First, as part of our occasional series on Jewish life outside the Baltimore Metro region, Connor Graham headed to Western Maryland to check in with Jewish communities in Hagerstown and Cumberland.
While some may tend to lump these communities in Western Maryland together, the rabbis and congregants in Hagerstown and Cumberland were quick to point out that they are indeed two unique communities with different histories and experiences.
“The crucial difference between the secluded Western Maryland Jewish communities is their demographic trends. Hagerstown’s population has not been below 35,000 people since the 1980s; in 2017, the city recorded its highest population ever with more than 40,000 residents,” Connor writes. “Though its Jewish community is small and remote, B’nai Abraham’s Rabbi Ari Plost said the congregation is being replenished with younger members at the same rate it is losing older ones. But even with a steady stream of members, being the only Jewish place of worship in town can feel isolating.”
“In Washington County,” Plost said, “you become aware very quickly that you are not in a community with many Jews.”
In Victoria Brown’s story about the 59th annual Interfaith Institute that took place at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on March 11, area interfaith leaders discussed the interplay of Jewish and Evangelical communities concerning support for Israel.
The event’s keynote speaker, Matthew D. Taylor, observed, “You can have interfaith collaboration without interfaith dialogue.” As such, Victoria writes, “while evangelicals are thinking theologically about the need for Jews to return to Israel to bring about the messianic age, Israelis are thinking temporally about the need to protect Israel.”
From the theological to the temporal and back again.
Meanwhile, at a community forum sponsored by the Baltimore Jewish Council on “How to Handle Suspicious Mail and Packages,” police, fire and public health emergency responders offered the best ways to deal with suspicious mail or packages, a subject too often making headlines in the Baltimore Jewish community.
Attendees were asked to come out, learn proper procedures and take that knowledge back to their businesses, organizations and shuls. From here to there and back again. Completing the circle. Seeking out and bringing home knowledge and information that strengthens and builds Baltimore’s Jewish community.