From the best bagel to the best senior center, it’s time once again to celebrate the Jewish Times Best of Jewish Baltimore, with two weeks of highlighting readers’ choices of scores of area businesses, schools, services and more in dozens of categories.
While hundreds were nominated, only the biggest vote-getters rise to the top. Take a look, you might find a new spot for a nosh, a new school for your first-grader, or a new groomer for your precious rescue pet.
This week’s categories are food, lifecycle, medical, personal services and senior resources. Watch next week for camps, education, community/recreation, kosher food, home services and retail.
Please join us in celebrating 2019’s Best of Jewish Baltimore.
Best Judaica Shop: Shabsi’s Judaica Center
Since the 1990s, Shabsi’s Judaica Center on Reisterstown Road has been the go-to shop for Jewish texts and all life-cycle events. Founded by Shabsi Schneider and originally located on Clarks Lane, Shabsi’s has kept pace with Baltimore’s growing Jewish population by expanding its physical location and inventory accordingly.
“When he opened, the store was a fraction of what it is now,” said Shabsi’s employee Binyomin Ansbacher. Ansbacher began working at Shabsi’s, the first time around, in the early 2000s after graduating from Ner Israel. Returning in 2018, Ansbacher is not Shabsi’s only loyal, long-term employee who has witnessed the store’s growth.
“Helene Field,” Ansbacher said, “who has been an employee since the Clarks Lane days, remembers that when they first moved into the current space they couldn’t imagine how they would possibly fill it. And now it’s expanded several times over.”
Between sukkah decorations, esrog, lulav and prayer books, Ansbacher says Sukkot is likely Shasbi’s busiest season of the year. But even with the High Holidays several months away, Shabsi’s is never slow during the summer, helping the area day schools gear up and stock up for the upcoming school year.
And then, there’s the summer camps, including teens from the National Conference of Synagogue Youth camps, who Ansbacher said “come in by the busload.”
“A lot of the kids who attend the camp come from cities that don’t have a large Judaica store,” Ansbacher said. “For them, it’s like coming to a mall. The size of the store and the variety of offerings is dazzling to them.”
Whether its patronage from summer camps, schools or individuals from the community, Ansbacher feels honored to be part of a team that offers such a thorough inventory of Judaica.
“Baltimore’s Jewish community has grown dramatically,” Ansbacher said, “and it’s very special to be part of that growth and to know that people feel happy and comfortable that they can come to Shabsi’s and find what they’re looking for.”
Best Makeup Artist: Adina B
Adina B is the owner of Adina B full service salon which has been open for seven and a half years. Adina is a Boston native, but moved to Baltimore at the age of five. She trained at the Von Lee International School of Aesthetics Beauty School in Baltimore. After moving back from Israel, Adina knew she wanted to do something where she could be around for her kids and as well as be flexible.
Adina loves to work with people and make her clients feel like they are her best friends. No matter what, she values every customer as they are so special to her.
“I appreciate everyone believing in me and trusting me,” said Adina.
Her salon offers a wide variety of services from waxing to manicures to make overs and massages. While Adina is more into waxing, she has been doing make up for over 13 years. Makeup services start at $65. Adina also sells cosmetics on her website.
“I do makeup for every event from brises to bar/bat mitzvahs, first dates, proms, weddings. You name it, I’ve done it,” said Adina. “My favorite part of makeup is empowering women to feel beautiful. That’s what I love doing, and why I love my job.”
Best Liquor Store: Quarry Wine & Spirits
Upon visiting Quarry Wine & Spirits, one will not be at a loss for kosher wine options.
The wine-and-spirit purveyor—which will celebrate 12 years in business this October—is always stocked with around 100 kosher wines from around the world. The collection is so large, the store’s general manager and wines/spirits buyer Kelly Neel, had a hard time choosing a favorite.
“Currently, one of my favorite kosher bottles is a lovely, dry rosé called Fanny,” she said of the Israel-produced wine by La Citadelle de Diamant. The rosé is currently her favorite summer wine. “It’s perfect for sipping on a hot summer day, but can also stand up to a variety of dishes, making it a great option in the spring and fall as well.”
Neel also recommended Recanati Yasmin White, “a bright and fruity blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay that is perfect with seafood, salads, and poultry dishes,” and another Israeli kosher red called Noah Estate Merlot that is “fruity, complex, and smooth on the palate and definitely over delivers at its price-point.”
Business slows down for Quarry Wine & Spirits during the summer, Neel said. But they always get a kick in sales right before July 4th and Labor Day. And of course, with so many kosher wine options, business is booming again by the High Holidays.
“Towards the end of summer we start gearing up for our big Kosher Tasting and Sale in preparation for Rosh Hashanah,” she said.
Although a date for the kosher wine tasting has not yet been confirmed, Neel predicts it will take place around the second week of September.
Best ER: Shock Trauma Center
The R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center has cared for more than 150,000 patients in the past 50 years. Serving more than 7,500 patients a year now, it is one of the highest volume trauma centers in the United States. The shock trauma’s survival rate is about 96%.
Not only does the trauma center save people injured from motor vehicle accidents to falls, they also are a teaching center. As a teaching center, they are one of the largest and most prestigious. Their goal is to “produce physician leaders in academic surgery who specialize in critical care and trauma.”
Dr. Tom Scalea has been with the program for 22 1/2 years. He is currently the physician-in-chief and director of the program in trauma.
“Shock Trauma is a unique resource. There is nothing like it, certainly in the United States, arguably in the world. It is a dedicated hospital for injury and critical illness. In every other place, at least in the U.S., injury care is delivered inside a regular hospital. So the injury people compete with everybody else for resources, operating rooms, beds, whatever it is,” said Scalea. “This is the only place where there are dedicated resources for trauma. So nine operating rooms for trauma, 150 or so beds, nurses that only do trauma, OR staff that only does trauma, physicians that only do trauma. Everybody knows exactly what we have come to do and we may fight with ourselves over resources, but it’s not that anybody comes and says that one transplant needs that OR. We have our own resources, and it’s a generous set of resources and we manage it ourselves.”
Best Senior Care Services: Households at Levindale
Dignity, privacy, respect and a feeling of home are the building blocks of the Households at Levindale, where the stated goal is no institutional atmosphere. Each of the six households is designed to be bright, cheerful and airy. To create a “neighborhood feel,” there are only 14 private suites, with a large bedroom and bathroom, on each household. A modern kitchen, not a nurse’s station, is at the center of the households, that acts as a gathering space, as it is in many homes. There are also hearth areas, sitting areas and dens where families and friends can spend time together. Instead of long corridors, there are short hallways to encourage residents to walk instead of using wheelchairs, when possible. A two-story town center and a café greet residents and visitors when they walk through Levindale’s doors. There is also an historical exhibit by the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Outside, the Levindale Auxiliary created a colorful sensory garden.
However, the beautiful building and grounds are only one part of the equation, according to Levindale president and COO Deborah Graves. The Households at Levindale turn the traditional structure of long-term care “upside down.” Staff members work their schedules around what residents would like instead of the other way around. Residents decide when to get up in the morning, what they eat, and how they will spend their day.
“Choosing to relax, enjoy the company of family and friends, and/or take part in the social activities here are at the heart of the Households at Levindale,” Graves said. “Our households have changed the way we look at aging. We follow the Eden Alternative philosophy which teaches us to be advocates for our elders. Setting a standard of excellence that promotes dignity, privacy, respect and home is the Levindale way.”
LIST OF BEST OF JEWISH BALTIMORE 2019 WINNERS, PART 1
Food, Part 1
Mount Washington Tavern
Wegmans, Owings Mills
Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt
Rita’s, Quarry Lake
Quarry Wine and Spirits
Catering By Yaffa, Baltimore
Pikesville Double Tree
Family-Friendly Shabbat Service
Shabsi’s Judaica Center
(i.e. DJ, Band, Photobooth)
Special Needs Shabbat Service
Beth Tfiloh, Pikesville
Michele A. Shermak, MD
Samuel A. Wealcatch, DDS, PA
The R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center
Dr. Edward Wolf, Baltimore
Katzen Eye Group
Dr. Joel Pleeter, MD
Isaacs, Nawy, Stern & Isaacs
Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement at Mercy