Having represented athletes such as Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr., sports agent Ronald M. Shapiro is no stranger to the phrase “Hall of Fame career.”
As far as Jewish Baltimore is concerned, that expression now applies to him.
Earlier this year, the JCC of Greater Baltimore announced that Shapiro will be one of nine nominees inducted into the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame. The honor is bestowed upon individuals who reside, or have resided, in Baltimore and who have made a significant impact in the community, nationally or worldwide in their given field.
Joining Shapiro in the fourth set of inductees are the late Rabbi Jacob B. Agus, Leo Bretholz, Dr. Curt I Civin, Suzanne F. Cohen, Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond, the late Jacob Glushakow, Lee Rosenberg and the Jewish Legion.
Shapiro, also an attorney, educator, author and civic leader, said he’s honored to be part of such an illustrious and wide-ranging class of community fixtures.
“It’s been very special to be included among this group,” Shapiro said. “In the end, I hope what I’m really being honored for is not what I have been perceived to have achieved … but more [as] someone who wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. I think that’s what the others probably feel as well. That, to me, is what it’s all about.”
In all, the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame now boasts 38 members. Created in 2008, the Hall inducted groups yearly for the first two years before switching over to a biennial selection in 2011. This year’s class will be formally inducted June 12 at the Gordon Center For Performing Arts.
While the criteria are somewhat basic, the selection process is not. With Hall of Famer nominations open to the public, the JCC’s selection committee must first whittle some 300 entrants to a semifinal list of around 25. Then, each selection committee member is assigned to research one to two individuals. The findings are then presented to the group, which votes on each candidate.
“The first thing we have to recognize is we have a very proud history in our community,” said Maury Garten, co-chair of the Hall of Fame committee. “[Even after our selection] we still have a group of individuals in our community who very much deserve to be a part of this process and to be awarded the Hall of Fame.”
Like Shapiro, Garten is also taken aback by the sheer breadth of achievements put forth by the group, which includes three doctors, a rabbi, an author, a developer and a professional volunteer.
“It’s hard to not shake your head and think, ‘How did these people accomplish so much?’” Garten said.
Suzanne F. Cohen, who served as chair or president of a litany of organizations in Jewish Baltimore, said she was thrilled and surprised to learn she was inducted.
With a mother and grandfather who served as chairs of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Cohen said she “grew up with the concept that you must give back.”
“I felt I wanted to be a real citizen of Baltimore and help make a difference,” Cohen said.
Following her Hall of Fame induction, Cohen is hoping her story, and the stories of the other inductees, demonstrates to others that they, too, can make a difference.
“I hope we are role models to prove to young people and older people that we have a significant stake in the whole community, in our own Jewish community [and] far beyond,” Cohen said. “We have the responsibility and the privilege to make life better for everyone around us.”
Rabbi Jacob B. Agus (died 1986): Spiritual leader at Beth El Congregation for 30 years; leading rabbi, scholar and educator; was on the forefront of the issues involving interfaith and interracial dialogue.
Leo Bretholz: Holocaust survivor and the author of “Leap into Darkness,” which chronicles his story of survival; has given speeches on the Holocaust for more than 50 years.
Dr. Curt I Civin: Founding director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine; internationally renowned for pioneering cancer research at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Suzanne F. Cohen: Dedicated professional volunteer for a number of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations in Baltimore; past chair of the Baltimore Museum of Art, past chair of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, past president of the Baltimore Jewish Council.
Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond: Despite the amputation of many of her fingers and toes as an infant and more than 25 surgeries before she was a teenager, went on to graduate with honors from the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school; nationally recognized for her contributions in the field of pediatric orthopedic surgery.
Jacob Glushakow (died 2000): Artist whose works are exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Peale Museum and the Phillips Gallery; documented the history of Baltimore for more than 60 years; taught at the JCC for more than 30 years.
Lee Rosenberg: Home builder for more than 50 years; “retired” in 1985 and began providing expertise in development and construction to a wide variety of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations; instrumental in the formation of Enterprise Homes, which has helped create more than 10,000 homes for low-income families.
Ronald M. Shapiro: Expert negotiator, sports agent, attorney, educator, New York Times bestselling author and committed civic leader; founded Shapiro, Robinson & Associates, a sports management firm, and the Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI), which has trained more than 350,000 people in the art of negotiation.
The Jewish Legion: Consisted of approximately 10,000 young Jewish men worldwide who enlisted for World War I in 1918; approximately 60 young men living in East Baltimore joined; despite some concern that their participation may cost them their U.S. citizenship, they went anyway. The Baltimore unit arrived too late to make a difference in the military campaign but served in occupation until it was shipped home.