Here Are the JT’s Most-Read Stories of 2023


Baltimore Jewish Times readers love stories about people.

Looking over the data for 2023’s most-read stories of the year, this trend couldn’t be clearer. Whether they were the subject of a You Should Know Q&A, Last Word profile or even just in the spotlight of a local news story, all of our top five most-read stories focused on people.

Our data reveals other favorite topics for the Baltimore Jewish community as well, like local celebrities, Jewish food and sports. Here’s what, and who, you’ve read about this year:

Rabbi Emily Stern
Rabbi Emily Stern (Courtesy of Rabbi Emily Stern)

1. Emily Stern Makes Rabbinical Debut at Kol HaLev

Theater student-turned-rabbinical student Emily Stern was the subject of a Synagogue Spotlight in June, as she stepped into her new role as Kol HaLev’s rabbi.

Stern graced the cover of the June 30 issue. And readers who consume the JT in its digital magazine form might also remember that her story ran with a video where Stern shared information about Kol HaLev.

Stern had initially pursued a career as an actor, studying at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. But she ultimately found acting to be unfulfilling and turned instead to Judaism. She studied at ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal Ordination Program. For a year before she took on her role as rabbi, Stern also created family programming for Kol HaLev and joined the synagogue’s musical group, Shabbat Unplugged, for which she created original compositions.

“I’ve always loved the Kol HaLev community,” Stern said in the June 30 article. “They’re very conversational, very sweet and loving to each other. They care about each other.”

Rhea Feikin (Courtesy of JCC of Greater Baltimore)

2. Rhea on Retirement? The Maryland Public Television Celeb Is Busier Than Ever

Though Rhea Feikin technically ended her career with Maryland Public Television in 2020, her work with MPT wasn’t quite over.

For a local news story in the Feb. 17 issue, the JT interviewed Feikin, who had recently been appointed to vice chair of the board of the MPT Foundation.

The MPT personality was known in Baltimore as a pledge host for MPT’s on-air fundraising campaigns, but as she told the JT, that work was quite different from her vice chair work, which involves serving on committees and soliciting contributions from individuals.

“I have been an on-air personality for 45 years, and I absolutely loved it,” Feikin said in the Feb. 17 article. “My role was to raise money both on air and digitally. Now, I am working in a whole new area.”

Aaron Magden (left) with brother Harley (Courtesy of Aaron Magden)

3. Serving Up Jewish Deli Classics With Aaron Magden

The Jewish deli has long been a staple of the Jewish community, but in recent years, many of these delis across the county have closed.

However, in Howard County, Aaron Magden, the subject of the March 31 issue’s Last Word section, has been keeping the Jewish deli tradition alive.

Magden, alongside his brother Harley Magden, run Mikey & Mel’s Famous Deli in Fulton. The deli is inspired by memories of the Jewish delis the brothers went to growing up.

“We’ve always been deli guys,” Aaron Magden said. “We spent time with our father and grandfather, always going to various delis around Cleveland. We would rather go out to get corned beef sandwiches than a big steak.”

Andrew Cushnir
Andrew Cushnir (Via Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles)

4. Associated Names Andrew Cushnir New President

When Marc B. Terrill announced more than a year ago that he would step down from his role as president of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, a search for his replacement ensued. Terrill has served as president for more than 20 years.

On the JT’s website on Sept. 9 (after Shabbat had ended) and in the print and digital Sept. 15 magazine, the JT wrote about who that replacement would be: Andrew Cushnir, the executive vice president and chief development officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Cushnir will be bringing 20 years of Jewish Federation experience to the role, as well as experience as an attorney and public affairs executive.

“The Baltimore community is known throughout the world for its generosity and warmth, its remarkable leadership and an operating structure that gives rise to innovation and collaboration,” Cushnir said in a press release. “I look forward to working with the many volunteer and professional leaders who make this community so special to ensure the continued vibrancy of the Baltimore Jewish community.”

Cushnir will begin his new position at The Associated in April of 2024.

Valerie Preactor (Courtesy of Valerie Preactor)

5. You Should Know … Valerie Preactor

Every week, the JT does a Q&A with a young Jewish professional in the You Should Know section. This section is a popular one among readers, who enjoy seeing familiar faces featured in the paper.

Our most-read You Should Know of 2023, and our fifth most-read story of the year, was a piece on sports journalist Valerie Preactor, which ran in the April 7 issue. Preactor, a resident of Pikesville, is a sports anchor and reporter for WBAL NewsRadio and 98 Rock. She told the JT about how she arrives at the station at 3:30 a.m. to be on the air by 5 a.m., about being a woman in sports journalism and how she celebrates Jewish holidays with her family.

“My favorite part about my job is the unexpectedness of it all,” Valerie told the JT. “I never really know when I go into the office in the middle of the night what I’m going to be talking about. That really develops overnight, and it’s never the same, especially with sports.”

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