Safety a Concern with Stevenson Chabad

An important fact omitted in “Hearing on Stevenson Chabad Begins” (July 3) is the danger that the proposed location poses to both Chabad congregants and the neighboring community. The lot is located within a dangerous stretch of Stevenson Road, along a blind curve leading from the south (Garrison Farms Road) and atop a blind hill leading from the north (Old Valley Road). It also sits directly across from a stop sign at the bottom of hilly Keyser Road — a sign that drivers often creep beyond to look for traffic coming from both blind areas.

There is currently little street lighting and no shoulder or sidewalks along Stevenson for pedestrian use. The lives of congregants walking in the road will be put at unnecessary risk. We hope that the Ariel Jewish Center and Synagogue recognizes the danger that this particular lot poses and selects another site that guarantees greater safety for its members.

My Uncle Marty Deserves a Mention

I wish to add the name Martin Wahlberg to those who played a significant role in the life of the Congregation of Israel Synagogue in Pocomoke City (“The Changing Face of Eastern Shore Jewry,” June 26). For several decades in the mid-1900s, my Uncle Marty served the small Jewish community tirelessly in doing so many things in and out of the synagogue that helped keep the congregation functioning.

Fond Memories of Life in Salisbury

After reading “The Changing Face of Eastern Shore Jewry” (June 26), I thought back to my life growing up in Salisbury, Md. In the 1950s and 1960s Salisbury was the hub of Eastern Shore Jewry. There were at one time 120 Jewish families who belonged to Beth Israel Synagogue, a Conservative congregation that had the only full-time rabbi on the Eastern Shore. It attracted congregants from all over the Shore. I had my bar mitzvah there in 1961, and my parents had Schleider Caterers come down from Baltimore to cater the kosher dinner. Most Jewish families in Salisbury lived in the Riverside Drive area, and at one time I could count more than 20 Jewish homes within approximately one mile of my home on Woodland Road.

Unfortunately, with the opening of the Salisbury Mall in 1970 on the outskirts of town, many Jewish merchants closed their downtown stores and eventually moved away. Although it’s sad to hear there are only about 70 Jewish families living in Salisbury now, I can always say I have fond memories growing up Jewish in Salisbury.

Shame on J Street

The representative of J Street had the gall to demand that Hillel not only give it a venue for its anti-Israel agenda, but also, by extension, funds that have been donated to Hillel (“No More Talking,”  June 19). For a blatantly anti-Israel, pro-Arab organization to make such a demand required real chutzpah and a falsification of the credentials of J Street by its representative. Certainly, we have sufficient external enemies without a fifth column at Hillel attempting to convince our Jewish college students that the State of Israel is a pariah and that its continued existence is a blight.

Well-Earned Salute for Col. Burtnick

I enjoyed your article on the post-humous award of the Medal of Honor to Sgt. William Shemin (“ Medal of Honor,”  June 5); however, one major element was left out. Col. Erwin Burtnick, commander of the Department of Maryland and chairman of the national Awards for Valor Committee of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, was largely responsible for the award of this medal.His work on Sgt. Shemin’s behalf was the subject of two previous articles (“ Belated Honor,”  Jan. 20, 2012, and “Medal of Honor,”  Sept. 11, 2014) and articles in other publications throughout the country and around the world. Col. Burtnick’s expertise, research and tenacity in pursuing this matter for over five years culminated in this well-deserved honor for Sgt. Shemin.

Boycott Is Woefully Misplaced

Why is there no boycott of Saudi Arabia, where political executions, beheadings (100 this year alone) and arrests are commonplace? No boycott of Iran for dehumanization of women and homosexuals? No boycott of the Syrian government, which has used powerful bombs and even chemical weapons against its own people? No boycott of the
Islamic countries, which punish homosexuality in a brutal manner? No sanctions against China for depriving its citizens of human rights and manipulating the rules when it comes to international trade? Or of the commonplace denial of human rights in Africa? North Korea? Nada.

Punishment for these abuses is not even under discussion — only a boycott movement against Israel whose excesses, and assuredly there have been excesses, arise from legitimate security concerns not of their making. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement recognizes as legitimate only Palestinian and not Israeli aspirations so that even some of the staunchest opponents of the current Israeli government, such as J Street, oppose it vigorously (“Countering the Immorality of BDS,” May 15). As a Jew and student of European history, I smell something here, and the smell is odious.

AFMDA Volunteers Hard at Work

To clarify the statement in the JT’s June 12 story, “American Dollars, Israeli Lives,” that the AFMDA (American Friends of Magen David Adom) does not have a “professional paid” staff covering Baltimore, we have, however, several dedicated volunteers with the Landay Life Chapter of Baltimore, which has been in existence for over 45 years, helping to raise funds for Magen David Adom in Israel.

Obama’s Exit Good for Israel

The recent sermon or speech at Adas Israel synagogue in Washington, D.C., by President Obama continues to show that while he may not be anti-Israel, he has no empathy for that nation (“Off the Mark, Obama’s latest wooing of Jews not working, poll suggests,” June 19). As usual, he blamed the lack of progress in obtaining a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority mainly on Israel and not on the intransigence of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

Unfortunately his present attitude toward Israel may have been formed by his previous mentors that included individuals noted for their anti-Israel and sometimes anti-Semitic statements. Certainly, he has soured the relations between Israel and the U. S., whether knowingly or purposely. The end of his second term will be welcomed by those concerned about the security and even existence of the Jewish state.

Story on Clapman Was Well Deserved

Arnold Clapman and I go back 70 years, when we were classmates at The Talmudical Academy on Cottage Avenue (“The Many Lives of Arnold Clapman,” June 19). In classes together from kindergarden through City College ’57, his artistic talent was evident and amazing early on. But more important was his warm personality and easy smile. I fondly recall his welcoming family — parents, young twin sisters and older sister Nanette — when I visited their home on Menlo Drive.

Arnold never made a big deal about his talent in those days, and very few of his classmates knew of his abilities. We lost contact after high school, but I would sometimes learn of his accomplishments, both musically and with film colorization technology. I have met with Arnold a few times since his return to Baltimore, and he never mentioned anything about the myriad of wonderful artistic endeavors in which he participated these past 50 years. However, I must say that he was very proud, and rightly so, of his classes and projects with disadvantaged youth in California. The article about Arnold recognized a very deserving individual.

Proud to March

Thanks for covering the march on May 1 organized by the Baltimore United for Change of which Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) is a proud ally (“Protests and Peace,” May 8). JUFJ’s participation in the march was the largest progressive Jewish demonstration in Baltimore that we’ve experienced as longtime members of the Jewish and activist worlds here. We have both been active in social justice activities in Baltimore for many years, but while we see that as a basic Jewish value, our activism has not been overtly linked to our Judaism. It felt very powerful to be marching with over 100 Jews of all races, joining unions, immigrant rights activists
and others in saying that Black Lives Matter and all of Baltimore’s citizens deserve fair and equitable treatment. We were proud that our congregation, Baltimore Hebrew, was part of the large collection of Jews.

While baking casseroles and making peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches provide an important service, they do not create change. We think Jews in Baltimore have taken a powerful step beyond this, calling for an improvement in police-community relations and steps to address the inequality of opportunity black neighborhoods experience. Participating in demonstrations is community building, and JUFJ has taken an important step in joining with other groups to go beyond Band-Aids in fighting for real change.

In late April, while frustrations were erupting in Baltimore, we were at a conference sponsored by the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center — “Consultation on Conscience.” We ate lunch with Rabbi Susan Talve, a rabbi from St. Louis who was active in the protests over the killing in Ferguson, Mo., and who said, “When property damage upsets someone more than the taking of a life, that’s idolatry”.

We look forward to your continuing coverage of Baltimore United for Change and the work that Jews United for Justice does.