Bolstering Baltimore’s Film Industry

Members of the inaugural class of the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media Studies took part in a four-day screenplay lab in which industry experts gave feedback on projects. Among those pictured are participants Harrison Demchick (far right) and Zack Schlosberg (back row, second from right) and fund director Roberto Busó-García (back row, third from left). (Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund)

Members of the inaugural class of the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media Studies took part in a four-day screenplay lab in which industry experts gave feedback on projects. Among those pictured are participants Harrison Demchick (far right) and Zack Schlosberg (back row, second from right) and fund director Roberto Busó-García (back row, third from left). (Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund)

A new fund named after a pioneering film producer will connect budding filmmakers with resources and experts in an attempt to grow Baltimore’s film industry.

The Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media Studies, recently launched at Johns Hopkins University, creates an incubator for filmmakers to connect with industry veterans, executives, artists and entrepreneurs to develop and produce projects in Charm City. The fund requires the projects to take place in the city in order to provide sustainable jobs in the television and film industry.

“A big part of what we’re trying to achieve here is to build a two-way bridge between Baltimore and the rest of the industry,” said Roberto Busó-García, director of the fund and director of the university’s Master of Arts in Film and Media program. “The hope is that we can create a continuity of projects that makes for stable job creation, not just jobs that come in when a production comes in for a week and leaves, but for a [continuous] flow.”

The fund was made possible through a $1 million grant from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation. The foundation and the fund are named for Zaentz, who died in 2014. The three-time Academy Award-winning producer’s film credits include “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Amadeus” and “The English Patient.”

The incubator’s inaugural class includes 18 projects from filmmakers and visual artists that were selected from more than 75 submitted proposals. The writers of five of those proposals took part in an April screenplay lab, a four-day workshop with five established artists who helped them further develop their screenplays. The others will have one-on-one mentors and advisors to help with their projects.

Harrison Demchick, 32, took part in the lab to work on “Time-Traveling Idea Bandits,” a story about a young writer who discovers these bandits who steal ideas from one era and sell them to writers in the past.

“The screenplay lab was an opportunity to receive direct and detailed one-on-one feedback from accomplished screenwriters, those who already achieved what I and other participants aim to achieve ourselves,” he said. “The whole experience was invaluable.”

Demchick said he got feedback on clarifying the arc of his central character.

“I also need to make sure the story is clear, which is always an obstacle when writing about time travel,” he said.

For Demchick, whose project came in third place in the feature category of the 2016 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, the community-building aspect of the lab and the resources the fund offers can break down barriers for young writers like himself. While he won the screenwriting competition in 2011 and came in second in 2008, his works have yet to reach the point of production.

“There is so much creativity in Baltimore but simultaneously anybody who wants to work in film has certain obstacles in not being in an acknowledged hub like L.A. or New York,” he said. “I feel like becoming a part of this will ultimately be a turning point in my screenwriting career.”

Zack Schlosberg is one member of a team of three who took part in the screenplay lab with “Excessive Force,” about a family in a post-Freddie Gray Baltimore coming to grips with a death from an act of police brutality.

“We thought, seeing the way the national media descended on Baltimore for a short period of time and then kind of left, there was something left to be told about the human cost of violence and just that there are stories, that families have real lives that are really affected,” he said.

The lab helped Schlosberg, who is about to graduate from Hopkins with a degree in writing seminars, and his group focus its idea. While they thought they’d set the film in post-uprising Baltimore, they may set it closer to or during the uprising of April 2015. The lab also impressed upon them the importance of going out and doing more research.

He thinks the project is great for Baltimore.

“There are some people in Baltimore who have some great ideas, great stories to tell and don’t have the means to do it until something like this comes along with the resources and the money and the ways to connect people,” he said. “It is a place with so many people with diverse voices and diverse experiences.”

Busó-García agrees.

“I think Baltimore’s history is fascinating itself and there are huge changes — social, political and economic — that have transpired in the last 200 years, and all of that builds up to the fact that Baltimore is a deeply diverse place,” he said. “I don’t only mean ethnicity, I mean walks of life. And you can find so many pockets of reality that America has lost already in Baltimore still.”

All of the writers in the inaugural class can apply for grants through the fund to help finance their projects. In addition to the labs and mentoring, there will be “brain trust meetings” in which movers and shakers in different fields and all the fellows are brought together for intensive brainstorming and problem-solving questions.

Busó-García thinks the fund is a fitting continuation of Zaentz’s legacy. The late filmmaker made films that, while many are now classics, were hard to get made and produced at the time.

“A lot of his movies were based on challenging works of literature that people thought were inaccessible to an audience and he thought different, so that’s the legacy we’re building off of,” he said. “We’re doing it with all kinds of audio-visual content. We’re taking it to the next level and we’re doing it in Baltimore.”

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

Sympathy for Palestinians Up Sharply

An Israeli border policeman speaks to a Palestinian man next to a stabbing scene in Jerusalem’s Old City in Oct. 2015. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

An Israeli border policeman speaks to a Palestinian man next to a stabbing scene in Jerusalem’s Old City in Oct. 2015. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Democrats are more than four times as likely as Republicans to say they sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel, according to a Pew Research Center survey published last week, and sympathy for the Palestinians among Americans overall is growing.

Sympathy for the Palestinians is up most sharply among the youngest American adults, growing threefold over the last decade, the new survey shows. Some 27 percent of millennials say they are more sympathetic to the Palestinians than Israel; in 2006 the figure was 9 percent. The share of those favoring Israel has held steady at about 43 percent.

On Israel, the survey also shows one of the widest-ever gaps between the two main political parties.

While self-identified Democrats are more likely to favor Israel over the Palestinians (43 percent to 29 percent), they are far less sympathetic toward Israel than either Republicans or Independents. Among self-identified Republicans, 75 percent say they sympathize more with Israel compared to 7 percent sympathizing more for the Palestinians. Among Independents, the sympathies are 52 percent with Israel and 19 percent with the Palestinians.

The new data is part of a telephone survey of more than 4,000 American adults between April 4 and 24 in which Pew surveyors asked respondents a range of questions about how they view the U.S. role in the world.

Among Americans overall, 54 percent say they sympathize more with Israel and 19 percent sympathize more with the Palestinians, with 13 percent saying with neither side and 3 percent with both. Compared to a similar survey conducted in July 2014, sympathy for Israel held steady while sympathy for the Palestinians jumped by one-third, to 19 percent from 14 percent in the earlier survey.

Among liberal Democrats, the least pro-Israel grouping, more respondents say they are sympathetic toward the Palestinians than toward Israel: 40 percent vs. 33 percent. While the pro-Israel figure has held steady, the pro-Palestinian figure is the largest it has been in 15 years, suggesting that sympathy for the Palestinians is growing among these Americans who previously did not favor one side over the other.

Self-identified conservative Democrats and moderate Democrats favor Israel by a margin of 53 percent for Israel to 19 percent for the Palestinians.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton are more likely to favor Israel over the Palestinians (47 percent to 27 percent), while backers of Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent of Vermont, are more likely to favor the Palestinians (39 percent to 33 percent for Israel).

On the Republican side, conservative Republicans favor Israel somewhat more than moderate and liberal Republicans do (79 percent vs. 65 percent).

The survey shows older Americans overwhelmingly favoring Israel over the Palestinians by a 4-to-1 margin, and Gen-Xers sympathizing with Israel more by roughly a 3-to-1 margin.

There is more optimism among Americans that a two-state solution can be achieved by the Israelis and Palestinians than skepticism that it cannot: 50 percent compared to 42 percent. On this, Americans younger than 30 are more optimistic (60 percent believe in the two-state solution) than Americans over 65 (49 percent say it’s impossible). About 61 percent of Democrats say they believe a Palestinian state can coexist peacefully beside Israel, compared to 38 percent of Republicans.

Overall, Americans are more convinced now than they were in August 2014, in the wake of the last Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, that a two-state solution is possible.

On other issues in the survey, 57 percent of respondents say they want America to deal with its own problems and let other countries sort out their problems on their own, while 37 percent say America should help other countries. Respondents identified ISIS as the top global threat facing America, followed by cyberattacks from other countries, the rapid spread of infectious diseases and refugees from the Middle East.

The largest partisan gap on the threat matrix was on the issue of climate change: 77 percent of Democrats identified it as a leading global threat compared to 26 percent of Republicans.

There is a sharp partisan divide on the question of how best to defeat global terrorism: 70 percent of Republicans say overwhelming military force is the best approach, while 65 percent of Democrats say that just creates more hatred and terrorism.

Gorelick Joins JCPA

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) announced that Melanie Roth Gorelick joined the JCPA team as a vice president of the organization. Gorelick brings 10 years of experience as a leader in the Jewish community relations field to her new position.

Most recently, she has served as the director of the community relations committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Metro-West N.J. She is also founder of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking and has worked professionally as an advocate for Israel, social justice and humanitarian concerns at both national and international levels.

“I am thrilled at this opportunity to work with the esteemed staff of JCPA to help strengthen the community relations field and continue to ensure that the Jewish community is a leader on important policy concerns that are shaping the world at a time of great change,” she said in a news release. “Based on Jewish values, and with a rich history of working in close collaboration with interfaith and interethnic groups, JCPA has a crucial role to play.”

JCC Names Rabbi to Direct Teen Engagement

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and the JCC of Greater Baltimore announced the appointment of Rabbi Dena Shaffer as executive director of the Jewish Community’s new Center for Teen Engagement (CTE).

As the executive director of CTE, Rabbi Shaffer will provide visionary and strategic leadership for the implementation of the center’s goals and objectives. Her primary responsibilities will include planning, development and evaluation of existing and new initiatives that will help advance the vision for increased numbers of teens engaged in Jewish life throughout Baltimore. The CTE is the culmination of a community-wide planning process led by the Associated to create new and innovative ways to engage more teens in Jewish life and learning, co-funded by a grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.

Over the last four years, Rabbi Shaffer has served the Reform Jewish community as associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, Conn., where she has played a leadership role innovating, implementing, and supervising youth engagement initiatives. She also holds a certificate in Jewish education for adolescents and emerging adults through the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and has expertise in adolescent development, experiential education, relationship building and community structural change.

“Much of my time is spent reimagining what is possible for Jewish youth and teens, helping young people to discover their own individual points of entry into Jewish life, and marketing and branding Jewish experiences in a way that is attractive to teens and their peers,” she said in a news release.

Knott Appointed to BCEDC

James Knott (Photo provided)

James Knott (Photo provided)

The Baltimore County Economic Development Commission has appointed James F. Knott Jr. as its new director.

Knott serves as president of Knott Realty Group. He is responsible for all facets of the company, including financing, development, construction, leasing and property management.

He has developed and constructed approximately 2 million square feet of office and industrial product and residentially, he has rezoned and developed over 750 home sites. Knott also works directly on building and land transactions, land development, budget management, and building construction — both inside and outside of Maryland.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Boston College. In the past he was seated on the board of the Knott Foundation and served as vice president of the Greater Ruxton Area Foundation. Knott is past president of the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks, MD (NAIOP), an advisory board member of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization.

JCS Names New Executive Director

The board of directors of Jewish Community Services announced that it has selected Joan Grayson Cohen to become the agency’s next executive director.

Cohen, who is currently the director of economic services, has been a staff member of JCS and Jewish Family Services, one of its founding agencies, for 22 years. During this tenure, Cohen was responsible for the creation and management of a diverse array of programs and services. She will succeed Barbara Levy Gradet, who announced earlier this year that she is stepping down on June 30 after 12 years as executive director.

On behalf of the JCS board of directors, president Ronald Attman said, “The board is elated that Joan has accepted our offer to lead the agency. Joan is a proven leader who has earned the respect of the board and of the JCS staff through all of the good work that she has done on behalf of the people in our community. We are fortunate to have such an accomplished and visionary leader to guide us into the future. I also want to thank the members of the search committee, chaired by Allison Magat, for the many hours of conscientious work that they did leading to this excellent result.”

Cohen holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Maryland School of Law and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She is a licensed clinical social worker certified by the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners. Cohen and her husband are active members of Beth El Congregation and they have three adult daughters. In 2009, Cohen was awarded the Daniel Thursz Distinguished Jewish Communal Service award by the Darrell Friedman Institute.

Hecht Earns Zelda Award

Hecht Earns Zelda Award

In recognition of his dedication and commitment to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s annual campaign, Brad Hecht was presented with the Zelda Miller Award, which honors young adult leaders for their dedication to the annual campaign.

Hecht has long-standing involvement in the Jewish community through The Associated. After graduating from the Young Leadership Council (YLC), he chaired IMPACT365, then the IMPACT campaign. He now serves in his third and final year as chair. Under Hecht’s leadership, IMPACT’s campaign almost tripled, raising approximately $175,000 for The Associated’s annual campaign. Hecht eagerly pursues active roles outside IMPACT, serving on the campaign cabinet and The Associated real estate committee.

Outside The Associated, Hecht sits on the Israel Bonds advisory board and is serving as a volunteer recruitment chair for the community playground build at Chizuk Amuno Congregation.

Professionally, Hecht has been involved in the financial industry in Baltimore for over 10 years. For the past eight years, he has worked at M&T Bank where he currently serves as a relationship manager to middle market companies in Greater Baltimore.

A native of Baltimore, Hecht currently lives in Pikesville with his wife and two sons.

Recipients of the Zelda Miller Award are chosen by campaign professionals. This honor is made possible by the friends, family and colleagues of Zelda Miller who, as administrative assistant to two campaign directors, inspired volunteers and staff with her enthusiasm and dedication.

Common Goals, Common Ground Women’s Federation Still Strong at 100

Photo courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland

Photo courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland

A century ago, a small group of savvy, dedicated Jewish women in Baltimore recognized a problem and decided to take charge of the situation.

“So, what else is new,” you might ask? Well, in this particular case, their efforts yielded a coalition that remains strong, even 100 years later.

Harnessing the energy and focusing the efforts of dozens of female-fueled organizations, the founding mothers created the nation’s first, and now only one of its kind — since all others around the country have since disbanded — Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland. This month, at its annual convention held at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on May 19, the organization will commemorate that legacy and celebrate its future.

“East was east and west was west and it seemed as if ‘never the twain would meet,’” said Sadie Crockin, a co-founder along with Hortense Moses, as quoted on the organization’s comprehensive timeline. She was referring to the strong division between German and Eastern European Jewish organizations at that time.

“And then the Federation came, which afforded the opportunity for the wonderful women from all parts of the city to meet, appreciate one another, express themselves from a common platform and cooperate with one another,” five years prior to the formation of the Associated Jewish Charities, now The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, which coalesced in 1921.

This is an organization that is extremely unique and the founding mothers were brilliant women we hope we’re emulating. They knew in 1916 that there was a need for the Jewish women to be strong, and they would only do it if they were together.

— Sheila Derman, president, Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland

Seven founding organizations of the womens’ federation are still active today: Aged Home and Friendly Inn Auxilliary (Levindale Auxiliary), Baltimore Section National Council of Jewish Women, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Sisterhood, Eutaw Place Temple Sisterhood (Temple Oheb Shalom Sisterhood), Hadassah, Har Sinai Congregation Sisterhood and Miriam Lodge, K.S.B., Inc. The organization added “of Maryland” to its name back in the 1920s, to accommodate the sizeable participation from Jewish women’s groups in Cumberland and Annapolis. Today, the constituents are solely from Baltimore City and Baltimore County, but the name remains.

Since its inception, the FJWOM, whose membership is comprised of the leadership from its constituent organizations, has been active in addressing social justice issues. Those began with war relief efforts, aid to immigrant families and support of women’s suffrage in its first decades, and also founding the Young Women’s Hebrew Association, a forerunner to the JCC. Later, they instituted Serv-A, through the U.S.O. which provided services and holiday resources to Jewish armed forces personnel, and they helped settle thousands of arriving refugees and also surveyed the Jewish community in order to discover and address its unmet needs.

 From left, Florence Liltzer, Rose Meyers, Elsie Caplan, president Flora Dashew, Elsie Herman, Sara Sherbow, Peggy Weiner and an unidentified woman, volunteer on behalf of the Jewish Armed Services, circa 1950. (Courtesy of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 1993.159.054)

From left, Florence Liltzer, Rose Meyers, Elsie Caplan, president Flora Dashew, Elsie Herman, Sara Sherbow, Peggy Weiner and an unidentified woman, volunteer on behalf of the Jewish Armed Services, circa 1950. (Courtesy of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 1993.159.054)

Another of the organization’s priorities has been to provide leadership training in parliamentary procedure and advocacy efforts, and also to promote the importance of staying educated on community concerns — all of which continues to be a strong part of its mission today.

“If you’re not educated, you’re not a good advocate,” said the current president, Sheila Derman. Derman’s passion for advocacy runs deep, reaching back to rallies she attended with her grandmother, Ida Davidson, a founder of the Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York. Davidson also worked alongside Baltimorean Henrietta Szold, who founded Hadassah in 1912.

To tackle more complex topics, FJWOM organizes panel discussions that might include experts, politicians or clergy. Issues are addressed through a Jewish lens, so halacha is always part of the discussion as well.

“We’ve organized trips to D.C. and Annapolis to meet with our elected officials and testified on committees on behalf of [many] issues,” Derman said. “While we’re not lobbyists per se, we’re really teaching federation women the importance of being involved, in a bipartisan way. That’s the way things happen.”

Attendees at ‘School for a Day,’ 1965. From left, standing: Mrs. Benjamin C. Glass, second vice president; Mrs. LeRoy F. Kappelman, first vice president; Mrs. Jerome S. Cardin, president; Mrs. Bernard Siroka, third vice president and Mrs. Morris Rotholz, past president. Seated, from left: Mrs. I. Harold Hammermont and Mrs. Allan T. Hirsh, co-chairwomen of the 50th Anniversary Convention. (Courtesy of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 1989.108.004)

Attendees at ‘School for a Day,’ 1965. From left, standing: Mrs. Benjamin C. Glass, second vice president; Mrs. LeRoy F. Kappelman, first vice president; Mrs. Jerome S. Cardin, president; Mrs. Bernard Siroka, third vice president and Mrs. Morris Rotholz, past president. Seated, from left: Mrs. I. Harold Hammermont and Mrs. Allan T. Hirsh, co-chairwomen of the 50th Anniversary Convention. (Courtesy of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 1989.108.004)

The organization votes upon resolutions at its annual conference and disseminates written decisions to its constituents, which could range from issues regarding women’s reproductive health, domestic abuse, climate change, stem cell research or Israel, and the resolutions are “meant to be educational, informative and to provide a basis for action,” Derman said. “I feel what the resolutions do is they stimulate education, and to me, it’s education of women and families that leads to good public policy and eventually to social justice.”

In addition to voting on resolutions, said past president Eve Vogelstein, the national convention this month will feature a centennial celebration including a play that illustrates the FJWOM history, written by Ronda Cooperstein and directed by Miriam Bazensky. Vogelstein, who co-chairs the convention with Lynda Weinstein, added that each year the organization honors outstanding women from constituent organizations and also presents the E.B. Hirsh Lifetime Achievement award. This year’s honoree is Baltimore City Councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector.

Hirsh, president from 1963 to 1965, has a legacy that includes being a catalyst for saving the Lloyd Street Synagogue from demolition with another past president, Shoshana Cardin.

From left: Eve Vogelstein, Helene Waranch and Deborah Weiner at the 90th annual convention in 1996. (Courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women's Organizations of Maryland)

From left: Eve Vogelstein, Helene Waranch and Deborah Weiner at the 90th annual convention in 1996. (Courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland)

“E.B. Hirsh’s daughter, Helene Waranch, is going in as president,” Vogelstein said. “So we’ve got the whole l’dor v’dor [concept happening] also because our incoming vice president’s [Linda Boteach] daughter is our keynote speaker, Melissa Boteach,” who is vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity program.

“[My mother] was an understated, capable, thoughtful, caring human being,” Waranch said. “I was very lucky to have a mother like that. She didn’t care about fanfare and notoriety — she did what she thought was right. I can’t ask for a better legacy. I don’t know that I can live up to it, but I try.”

52nd annual convention flyer. (Courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women's Organizations of Maryland)

52nd annual convention flyer. (Courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland)

Waranch added that she plans to implement a strategic planning phase during her term “to make sure that we’re stable and can change as the times have changed.”

But, according to author and historian Deborah Weiner, who compiled special organizational timeline panels for the centennial, the organization has done just that.

“They chose to keep up with the times rather than stay stuck in the past,” she said, citing the beginning of the women’s movement as a turning point in their history. Looking at the past president portraits, one can practically pinpoint that change, when the portrait identification changed from women using Mrs. (husband’s name) to using their own.

“They’ve always had this dedicated leadership from the very beginning and still have it,” Weiner added. “They’re interested in uniting the Jewish community, and they work to make sure they’re as inclusive as possible. Their commitment to keep diverse elements of the community together in the group is part of the reason for their success.”

Noting the 27 member organizations that span the Jewish affiliation spectrum, Sheila Stern, a few months into her role as president of Hadassah of Greater Baltimore, appreciates the diversity.

“Everyone in our group — you can be Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist — we all come together to give our ideas and opinions on the issues,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your Judaism is, they’re all welcome at federation.”

A page from the Federation newsletter, 1965. (Courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women's Organizations of Maryland)

A page from the Federation newsletter, 1965. (Courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland)

“You get to meet and become friends with people that I would not have met at another venue,” echoed Weinstein. “This allowed me to expand, which I think is important, because [my own] community, to me, is not only what I’m interested in. You live in a world, you have to understand everybody. I raised my kids to be tolerant and you have to practice what you preach.”

Linda S. Elman, president of Women’s Institute of Torah, incoming women’s campaign chair for The Associated and a business owner, said, “It’s a great networking opportunity to meet others in the community. I’ve met incredible talented, dynamic women.”

She added that all the women, many who have families, full time jobs or run businesses and are leaders in other organizations are “extremely dedicated” and marveled at the FJWOM past presidents list, which she calls “a who’s who” of power-house women in Baltimore.

Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, Ellen Lightman, 2013 E.B. Hirsh award winner, Harriet Meier, 2013 president. (Courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women's Organizations of Maryland)

Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, Ellen Lightman, 2013 E.B. Hirsh award winner, Harriet Meier, 2013 president. (Courtesy of The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland)

Early in its history, at a time when it was more common for men to be communally involved, the federation “gave [women] a vehicle to use to play a leadership role in the community,” Weiner said. “It gave them an organizational structure and their coordinating role was important. There were all these groups going off in all different directions. They coordinated it all and didn’t step on people’s toes. They created a calendar each year [to prevent overlapping of organizations’ events], which was kind of mundane but was probably very important. It helped with the nitty gritty of organizing. It’s that kind of behind the scenes, non-glamorous stuff that nobody thinks about. A lot of times when events happened [JFWOM] might not have been front and center, but [instead] behind the scenes to make it happen.” She added, that over the years “I was surprised to the extent they took on women’s issues as opposed to only Jewish issues.”

Though socializing and camaraderie definitely factor into the group’s appeal, it’s the issues the organization takes on, such as equal pay for women; an end to human trafficking for forced labor or sex; affordable quality childcare and healthcare and housing and employment assistance; that are the heart and soul of what they stand for.

From left: Incoming president Helene Waranch, 2016 convention co-chairs Lynda Weinstein and Eve Vogelstein and current president Sheila Derman. (Photo by David Stuck)

From left: Incoming president Helene Waranch, 2016 convention co-chairs Lynda Weinstein and Eve Vogelstein and current president Sheila Derman. (Photo by David Stuck)

“This is an organization that is extremely unique and the founding mothers were brilliant women we hope we’re emulating,” Derman said. “[They] knew in 1916 that there was a need for the Jewish women to be strong, and they would only do it if they were together.”

Incoming president Waranch agrees.

“My hope is that federation will get stronger as we move into our second century and that women in Baltimore Jewish organizations will thrive and we’ll be there to serve our community and our constituency. And together we’re stronger.”

mgerr@midatlanticmedia.com

Hillary Clinton Calls BDS Movement ‘Harmful’ On Eve of Vote in Her Methodist Church

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton addresses the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. in March 2016. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton addresses the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. in March 2016. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — On the eve of a bid to have her church divest from companies allegedly profiting from Israel’s control of the West Bank, Hillary Clinton reasserted that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was counterproductive to peace.

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, responded on Sunday to an appeal from the Israel Action Network, an affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America, ahead of the quadrennial United Methodist Church General Conference starting Tuesday in Portland, Ore.

In a two-page reply Clinton, who was raised and remains a practicing Methodist, does not directly mention the church, although it is the focal point of the letter to her from the Israel Action Network.

But she says: “I believe that BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict.”

The position is not new for Clinton; she rejected BDS most recently in a March speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

I believe that BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict. — Hillary Clinton

Clinton says her support for Israel dates back to the early 1980s, when she first visited the country as first lady with President Bill Clinton, and continued through her term as U.S. senator from New York from 2001 to 2009 and then as secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s first term.

“I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority, and that we need to work together — across party lines and with a diverse array of voices — to reverse this trend with information and advocacy, and fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel,” Clinton’s letter says.

“I stand ready to be your partner as we engage all people of good faith — regardless of their political persuasion or their views on policy specifics — in explaining why the BDS campaign is counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike,” the letter concludes.

Among more than a thousand proposals, the Methodists will consider four resolutions calling for divestment from three companies that pro-Palestinian activists have accused of working with Israeli security forces to sustain Israel’s West Bank settlement enterprise. They are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola.

In January, the Methodists’ pension fund removed five Israeli banks from its investment portfolio, saying the investments were counter to its policies against investing in “high risk countries” and to remain committed to human rights.

BDS activists have scored a series of successes in recent years in advancing similar resolutions, most prominently the United Church of Christ in 2015 and the Presbyterian Church (USA) a year earlier.

Ohr Chadash Certified Green

Randi Orshan, director of teaching and learning at Ohr Chadash Academy, speaks about the school’s green efforts at an event where the Pearlstone Center honored the school. (Provided)

Randi Orshan, director of teaching and learning at Ohr Chadash Academy, speaks about the school’s green efforts at an event where the Pearlstone Center honored the school. (Provided)

Ohr Chadash Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school for students in preschool through eighth grade, was recently certified a Green School through the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE). The school will be honored alongside other new Green Schools on May 13.

Ohr Chadash was honored by the Pearlstone Center as its Green School Partner of the Year on May 4.

“To actually get the Green School certification, it was a two-year process of incorporating all of these environmental lessons into everything we do,” said Randi Orshan, the director of teaching and learning at the school. She spearheaded the initiative.

The school has implemented a wide variety of green practices including an Earth Day celebration, an environmental club, a natural playground, up-cycled art in classrooms, students making eco-friendly plaster, composting with worms and planting sustainable vegetables in the school’s garden.

Orshan also runs a fruit of the month club in which she gets fruit from Trader Joe’s once a month, and students in the club get to eat the fruit while learning about the fruit’s nutritional value, where it grows and other fun facts.

Environmental lessons were incorporated into the entire school’s curriculum — from Judaic studies to general studies to gym to math. Orshan held a professional development day to help teachers understand how to incorporate environmental lessons into their classes.

She first reached out to Pearlstone for advice, and wound up partnering with the organization, and Pearlstone helped the school with its Green School application.

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com