Here is part 2 of the Best of Jewish Baltimore 2022

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Here is part two of the results from the Baltimore Jewish Times’ annual Best of Jewish Baltimore reader’s choice competition. These businesses, nonprofits, institutions and more are chosen by you, the readers, who nominate and then vote for your favorites.

There are so many categories that we split them up across two issues. Last week, we revealed the winners and runner-ups from the food, lifecycle, medical, personal services and seniors categories.


This week, we present to you the winners and runner-ups in our camps, education, community/recreation, kosher food, home services and retail categories.

Please join us in celebrating 2022’s Best of Jewish Baltimore. Enjoy!

Kids at Camp Airy
Kids at Camp Airy (Courtesy of Camps Airy and Louise)

Best Overnight Camp: Camps Airy & Louise

Camps Airy and Louise have long been a part of Jewish history in the Baltimore area.

They were founded by Aaron and Lillie Straus in the 1920s as a respite from Baltimore’s cramped working conditions for young Jewish women — first as all-girls Camp Louise in 1922 and then Camp Airy for boys two years later.

Though some camp traditions have changed, the opportunity to nurture Jewish identity and build strong peer relationships is at the core of what makes it so successful today.

Camp friendships like the ones formed at Airy and Louise are unique. The individuals one meets at camp were the friends who became partners, lifelong friends and wedding guests.

Reaching 100 years for Louise and Airy in 2022 and 2024, respectively, there are also third-, fourth- and fifth-generation campers — a heritage that also makes for a dynamic experience.

“They’re swimming in the same swimming pool, they’re eating in the same dining hall or they’re singing the same songs that we sang at Shabbat in the ’30s that we’re singing [now],” Lauren Perlin, the camp’s director of development, said earlier this year.

“It means even more this year in our centennial summer to receive this recognition,” Perlin said of being named in Best of Jewish Baltimore.

She said to represent the Jewish community through a formal honor that reiterates the camps’ roots and dedication to those values is especially important.

Camp opens for the summer on June 26.

— Lindsay VanAsdalan

Beth El Hebrew school students
Beth El Hebrew school students outside (Amy Goldberg)

Best Hebrew School: Beth El Congregation of Baltimore

Beth El Congregation’s Hebrew school has 270 students, including a Sunday school for four year-olds, through high school. Most students attend school on the main campus, and some attend one of the satellite schools in four areas — Towson, Columbia/Ellicott City, Federal Hill and Roland Park. In addition to Hebrew, students take electives, such as yoga, art and parshah projects.

The Berman-Lipavsky Religious School opened in 1952, four years after the congregation was established — Beth El Congregation celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The neighborhood schools began in 1999, at Roland Park Country School with more than 40 students.

Amy Goldberg, director of the Berman-Lipavsky Religious School, and Eyal Bor, director of the Beth El Schools and the Rabbi Mark G. Loeb Center For Lifelong Learning, were both delighted to learn that Beth El won best Hebrew school.

Asked to share her thoughts on the best qualities of the school, Goldberg said, “The first thing that comes to mind is that we treat each family like an individual. While we do have structure, we recognize that each family and each student is unique.”

Meeting students where they are and tailoring the program to the student body is one of the qualities of Beth El’s Hebrew school loved by parents, Goldberg explained.

The student-to-teacher ratio is small, with 12-15 students per teacher. With the pandemic, Goldberg remarked, it was ever more important to keep students spread out, for their health and safety. Another success factor is that students are assigned based on their abilities with Hebrew, as opposed to grade, and some classes are even smaller, with six to eight students in a group.

“Today’s Hebrew school is different from the school the parents of our students attended,” Bor said. For example, today’s schools have been modernized with computers, white boards and the flexibility to ensure that teachers have the freedom to work with individual students as needed.

— Haydee M. Rodriguez

Flyer for the 34th Baltimore Jewish Film Festival
Flyer for the 34th Baltimore Jewish Film Festival (JCC Marketing Department)

Best Community Event: Baltimore Jewish Film Festival

Now in its 34th year, the William and Irene Weinberg Family Baltimore Jewish Film Festival showcases the best of Jewish cinema from all around the world.

“I am delighted to learn that the film festival was selected for this honor,” said Sara Qureshi, film program director at the Gordon Center.

The film festival, which has become a signature program of the Gordon Center at the JCC of Greater Baltimore, recently showed 10 films at its most recent iteration, from April 25 through May 29. Films featured this year hailed from different corners of the Jewish world and included productions from the U.S., Israel, Germany, France and Switzerland.

This was Qureshi’s fourth film festival, which is organized by staff and curated in partnership with a 25-member volunteer committee whose goal is to ensure that the films chosen reflect the values of the festival to “explicitly include diversity of genre, topic, country of origin, and perspective,” according to background information shared by Qureshi.

The film festival also presents films that are not readily available elsewhere, as well as engagement programs with guest speakers — such as filmmakers, scholars and other experts — to enrich the viewing experience.

The festival allows viewers to connect through art.

“In 2020, the festival quickly pivoted to a fully virtual format due to the pandemic,” Qureshi said. “It remained so in 2021 and 2022, and decisions about future festivals will be based on viewer and community needs.”

— Haydee M. Rodriguez

Best Kosher Bakery: Pariser’s Bakery

First opened in 1889, Pariser’s Bakery has been in the Baltimore area for more than a century. It markets itself on its website as “Baltimore’s Best Kosher Bakery” — and judging by its win for Best Kosher Bakery in the Best of Jewish Baltimore reader’s choice competition, area residents seem to agree.

The bakery offers different kinds of baked goods for all occasions, such as staples like cakes, cookies and pies. Not only that, but it also makes more traditionally Jewish desserts and baked goods, such as challah, rugelach and hamantaschen for Purim.

Pariser’s Bakery also offers specialty cakes for special occasions and will custom make a cake for any customers who need something specific. For those with specific dietary needs, the bakery is an entirely peanut-free establishment and has a selection of sugar-free offerings.

Motti Margalit has owned the bakery for the past 15 years. He’s taken steps to expand delivery options for the bakery — it is no longer necessary for hungry customers to drive to the bakery and order in person. They can also place orders online or over the phone, or have food delivered to them.

The bakery’s focus is not just on serving the Jewish community, though. It aims to meet the Baltimore area’s kosher needs, whether they are Jewish or not.

“I’m very honored [to be nominated] and very appreciative of the community,” Margalit said. “I’m happy to continue serving and helping.”

— Jillian Diamond

Best Plumbing: Bruce Solomon Plumbing, Heating & Air

Bruce Solomon Plumbing, Heating & Air has been serving the Owings Mills area for 38 years. And while the area they service is fairly small, they’ve amassed a devoted customer base that calls upon them whenever they need something fixed in their house.

Owned by the eponymous Bruce Solomon, a licensed master plumber, the locally owned business offers a variety of services. The business both installs and fixes preexisting plumbing, heating and air features. It also provides service plans for people who need their systems regularly maintained throughout the year.

Solomon purposefully works on homes within a small area, preferring the intimacy with customers that comes with owning a small business.

“We limit ourselves because we’re small, and we like to have repeat customers,” he said. “There are … maybe five people who have been calling us [for our services] for nearly 40 years.”

He also only works on houses for the same reason and does not work on new construction sites.

“That works for us because we know how to take care of people’s houses,” Solomon said. “And we know how to make sure we respect their house while we’re there.”

— Jillian Diamond

woman trying on wedding dress
Love it at Stella’s sells bridal gowns (Courtesy of Love it at Stella’s)

Best Formalware: Love it at Stella’s

Love it at Stella’s, a bridal boutique, has a long and storied history. Opening in 1961 as Pacey’s, the shop was later rebranded as Stella’s Bridal. Its claim to fame is being featured in 1988’s “Hairspray,” a movie by Baltimore native and director John Waters. Since 2014, Love it at Stella’s has been located in Westminster and operates out of a building that used to be Westminster High School and then Westminster Inn.

The boutique specializes in clothes for weddings. Not just limited to bridal gowns, it also provides dresses for mothers, flower girls and first communions, as well as tuxedos for men.

Over their 60+ years of operation, Love it at Stella’s has received several awards for its services. These include several Casablanca Bridal awards and multiple Weddingwire Couples’ Choice awards. Several of their stylists have also received awards for their services.

“We owe our success to our amazing staff, attention to detail and always putting our brides and clients first,” said Grace Kohn, the assistant sales and marketing manager at Love it at Stella’s.

Appointments are required in advance for anyone interested in purchasing formalwear at Stella’s. Interested parties can register in advance by calling or visiting their website.

— Jillian Diamond

Here is the full list:

Camps

Day Camp

  1. Beth Tfiloh Camps
    400 Delight Meadows Road
    Reisterstown, MD 21136
    btcamps.org
  2. J Camps

Overnight Camp

  1. Camps Airy & Louise
  2. Camp Simcha

Special Needs Camp

  1. Camp Simcha
  2. Capital Camps

Education

Fraternity

  1. Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi)
  2. Tau Epsilon Phi (TEP)

Hillel

  1. Towson University, Towson
  2. University of Maryland, College Park

MD/DC Metro Area College/University

  1. University of Maryland
  2. Towson University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County (TIE)

Sorority

  1. Kappa Delta, Towson
  2. Sigma Delta Tau (SDT)

Preschool

  1. Goldsmith Early Childhood Center
  2. Beth Tfiloh PreSchool

Private School/ Day School

  1. Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School
    3300 Old Court Road
    Baltimore, MD 21208
    bethtfiloh.com/school
  2. Krieger Schechter Day School

Public School

  1. Baltimore School for the Arts
  2. Pikesville High School

Hebrew School

  1. Beth El Congregation
  2. Beth Tfiloh Congregation

Special Needs School

  1. JEWELS Inclusive School
  2. The Harbour School

Community/Recreation

Art Gallery/Museum

  1. Jewish Museum of Maryland
  2. American Visionary Art Museum

Children’s/Teen Programming

  1. JCC of Greater Baltimore
  2. BBYO ; NCSY (TIE)

Community Event

  1. William & Irene Weinberg Family Baltimore Jewish Film Festival
  2. Artscape

Family-Friendly Activity

  1. The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
  2. Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC

Fitness Center

  1. Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
  2. LifeBridge Health, Owings Mills

Nonprofit Organization

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

Parks/Hiking Trails

  1. Oregon Ridge Nature Center
  2. Lake Roland, Baltimore

Performing Arts Venue/Organization

  1. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    1212 Cathedral St.
    Baltimore, MD 21201
    bsomusic.org
  2. Peggy and Yale Gordon Center for Performing Arts

Playground

  1. Krieger Schechter Day School/Goldsmith Early Childhood Center
  2. Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC

Senior Programming

  1. Edward A. Myerberg Center
  2. Reisterstown Senior Center

Special Needs Programming

  1. Itineris Baltimore
  2. Little Leaves

Kosher Food

Kosher Bakery

  1. Pariser’s Bakery
  2. Sion’s Bakery

Kosher Grocery

  1. Market Maven
  2. Seven Mile Market

Home Services

Foundation Repair

  1. Floors Etc.
  2. JES Foundation Repair

Flooring

  1. Jim Boyd’s Flooring America
  2. Carpet & Wood Floor Liquidators

HVAC

  1. Farnen & Dermer
  2. Clean Air Heating & Air Conditioning Co., Inc.

Interior Design

  1. Angel Fischer Planning & Design
  2. Fanny Zigdon Interiors

Landscaping

  1. Y&L Landscaping
  2. Chase Lawn Care

Pest Control

  1. Brody Brothers Pest Control
  2. Queen “B” Pest Services; Rosenbloom Pest Control, Inc. (TIE)

Plumbing

  1. Bruce Solomon Plumbing, Heating & Air
  2. Honest Abe Home Services

Roofing/Siding/Decks

  1. Park Heights Roofing
  2. Columbia Roofing Incorporated

Windows

  1. Window World of Baltimore
  2. Kelemer Brothers Replacement Windows

Retail

Boutique

  1. Octavia Boutique Cross Keys
  2. Hats to Hose

Car Dealership

  1. BMW of Towson
  2. Honda of Owings Mills

Eyewear

  1. Karen Cohn, The Krieger Eye Institute, Quarry Lake
  2. Eye Candy Opticianry

Formalwear

  1. Love it At Stella’s
  2. Octavia Boutique Cross Keys

Furniture/Mattress Store

  1. Sleeptime
  2. Su Casa

Jeweler

  1. Radcliffe Jewelers
  2. Samuelson’s Diamonds & Estate Buyers

Menswear

  1. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Towson
  2. Hat Box, Baltimore

Musical Instrument Store

  1. Guitars of Pikesville; Menchey Music Service Inc (TIE)
  2. Music & Arts

Shoe Store

  1. Towson Bootery, Towson
  2. Joseph Danitti

Shopping Center

  1. Towson Town Center
  2. The Shops at Kenilworth

Medical

Cosmetic Surgery

  1. Plastic Surgery Center of Maryland, P.A.
    Dr. Shermak loves to help people look and feel their best. She is an accomplished, passionate and highly skilled plastic surgeon and an expert on Body Contouring & Mommy Makeovers, Facial rejuvenation, Breast procedures and more. Dr. Shermak understands that each person is unique. Her practice is intentionally client centric and offers extensive options to allow patients flexibility and support in choosing the procedure that best suits their needs.
    1304 Bellona Avenue Suite 100
    Lutherville-Timonium, MD 21093
    drshermak.com
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