Nice Work!

My family was the subject of a recent article in the Baltimore Jewish Times (“Seriously?” Oct. 10). Amy Landsman did a story about hosting a vegan bar mitzvah. I wanted to let the JT know that we think she did a great job both in researching and telling our story. I’ve been interviewed before by other reporters, and they always seem to get something wrong. Amy got it all right and told it in an interesting and balanced way.
Bonnie Sorak

Send Stamps

Thank you for sharing the story of the Six Million Stamp Project by students at Mount Hebron High School, who are trying to comprehend the Holocaust and the meaning of six million deaths (“Stamping Out Intolerance,” Nov. 1). My synagogue, Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah, is collecting used postage stamps for them to aid in their project. Please feel free to send them to the shul at 7000 Rockland Hills Drive, Baltimore, MD 21209.
Irvin J. Lustman

Miscarriage of Justice

I want to thank the JT for publishing Marc Shapiro’s thoughtful article on Elsa Newman (“Judaism Behind Bars,” Oct. 25) and her travails as an incarcerated Jew behind bars in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. Elsa had exemplified the laudable values of the Judeo-Christian teachings in her work over her 11-year incarceration, helping hundreds of inmates to complete their GEDs, do college-level work and, as a former attorney, help with their legal matters. She has been teaching computer and yoga to other inmates and helping to increase their knowledge of healthy eating through her work with the prison gardens in Jessup.

I want to join those who deeply believe in Elsa’s innocence and have written to and testified in court many times regarding the miscarriage of justice and the violation of Elsa’s constitutional rights in her case. Elsa Newman’s story is emblematic of the brokenness of the Maryland Family Court System, the failure of Child Protective Services in her county and the shocking vendetta against her by the then Montgomery County prosecutor that to this very day continues to prevent her from gaining her freedom for a crime that was confessed to by another inmate and that Elsa never committed.

I have known Elsa Newman for over 14 years, dating to the child advocacy group we started and promoted. I was a Maryland state legislator at the time I met her and was preparing a package of bills with Elsa’s legal guidance to correct a number of loopholes in Maryland’s child abuse laws that allowed abusers to get off scot-free. As an officer of the court, Elsa who always worked within the system, was arrested mere days before she was to speak to a statewide forum of child advocates to gain their support for passage of our package of bills, scheduled for hearings in the upcoming legislative session.

Elsa was arrested because her legal efforts to protect her children from severe child abuse were scurrilously opposed by everyone in that county’s family court system. To this day, I cannot understand how any honorable prosecutor could have brought a case against her, knowing there was no supporting evidence that she was involved in the crime committed against the [alleged] abuser.

Elsa Newman is a heroine in my book, and I have confidence that she will receive justice soon.
Joan B. Pitkin
Former State Delegate

Could Do Better

The Nov. 1 print edition carried a quarter-page ad on page 20 heralding a lecture at Beth Tfiloh Congregation by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. In it, he was described as the chief rabbi of Efrat, Israel. Such is not only incorrect, but actually plays into the hands of the State of Israel’s political enemies.

Efrat is located on the West Bank and is not part of the territory internationally recognized as belonging to the State of Israel. The U.S. does not recognize it as such nor has the Knesset ever claimed (as in the case of East Jerusalem) to have annexed it. So what is the rationale for this pro-settler designation, pushed by the scrofulous Morton Klein and his Zionist Organization of America? This is especially since by designating the West Bank as part of the State of Israel, the term apartheid becomes applicable, and as such provides ammunition for the disgusting Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) crowd.

Beth Tfiloh can do so much better.

Baruch Shaw

• In the Nov. 8 article, “‘We Want To Hear You,’” there are 153 Jewish federations across North America.

Not So Accurate

Your article on Attman’s Deli was very interesting (“It All Started With A Deli,” Oct. 25). I wish I could share your enthusiasm. Last April 9, when my order came, I was told by the cashier that under no circumstances could I eat there; when I asked for my money back, I was approached very aggressively by the manager and another employee. … It was not the proper way to treat a customer. You can write all the books you want, but if they’re not accurate, what good are they?

Michael S. Rodels

Keep Investigating

Thank you for “Judaism Behind Bars” (Oct. 25). Please do some further investigative reporting for your readers about the terrible miscarriage of justice in Elsa Newman’s continuing incarceration. I am a Quaker and have been following this case and Elsa’s unjust conviction for years. Please use the power of the press to speak the truth.

Nancy Jo Steetle

In Times Of Crisis

Thank you for publishing the important article about the often-neglected story of Jews who are incarcerated in U.S. prisons (“Judaism Behind Bars,” Oct. 25). If I may add to the conversation, I wish to highlight a major issue that seems to have been overlooked in the article. The issue of proselytizing in the prison setting is one that we at Jews for Judaism have increasingly been made aware of over the years through letters written to us by Jewish prisoners. Since 1983, as the Jewish community’s leading response to the multimillion-dollar campaigns of deceptive Christian proselytizing waged to specifically target Jews for conversion, we have received hundreds of letters from Jewish prisoners requesting help in dealing with the relentless proselytizing efforts that inmates are being confronted with.

In a recent letter, the prisoner, who also leads a Jewish study group, expressed: “The hardest thing for me to do is to be forced to defend Judaism against the attacks of these Christian proselytizers.” Our response to these Jewish prisoners has always been to empower them with knowledge and to provide them with useful educational materials, especially our well-known “The Jewish Response to Missionaries: Counter-Missionary Handbook.” Knowing that people often turn to religion in times of crisis, it is critical for the Jewish community to understand that this low point in one’s life is the precise moment that spiritual predators seek to take advantage of. Being that prisoners are a true “captive audience,” we must not forget their extreme vulnerability to missionaries in prison and [we must not] allow their Jewish souls to be overtaken along with their physical freedom.

Ruth Guggenheim
Executive Director
Jews for Judaism

Reason To Celebrate

Your article “Family-Owned Business Celebrates 45 Years” (Oct. 25) is welcome during an era when shoppers seek traditional proprietors. Last summer, I wanted to add sleeves to a sleeveless dress so I enrolled in a sewing class at the Maryland Academy of Couture Arts. The instructor, talented designer Ella Pritsker, encouraged students to browse for couture fabrics and [to experience the] helpful service at the fabric shop on Falls Road.

Hannah Strauss

Chanukah Ideas

As we approach Chanukah this year, we have an unusual occurrence: Chanuakh coincides with Thanksgiving. It is interesting to note that the Pilgrims left England for religious freedom [and that] the Maccabees fought in their own land for their religious freedom. We also know that the Pilgrims were very biblically oriented and knowledgeable; when they were preparing to celebrate their first Thanksgiving, they modeled it after what they knew. They knew about the harvest holiday mentioned in the Bible, Sukkot, so this is another connection. The biblical holiday was seven days, the Pilgrims’ three days.

In furthering my response to “Mommy Musings,” Oct. 11, young children are sensory learners. These experiences become part of their being and help not only in establishing their Jewish identity, but also in strengthening their positive Jewish experiences.

So, here are some ideas:

Talk, talk, talk about the holiday. Show children the menorah that will be used. Take the children to a temple/ synagogue gift shop to see the different kinds of menorahs. As you see these menorahs, you and your child can count the number of candle holders.

Read books about the holiday; some can be found in the public library, some in temple/synagogue gift shops. As you read books, discuss them with your child.

Prepare food for Chanukah with your child. As you do, talk about why food is being prepared. Food preparation is a wonderful sensory activity. The sights and smells of the holiday food will create memories that last a lifetime.

Sing songs about Chanukah. If your child is attending a Jewish preschool, he or she will know some songs. If not, make up your own songs; as you sing, clap your hands and move your body.

As the holiday approaches, have your child help to set up for Chanukah. Buy candles and get out the family menorah, festive napkins and tablecloths, for instance.

Each of these activities help to create lifelong memories and feelings in your child, and you will enjoy these special times together. The nightly lighting of the menorah, singing the blessings, singing the songs — all those things and activities that were done prior to the holiday will reinforce the feelings about Chanukah.

Rena Rotenberg

Into The Community

One thousand residents of Northwest Baltimore came to Cross Country Elementary School to provide their input on how to spend a projected $750,000 in slots revenue in Fiscal Year 2015  (“Take Note: NW Baltimore makes voice heard at community planning forum,” Oct. 25).

State law requires that a certain percentage of the proceeds from slots machines be spent for economic and community development in the neighborhoods surrounding Pimlico Race Course.

Senator Lisa Gladden, Delegates Jill Carter and Nathaniel Oaks and I were instrumental in drafting and enacting the provision in the gambling law that mandates such funding through Fiscal Year 2032.

The presidents of five neighborhoods — Cheswolde, Cross Country, Fallstaff, Glen and Mount Washington — have proposed how the $1.5 million for FY 2013 and 2014 should be spent.

Parking for patrons of the Reisterstown Road Enoch Pratt Library branch, improvements to Luckman and Northwest parks and construction of the Hatzalah Community Center are some of the uses to which this money will be put.
It is now the responsibility of the Baltimore City government to get these funds into the community so that we can all benefit from this process.

Delegate Sandy Rosenberg