Shame on JCC

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Unlike the indifference on the part of Adam Hariri, a Park Heights member, regarding the Rosenbloom JCC’s decision to open its doors on Saturday mornings (“JCC’s Shabbat Decision Causes Concern,” June 17), I care!

After reading Rabbi Moshe Hauer’s column, “Shabbos at the JCC: Crossing the Line” (also June 17), I understand the rabbi’s feelings of disappointment. As a relative newcomer to Baltimore, it saddens me to learn that seven years ago, a big schism was created (yes, we are our own worst enemies) during the community debate over Sabbath closure.


After the decision to keep the building open on Sabbath afternoons only, according to Hauer, The Associated made the claim that “the Orthodox had their JCC in the Park Heights building while the Owings Mills campus belonged to the local non-Orthodox population.” As one who uses the Park Heights gym regularly, I can tell you that it is a facility that is enjoyed by both observant and non-observant Jews as well as men and women of all races and creeds.

Talk about unity.


Ironically, an article written by The Associated’s chairman of the board on the very next page of the same  JT issue is titled, “We Are One Community.” Mark Neumann states, “We listen respectfully to one  another’s opinions. … We share the same values even though we may interpret things a bit differently.” Were that the situation, wouldn’t “same values” encompass the 4th Commandment, to remember the Sabbath?

Granted, “remembering” and “keeping it holy” mean different things to different people.  Let me clarify. How one keeps the Sabbath, or not, is his business. Live and let live. And wouldn’t “listening respectfully” imply sensitivity to the observances of the Orthodox community?   I can’t help but wonder why a Saturday morning opening was so important to less observant people (from all the denominations) knowing how painful the original compromise must have been for our sizable religious community.

Associated president Marc Terrill indicates that “the board’s decision hinged on keeping the JCC open as a place for non-observant Jews to spend Shabbat in a Jewish setting.”  Really!  Does he consider the gym a Jewish setting?

What if, in a few years we’re asked to remove the “J” from the JCC? It could be a demand from the federal government threatening to cut off funding or a demand from a prominent Jewish donor to promote ecumenism.  Might it be possible, and might that galvanize our community to unify?

If a Jewish umbrella organization cannot close its doors on a Saturday morning out of deference to the Sabbath and out of sensitivity for the proclivities of some Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews (not to mention because of the origin of The Law), then we have more problems than a Pew or other professional study can begin to tackle statistically.

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