Inclusion in Action at Annual Yachad Shabbaton in Potomac

Written by Chad Freeman on . Posted in Community News

At Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, Maryland, the largest Modern Orthodox synagogue in the Greater Washinton area, we always look forward to our annual Disability Awareness Shabbaton. Presented in partnership with Yachad, the Shabbaton includes many inspirational events. This year is no different: a full slate of events centered around disability inclusion are planned over the course of February 24-25, including a community-wide Shabbat dinner on Friday night (advance registration required), a special guest speaker, a community discussion panel, inclusive Shabbat davening with Yachad of Baltimore, and an inspirational Havdalah service and drum circle to conclude the shabbaton on Saturday evening.

Yachad is the only international organization promoting inclusion for children and adults with disabilities in the broader Jewish community. The organization works to ensure that those with diverse abilities their rightful place within the Jewish community, all while educating and advocating for a greater understanding, acceptance, outreach, and a pro-disability attitude.

State Representatives Address Local Concerns at Maryland Jewish Advocacy Day

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Community News

ANNAPOLIS (Md.) –– This year’s Maryland Jewish Advocacy Day drew over 250 participants to Annapolis to speak with their representatives about legislation important to the Jewish community. The February 7 event was a joint
project of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Baltimore Jewish Council.

Attendees spanned the broad spectrum of Maryland’s Jewish community,from Leisure World retirees to members of the Berman Hebrew Academy community to Terps for Israel from University of Maryland. Familiar faces included Lew Fontek of the Jewish Foundation
for Group Homes (JFGH), Benham Dayanim of the Beltway Vaad, and Berman Hebrew Academy Director of Institutional Development Jennifer Zuckerman.

JCRC Director of Maryland Government and Community Relations Meredith Weisel, introduced the various bills that the JCRC is supporting. They include a bill that would support renovations for six of JFGH’s group homes, bullet-resistant
street-facing windows at the Bender JCC bullet, and one that would disallow anyone who is convicted of second-degree assault access to firearms.

Berman High Schoolers Showcase Extracurricular Talents at Student Run Dinner

Written by Zev Roberts on . Posted in Community News

Upper school students at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy organized and hosted a fundraising dinner February 5 to benefit extra-curricular activities for the school. Students spent countless hours planning the event and worked hard all day Sunday cooking and waiting tables. The event raised an estimated $14,000.

Throughout the night, students creatively exhibited the various activities that Berman offers. As 150 parents, teachers and friends made their way to the cafeteria, they were treated to student artwork and photography as hors d’oeuvres–– breaded chicken fingers and mini hotdogs–– were passed around.

Jewish Community Gathers for Havdalah in Support of Refugees

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Community News

WASHINGTON–– More than 600 people attended a special havdalah service organized by HIAS and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington last weekend, demonstrating the powerful Jewish communal support for welcoming refugees.

The February 11 event, hosted well after the end of Shabbat by Washington Hebrew Congregation, kicked off a series of 20 events across the country for the National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees.

Singles as Shadchanim: Singles Uniting Network

Written by Sara Trappler Spielman on . Posted in Community News

A new model of matchmaking is taking the process out of the hands of official shadchanim (matchmakers) and placing it into the hands of singles.

SUN, or Singles Uniting Network, was founded by David Katzoff, 42, a married father of two children who holds a deep desire to combat what he sees as a faulty shidduch system. The program began locally with recent successful monthly meetings in Silver Spring that he’s trying to now expand to other communities.

Maryland Hillel Students Travel to Las Vegas for Service Trip

Written by Ben Bryer on . Posted in Community News

My name is Ben Bryer and I am currently a sophomore majoring in public health at University of Maryland. This past winter vacation, I had the pleasure of leading a Maryland Hillel Alternative Break trip with my partner Jessie Cohen. Along with 10 other students and a staff member, we traveled to Las Vegas to learn about the education system in the city, home to one of the poorest-performing school districts in the entire country.

It was a truly incredible experience to plan, organize and orchestrate a trip and see it all come to life. The week was packed with meetings with a range of speakers from the district superintendent, to school principals, local reporters, community organizers and more. We had a smooth group dynamic where people were not afraid to speak up, ask questions and participate in each activity we had. We had no major issues during the trip, and everyone left feeling refreshed and knowledgeable from their week in Las Vegas. We could have gone through the motions, done what was expected of us and come out feeling like we had made a difference. Our group, on the other hand, wanted to do something different.

Girls Division of Yeshiva of Greater Washington Puts on a Show with Red

Written by Rina Troy on . Posted in Community News

This year, on Sunday February 12 and Monday February 13, the Yeshiva of Greater Washington-Tiferes Gedaliah Girls Division put on an amazing production. It was called “Red” and was the story of Red Riding Hood with several other fairytale characters compiled into it. The girls worked so hard and each girl used her best talent to put on a terrific show. Some girls sang, some girls danced, some did gymnastics and of course girls acted. Some girls also helped backstage with scenery, props, costumes, business, tech and more.

Open Mic Night Opens Hearts

Written by Sara Levi on . Posted in Community News

The Toyota Sienna was full as we made our way to Berman Hebrew Academy. The typical morning carpool routine, right?

Well, it was Motzei Shabbat, and the six mothers in the car were going to hear our friend perform her farewell song, marking her family’s decision to make aliyah this summer. We were going for her. We didn’t realize the awesome variety of talent from across Maryland we’d get to enjoy at this Women’s Only Open Mic Night sponsored by Beth Joshua Congregation and the Deborah Lerner Gross Jewish Cultural Arts Center.

The Infertility Journey

Written by Debbie Katz on . Posted in Community News

Community members share personal stories and thoughtful guidance at a panel discussion hosted by Young Israel Shomrai Emunah.

SILVER SPRING (Md.) –– For an infertile couple and the Jewish community around them, it can often feel like there is an elephant in the room. At a bris, a kiddush or on a Yom Tov, people jovially say, “Next time by you!” But as months and years go by, questions arise but remain unspoken. “Do they plan to have kids?” “Could they be having a problem?” “Is it better to talk to them about it, or to give them their space?” “Is it difficult for them when they interact with our kids?” For the couple, these encounters can become increasingly awkward and painful. 

Case Study: School Uses Project Based Learning to Broach Complicated Topic

Written by Berman Hebrew Academy Staff on . Posted in Community News

For the first two weeks of the second semester, the entire Rabbi Moshe H. Levinson Upper School of Berman Hebrew Academy wrestled with an ethical-religious dilemma in their Talmud/Rabbinics classes that created a buzz and energy around their Judaics learning.

The case involved a dilemma based on an actual medical event from 1977. Conjoined twins were born to an Orthodox Jewish couple and they shared one six-chambered heart. They could not live more than a couple of weeks in this state. Can you take the heart and put it in one of the babies, giving them a chance to live a regular life, but also ending the life of the other?