Tag Archives: Jewish Baltimore

Poster for support event

Community Protests Murderer’s Appeal

Poster for support eventApproximately 250 people from Baltimore’s Jewish community traveled by bus, car and subway train to protest the appeal trial of then 24-year-old Wayne Stephen Young, who was convicted of killing 11-year-old Esther Lebovitz in 1969.

A student of the Bais Yaakov School for Girls, she was last seen in Pikesville after being dropped off at the end of a school day at a local drugstore. Her body was found three days later in a ditch not far from her Mount Washington home.

The courtroom, almost stiflingly hot, was beyond capacity Thursday, with spectators filling the benches, aisles and perimeter. The lawyers in attendance were even permitted to fill the 13 juror chairs to make more room.  On the buses and in the courtroom, many people silently read from prayer books. Lebovitz’s immediate family, who moved to Israel shortly after the incident, was not in attendance.

Young, who has been denied parole 12 times, requested appeal of his conviction based on a recent ruling by Maryland’s appellate court. Known as the Unger ruling, it cites incorrect jury instructions administered in Maryland courtrooms that may have led to unfair trials. More than a dozen Maryland prisoners convicted before 1980, when the jury instructions were amended, have had their convictions retried and have been released. The state reviews these appeals on a case-by-case basis.

Now 68, gray and balding, Young was dressed in Department of Corrections issue blue shirt and pants and sat silently next to defense attorney Erika J. Suter. He seemed relaxed and appeared to be following the two lawyers’ testimony. Suter gave the opening statement requesting to reopen the conviction for a retrial based on the Unger ruling.

“It is not in the interest of justice to reopen this trial,” began assistant state prosecuting attorney Antonio Gioia, who spoke for more than 20 minutes. He read from transcripts detailing the heinous crime, including autopsy results of Lebovitz being beaten with a blunt instrument at least 17 times and sexual molestation.

Gioia also read a statement made by the officer who administered a polygraph test to Young, who had pled temporary insanity at the time of his original trial.

“I did this,” the officer testified that Young told him. “I killed that little girl.”

Frank Storch, 56, was 12 when Lebovitz was murdered. Storch, whose father was president of Bais Yaakov at the time, said of the murder that he “remembers it like it was yesterday.” He organized transportation to leave from the Seven Mile Market so that community members could show their support in the courtroom.

“In silence our community gathered,” Storch said after the hearing, “and spoke millions of words.”

Bus full of supporters wait to leave from Seven Mile MarketNeil Schachter has been president of the Northwest Citizen’s Patrol since 2000. He explained that when someone comes up for parole he is typically notified far in advance. Because Young’s appeal was not parole-based this time, Schachter heard about the hearing only days before from Abba Poliakoff, a cousin of the Lebovitz family. His organization got the word out via Facebook, websites and letters to community rabbis.

“[Poliakoff] got a phone call last week,” related Schachter. “He called me and said we need to do something. … We didn’t have much time to put this together to garner this support.”

Schachter was thankful and impressed with the number of people who came out.

“But I can tell you, if needed we could have gotten thousands of people,” he added. “We could have gotten even more than the OrthodoxJewish community.”

Rabbi Yaakov Menken was one of the throngs of people who took time off in the afternoon to attend.

“It’s important to stand as a community when something so horrible has happened that affects the entire community,” he said.

Debbie Lowenstein, from Pikesville, patiently waited in a long line outside the courthouse as each person was shuttled through security.

“I’m here because as soon as I heard that story [as a young girl] it affected me greatly … because it was so close to home,” she explained. “And any Jewish girl is like a sister – it’s like family and you think how could this happen and they cannot let this man go.”

supporters board buses courthouseBaltimore Circuit Judge Edward R.K. Hardagon did not make an immediate decision. He explained that he must review records and would issue a written statement at a later date, but acknowledged the enormous show of protest by the community when he spoke to the courtroom.

“It does not go unnoticed how many people are here,” he said. “Thank you for coming.”

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Dr. Bert Miller of Park Heights, a retired teacher from Bais Yaakov, said Lebovitz would have eventually been in his 11th grade class if she hadn’t been killed. He added that it wasn’t just Lebovitz that was murdered that day, but her future children and even grandchildren.

“We have a saying,” he said, “one who takes one life, kills the whole world.”

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24 Hours Under The Radar

12:07 a.m.
Casey Spigel, owner of Forever Wireless, greets at least a dozen people with hugs and handshakes within 15 minutes of entering The Horse You Came In On Saloon in Fells Point. “He’s like the mayor of Fells Point,” says Samantha Blumberg, Spigel’s friend of many years. Spigel often meets friends here for a mid-work-week break. “It’s a good place for young professionals; it’s not judgmental or pretentious. It gets us through the week,” says Spigel, who seems to share a genuine gift of gab with his parents, Arie and Tsipora. Both are from Israel, but they met in Baltimore when frequenting the Pimlico Diner. 12:07 a.m. Casey Spigel, owner of Forever Wireless, greets at least a dozen people with hugs and handshakes within 15 minutes of entering The Horse You Came In On Saloon in Fells Point. “He’s like the mayor of Fells Point,” says Samantha Blumberg, Spigel’s friend of many years. Spigel often meets friends here for a mid-work-week break. “It’s a good place for young professionals; it’s not judgmental or pretentious. It gets us through the week,” says Spigel, who seems to share a genuine gift of gab with his parents, Arie and Tsipora. Both are from Israel, but they met in Baltimore when frequenting the Pimlico Diner. 3:00 a.m.
It’s a half-hour until Fred Weiss’ “lunch break.” The night manager at Seven Mile Market is stocking boxes of pasta: first, the rotini; then, the macaroni. Weiss serves not only as a stocker, but also as a kosher supervisor known as a mashgiach. During his shift, from 10:15 p.m. to 7 a.m., he clears the floor, uses the pallet jack to move hundreds of items and restock the shelves and goes through the store to remove anything that’s damaged. Weiss is eager to check his phone as it nears 3 a.m. He says, “My wife sometimes calls during my lunch break.” 3:00 a.m. It’s a half-hour until Fred Weiss’ “lunch break.” The night manager at Seven Mile Market is stocking boxes of pasta: first, the rotini; then, the macaroni. Weiss serves not only as a stocker, but also as a kosher supervisor known as a mashgiach. During his shift, from 10:15 p.m. to 7 a.m., he clears the floor, uses the pallet jack to move hundreds of items and restock the shelves and goes through the store to remove anything that’s damaged. Weiss is eager to check his phone as it nears 3 a.m. He says, “My wife sometimes calls during my lunch break.” 3:24 a.m.
Marilyn Mendelsohn is good with blood. For 25 years she has been a medical technologist, the last five at Sinai Hospital. She says she likes working in the middle of the night because it allows her to be home during the day. On one of her breaks — she takes one every 50 minutes — she grabs a cigarette outside, despite the frigid night. She says her department has between three and six people per shift. How many tubes of blood does she personally test per evening? Hundreds. 3:24 a.m. Marilyn Mendelsohn is good with blood. For 25 years she has been a medical technologist, the last five at Sinai Hospital. She says she likes working in the middle of the night because it allows her to be home during the day. On one of her breaks — she takes one every 50 minutes — she grabs a cigarette outside, despite the frigid night. She says her department has between three and six people per shift. How many tubes of blood does she personally test per evening? Hundreds. 4:10 a.m.
Robert Bagwandeen isn’t Jewish, but he might as well be. For 14 of Goldberg’s 15 years he has served as the kosher bagel shop’s baker. His shift starts at 2 a.m. and ends at 7 a.m., and between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., he makes 150 dozen bagels — first the seeded bagels, then the sweet ones and finally the plain. “It’s nonstop from when I start the baking,” says Bagwandeen . “You have to really think. It’s like a game. You lose five minutes, it can get off. Five minutes is really very important to me.” 4:10 a.m. Robert Bagwandeen isn’t Jewish, but he might as well be. For 14 of Goldberg’s 15 years he has served as the kosher bagel shop’s baker. His shift starts at 2 a.m. and ends at 7 a.m., and between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., he makes 150 dozen bagels — first the seeded bagels, then the sweet ones and finally the plain. “It’s nonstop from when I start the baking,” says Bagwandeen . “You have to really think. It’s like a game. You lose five minutes, it can get off. Five minutes is really very important to me.” 5:30 a.m.
Menashe Sadik and several others can be found poring over their Jewish texts in the study hall of Ohr Hamizrach, the local Iranian synagogue. Sadik says he and the others arrive as early as 4:45 a.m. to learn Torah. A holy scene in Jewish Baltimore! 5:30 a.m. Menashe Sadik and several others can be found poring over their Jewish texts in the study hall of Ohr Hamizrach, the local Iranian synagogue. Sadik says he and the others arrive as early as 4:45 a.m. to learn Torah. A holy scene in Jewish Baltimore! 5:49 a.m. 
Rachel Perry gets her fix at the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts on Fallstaff Road, ordering two cups of iced caramel latte. She says, “I’m a little addicted. It’s vital — quite amazing, actually.” She reminisces about the last fast day. Just as the fast ends, she says, the line is out the door. “Everyone goes. Dunkin’ Donuts is a staple.” 5:49 a.m. Rachel Perry gets her fix at the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts on Fallstaff Road, ordering two cups of iced caramel latte. She says, “I’m a little addicted. It’s vital — quite amazing, actually.” She reminisces about the last fast day. Just as the fast ends, she says, the line is out the door. “Everyone goes. Dunkin’ Donuts is a staple.” 7:23 a.m.
Quite comfortable flying through the air at high speeds, Max Offit peels off an indy grab on his friend’s indoor ramp in Reisterstown before heading out to school at Franklin High. At 16 years old, he’s been skating half of his life. “My friends in the neighborhood always were skating, so I wanted to do it,” he says. Offit is sponsored by Vu Skateboard Shop in Parkville. While Offit says he skateboards every day in the summer, it becomes more difficult to find time during the school year. When the weather is good, he skates at friends’ houses or on his own backyard ramp a few times a week. But when winter hits, he swaps his skateboard for a snowboard. ”Winter is so short!” 7:23 a.m. Quite comfortable flying through the air at high speeds, Max Offit peels off an indy grab on his friend’s indoor ramp in Reisterstown before heading out to school at Franklin High. At 16 years old, he’s been skating half of his life. “My friends in the neighborhood always were skating, so I wanted to do it,” he says. Offit is sponsored by Vu Skateboard Shop in Parkville. While Offit says he skateboards every day in the summer, it becomes more difficult to find time during the school year. When the weather is good, he skates at friends’ houses or on his own backyard ramp a few times a week. But when winter hits, he swaps his skateboard for a snowboard. ”Winter is so short!” 8:08 a.m. 
Safety patrol guards Clara Zaiman and Mali Glazer, both fourth-graders, arrive early at Krieger Schechter Day School in Pikesville to help younger students negotiate the carpool line. They open car doors, make sure children exit safely and walk some of the littlest ones into the building. Clara, who has a sprained toe, says she usually does jumping jacks while waiting to help out. “It’s fun,” she says. Mali adds, “I feel good helping others, and I like the privilege of doing this job.” 8:08 a.m. Safety patrol guards Clara Zaiman and Mali Glazer, both fourth-graders, arrive early at Krieger Schechter Day School in Pikesville to help younger students negotiate the carpool line. They open car doors, make sure children exit safely and walk some of the littlest ones into the building. Clara, who has a sprained toe, says she usually does jumping jacks while waiting to help out. “It’s fun,” she says. Mali adds, “I feel good helping others, and I like the privilege of doing this job.” 9:02 a.m. 
“This is his third career,” says Lauren Reck of 12-year-old Expletive. Ex, for short, is an off-the-track thoroughbred and was a steeplechase racehorse but now is a show-jumper boarded at Helmore Farms. Reck rides Ex at least twice a week. “He’s great to ride, and he’s a good jumper — well-bred, brave, athletic; he takes care of me,” says Reck, who has been riding horses since age 4. Reck is a Southern Jersey girl but has been a “native” Baltimorean for more than 20 years. “He’s named Expletive because he’s kind of a pain. No one else could put up with him. He comes by his name honestly.” 9:02 a.m. “This is his third career,” says Lauren Reck of 12-year-old Expletive. Ex, for short, is an off-the-track thoroughbred and was a steeplechase racehorse but now is a show-jumper boarded at Helmore Farms. Reck rides Ex at least twice a week. “He’s great to ride, and he’s a good jumper — well-bred, brave, athletic; he takes care of me,” says Reck, who has been riding horses since age 4. Reck is a Southern Jersey girl but has been a “native” Baltimorean for more than 20 years. “He’s named Expletive because he’s kind of a pain. No one else could put up with him. He comes by his name honestly.” 9:43 a.m. 
Ladybugs are Ellen Perlman’s special weapon. She distributes them among her five varieties of romaine lettuce to ward off infestations. “I work a lot,” she says. “It’s pretty much a 24/7 operation.” Perlman transitioned from her role as a full-time stay-at-home mom in 2012 to become a farmer at Chesapeake Aquaponics, which she owns and operates. The career change has been more of a life change. With construction of the farm coming to a close, she spends most of her time now prepping her plants for winter farmers’ markets, where, she anticipates, she will be the only farmer selling fresh greens. 9:43 a.m. Ladybugs are Ellen Perlman’s special weapon. She distributes them among her five varieties of romaine lettuce to ward off infestations. “I work a lot,” she says. “It’s pretty much a 24/7 operation.” Perlman transitioned from her role as a full-time stay-at-home mom in 2012 to become a farmer at Chesapeake Aquaponics, which she owns and operates. The career change has been more of a life change. With construction of the farm coming to a close, she spends most of her time now prepping her plants for winter farmers’ markets, where, she anticipates, she will be the only farmer selling fresh greens. 10:16 a.m. 
“I have always loved dogs and cats, but I always wanted more,” says Linda Michel at the small farm in Owings Mills, where she lives with her husband, Roger, two goats, two sheep and two alpacas, as well as her cats and dogs. Michel greets the animals and pours feed in the troughs as they come running over. It’s a long way from the Liberty Heights neighborhood where the jewelry designer and animal lover grew up. In addition to caring for the animals, Michel also cares for the grounds. “I’m the only one on the tractor.” 10:16 a.m. “I have always loved dogs and cats, but I always wanted more,” says Linda Michel at the small farm in Owings Mills, where she lives with her husband, Roger, two goats, two sheep and two alpacas, as well as her cats and dogs. Michel greets the animals and pours feed in the troughs as they come running over. It’s a long way from the Liberty Heights neighborhood where the jewelry designer and animal lover grew up. In addition to caring for the animals, Michel also cares for the grounds. “I’m the only one on the tractor.” 11:17 a.m. 
Action! Yisroel Jerome Bethea directs young actor Simmy Vanderhoof in their parking-garage location of the Snider Plaza building in Pikesville. Bethea is filming with a Sony FS100 digital camera to create a fundraising film for a local nonprofit. The segment will depict part of a chase scene the boy imagines. Shooting for two to three hours, the final edited film will be about five minutes. Bethea’s company, LTD Studios, is in Pikesville, where he lives with his wife and three children. 11:17 a.m. Action! Yisroel Jerome Bethea directs young actor Simmy Vanderhoof in their parking-garage location of the Snider Plaza building in Pikesville. Bethea is filming with a Sony FS100 digital camera to create a fundraising film for a local nonprofit. The segment will depict part of a chase scene the boy imagines. Shooting for two to three hours, the final edited film will be about five minutes. Bethea’s company, LTD Studios, is in Pikesville, where he lives with his wife and three children. 12:41 p.m. 
Mark, Eric and Eddie Wingrat work in the “candy store,” the nickname affectionately given to the cooler where their flowers await cutting, pruning and planting to create displays or bouquets. The busy days at the family-owned-and-operated Flowers & Fancies in Owings Mills involve taking orders from individuals, hotels and supermarkets, checking on their stock and ordering new blossoms. Of the sometimes-crazy requests they receive from customers: “We always say yes!” says Eddie. “We just say it with flowers.” 12:41 p.m. Mark, Eric and Eddie Wingrat work in the “candy store,” the nickname affectionately given to the cooler where their flowers await cutting, pruning and planting to create displays or bouquets. The busy days at the family-owned-and-operated Flowers & Fancies in Owings Mills involve taking orders from individuals, hotels and supermarkets, checking on their stock and ordering new blossoms. Of the sometimes-crazy requests they receive from customers: “We always say yes!” says Eddie. “We just say it with flowers.” 12:47 p.m. 
Dan Naor, a former submarine officer in the Israeli navy, has made an indelible mark on Baltimore. “This waterfront property came up for sale, and I found some people to put their money together, and we bought it,” says the chief operating officer of Baltimore Marine Centers, which includes five waterfront locations with hundreds of boat slips, several office buildings, restaurants and condos. Naor walks through the BMC shipyard at Pier Seven near its heliport, which houses several helicopters that can be chartered on demand for medical transport, as well as executive travel and special events. “Baltimore’s a great city, a port city with a great location between D.C., New York and Philly. I love it here. I’m never leaving.” 12:47 p.m. Dan Naor, a former submarine officer in the Israeli navy, has made an indelible mark on Baltimore. “This waterfront property came up for sale, and I found some people to put their money together, and we bought it,” says the chief operating officer of Baltimore Marine Centers, which includes five waterfront locations with hundreds of boat slips, several office buildings, restaurants and condos. Naor walks through the BMC shipyard at Pier Seven near its heliport, which houses several helicopters that can be chartered on demand for medical transport, as well as executive travel and special events. “Baltimore’s a great city, a port city with a great location between D.C., New York and Philly. I love it here. I’m never leaving.” 1:45 p.m. 
There’s no business like show business! The North Oaks Choir practices for its December recital, led by Shazy King. They sing together once a week during the fall, winter and spring. Some of the choir’s favorites are Broadway show tunes, but today’s practice includes holiday favorites and even a little dancing. The recitals provide a unique opportunity for North Oaks residents’ children and grandchildren to turn the tables and watch their parents and grandparents onstage, basking in the performance glow. 1:45 p.m. There’s no business like show business! The North Oaks Choir practices for its December recital, led by Shazy King. They sing together once a week during the fall, winter and spring. Some of the choir’s favorites are Broadway show tunes, but today’s practice includes holiday favorites and even a little dancing. The recitals provide a unique opportunity for North Oaks residents’ children and grandchildren to turn the tables and watch their parents and grandparents onstage, basking in the performance glow. 2:20 p.m. 
Joshua Polak, owner of Guitars of Pikesville, checks “the action” on one of the guitars he has in stock. The action measures the distance between the strings and the neck of the guitar and ensures that the instrument is comfortable to play. “Sometimes, for beginners you want the action to be low,” says Polak. He describes his store as “somewhat of a neighborhood hangout.” Stop by for the store’s weekly jam sessions or to take a lesson. 2:20 p.m. Joshua Polak, owner of Guitars of Pikesville, checks “the action” on one of the guitars he has in stock. The action measures the distance between the strings and the neck of the guitar and ensures that the instrument is comfortable to play. “Sometimes, for beginners you want the action to be low,” says Polak. He describes his store as “somewhat of a neighborhood hangout.” Stop by for the store’s weekly jam sessions or to take a lesson. 3:17 p.m. 
It’s all business for Councilwoman Rikki Spector (D-5), as she attends a Baltimore City Planning Commission meeting at the Benton Building in downtown Baltimore. Today, the discussion is about the proposed 25th Street Station Project in Remington. Along with the slew of protestors and supporters who attend the meeting to make their voices heard, Spector spends the afternoon listening to the fine details of the proposal, ranging from the elevation of parking lots to the locations and dimensions of entranceways and exits. A representative of the Northwest District, Spector has been a member of the Planning Commission since 1996. 3:17 p.m. It’s all business for Councilwoman Rikki Spector (D-5), as she attends a Baltimore City Planning Commission meeting at the Benton Building in downtown Baltimore. Today, the discussion is about the proposed 25th Street Station Project in Remington. Along with the slew of protestors and supporters who attend the meeting to make their voices heard, Spector spends the afternoon listening to the fine details of the proposal, ranging from the elevation of parking lots to the locations and dimensions of entranceways and exits. A representative of the Northwest District, Spector has been a member of the Planning Commission since 1996. 3:19 p.m. 
Sam Gallant, DJ for WTMD radio’s afternoon drive show, is a bit more nervous than usual as he prepares to begin his shift. That’s because today is “all Beatles, all vinyl day” at the station. Not used to playing records on a turntable, his concern is about keeping the music transitions smooth. “Most of the time, I’m pretty comfortable here, but someone once told me, ‘If you’re not nervous when you go on, you’re doing something wrong,’” Gallant says. Born in Alaska (yes, Jews in Alaska!), Gallant has fully embraced Charm City. “Baltimore’s a great place — varied, diverse, old yet young, and coming into its own.” 3:19 p.m. Sam Gallant, DJ for WTMD radio’s afternoon drive show, is a bit more nervous than usual as he prepares to begin his shift. That’s because today is “all Beatles, all vinyl day” at the station. Not used to playing records on a turntable, his concern is about keeping the music transitions smooth. “Most of the time, I’m pretty comfortable here, but someone once told me, ‘If you’re not nervous when you go on, you’re doing something wrong,’” Gallant says. Born in Alaska (yes, Jews in Alaska!), Gallant has fully embraced Charm City. “Baltimore’s a great place — varied, diverse, old yet young, and coming into its own.” 4:14 p.m. 
Stacy Spigelman is busy styling Suzanne Levitt’s hair. Around her, other employees are chatting, cutting, styling and washing wigs for some of the LA Style salon clientele: Orthodox women, as well as women with medical diagnoses such as cancer and alopecia. Born and raised in Baltimore, Spigelman has always known she wanted to work in a beauty salon. “I always loved going to the salon with my mother and my grandmother,” she says. “I loved everything about it, and I spent many hours there. When I became frum, I didn’t think it went with the lifestyle, but then I thought, ‘I could do wigs.’” She’s been doing it ever since. 4:14 p.m. Stacy Spigelman is busy styling Suzanne Levitt’s hair. Around her, other employees are chatting, cutting, styling and washing wigs for some of the LA Style salon clientele: Orthodox women, as well as women with medical diagnoses such as cancer and alopecia. Born and raised in Baltimore, Spigelman has always known she wanted to work in a beauty salon. “I always loved going to the salon with my mother and my grandmother,” she says. “I loved everything about it, and I spent many hours there. When I became frum, I didn’t think it went with the lifestyle, but then I thought, ‘I could do wigs.’” She’s been doing it ever since. 5:26 p.m. 
Marci Rubin, manager at Phillips Seafood in the Inner Harbor, arrives at 4 p.m. for her shift and is quickly brought up to speed by the morning manager. Though it’s steadily busy, Rubin says the fall and winter are usually quiet, but “it’s crazy in the summer.” Rubin interacts with everybody from locals to tourists and oversees up to five hosts, three bartenders and 18 servers during a shift. “It’s a lot of running around.” 5:26 p.m. Marci Rubin, manager at Phillips Seafood in the Inner Harbor, arrives at 4 p.m. for her shift and is quickly brought up to speed by the morning manager. Though it’s steadily busy, Rubin says the fall and winter are usually quiet, but “it’s crazy in the summer.” Rubin interacts with everybody from locals to tourists and oversees up to five hosts, three bartenders and 18 servers during a shift. “It’s a lot of running around.” 5:54 p.m. 
After a speech by Maryland Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler at Tov Pizza in Pikesville, Israel Diamond of Northwest Baltimore asks some questions and shares his concerns. He and his wife, Bernice, want to hear what Gansler has to say on the state’s pressing issues. “My wife said I’m not getting dinner unless I come,” he says with a smile. For the upcoming election, Israel Diamond says, “We want a fresh face, and we don’t want the lieutenant governor … I still have my issues. I’m not sold on anybody.” 5:54 p.m. After a speech by Maryland Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler at Tov Pizza in Pikesville, Israel Diamond of Northwest Baltimore asks some questions and shares his concerns. He and his wife, Bernice, want to hear what Gansler has to say on the state’s pressing issues. “My wife said I’m not getting dinner unless I come,” he says with a smile. For the upcoming election, Israel Diamond says, “We want a fresh face, and we don’t want the lieutenant governor … I still have my issues. I’m not sold on anybody.” 7:34 p.m. 
Herman Milton Heyn has a passion for the planets. “I got turned on to astronomy in eighth grade at Garrison by Miss Wicker. She drew the Big Dipper on the blackboard and told us to go look for it that night; I found it, and it hooked me,” says the street astronomer from upper Park Heights. Heyn has set up his telescope more than 5,200 times since November 12, 1987, when he first followed his urge to share his enthusiasm for the stars with passers-by. You can still find him at one of two locations: in Charles Village and in Fells Point, but his set-up is weather dependent. 7:34 p.m. Herman Milton Heyn has a passion for the planets. “I got turned on to astronomy in eighth grade at Garrison by Miss Wicker. She drew the Big Dipper on the blackboard and told us to go look for it that night; I found it, and it hooked me,” says the street astronomer from upper Park Heights. Heyn has set up his telescope more than 5,200 times since November 12, 1987, when he first followed his urge to share his enthusiasm for the stars with passers-by. You can still find him at one of two locations: in Charles Village and in Fells Point, but his set-up is weather dependent. 9:03 p.m. 
Jael Freedman sees and senses details of her clients’ future as well as past at Breathe Books in Hampden. Freedman, from Randallstown, has been clairvoyant from a young age. “I always thought that people wanted to know,” says Freedman. “But they don’t. So now I don’t invade, I turn down the antenna. If you come to ask for information, I give it, but I don’t just offer it like I used to do; I’m 100 percent a healer more than anything.” 9:03 p.m. Jael Freedman sees and senses details of her clients’ future as well as past at Breathe Books in Hampden. Freedman, from Randallstown, has been clairvoyant from a young age. “I always thought that people wanted to know,” says Freedman. “But they don’t. So now I don’t invade, I turn down the antenna. If you come to ask for information, I give it, but I don’t just offer it like I used to do; I’m 100 percent a healer more than anything.” 10:30 p.m. 
Detective Jeremy Silbert (left) of the Baltimore City police department checks in with officers at a traffic stop for a seatbelt violation, where they discover a man driving without a license. Silbert also serves as public information officer for the department; he checks in on scenes and updates crime information on the department’s social media accounts. “People are really surprised [that I’m Jewish],” he says. “And many people follow that with, ‘You must be the only Jewish officer in the agency.’” 10:30 p.m. Detective Jeremy Silbert (left) of the Baltimore City police department checks in with officers at a traffic stop for a seatbelt violation, where they discover a man driving without a license. Silbert also serves as public information officer for the department; he checks in on scenes and updates crime information on the department’s social media accounts. “People are really surprised [that I’m Jewish],” he says. “And many people follow that with, ‘You must be the only Jewish officer in the agency.’” 11:19 p.m. 
Evan Reisberg monitors the traffic in and out of The 8x10 music venue in Federal Hill, as he takes tickets, checks IDs and stamps hands of concert-goers. He keeps a tally of which band people come to see. Opening act Sophistafunk has just finished its set, so patrons walk outside to have a cigarette and get some air before the headliner, New Orleans’ Dumpstaphunk, takes the stage. The friendly crowd doesn’t require any heavy-handed security, but Reisberg spends the break making sure people exit one door and enter another. He says, “I’m constantly reminding them to leave their drinks at the end of the bar or on my front table when they go outside.” JT­­­ 11:19 p.m. Evan Reisberg monitors the traffic in and out of The 8x10 music venue in Federal Hill, as he takes tickets, checks IDs and stamps hands of concert-goers. He keeps a tally of which band people come to see. Opening act Sophistafunk has just finished its set, so patrons walk outside to have a cigarette and get some air before the headliner, New Orleans’ Dumpstaphunk, takes the stage. The friendly crowd doesn’t require any heavy-handed security, but Reisberg spends the break making sure people exit one door and enter another. He says, “I’m constantly reminding them to leave their drinks at the end of the bar or on my front table when they go outside.” JT­­­

On Nov. 21, 2013, the staff of the Baltimore Jewish Times sought out, photographed and engaged with Jewish Baltimore. Twenty-four hours. Three teams. One city. An impressive and diverse cross section of the area’s Jewish people.

What comprises Jewish Baltimore? A lot of very different people, places, traditions and organizations, to be sure.

“24 Hours Under the Radar” is a glimpse into the ordinary — and therefore, extraordinary — behind-the-scenes lives of Jewish Baltimoreans. These are people who infuse some of the Jewish into Jewish Baltimore because of what they do, how they act, what they believe and, in some cases, simply because they’re Jewish. And each adds to the unique flavor of the city.

The following profiles are just a glimpse into that deep well of Jewish identity, culture and pride found here in Baltimore.

There is much more to uncover.

Read the, “Reporter’s Blog” by Melissa Gerr. >>

Photographers: David Stuck, Melissa Gerr, Marc Shapiro
Writers: Simone Ellin, Melissa Gerr, Maayan Jaffe, Heather Norris, Marc Shapiro

Seasons Kosher Market Pursuing Baltimore Property

The Fields of Pikesville building won’t be getting a kosher market anytime soon, the realtor redeveloping the building said.

Seasons, a New York-based kosher market, is instead planning to open at 401 Reisterstown Road, which was once home to Danielle’s Bluecrest Caterers.

“We feel it’s a good growth neighborhood,” said Mayer Gold, Seasons’ owner. “It’s a nice, vibrant kosher community.”

He said his company, which has been looking for a Baltimore location for about a year and a half, is under contract to purchase the Reisterstown Road building.

Baltimore County held a public parking variance hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 11. The building’s parking lot is not properly zoned, Gold said. If all goes as planned, he hopes to open in Baltimore in one year.

Carl Verstandig, president and CEO of America’s Realty, LLC, said Seasons needed almost 5,000 more square feet than the Fields building could offer.

“Logistically, we couldn’t get the space to fit,” said Verstandig, whose company is redeveloping the Fields building.

Advanced Auto parts will be opening in its stead, Verstandig said.

Seasons, a gourmet kosher market, offers takeout food, deli meats, fish, produce, a butcher, a bakery and floral arrangements, according to its website. It has four locations in New York: Lawrence, Scarsdale, Queens and Manhattan. The company will also be opening a store in Lakewood, N.J., in about 18 months, Gold said.

He likened Seasons to a kosher Whole Foods, a family-friendly, clean and upscale store with fresh food, but not “upscale prices,” he said.

Although Verstandig couldn’t work things out with Seasons, he is optimistic about the future, having recently acquired the Wells Fargo building on the corner of Reisterstown and Old Court roads for $1.45 million.

At the Wells Fargo building, he hopes to have the 14,000 vacant square feet leased to a law firm and a real estate company within the next few weeks.

At the Fields building, he expects Advanced Auto Parts to open in March and self-defense and fitness studio Masada Tactical to open the month prior, in February.

When his company’s pending deals are wrapped up, it will own 227 centers in 31 states. With the recent Pikesville acquisition, his company now owns 10 buildings within three blocks of each other in Pikesville, he said.

“That’s gives us quite a bit of confidence in Pikesville,” Verstandig said.

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Analysis: Race for Maryland Governor

Joe Cluster, the Maryland Republican Party’s executive director, says he is “cautiously optimistic.” (provided)

Joe Cluster, the Maryland Republican Party’s executive director, says he is “cautiously optimistic.” (provided)

Although it is still early, the race for governor of Maryland is already shaping up to be a competitive one.

With nine candidates saying they plan on running, the field ranges from seasoned politicians to experienced businessmen and even to a Baltimore-area teacher, all of whom want to succeed the still-popular Gov. Martin O’Malley.

So far, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler, Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur and Baltimore resident Ralph Jaffe have thrown their hats in the ring for the Democratic nomination in the June 24 primary.

On the Republican side, the field consists of Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Anne Arundel Delegate Ron George, Charles County businessman Charles Lollar, former Baltimore City firefighter Brian Vaeth and Anne Arundel County resident Larry Hogan, who served as Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich’s appointment secretary.

Although only one Republican has managed to win a Maryland gubernatorial election during the past 48 years (Ehrlich, who defeated then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002), the Maryland Republican Party feels good about 2014.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Joe Cluster, the party’s executive director, adding that he and his associates see a lot of similarities between 2014 and 2002, when underdog Ehrlich defeated Townsend, who had easily won the Democratic nomination on the back of her status within then-Gov. Parris Glendening’s administration.

Predicting that 2014 will be a good year for Republicans across the country, Cluster added that the Democratic candidates face a tough battle among each other in June, something that could leave the candidates with more than a few primary bruises.

However, in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one, all indicators suggest the race will be decided by the Democratic primary.

In terms of name recognition, Democrats have a clear upper hand. October 2013 polls showed that Brown has the most name recognition — 62 percent — among the candidates. Gansler follows with 58 percent. Baltimore’s Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-2), who recently said he is leaning toward not running, leads Republicans Craig, Lollar, George and fellow Democrat Mizeur in name recognition.

Although it is not impossible, “it’s hard to see Maryland as a state where a Republican is going to win a statewide election,” said Laslo Boyd, political columnist and managing partner at Mellenbrook Policy Advisors. “If a Republican candidate comes with the Tea Party baggage of being anti-marriage equality, anti-abortion [and] strongly against the gun regulations, that’s not going to play well in Maryland.”

On the other hand, many Marylanders have grown increasingly wary of the state’s high taxes. According to 2010 Census data, Baltimore ranks above the national average for cost of transportation, utilities, housing and food. In Washington, D.C., the situation is even worse with the overall cost of living 40 percent higher than the national average.

If the Republicans focus their efforts on fiscal issues and concede some of the social issues popular along the party line, Boyd said their chances of victory could be much higher.

“It’s going to take a candidate who can appeal to those issues that are frustrating to people — perhaps taxes, perhaps the cost of government — without falling prey to the divisive social issues that play well in other states,” said Boyd.

In the meantime, much of the attention has been focusing on Democrats Gansler and Brown.

For Gansler, who has served on the board of directors of the Jewish Community Center for Greater Washington and has been involved with the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, the biggest hurdle could be overcoming the mishandling of some of the stories that surfaced earlier this year involving a teen beach party and disgruntled state police aides. While the stories have died down, they easily could be rekindled by opponents.

For Brown, who has collected endorsements from U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.-5) and two former Maryland attorneys general, one of his proudest and most touted accomplishments could prove to be a pitfall. His website boasts that he “led the nation in implementing the Affordable Care Act,” but with many people still frustrated with the new policy, it remains to be seen whether this will work for or against his campaign.

“There has been some political discussion that if the health-care exchanges are not working well, that could hurt him,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, an advocacy organization that lobbies for government accountability.

The Brown-[Ken] Ulman ticket looks like the frontrunner right now, said Bevan-Dangel, but that can easily change. While candidates who serve in the Maryland General Assembly are not permitted to fund raise while they are in session, both Brown and running mate Ulman, county executive of Howard County, are free to keep adding to their treasure chest.

“Historically in Maryland, we’ve seen a pretty straight-line correlation between fundraising and success of the campaign,” said Bevan-Dangel. “It’s simply a mechanism of how much you can afford to get your name out.”

See related articles, “By The Numbers.

Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter
hnorris@jewishtimes.com

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Warning Signs

Dr. Jonathan Lasson saved a student from suicide. Now, he is speaking out and raising awareness. (David Stuck)

Dr. Jonathan Lasson saved a student from suicide. Now, he is speaking out and raising awareness. (David Stuck)

It’s a day he may never forget. And while it is painful to remember as well as to talk about, Dr. Jonathan Lasson, 42, a certified school psychologist for the Maryland State Department of Education, believes it’s a day that warrants memory, and a memory that must be shared.

Oct. 4, 2012 began like any other day. Lasson was working in his office when he was called to a classroom to assess an elementary student who was expressing suicidal ideation.

“When I went upstairs, the student was being held back by a paraprofessional staff member. They wanted me to do an emergency petition for him to be taken to the hospital,” he said.

While Lasson was on the phone with a school police officer, the paraprofessional, believing the student to be sufficiently calm, loosened his restraint.

“He bolted toward the window. I was the closest to it, and when he was halfway out of the open window, I grabbed him and pulled him back in. He fell back onto my left hand,” Lasson recalled. Lasson suffered a torn thumb tendon and required surgery to correct the damage. Lasson’s left index finger was operated on unnecessarily. The unnecessary surgery has caused lasting injury.

The suicidal student was transported to the University of Maryland, where he was hospitalized. Lasson discovered that the suicide attempt had not been the student’s first.

He was out of school for three months handling his injuries. Shortly after he returned to work in January 2013, Lasson learned that a former student from a different school had succeeded in taking his own life.

“I had worked with him for about two years, and we had a nice rapport,” said Lasson. “So I attended the viewing. They had an open casket, and as soon as I walked in, I saw his face. I don’t think I would have gone if I had [known] there [was going to be] an open casket. It re-traumatized me. Just think, a youngster feeling so distraught that he wants to take his own life.”

While many mental health professionals focus on the biological origins of mental illness, Lasson said he believes that environmental stressors play a major role in making children emotionally disturbed.

“These kids are from impoverished neighborhoods, and a lot of them suffer from abuse and neglect. Once I led a support group for students after one of their classmates was murdered. When I asked the kids in the group about their experiences with violence, each of them told me they didn’t expect to live past the age of 24 or 25.”

Reluctantly, Lasson has come forward to share what he has learned in his 14 years as an inner city school psychologist.

“I’ve become more aware of the red flags, which a lot of people miss,” he said.

What are those signs?

>>When a child has been depressed for a long period of time and all of a sudden he or she is doing well, don’t be complacent. When they come to thank you for all your help, saying they no longer need treatment, this can mean they have come to peace with the decision to end their lives.

>>Students who have made previous suicide attempts may be at greater risk of succeeding. On the other hand, Lasson noted, this could also be a cry for help.

>>Sometimes kids express themselves through art or other creative pursuits. Look for warning signs in the ways they express themselves through art, play and writing.

>>Children who give away belongings that are meaningful to them. This could signal their belief that they won’t need those items once they are dead.

“It’s important for people to realize what mental health professionals are up against,” he said. “We get a lot of bad press, but how many suicides do mental health professionals prevent?”

For additional information about suicide prevention, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at afsp.org.

Simone Ellin is JT senior features reporter
sellin@jewishtimes.com