An Address In 21117

Rabbi Nochum Katsenelenbogen, “Rabbi K,” says he thinks the Jews in  Owings Mills are searching for a deeper spiritual connection.  (David Stuck)

Rabbi Nochum Katsenelenbogen, “Rabbi K,” says he thinks the Jews in Owings Mills are searching for a deeper spiritual connection.
(David Stuck)

It is a big sacrifice for an Orthodox family — especially one with five children — to live outside of a community with an eruv, an enclosure that allows one to carry items from inside his or her home around the neighborhood on Shabbat.

It is likewise challenging for a frum family to raise its children in an area of the community where there are few other — if any — shomer Shabbat [Shabbat observant] children with whom they can play.

But this is a sacrifice that Rabbi Nochum and Chanie Katsenelenbogen not only are willing to make, but one of which they are today tremendously proud. About eight years since they started Chabad Center in Owings Mills, they completed a several-thousand-square-foot expansion of the facility, located at 11299 Owings Mills Blvd. The reason, said Rabbi K, as he is affectionately known: “The center was bursting at its seams.”

At Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services a few weeks ago, more than 650 people attended — many of them families with young children.

“Chabad of Owings Mills is the go-to source for traditional Judaism in the area,” said Rabbi K. “There was an unmet need for a vibrant and diverse traditional Jewish community in Owings Mills. We were able to accommodate that.”

The center will celebrate its growth on Oct. 6 with a special event, featuring Rabbi Dr. David Nesenoff, who is best known for his interview with Helen Thomas. Rabbi Nesenoff asked Thomas about Israel in an interview that took place on the White House lawn. Her answer, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” and to “go home” to Poland and Germany, revealed a side of Thomas that haunted her until her death.

And while attendees are being riveted by the speaker, they will also be enjoying the new facilities. How did an Orthodox synagogue targeted to less observant congregants — that doesn’t charge a membership fee — grow so quickly and so tremendously?

Rabbi K said he thinks it is because Chabad is nonjudgmental.

“We don’t judge anyone. Our doors are open to any and every Jew of all levels of observance. … We don’t question. All are welcome to celebrate, learn and pray and socialize,” he said.

But those who are close with Rabbi K — his followers — say the rabbi and his wife have more to do with the location’s growth that anything else. Bruce E. Kauffman, for example, said Rabbi and Chanie K “inspired me” and that they are “such warm people.”

What is inspiring is not just that they run a Sunday school for 30 children — one that kids want to attend — or that they are certified instructors for the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and provide classes in Jewish subjects for 30 or 40 adults each semester. It is not their Passover Seder, which brings in more than 100 people. It is not Chanukah on Ice. It is that Rabbi K “doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk,” said Kauffman. “He extends himself at all times for his fellow Jew, and he is really committed to helping people who are not affiliated reconnect with Judaism. … He accepts you for who you are and has tremendous patience. There is no pressure. You go at your own level and how you feel comfortable, and he helps get you where you want to go.”

Noted Richard Nudelman of Owings Mills, “Rabbi K and Chanie are really a beacon to the community in Owings Mills. [The Chabad Center] is not just a shul, it’s not just a religious school. It is a warm, welcoming environment to Jews of all degrees of knowledge”

Jonathan Welfeld expressed similar sentiments. He met Rabbi K eight years ago and has grown his family with the center. He said he and his wife were looking for something to help connect their family to Judaism as they raised their then young children.

“He clued my kids in. He lit their souls,” said Welfeld. Today, his kids attend Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.

Rabbi K, who moved to the United States from England in 1999 and married in 2003, said he thinks the market was ripe — and still is — in Owings Mills. He told the JT that “people are looking for more meaning in their lives, more spirituality. Children are known to ask good questions and parents don’t always have great answers. They realize they need to be more involved.”

He said, “There are thousands of Jews in Owings Mills. We will not rest until we reach every single one.”

Who Lives In Owings Mills?
• Owings Mills has 12,100 Jewish persons in 5,300 Jewish households
• Combined, the Owings Mills/Reisterstown areas have essentially the same number of Jewish households today as in 1999 but fewer Jewish persons (22,800 in 1999; 19,100 in 2010)
• Some 23 percent of the Jews living in Owings Mills are under the age of 18
Source: 2010 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study

The Jewish community is invited to celebrate the expansion of the Chabad Center in Owings Mills
Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Special guest: Rabbi Dr. David Nesenoff
RSVP to chabadom.com

Peach Pickin’ Good

The Jewish Federation of Howard County helped kick off a sweet year for its PJ Library families. On Sept. 15, the PJ families picked peaches and other harvest fruits at Larriland Farm. The mouth-watering day came just in time for the Sukkot holiday. Yum!

PJ Library Howard County was launched last year to serve the many young families living among Howard County’s 20,000 Jews. The program is made possible through a partnership between the federation, Howard County synagogues and the Jewish preschools in the area and is funded by philanthropists Bernard and Phyllis Nash and Steven and Beverly Koren, among others.

Do you want to get involved? Visit jewishhowardcounty.org.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/baltimorejewishtimes/sets/72157635874171674/show

Photos by David Stuck

Reconnect With the People

The story of the Jews of the Former Soviet Union is an evolving one. It’s a story of suffering and distress, a story of incredible challenges — many of which were forfeited, equally as many of which were overcome.

But mostly it is the story of a modern miracle.

Twenty-five years after Operation Exodus — nearly 45 years since the first wave of Soviet immigration to the U.S. — the Baltimore Jewish community will come together next month to reflect on the past, honor the present and celebrate the possibilities of the future.

“By all accounts, we probably shouldn’t even be having a conversation about involvement with Russian speakers in our Jewish community,” said Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, who is spearheading events known collectively as The Journey, Together: 25 Years After Operation Exodus. “But I am glad to say we are. Therein lies the miracle.”

The first Soviet Jews arrived in Baltimore in the 1970s, a period when the Cold War eased a bit and Jews were given a slightly better chance to leave the FSU; just fewer than 2,000 Soviet Jews arrived in Baltimore then — each with his own story to tell.

One of those was Rafael Chikvashvili, his wife, Lidya, and daughter, Deya. Chikvashvili has a full repertoire of unsettling stories about his life in the Former Soviet Union. There were the three years that he and his family spent as refuseniks [see “In Detail”] and denied permission to leave the U.S.S.R. There were the several days that he was tailed by a Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB) agent and threatened with the kidnapping of his daughter. And there was the period during which the government, in order to get around the policy of not firing employees, dissolved the department of mathematics in which he was an assistant professor and then formed a new department without him. And this was despite the fact that Chikvashvili had already been told that, as a Jew, he would never be made a full professor.

Chikvashvili left the FSU because he desired greater freedom to lead an active Jewish life and he wanted to ensure his daughter would have the ability to pursue the educational and professional avenues she wanted — clear of anti-Semitism.

While his ultimate emigration was itself an intense 10-day journey of unbelievable adventures — he was called a “dirty Jew,” he was summoned by policemen, a Polish woman tried to wrestle his toddler child from him — Chikvashvili was fortunate to get out when he did. For in 1981, the Soviet Union once again all but closed the doors to emigration by Jews.

At the time of Chikvashvili’s arrival, the Jewish community was largely unprepared to shoulder the burden. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and then Jewish Family Services took an active role in helping the immigrants assimilate successfully into the fabric of American life, but it did not engage them in Jewish life, explained Shoshana S. Cardin in her book “Shoshana: Memoirs of Shoshana Shoubin Cardin.”

“They remained on the margins, a community of their own, helping one another,” she wrote.

Locked In

©iStockphoto.com/selensergen

©iStockphoto.com/selensergen

The proposed changes to the teen curfew in the city of Baltimore don’t have much support in the city’s District 5 office.

“I don’t see any advantage,” said Baltimore City Councilwoman Rochelle Spector, adding that she will learn more about the proposal when it reaches the hearing stage. “I’m not sure that it’s building a better mousetrap.”

If approved, the new curfew, proposed by City Councilman Brandon M. Scott earlier this month, will change the times at which young people must be off city streets to an age-based system. Children under the age of 14 would have to be indoors by 9 p.m. year-round. Teens between 14 and 16 would have to be in by 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends and during summer. The maximum fine would also be increased to $500.

Curfews are not new to the city. Current law mandates that all people under the age of 17 may not be in any public place or establishment after midnight on weekends and 11 p.m. on weekdays. It is also unlawful for any parent or guardian to knowingly permit his or her child to violate this curfew. Those minors in violation of the curfew may be detained by police but not arrested, and no mark is made on their criminal record. Parents or guardians in violation of the subtitle may also receive a fine of up to $300, imprisonment for a maximum of 60 days or sentenced to community service.

The proposed system would allow minors and their families to avoid a civil citation by attending a family-strengthening program.

In her district, District 5, the Northwest portion of the city, Spector said juvenile behavior has been a problem, but she is wary of an across-the-board fix to a complicated problem. With organizations such as Northwest Citizen’s Patrol and Shomrim, along with the local police precinct, Spector said the situation in her district is better than that of many other regions of the city.

“When we identify an area or situation, it really gets focused attention and resources,” she said.

Exceptions would remain in place for minors accompanied by a parent or returning home from work or a school or religious function.

Baltimore has gained national attention over the years for its murder rate, which rests at the sixth highest in the U.S. among cities with populations of 100,000 people or more, according to FBI data. According to the city of Baltimore’s Comstat data, Baltimore police have made 32,718 arrests in 2013, and of those, 2,487 (7.6 percent) were juveniles. While this figure is almost identical to the rate in cities such as Washington, D.C., where 7.3 percent of 2012 arrests were juveniles, part of Scott’s motive behind his proposal is to help reduce truancy in city schools and improve student performance, he told Nathan Sterner on 88.1 FM’s “Midday with Dan Rodricks” last Tuesday.

Said Councilwoman Spector: “Police can’t be the answer to parents or those who are responsible for these children.”

$100M Redevelopment Coming To Rotunda

092713_100M_Rotunda

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (fifth from the left) and (from the mayor’s left) City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, District 14 Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and District 7 Councilman Nick Mosby shovel dirt with Hekemian officials at a groundbreaking ceremony for The Rotunda redevelopment. (Marc Shapiro)

A New Jersey-based real estate company will invest more than $100 million in redeveloping the Rotunda building on West 40th Street in Baltimore.

Hekemian & Co., along with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore City officials, held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 18 to officially kick off the redevelopment.

“This building has been an icon from the day it was built,” said Chris Bell, senior vice president of development for Hekemian.

The completed project will include 152,000 square feet of retail, 140,000 square feet of office space, 379 new apartments, almost 1,300 parking spaces and outdoor amenities including a central plaza. Hekemian expects to complete the project by the end of 2015, but new retailers will move in as early as summer 2015.

My Organic Market will open its first Baltimore City location at The Rotunda, Bell said, but no other retail tenants have been announced. He said the project will feature a variety of restaurants, specialty shops and a gym, all of which will have entrances on the outside of the building.

More than 900 jobs will be created in the two-year construction period, which will employ about 50 subcontractors. Rite Aid, the movie theater and the approximately 60 office tenants will be open during the construction period.

Officials said the groundbreaking ceremony was a long time coming, with redevelopment on the books since 2005. The project was continually delayed by the recession, during which retail spaces in the building became vacant.

“It stopped being the community center that it used to be, but I know that once it’s redeveloped, the people will come because it’s just, geographically, a cog in the great big wheel of neighborhoods,” said Mary Pat Clarke, Baltimore City councilwoman for District 14.

The Rotunda, located near Hampden, Roland Park and Medfield, originally opened in the 1920s, and was the home of the Maryland Casualty Company until the 1960s. It was Baltimore real estate consultant Bernie Manekin who brought retail into the office space, a new concept at the time, and reopened the building in 1973 as The Rotunda.

“It was stunningly successful, and, of course, Bernie Manekin set the pace for preserving the features of [the building],” Clarke said.

Hekemian’s redevelopment will keep the building’s historic features intact.

Clarke is pleased that not only is the project a completely private investment, but it’s also an investment in Baltimore’s neighborhoods and not along the waterfront, where a lot of real estate development is focused.

Rawlings-Blake was delighted to see eight years of work culminate.

“This takes a lot of work on the city side, collaborative work, to make a big transformative project like this happen,” she said. “I’m very proud of that work.”

Gansler For Governor

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler officially announced his candidacy for governor on Tuesday, Sept. 24 in Rockville at the Montgomery County Courthouse Square.

“At my core, I am about protecting people, standing up for justice and fairness and never giving up on a fight when it’s right,” Gansler told the crowd.

The Rockville announcement was the first of three stops on Tuesday, which included announcements in Ellicott City and Baltimore. It also kicked off a 17-city announcement tour for Gansler.

His challengers include Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and running mate Ken Ulman, who currently serves as Howard County Executive, and state delegate Heather Mizeur, a democrat who represents the 20th District in Montgomery County. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-2), who also served as Baltimore County’s executive from 1994 until 2002, is considering running.

His speech focused on the economy and jobs, education, his record as attorney general and his focus on meeting the needs of the people.

“As governor, I will protect the people of Maryland,” he said. “I will protect them by delivering on the number one priority in our state: jobs — creating jobs and a fairer economy, where the middle class, and thus all of us, thrives.”

Gansler won the attorney general post after serving six years as an Assistant United States Attorney General during the Clinton administration. Under his leadership, the attorney general’s office started the state’s first domestic violence, gang and elder abuse units, as well as a civil rights division.

He spoke about environmental victories and strides in the prosecution of sexual violence, cybercrime and human trafficking.

In addition to focusing on creating jobs, Gansler also hopes to raise the minimum wage, enhance mass transit, narrow the minority achievement gap in schools and help ex-offenders re-enter society through skills training.

“My campaign — and my service as governor — will be built on meeting the needs of the people,” he said. “Not the establishment. Not the special interests.”

Lt. Gov. Brown has also spoken about making education, jobs and health care his priorities.

Gansler released a gubernatorial campaign video via Twitter on Thursday, Sept. 19, ahead of his official announcement (watch on jewishtimes.com).

While cyber security is a big issue for Gansler, his spokesman said this video, which is posted on YouTube, shows social media in a positive light.

“There’s an acknowledgement that social media and online platforms are incredibly valuable tools for getting out your message,” Bob Wheelock, Gansler’s spokeman, said.

The video is an effort to try to reach a broad audience and a younger audience, he added.

The video starts with a segment on Charm City Lacrosse, an organization started five years ago by Gansler as a program for inner-city youth who wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to play the sport. A participant says “Coach Doug” was encouraging and helped instill confidence in the players.

The video features testimonials from police, domestic-violence advocates and elected officials. It talks about how Gansler changed the way the court system handles domestic violence, his record in marriage equality (he was the first elected official in Maryland to endorse it), cyber security and his going after predatory lenders. It ends with Gansler talking about jobs, helping working- and middle-class Marylanders and ensuring children have equal education opportunities.

“I think that’s what government’s supposed to do: to help create a level playing field so all people in Maryland will have access and the opportunity to excel or to reach their potential,” he said.

Beauty In Baltimore

At least once a day, said Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory supervisor Kate Bloom, someone tells her they’ve seen the outside of the conservatory, (originally named the Druid Hill Conservatory) but not the inside.

Bloom and other friends of the historic site are hoping to draw visitors into the conservatory — the second-oldest surviving one in the country — for the year-long celebration of the institution’s 125th anniversary. On Saturday, Oct. 5, the conservatory will hold the Palm House Gala, an evening of dining and dancing, which will include a silent auction to raise money for the landmark.

“The last few years have been hard for the conservatory,” admitted Bloom, who noted the Baltimore City-owned and operated institution was dealing with severe budget cuts. “We were not at the top of the list. I get that. I know we need police and fire fighters; those are priorities for the city.”

And yet, said Bloom, the conservatory is important in terms of Baltimore’s history, as well as the role it plays in city life.

In 2002, the conservatory, which was in a dilapidated state, was almost torn down. Instead, it was closed for a two-year renovation and expansion. When it reopened, it was renamed the Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory in honor of state delegate Pete Rawlings, who worked to secure funding for its expansion and renovation.

Now, the conservatory includes the original 1888 Palm House and Orchid Room, as well as the Mediterranean, Tropical and Desert houses, two display pavilions and outdoor gardens.

“It’s a magical place,” Bloom said, and a great venue for weddings.

“I’m biased, of course, but I believe Druid Hill Park is one of the most spectacular urban parks in the world. Our hope is to propel this great treasure into the future and to try to ensure its next 125 years,” said Bloom.

A Facelift for Lenny’s

 

Alan Smith, owner of Lenny’s Deli, said it was time to remodel his restaurant.

Alan Smith, owner of Lenny’s Deli, said it was time to remodel his restaurant. (Photo by David Stuck)

After 28 years in the Owings Mills shopping center Valley Village, Lenny’s Deli owner Alan Smith thought it was time for a facelift.

The quality of the food hasn’t wavered, the sandwiches are still thick, and customers are still loyal, but Smith said he felt it was time for his deli to get an updated look.

The remodel, which is ongoing, includes a new logo with a light blue color scheme, beige brick walls and a completely redone dining room. What once looked like a laid-back cafeteria-style room now looks like a casual restaurant with new wooden tables and chairs and a new hardwood floor.

“It’s always positive when someone invests in Owings Mills and its future,” said Jonathan Schwartz, senior council assistant to Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond. “Lenny’s has been a longtime staple of the community and a go-to place for breakfast or lunch.”

In addition to beautifying the restaurant, the dining room was redesigned with two aisles to allow an easier flow of customers, something Smith said was a long time coming.

The Baltimore Jewish Times caught up with Smith to hear more about the remodel and how the business has changed over the years.

JT: What does the remodel entail?
Smith: It’s a drastic change in the dining room. We went to electronic menu boards, replaced all the furniture, put in larger tables to accommodate parties. It’s much more comfortable.

Has the menu changed at all?
We took out our salad bar, and now we make everything to order. We have all these different kinds of salads now that we make fresh: chicken, salmon.

When did the renovation start, and how much work is left?
We started planning it last summer, and we didn’t want to close, so we had to do all the work after hours. It started around March, and we still have plans to redo bathrooms and anything else [that has] the old color scheme. The bathrooms will be next.

Why did you decide to remodel?
We’ve been here 28 years now. … It just needed a facelift. … There is a lot of competition, lots of new places. It just needed to be a little revitalized.

How has the deli business changed over the years?
Strictly deli is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The problem is you can go to Subway and get a five-dollar Footlong, but if you want to get the quality meats that delis in this area use … we’re not willing to lower our quality for the sake of price.

You’re going pay a little more because you’re getting much better quality meat and thicker sandwiches. For us, we still want to do it. We do breakfast all day and people love that. We have more than just corned beef.

In addition to your focus on the customer, you also try to keep your employees happy. Talk about that?
Anytime an employee has been with us 15 consecutive years, they get a cruise for two and $500 spending money. We’ve sent six people.  If somebody can tolerate me for 15 years, it’s the least I can do. That’s a long time to work at one job, and I want to do something [for them].

 

 

Miller’s Eyes Third Location

Miller’s Delicatessen, a staple of the Pikesville community for more than 40 years, will open its third location, in Lutherville-Timonium, in about a month.

The deli, known for its corned beef, overstuffed sandwiches and homemade laktes, knishes and coddies, opened a second location in June on West Chesapeake Avenue in Towson. The newest location will be in the Padonia Village Shopping Center, at the corner of York and Padonia roads.

“Our customer base has expanded to cross almost every imaginable boundary, be it nationality, race and/or religion,” co-owner Jeff Karlin said in a statement. “Our Pikesville store is, in my opinion, the true definition of a neighborhood establishment, and we look to continue that strength and characteristic as we expand to Towson, Timonium and wherever else the ‘best kettle cooked corned beef’ may take us.”

Karlin, a restaurateur, purchased the Pikesville deli in April 2010 with entrepreneur and local Jewish communal volunteer Mark Neumann.

In three-and-a-half years, the two have seen changes in the deli landscape.

“We have seen a tremendous shift to the restaurant side and away from the sliced meats at the counter,” Karlin said. “The younger generation, it seems, doesn’t [appreciate] the Ma and Pa deli counters as much as past generations.”

The owners look forward to feeding hungry customers in a new market.

“While there is a great deal of competition, we believe that there is a need and a desire for our high-quality products and 40-plus-year-old recipes,” Karlin said.

Works Like A ChaRm

Laura and David Alima opened The Charmery in July. Their ice cream flavors are Baltimore-centric ... and a little Jewish, too.

Laura and David Alima opened The Charmery in July. Their ice cream flavors are Baltimore-centric … and a little Jewish, too. (Photo by David Stuck)

For Laura and David Alima, owners of The Charmery in Hampden, ice cream isn’t just a treat, it is destiny.
“I guess we were connected by desserts early on,” said David. “Because the first thing I ever did to try to impress [Laura] was I ate an entire chocolate cream pie.”

The pair, who married five years ago, met at Bel Air’s Habonim Dror Camp Moshava, where they were both counselors. Fifteen year later, they are the owners of a new thriving ice cream shop with a local twist.
Over the course of the past two months, the shop has made a name for itself with its funky Baltimore-inspired flavors. From Old Bay caramel to Berger cookies and cream and lemon stick, one look at the menu tells customers they are not in Kansas anymore.

“This shop could only exist in Baltimore,” David said. “You look at our walls, it’s all Baltimore artists, you look at our façade, it is Baltimore artists.”

He has even approached a few local bands and artists about working with him to develop new flavors.

“I want to work with people who don’t necessarily come from the culinary world,” David said, pointing out that he did not come from the culinary world either. “It would just be fun.”

From very early in their relationship, the couple had dreams of opening an ice cream shop.

“For 10 years, we had been talking about it as a business,” said Laura. “Everywhere we went, we would go to ice cream shops and be critical.”

They spent years taking notes on other parlors in other cities, making a record of what did and didn’t work at those shops, before they opened The Charmery.

“When you look at our costs, when you look at our flavors, it comes from many, many years and many notes,” said David.

For the Alimas, destiny was fulfilled on July 20, when they opened the doors of their store in a former pharmacy, which has special meaning, as both Laura’s and David’s grandfathers attended pharmacy school together in New Haven, Conn. They had noticed the vacant pharmacy before, located at the corner of Chestnut Avenue and 36th Street, but they were committed to another location in the neighborhood. It wasn’t until that location fell through that they noticed the pharmacy space had gone on the market.

“It’s one of those fated moments where you realize you’re exactly in the place you should be,” said Laura.
The Hampden neighborhood, the Alimas said, is a great place to open a business such as The Charmery. In an area known for small, independent businesses, the community has really welcomed them.

“There is such a camaraderie between the [business owners],” said Laura.

So far, the shop has partnered with Spro Coffee and Union Craft Brewing to create flavors infused with local ingredients, and it has plans to work with Paulie Gee’s pizza shop, when it opens its Hampden location, to create desserts for the restaurant.

Laura, a graduate of Cornell University’s hospitality management program, works full time as the marketing director at Chef’s Expressions catering company and spends evenings at the shop while David works at the shop full time. David describes Laura as the brains of the operation; he acts as more of a creative director of flavors. She has the hospitality experience, said David, and he has a love of ice cream experimentation.

“Without her, I just have ice cream,” he said.

Earlier this month, the shop featured a limited-edition caramel apple flavor in honor of Rosh Hashanah and a duckpin pale ale flavor for Labor Day. In the future, they plan to experiment with a charoset flavor for Passover.

“It’s our place. We can do whatever we want,” said David. “It’s so cool.”

 

Here’s the scoop

The Charmery featured ice cream in the flavor of apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah. What other flavors might the Jewish people expect this year?

Sukkot
Etrog sorbet (hurry in now!)

Tu B’shevat
Dates and honey ice cream

Chanukah
Sufganiyot ice cream (a donut base with a raspberry swirl)

Passover
Charoset (Manischewitz wine base with apples, dates and nuts swirled in)

Broad Shoulders

Dr. Leigh Vinocur

Dr. Leigh Vinocur

For victims of domestic violence in the Jewish community, CHANA: Counseling, Helpline & Aid Network for Abused Women offers an opportunity to escape a dangerous situation without having to make sacrifices when it comes to maintaining their religion.

Last year, the organization hosted its first speaker series, which featured talks from Jewish women involved in the arts. This year, Event Chair Maxine Seidman said CHANA wanted to again feature discussions led by interesting women who have learned to balance their professional, religious and family lives. This year’s series, which begins Oct. 1, will focus on women in legal, medical and technological professions.

Judge Karen “Chaya” Friedman, the first Orthodox Jewish woman appointed to the District Court of Maryland, will kick off the series.

Until her appointment to District Court, Friedman served as board chair of CHANA for three years. For Friedman, who spent much of her time helping victims of domestic violence navigate the legal system, her newest role has provided a chance to see things from a different vantage point.

“My experience at CHANA definitely gives me perspective on the bench that I would not have if I had not been involved in CHANA,” said Friedman.

As a judge, Friedman must make decisions involving landlord-tenant cases, motor vehicle violations, bail reviews, misdemeanors and some felonies. Sometimes it can be difficult not to bring home some of the emotion and stress, but, she said, it gets better with time.

“It’s definitely a job that requires broad shoulders and an ability to handle stress,” she said.

Judge Karen “Chaya” Friedman

Judge Karen “Chaya” Friedma (Photo by Shlomo Photography)

In addition to her role as a judge and mother of two sets of teenaged twins, Friedman is also involved with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore (of which CHANA is a program) and the Baltimore Jewish Council and its Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel, is on the board of the Jacob and Hilda Bloustein Foundation for Jewish Education and sits on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum council.

“I’m always interested in new opportunities,” said Friedman, who also chairs the Interfaith Domestic Violence Initiative, which will aim to join all faiths together in an effort to create a dialogue about domestic violence over the weekend of Oct. 25 to 27 in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Rebbetzin Miriam Marwick, who was unavailable for comment, will discuss her career on Dec. 4 at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC.

Marwick is a researcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses and the rebbetzin of Congregation Shomrei Emunah. Before she became a researcher at IDA, she and her husband were Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus educators at Johns Hopkins University.

Marwick holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering and a teaching degree in Judaic studies from the Rika Breuer Teachers Seminary.

The series concludes April 1, when Dr. Leigh Vinocur, board certified emergency physician, national spokeswoman for the American College of Emergency Physicians and regular guest on “Dr. Oz,” “Nancy Grace” and CNN, speaks at
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

Dr. Vinocur, another former chair of CHANA, began her involvement with the group in 1995, but her experience with domestic violence began even earlier, through her work as a doctor.

Her emergency room experience, she said, has allowed her a unique view of the world.

“Emergency medicine is kind of like a microcosm of society,” she said. “Gun violence and teen pregnancy and domestic violence, it all comes into the emergency room.”

Dr. Vinocur has utilized her experience in medicine to launch a career in broadcasting.

“When I write or talk about medical issues, I can sort of affect a broader change,” said Dr. Vinocur. “That’s why I like my adjunct career in medical broadcasting.”

Dr. Vinocur, who is still involved with CHANA, said she appreciates the work that CHANA has done to raise awareness in the community about an issue that some people may not have thought existed in the Jewish community.

“There was this bias that it doesn’t happen in the Jewish community, that women don’t get beaten up and abused,” she said. But that stereotype is unfounded. “I’ve seen doctors — women doctors — who have been beaten. It can happen to anybody,” she said.

CHANA was founded in 1995 by Brenda Brown Rever and a small group of advocates who noticed a lack of Jewish clients at the House of Ruth. Knowing abuse is just as prevalent in the Jewish community as it is in other communities, Board Chair Alyson Friedman said, Brenda approached The Associated with the idea of launching a program to help Jewish victims of abuse. What began as a simple hotline for abuse victims has, over the past 17 years, evolved into a multifaceted organization that offers services such as legal aid, emergency housing and one-on-one counseling, in addition to maintaining the hotline that serves as an entry point for much of CHANA’s clientele.

Journey Of Professional Jewish Women, the second annual CHANA speaker series, starts Oct. 1. To register, visit chanabaltimore.org/speakerseries2013.