Pikesville Chamber Announces Board

The Pikesville Chamber of Commerce announced its new executive board at its annual update on Oct. 10, at Ruth’s Chris in Pikesville. Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond spoke at the breakfast. The new board members are: President Marcy Gorman of BB&T Quarry Lake; Vice President Mark Pressman of North Oaks Retirement Community; Secretary Kristen Cooper of Leap Day Media; and Treasurer Richard Intner of Richard Intner & Associates.

Carroll Welcomes New Orthopaedics Providers

Carroll Hospital Center has welcomed the addition of Jessica Wertz, D.O., and Melanie Uebele, P.A.-C., to Carroll Health Group Orthopaedics. Carroll Health Group is Carroll Hospital Center’s affiliated multispecialty practice group.

Dr. Wertz specializes in sports medicine. She received her fellowship training at Ohio State University Sports Medicine in Columbus. Physician assistant Uebele sees patients with spinal surgeon Myles D. Brager, M.D. Uebele has seven years of orthopaedic experience.

Talk Links Heartburn to Cancer

White Marsh Library has partnered with the Esophageal Cancer Action Network to host a free special health awareness event.

Taking Steps to Save Lives: Because Heartburn Can Cause Cancer will take place at the library (8133 Sandpiper Circle, Baltimore) on Nov. 19, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Designed to help members of the community effectively advocate for their own health care, Dr. Bruce Greenwald (ECAN chairman, gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland’s Greenebaum Cancer Center) will discuss the link between reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.

Fatal Accident On Cronridge Drive, Approaching Cronhill Drive

At 3:49 a.m., Baltimore County Police and Fire personnel responded to Cronridge Dr and Cronhill Dr in Owings Mills for a report of a motor vehicle accident.  Upon arriving at the scene, officers discovered a single vehicle that was on fire.

The initial investigation by the Baltimore County Police Department Crash Team has indicated that a Chrysler was traveling north-bound on Cronridge Dr approaching Cronhill Dr.  It crossed over the center line, went off of the west side of the road, impacted a utility police, impacted a tree and caught fire.  The operator of the Chrysler was trapped in the vehicle and declared deceased at the scene.   Investigators believe that the operator was a male in his late 30s, but have not been able to positivley identify him.

This incident remains under investigation by the Baltimore County Police Department Crash Team.  Further information will be released as it becomes available.

As Congress Bickers, Maryland Waits

101113_congress_bickersFor Leah Goldberg, a human resources employee with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the government shutdown feels a lot like a snow day that just won’t end.

“I’m just kind of sitting and waiting,” said Goldberg.

On Monday, Sept. 30, she and her coworkers were told to report to the office on Tuesday to close up shop for the time being. At first, she said, she was a little excited to have some time off. Now though, the excitement has turned to boredom, as she watches the news waiting to hear of any developments and calls a hotline every morning to see if she can return to work.

While there is a perception that some government employees are lucky, that they have time off to go on vacation and relax on the taxpayer’s dime, she said, that could not be further from the truth. Instead, Goldberg is saddled with a lot of free time and little to do but worry about her finances and the backlog of work that piles onto her office desk with each passing day.

“I don’t have the money to spend to go on trips,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be great to go and visit my sister in Houston? But I don’t have that kind of cash available. Now I have to really think: ‘OK, well, which of my debtors am I going to have to call to let them know that, you know, my paycheck is going to be late?’”

Like Goldberg, the Baltimore area — and the rest of the country — is sitting in a state of suspension, waiting to see what happens next.

On Saturday, the fifth day of the government shutdown, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would reimburse furloughed federal government employees, but if the bill goes into effect, those workers won’t see that money until after the shutdown ends. With no signs of either side backing down, that could be weeks or even months from now.

With furloughed federal employees beginning to file for unemployment benefits, the Baltimore Metro South Claim Center has enacted a system as part of its hotline that informs those furloughed employees seeking to file a claim to do so online and warns them that the wait may be lengthy before their claim is processed due to the high volume of requests.

At Jewish Community Services, Tracy Paliath, director of economic services, said her agency is preparing to step in to help community members affected by the government shutdown.

“We want to make sure that we here at JCS are ready to stand by and help in emergencies if people are having delays in receiving employment benefits,” she said.

Congressman John Sarbanes (District 3) said the effect of the shutdown is especially significant in Maryland.

“There’s no question that this shutdown has a heavy impact on Maryland because of the number of federal employees in Maryland,” Sarbanes said, citing sources that say the state is losing about $15 million every day the federal government remains shut down. “Obviously we’re very close to the effects of a government shutdown, we always are, and certainly the members of the Maryland delegation are working as hard as we can to get this fixed.”

In the meantime, Goldberg and other federal government employees remain in waiting, as they watch Congress quarrel and point fingers.

“I want to get back to my life,” she said. “I want to get back to serving the people that I serve.”

Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter
hnorris@jewishtimes.com

New and Improved

101113_new_improved

A JCC fitness instructor demonstrates use of the new equipment. (David Stuck)

It has been just over one month since the Jewish New Year and for people who want to keep with their resolutions of dropping a few pounds and/or increasing their stamina, now is a good time to do it at the Jewish Community Center.

Both the Weinberg Park Heights JCC and the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC have received new state-of-the-art fitness equipment in recent weeks, replacing old treadmills with newer, more accessible machines, adding better bikes and switching out some of the old weight machines.

“It shows we are up to date, state of the art and relevant,” said JCC President Barack Hermann.

The entire Park Heights center is also being enhanced. The lower level has a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting in colors and textures, said Hermann, that make the JCC feel more like “a home away from home.”

Hermann said wellness, fitness, aquatics and recreation are core programs of the JCC, and it is one of the center’s key responsibilities to the community “to provide a place where Jews can work on their minds, bodies and spirits.”

Plus, there’s a lot of competition out there.

“If we can provide a good value proposition, then people want to buy Jewish,” said Hermann. “They won’t buy Jewish and compromise.”

JCC Vice President Phil Miller, who is manager of the Park Heights center, said that in addition to the general fitness area, the JCC is also revamping both the men’s and women’s locker rooms on the Park Heights campus. He said that the women’s facilities should be done in about one week and then work will start on the men’s room.

“It will be absolutely fantastic,” said Miller. “No one will recognize them.”

Through its own funding and support from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the JCC will install new tiling,  flooring, paint and accessories.

“This is something we have heard for a long time that we needed to do,” Miller said, describing the work at Park Heights as a demonstration of the growing sense of commitment on behalf of The Associated and The Associated system to the Park Heights Jewish community.

“The Park Heights Jewish community matters to the larger Jewish community,” said Miller. “This just shows how much it is valued, that it is worth a significant investment.”

In addition to the physical renovations, the Park Heights JCC has also launched a series of new fitness offerings targeted specifically to men —
single-gender classes. Miller said that while the center has long offered a
variety of single-gender fitness ins-truction for women, lack of space and funding has kept the JCC from offering the same full menu for men.

Over the summer, the Park Heights JCC began staying open an hour later on Tuesday nights, until 11:15 p.m., for men only. The fitness center and the pool are accessible during that time, and there is a group fitness class called Insanity.

“It’s a real solid workout, and we have been getting a great turnout of 30 or 40 men,” said Miller of the class. “The JCC has an obligation to remember the family, and we want to do as much as we can for mom and dad.”

Starting this fall, the JCC will have at least one males-only fitness class Sunday through Thursday, including yoga and cycling.

“We need membership dollars to do mitzvahs,” said Hermann. “If we are equally competitive and valued, then we will have more money to do very important work.”

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief — mjaffe@jewishtimes.com

Worth The Fight

Bike For the Fight riders were greeted by students at various schools along the way. (Provided)

Bike For the Fight riders were greeted by students at various schools along the way. (Provided)

Optimistic. Determined. Inexhaustible.

Pick a synonym for any of the above, and you can use it to describe the team of young Israelis pedaling each year across the United States to cure cancer.

Earlier this week, the participants of Bike For the Fight completed their second annual ride, which took them through the Baltimore, Rockville and D.C. areas, to encourage people to donate to the Israel Cancer Research Fund, a North American organization that gives grants to top Israeli cancer researchers. Ride founder Tom Peled, 25, a student at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzylia, said the group met their fundraising goal, raising more than $85,000.

For Peled, the mission is personal.

Peled lost his father, who was 58, to a 10-year battle against cancer in 2011. At the time of his father’s diagnosis, Peled was only 15. He channeled his grief into a 3,000-mile bike ride through Europe. By the end, he said he realized he wanted to find a way to both honor his father and devote himself to fighting the insidious disease that robbed him of so many precious years with his dad. The result was Bike For the Fight.

Peled told the JT that in its first year, BFF was an “adventure into the unknown,” as he had never planned anything but a backyard barbecue. But he said that when he got started and people saw his heart was in the right place, they helped. This year, he said, the team has grown (400 riders took part at different intervals along the way) – and grown up.

The ride is not based on speed, but on telling the story. They bike 60 to 70 miles per day.

“We want, as much as we can, to share the story with as many people as we can,” said Peled, who gave talks this year at Goucher College, Chabad of Towson University and Johns Hopkins University during his ride that went from Toronto to Boston, through upstate New York and Massachusetts and then down the East Coast through New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and D.C. It culminated at the Israeli Embassy, where dignitaries met BFF with flags, balloons and cheers.

The team relies on home hospitality; throughout its more than 60-day journey, BFF participants only slept in motels for four nights. In Rockville, they stayed with Alex and Miri Livnat; in Baltimore, with Bruce Sholk and Beth Kaplan.

Sholk said he was introduced to Peled though a business partner and his daughter ahead of BFF’s first ride. He went to a kickoff ceremony and saw that the organization was being supported by a wide representation of Israelis, from prominent business people to young activists. Sholk was enthralled.

“While they could have much more easily done this in Israel or Europe, they have chosen to bring this to the U.S. and now Canada to expose the Jewish and non-Jewish community not only to the importance of cancer research, but to the commitment of Israeli and Jewish young adults to do good,” said Sholk. “It is clear from the range of people they have interacted with along their journeys that they have succeeded in both goals.”

Peled’s partners, Director of Technology Inbal Brakha and trip manager Eran Rozen, also have tragic stories to propel them forward. Brakha lost her father to cancer one week before Peled. Rozen’s father was killed in a plane crash. Several of the other riders have stories, too.

“It’s the idea of taking something negative in your life, healing yourself and then turning it in to something positive to help heal others,” said Peled. “In my small way, I want to try to bring progress to finding a cure for cancer through raising money for research being done in Israel.”

Peled said everyone has difficulties, but they are faced with two choices: running away or overcoming them.

He also said BFF is about innovation and entrepreneurship.

“I started this at 23 with no experience at organizing anything,” he said. “But when you do something you believe in and it comes from a pure and honest place, people will help. People are looking to do good, you just need to show them how.”

Learn more about Bike For the Fight at bikeforthefight.com.

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief — mjaffe@jewishtimes.com

In The Works

Aiman Saif is working in the Israeli government to increase opportunities for Israeli-Arabs to receive a better education and to join Israel’s labor force. (Provided)

Aiman Saif is working in the Israeli government to increase opportunities for Israeli-Arabs to receive a better education and to join Israel’s labor force. (Provided)

The economic security of Israel is at risk.

It sounds dramatic, but it is a reality on the ground — unless the government’s efforts at creating equality of access to education and jobs for Israeli-Arab citizens are successful.

Some facts: Israeli-Arabs make up 20.6 percent of the Israeli population, but they contribute only 8 percent of the gross domestic product, (GDP). Some 51.4 percent of Arab families live below the poverty line (compared with 15 percent of Jewish families). Each year, only 63 percent of Arab youngsters reach 12th grade, compared with 93 percent of their Jewish peers.

“Everyone needs to have the same fair shot,” said Rafi Rone, director of Jewish and Israel Initiatives for the Joseph & Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds.

And last week, Rone, in conjunction with the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Foundation, brought to Baltimore Aiman Saif of Israel’s Authority of Economic Development of Minorities Sector (a division of the government) to discuss the challenge.

Saif, who grew up in Israel and ultimately attended a Jewish school, said, “The issues of Arabs and Jews is a non-issue. I think we can live together in Israel and build Israel together.”

The issue, rather, is that Arabs and Jews have little opportunity to interact with one another and that the minorities are suffering from lack of investment by the government … well, until recently.

Saif said new programs focused on upgrading the Arab business sector, empowering municipalities, encouraging employment and human resource development and approachability to higher education can hopefully help Israel buck the trend. He said Israel is investing about 4 billion NIS ($1.1 billion) in these projects, and the country is already seeing improvement.

“These are not slogans,” said Saif. “These are actions.”

What does Israel stand to gain? An estimated 30 billion NIS ($8.4 billion) each year.

Trending

The 2012 Trendlines team brought their tour to Baltimore. (Provided)

The 2012 Trendlines team brought their tour to Baltimore. (Provided)

Bethesda and the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC) will play host to Israeli medical technology companies on Oct. 18, as the companies present their work and offer investment and partnership opportunities to local businesses.

The stop will mark the culmination of a multicity tour of U.S. cities put together by Israeli investment firm Trendlines and OurCrowd, a new equity investor that uses crowd-funding, a way for a large group of people to pool money to support a project or company, to garner funds from smaller investors.  The Maryland event is cosponsored by law firm Offit Kurman, whose Bethesda office will hold the event.

“It’s a matchmaking function,” said MIDC Executive Director Barry Bogage. “It gives a platform for the companies to present to Maryland businesses.”

Part of the appeal for investors and entrepreneurs in investing in the companies is that OurCrowd and Trendlines have already backed up their stated support of the companies they will present with their own investments. Trendlines, which looks to develop medical and agricultural technology companies, has invested in 60 companies and been involved in bringing together American and Israeli companies for more than a decade.

“We create and develop companies that improve the human condition,” said Todd Dollinger, the chairman and CEO of the Trendlines Group.

OurCrowd is much younger as a company but uses the growing field of crowd-funding to give smaller inv-estors a chance to participate in companies they vet. It has brought more than $20 million to Israeli companies since February. OurCrowd will also share some of its process and history at the event.

“They make investment available to more people,” Dollinger said, explaining how with Trendlines and similar companies there is a minimum investment of $50,000. OurCrowd requires just $10,000 to join in the company’s development.

The companies that will present at the event are working on medical technology that could potentially impact a huge number of patients. ProArc Medical, for example, has developed a treatment that reduces infection risks for those with enlarged prostates. Gordian Surgical’s product can be used to open and close incisions automatically during laparoscopic surgery to minimize trauma. SensoGo has created a system to analyze walking patterns to help create therapy suggestions for patients with orthopedic problems, patients who might also benefit from CoreBone’s new bone graft material that could improve healing prospects and even apply to dental procedures.

“All of them are going to move into human trials next year,” Dollinger said.

Another company, Medical Surgeries Technologies, is a bit further along and will present their robotic manipulator with software that keeps laparoscopes exactly where a doctor wants them without requiring the complexities of coordinating the movements with any assistants.

This is not the first time that MIDC has hosted this kind of event.

“We bring a lot of high-tech companies to Maryland,” Bogage said. “We also take trade missions to Israel.”

In November, MIDC will host an event showcasing Israeli companies in Maryland. Last year, MIDC worked with the Baltimore Jewish Council to take Gov. Martin O’Malley to Israel.

Israeli tech companies are eager to access the Baltimore-Washington corridor with its close proximity to top hospitals, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, Dollinger said.

There will likely be more than 50 investors at the Bethesda event looking to extend that partnership.

Said Dollinger: “Maryland’s been very supportive of our companies over the years.”

Eric Hal Schwartz writes for JT’s sister publication, Washington Jewish Week.

Turning Point

Maryland jobs are on the road to recovery, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but many members of the Jewish community are not feeling much relief.

“People with good, solid career histories in fields that are robust are getting jobs more easily,” said Tracey Paliath, director of economic services at Jewish Community Services. But, she said, “most people 50 and over who have been unemployed would find cold comfort in those numbers.”

The state of Maryland added 9,700 jobs in the month of August, data released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed, bringing the job base for Maryland back to a level it has not seen since the recession began.

Of those jobs added in August, 4,900 were private-sector jobs, the highest number of jobs added to the private sector in the month since 2007. Most of these private-sector jobs were added to the professional and business services sector.

JCS provides assistance for those seeking employment in any field, at any level, by offering clients access to career coaching, vocational rehabilitation, interview preparation programs and resume and cover letter help.

The job market is extremely competitive right now, despite what gains have been made, said Paliath.

From what she has seen, the time it usually takes for an adult 50-years-old or older to find a job is about twice as long as someone younger, and the situation for recent college graduates is not much better.

“They’re opting to go to graduate school, if they can get in, or they’re continuing with their college employment,” said Paliath. “All of that is perfectly fine, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s probably not what they majored in or went to school for.”

In the worst of the recession, she said she saw a sense of hopelessness permeate the lives of those she helped look for unemployment. Many even gave up the search altogether.

“They get discouraged,” she said.

For those close enough to 62, the youngest age at which one can receive Social Security retirement benefits, the plan sometimes changes from job hunting to reorganizing finances to stretch until they can begin retirement benefits.

For even more people, the jobs they are able to find are far different from those that they lost to the recession. Paliath saw many JCS clients accept commission-only or part-time work, an adjustment that can be difficult for someone who has grown accustomed to a regular paycheck.

At the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Director Karen Sitnick agreed that the number of people seeking help is still high. More than 23,000 local people logged on to the area’s online job resource channels over the past year.

However, Sitnick said she has seen some hints of improvement in the local job market. For one, the number of companies coming to the office seeking help with mass layoffs has dropped off recently. Meanwhile, the number of companies reaching out to the Office of Employment Development looking for trained employees has risen again after slumping over the past few years.

With the arrival of Horseshoe Casino approaching and other opportunities in construction on the horizon, Sitnick says there is a sense of optimism at the office among both career counselors and job seekers.

“It’s not as doom and gloom,” she said. “I think we’re all feeling we’re really moving in the right direction.”

At The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, President Marc Terrill said the local Jewish community took a major hit during the recession. The organization saw long-time donors begin to turn to it for financial and job assistance. “While we have seen some recovery in the community, we still have people hurting,” Terrill said. “We are fortunate that Jewish Baltimore continues to rise to the occasion during times of great need. We saw it in 2008 and it is still in play today.”

JCS’s Paliath agreed that there have been some signs of hope, even among those who were able to hang on to their jobs through the recession.

“Before, everyone was frozen,” she said. “I think now, people are open to looking around and exploring possibilities. They’ve moved beyond the paralysis of just being thankful that they have a job.”

But, she said, the improvements in some areas do not necessarily equate to good news across the board. She noted that there are still many people who either lack experience or are on the older end of the workforce who continue to wait for the good fortune to extend their way.

For them, said Paliath, “it’s going to continue to be some time before things noticeably improve.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP
Jewish Community Services is an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. To make a donation to the annual campaign, visit associated.org/donate.

Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter — hnorris@jewishtimes.com