It has been one rollercoaster of a year in news. From the happy occasions such as Israel turning 70 to the sad and solemn occasions such as mass shootings, there have been few dull moments. We’ve recapped 10 major news stories from the last year — stories that touched a large majority of Baltimore and beyond. Of course, it was hard to pick just 10. In the past year, the JT has covered so much, both in print and online, including internal battles and personnel changes faced by local synagogues and businesses. Here, we recall some stories that reverberated beyond individual congregations.
Goldman’s Kosher Bakery Closes
Brother-and-sister duo Max and Leah Cohn retired in early January, which also marked the closing of the bakery first opened by Isaac and Jean Goldman in the 1950s on West Rogers Ave. “I grew up coming here,” Tsvi Palmer said of the local institution, whose closure represented the end of an era.
March for Our Lives
After a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February claimed the lives of 17, including a number of Jews, students in Baltimore were prompted to action, getting involved in gun control and organizing their peers. Students, clergy and members of the Jewish community of all ages joined the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and a similar march in Baltimore to rally for gun control. One Pikesville High School student and her friends even wound up on “The Daily Show.” “I can’t sit still. It’s never been more important than now to make our voices heard,” Roland Park resident Susan Silesky said.
Israel Turns 70
The Diaspora celebrated worldwide as Israel turned 70 in the spring. In a series of articles, the JT chronicled Baltimore’s major Israel advocates, dove into our archives for historical context and reported on celebrations in Baltimore and Howard County. “If you’re Jewish,” Shula Finkelstein said at the Howard County event, “there’s a longing for Israel in your DNA.”
Anti-Semitism Hits Home
Anti-Semitism reared its ugly head in Baltimore in a number of incidents this year. In April, two members of Towson University’s Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter were attacked after anti-Semitic slurs and insults were yelled at them. Four Glenelg High School students face hate crime charges after spray-painting racist, anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic slurs and symbols, including a swastika, on school property in May. A driver yelled “Heil Hitler” at Del. Shelly Hettleman when she was out campaigning in June. KKK flyers were found in Baltimore city and in Howard and Carroll counties in October and November.
Major Middle East Policy Changes
President Donald Trump initiated two huge Middle East policy shifts in May, first by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and then by opening the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, making the U.S. the first country to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. While the embassy move was largely cheered in the Diaspora, the community was divided on the nuclear deal.
Kevin Kamenetz Dies
Weeks away from the Democratic gubernatorial election, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz died suddenly of cardiac arrest at age 60 on May 10. The husband, father, dedicated politician and gubernatorial hopeful spent his career advocating for education, public safety, drug treatment, economic revitalization, senior welfare and healthy living. “He dedicated his life to public service because he believed passionately that government can and should make a positive difference in people’s lives, especially children and those who are most vulnerable,” his wife, Jill, said.
Shoshana Cardin Dies
Not long after being profiled in the JT, Shoshana Cardin, a powerhouse philanthropist and tireless advocate, died in May at 91. The first woman to chair or lead a half-dozen Jewish organizations, her leadership touched The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Council of Jewish Federations. An advocate of Jewish community, Cardin also rallied for women’s rights and drew attention to racial inequality. “Shoshana was a woman of intellect, involvement and tremendous personal dedication to significant causes who effectively spoke truth to power on their behalf,” U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a first cousin, told the JT.
Capital Gazette Shooting
A gunman with a longstanding gripe against The Capital burst into The Capital Gazette offices on June 28, killing four journalists and a sales assistant, including a member of the Jewish community, Gerald Fischman. He was remembered as humble and quiet with a sharp wit. “His passion was the world around him and the political environment,” Larry Harris, a former classmate, recalled.
Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
In the most deadly attack on the Jewish community in America, 11 people were killed and six injured at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha synagogue in Pittsburgh after a gunman walked in and yelled that all Jews must die. The horrific event sent shockwaves through the Jewish community, and the Baltimore area gathered in solidarity twice the next day and again later that week. Beth Shalom Congregation in Howard County held a vigil so packed that clergy had to hold a second impromptu program in the parking lot. “The only way we get out of this is solidarity. The only way we get out of this is recognizing that our liberation is tied with the liberation of all of those other groups in uniting and fighting back,” said Jonah ben Avraham, who organized a gathering at Baltimore’s Holocaust memorial.
In addition to flipping the House, November’s midterm elections brought new and familiar faces to county and state offices. The JT profiled returning District 11 Del. Jon Cardin, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., District 41 Dels. Dayla Attar and Tony Bridges and District 2 Councilman Izzy Patoka. “With us, you get a fresh perspective and new ideas, folks who really want to make a change and a difference in Baltimore,” Bridges said.