Catching Up with History


This week’s cover story and its subjects owe a debt of gratitude to a government employee in a small German city who unexpectedly found remnants of a tragic history — 13 driver’s licenses that were confiscated from Jews on Kristallnacht.

As Susan C. Ingram reports, Owings Mills residents Carol and Brian Kashan traveled last month to Germany to see, in person, the driver’s license that once belonged to Carol’s grandfather, Leo Baneman, who was arrested on Nov. 9, 1938. Last year, his license was found along with 12 others in a frayed envelope in a government building. The employee who found the licenses decided to give them to a local high school history teacher, who tasked his students with tracking down the license holders’ descendants.

Carol Kashan was one of those descendants. The teacher tracked her down through online records from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, which reached out to her on his behalf.

“That was a very strange phone call, but I was really excited,” Carol told the JT.

While Leo Baneman may be long gone, the recent discovery of his license has changed Carol’s life, not only reconnecting her with her family history, but fostering friendships with the German teacher and student who worked so hard to find her.

In other news, local synagogues are undergoing some facelifts. Connor Graham reports on Harford County’s Temple Adas Shalom, where a $2 million renovation was rededicated over Chanukah with a celebration and Havdalah service. The renovation includes a new sanctuary, new classrooms, updated bathrooms and a revamped Judaica shop. The social hall and kitchen are still to come.

Perhaps most impressive about Adas Shalom’s renovation is that congregants provided much of the expertise and funding for the project, which Rabbi Gila Ruskin told the JT is representative of the close-knit and dedicated community.

Meanwhile, Baltimore’s Beth Am Synagogue is moving its religious, educational and administrative operations to temporary spaces so that its nearly 100-year-old building can undergo a two-phase renovation and construction project. Much like its neighbors to the north at Adas Shalom, Rabbi Daniel Burg said more than 70 percent of the congregation participated in the campaign.

Happy reading!


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