The Power of Determination

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Editor-in-Chief

Looking at the headlines the last few months, some of them here in the JT, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of anger out there. And I’m not just talking about here in Baltimore, where rioters torched and looted hundreds of businesses this spring in reaction to the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

In the realm of politics, anger has become the stock and trade of what passes for reasoned discourse.

There was businessman/entertainer/ Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who stoked the ire of the faithful in Las Vegas and Phoenix over the weekend when he doubled-down on inflammatory comments made last month about illegal immigrants. He told each crowd he’d fine Mexico tens of thousands of dollars for every immigrant crossing the southern border.

And let’s not forget Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist who is mounting a charge from former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s left for the Democratic nomination for president. He’s been decrying Wall Street as the source of all evil in his speeches which, though more substantive policy-wise than those of Trump, have equally been fanning the flames among a middle class feeling disenfranchised by economics as well as politics.

And although Trump and Sanders are the most likely candidates to resemble Howard Beale, the lead character from “Network” who invades a newscast to rant “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” not a single politician seeking the White House is without blame. But as we turn from what some are calling perhaps the biggest outrage to befall those hoping for peace in the Middle East — a looming nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran that appears to retreat from preventing the development of a weapon to merely forestalling the inevitable — to what exactly to do about it, now is a perfect time to look at whether anger, as opposed to action, is an effective tool to achieve our goals.

History is replete with examples of anger gleefully fueled by people who end up getting swept up in the destruction that follows, most notably the revolutionaries of late 18th-century France who found themselves the targets of the masses. And where countries and publics have successfully fought back challenges from without and within, it wasn’t anger that made success possible, but resoluteness.

Closer to home, the only accomplishment of the riots in Baltimore was the destruction of whole neighborhoods, the fracturing of a police force and the resultant rise in violent crime. Contrast that with the aftermath of the horrific shooting of black worshippers at a church in Charleston, S.C., by a suspected racist: The immediate response of the few survivors and the family and friends of those murdered was to pray. Within weeks, aided by a steady campaign of political pressure, the Confederate battle flag, rightly seen as an instigator of the kind of hate that made the massacre possible, finally came down from its last perch at a state capitol.

Outrage, righteous indignation, anger — these are not the emotions that get things done. Determination, on the other hand, is what moves mountains. As we all internalize the failures and accomplishments — it depends on who you ask — of the negotiations in Vienna, we must remember that pure, unbridled emotion will get us nowhere. Whatever we as a community want to accomplish, achieving it will come more from working together than from screaming at the top of our lungs.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

Applauding the Panthers

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What exactly is hand and foot canasta and what does it have to do with Judaism?

To an untrained audience, the exact same question could be asked of mah jongg, but I digress. In the context of this week’s JT, the card game, of which apparently there are many variants, provides fodder for an ongoing debate within the Jewish community concerning the value we place on Jewish continuity, what exactly it looks like and, most importantly, how we achieve it.

Much ink has been spent on stories — you’ve read many of them in this publication — addressing the idea of continuity being an external thing. For the Jewish community, for Judaism, to thrive and continue into the future, we must place more emphasis on engaging and inspiring our youth.

This much you already know.

But when Melissa Gerr pitched a story about the 75th anniversary of a local “boys only” club today reserved specifically for the older set — the famed Panthers will only consider those 65 and older — the idea occurred to me that Jewish continuity can also apply internally. If the sum total of communal efforts are focused on the young and the progeny yet to be born, we ignore adult community members already here. To borrow from the Constitution, sometimes we risk focusing on “our posterity” at the expense of “ourselves.”

As it turns out, the Panthers, whose wives have a club of their own and regularly play the hand and foot card game, have been doing just fine without our help. And as a “strictly social” enterprise, in the words of 84-year-old Alvin Singer, founded during the heyday of the Jewish Educational Association, there’s not much “Jewish” — religion-wise, that is — about their every-other-Tuesday meetings. But as has been written so often before in this column, you can’t have an engaged community without individuals going outside of their homes and businesses to socialize with others.

Political scientist Robert D. Putnam more than a decade ago documented the phenomenon of Americans “bowling alone,” of civic organizations, social clubs and religious institutions losing volunteers, members and souls to a new paradigm of technology-driven hyper-individuality. But what the longevity of the Panther Club demonstrates — as does the recent 100th anniversary of the Menorah Lodge of B’nai B’rith — is that “bowling together” is just as important as ever.

In a Jewish context, it’s not enough to simply boost our numbers; at the same time, we need to be strengthening the numbers we already have. To borrow a metaphor used frequently in traditional Jewish texts, it’s not enough to simply plant seeds in the ground and watch them sprout trees, we must continue to water the orchard. Put simply, there should be more clubs like the Panthers, for every age and strata within the Jewish community, so that everyone feels engaged and actively engages others.

The Panther Club is by no means the only social club to have been born during the heyday of the JEA — there was the Greyhound Club, the Titans, the Trojans and the Olympic and Pioneer clubs — but it is the most enduring. Maybe it’s because it’s strictly social. Maybe it’s because hand and foot canasta is a really great game.

Whatever the reason, the Panthers of Jewish Baltimore — and their wives — should be applauded for keeping it going for so long and should serve as an inspiration for the rest of us.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

Our Jewish Identity

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In the barrage of Facebook messages, tweets and dueling op-eds leading up to, distilling and reacting to the historic June 26 Supreme Court decision recognizing a right enshrined in the Constitution for people of the same sex to marry, few have used the opportunity to reveal certain inherent truths.

Yes, those celebrating the landmark 5-4 ruling saw in both the sea change in public opinion leading up to it and the decision itself an affirmation of the highest order of the right of all human beings to love whomever they choose. And many of those decrying it as a judicial power grab robbing individual states of the ability to make their own laws were trumpeting the equally real right to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

But is there an area where these two competing camps might agree? Is there anything from these most current of events that can be embraced by all?

In a word, yes. If the ruling and, going back further, events of the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that in today’s hyper-politicized culture, a pre-eminent concern among all stripes right, left and center is the ability to express one’s identity. That’s what has united the cases of Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner, the outpouring of support for the victims of the Charleston, S.C., church massacre and the latest opinions — majority as well as minority — emanating from the Supreme Court. Identity, whether religious, racial or sexual, is fundamental. As such, each is endowed by her Creator with the inalienable right to express it.

So why is it that there are still Jewish children who by virtue of circumstance — location, finances, denomination — are not given the opportunity to express that most fundamental of identities, the nature of their souls? As you’ll read in this week’s cover story, area summer camps, though not all, are experiencing record attendance. That’s the good news.

At day camps such as Camp Shoresh outside of Frederick, Md., and at sleepaway camps such as Camps Airy and Louise, Jewish children are able to discover, reveal and express their inherent Jewish identities. They sing songs, play games with other Jewish children, light Shabbat candles and enjoy the space to decide what being Jewish means for them.

Studies by the Avi Chai Foundation and the Foundation for Jewish Camp demonstrate that these are not inconsequential experiences. They’ve long since concluded that attending a summer camp is a foundational experience for Jewish children, who in later years exhibit a high correlation of communal involvement and concern had they spent some time at camp.

Still, with all the growth, we still have a long way to go to ensuring that every Jewish child has access to this opportunity. That’s not to say that we as a community are not making progress or that enough people are not concerned with our collective Jewish future. Quite the contrary. But we all should embrace the idea of empowering children to express their Jewish identities as forcefully as we celebrate the freedom to express our own.

Now that the barriers to self-expression are finally crashing down, we must turn to that last crumbling wall — indifference to the youngest among us who, through no fault of their own, are not given the chance to embrace the beauty, in whatever form, of being Jewish.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

The Jewish Presence

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When JT reporter Marc Shapiro first told me about the presence of a rich Jewish history in Pocomoke, the so-called “friendliest city on the Eastern Shore” way down at the bottom of Maryland’s third of the Delmarva Peninsula, my first reaction was, “Whoever heard of Pocomoke, let alone of Jews making such a rural outpost on the Eastern Seaboard home?”

My apologies to all of the lifelong Marylanders out there, but prior to moving to Baltimore, my only experiences on the Eastern Shore were two vacations as a kid in Ocean City. And I’ve always been a sucker for obscure Jewish history, so I greenlighted this week’s cover story without hesitation.

As it turns out, my decision was a correct one, even if my motives were rooted in the ignorance accompanying my status as a non-native of Charm City. The long Jewish history in such a place as Pocomoke actually extends up and down the shore, popping up in such places as Salisbury, Easton, Ocean City and Berlin, and in Delaware in Dover and Rehoboth Beach.

While at second glance, the distribution of Jewish life is not surprising — when they moved to this country at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Jews didn’t just call the urban centers home, but established farms and businesses in rural counties of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts, not to mention throughout the Midwest and Mountain West — it certainly is inspiring. When you think about it, there’s nary a place devoid of some kind of a Jewish presence, however small, in the United States.

Even the first rabbi of Pocomoke’s Congregation of Israel, which just transferred its last remaining memorial plaques to Temple Bat Yam in Berlin, first settled in Durham, N.C., in 1899 after leaving the Lithuanian city of Užventis. Jews in Durham?!

Actually, Durham’s own Jewish presence dates back to the 1870s when immigrants were attracted to the Southern city’s tobacco industry before branching out into other businesses. That city’s Jewish story is also part of a long Jewish history in the Deep South, where Charleston, S.C.’s Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim — founded in the first half of the 18th century — is one of the oldest synagogues in the United States and is a contemporary of Philadelphia’s Congregation Mikveh Israel.

Charleston’s Jewish community was in the news this week when its leaders joined pastors throughout the city in mourning the horrific slaughter of nine African-Americans at a historic black church by a radicalized white gunman. And, as you’ll read in this week’s JT, some rabbis here in Baltimore are heading to Charleston in an interfaith show of support for the victims and their family members.

The fact is, far from being a curious side note in this nation’s most recent struggles in overcoming the dark history of slavery of African-Americans and subjugation of non-Christians and non-whites, the Jewish angle to the Charleston story is an outgrowth of the Jewish community’s investment in these United States.

Whether in the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries, Jews have come to these shores in general, and Maryland’s eastern one in particular, seeking refuge and looking for a place where they could peaceably raise their children and the freedom to live Jewish lives.

If anything, what the aftermath of the tragedy in Charleston has demonstrated is the interconnectedness of us all, for wherever we call home, this land belongs to every single one of us.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

Spark that Ignites

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If you’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family led by an artist, as I have, then you know that the power of art to transform acts not only on those who passively behold it, but perhaps more profoundly on those who create it.

Such is the story of Baltimorean Arnold David Clapman, a curious musician who has played with and for the greats, but discovered who he truly is returning five years ago to the city he hadn’t called home since 1962.

The journey back, as you’ll read in this week’s JT, had Clapman’s proverbial tail between his legs. But the Weinberg House is now a regular fixture of the resident’s social — and musical — scene, and for those who know him or have heard him play, Charm City is a richer place because of him.

Today, Clapman is living the very Jewish ideal of being an agent of change.

“Music is at the core foundation of Judaism. … That’s the spark that ignites when everything of consequence takes place,” says Guitars of Pikesville owner Joshua Polak. “It’s at the core of who we are. I’m not just talking about music, I’m talking about any sort of artistic expression where all artists find ourselves.”

Clapman discovered his calling and through it, found himself. That’s an inspiring lesson for life: Other traditions place an emphasis on contemplative journeys faced alone, that one’s true spirit emerges when he is walled off from the world outside. The Jewish worldview, on the other hand, demands engagement with the world, entangling oneself in the demands of the moment, in the needs of others. It requires a creative mindset, a dedication to improving the ground on which you stand and the people with whom you interact.

The reward in the midst of this transformative journey is true self-actualization, the idea that you — along with everyone else — serve a crucial role of infinite importance.

It’s a message that has bearing on our interpersonal relationships and on our relationships with our inner selves. And, projected more broadly, it implies that efforts to build actual or symbolic walls are ultimately designed to fail.

We can see this at play locally, where communities that have walled themselves off — or have had figurative walls built around them by others — are stagnating. For the last couple of years, city planners across the United States have been touting the benefits of zoning that creates mixed neighborhoods made up of high, middle and low-income housing, with all three taking up space on the same block or in the same development. But in the areas of Baltimore ravaged by the late-spring riots, along with the lack of jobs, there was little in the way of the kind of forward thinking that comes from people of different backgrounds and experiences interacting together as a community.

On Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan took the occasion of a celebration of private funds reinvigorating the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center in West Baltimore to announce $3.3 million being made available by the state to provide summer jobs to the city’s youth. It wasn’t so much the idea that the state was funding community projects — it should — that was inspiring. The real news was that a fire dispatcher got local businesses and organizations,including the Baltimore Jewish Council, to add to his contribution of $30,000 to the center for technology improvements.

The action is emblematic of the kind of “we’re all in this together” mentality that will transform our community, and the kind of spirit that animates Clapman and so many other people of goodwill who call Baltimore home.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

It Helps to Have Friends

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Anyone who’s ever seen a American Magen David Adom ambulance speed down an Israeli street in an emergency has likely marveled at seeing his or her hometown — or the names emblazoned as donors on the side of the white and ride-modified Chevrolet — and been infused with a sense of pride.

There goes a distinctly American contribution to the future and protection of the Jewish state, one might think. Proof positive that those living in perhaps the most inspiring nation of the world in a corner of the world perhaps the most dangerous are not engaging in their democratic experiment alone. America is with them.

There’s a lot of course to challenge that notion. Just on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem in ruling that the State Department was fully within its rights in denying a Jerusalem-born 12-year-old a passport marked with the birthplace “Israel.” That ruling followed last weekend’s Las Vegas confab hosted by billionaires Shelden Adelson and Haim Saban devoted to developing a coherent grassroots strategy combating the growth of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state.

As it turns out, while Israel has plenty of friends in the United States, it also has plenty of enemies, and sometimes even friends feel encumbered to point out Israel’s faults at a frequency unmatched by the times they uphold the country as a beacon of light in a turbulent Middle East.

So as the rockets fly and warnings spread of troops allied to the Islamic States gathering near Israel’s borders, positive news of how much Israel is supported here at home is more important than ever. As you’ll read in this week’s JT, Baltimore, for a city without a full-time office of American Friends of Magen David Adom, ranks high on the list of communities financially committed to the Jewish state. And on June 15, the Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Congregation in Pikesville will honor several members behind the dedication of a brand new ambulance to the Israeli emergency service.

Through a spokeswoman, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore told reporter Justin Katz that of the $46.5 million it anticipates from the 2015 annual campaign, $10.5 million will be allocated toward Israel and overseas funding, 22 percent of the budget. That’s a lot of money.

As one who has lived in Israel, I can attest to the fact that foreign funding is a major source of support for a host of Israeli services, from first responders’ vehicles to community centers to medical equipment. And many Israelis appreciate the support they receive during times when it seems that the international community is lining up against them.

Whether or not the suspicion that those in the corridors of American power are reassessing in the negative their relationship with Israel — in all likelihood, they are not — a growing chorus of Israel’s detractors cannot be ignored, whether on campus or in the corporate world. Just reference last week’s brouhaha over French telecommunications company Orange’s threat to pull out of Israel’s market. But while much of the battle against such voices will come in the form of countering voices and Israel-friendly legislation, the value of voting with our dollars cannot be ignored.

At the end of the day, each ambulance sent over there translates to an untold number of lives saved.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

Communal Commitment

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One need only look at the images coming out of southeast Texas last week to realize there’s little Houston, the state’s largest city, could have done to mitigate the death and destruction wrought by day after day of rain producing the largest-ever flooding in the Lone Star State’s history. There’s little the state itself, for that matter, or neighboring Oklahoma — which collectively lost at least 28 lives when the Red, Brazos, Colorado, Blanco and other rivers spilled over their banks — could have done.

That’s the whole point of a century flood: Nothing more than prayer, hope or outright moving away can prepare you for when such disaster strikes.

Baltimore, as you’ll read in this week’s JT, would likely fare better under similar circumstances. Our soil is not the hard-packed clay typical of Texas and so has less of a tendency to become waterlogged. We also, in the words of one city official, live in a “bowl,” with most floodwaters draining quickly to the harbor and out into sea.

Still, floods have happened before, typically when a hurricane struck. At the end of the day, save for buying insurance or heading for the hills, it’s a risk we just live with.

That’s a sobering thought, considering that natural disasters, no matter how much emergency planners devote to preparations, regularly upend communities and neighborhoods. And it’s not just floods — there’s fire, pestilence, earthquakes, a whole host of “acts of God” whose very existences prove that life, no matter how well planned and executed, is inherently a fleeting reality. Prosperity is even less so.

Which brings us, as so often in this column, to the notional concept of community. One of the hardest hit of Texas neighborhoods was the heavily Jewish area known as Meyerland in suburban Houston. In addition to a Jewish couple swept away by the current as they were being rescued — the Alters were buried on Sunday — three synagogues, as well as countless homes, sustained heavy damage. The Jewish Federations of North America admirably stepped in to help, as did other organizations, and the Jewish Community Center in Meyerland became a hub of relief efforts for all residents of the area.

But building community is more than just lending a helping hand when people are cast by happenstance from their houses. It’s about giving them the tools — financial, social and spiritual — to turn those houses into homes both before and after the storms of life threaten to turn everything upside down.

That’s not to say that institutions such as our Jewish federations and JCCs don’t do that already. As a matter of fact, actively aiding people’s lives is a driving force behind so much of what Jewish organizations accomplish on a daily basis. But to the extent that there are people who only “opt in” when disaster strikes, who only donate when there’s an emergency appeal, the work is woefully unfinished.

Fundamentally, people belong to a community when their thoughts and actions are directed outward in the regular course of their days, when they’re devoting a portion of their time and money — on a regular basis — to such communal concerns as family stability, education, poverty and health care.

Such collective activity is the surest defense against the greatest disaster of them all: apathy.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

Staying on the Rails

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The day after the seven cars of Amtrak’s Northeast Regional Train 188 spilled off the tracks in Philadelphia, NPR’s “Morning Edition” introduced a segment on the disaster by noting that where the train derailed, as well as such cities as Washington, D.C., and our own Baltimore, are all really just suburbs of New York.

That may indeed be true, and what the deaths of the eight people that Tuesday night demonstrated is that the Northeast Corridor that links Boston to the Big Apple to our nation’s capital is more than just a series of tracks between metropolises. It’s an artery that connects vibrant communities to each other, providing a flow of people, goods and services that strengthens them and unites them in a way that other cities in the United States do not experience.

We in the Jewish community of course mourned with the families of Philadelphia CEO Rachel Jacobs and U.S. Naval Academy midshipman Justin Zemser, the two Jewish victims whose stories you’ll read in this week’s JT. But we, as did the rest of America, mourned with the families and friends of the other six, just as we joined all those who use Amtrak in calling for answers. Few among us, in fact, have never stepped on a train on some journey between Washington and Boston, and the safety issues this accident will expose affect us all.

But the fact that any high-speed travel is inherently risky is nothing new; neither is the fact that out of all the modes of motored transportation, from automobiles to trains to airplanes, rail travel is, statistically at least, the safest.

And yet, the tragedy — and the debate surrounding it — demands something of a productive interpretation. Amtrak has pledged to invest more money in making its tracks safer, and some in Congress are speaking in terms of boosting federal infrastructure funds, not cutting them, as has been in vogue of late.

What I’ve noticed, though, is how much an accident in Philadelphia affected commuters at Penn Station in Baltimore and at Union Station in D.C., how much the halting of rail travel between the City of Brotherly Love and New York — the service was restored on Monday — affected traffic on I-95 north of Baltimore. The train, it seems, has a power felt far beyond its role of people-mover.

But the greater truth in all of this is that it shouldn’t take a tragedy to reveal the shared humanity of us all. Let’s remember that while all of our eyes were focused on events up north, murders in downtown Baltimore have been skyrocketing. Those tragedies, as our coverage of the Freddie Gray death, riots and aftermath over the past couple of weeks showed, demand our attention, as well.

Train travel has always served as a way to connect the downtown of one city to the next, but sometimes, we as passengers have focused more of our attention on the destination than on the place where we climbed aboard. The fact is, all of our inner cities are crumbling; if we want the least among us to benefit from the great promise ahead, we must address the hopelessness that exists in our own backyards.

To not do so would be to risk the entire system falling off the rails.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

Education’s Big Payoff

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For many a business, brick and mortar can be downright dirty words. Why invest money in physical infrastructure, argue today’s crop of digitally enhanced consultants, when funds can better be spent on improving efficiencies, boosting productivity and bringing business into the decentralized world of the 21st century?

In a sense, they’re right, even in such a “nonbusiness” as education. What the last few years have shown is the power of the democratization of information to lift students of all ages from the pit of poverty and despair. TED Talks draw millions of viewers around the world, each video informing, as well as inspiring, its audience. Thousands of books can be perused for free, available to anyone with Internet access. Even universities have put entire catalogs of courses online — although they have yet to offer actual degrees for the ultimately plebian price of nothing.

Indeed, if all a school building does is house students — granting, of course, that physical location does much to promote community among learners, their parents and teachers — there’s a powerful argument to be made for taking all learning online. Kids can crack open a book at home, converse with their teacher via the computer and socialize on the playground.

Such an argument, however, might have little value in the Jewish community. According to the Rambam, among all of the halachic requirements for a Jewish settlement — access to clean water being one of the most important prerequisites — is a teacher of students and a place to pray. And the laws governing how to dispose of a synagogue’s building are so complex — like the Temple in Jerusalem, it attains a level of holiness, after all — that it’s always better to ensure its perpetuity.

Here in Baltimore, as you’ll read in this week’s JT, the former home of one of the city’s oldest congregations lives on as a school. While Cheder Chabad will celebrate that fact at its first gala dinner next month, former members of Beth Jacob have been celebrating the caretaker of the sprawling former synagogue at Park Heights and Manhattan avenues since the building was gifted to the school two years ago.

Beyond preserving the congregation’s legacy at what has become the unmarked southern entrance to the Jewish community in Upper Park Heights and Pikesville — Beth Jacob held its last Shabbat service in 2007 before merging with Beth Tfiloh Congregation — the school, say community leaders, is helping ensure a continued Jewish presence in Baltimore.

According to statistics from the Pew Research Center and the Avi Chai Foundation, students at Jewish day schools such as Cheder Chabad, Krieger Schechter Day School, Bnos Yisroel of Baltimore, Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, Ohr Chadash Academy, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Torah Institute of Baltimore and Talmudical Academy of Baltimore face far better chances of living active Jewishly identified lives and raising Jewish children than those without such an education.

The fact is, educating our kids is probably the most important investment we can make in our communities. While a lot of it still adheres to a “brick and mortar” way of doing things, education still promises the greatest payoff: a sustainable Jewish future.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com

Baltimore’s Message

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It being May Day, my wife and I jokingly referred to such names as Ilya, Leon and Karl as we made our way to Sinai Hospital last Friday morning for the impending birth of the newest member of our family.

We, of course, had our suspicions — proven correct in the end — that we were destined for a daughter, and it goes without saying that we had no intention of naming anyone after a Communist leader. But the banter made for some continued levity as one of us labored through the day and the other cultivated the image of a calm father.

As it turns out, the birth of Bracha Leah Chavatzelet did indeed occur on a momentous day for the history books. The speedy indictment by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby of six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray — a tragedy that turned the city upside down for most of last week — occurred around the time that she came into the world.

We returned home with her Sunday, soon after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake lifted the curfew that she put in place in response to the arson, looting and rioting that terrorized several neighborhoods and businesses the previous Monday night.

It had been a whirlwind week, one which began with destruction, but ended — for ourselves, as well as for the rest of the city — on a high note. As highlighted in the JT’s coverage of the protests, large contingents of the Jewish community were among the thousands daily marching and calling for justice to be done, as well as those patting police officers on the back for keeping the peace amid the chaos.

But for all the news being made, despite the fact that the indictments may prove a turning point in a national conversation about police brutality and tactics that began last year in Ferguson, Mo., no revolution has taken place on the streets of Baltimore. And justice may or may not have been done. The six officers were not proven guilty; they were not sentenced. Their trials, should they occur, are at some distant point in the future.

Far from being a cataclysm that upends the natural order, the Gray case may actually have revealed the best of Baltimore and an inner hope that pervades us all. While that painful Monday of April 27 provided plenty of heart-wrenching images, order was quickly reasserted. Gov. Larry Hogan called in the National Guard; crews of neighbors swept the streets the following morning, and for the following days, crowd upon crowd gathered peacefully for meaningful dialogue and concrete action, particularly in dealing with how the police interacts with the public and the systemic poverty that has created battle zones out of neighborhoods.

That there was no revolution is not a bad thing. By their very nature, revolutions tend not to be patient and forgiving. And this week’s cover story shines a light on a sector of the Baltimore community that knows a thing or two about how dangerous revolutions can be. That these Iranian Jews chose here to make their home is a testament to America’s open arms, but it’s also a message of how Baltimore can be a home for so many different types of people.

I can’t think of a better community for my daughter to be born into.

jrunyan@midatlanticmedia.com