College Park

Former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will announce his next position soon, he says.

Former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will announce his next position soon, he says.

Former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced Monday that he will serve as an economic development and innovation strategist for the University of Maryland, College Park.

Ulman’s newly formed consulting firm, Margrave Strategies LLC, will provide a variety of economic development, planning and visioning services to institutions, businesses and organizations. Margrave’s principal initial client is the University of Maryland College Park Foundation.

“University of Maryland, College Park can reach its full potential and become a true engine of innovation and economic growth for Maryland,” Ulman said in a statement. “As a proud graduate of the University of Maryland, I look forward to helping [University President] Dr. Wallace Loh achieve his vision for the university and for the community, which benefits the entire state.”

The University of Maryland College Park Foundation drives investments in the campus and leverages private funds to help the university become a top research institution.

Margrave will work to enhance UMd.’s role as a catalyst for innovation, and Ulman will work to diversify revenue streams, foster investment in startups as well as university programs with growth potential, bring investment to the University Research Park and further develop the Route 1 corridor.

“I have often said the future of this university is tied to the future of the surrounding community, and we must make investments that spark economic development in College Park,” Loh said in a statement. “We are pleased Ken is bringing his expertise from smart economic growth in Howard County here to our university and community.”

Ulman, who was the Democratic lieutenant governor candidate under Anthony Brown, was, at 32, the youngest county executive ever elected in Maryland in 2006. His second term wrapped up earlier this month.

Gender Gaps, Job Availability Examined

About 400 people attended the banquet Sunday night at the Association for Jewish Studies’ 46th annual conference at the Hilton Baltimore, where Jonathan Sarna revealed details from a soon-to-be-published survey of members. (Marc Shapiro)

About 400 people attended the banquet Sunday night at the Association for Jewish Studies’ 46th annual conference at the Hilton Baltimore, where Jonathan Sarna revealed details from a soon-to-be-published survey of members.
(Marc Shapiro)

While diversity has greatly increased at the Association for Jewish Studies — around half of the organization’s approximately 3,000 members are female and 17 percent identify with a religion other than Judaism — disparities still exist in the academic discipline.

“Today women actually outnumber men among our recent Ph.D.s,” AJS president Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, announced last weekend during the organization’s 46th annual conference in Baltimore. “That said, our survey reveals that women have not yet achieved anything like equality in terms of salaries. Female members of the AJS earn lower salaries at universities and garner less outside income beyond the university than men of the same mark. The extent of the disparity is shocking.”

According to AJS data, men who earned their doctorates between 1980 and 1994 make an average of $128,000 per year, while their female colleagues make $100,000. Similarly, those who have earned doctorates since 2005 make an average of $65,000 per year as men and $59,000 per year as women.

The data came from a survey of AJS members that was completed by 1,790 respondents, about 60 percent of the organization, according to Steven M. Cohen, a research professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College who helped conduct the survey.

“It’s only by revealing [salary disparities] that we have a chance of bringing about any kind of equality that I think most people in this room assume should exist between what men make and what women make,” Sarna said after his speech at the Sunday night banquet at the Hilton Baltimore.

Keren McGinity, a research affiliate at the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis and a board member of the AJS’s Women’s Caucus, said the disparities are indicative of larger forces at work.

“The pay disparities in academia and outside it are a reflection of the unfortunate reality that the social construction of traditional American gender roles is still deeply rooted,” she said via email. “The fact that American white women continue to earn only 78 cents to the dollar that white men earn for the same work — while shouldering more of domestic labor and childcare — influences perceptions and salaries within Jewish studies.”

The AJS survey also tackled issues that transcend gender, including “the question of decline” in the field itself, Sarna said.

“Anecdotally, we have all heard stories of declining enrollment, smaller numbers of majors and minors, fewer employment possibilities, and at my own university, I have to say these disturbing trends are quite evident,” he said.

In terms of course enrollment, 49 percent of survey respondents from North America reported little to no change, 23 percent reported a small decline, 7 percent reported a large decline, 17 percent reported a small increase, and 4 percent reported a large increase. Sarna said the greatest reports of declining enrollments were at Jewish seminaries, where 48 percent of faculty surveyed experienced declines in course enrollment.

“Not exactly an indication of imminent catastrophe,” Sarna said, noting that the decline is selective and not clear-cut. He noted that the humanities’ share of all degrees completed has dropped from 14 percent to 7 percent between 1966 and 2010.

Sarna then addressed the future.

Vacancies in the field exist, he confirmed, but the total number of tenured positions in Jewish studies is stable. The AJS advertises about 30 tenured or tenure-track positions each year, he said.

The bad news, he said, is that there are more job seekers than there are jobs, and professors are choosing to retire later in life or not retire at all. The average age of tenured professors in the United States — professors in all disciplines — is 55 at many universities, including Brandeis. More than 25 percent of faculty there are over 60.

Cohen said this means limited opportunities exist for those entering the field.

“The chances of being employed in academia are significantly less than when many of us entered the field 30 to 40 years ago,” he said. “When I entered the field in 1974, upon graduation I had three job offers. So now people have zero job offers [or] one job offer.”

Cohen said the field will lose people who otherwise could be productive in academia, but he and Sarna agreed that the discipline need not stigmatize those who take their doctorates elsewhere.

“A freshly minted Ph.D. who takes a job outside the academy is not a trader to the cause,” Sarna said. “Instead, he or she may actually be expanding the reach of Jewish studies, building bridges to the larger community and fulfilling an important component of our core vision while fostering greater understanding of Jewish studies scholarship.”

McGinity said it’s important for those entering the field to find ways to use their knowledge in creative ways.

“The market economy requires that scholars think more like entrepreneurs than our predecessors,” she said. “There will always be opportunities to contribute to the production and dissemination of new knowledge in meaningful ways, but how one does so has to change for everyone to succeed.”

‘Gratitude for Every Breath’

Rabbi Zvi Dov Slanger and Swiss Embassy official David Best hold a plaque given to the Swiss government. Also pictured are Michael Elman (left) and Sen. Ben Cardin. (Israel Orange Studios)

Rabbi Zvi Dov Slanger and Swiss Embassy official David Best hold a plaque given to the Swiss government. Also pictured are Michael Elman (left) and Sen. Ben Cardin.
(Israel Orange Studios)

More than 700 people gathered Sunday night to celebrate the life and work of Rabbi Zvi Dov Slanger, who 70 years ago escaped the horrors of the Holocaust and went on to dedicate his life to the study and transmission of Torah.

Born in Budapest, Slanger and his immediate family were among those Jews fortunate enough to escape to Switzerland aboard the “Kasztner Train,” the only mass ransom of Jews during the Holocaust. The passage was not direct; for five months, Slanger endured the misery of Bergen-Belsen until the negotiations were finalized. Finally on Dec. 7, 1944, the train crossed into freedom in Switzerland.

From there, the family journeyed to Israel, where Slanger studied under renowned scholars, including Rabbi Elya Lopian. He arrived in the United States in 1965 and became involved in various schools. He founded the Bais Hamedrash and Mesivta of Baltimore 18 years ago.

Just after 6 p.m. attendees of the Gala of Gratitude in Slanger’s honor took their seats at elegantly dressed tables that filled the Beth Tfiloh Congregation ballroom. On stage, the guests of honor sat behind long rows of raised tables.

Gala co-chair Dr. Michael Elman opened the evening by expressing “exceptional, extra thanks” for the life and work of Slanger before turning the microphone over to fellow co-chair Howard Tzvi Friedman, who introduced U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin.

“It is a real honor to be in your presence, and we thank you for the life that you live,” Cardin said, addressing Slanger. “Thank for the legacy you’ve left, the standards you’ve set.”

The Maryland Democrat went on to recognize Switzerland for its part in saving Slanger’s life and for their advancement of human rights.

“In the depths of the Holocaust, there were heroic acts and courage displayed,” said Cardin, who presented a plaque to Swiss Embassy official David Best. “There weren’t any other countries in that area that opened up their doors” to let in Jews.

Best thanked his government and his country.

“My country, which has been spared of the horror of two world wars, is committed [to human rights],” said Best.

As a surprise, Best presented Slanger with copies of the documents from when Slanger entered Switzerland, noting, “You were a very handsome 10 year-old boy!”

Always the teacher, Slanger gave a lesson on whom God shows favor and the importance of gratitude. He related a wartime story of Jews who were starving “and yet, they were thankful and blessed Hashem even when they were still hungry.”

“Gratitude, being grateful for every breath of life … such people deserve special favor,” he said, adding that in committing himself to Jewish
education, he was “trying to follow in footsteps of giants of great generations.”

Before the gala’s close, Elman announced that Slanger’s school has appointed an architect to construct a new building for the institution. The groundbreaking is expected in the spring or early summer of 2015.

Suburban Orthodox Launches $5M Capital Campaign

Growth in recent years has prompted Suburban Orthodox Congregation to launch a $5 million building campaign, the congregation’s rabbi, chairman and president announced in a Dec. 12 email to congregants.

“The time has come to write the next chapter of our congregational narrative,” read the message, which was signed by Rabbi Shmuel Silber, chairman of the board Mel Pachino and congregation president Jack Gladstein. “We have [thank God] outgrown our current facility on many levels and we must begin to plan for our future.”

The email said that consultations with architects and builders led congregation officials to the conclusion that new construction would be the best way to maximize use of the property. On Monday, Dec. 8, the board of directors unanimously decided to launch the campaign and approved an initial
expenditure to develop architectural plans and engineering studies for the purpose of pricing out a new building.

“We are at an important crossroad. We have the opportunity to grow as a kehilla and as individuals. We have the opportunity to create a physical home that will enable us to pray, learn, perform chesed, serve our youth and socialize in a comfortable and beautiful fashion,” the officials wrote. “Our current facility does not represent the true vibrancy of our kehilla and the holy potential we possess.”

Baltimoreans Peddle from Jerusalem to Eilat

Bob Roswell biked the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Bike Ride for the first time. Riders raised more than $600,000 for the two organizations. (Provided)

Bob Roswell biked the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Bike Ride for the first time. Riders raised more than $600,000 for the two organizations.
(Provided)

For five days last month,165 people, including 17 local participants, took the scenic route through Israel — by bicycle.

The cyclists were participants in the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Bike Ride and together raised more than $600,000 for the institute’s academic and environmental research programs in the Middle East and to help Hazon create sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond.

Now in its 12th year, the Jewish National Fund-sponsored ride offered bikers the choice of peddling 25, 50 or 75 miles per day on a route that took them from Jerusalem to Eilat.

Team JNF Baltimore participants included riders from Baltimore and Hartford counties. Cathy Myrowitz, 62, and her husband, Elliott, 61, both members of East Bank Chavura, went on the trip for the second time, even after Cathy’s hip replacement surgery.

What makes the trip so important to Myrowitz, she said, is the fact that Arava alumni are on the ride talking about their work and supporting the cyclists in every way, and she believes in the institute’s mission.

Arava fosters an environment in which Israelis and Palestinians “study and work together,” she said, “and included in all of that is how you can have peace and understanding.” She sees Arava as vital to the State of Israel, because the institute trains people to be productive even through adversity. “You might not like each other, but you can work together as human beings,” she said.

Bob Roswell, 57, a Chizuk Amuno Congregation member, avid biker and vice president at System Source Inc. in Hunt Valley, took part in the ride for the first time.

The most interesting moment for Roswell was “the visit we had to Sderot and spending time with the [Israelis] who were trying to form bonds with the [Palestinians] in Gaza,” he said. “For me, seeing that there was a peace movement, even dealing with Gaza, was really interesting.”

Cost of Doing Business

Newly elected Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi (D-District 10) describes himself as many things, but his role as property manager of some of the city’s largest apartment complexes has landed him in some hot water in the Baltimore area in the past, court and tax records show.

In 1997, Jalisi began a company under the name HMJ Management Co., Inc., similar to the company he currently heads, HMJ Management LLC. After multiple forfeitures and revivals, HMJ Management Co., Inc. no longer possesses a charter to do business in Maryland, but it left behind it a web of more than $130,000 in unpaid settlements and debts before its final charter forfeiture.

In 2002, HMJ Management Co., Inc., and its president, Jalisi, were involved in two separate cases involving balances due to companies it had contracted with to perform maintenance work at two apartment buildings it managed in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore City: 11 E. Chase St. and 1010 St. Paul St.

In one case, HMJ Management Co., Inc. was ordered by an arbitrator to pay ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corporation $91,781 in unpaid bills for upgrades and maintenance to the elevators in both buildings. After months of not receiving the payment, the company filed a suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court to “confirm and enforce” the arbitrator’s judgment.

A third-party messenger employed to deliver the summons to Jalisi was ultimately unsuccessful in delivering the documents.

“The people in the office there said that he may have gone back to Pakistan, I do not believe them. I think they are shielding Mr. Jalisi,” the messenger wrote in official court documents in April 2003 after multiple attempts to contact Jalisi at three different addresses. The judge eventually ruled in favor of ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corporation absent an appearance by either Jalisi or any representative from his company and ordered HMJ to pay $93,000 plus fees. As of press time, however, case filings showed HMJ never delivered the money.

Jalisi told the JT that he could not recall the lawsuits and said in the decade HMJ Management Co. Inc. was in business he was not aware of any demand for payment. He said that disputes over payment for services would have been between the property owner and the service provider and that HMJ was just a property management company. Property records show, however, another of Jalisi’s companies owned the property at the time of the initial arbitration ruling. He then sold the property, along with two others for a total of more than $12 million in December 2002.

Another company, Culbertson Restoration, which went out of business in Maryland in 2006, also had trouble locating Jalisi to retrieve money it was due as part of an arbitration judgment.

In September 2001, an American Arbitration Association decision ordered HMJ to pay Culbertson about $16,600 in back charges after HMJ failed to send a representative to dispute Culbertson’s claim that it had not received payment for the thousands of dollars in goods and services performed for HMJ. In 2002, after still receiving no payment, CRL sought help from the Circuit Court to enforce the arbitrator’s ruling.

After multiple attempts to serve a summons to Jalisi, according to an affidavit filed by a third-party messenger alleging that the “Defendant evaded process,” the court ruled on behalf of the restoration company. It ordered HMJ to pay the amount decided by the arbitrator. Court records include no notice of the payment ever having been made.

In that case, Jalisi’s company’s alleged evasion of payment to another contractor landed him an order to appear before the court’s auditor or else run the risk of arrest. The auditor’s office, however, found no record of an appearance by Jalisi.

Multiple suits brought against both HMJ Management Co., Inc. and Jalisi have led to other trouble delivering summons. In many instances, the individual enlisted to deliver the summons resorted to delivering the documents to the state’s Department of Assessments and Taxation but still was unable to get a response from HMJ, according to court records. Today, five of the existing companies the JT could trace back to Jalisi are registered to the same post office box in Brooklandville at which HMJ Management Co. Inc. was last listed, something the Department of Assessments and Taxation says it does not allow, as the lack of a physical address makes the delivery of summons nearly impossible.

Unfortunately for the companies still owed money by HMJ, David Paulson of the state attorney general’s office said there is no government mechanism to enforce the payment of judgment awards. The best chance plaintiffs have is to file another complaint to seek the payment they’ve already won.

hnorris@jewishtimes.com