Looking Back on a Leap Year

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Melissa_GerrA year ago I changed professions and joined the Baltimore Jewish Times. Anticipation and aftermath of such a leap can conjure terrifying thoughts or much worse — experiences to match.

But I was fortunate where I landed, at a gateway to a community that consistently presents me with moments of inspiration, humility and delight. As a reporter, part of my job is to find and follow stories, which has allowed me access into lives that span the breadth of Baltimore’s Jewish community.


At an interview with Gary Rosendorf, he recounted (with great humor) how he practically tripped onto his dream just by trusting something very simple that he loved to do — baking challah for family and friends — and inadvertently grew a family business that offers some of the most sought-after challah in the Baltimore/D.C. area.

The compositions of Gilbert Trout, world-class musician, composer, data mining genius and commercial realtor, illustrate what can happen when unconventional paths are taken, even within devout religious beliefs — which he was brave enough to do and has found fulfillment and success.


Rabbi Menachem Goldberger of Tiferes Yisroel, so moving as he spoke gently and eloquently as he explained the significance of beauty in a house of prayer at his congregation’s beit midrash dedication — where no detail was left undone to create an awe-inspiring reverent atmosphere; and 25-year-old powerhouse (not hyperbole here) Chaya Appel Friedman, a wife, mother, and soon to be lawyer who had the courage to identify a gap and fill with her successful organization Jewish Woman Entrepreneur, a network that supports creative, enthusiastic observant Jewish women in all aspects of their business ventures.

Or Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin and Baltimore Harbor Water Keeper David Flores, both dedicated and impassioned environmentalists, who have helped improve water quality for all Baltimoreans; and 9-year-old record breaking swimmer Alan Cherches with his parents Olga and Dmitry—Russian immigrants who as a family, model what is possible with the combination of dedication, determination and love.

I learned of countless far-reaching ripple effects within the community too, like the Attman family legacy which encompasses much more than corned beef; the staggering, quiet philanthropy of Willard Hackerman and all he made possible for the religion and city he loved; the brilliance and creativity of Dr. Paul Gurbel at Sinai Hospital who leads a cutting edge research facility that has impacted thousands of heart patients worldwide; and the unshakable spirit of Frieda Pertman, a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor who lost her whole family in Poland during World War II but survived to become the loving, powerful matriarch of her progeny here on the other side of the world and still approaches life with deep gratitude.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to many more stories Baltimore has to offer.

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