In just two days, it will be one year since the terror attack at the Tree of Life building in Pittsburgh left 11 worshipers dead, and the sense of peace and security for many American Jews irrevocably shattered. The gunman left a trail of death in his wake, but the ripple effects of his actions — and those of hate-filled people like him who have unleashed violence in other Jewish communities since — continue to reverberate here in Baltimore and across the country.
In this week’s issue of the JT, we heed the call of the Pittsburgh Jewish community to “pause with Pittsburgh.” In the Voices section, we share a poignant perspective from Debra Weinberg, the co-chair of The Associated’s newly formed Anti-Semitism Task Force. And in this week’s cover story, members of the Baltimore-area Jewish community share the impact of the Tree of Life massacre in their own lives and observations on how the American Jewish community — and the American people in general — is warily but hopefully moving forward.
Local news made national headlines with the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in Baltimore on Oct. 17. The area’s representative in Congress since 1996 and a longtime champion of civil rights, Cummings is receiving a lot of posthumous recognition in Jewish media outlets (including this week’s Editorials) for his efforts to bring the black and Jewish communities of Baltimore together. Cummings had his detractors, as evinced by comments on the JT’s social media channels in response to our coverage of his passing. But based on comments from local Jewish leaders, politicians and private citizens who encountered him on the streets of Baltimore, his legacy would appear to be a positive one.
Speaking of bringing people together, in local news we also cover this year’s HeBrOpen golf tournament. Before their passing, Charles Baum and Harry Lebow were members of the HeBros, a group of Jewish men (“Heb”) and non-Jewish African American (“Bros”) men who play golf together while fostering equality through exposure and in-depth conversations about unity, religion and race. Now in its fourth year, the HeBrOpen’s proceeds will go this year to support the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel and the SEED School of Maryland’s External Opportunities programming. The SEED School — where Harry was one of the founding members of the board of trustees — is a statewide, tuition-free, college preparatory public boarding school located in Southwest Baltimore City.
This week’s issue also features a special section in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as well as the JT’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah Insider. In one story, women who chose to undergo bat mitzvah ceremonies well after the traditional age of 12 or 13 shared their motivations and experiences on their big days. Their interwoven tales are just one of the myriad ways in which personal passion for Judaism and commitment to the Jewish people expresses itself today.
L’chaim, to life, and Shabbat Shalom.