The Power of Community


For most of us, life revolves around communities, whether it’s our religious community, work community, community of friends or the community we live in. These communities enhance our lives and define how we live.

In this week’s issue, we dive into a number of different communities that encompass the larger Baltimore Jewish community. Susan Ingram’s cover story profiles the Lonsmen, a local motorcycle club that isn’t exclusively Jewish, but was founded by and includes mostly Jewish members. Its name comes from the Yiddish word for kinship or common ground.

The group finds kinship through its Thursday night pizza get-togethers and Sunday morning rides that take members all over the region. “It can be a lot more fun being with a lot of other people. … You get to go to different places that you wouldn’t go by yourself,” said Steve “Scout” Gertz, the club’s founder.

For the members of the Lonsmen, being a part of this community has meant great rides with great friends.

In other cases, communities have formed around trying to save beloved institutions.

Justin Silberman’s latest update on the Clayworks Community Campaign sees the community-led group reopening a beloved nonprofit ceramics center, which closed this summer under a mountain of debt with plans to file for bankruptcy. Through the community effort, there was no bankruptcy filing, and new leadership will be taking over this month thanks to the $350,000 the group raised.

Elsewhere, the Owings Mills community is anxiously awaiting announcements regarding plans for the future of the Owings Mills Mall site. As we report this week, possible anchors include Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Previous possible plans for a Walmart were scrapped after community members expressed vehement opposition.

Each of these stories shows us the power of community — whether it’s a group of friends checking out a new motorcycle ride, a newly formed community group fighting to protect its home away from home, or area residents looking out for the betterment of the community by voicing opinions on future development.

At this time of year, our lives mostly revolve around our religious communities, which arguably speak to a higher purpose, but fulfill similar roles in our lives. We’ve rung in a new year, repented for our misdeeds and now celebrate the gathering of the harvest. While the religious communities we belong to gather for very different reasons than these others, they too provide us with sense of belonging and purpose.

As we start another year on the Jewish calendar, we should all be ambassadors and fosterers of community.

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