Law of the Land Jewish groups react to SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate outside the supreme court on June 26. (Photo Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate outside the supreme court on June 26. (Photo Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling announced last Friday morning, approved same-sex marriage for residents in all 50 states. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” Kennedy wrote in an opinion joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonya Sotomayor and Elana Kagan.

“Love is love. Ahava is ahava,” said Halley Cohen, director of GLOE-Kurlander Program for GLBT Outreach & Engagement at the DCJCC. “I was so proud of our community, which has been fighting for LGBTQ equality from the beginning.”

Matt Nosanchuk, liaison to the American Jewish community through the White House Office of Public Engagement, arrived at the Supreme Court at 6:15 a.m. and sat among other lawyers when the decision was announced. As soon as it was known that Kennedy would be delivering the majority opinion, he realized that his hopes had come true.

Nosanchuk said he expected the court to rule in favor of marriage equality as he had “read, studied and taught” all the court’s previous rulings on gay rights and had even been in the court when those decisions had been announced.

Still, he was “thrilled it was such a complete and total victory,” and that Kennedy based decision on due process and equal protection.

Looking around, he noticed “tears of joy,” he said, adding, “I was moved. I recognized history was unfolding before my eyes.”

Nosanchuk chose not to miss any of Friday’s history-making day. He quickly went outside the courtroom to join in the celebration with others gathered on the court steps before rushing off to the White House’s Rose Garden to be present as President Barack Obama said, “Today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect.”

Nosanchuk was one of many Jews celebrating Friday. Seventy-eight percent of Jewish Americans favor marriage equality, according to data collected in a 2014 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. Of that number, 47 percent strongly favor same-sex marriage.

Evan Wolfson, who founded Freedom to Marry in 2003, is generally considered the architect of the national marriage equality movement. The Pittsburgh native and Harvard-trained attorney has been in the trenches on the issue for 32 years.

“I was not surprised, but I was thrilled and moved and not a little relieved” after hearing the decision, he said.

“While I always believed we were going to win,” Wolfson said the text of the majority opinion was “extraordinarily powerful and resonant and will have a real impact going forward.”

He was particularly moved, he said, by “the way that Justice Kennedy talked not only about the importance of marriage, but also the importance of including gay people.”

Many Jewish organizations also expressed their joy. Both the Reform and Conservative movements employed phrases such as “moral victory,” “historic” and “a magnificent achievement for our country” in describing their reactions.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said, “Today, the Supreme Court affirmed what has been clear for a long time: same-sex couples deserve the same rights as opposite-sex couples.”

The ruling also “is about affirming the inherent dignity of same-sex couples and affirming that all people, regardless of whom they love, deserve the full protection of our Constitution,” Pesner said.

“As Jews, we believe we are all created in God’s image,” said Rabbi Hara Person, publisher and director of the Central Conference of American Rabbis Press. CCAR is Reform Judaism’s rabbinical leadership organization.

“All citizens of the United States should have the same rights” in financial, legal and other matters, said Person.

Matt Berger, senior adviser for strategic communications at Hillel International, said he stood among supportive friends and family when he was married to a man at a Jewish ceremony officiated by two rabbis. Speaking on his behalf, he said the court’s decision “codifies what so many of us have always believed, which is that our relationships are absolutely equal and deserving of the same rights. The true victory is for those who have not been so lucky to be in such a supportive community.”

Maryland State Sen. Rich Madaleno Jr., a Democrat from District 18, was vacationing at the beach when he heard the news. “I am thrilled,” he said, pointing out that Maryland played a role in the historic decision.

Lead plaintiff James Obergefell was married in Maryland to John Arthur, who was suffering from the incurable disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; the couple could not be wed in Ohio, where they lived.  When Arthur died, Obergefell could not be listed on the death certificate as the surviving spouse, as Ohio did not recognize the couple’s marriage. Obergefell sued, and Richard Hodges became the respondent because he was the director of Ohio’s Department of Health.
Virginia Congressman Don Beyer called the decision “a watershed moment in American history.”

Beyer, of Virginia’s 8th District, added, “Gay rights are human rights and today we have ensured that all Americans, regardless of their sexuality, have the right to share the rest of their lives with the person they love. I could not be prouder to stand with my LGBTQ constituents and celebrate this incredible moment.”

Both Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring praised the ruling, which Herring said protects the marriages of nearly 2,000 Virginia couples and “thousands more who have had their marriages recognized.”

He called the ruling “an extraordinary moment in our nation’s recognition that Americans cannot and will not be denied dignity, rights and responsibilities, including those of marriage, simply because of who they love.”

And Rabbi Sonya Starr of the Columbia Jewish Congregation called it an “incredibly exciting step forward,” noting there are “many different paths to a sacred union.”

Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service and a strong advocate of gay rights all over the globe, said, “After decades of tireless work to advance the rights of LGBT people, I’m in awe and in tears that we’ve reached a day when dignity has triumphed over discrimination. As the mother of a lesbian daughter, and with many close LGBT relatives and friends, today’s historic Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality has huge personal significance for me, for my family,
and for so many of my friends and colleagues.”

But not everyone supported the ruling, including the Orthodox Union, which noted that Judaism forbids homosexuality “in our Bible, Talmud and Codes.”

“Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable,” the organization said in a statement.

However, the OU cautioned that “Judaism teaches respect for others, and we condemn discrimination against individuals.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonio Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

Jim Campbell, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom said the ruling “stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the Democratic process.”

Geoffrey Melada contributed to this article.

Kosher a la carte Personal chefs catching on in Jewish Baltimore

Shelbie Wassel

Shelbie Wassel

In the Baltimore area, there are several good kosher restaurants to choose from when you want to dine out, but sometimes eating in is more appealing and there are some local personal chefs ready to deliver a home-cooked kosher meal right to your kitchen.

Longtime Baltimore resident Shelbie Wassel runs a personal chef service called Shallots and teaches cooking classes part time at the Community College of Baltimore County. She first learned to cook with her grandparents and discovered Jewish foods, and then after suffering through one year of George Washington University’s dining hall food, she revisited her love for the kitchen.

“I actually skipped a philosophy class because I had a beef stew cooking,” she said.

Wassel earned her degree in political science and took several cooking classes afterward, but starting her own catering business didn’t immediately occur to her.

“It just wasn’t something that women did,” she said.

Wassel’s first endeavor into the field was 20 years ago when she started to teach cooking classes, and 10 years ago she decided she wanted to cook full time. She said many of her recipes are self-taught, and she has had to adapt to different culinary techniques over the years.

“You read, you experiment, you taste and you define your skills,” she said.

Wassel first asks her clients to complete a food history to determine their needs.

“I had one client who was an elderly woman who told me that her stove privileges had been revoked because her vision was poor,” she recalled.

Wassel then buys all of the groceries for a five-course dinner that she cooks in the client’s home. If she is cooking for a kosher-keeping client, she will use their pots but otherwise she brings her own.

“With a personal chef you’re getting homemade food that your grandmother cooked 50 years ago. I guess that Jewish mommy in me wants to feed people.”

Sometimes “I’ll have one bachelor who barely has a pot,” Wassel said.

Her clients vary from people who don’t have time to cook to people who hate to cook to people with dietary needs, she said, but no matter what, there is nothing like a home-cooked meal and added she goes “nuts” for Thanksgiving meals.

“With a personal chef you’re getting homemade food that your grandmother cooked 50 years ago,” she said. “I guess that Jewish mommy in me wants to feed people.”

Shirlé Hale-Koslowski

Shirlé Hale-Koslowski

Personal chef Shirlé Hale-Koslowski, like Wassel, also was exposed to ethnic food at a young age, growing up in a culturally diverse neighborhood in Philadelphia. Then she developed her skills in Southwestern cuisine after taking a gap year in Spain before college.

“I thought I was going to be living over there the rest of my life,” she said.

But she returned, and Hale-Koslowski attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she worked in various restaurants to help pay her tuition while trying to get band gigs.

“[Cooking] was something I never thought I would do professionally because I wanted to be a rock musician,” she said.

Hale-Koslowski lived in Baltimore in the 1990s before she and her husband moved to Durham, N.C. It was there that she started the business, Four Corners Cuisine, 13 years ago. She moved back to Baltimore in 2011.

Hale-Koslowski, like Wassel, goes through a 30-minute consultation session with each client prior to cooking each meal.

“I find out what they like, what they don’t like, what their allergies are. We go through every vegetable known to man,” she said.

Hale-Koslowski normally prepares five entrees and five sides, in the home, for each client, cleaning up after she’s done. She said she currently has two clients that keep kosher.

“Probably the most confusing part is keeping the cookware separate,” she said.

Hale-Koslowski said 90 percent of her recipes are self-taught, but she is inspired when someone gives her a recipe. Although she currently delivers within a 45-mile radius of Baltimore City, she said her service will soon expand to Frederick. She encourages people who are short on time to consider a personal chef over eating out.

This retains “the intimacy of cooking in people’s homes,” she said.

Gershon Topas

Gershon Topas

Perhaps one of the most unconventional culinary ventures in greater Baltimore is run by Gershon Topas, a modern Orthodox Jew. Last year, the JT reported on Topas’ kosher tailgate ritual he practices with his friends before Ravens home games.

Topas has been the personal chef for several Ravens players including Prescott Burgess and Paul Kruger.

“They’re the nicest guys I ever worked for,” he said of the players.

Topas’ specialty is smoked meats, and he said smoked brisket is a favorite among Ravens players. “They go crazy over it.”

In addition to his activities with the Ravens, Topas is in charge of catering at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, where he cooks for students between ages 8 and 18. He said normally kids’ palates haven’t developed by that age, but he’s found they enjoy ethnic soups such as mulligatawny.

“The soups’ [popularity is] really growing, and in a young crowd I didn’t expect that,” he said.

Topas and his partners, Chaim Silverberg and Tony Crumbling, discuss menus each week to determine how to prepare foods kosher-style that are popular with kids, such as lamb bacon.

“Between the two of us [Crumbling is not Jewish] we got together and it tastes pretty darn close,” he said. Of the collaboration with fellow chefs, Topas said, “On a daily basis we’re taking different foods and saying what do you think of this?”

Topas also delivers Shabbat dinners to people’s homes through his Facebook group, Gershon’s Foodies, which requires an invitation from him. He lives in Indian Village and grows all of his fruits and vegetables in a garden in his backyard.

Said Topas, “The taste is night and day between what you get out of the garden and what you get off the shelf at the store.”

At Long Last State Department’s human rights report released after four-month delay

Secretary of State John Kerry, according to a spokesperson, is “very excited” about the release of the Human Rights Reports. (United States Department of State )

Secretary of State John Kerry, according to a spokesperson, is “very excited” about the release of the Human Rights Reports.
(United States Department of State )

The State Department was set to release the long overdue Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on June 25, after a delay, the longest ever, that spurred speculation in some political spheres that it was done in an effort not to upset Iran during ongoing nuclear negotiations, a charge the State Department denied.

The Human Rights Reports, as it is commonly known, is mandated for release on Feb. 25 each year. That deadline was pushed back to April 20 and then postponed yet again until an announcement was made during a news briefing on June 22.

Chanan Weissman, a spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, confirmed on June 23 that the report was due out on June 25.

“We’ve been pretty public about it being a scheduling issue. It’s a priority for the secretary, but with his travel and his subsequent medical issues we had to find a time when it could be released,” said Weissman, who said that Secretary of State John Kerry is “very excited to release it.”

But there are those who believe the delay is linked to ongoing nuclear
negotiations with Iran.

Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a recent blog post: “There are two likely explanations for the delay and they are not inconsistent. The administration (a) isn’t all that interested in the reports except (b) to the extent that they could be used against the Iran deal, by reminding people in Congress of the nature of the evil regime in Tehran.”

Weissman said, “we absolutely rejects that notion” that the delay had anything to do with the P5+1 negotiations, whose June 30 deadline to reach a deal is rapidly approaching.

“Regardless of the outcome of negotiations, we will continue to [report on human rights] and press Iranian respect for rule of law, and we’ve been very clear about that,” said Weissman.

The State Department’s 388-page Country Reports on Terrorism, released June 19, well after the April 30 deadline, noted in the section on state sponsors of terrorism that “Iran remains a state of proliferation concern.”

The report further stated Iran continues to rearm Lebanese Hezbollah, whose fighters “continued to carry out attacks along the Lebanese border with Israel.” Funding, training and weapons were supplied by Iran to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups and to Iraqi Shia militias, one of which has a Foreign Terrorist Organization designation.

Providing sanctions relief without rolling back sanctions on non-nuclear related issues, such as terrorism and human rights abuses, is easier said than done.

As noted in a letter, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), David Perdue (Ga.) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.), sent to Kerry in mid-May, human rights sanctions will not be part of a list of phased-out sanctions in a final deal with Iran.

Sanctions related to Iran’s terrorist activities will also remain in place, U.S. counterterrorism envoy Tina Kaidanow said during the unveiling of the Country Reports on Terrorism.

But providing sanctions relief without rolling back sanctions on non-nuclear related issues, such as terrorism and human rights abuses, is easier said than done given that many of the sanctions targeted Iran for multiple reasons, including the country’s nuclear ambitions.

As reported by the Associated Press, of the 24 Iranian banks currently sanctioned by the United States, only Bank Saderat is clearly subject to non-nuclear sanctions. The rest have been sanctioned for nuclear and ballistic missile financing. Untangling what institutions are or are not eligible for sanctions relief has reportedly been given to Adam Szubin, the Treasury Department’s sanctions czar.

Adding to the complexity of the talks — which Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif recently alleged could go past the June 30 deadline — last weekend 199 of 213 members of Iran’s parliament voted to ban access to military, security and sensitive non-nuclear facilities, documents and scientists in a nuclear agreement. The bill, which is not yet ratified, reads in part: “The International Atomic Energy Agency, within the framework of the safeguard agreement, is allowed to carry out conventional inspections of nuclear sites.”

The State Department reiterated June 21 that inspections are a key part of any final deal.

Hogan Announces He Has Cancer Maryland governor vows to beat the disease

Gov. Larry Hogan (file photo)

Gov. Larry Hogan
(file photo)

Gov. Larry Hogan announced in a news conference Monday that he has been diagnosed with Stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that he described as “very advanced and very aggressive.”

Hogan is expected to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy, each three weeks long, to help rid him of the lymphoma. In this form of cancer, a person’s normal white blood cells in the lymph system become malignant.

Hogan called the cancer a challenge “that will require me to once again be an underdog and a fighter, which is something I’m known for,” he said at the news conference, surrounded by family.

He said there is a strong chance of survival and ridding his system of the cancer, and although he appeared somber at times, he lightened the mood with some jokes.

“The best news is that my odds in getting through this and beating this are much, much better than the odds I had in beating Anthony Brown in becoming the 62nd governor of Maryland,” he said.

As needed, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford will step in as Hogan undergoes treatment.

Cailey Locklair Tolle, deputy executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said her organization is “shocked” and their thoughts are with his family and friends.

“I think all of us know how tough he is and how hard he works,” she said, “ … and obviously his physicians are very optimistic about his future, and so are we.”

Ron Halber, executive director of The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said his organization admires the governor’s “fighting spirit” and that the way he discussed his diagnosis showed his “everyday man” nature.

“We just wish him well and a speedy recovery,” Halber said. “He’s in our thoughts and prayers.”

While Hogan described his cancer as aggressive and in Stage 3 of four stages, Dr. Mark Roschewski, staff clinician at Center for Cancer Research with the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, said that is not as bad as it sounds.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is an aggressive disease, and a cluster of malignant cells can double in size in anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, Roschewski said.

When Hogan said he felt a lump on his neck and the cancer was also detected in his abdomen and near his spinal column, that probably means a group of lymph nodes was found in those locations, Roschewski said. It doesn’t mean the governor has cancer in his abdomen or spinal column, the doctor, who works in the center’s lymphoid malignancies branch, said.

During Hogan’s chemotherapy treatments, he most likely will receive between three to five different drugs intravenously. He should not feel ill during the procedure but generally will be affected the following week, Roschewski said.

Whether he can continue working during that time is hard to predict and depends on several factors, including his general health and the molecular profile of individual tumor cells. The goal is for patients to be treated without having to be admitted to a hospital, Roschewski said.

It is crucial to start the chemotherapy quickly, Roschewski said, which is something Hogan said he was doing.

Because Roschewski is not familiar with Hogan’s exact medical condition, he wouldn’t give a prognosis. However, he said more than 50 percent of people with this form of cancer go into remission and only need to be monitored over time to check for reoccurrence.

“Typically things that grow quickly come back quickly,” Roschewski said.

The disease often occurs in people in their early to mid-60s. Hogan is 59 years old.

Many area politicians expressed their concern for the governor.

Del. Dan Morhaim, D-District 11, wished the governor a full and speedy recovery and praised him for the nature of his news conference.

“I thought his speech was poignant and very brave and honest,” Morhaim said. “I compliment him for being so upfront about something that’s tough to talk about.”

During his speech, Hogan spoke about recent procedures as well as the treatment to come.

Del. Shelly Hettleman, D-District 11, said this is “beyond politics” and said her thoughts and prayers are with Hogan and his family.

Del. Dana Stein, D-District 11, also gave him credit for his transparency and wished him a full recovery.

“My heart goes out to him and his family,” Stein said.,

Gordon Feinblatt Honored

The law firm of Gordon Feinblatt LLC announced that the firm was top-ranked by Chambers & Partners in its 2015 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business for its health care and real
estate practices in Maryland.

Seven Gordon Feinblatt attorneys were also ranked in their individual areas of practice: Timothy D.A. Chriss (real estate), David H. Fishman (real estate), Robert C. Kellner (employment), Edward J. Levin (real estate), Matthew P. Mellin (employee benefits and executive compensation), Abba David Poliakoff (corporate/M&A) and Barry F. Rosen (health care).

Chason Named Chair of Feinblatt Group

The law firm of Gordon Feinblatt LLC announced that Todd R. Chason has been named chair of the firm’s Environmental and Energy Practice Group. He is also member of the firm’s Government Relations Practice Group.

Chason works with developers, builders and other businesses to achieve energy and environmental-
related business objectives, often incorporating both legal and government relations counsel. For almost 15 years he has developed relationships with key Maryland officials within the executive branch agencies and the legislature. His environmental practice spans all areas impacting Maryland businesses, with a particular focus on Brownfields and wetlands issues. Chason also frequently appears before the Maryland Public Service Commission on behalf of a variety of interests and in recent years has been busy working with power developers and companies, especially natural gas and solar plants.

Chabad Event Prepares for Gimmel Tammuz

The Chabad Lubavitch Center of Pikesville hosted a lecture June 17 titled “Timeless Leadership” — an event held in honor of the 21st yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, on the third day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, falling this year on Shabbat last weekend.

Rabbi Moishe New, director of the Montreal Torah Center, was the featured speaker for the event, open to both men and women, and the audience included many rabbis from around the greater Baltimore area as well.

The evening began with an introduction from Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, director of Lubavitch Maryland, describing the significance of the day of the Rebbe’s passing, known as Gimmel Tammuz, and a short video archive about the Rebbe.

New, also a sought-after lecturer on Kabbalah, spoke about his personal encounters with the Rebbe, the week’s Torah portion, Korach, as well as the concept of individuals taking responsibility to accomplish God’s objectives in the world. That evening, New declared his commitment to take more responsibility for his own role in the world as an emissary of Chabad-Lubavitch.

To illustrate, New recalled a moment when he was at a mall in Jerusalem with his children. At the top of an escalator stood several soldiers who, when they saw New, asked, “Are you Chabad?”

After acknowledging that yes, he was from Chabad, the soldiers told New they wanted to put on tefillin. Embarrassed, New apologized and said that he did not have any tefillin with him that day.

When New later explained the encounter to some friends and family back in Montreal, he said, “I’m not going to travel without my tefillin anymore,” and one friend even offered to pay for the tefillin he resolved to carry around.

New responded that he was willing to travel with his personal tefillin, so if his friend offered to pay for it, then the tefillin should be top of the line.

“I may meet a Jew and this may be the only time he’ll put on tefillin,” New said. “So he should put on the best tefillin!”

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

Berkshire Hathaway Honored

In a new report, real estate publication RealTrends ranked area realtor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty as a leader in 11 separate categories.

Berkshire Hathaway Homesale was ranked as the No. 12 realtor based on the company’s delivery of mortgages, settlement services, home warranties and property/casualty insurance. RealTrends also ranked Berkshire Hathaway Homesale as the second most successful Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brokerage in the United States based on transactions. Berkshire Hathaway Homesale Realty’s other divisions were highly ranked individually as well.

HomeSale Settlement Services was ranked 11th for title closings among realtor-owned settlement companies. HomeSale Insurance was ranked 12th for property/casualty insurance transactions among Realtor-owned insurance companies. Its mortgage operation was ranked 14th for mortgage closings among realtor-owned mortgage companies. Berkshire Hathaway Homesale was ranked 16th in the delivery of home warranties.

For Jews Here and Everywhere Menorah Lodge celebrates 100th anniversary

The Menorah Lodge of B’nai B’rith will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Sunday, June 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Milk and Honey Bistro in Pikesville with Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz as a guest speaker.

“I am proud to have been associated with the Menorah Lodge of B’nai B’rith for 25 of their remarkable 100 years as a positive force for social good in the Baltimore area as well as for their advocacy of human rights for Jews around the world,” said Kamenetz.

B’nai B’rith International, which was formed in 1843, is a human rights advocacy group for global Jewry and has a presence in more than 50 countries. It has been recognized as a vital voice promoting Jewish unity and as a staunch defender for the State of Israel. The organization was also responsible for the creation of the Anti-Defamation League.

The founders of the Menorah Lodge celebrate its 25th anniversary in a photo published in the June 1940 issue of B’nai B’rith. (Provided)

The founders of the Menorah Lodge celebrate its 25th anniversary in a photo published in the June 1940 issue of B’nai B’rith. (Provided)

Felix Jacob, co-president of the Menorah Lodge and a member of B’nai B’rith since the 1970s, is described by his fellow members as one of the primary forces behind planning the celebration. Jacob’s father, Aaron Jacob, and Menorah Lodge member Melvin Sykes’ father, Baltimore Judge Philip Sykes, were founding members of the lodge. Although the lodge doesn’t have a permanent physical space, members meet monthly at the Park Heights JCC.

“[The Menorah Lodge] has a long history of helping the Jewish people in Baltimore and of fighting anti-Semitism,” said Jacob.

The cause for the creation of the lodge isn’t completely clear, but many members claim it was the national outrage sparked by the wrongful imprisonment and eventual lynching of Leo M. Frank, a B’nai B’rith member, that was the impetus to start the local chapter.

In 1913, Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old girl who worked at a pencil factory in Georgia, was found dead in the basement of the factory the day after collecting her wages from Frank, who was the plant manager. During the trial, Frank admitted to being one of the last people to see Phagan alive. Although Frank lost all of his appeals, including two to the Supreme Court, the governor of Georgia commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. While behind bars, an angry mob broke into the Marietta, Ga., prison and lynched Frank.

In 1986 the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles posthumously pardoned Frank because of the state’s failure to protect him while in prison and for not bringing Frank’s killers to justice. Historically, the case has been surrounded by harsh feelings between Northerners and Southerners and also Jews and gentiles.

Though the Menorah Lodge was founded in the midst of controversy concerning Jews domestically, B’nai B’rith has gone on to play a key role in relations concerning Jews worldwide.

During Harry S. Truman’s tenure as president, said Jacob, B’nai B’rith member Eddie Jacobson, who had been a business partner and friend of Truman’s, played a major role in convincing the president to lean in favor of the creation of Israel.

Although fighting anti-Semitism is the organization’s goal, it also focuses on enhancing and improving Jewish identity.

“The Menorah Lodge gives people a feeling of belonging,” said lodge officer Steve Hyman, who has been a member for five years. “There are a lot of areas of the country where Judaism is slowly evaporating; it is our goal is to help [Judaism] continue.”

The Menorah Lodge is one of the largest and oldest existing chapters of B’nai B’rith in Maryland.

“There are 27 lodges in the Chesapeake Bay region of B’nai B’rith, which encompasses Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia,” said Jerry Jacobs, Chesapeake Bay Region president. “The Hebrew word menorah means candelabra, and we are very proud that Menorah continues to light the way in our region’s good works for the community at large on behalf of the Jewish people. May it continue to thrive for another 100 years.”

B’nai B’rith Menorah Lodge 100th Anniversary

Milk and Honey Bistro
Sunday, June 28, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
1777 Reistertown Road, Pikesville.

Reservations are required, and seating is limited. Call 410-484-4648.

Ayers Saint Gross Named Next Head

Baltimore-based design firm Ayers Saint Gross named Luanne Greene, principal and director of the campus planning studio, the firm’s next president, effective Jan. 1, 2016. She will be the first woman to lead the firm in its 100-year history.

In her new role, Greene will lead the management team with a focus on implementing the firm’s strategic vision, while expanding the firm’s reputation and business portfolio in higher education.

With more than 25 years of design and planning experience, Greene has worked on behalf of colleges and universities across the country and established new benchmarks in campus planning that have influenced institutions, architects and planners nationwide by integrating strategic planning, culture and context into campus design, changing the way American universities and cultural institutions understand the power of their “place” to support a culture of excellence. Her work on more than 14,000 acres of campus open space and development affects the daily experience of more than 260,000 students and 32,000 faculty and staff.

Greene’s work also includes mission-driven cultural institutions and the renewal of several high profile, iconic American treasures. She has completed master plans for the Wildlife Conservation Society (including the Bronx Zoo) and interconnected plans for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History and a Pan-Institutional Collections Space. This work reaches more than 21.5 million visitors annually.