RS&F Acquires SHR

Rosen, Sapperstein & Friedlander, LLC, a business consulting and accounting firm, acquired SHR Associates, Inc., a prominent regional health care consulting firm based in Annapolis.

SHR’s president and CEO, Nancy Smit, has joined RS&F as a partner of the firm. In this role, Smit, a seasoned medical practice management executive with over 30 years of experience supporting physicians, hospitals, community health centers and other health care organizations, will oversee RS&F Healthcare Advisors (RSFHA).

“Our acquisition of SHR Associates, Inc. complements RS&F’s overall health care service offering so we can now assist health care clients through revenue enhancement, practice expansion advisory, operations assessments, risk reduction and more,” said Jeffrey Rosen, a director with RS&F. ”This investment enhances our ability to position clients for growth and success, offering the most comprehensive business advisory, consulting, accounting, auditing and tax services along the East Coast.”

RSFHA offers a comprehensive suite of services to address the strategic, operational and accounting needs of health care organizations.

Sheppard Pratt Names CEO

Sheppard Pratt Health System has announced that Dr. Harsh K. Trivedi will join the health system as its sixth president and CEO in 125 years. Trivedi is currently CEO of Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. He will officially begin his new role on July 1.

Trivedi succeeds Dr. Steven S. Sharfstein, who will step down after more than three decades with the health system, including nearly 25 years as president and CEO. Sharfstein will remain a part of the Sheppard Pratt family as president emeritus and clinical psychiatrist.

“Dr. Trivedi is respected in the field both for his work in behavioral health as a psychiatrist associated with Harvard, Brown and Vanderbilt universities and as an administrator,” said Sharfstein. “He is absolutely the right person for the job, and we’re excited to see him bring new energy and vision to the health system.”

Of the hire, Sheppard Pratt Health System’s chairman of the board of trustees, J. Frederick Motz, said, “It was important to us to find someone who is a passionate clinician and relentless, forward-thinking advocate and also possesses the business acumen to lead the health system; this is Harsh in a nutshell.”

Trivedi is a double board-certified psychiatrist and seasoned physician executive with formal business training. He is editor of “Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America,” chair of the American Psychiatric Association Council on Healthcare Systems and Financing and serves on the American Hospital Association Governing Council for Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services. He is a thought leader regarding health care reform, in the integration of psychiatric services and in the provision of high-quality patient-centered care.

“Sheppard Pratt Health System is a pre-eminent provider of mental health services nationally,” Trivedi said. “I am deeply honored to lead this venerable mission-oriented institution to serve our patients and our community.”

Rowen Named Chief Nurse

Dr. Lisa Rowen of Pikesville has been named system chief nurse executive for the University of Maryland Medical System. Rowen will add a senior nursing voice at the system level for strategic planning, nursing workforce development and continuous clinical improvement initiatives.

Since 2007, Rowen has served as senior vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and in 2015, she was also appointed as CNO for the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus. Rowen has oversight for more than 5,000 nurses, advanced practice nurses and other health professionals; she will continue in these roles while dedicating a portion of her time and effort to this new System role.

Rowen is a member of the UMMS board of directors and serves as the system chair of the UMMS Chief Nursing Officer Council, which is composed of the UMMS hospital CNOs and provides the vision for nursing across the medical system.

Kalbacker Named BCO Managing Director

Courtney Kalbacker has been named the Baltimore Concert Opera’s managing director. Kalbacker brings to the position expertise in opera production logistics and audience engagement along with a deep commitment to Baltimore Concert Opera.

Since joining the board of Baltimore Concert Opera, Kalbacker has focused on streamlining the technical aspects of performances, developing a planned approach to audience engagement and successfully executing the popular “Thirsty Thursdays at the Opera” series. Kalbacker has held various production and artistic positions with opera companies across the country and also has performed as a soprano both at home and internationally.

Locally, she has overseen marketing efforts for the 35-year-old Victorian Lyric Opera Company in Rockville and will continue to serve as the director of production for Washington, D.C.’s modern opera company, UrbanArias.

Easton Honored by NAASE

Glenn Easton, executive director of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, was recognized at the North American Association of Synagogue Executives Conference for having served 36 years as a synagogue executive director.

He was previously executive director of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., and B’nai Israel Congregation in Bethesda, Md.

Scheinker Named Top Advisor

Jerry Scheinker, executive vice president/wealth management and senior partner of Scheinker Investment Partners at Janney Montgomery Scott, has been named to Barron’s 2016 list of “Top 1,200 Advisors,” published this past weekend.

Scheinker, whose expertise lies in equity research and fixed income allocations, has been awarded with honors from various financial services firms and was named a Barron’s “Top Advisor” in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and a “Top 400 Financial Advisor” by Financial Times in 2013. A member of Janney’s premier CEO Roundtable, Scheinker is a graduate of the Mount Vernon School of Law and the Institute of Investment Banking at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Jerry Scheinker is an elite financial advisor who embodies our high standards and reinforces our ability to remain committed in providing best-in-class service to clients across the U.S.,” said Jerry Lombard, president of the firm’s private client group.

The Barron’s list, organized by state, is based on quantitative and qualitative data provided by more than 4,000 of the nation’s most accomplished advisors.

Hettleman Among Top 100 Women

Debra Hettleman (provided)

Debra Hettleman (provided)

Building STEPS’s executive director Debra Hettleman has been named one of The Daily Record’s “Top 100 Women” for 2016. Since 1996, The Daily Record has recognized more than 1,000 high-achieving Maryland women who are making an impact through their leadership, community service and mentoring.

The winners are selected by past honorees and business leaders based on professional accomplishment, community involvement and commitment to mentoring.

Building STEPS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit built on one simple principle: A college education changes a person’s life. Focused on science and technology, the multiyear program, supplementing students’ classroom learning, clears a path for high-achieving, underrepresented high school students to reach their academic and professional potential.

Berg Honored by AAF

Jody Berg (provided)

Jody Berg (provided)

Jody Berg, owner and CEO of Baltimore marketing agency Media Works, Ltd., has been named a recipient of the American Advertising Federation of Baltimore’s prestigious Silver Medal Award.

The Silver Medal Award program was established in 1959 to recognize men and women who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and who have been active in furthering the industry’s standards and responsibility in areas of social concern.

“Jody is incredibly deserving of this award as a result of her countless contributions to the Baltimore advertising community as well as her support of many charities within Baltimore,” said Michele Selby, president of Media Works.

Following seven years of learning and growing at a full-service agency, Berg set out to pursue her vision of creating a company that puts media in the forefront. This vision led her to start Media Works 27 years ago at her kitchen table. She has grown the company into one of the largest media agencies on the East Coast with more than 30 employees, $80 million in annual billings, an ever-expanding list of services and an extensive and diverse client list.

She sits on the board at Northwest Hospital, is an active member of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and participates in many events and programs for the House of Ruth and Dyslexia Tutoring Foundation.

Baltimore Couple Brings Israeli Jews, Arabs Together

Jewish and Arab students enrolled in Achla show off their art projects. (Provided)

Jewish and Arab students enrolled in Achla show off their art projects. (Provided)

When Alan and Lauren Sachs made aliyah with their children from Baltimore in 2010, they wanted to find opportunities for their older kids, who are now 10 and 12, to learn Arabic.

“The idea was to expose them to the language, the sounds and some basic vocabulary,” Alan said. But it was difficult to find a good after-school program. “It was shocking to me when we came here that they had no exposure to Arabic because it was all around us and it seemed like a missed opportunity,  especially at their ages when they were absorbing Hebrew so fast.”

They connected with Arab-Israeli Faten Jbara, a Taibe resident who teaches Arabic at a Jewish school, and she began teaching four kids Arabic in the Sachs’ basement in Ranana. Once they knew enough Arabic, Jbara brought her kids over so the Jewish kids could interact with Arab kids. Separately, the Sachs family had connected with other Arab families from Taibe, an Arab Muslim town about 12 miles northeast of Ranana, who were interested in the group.

“Suddenly, our intro to Arab group, the focus had shifted, and it became really an opportunity — and here really a very exceptional opportunity — for Jewish kids and Arab kids to be in a classroom together and sit with each other, learn with each other, interact with each other and really gain some exposure to each other in a positive environment,” Alan Sachs said. “We had not found any other opportunities locally for this kind of interaction.”

As interest in the group grew, the Sachses sought a new facility and were given space by Beit Berl, an academic college located between Ranana and Taibe. In the fall of 2015, Achla was launched. Even at a time when tensions were high in Israel due to attacks between Israelis and Palestinians, the first class was so crowded there weren’t enough chairs for all of the children.

The name of the program is an Arab word that is used in Hebrew as slang for cool or awesome.

The program is structured so that two Fridays a month, Jbara teaches Jewish children Arabic and Lauren Sachs teaches the Arab children English. A third teacher was recently brought in so Achla could have two levels of English classes. After their separate classes, the students come  together for a snack and a group activity. The lessons  as well as the activity are  centered on a theme.

Past themes have included greetings, food, community, travel and holidays. Not only do students learn  vocabulary associated with each theme, but they speak about how their culture  relates to that theme. For example, for the community theme, students brought in photos of their favorite places from their neighborhoods, and the group looked at photos of the inside of mosques and  synagogues.

“I learned that not all Arabs are mean and there are a lot of Arabs that are nice that can be our friends.” — Liat Lazer, an 8-year-old student at Achla


In a region where ethnic and religious identity can be polarizing, Achla helps humanize Jews for the Arab children and Arabs for the Jewish children.

“I learned that not all Arabs are mean and there are a lot of Arabs that are nice that can be our friends,” said Liat Lazer, who turns 9 in June. “They’re really nice, they’re like us, and they’re regular children, and they’re fun to play with. … I really feel like I’m not that scared by all the stories I heard at school.”

Achla students, who are Jewish and Arab Israelis, play cat’s cradle. (Provided)

Achla students, who are Jewish and Arab Israelis, play cat’s cradle. (Provided)

Yael Ebenstein, Liat’s mother, said her daughter is excited to see Arabic words and to try to understand them. She now says hello and engages with custodial workers at her school, Arab Israeli women who wear hijabs.

“I really wanted her to be exposed to  Israeli Arabs who are fellow citizens. We don’t have a lot of direct connections,” Ebenstein said. “I didn’t want her to be afraid when she sees people speaking in Arabic. I want her to understand Arabs are lovely people we can be friends with.”

It’s the same reason Taibe resident Osnat Hag Yahia sends her 12-year-old daughter, Leen, to Achla.

“I really wanted my daughter to get to know new people in other cultures and to speak with them,” she said. “She also loved the idea that she can meet people her age that do not speak her native mother language. It’s also good for her to explore and discover the other side, the other people that live here in the country.”

Jbara, the Arab teacher, has seen the stereotypes crumble at Achla and friendships among students form.

“We need that value, to have a good living together [between] two cultures who live in the same country,” she said. “I believe that this exposure that we make for these kids [could] change our future. I believe and hope that as adults we will change something.”

Lauren Sachs agrees: “I think it’s a testament to the power of what could be.”

Beth El Congregation Creates Opportunity for All Kinds of Learners



It’s hard to be all things to all people, but educators and clergy at Beth El Congregation are making a valiant effort.

Over the past two years, the congregation has added classes for students with language-based learning differences such as dyslexia, b’nai mitzvah training for children on the autism spectrum and “sensory friendly” Shabbat services for those with sensory integration concerns, among others.

This fall, the Berman-Lipavsky Religious School will offer Pathways to Hebrew, a new program for students in grades 3 to 6.  In response to requests from parents, Pathways to Hebrew, which will replace Beth El’s current curriculum for students in grades 3 to 5 and which will be optional for students in grade 6, is designed to have two tracks. Depending on their preferences, families can choose between a track that focuses more on modern, conversational Hebrew and a track that focuses more on siddur study, said Beth El’s director of education and director of the Rabbi Mark G. Loeb Center  for Life Long Learning, Eyal Bor. Both tracks meet two days a week.

In addition to the Pathways to Hebrew program, all religious school students at Beth El will have the option to receive additional Hebrew instruction on Thursday afternoons.

“That’s two-and-a half hours of Hebrew each week,” said Bor. “We are the only non-day school [in town] that offers that.”

All that Hebrew practice will come in handy for students in grades 8, 9 and 10 who may choose to take part in Achshav, a three-year leadership program offered jointly by the religious schools at Beth El and Chizuk Amuno Congregation that culminates with a 10-day mission to Israel.

Beth El Rabbi Faith Cantor and Bor said the school also has plans to expand on the programming already offered for students with special needs.

“The first cohort in our program for students with language-based learning differences became bar and bat mitzvah this year. They were extremely successful, amazing,” said Cantor, who described the class, which is funded by the Schapiro Yerushalayim Program, as “small, extremely multisensory and grounded in the best practices of teaching students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other language-based learning differences.”

Cantor has been taking courses to strengthen her own special-education teaching skills and has also consulted with experts such as Ben Shifrin, head of school at Jemicy in Owings Mills. Bor said that students from other religious schools who don’t offer the special curriculum come to Beth El to take part in the classes.

Students in the cohort aren’t taught with traditional textbooks since they aren’t well served by them, Cantor explained.  Instead, the rabbi creates the materials these students will use in class. She hopes Beth El will add  cohorts for students with language-based learning differences in the second, third and fourth grades in the fall of 2016.

Bor and Cantor are extremely proud of the congregation’s sensory-friendly Shabbat services, which are held four times a year for children, families and young adults with sensory or behavioral challenges that make it hard for them to sit through a more conventional, 90-minute service.

“We bring in rocking chairs and overstuffed couches and the services are really multisensory,” Cantor said. “We use music [Josh Bender, Krieger Schechter’s lower school head, plays guitar], and we use a ton of movement.”

“You might hear someone with Tourette syndrome call out,” said Bor. “That only adds to the excitement, spirit and energy of the service. The  patience and love and TLC in that room provides those kids with so much … I get thanks from parents all the time. We are pioneers.”

Cantor said the school is “constantly upping the ante” in order to include everyone in the congregational community. The congregation has  already provided b’nai mitzvah training and ceremonies for students with autism.

“I love working with students on the autism spectrum,” said Cantor. “We’ve had students who are completely nonverbal become bat mitzvah using pictures. And they do it like everyone else. They offer a d’var Torah, have an aliyah, they read Torah from the bima. It’s a pretty powerful experience.”

Ally Wachs had such an  experience in October 2014, when she shared her bat mitzvah with her twin brother, Ben, a typically developing student who attended Beth El’s religious school.

“The patience and love  and TLC in that room  provides those kids with  so much … I get thanks  from parents all the time.  We are pioneers.” — Eyal Bor, Beth El’s director of education


Jill Wachs, the twins’ mother, said she had always hoped to observe her daughter’s special birthday along with her son’s, but she was uncertain how Ally, who has autism and limited language abilities, would be able to learn Torah and take part in the proceedings.

When the time came, recalled Wachs, “I started taking Ally to see Rabbi Cantor while Ben was doing his bar mitzvah studies. Rabbi Cantor really  embraced the process. It seemed like it was as meaningful to her as it was to us. The rabbi took it at Ally’s pace and understood what would motivate her. She looked at the tools we use in other parts of Ally’s life — pictures and her familiarity with the iPad — to teach her prayers.

“Everything came so much faster than I expected,” Wachs continued. “Soon, the rabbi was telling us, ‘Ally’s going to have an aliyah. She’s going to read from the Torah!”

In the end, Ally and Ben were able to have a joint b’nai mitzvah.

“Ally did a phenomenal job and she astounded everyone,” said Wachs, who also praised Ben for his support of his sister. The bnai mitzvah service was held in Beth El’s main sanctuary.

“It was the first time people in the congregation and even many of our friends heard her Ally speak,” she added. “And she loved doing it. They both shined on that day. I wouldn’t have changed a thing!”

Cantor noted that the decision to hold the b’nai mitzvah services of children on the autism spectrum in the main sanctuary before the entire congregation is purposeful.

“One of the things I love is that we’re not boxing people in,” she said. “We’re not saying, ‘If you have a learning difference or you have autism, you have to have a Saturday afternoon bar mitzvah that’s tiny  in our small sanctuary.’ We’re saying, ‘You are a part of our community. You are going to do everything everyone else does. We are going to honor the way you learn and the way you communicate.’”

This philosophy doesn’t only benefit children with learning differences and disabilities, said Cantor, it benefits the entire congregation.

“We are teaching the congregation how to be tolerant and open-minded,” she said. “And that every person is created in God’s image, and every person deserves to have an aliyah and stand on the bima.”

Simone Ellin is a local freelance writer.