Local News

Synagogues Rally for Alzheimer’s Awareness

‍‍2014-11-20 10:37:00 - יז טבת תשעד amotkina

At recent Shabbat services, Baltimore-area congregations joined more than 125 churches in observance of the Purple Sabbath.

It wasn’t for the Ravens, though, and instead raised Alzheimer’s awareness, purple being the signature color of the Alzheimer’s Association. Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Temple Oheb Shalom, Beth El Congregation and Temple Emanuel of Baltimore encouraged members to attend services wearing purple and provided resources to learn about the disease and get involved with organizations working to find a cure.

Rabbi Rhoda Silverman of Temple Emanuel gave a Saturday morning sermon relating the story of Adam and Eve to the value of human brains and their functions. “Imagine if those processes slowly disappeared: the ability to remember even simple details, the ability to reason through a problem or dilemma, the ability to navigate in familiar surroundings — even in one’s own home, the ability to remember the histories of beloved family and friends, the ability to take care of basic personal needs,” she told congregants. “Having tasted knowledge, I can assure you, it wouldn’t be a return to Eden. And it isn’t for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“The facts are stark. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive — currently incurable — brain disease that, according to the NIH, is the most common cause of dementia in older adults,” she continued. “It not only impacts the individual suffering from the disease, but it brings with it extraordinary consequences and conditions for caregivers who most often are also immediate family members who are simultaneously dealing with the slow and progressive loss of their loved one.”

Silverman offered more information in the synagogue’s lobby and directed people to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website, alz.org/maryland.

Cass Naugle, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter, said such events allow the association to connect with caregivers.

“When a caregiver learns about the Alzheimer’s Association, they learn that they are not alone,” Naugle said in statement. “The programs and services that we offer provide support through all stages of the disease, and for those who aren’t affected, teach them about risk factors that could contribute to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

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BMA Gets Ready to Reopen Merrick Entrance

‍‍2014-11-20 10:34:02 - יז טבת תשעד amotkina

112114_museum-briefThe Baltimore Museum of Art is set to reopen its grand Merrick Historic Entrance after more than 30 years and also premiere its renovated Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing on Sunday, Nov. 23.

The reinstalled wing will display approximately 850 works of American art, some of which have not been exhibited in many years, said David Park Curry, the museum’s senior curator of decorative arts and American painting and sculpture. He is inviting visitors to “lots of choices on how to see and experience” the 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century galleries, a textile gallery, decorative arts showcases and the Maryland gallery — unique in its salon-style display of paintings and their strong connection to Maryland artists and collectors.

“There was an openness to new” by Maryland collectors in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, said Curry. They made their fortunes in mercantile and the railroads so they were considered “new-money” families. But they “were visionary and cutting edge in their tastes, and …they liked lots of stuff.”

The entrance and wing are part of a $28 million renovation. The final phase will be the reinstallation of the African and Asian art collections in April 2015. “Reopening the historic entrance will be an extraordinary moment during the BMA’s centennial celebration,” said the museum’s director, Doreen Bolger. “We are looking forward to throwing open the doors and welcoming visitors to a beautiful new presentation of our renowned American collection.”

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An Israeli Ambassador

‍‍2014-11-20 10:15:23 - יז טבת תשעד ebrown
Former Israeli basketball star Tal Brody, who spoke with students at both Krieger Schechter Day School (above, right) and Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, took time out for photos with BT students (from left) Yitzy Teichman, Michael Millstein and Yair Pincever (above) and with KSDS students (from left) Noah Abrams,  Gabe Lichtenstein, Acey Vogelstein and Sage Friedman. (Melissa Gerr)

Former Israeli basketball star Tal Brody, who spoke with students at both Krieger Schechter Day School and Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, took time out for photos with BT students (from left) Yitzy Teichman, Michael Millstein and Yair Pincever. (Melissa Gerr)

Tal Brody, star of the 1977 Israeli European championship team, visited students at Krieger Schechter Day School and Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School last week during a sweep through the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region.

Nicknamed “Mr. Basketball,” Brody gave up a career in the NBA and made aliyah, eventually leading the Maccabi Tel Aviv team to victory over the Soviet Union in the 1977 European Cup championships in a game described as David versus Goliath. It was after that game that Brody uttered the famous lines in heavily American accented Hebrew, “We are on the map! And we are staying on the map — not only in sports, but in everything.”

“For me, I went to play basketball in Israel, but I stayed because of what basketball meant to the country,” Brody told students. “What I’ve experienced you cannot weigh in gold, cannot weigh in dollars.”

For the seventh- and eighth-grade students at KSDS and the high school students at BT, Brody screened a short video detailing his personal basketball history from his high school days in New Jersey to his college days at the University of Illinois to his decision to leave the NBA — despite being the 12th overall draft pick in 1965 — and play in Israel. Afterward, students were encouraged to ask questions.

Among the sports-centric questions, one inquisitive middle school student at KSDS asked the imposing 6-foot-11⁄2-inch Brody, “Do you still play for the team?” Brody gamely laughed and said no, “but that’s a nice compliment. I have six grandchildren in Israel,” including a granddaughter who plays in a basketball school in Kfar Saba.

Ellen Friedman, KSDS middle school Judaic teacher, said, “We really want [the students] to have a sense of belonging to Israel. We want them to identify with Israel and Israelis. Speakers like Tal are great because sports is something everyone loves. His story of finding belonging in Israel is important to hear.”

During his afternoon visit to BT, Brody had an opportunity to watch students play basketball in the gym before addressing the 9th-, 10th- and 12th-graders in the auditorium. Following his presentation, Brody received a standing ovation from the students and two team shirts from Coach Eli Creeger.

Brody had two eager fans in seniors Frank Gorelik and Peleg Ovadia, who play center and guard, respectively, for the BT basketball team. Beyond Brody’s athleticism, both young men were impressed by the former star’s continuing commitment to Israel and Judaism.

“It goes far beyond basketball, that the sport [can be used to combat] anti-Semitism and encourage people to learn more about Judaism,” said Gorelik.

Said Brody: “It’s important for kids to see that life goes on in Israel. It’s not what you see on the news. There is a place for them in Israel.”


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‘Her World Was Family’

‍‍2014-11-20 09:24:24 - יז טבת תשעד mjankovitz
In this 1923 photo, Goldie Miller and her brother, Abe Kirson, stand proudly in the doorway of Kirson’s Pharmacy.

In this 1923 photo, Goldie Miller and her brother, Abe Kirson, stand proudly in the doorway of Kirson’s Pharmacy.

Goldie Miller, a devoted wife and mother, and a rare super-centenarian, passed away of heart failure at 111 on Oct. 16 in her daughter’s Pikesville home.

Miller was born in Baltimore on April 25, 1903, the second of seven children — three boys and four girls — of Sam Kirson, a property manager, and Anna Kirson, a homemaker. The family resided near Mondawmin.

The world was starkly different then, as Miller’s granddaughter Beth Sellman described in her eulogy. Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House, the Wright Brothers took their first flight, and gas-lit lamps lined the streets of American cities.

Despite the vast history she was witness to, Miller was not one to dwell on the past, though when prompted, she would share memories of a bygone era, recalled her daughter, Natalie Wilder, 85.

“She would say there was no such thing as a car,” said Wilder. “They used to go on Sunday to get their carriage — they didn’t have a horse, but they had a carriage — so they would get a horse and that was how Sundays were spent, with your horse and buggy.”

Miller graduated from a Baltimore high school, although which one is unknown due to a fire that destroyed her school records.

She worked in Hutzler’s department store on the wrapping desk after graduation before meeting Dr. Benjamin Miller on a blind date. The two married in 1924 and settled on Wilkens Avenue in two next-door houses, one for living and the other serving as her husband’s medical office. Miller worked as a nurse-secretary in her husband’s practice.

“She loved working with my father in his office. She loved being a part of his life,” said Wilder. “She was very attentive to his patients.”

Dr. Miller, described as a “wonderful doctor” by Wilder, passed away in 1958.

Following her husband’s death, Miller volunteered for a time in the gift shop of Sinai Hospital, where her daughter worked as a nurse. By 1979 she was working in another Miller’s medical office, this time for her son, Dr. Gerald A. Miller, a now-retired ophthalmologist. She served as her son’s secretary until 1990.

“Her world was family,” said Wilder. “Family came first before everything. My father, myself and my brother, her mother — they were the most important things in the world to her.”

After family, a strong work ethic was most important to Miller, and she had a good head for business.

“She was very business savvy. She was not a spender. She always said, ‘Don’t spend what you don’t have.’ She could probably balance the budget in our country,” said Sellman.

Though a dominant individual when it came to her family and work, she was passive when it came to her age. She merely accepted it rather than viewing it as something to be made a fuss over, according to her daughter, though her age was notable, as there is thought to be only 60 people in the United States older than 110.

“We never really talked about, ‘Oh, you’re 111. Keep it up.’ We never made age a priority,” said Wilder. “It’s funny, my granddaughter — that would be her great-granddaughter — she’d tease her bubbie and say, ‘Did you know Moses?’”

In honor of her 111th birthday, Griswold Home Care, an agency that assisted with Miller’s care, arranged for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to declare April 25, 2014 “Goldie Miller Day.” Gov. Martin J. O’Malley sent a citation, too.

What was the secret to Goldie’s extraordinary longevity? Medical professionals might point to the fact that she never smoke and she never drank. Wilder believes it was the love and attention with which her mother was surrounded. Miller lived in her daughter’s home for 47 years and was visited daily by her son.

Wilder described her mother as “alert and oriented to the very end.” She read The Wall Street Journal daily, watched Lawrence Welk and the news and enjoyed a daily helping of mashed potatoes.

“She wanted to live,” said Wilder. “She would talk about what the kids were doing and the grandchildren. We would share everything with her. I think really that’s why she lived — the fact that she was right here with us and was important in our lives and she knew that. I think that was the reason for her longevity.”

Miller is survived by her children, Dr. Gerald A. and Lillian Miller, and daughter Natalie Wilder. She leaves behind 10 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Miller was predeceased by her son-in-law, Ervin Wilder of Pikesville, and two grandsons, Mark and Stewart Wilder.

Graveside services were held Oct. 19 at Beth Tfiloh Cemetery. Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg officiated.


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Commission Passes Marijuana Regulations

‍‍2014-11-19 16:55:51 - יז טבת תשעד ebrown
An estimate by Dr. Paul Davies is that growers will be producing marijuana for Maryland in the summer of 2016. (Photo by David Stuck)

An estimate by Dr. Paul Davies is that growers will be producing marijuana for Maryland in the summer of 2016. (Photo by David Stuck)

The state of Maryland is one step closer to implementing a medical cannabis program, but some estimate that patients won’t be able to legally acquire the medicine until mid-2016 at the earliest.

The Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission unanimously adopted its proposed regulations at a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 13. The regulations, which run the gamut to cover qualifying ailments and diseases, licensing and fees for growers and dispensaries, application processes for patients, caregivers, physicians and other medical personnel, record keeping, marijuana extracts as well as security of growing facilities and dispensaries, will go through a bureaucratic review process before entering a 30-day public comment period.

“I think our regulations are detailed and treat marijuana very much as a medical product more so than any other states,” said Dr. Paul Davies, the commission’s chairman. “I think we have enough safeguards built in that it won’t be a program that will be potentially abused like in some other states.”

Davies’ “optimistic” estimate is that the commission will start taking applications for growers and dispensaries in mid-2015, and growers will be producing marijuana in the summer of 2016.

In the meantime, while the regulations are reviewed, the commission will work on its operational plan, hire a new executive director and other staff members and get the program’s IT infrastructure in place, which includes online applications and online training for doctors. Part of the program may include virtual identification cards for patients, Davies said.

The regulations recommend doctors apply for certification if they treat patients with chronic or debilitating diseases that result in the patient being in hospice or receiving palliative care or conditions that cause cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe or persistent muscle spasms. The list also includes glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other conditions characterized as “severe” for which other medical treatments have been ineffective and if symptoms can be reasonably expected to be relieved by medical cannabis. Other conditions can be suggested to the commission, which will hold at least one yearly public hearing to evaluate those suggestions, according to the regulations.

“Overall, they’re incredibly comprehensive, and they’ll serve the program and the patients well,” Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, said of the regulations.

Patients will be able to acquire 30-day supplies of cannabis, which can be up to 120 grams. The regulations do not specify a limit on how many plants growers can grow or the amount of cannabis a dispensary can hold at one time.

There will be a separate licensing process for producing tinctures, which are cannabis-infused solutions usually made of alcohol, glycerin or vegetable oils. They can be added to foods and drinks, applied to skin or ingested orally under the tongue. Davies hopes “edibles” (cannabis-infused foods) will be added later, but the commission will have to work with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and some of its food sections to establish those regulations, he said.

The commission has defended itself to much criticism over the proposed grower and dispensary licensing fees, which are among the highest in the country. Under the proposal, the biennial licensing fee for a grower is $250,000, which can be paid in $125,000 annual installments, and the biennial fee for a dispensary license is $80,000, which can be paid in $40,000 installments.

But without funding from the state — the commission is an independent body — the commission will operate solely on the fees generated by the program. It can also accept certain kinds of donations, according to the regulations.

“The law requires that the commission operations be funded out of the fees, and we developed a budget that we thought made sense to carry out the program that we envisioned, and therefore, we made estimates about how many licensees there would be and so forth and made a calculation of what fees we thought would be necessary,” said commission member Eric Sterling, who is president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. He added that he thinks the fees “would be a relatively small component of the necessary costs of operation” for growers and dispensaries.

Darrell Carrington, speaking on behalf of the newly founded Maryland Cannabis Industry Association, thought the fees were fair and wouldn’t deter those who are serious about becoming a part of the program, which some critics have argued.

“I think it’s appropriate for what our needs are here in the state of Maryland,” he said. “I can’t imagine for one second that someone who’s serious about this can’t raise the licensing fees for a two-year license.”

Others, such as Yeung, are concerned the costs could be passed on to patients. Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University, hopes costs will be contained so that patients won’t go to the black market if prices are cheaper.

State Delegate Dan Morhaim, a longtime medical cannabis advocate who sponsored and introduced the original medical cannabis bill in Maryland, still sees barriers in the regulations.

“It still looks like to me there are barriers to physicians recommending cannabis to their patients,” he said. “There continue to be a significant number of unanswered questions and problems.”

His concerns are related to training for physicians, the lack of available psychiatrists for PTSD patients, security requirements on growers and where seeds will come from, among others. Yeung and Morhaim are both concerned about the need for dispensaries to have either a physician, nurse practitioner or pharmacist as medical director.

“There has been harassment actions of such health professionals by the federal government in other states with medical cannabis programs,” read Morhaim’s letter to the commission, in which he asked that it consider changing this to a recommendation instead of a requirement.

Vandrey, who helped the Maryland General Assembly craft its medical cannabis law, mentioned that laboratories that hold federal Schedule I licenses have also been threatened by the Drug Enforcement Agency in regards to performing medical cannabis testing, which has some subpar labs performing tests in some states.

He was hoping for more data collection out of the program and thinks the required annual summary reports from physicians will be difficult to analyze.

“An ideal scenario would be a standardized, web-based reporting system that is used for all annual reporting and is structured in such a manner to allow easy access to interpretable data on each certified patient (e.g. age, gender, medical condition, duration of medical cannabis use, frequency of use, clinical response to cannabis treatment, adverse events),” he said via email.

Vandrey’s biggest question, though, is what kind of oversight there will be to ensure the regulations, a draft of which numbered 102 pages, will be followed.

“Oversight of all this is going to require a diverse group of trained individuals to ensure proper conduct of these rules,” he said. “As far as I know, that group and the infrastructure and funding for providing this oversight does not exist currently.”

While Davies has heard volumes of public testimony and concerns, his goal remains to get a program up and running.

“We will have the opportunity to dynamically change the regulations, but we need to get the program operational before we can really see where there are any problems,” he said.


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