More Than Just Pictures


Situated in an unassuming storefront on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville between a pizza shop and a convenience store, one might not expect to find a renowned, locally owned photo shop. But that’s exactly where you’ll find National Photo, which does a little bit of everything — from photo printing to digitizing VHS tapes to passport photos to film prints. The shop, a mix of old school and new school technologies, recently surpassed 20 years in business and is the subject of Connor Graham’s cover story this week.

In a continually evolving medium, owner Lev Bar-Av begrudgingly got into the digital era, leaving film behind, and then last year, begrudgingly got back into film after another shop insisted he buy their film processor when it was closing. That gave the store a 20 to 30 percent increase in business, Bar-Av estimated.

But regardless of the technology, National Photo has been helping families in the Jewish community and beyond capture memories for two decades. Bar-Av thinks it’s no coincidence that he’s earned the support of the Jewish community.

“A lot of our history was erased,” he told the JT. “People are obsessive about their photo collecting and record collecting because there’s this social scar of having stuff wiped out.”

That may be part of it. It may be, as one customer who drives from the Washington, D.C.-Maryland line to the shop told the JT, that you get hands-on services from Bar-Av, who says, “‘It’s love.’”

In other news, local legislators addressed the Baltimore Jewish Council last week about this year’s General Assembly session, which like Congress, sees a number of newly elected officials headed to the legislature. As Susan C. Ingram reports, the BJC’s Sarah Mersky spoke about the organization’s priorities, including expanding hate crime laws and Holocaust education. Sen. Bobby Zirkin spoke about a number of issues that will be coming through Judicial Proceedings, the committee he chairs, as well as local issues such as the Pikesville Armory and Stevenson University’s takeover of the former Rosewood property. Del. Shelly Hettleman spoke about her effort with CHANA to create a statewide structure for elder advocates to work together on the issue of elder abuse, as well as her plan to reintroduce legislation on rape kit testing.

Connor also reports on two area congregations, Beth Israel in Owings Mills and Columbia Jewish Congregation, kicking off their film festivals. Both offer a chance to see a variety of movies in English, Hebrew and other languages that speak to various Jewish experiences around the world.

Happy reading!

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