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Gender Gaps, Job Availability Examined

‍‍2014-12-18 12:44:50 - יז טבת תשעד lbridwell
About 400 people attended the banquet Sunday night at the Association for Jewish Studies’ 46th annual conference at the Hilton Baltimore, where Jonathan Sarna revealed details from a soon-to-be-published survey of members. (Marc Shapiro)

About 400 people attended the banquet Sunday night at the Association for Jewish Studies’ 46th annual conference at the Hilton Baltimore, where Jonathan Sarna revealed details from a soon-to-be-published survey of members.
(Marc Shapiro)

While diversity has greatly increased at the Association for Jewish Studies — around half of the organization’s approximately 3,000 members are female and 17 percent identify with a religion other than Judaism — disparities still exist in the academic discipline.

“Today women actually outnumber men among our recent Ph.D.s,” AJS president Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, announced last weekend during the organization’s 46th annual conference in Baltimore. “That said, our survey reveals that women have not yet achieved anything like equality in terms of salaries. Female members of the AJS earn lower salaries at universities and garner less outside income beyond the university than men of the same mark. The extent of the disparity is shocking.”

According to AJS data, men who earned their doctorates between 1980 and 1994 make an average of $128,000 per year, while their female colleagues make $100,000. Similarly, those who have earned doctorates since 2005 make an average of $65,000 per year as men and $59,000 per year as women.

The data came from a survey of AJS members that was completed by 1,790 respondents, about 60 percent of the organization, according to Steven M. Cohen, a research professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College who helped conduct the survey.

“It’s only by revealing [salary disparities] that we have a chance of bringing about any kind of equality that I think most people in this room assume should exist between what men make and what women make,” Sarna said after his speech at the Sunday night banquet at the Hilton Baltimore.

Keren McGinity, a research affiliate at the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis and a board member of the AJS’s Women’s Caucus, said the disparities are indicative of larger forces at work.

“The pay disparities in academia and outside it are a reflection of the unfortunate reality that the social construction of traditional American gender roles is still deeply rooted,” she said via email. “The fact that American white women continue to earn only 78 cents to the dollar that white men earn for the same work — while shouldering more of domestic labor and childcare — influences perceptions and salaries within Jewish studies.”

The AJS survey also tackled issues that transcend gender, including “the question of decline” in the field itself, Sarna said.

“Anecdotally, we have all heard stories of declining enrollment, smaller numbers of majors and minors, fewer employment possibilities, and at my own university, I have to say these disturbing trends are quite evident,” he said.

In terms of course enrollment, 49 percent of survey respondents from North America reported little to no change, 23 percent reported a small decline, 7 percent reported a large decline, 17 percent reported a small increase, and 4 percent reported a large increase. Sarna said the greatest reports of declining enrollments were at Jewish seminaries, where 48 percent of faculty surveyed experienced declines in course enrollment.

“Not exactly an indication of imminent catastrophe,” Sarna said, noting that the decline is selective and not clear-cut. He noted that the humanities’ share of all degrees completed has dropped from 14 percent to 7 percent between 1966 and 2010.

Sarna then addressed the future.

Vacancies in the field exist, he confirmed, but the total number of tenured positions in Jewish studies is stable. The AJS advertises about 30 tenured or tenure-track positions each year, he said.

The bad news, he said, is that there are more job seekers than there are jobs, and professors are choosing to retire later in life or not retire at all. The average age of tenured professors in the United States — professors in all disciplines — is 55 at many universities, including Brandeis. More than 25 percent of faculty there are over 60.

Cohen said this means limited opportunities exist for those entering the field.

“The chances of being employed in academia are significantly less than when many of us entered the field 30 to 40 years ago,” he said. “When I entered the field in 1974, upon graduation I had three job offers. So now people have zero job offers [or] one job offer.”

Cohen said the field will lose people who otherwise could be productive in academia, but he and Sarna agreed that the discipline need not stigmatize those who take their doctorates elsewhere.

“A freshly minted Ph.D. who takes a job outside the academy is not a trader to the cause,” Sarna said. “Instead, he or she may actually be expanding the reach of Jewish studies, building bridges to the larger community and fulfilling an important component of our core vision while fostering greater understanding of Jewish studies scholarship.”

McGinity said it’s important for those entering the field to find ways to use their knowledge in creative ways.

“The market economy requires that scholars think more like entrepreneurs than our predecessors,” she said. “There will always be opportunities to contribute to the production and dissemination of new knowledge in meaningful ways, but how one does so has to change for everyone to succeed.”

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‘Gratitute for Every Breath’

‍‍2014-12-18 12:40:49 - יז טבת תשעד lbridwell
Rabbi Zvi Dov Slanger and Swiss Embassy official David Best hold a plaque given to the Swiss government. Also pictured are Michael Elman (left) and Sen. Ben Cardin. (Israel Orange Studios)

Rabbi Zvi Dov Slanger and Swiss Embassy official David Best hold a plaque given to the Swiss government. Also pictured are Michael Elman (left) and Sen. Ben Cardin.
(Israel Orange Studios)

More than 700 people gathered Sunday night to celebrate the life and work of Rabbi Zvi Dov Slanger, who 70 years ago escaped the horrors of the Holocaust and went on to dedicate his life to the study and transmission of Torah.

Born in Budapest, Slanger and his immediate family were among those Jews fortunate enough to escape to Switzerland aboard the “Kasztner Train,” the only mass ransom of Jews during the Holocaust. The passage was not direct; for five months, Slanger endured the misery of Bergen-Belsen until the negotiations were finalized. Finally on Dec. 7, 1944, the train crossed into freedom in Switzerland.

From there, the family journeyed to Israel, where Slanger studied under renowned scholars, including Rabbi Elya Lopian. He arrived in the United States in 1965 and became involved in various schools. He founded the Bais Hamedrash and Mesivta of Baltimore 18 years ago.

Just after 6 p.m. attendees of the Gala of Gratitude in Slanger’s honor took their seats at elegantly dressed tables that filled the Beth Tfiloh Congregation ballroom. On stage, the guests of honor sat behind long rows of raised tables.

Gala co-chair Dr. Michael Elman opened the evening by expressing “exceptional, extra thanks” for the life and work of Slanger before turning the microphone over to fellow co-chair Howard Tzvi Friedman, who introduced U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin.

“It is a real honor to be in your presence, and we thank you for the life that you live,” Cardin said, addressing Slanger. “Thank for the legacy you’ve left, the standards you’ve set.”

The Maryland Democrat went on to recognize Switzerland for its part in saving Slanger’s life and for their advancement of human rights.

“In the depths of the Holocaust, there were heroic acts and courage displayed,” said Cardin, who presented a plaque to Swiss Embassy official David Best. “There weren’t any other countries in that area that opened up their doors” to let in Jews.

Best thanked his government and his country.

“My country, which has been spared of the horror of two world wars, is committed [to human rights],” said Best.

As a surprise, Best presented Slanger with copies of the documents from when Slanger entered Switzerland, noting, “You were a very handsome 10 year-old boy!”

Always the teacher, Slanger gave a lesson on whom God shows favor and the importance of gratitude. He related a wartime story of Jews who were starving “and yet, they were thankful and blessed Hashem even when they were still hungry.”

“Gratitude, being grateful for every breath of life … such people deserve special favor,” he said, adding that in committing himself to Jewish
education, he was “trying to follow in footsteps of giants of great generations.”

Before the gala’s close, Elman announced that Slanger’s school has appointed an architect to construct a new building for the institution. The groundbreaking is expected in the spring or early summer of 2015.

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Suburban Orthodox Launches $5M Capital Campaign

‍‍2014-12-18 12:37:23 - יז טבת תשעד lbridwell

Growth in recent years has prompted Suburban Orthodox Congregation to launch a $5 million building campaign, the congregation’s rabbi, chairman and president announced in a Dec. 12 email to congregants.

“The time has come to write the next chapter of our congregational narrative,” read the message, which was signed by Rabbi Shmuel Silber, chairman of the board Mel Pachino and congregation president Jack Gladstein. “We have [thank God] outgrown our current facility on many levels and we must begin to plan for our future.”

The email said that consultations with architects and builders led congregation officials to the conclusion that new construction would be the best way to maximize use of the property. On Monday, Dec. 8, the board of directors unanimously decided to launch the campaign and approved an initial
expenditure to develop architectural plans and engineering studies for the purpose of pricing out a new building.

“We are at an important crossroad. We have the opportunity to grow as a kehilla and as individuals. We have the opportunity to create a physical home that will enable us to pray, learn, perform chesed, serve our youth and socialize in a comfortable and beautiful fashion,” the officials wrote. “Our current facility does not represent the true vibrancy of our kehilla and the holy potential we possess.”

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Baltimoreans Peddle from Jerusalem to Eilat

‍‍2014-12-18 12:36:17 - יז טבת תשעד lbridwell
Bob Roswell biked the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Bike Ride for the first time. Riders raised more than $600,000 for the two organizations. (Provided)

Bob Roswell biked the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Bike Ride for the first time. Riders raised more than $600,000 for the two organizations.
(Provided)

For five days last month,165 people, including 17 local participants, took the scenic route through Israel — by bicycle.

The cyclists were participants in the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Bike Ride and together raised more than $600,000 for the institute’s academic and environmental research programs in the Middle East and to help Hazon create sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond.

Now in its 12th year, the Jewish National Fund-sponsored ride offered bikers the choice of peddling 25, 50 or 75 miles per day on a route that took them from Jerusalem to Eilat.

Team JNF Baltimore participants included riders from Baltimore and Hartford counties. Cathy Myrowitz, 62, and her husband, Elliott, 61, both members of East Bank Chavura, went on the trip for the second time, even after Cathy’s hip replacement surgery.

What makes the trip so important to Myrowitz, she said, is the fact that Arava alumni are on the ride talking about their work and supporting the cyclists in every way, and she believes in the institute’s mission.

Arava fosters an environment in which Israelis and Palestinians “study and work together,” she said, “and included in all of that is how you can have peace and understanding.” She sees Arava as vital to the State of Israel, because the institute trains people to be productive even through adversity. “You might not like each other, but you can work together as human beings,” she said.

Bob Roswell, 57, a Chizuk Amuno Congregation member, avid biker and vice president at System Source Inc. in Hunt Valley, took part in the ride for the first time.

The most interesting moment for Roswell was “the visit we had to Sderot and spending time with the [Israelis] who were trying to form bonds with the [Palestinians] in Gaza,” he said. “For me, seeing that there was a peace movement, even dealing with Gaza, was really interesting.”

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Cost of Doing Business

‍‍2014-12-18 12:29:22 - יז טבת תשעד ebrown

Newly elected Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi (D-District 10) describes himself as many things, but his role as property manager of some of the city’s largest apartment complexes has landed him in some hot water in the Baltimore area in the past, court and tax records show.

In 1997, Jalisi began a company under the name HMJ Management Co., Inc., similar to the company he currently heads, HMJ Management LLC. After multiple forfeitures and revivals, HMJ Management Co., Inc. no longer possesses a charter to do business in Maryland, but it left behind it a web of more than $130,000 in unpaid settlements and debts before its final charter forfeiture.

In 2002, HMJ Management Co., Inc., and its president, Jalisi, were involved in two separate cases involving balances due to companies it had contracted with to perform maintenance work at two apartment buildings it managed in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore City: 11 E. Chase St. and 1010 St. Paul St.

In one case, HMJ Management Co., Inc. was ordered by an arbitrator to pay ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corporation $91,781 in unpaid bills for upgrades and maintenance to the elevators in both buildings. After months of not receiving the payment, the company filed a suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court to “confirm and enforce” the arbitrator’s judgment.

A third-party messenger employed to deliver the summons to Jalisi was ultimately unsuccessful in delivering the documents.

“The people in the office there said that he may have gone back to Pakistan, I do not believe them. I think they are shielding Mr. Jalisi,” the messenger wrote in official court documents in April 2003 after multiple attempts to contact Jalisi at three different addresses. The judge eventually ruled in favor of ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corporation absent an appearance by either Jalisi or any representative from his company and ordered HMJ to pay $93,000 plus fees. As of press time, however, case filings showed HMJ never delivered the money.

Jalisi told the JT that he could not recall the lawsuits and said in the decade HMJ Management Co. Inc. was in business he was not aware of any demand for payment. He said that disputes over payment for services would have been between the property owner and the service provider and that HMJ was just a property management company. Property records show, however, another of Jalisi’s companies owned the property at the time of the initial arbitration ruling. He then sold the property, along with two others for a total of more than $12 million in December 2002.

Another company, Culbertson Restoration, which went out of business in Maryland in 2006, also had trouble locating Jalisi to retrieve money it was due as part of an arbitration judgment.

In September 2001, an American Arbitration Association decision ordered HMJ to pay Culbertson about $16,600 in back charges after HMJ failed to send a representative to dispute Culbertson’s claim that it had not received payment for the thousands of dollars in goods and services performed for HMJ. In 2002, after still receiving no payment, CRL sought help from the Circuit Court to enforce the arbitrator’s ruling.

After multiple attempts to serve a summons to Jalisi, according to an affidavit filed by a third-party messenger alleging that the “Defendant evaded process,” the court ruled on behalf of the restoration company. It ordered HMJ to pay the amount decided by the arbitrator. Court records include no notice of the payment ever having been made.

In that case, Jalisi’s company’s alleged evasion of payment to another contractor landed him an order to appear before the court’s auditor or else run the risk of arrest. The auditor’s office, however, found no record of an appearance by Jalisi.

Multiple suits brought against both HMJ Management Co., Inc. and Jalisi have led to other trouble delivering summons. In many instances, the individual enlisted to deliver the summons resorted to delivering the documents to the state’s Department of Assessments and Taxation but still was unable to get a response from HMJ, according to court records. Today, five of the existing companies the JT could trace back to Jalisi are registered to the same post office box in Brooklandville at which HMJ Management Co. Inc. was last listed, something the Department of Assessments and Taxation says it does not allow, as the lack of a physical address makes the delivery of summons nearly impossible.

Unfortunately for the companies still owed money by HMJ, David Paulson of the state attorney general’s office said there is no government mechanism to enforce the payment of judgment awards. The best chance plaintiffs have is to file another complaint to seek the payment they’ve already won.

hnorris@jewishtimes.com

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