New Slate of Community Members Inducted Into Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame


Ten people, and one organization, in the Baltimore area have been selected this year to be inducted into the Jewish Community Center’s Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame for their contributions to the community.

Rhea Feikin (Courtesy of JCC of Greater Baltimore)

This group is the ninth set of honorees since the Hall of Fame was first established in 2008.

Following two annual ceremonies in 2008 and 2009, the Hall of Fame started accepting a new slate of honorees every two years. Typically, anywhere from eight to 12 individuals or organizations are selected for this honor. The 2023 nominees will be joining the ranks of beloved local doctors, teachers, business owners and philanthropists.

This year’s list includes a television personality, a former JCC president and more. Hall of Fame members come from a variety of different fields, from science, business and politics to sports and the arts. The only criteria for a person being selected for the Hall of Fame is that they must be Jewish, live or have lived in the Baltimore area and must have made a difference in their community or even the world. Both living and deceased people are eligible for these honors so long as they fit the above requirements.

“These individuals have spent years in their professions or giving of their time and talents for the betterment of the community, and we take immeasurable pride in recognizing their achievements,” said Elise Rubenstein, co-chair of this year’s Hall of Fame induction event.

2023’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held on April 27 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, with honors given out in its theater. Deborah Weiner, co-anchor of WBAL-TV 11, served as the master of ceremonies, a position she has held for several years.

Leonard Stoler (Courtesy of JCC of Greater Baltimore)

Esther Greenberg, chief advancement officer of the JCC, expanded upon the process used to select honorees for each year. She explained that there is a pool of community-nominated names dating back to the Hall of Fame’s founding, with around 150 up for consideration at any given time. A selection committee reviews the list of names each year, narrowing it down through a series of votes.

“Over the years, we’ve collected a repository of lots of names and created different categories for them, so we can feature people from diverse backgrounds and industries each year,” Greenberg said.

Inductees for the year include the Sol Levinson Funeral Home, which serves as the premier Jewish funeral home in the Baltimore area; educational and medical philanthropist Lowell Glazer, who has supported education for Jewish children with disabilities as well as LifeBridge Health; and Dr. Steven S. Sharfstein, president emeritus of Sheppard Pratt Health System.

There are also three posthumously awarded inductees: Louis “Buddy” Sapolsky, former president and CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore who died in September 2022; Rabbi Israel M. Goldman, who served as the senior rabbi for Chizuk Amuno Congregation from 1948 to 1976; and Harold Goldsmith, a philanthropist. (Goldsmith is being inducted with his wife, Beth Goldsmith, former board chair of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore.)

An inductee who may be especially well-known to those who watch local television is Rhea Feikin, a Maryland Public Television personality who retired from the network in 2020. She now sits on the board of the MPT Foundation as its vice chair and is responsible for the foundation’s fundraising programs and charitable efforts. When MPT created its Walk of Fame in 2010, hers was the first name unveiled for it.

Louis “Buddy” Sapolsky (Courtesy of JCC of Greater Baltimore)

“I was absolutely stunned to be told about [the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame] and thrilled to be included,” Feikin said. “It means a great deal to me.”

Many of the Hall of Fame’s inductees are people who have engaged in philanthropy and charity, something the JCC holds in high regard.

“You have to be Jewish [to be nominated], but your work doesn’t need to be in the Jewish world,” Greenberg said. “But we’re looking for people doing tikkun olam and other mitzvot, and who have channeled their success into giving back.”

In addition to honoring important figures in the local community, the Hall of Fame also serves as a fundraiser for the JCC. Money from the Hall of Fame’s sponsors and ticket sales from the induction ceremony are put toward financial assistance for low-income families so their children can participate in JCC programs. “Our goal is to never turn away any child or teen because of a family’s financial constraints,” the Hall of Fame website reads.

“Together, [this year’s honorees’] lives reflect the Jewish value of tikkun olam — ‘repairing the world,’” said Ron Attman, the Hall of Fame’s other co-chair.

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