Zippy Around Baltimore


So you think you know Baltimore? Zippy Larson is willing to bet that you don’t know Charm City as well as you think.

This week, the JT tours Baltimore with 82-year-old Baltimore historian Zeporah (Zippy) Larson, who has introduced thousands of visitors (and native Baltimoreans) to the city for decades. She’s been named “best tour guide” by two Baltimore publications. But she won’t take you to the Inner Harbor.

“I try to talk people out of going on a tour with me,” Larson said. “I tell them there’s a streetcar bus that’s at the Inner Harbor that goes through the city. You see all the tourist attractions. If you go with me, you aren’t going to see any tourists or tourist attractions. If that makes you uncomfortable, you don’t want to go on my tour.”

Zippy has led a fascinating life, which includes living in Iran in the late 1970s – just before Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power. During this period, Zippy addressed the Presidential Prayer Breakfast on behalf of Iran and rubbed elbows with politicians such as Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill Jr., Christian leaders such as Billy Graham and popular icons of the day such as Jewish advice columnist Ann Landers.

“Here I was, a Jewish woman, representing Iran, at a mostly Christian Presidential Prayer Breakfast,” Larson said.

That was the late 1970s.

Now, we are dealing with rising anti-Semitism. Also in this issue, the JT covers last week’s “Summit on Combatting Anti-Semitism,” hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice and organized by Attorney General William Barr. Responses to the summit, which drew approximately 150 people, were mixed. However, there was a clear consensus that there is a relationship between anti-Zionism and the rise in anti-Semitism.

“Jew-hatred is Jew-hatred, and it’s evil, and it doesn’t matter if it comes from the ethnic supremacist right, from the vicious anti-Zionist left or from radical Islam,” said Elan Carr, the Trump administration’s special envoy for combatting anti-Semitism. “It’s evil regardless of where it comes from, and we need to fight all of it.”

Carr identified college campuses as an “urgent location” for combatting anti-Semitism, saying that many campuses have become hostile learning environments for Jewish students.

In local news, the Gordon Center for Performing Arts in Owings Mills has released their new 2019-2020 line-up and it’s chock full of world-class music, dancers, comedians and more – from Don McLean and an All-Star Purple Party Prince tribute to legendary singer/songwriter Judy Collins and Oz Pearlman the mentalist. Get a sneak preview right here in the JT.

Shabbat Shalom.

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  1. Cathi, I am over the moon. Thank you for sending Erica to me; she is a fine writer and interviewer. And i can’t forget your photographer, whose patience on a brutally hot morning by the river was much appreciated. I do believe I offered you a tour so feel free to collect. Signing off with a big smile, Zippy


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