Here is part 1 of the results from the 2021 Best of Jewish Baltimore reader’s choice competition


From the best diner to the best homecare services to everything in between, it’s time once again for the Baltimore Jewish Times’ annual Best of Jewish Baltimore, with winners and runners-up from dozens of categories presented across two issues.

These winners are chosen by readers, who every year submit their choices for best businesses, services and more in the community, and then vote for their top picks.

Here are the first batch of winners in our food, lifecycle, medical, personal services and senior resources categories, as well as a new pandemic response category. Stay tuned next week for the winners in camps, education, community/recreation, kosher food, home services and retail.

Please join us in celebrating 2021’s Best of Jewish Baltimore. Enjoy!

Best Doctor for Pandemic Response: Dr. Ron Samet

Dr. Ron Samet
Dr. Ron Samet (Medical Alumni Association of the University of Maryland, Inc)

Dr. Ron Samet felt honored that he was there when a 103-year-old woman and double amputee living by herself was vaccinated against COVID-19. As she was unable to travel to a vaccination clinic, he and his clinic staff brought the vaccine to her.

Samet serves as the medical director of a community COVID-19 vaccine clinic that opened several months ago in Pikesville. The clinic has administered more than 5,000 vaccines to both the Jewish community and Baltimore’s underprivileged communities, he said. While primarily based in the social hall of Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Congregation, the clinic also has had a number of mobile clinics set up in places like Ner Israel Rabbinical College, where staff vaccinated much of the student body.

In his less pandemic-oriented roles, Samet is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a staff anesthesiologist at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

Born in Israel in 1975, Samet grew up in Los Angeles before graduating from New York’s Yeshiva University in 1996.

Even as a child, Samet was always fascinated by medical care and injury prevention, he said, and attended Yale University School of Medicine in 2001. He finished an anesthesia residency at Robert Wood Johnson in New Jersey in 2005, later coming down to Baltimore for a trauma and anesthesiology fellowship until 2006. He has been a practicing trauma anesthesiologist for the past 15 years.

On a typical day, Samet’s 12-hour shift will start at 6:30 a.m., though on occasion he will take the night shift instead. The patients he sees are victims of motor vehicle accidents, industrial accidents, gunshot wounds and a host of other injuries. As an anesthesiologist, his focus is on helping to stabilize and resuscitate injured patients and to care for them before, during and after their operations. He commonly cares for multiple trauma patients a day.

“It’s very humbling,” Samet said of being named best doctor in this category. “And I’m glad that there are individuals who recognize the effort that the medical community has put into trying to support the people of Baltimore and of Maryland.”

— Jesse Berman

Best Bagel: Goldberg’s New York Bagels

Chaim Lazar and Mark Prince of Goldberg's Bagels
From left: Chaim Lazar and Mark Prince are the co-owners of Goldberg’s New York Bagels. (David Stuck)

It’s not the first time that Goldberg’s New York Bagels has been voted Jewish Baltimore’s favorite place for bagels, and co-owner Chaim Lazar is pleased to report that business is picking up swiftly with the pandemic receding.

“It’s actually taken us a little by surprise, because we had thought we’d have some transition time to ease back into pre-COVID sales and numbers, and that hasn’t been the case,” Lazar said. “It’s just been very quickly switched.”

While staff at Goldberg’s has had to play catch-up as a result, overall Lazar was grateful for the uptick in sales.

“The business has really, really come back in a very strong way,” he said.

Lazar, a resident of Pikesville and member of Congregation Shomrei Emunah, and his business partner Mark Prince became the new co-owners of Goldberg’s in late May after taking over from the previous owner Stanley Drebin, Lazar said. While Prince focuses his attention more on day-to-day operations, Lazar oversees areas like marketing and finance.

Since taking over as co-owner, Lazar has acquired a new appreciation for the complexity of the bagel-making process and the skill required to do it.

“I would say that I’ve learned about the bagel-making process,” Lazar said. “It’s a lot more complicated and nuanced than I thought it would be. And now I see why it’s very difficult to replicate the process. It’s a very unique, handcrafted process.”

While the new owners want the menu and the bagels to stay the same, Lazar said, they hope to streamline both the in-person and online ordering process and to add a coffee bar with gourmet coffee.

Additionally, Goldberg’s is currently undergoing a series of room-by-room renovations that Lazar hopes to complete by September of this year, he said.

— Jesse Berman

Kol Chayim Orchestra
Kol Chayim Orchestra performs (Courtesy of Courtesy of Gary Honick)

Best Entertainment: Kol Chayim Orchestra

Kol Chayim Orchestra performs at events such as weddings, dinners and concerts, said Harold (Chaim) Fruchter, Kol Chayim’s lead singer and guitar player. The group plays a mix of both Jewish and secular music. This includes everything from Israeli music to rock, from klezmer to mellow sounds, with the band striving to fit the songs to the occasion.

“But we focus on simcha,” Fruchter said, “on making an occasion joyous and fun.”

Some particularly popular songs the group plays include “Od Yishama” and “Siman Tov u’Mazal Tov,” Fruchter said.

Other current members are Gary Honick, a bass player and violinist; Don New on the saxophone and flute; Marshall White with the trumpet and keyboard; Greg Lupton, a keyboardist and vocalist; and Steve Rosenheim, a vocalist who also plays drums and flute.

“It feels great, of course, to know that our music is appreciated, and we see that when we’re playing on stage and watching people dance and enjoy the music,” Fruchter said.

Honick was also glad for the recognition.

“[W]e have always put our hearts and souls into providing music that engages and involves the crowd, so that guests remember long afterward how exciting and happy an affair was,” he said. “And we’re grateful that our efforts have earned this honor.”

— Jesse Berman

Sinai Hospital
Sinai Hospital (Courtesy of LifeBridge Health)

Best Hospital: Sinai Hospital

Sinai Hospital was founded a year after the Civil War ended. Its history helps define its mission and atmosphere today.

The hospital started out as the Baltimore Asylum for Israelites, a 10-room building at Monument and Ann Streets in downtown Baltimore. It was founded to provide a place for Jewish physicians and patients, who were not allowed at many other hospitals at the time, said Sinai Hospital President Daniel Blum.

“The very foundation of Sinai Hospital is built on Jewish values, including healing, respect, education, integrity, community, the sanctity of human dignity and life, as well as social justice,” Blum said.

Today, the hospital is a 520-bed medical complex in North Baltimore. It’s a Jewish- sponsored health care organization, but the hospital provides care to everyone. One of Sinai Hospital’s missions is to implement Jewish values into treating every patient, no matter their background.

The hospital offers a range of comprehensive services and treatments. The hospital’s Centers of Excellence feature their most advanced treatments, which include services available at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute at LifeBridge Health and the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute.

Sinai Hospital has served generations of families and is honored to be a cornerstone of the Baltimore Jewish community. They value the trust that their patients invest in them to improve their lives and provide compassionate care, Blum said.

“During this volatile time when social justice and antisemitism are prominent topics in our society, Sinai serves as a safe haven for people of the Jewish faith, as well [as] an important ambassador of care and caring that embraces all people and meets them on their terms without discrimination,” Blum said.

— Courtney Cohn

Best Sheitel Macher: Orna Levin

Located at 708 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville, Orna Wigs offers wigs to a wide range of women, including cancer patients and other individuals dealing with hair loss, said proprietor Orna Levin.

Levin officially opened her business six years ago. She had been helping a friend make repairs to wigs for many years before that. Following an incident where she broke her leg and was bed-bound for five months in 2006, Levin had all the time in the world to dedicate to repairing wigs.

She had been running a day care center and doing wig repairs on the side. After her accident, Levin’s mom came from Israel to help with the day care center, while Levin recovered and answered calls to carefully stitch wigs.

“I was working nonstop, from my bed,” Levin said, with a hint of laughter in her voice.

After her sheitel macher friend moved to Israel, Levin made the decision to become a sheitel macher full time.

“I was the only one who could do crochet to ventilate hair. That’s what gave me the boost to change direction,” Levin said. “I love this kind of work. I like to do the repairs, all kind of repairs that require dedicated needlework. From there, we built custom-made wigs, all kind of wigs.”

Most important to Levin is that she wants her customers to be happy, whether it’s by creating a wig from scratch, repairing it with color or fixing it to give it a longer life.

Orna Wigs, Levin said, offers a huge selection of hair and hair color, using hair from Brazil, Central America and Russia.

“We try to get quality hair that will last a few years,” Levin said. “We have people who want them for a long time. We also want natural-looking hair.”

Levin’s daughter, Tehila Levin, also works with Levin at the shop.

“We definitely appreciate that our customers appreciate us and value our services,” Tehila Levin said. “We definitely always aim that our clients are 100% satisfied so we like that people are happy and enjoy coming to us.”

— Haydee M. Rodriguez

Best Senior Center: Edward A. Myerberg Center

The Edward A. Myerberg Center offers a range of programs that cover fitness, technology, social activities, art classes, book reviews, history, culture, literature, languages and much more.

The center boasts more than a thousand members, 125 programs and 40 years of service to the community. It opened in 1976 on Reisterstown Road and relocated to its current Fallstaff location in 1986. It is one of the many programs that fall under CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc.

During the pandemic, the center has offered more than 50 virtual programs. An example of one is Stories from the Soul, which meets on Zoom twice a week and teaches women how to write and share their life experiences in a blog.

“Our center is incredibly unique because it is built on community,” Center Director Nicole Barr said. “There is a strong bond between participants, instructors, professional team and our board. We’re grateful for our compassionate team and instructors and our loyal community. We’re like a family.”

Members learn about the Myerberg Center through word-of-mouth, Barr said. As the center gradually reopens, it will continue to offer virtual programs, which have been, Barr said, “a lifesaver for caregivers, homebound seniors and those not quite ready to return to onsite programs.”

On June 10, the Myerberg Center announced that services would be offered onsite on a limited basis. In the meantime, Barr said, the flexibility of their on-demand, online classes will ensure that members “stay active even when the weather is unsafe for travel.”

— Haydee M. Rodriguez

Here’s the full list:

Pandemic Response


  1. Dr. Ron Samet, University of Maryland Medical Center
  2. Dr. David Silverman, Sinai Hospital


  1. Sinai Hospital
  2. The Johns Hopkins Hospital


  1. Ahavas Yisrael Charity Fund
  2. Bikur Cholim of Baltimore



  1. Goldberg’s New York Bagels, Pikesville
  2. THB Bagelry + Deli


  1. Rosendorff’s Artisan Bakery
  2. Market Maven


  1. Mezcal Mexican Restaurant & Bar
  2. The Grill at Harryman House


  1. La Food Marketa
  2. Milk & Honey Bistro


  1. Accents Grill
  2. Serengeti


  1. Wegmans, Owings Mills
  2. Eddie’s of Roland Park

Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt

  1. The Charmery
  2. The Cow, Reisterstown

Jewish Deli

  1. Knish Shop, Pikesville
  2. Kosher Bite

Liquor Store

  1. Quarry Wine and Spirits
  2. Kosher Bite


  1. Tov Pizza, Baltimore
  2. Mama Leah’s, Pikesville


  1. Serengeti, Pikesville
  2. David Chu’s Chinese Bistro, Baltimore


Alternative Shabbat Service/Programming

  1. Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion
  2. Beth El


  1. Catering by Yaffa
  2. Hoffman & Co.


  1. Columbia, Rabbi Hillel Baron
  2. Old Pimlico Road, Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan

Event Venues

  1. Beth Tfiloh Congregation
  2. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Family-Friendly Shabbat Service

  1. Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion
  2. Baltimore Hebrew Congregation

Judaica Shop

  1. Gifts by Gilda
  2. Shabsi’s Judaica Center

Party Entertainment (i.e. DJ, Band, Photobooth)

  1. Kol Chayim Orchestra
  2. Talk of the Town Entertainment

Party Planner

  1. Heidi Hiller, Innovative Party Planners
  2. Shira Ocken


  1. Reches Creations
  2. Israel Orange Studios



  1. Leslie B. Papel
  2. Taylor Listening Center

Cosmetic Surgery

  1. Dr. Shermak, Plastic Surgery Center of Maryland
  2. Beverley Fischer


  1. Dr. Dov Elman, Baltimore
  2. Samuel Wealcatch, Pikesville


  1. Dr. Ethan Dubin, Baltimore
  2. Dr. Elliot Schwarzenberger, Owings Mills


  1. Sinai Hospital, LifeBridge Health
  2. GBMC

Mental Health

  1. Sheppard Pratt

Sheppard Pratt is the largest private, nonprofit provider of mental health, substance use, developmental disability, special education and social services in the country. We provide services across a comprehensive continuum of care, spanning both hospital- and community-based resources. Sheppard Pratt has been consistently ranked as a top national psychiatric hospital by U.S. News & World Report for 30 years.,410-938-5000

2. Psychcare Psychological Services

Mental Health Practitioner

  1. Dr. Hinda Dubin, Baltimore
  2. Dr. Louise Fink, Baltimore


  1. Dr. Aimee Jacobs, Owings Mills
  2. Dr. David Silverman


  1. Dr. Laura Friedman
  2. Dr. Stanley Markovitz

Orthopedic Practice

  1. OrthoMaryland
  2. Dr. Lew Schon


  1. Dr. Shari R. Cohen
  2. Dr. Netanel Schwob


  1. Better Care Pharmacy, Pikesville
  2. Rite Aid, Seven Mile Lane and Reisterstown Road, Pikesville

Urgent Care

  1. Patient First

Patient First offers convenient, cost-effective urgent care for routine illnesses and injuries, as well as primary care for patients who do not have a regular physician. No appointment is necessary — just walk in. Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days a year, including weekends and holidays. Each center has on-site x-rays, lab tests and prescription drugs, and most major insurance plans are accepted. Patient First—celebrating 40 years of friendly and convenient care.


Vein Clinic

  1. Vein Clinics of America, Pikesville
  2. Maryland Vascular Specialists


  1. Main Street Veterinary Hospital, Reisterstown
  2. Metropolitan Cat Hospital

Vision Care

  1. Dr. Michael J. Elman, Pikesville
  2. Pediatric Eye Care of Maryland

Personal Services


  1. Shore United Bank

9612 Reisterstown Road Owings Mills, MD 21117

2. M&T Bank


  1. Wolfcuts, Ze’ev Beleck
  2. Krysztof’s Barber Shop

Car Wash

  1. WashWorks Baltimore
  2. Canton Car Wash

Dry Cleaners

  1. Polovoy Custom Cleaners, Pikesville
  2. Glyndon Lord Baltimore

Financial Planner

  1. The Zolet Lenet and Fink Group
  2. Michelle Harf-Grim, Lutherville

Insurance Agency

  1. Neuberger Insurance Servcies
  2. Wealcatch Insurance

Law Firm

  1. The Law Office of David E. Fink, Baltimore
  2. Law Office of Brian Spern, Pikesville

Makeup Artist

  1. Adina Burstyn
  2. Owen O’Donnell


  1. About Faces Day Spa & Salon
  2. Galaxy Nails, Baltimore


  1. About Faces Day Spa & Salon, Pikesville
  2. Adina Burstyn

Pet Groomer

  1. Pretti Pet Inc.
  2. Shaggy Chic Pet Grooming, Timonium


  1. Adina Burstyn
  2. Studio 36, Owings Mills

Sheitel Macher

  1. Orna Levin, Orna Wigs Couture Salon
  2. Fagie Rosen, Hair’s to You


  1. About Faces Day Spa & Salon
  2. Adina Burstyn


  1. Adina Burstyn
  2. About Faces Day Spa & Salon


55+ Community

  1. Broadmead, Hunt Valley
  2. Atrium Village

Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care

  1. Arbor Terrace
  2. Brightview Senior Living

Homecare Services

  1. The Lisa Vogel Agency
  2. Today’s Home Care

Assisted Living

  1. Tudor Heights
  2. Charlestown Senior Living

Hospice Care

  1. Gilchrist Hospice Case, Towson
  2. Levindale Hospital

Independent Living

  1. North Oaks
  2. Roland Park Place

Senior Center

  1. Edward A. Myerberg Center
  2. JCC of Greater Baltimore
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