Comprehensive, Holistic Support

102513_Comprehensive-Holistic-SupportWhen Chaya Appel-Fishman started her own website aimed at providing advice for Jewish women seeking help with entrepreneurial business, she had no idea it would spread into anything more than an online resource.

On Sunday, Oct. 27, the Baltimore chapter of The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur will launch, becoming the organization’s 12th chapter.

“There are a lot of resources out there for women entrepreneurs,” said Appel-Fishman, “but for Jewish women entrepreneurs, and particularly observant women entrepreneurs, there is very little that can offer comprehensive, holistic support.”

The JWE hosted its first conference in May 2013 in New Brunswick, N.J. The event was attended by 300 people from 13 states, said Appel-Fishman, adding that more than 800 women have reached out to the organization since it evolved from a website into a nonprofit organization.

The initial conference was geared mostly toward observant women, but Appel-Fishman stresses that the group is open to anyone who is interested. She has even met a few non-Jews looking to The JWE for guidance.

The JWE seeks to offer Jewish women professional help through a three-pronged approach. These include:

• Substantive business education through opportunities such as regular webinars offered on the organization’s website.

• Mentoring programs that match women with similar lifestyles or industries together to provide support for clients.

• Community-building programs such as conferences and local chapter meet-ups that help professional women by linking them with other professionals in their region.

While men are more apt to talk about business in a social setting, women usually discuss other, non-work related topics when they get together, said Appel-Fishman. As a result, many women don’t realize the potential their friends and neighbors have for helping them in their professional lives. Part of The JWE’s mission, she said, is helping women to realize this potential.

“[Women] don’t realize how many other women there are out there who are equally as sophisticated [as men] in business,” she said. “It just doesn’t come up the same way that men bring it up.”

Miriam Gittel Rosenblatt, co-founder of the Baltimore chapter of The JWE, said the chapter’s inaugural event will provide attendees a chance for “constructive networking.”

“Some people kind of come out of the woodwork who you didn’t even know own a business or they’re outside of the Orthodox community, so people are just not aware of them,” said Rosenblatt.

In addition to Rosenblatt, who owns a graphic design company, is co-founder Devorah Baron, who owns an ultrasound business. Rosenblatt says she expects women involved in fields such as sales, children’s therapy and baking to attend the event as well.

For Baron, who began her business eight years ago, a resource such as The JWE “would have been awesome.” Instead, she found her own way through the process of trial and error. Now, she is excited about the opportunity to mentor other Jewish women looking to start out on their own.

“I’m happy to share that with other women who are going through it,” she said, adding that the night could serve as a tool to help professionals connect and grow their businesses together.

The theme of the night is “Creating a Culture of Excellence in Business.” Dr. Sanford J. Siegel, president and CEO of Chesapeake Urology Associates, will keynote the event. Dr. Siegel helped build Chesapeake Urology into one of the top 25 places to work in the Baltimore area, according to Baltimore Magazine.

Deborah Gallant, who also spoke at the national conference in May, will then lead a workshop with attendees. Gallant is a business coach with an M.B.A. in marketing and management of organizations from the Columbia University Business School.

The event will take place at the Milk and Honey Bistro from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18. For more information, visit

Baltimore Icon Passes

Edward “Eddie” Dopkin will be remembered as an important thread in the fabric of Jewish Baltimore.

Edward “Eddie” Dopkin will be remembered as an important thread in the fabric of Jewish Baltimore.

Baltimore lost one of its most recognizable personalities Saturday, Oct. 19, with the passing of Edward “Eddie” Dopkin.

Dopkin, a Baltimore native who lost a three-decade-long battle with leukemia at the age of 61, was the owner of Miss Shirley’s Café and The Classic Catering People, among other local restaurants. Miss Shirley’s garnered national attention when it was featured in publications such as Food Network Magazine, The Boston Globe and The New York Times. Classic Catering serves as the official caterer of the Baltimore Ravens’ training facilities.

Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral home was filled to near capacity Monday afternoon, as Baltimore came to pay its respects to a man who, for many, embodied the city.

Not only was Dopkin a fixture in and around the Baltimore area, but “he was the fixture,” said Linda Blake, who worked with Dopkin after relocating to the city. “He is Baltimore to me.”

“Whatever he could do he would do,” said Ken Banks, who said he attended the funeral to pay his respects to the man who had helped him with numerous events hosted by his construction company.

Rabbi Steven Fink opened the service with a poem by Linda Ellis. The poem discusses the dash between the date a person is born and the date on which he or she passes.

“What mattered most of all was the dash between those years,” reads the poem.

Dopkin, said Rabbi Fink, squeezed as much life as he could in his dash.

“Eddie was a Baltimore icon,” said Rabbi Fink. “[He was] one of the most charming people in Charm City.”

Dopkin’s involvement in the hospitality industry started early. His parents owned The Beef Inn and a small catering company in Northwest Baltimore in the late 1960s and 1970s. He helped establish Classic Catering more than 40 years ago and Miss Shirley’s, named in honor of a catering employee and personal friend, in 2005.

Dopkin’s sister, Harriet Dopkin, described her brother as an innovator and a helper. She described how when she was little and wanted to be a scientist, he didn’t discourage her by telling her that’s not what girls do. Rather, he built her a lab in their parents’ basement.

“As my brother’s body grew weaker, his wisdom deepened,” she said.

Sister Anna Dopkin added that the knowledge that his time was limited and that any day he could wake up sicker than the last resulted in his determination to live a big life. She continued on to say that her brother was an out-of-box thinker and a decisive problem-solver.

“The bigger the disaster was, the better he was,” said Anne, adding that she expected she will continue to be stopped on the street by strangers telling her stories of how her brother helped them.

In 2004, Dopkin served as board chairman of the Restaurant Association of Maryland. He was a longtime member of RAM and was active in the Government Affairs Committee.

Several politicians, including Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, attended the service. Several more issued statements or took to social media with statements of support for the Dopkin family.

“Saddened to learn about the passing of @MissShirleys owner Eddie Dopkin. He did so much for #Bmore & will be missed,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman over Twitter.

Doug Gansler’s Twitter account said: “Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Eddie Dopkin. He will be missed.”

Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter —

Emily Osmou Velelli


Emily Osmou Velelli lived to the age of 100. She will be remembered as a mother, a grandmother and a survivor.

Emily Osmou Velelli, daughter of Jacob and Regina and wife of late husband Emmanuel, was born 100 years ago on June 27 on the island of Corfu, Greece.

As a young educated woman she went to work in Athens at the textile store of her older brother, Marcos, where she met her husband-to-be, and it was described as love at first sight. In 1934, the two were wed in Patras, Greece at her parents’ home. They had two children, Josephine in 1936 and Regina in 1942.

The destruction and pain of World War II spread and beginning in 1942 deeply affected Greece. Ultimately only 10 percent of Jews in Greece survived the Holocaust. Velelli, her husband, children and parents were among them, thanks to the kindness of the Michalos family, who, while sharing scant resources and even endangering themselves, helped Velelli’s family escape and survive the Holocaust.

After the war, Greece slowly began to rebuild, as did Velelli’s family, with two more children, Victor and Rachel. With the assistance of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the whole family came to Baltimore in 1956.

“She did everything in her power to make sure we stayed together, looked out for each other and loved each other,” said daughter Regina Frances, 71. “She always impressed upon us how important the fabric of the family is. You respect and love your elders, you sacrifice for your family.”

Velelli’s strength would carry her through the trials of living in a new country, through hard work as a seamstress in a men’s clothing factory and through the challenges of her husband’s illness and passing. She also continued to cook and bake into her late 90s. Her spinach-and-cheese pies and baklava were crowd pleasers, as were her koulouria, the special cookies she would share with the family each Chanukah.

“She always called the family her jewels,” said daughter Rachel Glaser, 64. “She was like a magnet for the family; she was the center, she grounded us. Whenever anyone had news to share, you told Yaya (grandmother in Greek) first. The connection to her got stronger with each new generation.”

Those generations include four children, 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Noted Glaser: “Everyone in the family feels they are better people because of her, and they were all devoted to her.”

Melissa Gerr is JT senior staff reporter and digital media editor —

Between Victim And Perpetrator


David Kaye has been accused of raping Rebecca Pastor in Baltimore 23 yeas ago.

There is no statute of limitation for the crime of rape in Maryland.

That law has become increasingly relevant to Rebecca Pastor, 46, of Essex County, N.J.

Pastor, who was manipulated and raped in her Fountainview apartment 23 years ago — on Christmas Day 1990 — returned to Baltimore last week to meet with police and provide evidence of the incident, which sent her into years of therapy. Now strong and passionate about stopping her perpetrator and preventing other women from going through the hell she experienced, Pastor is telling her story out loud and encouraging others like her to come forward.

Last month, Pastor found out that Yeshaya Dovid Kaye (David Kaye), who had come to her apartment in Baltimore under the guise of helping her secure a get [Jewish divorce] and then allegedly raped her, was not in jail but rather a mere eight minutes from her home — living at his parent’s house. And, as of last week, he was looking for work — anywhere in the Jewish community that he could find it.

When Rebecca took initial action 23 years ago, including contacting two prominent New York rabbis, she was told that “the situation was being handled.” Subsequently, she went through her own healing. Ultimately ,seven years ago thought she had closure when she heard through the media that a Rabbi David Kaye was jailed for sexual offenses. When she contacted the news outlet to report her case, she was told they had enough information and did not need her testimony. She learned roughly one month ago, through a communication that was sent out by two New Jersey pulpit rabbis to their congregants, that the jailed Rabbi Kaye was in fact a different Kaye. Her alleged rapist was free, and she learned that he had allegedly sexually assaulted dozens of women, at least four who informed rabbis of their plight (though the women will not go to the police or talk on the record) in such verifiable detail that these rabbis felt empowered to warn local residents.

102513_Between_Victim_Perpetrator1The advisory, signed and sent to congregants in the West Orange, N.J., area by Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler and Rabbi Mark Spivak, warned them of “the presence of a potential perpetrator” in hopes that congregants could “protect themselves and their families.” The message named Kaye, termed the allegations against him “serious” and advised him not to attend their shuls “for the foreseeable future.”

Almost immediately after Pastor saw the warning, she phoned the rabbis to tell them her story.

Since then, with the help of Rabbis Zwickler and Spivak and Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Yosef Blau, Pastor said she has identified information that strongly suggests Kaye has a long history of allegations of rape against him, including in Israel, Germany and other locations. The information, according to posts on the website and reports by the rabbis and Pastor, indicates that Kaye portrays himself as an upstanding rabbi (his ordination could not be verified at the time of this writing) and then psychologically and religiously manipulates Orthodox women, building trust and playing on their deep religious faith to convince them to succumb to him sexually.

The rabbis were not surprised by the stories and information that Pastor found. According to Rabbi Zwickler, “We did our homework,” before sending out the notice. “We verified the stories; these are credible people.”
Stories include, for example, a Chassidish woman who said she was raped but is unwilling to submit her name (or even tell her own family about the incident) for she is traumatized and terrified to tell her husband for fear she would be kicked out of her home. Another woman, who is going by Chana, says Kaye convinced her that he had a prophetic vision that she would suffer a tragic death if she did not cleanse her soul by submitting to him; she complied over several months.

A former member of the administration at Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, where Kaye taught for a period, confirmed on condition of anonymity that Kaye “left the school in the middle of the year, and it was not by choice.”

The administrator noted inappropriate interactions with young female students.

Another rabbi, who also refused to use his name for fear of repercussions from his place of employment, noted that he had heard countless rumors about Kaye’s actions over the course of more than one decade.

102513_Between_Victim_Perpetrator2Rabbi Blau, mashgiach ruchani [spiritual counselor] at Yeshiva University, told the JT that he had been contacted by many people with concerns over Kaye’s behavior for many years and was personally responsible for getting him fired from one position. However, he said, “There was no mechanism to do anything beyond getting him fired.”

In Pastor’s case, Kaye learned of her plight to receive a get from her young husband from a mutual friend, Moshe Rothschild. He had grown up in Kaye’s community but had no idea about Kaye. Kaye volunteered to help Pastor, and over the course of two weeks, from the time Rothschild contacted him until he offered to visit Pastor in Baltimore for counseling and assistance, he systematically learned about her and groomed Rothschild for information, asking him for facts about her family — details that only someone on the inside would know. Pastor said when Kaye arrived he knew what her husband and son looked like, he had information about her sisters and other family members. He told her that he had a prophetic vision that her 2-year-old son would die before he turned 3 and described the family members standing by the casket. In shock, Pastor sat down on her couch, breaking down in tears. Kaye sat down beside her. He put his hand over her mouth and forced himself upon her.

When he was finished, Pastor kicked him out, screaming. He threatened her that if she told anyone about the incident, he would ruin her life.

Despite these threats, Pastor turned to rabbinical authorities in the New York area. She was told she needed to secure evidence. She tried calling Kaye and tape recording his admission. The first time, he hung up on her. The second, she blurted out, “You raped me, and I am pregnant.”

She was not pregnant, but her trick served its purpose. Kaye panicked, told her she had to abort the child and wired between $300 and $400 through Western Union to Pastor to get the job done; Pastor is trying to secure those records. Rothschild, who is now a rabbi and tour guide living in Israel, corroborates the story. Until now, Rothschild and Pastor had not been in contact for several years.

But both kept copies of the tape recording, and while Pastor threw hers out after she thought her rapist was in jail, Rothschild told the JT that he kept his.

According to Kaye’s lawyer, Mitchell Liebowitz, “Ms. Pastor, by her statements, admits to a possible violation of Maryland’s anti-wiretapping statute, which generally prohibits nonconsensual recording of telephone conversations.”

Lauren Shaivitz, a lawyer, advocate and director of programming for CHANA, a local aid network for abused women, said that from what she knows of the case from an article that ran last week in the New York Jewish Week and from similar cases, she believes this incident of rape would be considered a felony in Maryland and would be charged as a criminal case. She said it is important for victims to know that they can file charges anytime while the perpetrator is alive, no matter how many years have passed.

Baltimore City Police confirmed Shaivitz’s sentiments. Though police could not speak in any detail about
Pastor’s case, Det. Brandon Echevarria said police do have ways to investigate allegations such as or similar to Pastor’s. He noted that the length of an investigation varies by case, but “once all avenues of the investigation have been exhausted, the detectives’ original case file is duplicated and delivered to the Office of the State’s Attorney for review.”

Debbie Teller (not her real name) who runs the website, listed Kaye on her website several months ago, after Chana contacted her with her personal story. Since then, more than 80 others have responded, noting that they, too, were victims or know someone who was.

The JT contacted Kaye’s father, who confirmed that Kaye, along with his wife and children, was staying
at his home in West Orange, N.J. He refused further comment.

Liebowitz said he believes Pastor “still faces some very serious hurdles in connection with a criminal case going forward.”

Liebowitz spoke mostly off the record but did say that “Kaye unequivocally denies the allegations made by Ms. Pastor. … The reported statements are defamatory and lack credibility.”

(The JT contacted Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, at which Kaye worked from 2001 to 2009. According to Associate Vice President For Public Affairs Ron Shafra, “We received no reports of incidents of the nature described in recent press reports and are not aware of any such incidents.”)

Rabbi Zwickler told the JT that he and Rabbi Spivak did not come looking for this — Kaye’s parents were considered pillars of the West Orange Jewish community — but the situation “obviously escalated to the point where we felt we needed to make sure we protected the community.”

Rabbi Mark Dratch, head of the Rabbinical Council of America, said one of the biggest challenges that
rabbis face in these situations is that there is no formal mechanism for evaluating allegations. If victims go to law enforcement it changes the playing field. And while he admitted that the justice system is not infallible, he said that is the correct place for these types of cases to be handled. He said he supported Rabbis Zwickler and Spivak’s decision to send the notice and feels “they were very certain that the allegations were very credible.” He sees the move as a sign that “we are in a better position than we were 10 years ago. More rabbis understand the situation and the obligation to be proactive.”

Still, there is more that could be done. Pastor said she would like to see something such as The Kaye Law be instituted by rabbinical authorities, requiring them to turn immediately to proper authorities when a case such as this comes to their attention.

Rabbi Moshe Hauer of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion said he and other area rabbis stress the importance of women turning to the police in the event of a violent crime such as rape. He told the JT, “This is definitely something necessary to do.”

“There is an unfortunate reality — we must contend with the same issues that our greater society struggles with. There are those who would use force or stature to take advantage of another, and we must adopt a zero tolerance approach when dealing with these matters,” said Rabbi Shmuel Silber of Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim. “We have an obligation to support victims of sexual abuse. We must exhibit compassion and empathy so that those who have been hurt will feel confident to come forward.  But empathy and compassion are not enough. We must work hand in hand with police and law enforcement agencies to ensure that our communities remain safe and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are forced to account for their deeds.”

Nancy Aiken, executive director of CHANA, said it is important to shed light on these cases to make it easier for other victims to come out. She told the JT that there are a lot of people walking around with these stories, and if they can feel comfortable coming forward, there may be some help.

“There is almost never one victim,” said Aiken. “When someone comes forward, he or she may not get the
justice that is deserved, but almost for sure it will prevent another victim or another person from being victimized.”

Said Pastor in the name of one of her mentors: “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our own light.”

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief —

Bloomberg First To Receive $1 Million ‘Jewish Nobel Prize’

 New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be the first recipient of the $1 million Genesis Prize, which is being called the “Jewish Nobel Prize.”

The award is set to be announced Monday, The New York Times reported Sunday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present the prize to Bloomberg at a ceremony in Jerusalem in May.

The Genesis Prize Foundation was established in 2012 by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a consortium of mega-wealthy philanthropist-businessmen from the former Soviet Union including Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan; the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel; and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

The prize, which will be given out annually, is awarded to an accomplished, internationally renowned professional who is a role model in his or her community and can inspire the younger generation of Jews worldwide, according to the foundation’s website.

Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman who is in his third term as New York mayor, was chosen from among more than 200 nominees worldwide because of his “track record of outstanding public service and his role as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists,” according to the prize committee, The New York Times reported.

“Many years ago, my parents instilled in me Jewish values and ethics that I have carried with me throughout my life, and which have guided every aspect of my work in business, government, and philanthropy,” Bloomberg said in a statement issued Sunday, in which he said he was honored to receive the prize, according to the newspaper.

The prize committee, chaired by Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, also includes Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel; Meir Shamgar, justice and president emeritus of Israel’s Supreme Court; and Tova Strasberg-Cohen, a retired justice of the Israeli high court.


County Judge Approves Foundry Row Plans

Brian Gibbons and Leonard Weinberg II stand by the Solo Plant. Gibbons wants to turn the Solo Plant into Foundry Row. (Justin Tsuclas)

Brian Gibbons and Leonard Weinberg II stand by the Solo Plant. Gibbons wants to turn the Solo Plant into Foundry Row. (Justin Tsuclas)

A Baltimore County administrative law judge approved Owings Mills project Foundry Row’s development plans on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

“It was clear that we were going above and beyond and meeting all the requirements of the code,” said Brian Gibbons, chairman and CEO of developer Greenberg Gibbons.

Judge John E. Beverungen approved Greenberg Gibbons’ plan with several conditions, effectively allowing Foundry Row to move forward.

“Now we’re kind of free and clear, at least until the next step, whatever that’s going to be,” said Councilwoman Vicki Almond, referring to the numerous roadblocks those who oppose the development have attempted.

Foundry Row, a mixed-use development at the site of the former Solo Cup plant, will feature more than 360,000 square feet of retail and 60,000 square feet of office space. Wegmans grocery store will anchor the center. The Baltimore County Council approved rezoning the property for retail in August 2012, despite vocal opposition from neighboring developers. A referendum effort also failed to reverse the zoning decision.

Beverungen’s decision approved the plans with the conditions that all roadway improvements are made before use and occupancy permits can be issued, that any change to the vacant 241,000-square-foot warehouse on the property comply with certain zoning regulations and that the developer complies with American Disabilities Act regulations regarding roadway, sidewalk and pedestrian access.

Attorneys representing entities in opposition to the project called into question the safety of road improvements, ADA accessibility, parking and several other parts of the plan. After consideration, Beverungen ruled in favor of the developer. The companies seeking to have the development plans stopped, Painters Mill Executive Office Park Partnership LLP, Garrison Realty Investors LLC and 100 Painters Mill LLC, are owned by Howard Brown, chairman of David S. Brown Enterprises, Gibbons said. Brown is building massive transit-oriented development Metro Centre at Owings Mills and has been vocally opposed to Foundry Row.

“I’m disappointed by the opposition because I really believe this is a great thing for the community, and I think it’s going to provide a tremendous gateway,” Gibbons said. “I think it’s going to help the developments near it, in particularly Howard Brown’s.”

Demolition of the Solo Cup plant should be completed by the end of the year, Gibbons said. He hopes to submit detailed engineering and architectural plans in early 2014 – the next required approvals in the process – and will begin construction next summer if permits are in place.

He expects attorneys representing the opposition to file an appeal with Baltimore County, but he is moving full-steam ahead.

“I find that the Developer has satisfied its burden of proof and, therefore, is entitled to approval of the redlined Development Plan,” Beverungen wrote in his decision.

Anne Neuberger Among Top 10 Orthodox Jews

 U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann are among ten individuals who have been named 2013 Orthodox Jewish All Stars by Jew in the City, the organization dedicated to re-branding Orthodox Jews and Judaism to the world through digital media.

This year’s All Stars are an extremely accomplished and diverse group, and, in addition to Secretary Lew and Dr. Aumann, there is someone from Baltimore: Anne Neuberger, the Director of the National Security Agency’s Commercial Solutions Center.

Others include: Sarah Hofstetter, who was promoted last week to CEO of 360i in the US (the No. 2 advertising firm on Ad Age’s Agency A-List); Ari Pinchot, co-executive producer of the star-studded and critically acclaimed new film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, featuring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey; Naama Shafir, the first Orthodox female professional basketball player; Joseph Shenker, chairman of Sullivan and Cromwell (the No. 3 law firm in the country according to Vault Rankings); Rama Burshtein, writer, director and producer of the awarding-winning film, Fill the Void (and the first Hasidic woman to make a film for general audiences); Anne Neuberger, the Director of the National Security Agency’s Commercial Solutions Center; Issamar Ginzberg, a marketing guru who was named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 10 Entrepreneurs (and is the grandson of prominent Hasidic rebbes); and Dr. Laurel Steinherz, Director of Pediatric Cardiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering and co-founder of Camp Simcha, a renowned camp for Jewish children with cancer.

This year’s winners will be honored at a red carpet event which will coincide with a historic, once-in-a-lifetime overlap of Chanukah and Thanksgiving and will commemorate the redemption from religious persecution of Chanukah coinciding with Thanksgiving’s celebration of religious freedom in our great country, which has provided Jews with the opportunity to achieve the highest levels of professional success while maintaining their heritage.

“There is a common misconception that being an Orthodox Jew means you don’t have many career options,” said Allison Josephs, award-winning Jewish influencer and author, who founded Jew in the City ( six years ago to break down myths and misconceptions about religious Jews and observant Judaism. “Jew in the City is building awareness about a community that otherwise gets depicted as extreme and reclusive, and rarely is presented with any nuance.”

The inaugural “Orthodox Jewish All Stars” began last year with a YouTube video written, directed, and produced by Josephs that featured an inspiring and varied group of awardees, including former Senator Joe Lieberman, Top Ten Billboard Recording Artist Alex Clare and New York Times bestselling novelist, Faye Kellerman – all people who have reached the pinnacle of their respective fields, which ranged from HBO producer to former top title holding professional boxer – while maintaining a religiously observant lifestyle.

Many of this year’s and last year’s All Stars will be attending the red carpet awards party in midtown Manhattan on the evening of November 24, the Sunday night before Chanukah and Thanksgiving. Attendees will enjoy live music, an open wine bar, and Chanukah/Thanksgiving themed dishes.

“For last year’s list, we sought out the individuals ourselves. This year, we opened up nominations to the public and a panel of judges selected the winners,” explained Josephs. “There were so many more remarkably successful Orthodox Jews that didn’t make it to this year’s list; we’ll hopefully be doing this for many more years.”

















U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew U.S. 360i CEO, Sarah Hofstetter Nobel Laureate, Robert Aumann



Josephs was named one of the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 in 2013 and one of NJOP’s Top Ten Jewish Influencers in 2012. She has been studying Torah with actress Mayim Bialik since 2004 and is often quoted in the media on issues relating to Jewish life and observance. Josephs provides Orthodox Jewish Cultural Diversity training to top corporations such as Con Edison and NYU Langone Medical Center and also gives inspirational lectures across North America. She has been featured or published in The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, Yahoo News, the Jewish Press, and The Forward, among other publications. Josephs, who is married with four children, has been involved in the field of Jewish education and outreach for over a dozen years, and received her Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in Philosophy.


Jew in the City, founded and directed by Josephs, harnesses the power of social media to break down stereotypes about religious Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism. Through a website (, YouTube channel (where its videos that have been viewed over a million times), and via Facebook and Twitter Jew in the City explains important Jewish concepts like Shabbat, keeping kosher, and mikvah, and tackles difficult topics like the Orthodox Jewish approach to homosexuality, feminism, and conversion. With a mix of light humor and rich content, Jew in the City explores these topics in a pleasant and easy to understand fashion, appealing to anyone who is curious to learn more about Orthodox Jews and observant Judaism, whether Jewish or not.


“Unfortunately, most non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews have a very negative perception of Orthodox Jews and Judaism,” said Josephs. “When they think of Orthodoxy, they think things like backwards, repressed, outdated, sexist, and anti-scientific. Scandals that reinforce these misconceptions hit the papers all too often. Popular movies, books, and TV shows repeat negative stereotypes about religious Jewish people and their lifestyles, which make it even harder to counteract these negative stereotypes. Jew in the City was created to break down those misconceptions and stereotypes.”


For more information about the Orthodox Jewish All Stars Awards party on November 24, please visit


Last year’s “Orthodox Jewish All Stars with Alex Clare, Joe Lieberman, and Faye Kellerman”






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A New Horizon

Glenn S. Easton will join Chizuk Amuno Congregation as its full-time executive director beginning Nov. 1.

Glenn S. Easton will join Chizuk Amuno Congregation as its full-time executive director beginning Nov. 1.

Chizuk Amuno Congregation is looking to celebrate and rejoice the beauty and meaning of Jewish tradition through programming that is innovative, 21st century and Conservative Movement 2.0

Beginning Nov. 1, accomplishing this goal will be just a little easier.

On Nov. 1, Glenn S. Easton will join the congregation full time as its new executive director. Easton replaces Ron Millen.

Rabbi Ron Shulman, a childhood friend of Easton’s (by coincidence), described the new executive director as “among the leading synagogue administrators in the country” and as a “committed and practicing and knowledgeable Conservative Jew who brings a warmth, caring and humanity to his synagogue work that is really precious and special.”

Easton comes to Chizuk from Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., at which he spent the last 22 years. Before that, he worked at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, a job he was referred to by his wife’s aunt. Easton, who was living in Los Angeles at the time, said the aunt saw an advertisement for the position in the Baltimore Jewish Times and sent it his way. Easton became the country’s youngest executive director then and at B’nai Israel was given the opportunity to experiment with new approaches to nonprofit management. He spearheaded efforts to install some of the first personal computers used for synagogue administration.

At Adas, Easton worked with lay leaders and staff to pay off a $4.5 million mortgage, eliminate a $1 million operating deficit (which created a significant operating reserve fund), build a $20 million endowment fund and institute a unique set of personnel practices and policies that helped designate the congregation as “One of the Best Nonprofits to Work For” by the Non-Profit Times magazine.

Easton attributes much of his success to helping the synagogue regain focus on its mission, being a sacred place where God dwells, where rabbis teach and inspire and children learn to ensure the future of the Jewish people.

“Children are the bedrock of the Jewish community, without which Judaism today would not exist,” wrote Easton in an article titled, “Are You a ‘Freemium’ Or A Premium Synagogue User?”

He also said that some synagogues spend too much time talking about money when they should be talking about their mission; it does not take money to study, to worship or to visit the sick.

“Once we truly get to know and provide meaning in the lives of our congregants, the funding will follow,” Easton said, noting that at Adas part of the success was not that it eliminated financial development, but rather the constant nickel-and-dime fundraising solicitations.

Rabbi Shulman and Easton said they share the same vision of building deeper relationships with the roughly 1,500 households who are members of Chizuk Amuno and look forward to partnering to move this agenda forward.

“In 21st-century synagogue life,” said Rabbi Shulman, “we create community through in-reach.”

Rabbi Shulman said at Chizuk, the congregation and leaders seek to develop relationships between members, clergy and educators.

He said, “Glenn will be a true partner to us in this next horizon.”

Easton, whose wife went to preschool at Chizuk and had her bat mitzvah there, said beginning work at Chizuk is somewhat of a homecoming. (His daughter went to school with Joe Flacco, so everyone in the family is already a Ravens fan.) He will be joining Josh Bender, who recently took the position of head of the lower school at Krieger Schechter; Bender was the director of education at Adas with Easton for several years.

Easton also said that he sees many similarities between Adas and Chizuk, including their founding in the 19th century, similar size memberships, large buildings and staffs, active community involvement, synagogue cemeteries and Jewish day schools (with Chizuk’s Krieger Schechter Day School and Adas’ founding of the Jewish Primary Day School before it separated from the congregation).

The job at Chizuk intrigued him, he said, because he felt it was time to “re-energize my batteries and get to know a new community.”

Said Easton: “Conservative Jud-aism 2.0 needs to reinvent itself by creating a movement that is adaptable, innovative, inspiring and socially responsible. … I want the movement to succeed so my children and grandchildren can be a part of Conservative Judaism 3.0 and 4.0.”

See also:
Bringing Conservative Voices Together >>
Conversation Of The Century >>

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief —

Making Sense

Daniel Higgs, 4, diagnosed with a sensory  processing disorder, with mother, Liz Simon-Higgs, father, Stephen Higgs, and little brother, Micah. (David Stuck)

Daniel Higgs, 4, diagnosed with a sensory
processing disorder, with mother, Liz Simon-Higgs, father, Stephen Higgs, and little brother, Micah.
(David Stuck)

For most children, a trip to the circus, watching a puppet show or attending a kid-friendly play or concert is a special treat. Typically, these events are also heartwarming and memorable occasions for parents. Yet, for a significant number of children (about 5 to 13 percent and mostly boys) and their parents, experiences such as these can run the gamut from stressful to nightmarish.

Children who suffer from sensory processing disorders (SPD) may find bright flashing lights, loud music, big crowds and dark theaters frightening and overstimulating. Although sensory processing disorders occur in some typically developing children, they are most common to children on the autism spectrum. As Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance Coordinator Jennifer Erez has discovered, SPD makes life extremely challenging for many of the families and children with whom she works.

Liz Simon-Higgs, of Federal Hill, is the mother of Micah, 16 months old, and Daniel, who is 3 and on the autism spectrum.

“Daniel gets very alarmed when he hears noises,” said Simon-Higgs. “Loud noises are especially upsetting, although a sound like a running toilet bothers him, too. Things the rest of us can filter out, he can’t.”

Higgs noted that Daniel is also distracted by lights and by doors opening, and he is highly sensitive to smells and crowds. When it comes to entertainment, Simon-Higgs said, “usually, we don’t even bother going. Even going to services is overwhelming.”

That’s one reason why Simon-Higgs, an Oheb Shalom congregant, is so pleased that the BJAA and the JCC will be offering a workshop on sensory processing disorders on Oct. 24 and a sensory-friendly concert for children at the Gordon Center For Performing Arts on Nov. 3.

The workshop, Sensory Processing Disorder: Signs, Symptoms and Strategies, will be facilitated by Ida Zelaya, president of Sensory Street, Inc., a Baltimore-based educational and consulting organization that raises awareness about SPD and provides strategies for managing it.

“In my workshops, I teach what SPD is, how to spot it and what we can do at home, in school and out and about to help kids self-regulate [their nervous systems],” Zelaya said. “And we do it cheaply. We don’t have to spend a ton of money on these tools.

“For example, after my workshop for BJAA, I will teach parents to make fidget balls. They have been a big hit with everyone. We fill 12-inch balloons with rice or salt or beans, and kids can squeeze them. They reduce anxiety and provide the deep pressure that is calming for kids. There are tons of examples like this.”

As the prevalence of SPD has bec-ome recognized, many performance venues and performers have begun to offer programming especially geared toward children who are sensitive to sensory stimulation. Although not specifically designed for children with SPD, the concert and interactive science program, with band The Curiosity Crew and Lucy Buckle performing music from the CD “Swamp, Stomp Boogie: Science You Can Sing To,” will be modified to meet the needs of young audience members.

Julie Ann Sgroi, an educator and singer/songwriter who will play Lucy Buckle in the production, worked with Erez to make sure every aspect of the program is “sensory friendly.”

“During the show, kids don’t have to be quiet, and we will be leaving seats and aisles empty so they can move around freely and do self-soothing movements if they need to,” said Sgroi. “I will be singing with an acoustic guitar, and that is friendly for sensitive listeners. There won’t be any surprise elements, lights will be low, [and there will be] no flashing lights or loud noises. “Normally, when I do a show, I invite lots of kids up on stage, but for this show I will go into the audience to interact.”

Sgroi emphasized that the science experiments in the show were also selected with sensory friendliness in mind.

Simon-Higgs said it’s amazing what a difference programming such as this can make for children with SPD. She encourages all educators to consider making their programs sensory friendly.

“A lot of what teachers think of as misbehavior is students — even ‘typical’ students — indicating that their sensory system isn’t working the way we think it should,” she said.

Zelaya agreed: “The main message [I am trying to communicate] is that we need to understand and have compassion for these kids.”

Sensory Processing Disorder: Signs, Symptoms and Strategies
Thursday, Oct. 24, 10 a.m. to noon
From 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. attendees will be taught to make sensory products from household items.
Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.,
Owings Mills

The Curiosity Crew and Lucy Buckle
Sunday, Nov. 3,
11:15 a.m. to noon
From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., the JCC will offer sensory-friendly carnival games.
For more information, contact or 410-559-3613.

To learn more about Sensory Street, Inc., visit To learn more about Curiosity Zone and Everwonder Records, visit and

Simone Ellin is JT senior features reporter —

Worth Fighting For

Beth Fisher is especially proud that her children Alana and Emory have formed the Keep Punching Junior Team, which raised more than $1,000. (David Stuck)

Beth Fisher is especially proud that her children Alana and Emory have formed the Keep Punching Junior Team, which raised more than $1,000.
(David Stuck)

Last winter, two Pikesville families, the Fishers and the Hakims traveled to Philadelphia to visit what’s commonly known as the Rocky Steps, a site universally recognized for its role in the Academy Award-winning film “Rocky” and its four sequels. A popular tourist attraction for “Rocky” fans, climbing the Rocky Steps has come to symbolize the completion of a spectacular accomplishment. The families had come to witness exactly that — a feat far more remarkable that the one performed by Sylvester Stallone’s character, Rocky Balboa, in the iconic films.

They were there to witness 46-year-old advertising copywriter Daron Fisher, diagnosed with a brain tumor on June 20, 2010, climb to the top of the stairs. The event was the culmination of months of intensive physical therapy Daron received from his friends, Ellen Wruble Hakim and Daniel Hakim, both physical therapists, as well as the ongoing encouragement of his wife, Beth Fisher and children, Alana, 11, and Emory, 8.

Tragically, Daron succumbed to brain cancer in August 2013, but not without a valiant fight. He is survived not only by his family and friends, but also by a legacy — a nonprofit organization he cofounded with his wife called Keep Punching.

“He [Daron] was always using boxing metaphors,” said Fisher, 41, who said the couple met in 1996 at an advertising agency, where they both worked. They were married at Beth El Congregation in 1999.

“One day my husband told me a story about an uncle of his who was a media promoter,” said Fisher. “He gave Daron a press kit for “Rocky II” autographed by Sylvester Stallone. It was signed, ‘To Daron, keep punching.’”

Daron took these words to heart.

“Throughout his illness, Daron opted for the most aggressive treatment and never stopped fighting,” said Fisher. A copywriter for MGH Marketing, Daron and his business partner are credited with creating the famous Utz Snacks/National Boh-emian Beer’s “Where Baltimore Gets Engaged” campaign for Smyth Jewelers.

After being diagnosed, Daron underwent two surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatments before he finally went on disability in February 2013. Later this month, said Fisher, he will be honored with a lifetime achievement award by the American Advertising Federation.

Because of their careers in the health-care industry, the Hakims were able make sure their friend and his family received the very best in medical care and equipment. Ellen Hakim also made sure to accompany the Fishers to every medical appointment.

“Someone needed to be there to hear what the doctors were saying,” said Ellen Hakim. “I have wonderful colleagues who pointed me toward the best doctors. I knew people who knew people, and I had enough of a medical background that I could talk to and understand what the doctors were saying and interpret the research.”

“You have to know how to do the research.” she added. “I’m not talking WebMD and Wikipedia. Daron fought to the bitter end, and he lived twice as long as he was supposed to. He wanted to be here to be with his family and his kids, and as long as he wanted to fight, we fought with him.”

One of the doctors most instrumental in Daron’s fight was Dr. Fabio Iwamoto, a neuro-oncologist at Columbia University (N.Y.) Medical Center.

“One night,” Fisher said, “Daron and I were talking and we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could start a nonprofit to support the research Dr. Iwamoto is doing?’”

Before long, plans for Keep Punching were set in motion. By February 2013, the paperwork for nonprofit status was submitted, and the Fishers held Keep Punching’s first fundraiser at Frazier’s on the Avenue in Hampden in March 2013.

“We raised more than $20,000 that day,” said Fisher. “Daron was able to sign the check.”

Since his death, Daron’s family, the Hakims and the board of directors of Keep Punching have continued to raise money. Alana, Emory and their friends have formed the Keep Punching Junior Team. Most recently, the Junior Team staffed a booth at Pikesville’s Quarry Festival in September, raising more than $1,000, which was matched by an anonymous donor.

On Oct. 18, the Fishers and Hakims will again take a road trip together. This time, they will visit Dr. Iwamoto at the Columbia University Medical Center to present him with a check from the children.

“My kids haven’t met him yet, but they feel as if they know him. We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation,” said Fisher, who noted that they have also received emotional support through HopeWell Cancer Support in Lutherville.

“When we realized Daron couldn’t beat the cancer, we thought he might as well live every day to the fullest,” said Ellen Hakim. “He was able to get the best of the best, because the Fishers could afford the co-pays and [the] alternative medical care and holistic treatments that ins-urance wouldn’t cover. When he needed equipment such as a cane or a brace, we had the connections to get it for him. Through Keep Punching, we can make a difference for those who are less fortunate and don’t have access to what Daron got. It can improve the quality of life for others.”

“We’re also able to support doctors with their research,” she added. “Especially now, with all the government cutbacks, the doctors are so appreciative.”

To learn more about Keep Punching, visit

Simone Ellin is JT senior features reporter —