The Baltimore Jewish Times’ 5 most-read stories of 2021


A lot has happened this past year. A mob attacked the Capitol, Congress impeached former President Donald Trump for a second time and President Joe Biden was sworn in as president — and that was just in January.

Throughout the year, people all over the world got vaccinated against COVID-19, only to face more hurdles with the delta and omicron variants. Another violent conflict broke out between Israel and Gaza in May, and Israel got a new prime minister for the first time in over a decade. We saw the deaths of many towering figures in the Jewish world, including Sheldon Adelson, Larry King and Stephen Sondheim.

Locally, our own Baltimore Jewish community had its fair share of big stories, and one way we like to measure them is by what community members chose to read. Here are our five most-read stories from 2021.

1. When a customer at Market Maven collapsed, the general manager sprang into action

Eli Siegel
Eli Siegel (Courtesy of Market Maven)

Everyone loves a hero.

Our most-read story of the year takes us to Market Maven, where, last month, General Manager Eli Siegel saved a customer’s life. In the afternoon on Nov. 9, Siegel was outside the kosher grocery store when an employee came out to tell him that a customer had fallen. When Siegel went inside, he called Hatzalah; checked and saw that the customer was unresponsive, wasn’t breathing and had no pulse; and started chest compressions. Siegel successfully resuscitated the man.

Siegel used to work as a volunteer firefighter and EMT, so he was well trained to perform CPR. This, however, was the first time that someone he gave CPR to regained consciousness. Time is of the essence in these kinds of situations, Siegel said.

“If I was not at the store, or if somebody [had not] been in the store that would have some sort of medical knowledge of what to do in this situation, this person would not be alive today,” Siegel said. “There’s no question about it.”

2. New owners acquire 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)

Goldberg’s New York Bagels is an institution in Pikesville. In May, Chaim Lazar and Mark Prince, co-owners of Mama Leah’s Pizza (Lazar also owns Ta’am Thai: Sushi Bar and Asian Fusion), became the bagel place’s new owners.

The two were featured on the cover of our Best of Jewish Baltimore reader’s choice competition issue in June, for Goldberg’s winning the best bagel category. Online, we ran an article around the same time about the new ownership.

This online piece was our second-most-read story of the year, reflecting the community’s passion for local businesses and for local bagels.

3. You Should Know … Tzvi Haber

Tzvi Haber
Tzvi Haber (Uri Arnson Photography)

Every week, we chat with a young Jewish professional for our You Should Know series. These Q&As are generally quite popular with readers (and even more so with the friends and family of those we profile). But there was one this past year that stood out from the rest in terms of the number of readers it drew. That was our You Should Know with Tzvi Haber.

Haber had quite the year. When we spoke with him in March, he was the founder and executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Region of Chai Lifeline, a nonprofit that supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

But just a few months later, he had parted ways with the organization. Last month, Haber launched imadi, a new organization serving children with chronic illnesses and intellectual disabilities and their families in Maryland and Washington, D.C. We reported on each of these developments, and each time, readers checked them out and then returned to the You Should Know to learn more about Haber.

4. Pikesville native returns home to film cooking show

Steven Raichlen at Pearlstone for Project Fire
Steven Raichlen during production of “Project Fire” at the Pearlstone Center (Courtesy of Maryland Public Television)

This year’s season of “Project Fire,” a public television barbecuing show, saw its host, Steven Raichlen, head to his hometown of Baltimore. Raichlen filmed the third season of his show at the Pearlstone Center, where he spent summers growing up at Camp Milldale.

In the show, Raichlen demonstrates how to barbecue different dishes from across the world. This season, he took advantage of his location to cook some Maryland dishes, such as rockfish. Pearlstone’s Jakir Manela and Eve Wachhaus also made some appearances.

Pearlstone worked well as a location for the show this season because it was easy for staff to get to and live at, and it was also a COVID-safe location.

5. Baltimore rabbis encourage vaccinations in new video

“COVID-19 Message From Our Local Rabbonim: Get Vaccinated” video
“COVID-19 Message From Our Local Rabbonim: Get Vaccinated” video by The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and the Baltimore City Health Department (Screenshot by Jesse Berman)

Earlier this year, The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore teamed up with the Baltimore City Health Department to help with vaccination efforts.

The result was a video called “COVID-19 Message From Our Local Rabbonim: Get Vaccinated,” which was published on YouTube on Aug. 6, a few weeks before Rosh Hashanah. In the video, Baltimore rabbis encourage the community to get vaccinated. They highlight how vaccines would allow the community to gather safely for the High Holidays. They also address misinformation about the vaccine.

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