UMMC President and CEO Retires

Jeffrey A. Rivest, who has served as president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) since 2004, retiried at the end of August 2015. UMMC is the flagship academic medical center of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).

“On behalf of the UMMS and UMMC family, I want to thank Jeff for his outstanding contributions over the last 11 years,” said Robert A. Chrencik, president and CEO of UMMS. “Under Jeff’s leadership, the Medical Center has continued to see its profile rise as one of our nation’s best academic medical centers. I am very proud of the teamwork and dedication that, under Jeff’s guidance, has fostered UMMC’s delivery of world-class time sensitive critical care medicine. “

John Ashworth, currently the UMMS senior vice president for network development, will serve as the interim UMMC president and chief executive officer beginning Saturday, August 29th. Ashworth has previously served as UMMC president and chief executive officer, as well as director of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. A search committee for a permanent president and CEO will be formed with representation of both the UMMS and UMMC boards, as well as partners from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Rivest will remain an advisor during the interim period.

Sarbanes Announces Grants to Community Colleges

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) announced that Baltimore City Community College, Montgomery College/ Rockville, Community College of Baltimore County/Catonsville, Community College of Baltimore County, Howard Community College and University of Maryland/College Park will receive approximately $1.9 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Student Support Services Program.

The grant initiative helps community colleges improve student services by supporting tutoring programs, student financial literacy counseling and financial aid application assistance, among many other resources. By improving student services, the DOE grant program assists community colleges in delivering the tools and information that students need to successfully complete their degrees.

“Community colleges provide thousands of students in Maryland with the education, skills and training to secure meaningful job opportunities,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “This grant will help local community colleges in Maryland provide information and services that our students need to succeed.”

Maller Named Financial Planner of the Year

Peter Maller, founder and president of Maller Wealth Advisors and registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors (LFA), was recently named LFA Planner of the Year for 2014. Maller has been named LFA Planner of the Year seven times in the last eight years.

The Planner of the Year recognition is awarded annually to the leading financial planners among thousands affiliated with LFA.

With more than 21 years of experience in financial services, Maller founded Maller Wealth Advisors. The firm, headquartered in Hunt Valley, is a wealth management firm providing investment strategies, financial planning, risk management services, business succession planning and employee benefits to business owners, accomplished professionals and high-net-worth individuals.

Prior to opening Maller Wealth Advisors, he provided wealth management services through Heritage Financial Consultants, where we was founding partner and served as managing partner. Maller is a qualified member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), an international, independent association of life insurance and financial services professionals, and has achieved “Top of the Table” status, ranking him in the top 5 percent within MDRT.

Myerberg Awarded for Women’s Programs

The Edward A. Myerberg Center has received a second year of funding from the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation of Baltimore, a program of
The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the center’s executive director, David Golaner,announced. The $19,400 grant supports a part-time social worker to coordinate services for women age 55 and over in the Happiest Home program at Weinberg Woods, a rent-
subsidized independent living building.

“Because over 70 percent of the residents of Weinberg Woods have incomes of $10,000 or lower, and over 80 percent have incomes of $16,000 or lower, they cannot afford assisted living,” said Jennifer Mendelsohn Millman, program director for Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation.

Located in northwest Baltimore, the Edward A. Myerberg Center provides over 150 enriching programs each year for 1,200 adults ages 55 and over, including classes in painting, sculpture, current events, technology and fitness. The Center’s social services programs include health screenings, an on-site social worker, and monthly programs to help older adults avoid social and physical isolation. The Center’s Eating Together program
is the largest in Baltimore City and serves 11,000 meals each year to seniors.

Bonnie Heneson Communications Awarded

Bonnie Heneson Communications (BHC), a full-service marketing communications firm, received gold and bronze Aster Awards and a Superior Award recognizing publications the agency created for Howard County General Hospital.

Wellness Matters, a community magazine BHC writes and designs that is distributed to more than 200,000 residents of Howard County and
surrounding areas, was recognized with two of the three awards. The publication earned the Bronze Aster Award. The Aster Awards program recognizes health care marketing professionals across the nation. Competition criteria include creativity, layout and design, functionality,
message effectiveness, production quality and overall appeal.

Wellness Matters was also recognized with the Superior Award from the Mid-Atlantic Society of Healthcare Strategy and Market Development. The industry organization recognizes work in health care marketing and public relations throughout Maryland and Virginia.

BHC also produces Howard County General Hospital’s physicians’ directory, which was recognized with the gold Aster Award.

“We work hard as a team to assemble creative, professional and informative pieces for Howard County General Hospital, and we’re thrilled to be recognized by such reputable organizations,” said Kyri Jacobs, executive vice

Komen Maryland Awarded

Komen Maryland’s Regional Breast Health Consortia Program received the 2015 Exemplary Collaboration Award from the statewide Maryland Cancer Collaborative.

The Komen Maryland Regional Consortia Program brings together concerned breast care professionals, advocates and community leaders in regions throughout the Affiliate service area to network and discuss information and services focused on breast cancer prevention, education, outreach, screening, treatment and survivorship. There are four regional consortia, with the first established in 2008 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The Eastern Shore Consortium has over 92 members representing over 38 organizations. A Southern Maryland Consortium was launched in FY14 with over 61 members representing over 17 organizations, the Western Maryland Consortium and Baltimore Consortium were launched in FY15 and both have grown to over 18 members representing over 11 organizations each in their inaugural meetings.

“We are so honored to be recipients of the 2015 Exemplary Collaboration Award from the Statewide Maryland Cancer Collaborative,” says Phyllis Gray, Komen board vice president, Oncology Service Line MedStar Health, Baltimore Region. “This award represents Komen Maryland’s commitment to bringing together concerned breast cancer professionals, advocates and community leaders throughout Maryland.”

JMM Wins National Award

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) recently honored the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM), Maryland Historical
Society and Minotaur Mazes with a Leadership in History Award for its original exhibit, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen.

The Museum was selected as a 2015 Award of Merit winner by the Leadership in History awards committee. Considered the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history, this national award is presented for excellence in history programs, projects and people. JMM joins the Maryland Historical Society as the only 2015 award recipients in Maryland. There were a total of 60 recipients from 31 states.

“We are honored to be recognized for this distinguished award,” said Marvin Pinkert, JMM executive director. “As a centerpiece of Jewish Baltimore history, the JMM works diligently to document, communicate and share the varied stories that define our
community’s history.” Together, our leadership and professional team are dedicated to preserving Jewish Baltimore’s history so that we can continue to learn from the many people who came before us.”

Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2015 AASLH Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, Sept. 18. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel. A full listing of recipients can be found at

A Moral and Legal Obligation Private schools stand up for vaccinations By Daniel Schere

Private and religious schools in Maryland will no longer be required to admit unvaccinated students as a result of a new interpretation of a state law granting religious exemptions on such occasions.

In a letter dated Aug. 7 from the attorney general’s office to state Dels. Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-District 41) and Shelly Hettleman (D-District 11), Sandra Brantley explained how the original state law allowed both public and private institutions to grant religious exemptions beginning in 1969, but was vague in saying whether the latter were required to admit students with this need.

091115_vaccinations“It is our view that the General Assembly did not intend to force a private school to admit a student with a religious exemption,” she wrote. “Rather, the more reasonable interpretation is that the General Assembly’s purpose in enacting the legislation was to authorize DHMH (Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) to allow parents to assert a religious objection to vaccines, thus, exempting their children from any state required vaccinations.”

Brantley cited the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment as a factor in her decision, writing that granting an exemption on religious grounds at an institution of a different faith could cause a conflict. In an interview with the Jewish Times,  Brantley said previous policies set by the Maryland State Department of Education and DHMH did require private schools to accept unvaccinated students.

“That’s what they thought the law required,” she said.

Brantley said that because the legal advice she gave to Rosenberg and Hettleman is a current interpretation, it may be treated as law.

The impetus for the letter came from concerns raised by Orthodox Jewish Day schools in Baltimore.

“This is a very important health issue for the students, parents, teachers and administrators in our schools,” said Rabbi Ariel Sadwin with Agudath Israel of Maryland’s Mid-Atlantic Region.

Attorney Hillel Tendler, representing the religious school principals, came at the issue from the constitutional perspective.

“If the state were to require nonpublic religious schools to accept the religious exemption claimed by a parent of a child who is not vaccinated, the state would be requiring the religious school to go against its own religious convictions,” he said. “A parent’s religiously based anti-vaccination views should not be forced on a non-public religious school which does not share those beliefs.”

When Sadwin and other reached out to their legislators, Rosenberg said he and Hettleman decided that the most expedient approach to dealing with the issue would be to go to the attorney general’s office as opposed to attempting to pass a new law clarifying the meaning of an old one.

“You’re making a legal argument, it’s not a political argument,” Rosenberg said. “I think this is an important issue to the parochial school community and you don’t always have to put a bill in to solve a problem.”

Rosenberg said that while the letter will serve as law, it could still be challenged were someone to take the issue to court.

Rabbi Yaacov Cohen, the executive director of Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, said all students there are required to be immunized, arguing that as a public health issue it outweighs everything else. He compared vaccination requirements to a dress code.

“It’s up to each private school to determine what criteria to require of each student,” he said. “We want to apply the state’s vaccination requirements as a public health issue.”

Cohen said an outbreak of measles within the past year and other health epidemics have brought vaccinations to the forefront of his mind, prompting him and others to speak up.

“The overall concern for ours and should be for anybody is the safety of the children,” he said.

Some schools, like Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, have had a longstanding policy of required vaccinations. Director of Education Zipora Schorr said this has been in place for at least 20 years, calling it a “moral imperative.”

“Our moral obligation is to protect the health and well-being of our children,” she said. “Admitting children without immunization is putting in danger the safety of our children.”

Schorr added that there are three children that are cancer survivors at Beth Tfiloh who have compromised immune systems, making a clean environment vital to them.

She said that while she cannot speak for every religious school, she has reached out to other principals and they are “in synch” on the subject of vaccinations.

Schorr said that while Beth Tfiloh has taken a strong stand on vaccinations for more than two decades, having the added protection of the law carries more weight.

“It validates what we’ve been doing and for those people that object and have tried to coerce us or strong-arm us into changing the attorney general’s position has given the school a very strong stance,” she said.

Wishful Thinking Will Obama, Netanyahu reconcile next year?

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

WASHINGTON — Now that enactment of the Iran nuclear deal appears to be a sure thing, the profound and often personal disagreement between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran is not about to go away.

In the contemplative spirit of the Days of Awe, we canvassed the experts to recommend a way forward for the two leaders.

Stop the sniping and work out differences behind closed doors
However you come at the U.S.-Israel rupture, pointing a finger at Team Obama or Team Bibi — or blaming both — there’s a consensus: Stop the public sniping.

“Take a timeout,” said Joel Rubin, until recently a deputy assistant secretary of state and now president of the Washington Strategy Group, a foreign policy consultancy. “You maintain the security relationships and you intensify them, so the security officials are made aware of what’s going on and are confident. At the political level, I don’t know what you can do to change the dynamic.”

He added, “The Israeli leadership will have to make a decision to stop attacking Obama.”

Amon Reshef, a retired Israeli major general, said both leaders need to rise to their better selves.

“Both parties, the United States and Israel, should change the course of the direction of diplomatic relationship,” Reshef said. “Both leaders are mature enough to behave not just as politicians but as leaders. They have to get together behind closed doors to come to some kind of agreement to move ahead.”

Jonathan Schanzer, a vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said there is little the Obama administration can do in the near term to assuage Israeli nerves rubbed raw by the perception that Obama officials sidelined Israel during the Iran talks.

“I know the administration has reached out to Israel to work together to combat Iran’s regional influence,” he said. “But the Israelis see the United States as playing the role of arsonist — and firefighter.”

Hey, remember Palestine?
A year ago, the one significant outcome of the failed U.S. effort to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace seemed to be creativity in the epithets that Israeli and American leaders were lobbing at one another.

An unnamed senior Obama administration official called Netanyahu “a chicken——” in an interview last October with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. The previous January, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon reportedly described U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as “messianic.”

Working together on peacemaking with the Palestinians as part of a broader regional peace may be a way out of the Iran-centered tensions, said Reshef, who heads Commanders for Israel’s Security, an assembly of former senior Israeli military officers who want Israel to advance a regional peace deal.

“The best thing for Israel, a kind of historical opportunity, is to deal with the mutual relationship with the United States on the one side and with neighboring Arabs on the other side,” he said.

In any case, a return to the Palestinian issue may be inevitable because of volatility in the Gaza Strip, said Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

“Israeli officials, both in the political establishment and at the security level, are concerned about the potential of another conflict,” said Wittes, who was a senior Middle East policy official in the State Department in Obama’s first term. “And there’s no military answer.”

U.S. and Israeli officials could come together in the twilight of Obama’s presidency and consider a way out.

“Is there a way to address the stagnation in Gaza in a way that can be a springboard toward Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation?” Wittes asked.

Schanzer said the United States could show good will ahead of the U.N. General Assembly in September by making clear that Washington would stop any attempt by the Palestinians to gain statehood recognition in the world body and by intensifying opposition to the movement to boycott Israel.

“That could help shore up support for Israel and let them know the United States is working with them on some key areas,” he said.

Hire new wingmen
A key feature of the U.S.-Israel relationship has been designated buddies: two people who are each as close to their bosses as to one another, and who always pick up when the other’s face pops up on the smartphone.

That’s what Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, was supposed to be when he arrived in the United States — Netanyahu’s right-hand man sent to forge close relationships with top Obama administration officials.

It didn’t work out, to put it mildly. Dermer, who without telling the White House worked with Republicans to set up Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in March, is seen by the Obama administration as a partisan. Dan Shapiro, his American counterpart in Tel Aviv, is well regarded by the Israeli political establishment, but is also seen as too closely identified with the Obama administration.

Ilan Goldenberg, until last year a senior member of the State Department team brokering the Israeli-Palestinian talks, suggests hiring wingmen not associated with the current debacle. He suggested national security advisers known to have worked well together in Obama’s first term, America’s Tom Donilon and Israel’s Yaacov Amidror.

“That would be a perfect start, an additional channel to add some sanity,” said Goldenberg, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Stop throwing weapons at the region, start throwing ideas
The Obama administration is pitching weapons upgrades throughout the region as a means of offsetting Iranian mischief, should the Islamic Republic feel empowered by the nuclear deal. Israel is nervous because although it, too, is due to get a bundle of goodies, it fears enhanced military capabilities among neighbors that in the past have been hostile.

“What you have now is an effort to arm the Saudis and other Gulf states,” Schanzer said, “but it erodes Israel’s qualitative military edge” — the U.S. policy of keeping Israel better equipped and prepared than its neighbors.

Goldenberg suggested collaborative regional efforts to combat terrorism and cyberattacks. Additionally, the Obama administration should show Israel it is invested in keeping Iran from arming Israel’s enemies, he said.

“Every couple of years Israel stops ships with Iranian weapons on them, and takes pictures and sends them out to the world,” he said. “What if the U.S. were to send those pictures? It would send a signal to the Israelis and embarrass the Iranians.”

Get over yourselves, there’s more work to do
The ongoing problems of the Middle East ultimately may be what forces back together the hard-heads who have fomented the U.S.-Israel crisis. The United States and Israel have common interests in Lebanon, Syria and across the region.

The U.S.-Israel relationship — one that is between stable democracies with a shared interest in fending off Middle Eastern threats — is larger than any differences between Netanyahu and Obama, said Dennis Ross, Obama’s top Iran adviser in his first term and now a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“This issue is taking place in a reality where the region is in a place of turmoil and uncertainty, where the state system is under assault,” he said, referring to the Iran deal. “Whether it gets implemented or not, that remains true.”

‘The Right Path’ Kerry offers impassioned defense of Iran Accord as deal’s victory clinched

Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to point out that not accepting the deal would cause the U.S. to lose credibility aboard as well as the ability to control Iran’s behavior diplomatically.

Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to point out that not accepting the deal would cause the U.S. to lose credibility aboard as well as the ability to control Iran’s behavior diplomatically.

PHILADELPHIA — In what could have been the first leg of a victory lap now that the survival of the Obama administration’s key foreign policy achievement is virtually assured, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to the birthplace of the United States Sept. 1 to lay out in the starkest and most comprehensive terms yet why Congress and the American people should back the nuclear deal he negotiated with Iran. But instead of claiming victory, Kerry warned lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who are expected to take up a resolution of disapproval on the deal after Labor Day, that how they vote on the deal “will matter as much as any foreign policy decision in recent history.”

He made his nationally televised remarks at the National Constitution Center before an invitation-only audience of Jewish communal leaders, Democratic Party activists, college students and local politicians. Minutes before the start of Kerry’s address, word circulated among the crowd that retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) had announced her support for the nuclear accord, giving President Barack Obama the 34 Senate Democratic votes he needs to be able to sustain a promised presidential veto of a disapproval resolution.

Still, Kerry spoke of the Iran debate as if it were still ongoing. Pointing to Independence Hall three blocks away, he invoked one of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin.

“In addition to his many inventions and his special status as America’s first diplomat, Franklin is actually credited with being the first person known to have made a list of pros and cons — literally dividing a page in two and writing all of the reasons to support a proposal on one side and all of the reasons to oppose it on the other,” said Kerry. “I would like to invite you — all of you, those here and those listening through the media — to participate in just such an exercise.”

In his view, said Kerry, there were no cons to the nuclear agreement, which provides for sanctions relief in return for a reduction by Iran of its fissile material and submission to an international inspections regime. He warned of the consequences of not accepting the deal, saying that the United States would lose credibility abroad as well as the ability to control Iran’s future behavior diplomatically. In short, Kerry said, the only credible alternative left would be war.

“You’ve probably heard the claim that because of our strength, because of the power of our banks, all we Americans have to do if Congress rejects this plan is return to the bargaining table, puff out our chests and demand a better deal,” he said. “I’ve heard one critic say he would use sanctions to give Iran a choice between having an economy or having a nuclear program.

“Well, folks, that’s a very punch soundbite, but it has no basis in reality,” he continued.  “I was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when our nation came together across party lines to enact round after round of economic sanctions against Iran. But remember, even the toughest restrictions didn’t stop Iran’s nuclear program from speeding ahead from a couple of hundred centrifuges to 5,000 to 19,000.”

Kerry used his hour-long speech to lash out at critics for saying the agreement was based on trust and outlined how “verification and proof” was at the core of the inspections regime. He also said that whereas with the deal, Iran might pursue a nuclear weapon 15 years down the road, without a deal, Iran would do so tomorrow.

Singling out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s objection to the Iran deal, Kerry said that while he respected Israelis’ instinctive reaction, Netanyahu’s own warnings of an ascendant nuclear Iran to the United Nations’ General Assembly in 2013 proved the necessity of reaching compromise through diplomacy.

“I take a back seat to no one in my commitment to the security of Israel, a commitment I demonstrated through my 28-plus years in the Senate,” Kerry said, noting his more than a dozen trips to the Jewish state. “And as secretary of state, I am fully conscious of the existential nature of the choice Israel must make. … But I am also convinced, as is President Obama, our senior defense and military leaders, and even many former Israeli military and intelligence officials, that this agreement puts us on the right path to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon.

“The people of Israel will be safer with this deal,” he added, calling as well for increased U.S. military aid to Israel, “and the same is true for the people throughout the region.”

Among those in the audience was Rabbi David Levin, an independent rabbi who is also an activist with J Street, a group which has mounted a multimillion-dollar campaign to ensure the Iran deal’s survival. Before Kerry’s speech, Levin said that far from fighting for more votes in favor of the deal — a story in Sept. 1’s edition of The Washington Post hinted at the White House searching for enough Democrats to ensure a filibuster that would forestall any vote on a disapproval resolution — now was the time to come together after a debate that featured name calling and fearmongering on both sides.

“Hopefully now, we can move on to Phase II, [which is to] repair the damage that we’re responsible for,” said Levin. “The single most important thing we can do is get past this, respect each other’s differences and build something together.

“I think the optics of the filibuster would be poor,” he continued. “Congress should have a say and a voice. To take that away from us as a people would do a disservice.”

A Jewish Democratic operative working to sway public opinion to back the Iran deal disagreed and said so long as “the other side” typified by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was committed to continuing the fight, the White House and its allies would be foolish to tone down their efforts.

“We can’t start talking about [making peace],” he said, “until the other side is willing to admit defeat.”

Steve Feldman, executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, hinted that there was a long way still to go in the fight against the deal. Feldman, who did not listen to Kerry’s speech, but who gave interviews to media outside the Constitution Center, said that should Democrats attempt a filibuster in the Senate, Republicans should employ a “nuclear option” that would allow just 51 senators to invoke cloture and allow a vote. He also advocated filing a lawsuit challenging the Corker-Cardin compromise as an unconstitutional abridgement of the Senate’s power to ratify treaties.

“If the deal was so good, the administration would not have to sell it so hard,” he said, referring to Kerry’s address. “Poll after poll, survey after survey, shows that the American people … don’t like what they hear about the deal.”

Turning to the Jewish community, he said that everyone should strive for unity, but that above all, there still need to be red lines.

“There needs to be a conversation within the Jewish community; lines have to be drawn,” he said, “with regard to Israel, with regard to the United States, with regard to right and wrong.”

For his part, Kerry acknowledged that the Iran deal is imperfect. But so, he pointed out, is the Constitution.

“In September, 228 years ago, Benjamin Franklin rose in the great city of Philadelphia, right down there, to close debate on the proposed draft of the Constitution of the United States,” he said, pointing to Independence Hall. “He told a rapt audience that when people of opposing views and passions are brought together, compromise is essential and perfection from the perspective of any single participant is not possible.”

Kerry quoted Franklin as saying, “I consent, sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.”

“Like old Ben Franklin, I can claim and do claim no monopoly on wisdom, and certainly nothing can compare to the gravity of the debate of our founding fathers over our nation’s founding documents,” said Kerry. “But I believe, based on a lifetime’s experience, that the Iran nuclear agreement is a hugely positive step at a time when problem solving and danger reduction have rarely been so urgent, especially in the Middle East.”