On June 23, the Panther Club, which meets twice a month for lively conversation and fellowship, will celebrate their 79th anniversary at the Martins Valley Mansion in Hunt Valley. The “boys only” club originally formed in 1940 at the Jewish Education Association in downtown Baltimore.
Back then, when its founding members were just teens, meeting activities included basketball, wrestling, volley ball and according to a July 2015 JT cover story, a bit of arguing.
“We’d fight, holler, scream at one another about which girl we took out, where was the next basketball game and getting set up for Sunday to play softball,” David Jacobs, a member of the Panther Club for 78 years, said in the story.
Jacobs would have been a founding member of the Panther Club, but was not yet bar mitzvahed — a rule for joining — in 1940. Two founding members, Stan Tilkin of Philadelphia, and Nate Silver will be present at the private anniversary dinner.
Though contact sports are no longer the go-to activities at Panther Club meetings, about 100 members — whose birth years range from the 1920s to the 1960s — and their wives will take to the floor to dance to the music of The Tommy Joy band this weekend.
Although the Panther Club is a men-only group, the 2015 JT article notes that “the Panther wives are revered, honored, and welcome, and a social bond has naturally formed among them.” Included in the current Panther Club Roster are the widows of deceased members.
According to a letter to the JT by Jacobs, every member of the Panther Club has served in either the Army, Navy, Marine or Coast Guard during WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Jacobs also said in the letter that Panther Club members will join brothers and sisters from other JEA clubs in August to attend the JEA Breakfast 110th Anniversary Reunion at the Park Heights JCC.