Here is Part 2 of the Best of Jewish Baltimore 2020

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In an annual Jewish Times’ tradition, we ask you, our readers, to submit your nominations for the Best of Jewish Baltimore in dozens of categories. Every year, you deliver with your favorite camps, shops, restaurants, and more.

There are so many, in fact, that we split them up across two issues. Here’s the second half of the results this year, where you’ll find the winners and runners-up in the camps, education, community/recreation, kosher food, home services, and retail categories. Happy reading!


See part 1 here.

Best Special Needs Camp: J Camps

Campers at J Camps
Campers at J Camps. Courtesy of JCC of Greater Baltimore

The JCC of Greater Baltimore’s J Camps offers 11 different camp experiences. They vary in age range (there are camps especially for preschoolers, camps tailored to teens) as well as special focuses (tennis, karate, theater, volunteering, and more).

The J Camps Inclusion Program allows campers with a range of learning, developmental, social, emotional, and physical disabilities to join bunks with their peers and participate in all of the camp options on the Owings Mills campus.

“Integration is the whole point. On any given day, you wouldn’t know who is a part of the inclusion camper,” said Sharon Seigel, senior director of outreach and inclusion for J Camps.

“We have a really strong camp team in general, and I think our inclusion team really strives to make it the best camp experience for all children,” she said. “Part of our success is that there are so many camp options for people to join, from traditional day camp to sports camp to theater and arts.”

The J Camps director and all of the JCC leadership are very invested in the inclusion program, she added. “You really do have to have buy-in from everyone involved for that to work.”

The program is typically able to accommodate 30 children (as in all J Camps programs, campers do not have to be Jewish). Campers are paired on a 1:1 or 2:1 basis with counselors who receive extra training and oversight. “We talk to the families and get to know them, and find out what works out and what doesn’t to help them transition into a summer program,” said Seigel.

— Rachel Kohn

Best Private School/Day School: Krieger Schechter Day School

Rabbi Moshe Schwartz
Rabbi Moshe Schwartz. Photo by Stacey Thompson.

Founded in 1981, Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation has spent nearly four decades educating the area’s Jewish youth in matters both secular and religious.

“We teach Jewish values that are woven into the fabric of everything we do,” said Rabbi Moshe Schwartz, head of school at Krieger Schechter. He said that his goal is to prepare his students “not just for what America and American Judaism looks like today, but for what we believe and what we envision are the pillars that will shape society in the future.”

Originally the vision of the late Rabbi Joel Zaiman, Krieger Schechter educates children from kindergarten to eighth grade in a dual curriculum program, said Schwartz. In addition to both general and Judaic studies, Krieger Schechter also offers classes in Spanish, Schwartz said, providing students with the opportunity to graduate with an understanding of three different languages.

Like many halls of learning, the arrival of COVID-19 forced Krieger Schechter to adapt on the fly.

One parent, Ricky Gratz of Pikesville, whose two daughters will be entering fourth and first grade next year at Krieger Schechter, praised the school for their response to the pandemic. Himself an alumnus of Krieger Schechter, Gratz said the school had “really stepped up to the plate by providing new platforms and lots of engaging content for the kids.” Gratz made specific mention of the school’s transition to online learning and its handling of its graduation ceremony.

Currently, Krieger Schechter hopes to resume in-person learning in the fall of 2020 with appropriate safety measures, which may include students eating their lunches in their classrooms, or starting the school year focused on the school day and phasing in after-school activities at a later date, Schwartz said. That being said, Schwartz made clear that Krieger Schechter has prepared alternative educational models if needed, including hybrid models, and is ready for the possibility of the school being forced to close.

— Jesse Berman

Best Nonprofit Organization: The Associated

Marc B. Terrill.
Marc B. Terrill. Courtesy of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore.

A century ago, The Federated Jewish Charities and the United Hebrew Charities joined to form the Associated Jewish Charities. In 1969, the AJC and Jewish Welfare Fund merged into a single entity to provide for Baltimore, Israel, and Jews around the world.

That organization is now known as The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore.

“For 100 years, The Associated has adhered to our Jewish values, combined with innovation and resilience, to meet the urgent needs of Jewish Baltimore and beyond. As we move into our next century, our commitment to those values remains firm and unwavering,” said President Marc B. Terrill in a statement.

This continues today. For example, The Associated developed the Center for Leadership this year as a centennial initiative to engage and develop leaders. Lately, though, The Associated’s priority has been providing aide to the Jewish Baltimore community during the pandemic.

“We are pleased that The Associated has been recognized for our collective accomplishments and named Baltimore’s best nonprofit of the year,” Terrill said. “Given all we are experiencing this year and how our entire Associated network is adapting, this award is especially meaningful.”

He believes people voted for The Associated because of its dedicated professionals and volunteers throughout the system of agencies, who work tirelessly to ensure The Associated’s “vision of a strong, vibrant, caring, engaged, just, and Jewishly inspired community.”

— Carolyn Conte

Best Kosher Bakery: Pariser’s Bakery

Cakes from Pariser’s Bakery
Cakes from Pariser’s Bakery. Photo by David Stuck.

Founded in 1889, Pariser’s Bakery has been keeping the Baltimore Jewish community well stocked in kosher baked goods and pastries for more than 130 years. And while in that time it has changed owners and locations, some qualities like personal service and a connection to a local community remain valued by those who understand them.

“I like to work, I like to see my customers,” said Motti Margalit, the owner of Pariser’s Bakery. “I like to see people in the street that don’t know me by my name, only as ‘Mr. Baker,’ or ‘Mr. Pariser’s.’”

Originally from Israel, Margalit’s initiation into the world of baked goods came when he was 13 years old, he said, when his father, after retiring from the Israeli army, purchased a local bakery. Years later, Margalit also worked as a baker during his service in the Israeli army, as an injury he had sustained precluded his being placed in a combat unit.

Motti Margalit.
Motti Margalit. Photo by David Stuck.

During a visit to Baltimore, where his wife is originally from, Margalit learned through his mother-in-law that the then-owner of Pariser’s Bakery might have a place for him. Moving to Baltimore, Margalit was hired to work there in 1999. In 2006, when the owner expressed an interest in selling the business, Margalit purchased it for his own.

Pariser’s used to be a mainstay of downtown Baltimore, Margalit said, but changed its location due to pressure from competition. It eventually found its way to its current location between 60 and 65 years ago.

“The way we are different from a lot of local bakeries is that we do a lot of custom-made cakes, for any occasion,” Margalit said. He went on to point out the quality of their challah, their rugelach, and the recipes he brought over from Israel.

He added that Pariser’s has been providing the community with “a great service, great customer service, and good quality product” with no preservatives. JT

— Jesse Berman

Best Interior Design:Nina Elman Interiors

Nina Elman
Nina Elman. Rena Meystel Photography.

Do you want your family room’s color palette to be more calming? Would you like the kitchen to be more sophisticated? If you’re looking to redesign your home, Nina’s has you covered.

Nina Elman opened the interior design company in 2014. She and her team of three other Baltimore women specialize in designing new construction, detail drawings, furniture plans, building off architectural plans, and choosing finishes. Her projects range from large to small scale, from full-home renovations to one-room makeovers. Her priority is finding a design solution that is both visually appealing and tailored to her clients’ individual tastes. She was recognized by Houzz.com with the 2017 and 2018 Best of Houzz award.

She enjoys her job because of the people she meets. Her diverse and interesting clients make all the work worth it. “It’s rewarding to help my clients make their homes into a place they love that feels special to them,” she said.

Elman’s favorite accomplishments are when she has her work professionally photographed. “I look at the proofs and think to myself, ‘Wow, this space looks really awesome. We did a great job.’”

The company is also involved in the community, often discounting or volunteering its design services for community organizations.

“We help many community organizations with decorating and design questions — synagogues, mikvahs, pro-bono organizations, and others,” she said.

— Carolyn Conte

Best of Jewish Baltimore 2020 Pt. 2

Camps

Best Day Camp
1. Beth Tfiloh Camp
2. J Camps

Best Overnight Camp
1. Camps Airy & Louise
2. Shoresh

Best Special Needs Camp
1. J Camps
2. Camp Simcha

Education

Best After Care
1. Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
2. Beth Tfiloh

Best Preschool
1. Goldsmith Early Childhood Center
Tie – Beth El Congregation and Beth Tfiloh

Best Private School/Day School
1. Krieger Schechter Day School
2. Beth Tfiloh

Best Public School
1. Fort Garrison Elementary
2. Pikesville High

Best Hebrew School
1. Rosenbloom Religious School, Chizuk Amuno Congregation
2. Beth Tfiloh

Best Special Needs School
1. Jemicy School
2. JEWELS Inclusive School, Pikesville

Best Hillel
1. Maryland Hillel
2. Hillel Towson University

Best MD/DC Metro Area College/University
1. University of Maryland, College Park
2. Towson University

Community/Recreation

Best Art Gallery/Museum
1. Jewish Museum of Maryland
2. Baltimore Museum of Art

Best Children’s/Teen Programming
1. Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
2. 4Front

Best Community Event
1. Artscape, Baltimore
2. The Maryland State Fair

Best Family-Friendly Activity
1. Maryland Science Center
2. Lake Roland

Best Fitness Center
1. Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
2. LifeBridge Health

Best Nonprofit Organization
1. The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore
2. Ahavas Yisrael Charity Fund, Baltimore

Best Park/Hiking Trails
1. The Northern Central Railroad Trail
2. Lake Roland

Best Performing Arts Venue/Organization
1. Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center
2. The Gordon Center

Best Playground
1. Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
2. Meadowbrook Park

Best Senior Programming
1. Edward A. Myerberg Center
2. JCC of Greater Baltimore

Best Special Needs Programming
1. Special Olympics
Tie – JEWELS Inclusive School, PikeSville, and Yachad

Best Young Adult Programming
1. Beth Tfiloh Young Professionals
2. IMPACT

Kosher Food

Best Bakery
1. Pariser’s Bakery
2. Rosendorff’s

Best Coffee
1. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
2. Dunkin’, Reisterstown

Best Grocery
1. Market Maven, Pikesville
2. 7 Mile Market, Pikesville

Home Services

Best Electrician
1. BGE HOME
2. Winn Electric Contracting, Timonium

Best Flooring
1. Floors Etc., Timonium
Tie – Bode Floors and The Red Carpet and Flooring, Baltimore

Best HVAC
1. BGE HOME
2. Farnen & Dermer, Owings Mills

Best Interior Design
1. Nina Elman Interiors
2. Luna Rosendorff

Best Landscaping
1. Y&L Landscaping
2. TKL Landscaping

Best Pest Control
1. Brody Brothers Pest Control, Owings Mills
2. On The Fly Pest Solutions

Best Plumbing
1. Bruce Solomon Plumbing, Heating & Air
2. Farnen & Dermer, Owings Mills

Best Roofing/Siding/Decks
1. Park Heights Roofing
2. Phil DiBello Family Roofing

Best Windows
1. Kelemer Brothers Replacement Windows
2. National Lumber

Retail

Best Boutique
1. Hats to Hose, Pikesville
2. Synchronicity Boutique

Best Car Dealership
1. Len Stoler
2. Honda of Owings Mills

Best Eyewear
1. Optical Center
2. Catonsville Eye Group

Best Formal wear
1. Nordstrom
2. Synchronicity Boutique

Best Furniture/Mattress Store
1. Shofer’s
2. Macy’s

Best Jeweler
1. Radcliffe Jewelers
2. Kaylah Diamonds & Jewelry

Best Menswear
1. JS Edwards Ltd.
2. Nordstrom

Best Musical Instrument Store
1. Bill’s Music
2. Guitar Center

Best Shoe Store
1. Nordstrom
2. Towson Bootery

Best Shopping Center
1. Towson Town Center
2. The Mall in Columbia

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