The Secret Is Out

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There are a few qualities that I’ve always thought distinguish the Baltimore Jewish community from others I’ve seen: Jewish infrastructure from schools to shuls to restaurants, generosity and philanthropy and a tight-knit, small-town feel.

Those of us who grew up here or have lived here for a long time may even take for granted that all these perks also come with an affordable cost of living, especially compared to the cities of some of our co-religionists.

For all these reasons and more, Baltimore has become a hub for Orthodox Jews moving from other areas — the subject of this week’s cover story by Susan C. Ingram. Susan spoke to six families whose members arrived here for disparate reasons.

Some followed their husbands to yeshiva, some were looking to raise Orthodox families in an Orthodox environment, some followed girlfriends and kids, some came looking for love, and some came for an organized community rich in choices.

As someone who didn’t grow up Orthodox, I have come to admire the Baltimore Orthodox community. Everyone seems to know everyone else, and the community’s generosity — from emergency medical service Hatzalah to fundraisers for those facing hardships — is unparalleled. I never leave an event in the Orthodox community without a handful of Shabbat dinner invites.

It is this welcoming attitude and spirit of generosity that has drawn so many people to our area.

It is therefore not surprising that according to research from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, our city’s Orthodox population continues to grow even as Reform and Conservative affiliation rates decline. A drive through Park Heights confirms this, as one sees old houses being torn down to make room for new developments. The price tags on these properties, says CHAI CEO Mitch Posner, indicate that the demand is greater than the supply.

In other news, the first Israeli to play Major League Baseball, Dean Kremer, has landed in the Baltimore area after being picked up by the Orioles to pitch for Double-A affiliate team the Bowie Baysox.

Connor Graham spoke with Kremer about his California upbringing with Israeli parents, visiting Israel throughout his life and the state of baseball in the Jewish state.

Connor also spoke with Baltimore-area firefighters who heeded the call to help in southern Israel, where fires set by kites from Gaza have been burning for months. They are in Israel through the Emergency Volunteers Project, which trains and mobilizes emergency responders in other countries to help Israel during times of crisis.

Happy reading!

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

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