Renaissance Man


Jewish people have always been innovators, sometimes by necessity, in disciplines ranging from the arts to science. But photographing the Western frontier in the 1800s? That’s a rare story to find, and precisely why this week’s cover story by Susan C. Ingram is so intriguing.

In 1853, Baltimore’s Solomon Nunes Carvalho went on an excursion with 22 men to find a railroad route through the Rocky Mountains. He was the expedition photographer at a time when photography was a far more delicate and involved process, and difficult to do in extreme weather conditions. But he was able to get unprecedented and extraordinary images, chronicling his journey in letters as he did so.

It was only one of his many accomplishments that are being increasingly recognized, as a new group of admirers — including one tenacious Maryland native — try to earn Carvalho his proper place in history with a book, film and historical markers.

Jewish Museum of Maryland Executive Director Pinkert counts Carvalho as one of the great Jewish innovators the museum has featured over the years.

“It really shouldn’t be surprising that the religion of a nomadic people, forged in the wilderness, should retain some wanderlust in its cultural DNA,” he said.

If Carvalho was an inspiration, so is the story of the communal response to one area family. As Connor Graham reports, Pikesville resident Ed Schaffer’s physical abilities have been declining since a large portion of a cancerous tumor was removed from his brain last July. With his wife, Robyn, working, Ed needed help during the day. So she put together an online sign-up for people to volunteer to spend time with him, and the response has been enormous. From fellow Netivot Shalom members to musician buddies, Ed has seldom had to pass the day by himself since last summer.

In less welcome news, we report on yet another incident of KKK flyers being found in South Baltimore, this batch with disparaging remarks about Martin Luther King Jr.

And although the weather may look grim, summer is approaching, and that means it’s time to start thinking about camp. Our camps Insider features articles about teen programs and kids’ camps, how last summer’s California wildfires affected Jewish camps and a column about finding the right camp for your kid.

Happy reading!

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