web analytics
July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore’

The Tale Of Two Armstrongs In Elul

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Two major news stories involving two famous men named Armstrong occurred within days of each other recently. Was it random happenstance? Or was there hashgacha involved?

We know that nothing happens outside Hashem’s realm and power. But did Hashem have a specific reason for these two events occurring together when they did?

Of course, we can’t claim to know the specifics of how Hashem operates the world, but something tells me there must be a message for us to uncover from the two men named Armstrong.

Lance Armstrong is a hero to millions of people, especially to those battling cancer. While on the rise in a cycling career, he was diagnosed at age 25 with a cancer that metastasized to his brain and lungs. His cancer treatments included surgery and extensive chemotherapy, and his prognosis was initially very poor. He was told he had less than a forty percent chance to live. But he not only survived, he went on to become a world class cyclist and win the most prestigious international cycling race, the Tour de France, for an unprecedented seven consecutive years.

But something happened to make him less of a hero in the eyes of many. After years of rumors and investigations, he decided to stop fighting charges that he used illegal steroids and hormones. (He still maintains his innocence despite the allegations of those who claim to have witnessed otherwise, though he is no longer battling them in order to clear his name.)

On the other hand there is Neil Armstrong, the famous astronaut and the first man to walk on the moon, who died at the age of 82. He coined perhaps the most famous secular quote of the 20th century upon taking that first step on the moon in 1969, saying, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

While Neil Armstrong could have taken advantage of his fame, as other astronauts of his era did, he shied away from the limelight. He simply did not want any financial or material gain to come from his work for his country and its space program. After retiring from NASA he went on to live a very quiet life teaching at a small college in Ohio.

Lance Armstrong. Neil Armstrong. Both become major news stories within days of each other for very different reasons. Both become major news stories in Elul.

What does the name Armstrong connote? A strong arm. Lehavdil thousands of havdalos, the name Armstrong brings to mind that the Ribbono shel Olam is described in Egypt as having a Yad HaChazakah, a Strong Hand or Arm. In Parshas Ki Savo (26:8), the pasuk says that Hashem took us out of Egypt with a Yad HaChazakah. We mention this pasuk in the Hagaddah and we say there this Strong Arm refers to the plague of dever, the death of the animals of the Egyptians. The Malbim explains that only with regards to dever do we find the Torah describing that Yad Hashem struck the Egyptian flock. For no other plague is the term “the Hand of Hashem” used. This indicates that dever was somehow the greatest of all the plagues. In fact, the Malbim says that dever existed in every plague and encompassed all of the Ten Plagues. Without going into the details of how that was the case, we derive from this that the term Yad HaChazakah relating to Hashem indicates great judgment and consequence.

Is it any wonder, then, that we find the word Armstrong in the news in Elul, with the Day of Judgment right around the corner? Indeed, the Yad HaChazakah is coming and we must prepare.

And how do we prepare? We must learn the lesson of Lance Armstrong and the allegations against him. We may be heroes to many people who look up to us for our various spiritual accomplishments. But unless we do teshuvah, whatever we do in private that is inappropriate can and will come back to haunt us when the Yad HaChazakah chooses to have it displayed. That display may be in this world or it might wait for the next, but He will judge the inner core of who we really are and there is no escaping it. False facades and fortune only last so long before eventually being blown to pieces.

Granting Tuition Reductions In Day Schools: A New Approach

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Many American parents are passionate about providing their children with opportunities to participate in sports and develop as great athletes. A recent article in the Financial Post posed the question “Are your kids’ athletic dreams worth breaking the bank for?” For parents of elite athletes, the costs can be astronomical. Such parents designate “tens of thousands of dollars of their household budget to help their child’s athletic career blossom, a sacrifice that impacts everything from daily spending to retirement.”

Take the case of the National Ski Academy. The mission of this private full-time school is to “provide an environment for student athletes to maximize individual potential through the pursuit of alpine ski racing excellence, academic achievement and personal growth.”

Its director, Jurg Gfeller, says parents have to be committed financially to be part of the program. “If you are here five years, you are spending $150,000 on your kids and they have already spent money before and sometimes it’s probably not finished after [you graduate],” said Gfeller.

The financial sacrifice many of these parents make for their children to excel in athletics is tremendous. Their commitment to sports is so great that they see no choice other than to provide their children with the foundation to become great athletes, regardless of the cost. “You can’t say no” says one parent, Susan Remme, who had three children attend the academy.

Now suppose for a moment that this school suddenly introduced a new scholarship program for qualifying students offering up to a 70% reduction in tuition. The only stipulation for receiving this grant of over $100,000, was that the parents must sign a moral obligation agreement requiring them to put forth a good faith ‘best effort’ in donating back to the school as much as possible while at the school and after their children graduate. The funds received from this moral obligation would enable the school to provide the same assistance to others in need.

What would you say the reaction would be from the parents? Astonishment. Disbelief. Then, when the reality set in that the offer was genuine, can you imagine the level of heartfelt gratitude and endless appreciation? In exchange for well over $100,000 in tuition assistance in training and educating these budding athletes, the only requirement is the expectation for the parents to do their sincere best to allocate as much of their charitable donations as possible to the school. Is there any doubt the parents would feel so indebted to the school that they would go to great lengths to financially demonstrate their appreciation for years thereafter?

Jewish day schools across the country have been providing parents precisely this type of financial aid for decades. Yet how much do parents of day school students who receive this financial help give in donations while at the school and after their youngest child graduates? While to my knowledge there has not been a statistical study done on this subject, based on my experience and informal discussions I have had with other school administrators over the years, in general, it doesn’t seem to be an amount of any significance. Unfortunately this seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

Why is this so? Perhaps it is because our culture is so ingrained with a sense of entitlement that some parents feel tuition assistance is a “right” – along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Their outlook is that despite the tens of thousands of dollars they received in reduced tuition, they have paid enough in tuition over the years to their school and choose not to allocate to it any further donations.

To be clear, I realize full well that parents have many financial obligations on their plate. Upon the graduation of their youngest child from day school, many parents have new obligations to the high schools and post-high schools their children now attend. In addition, some parents help support their married children and have other critical, sometimes even crushing, financial obligations. I am not proposing taking from these funds and directing these monies to their former day schools.

There are, however, many local, national and international organizations vying for support. Many of them serve good and vital causes. The organizations can be attractive and provide an opportunity to be part of something “exciting” or to really “make a difference.” Some even promise miraculous segulos and yeshuos. But these are discretionary charitable funds. In contrast, there is a moral obligation to make day schools a top-priority recipient.

Fighting The Tuition Crisis With Financially-Driven Parent Volunteer Programs

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

A recent CNN Money article focused on how more students than ever are requesting need-based financial aid from the private schools they attend. “Private schools are getting flooded with financial aid applications, and a growing number of the parents seeking help are earning $150,000 or more a year,” the article stated. It also pointed out that “overall, the average cost of tuition at private schools across all grades is nearly $22,000 a year, up 4% from a year ago and 26% higher than it was in the 2006-07 academic year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools.”

To make matters worse for private day schools, the recession of the past few years has adversely affected the fundraising numbers in many of these schools, especially in the geographical areas hardest hit. And if that wasn’t bad enough, once again the Obama administration, for a fifth time has proposed lowering the income tax deduction for charitable giving. By decreasing the value of itemized tax deductions for higher-income taxpayers, the president’s proposal would weaken the incentive for the wealthy to give to private day schools and other non-profit organizations.

In light of these developments, schools must consider new and innovative ways to increase income and reduce costs in order to maintain financial stability and fiscal health. One approach that should be considered is to institute a parent volunteer program. There are many schools throughout the country that have established parent volunteer programs. However, the central purpose of many of these programs is to benefit the educational quality of the school. That’s the objective behind Three for Me, a national parent volunteer organization running in thousands of schools across the U.S.

While enhancing educational quality through parent volunteer efforts is certainly worthwhile, schools should consider making financial goals the primary objective of such a program. By using the time and efforts of the parent body, schools can effectively convert hundreds of parent-hours into thousands of dollars in revenue and savings – in essence, monetizing the massive amount of man-hours of the parent body.

Many school administrations are already overworked and understaffed, so in order for such a program to succeed it would need to be low maintenance and easy to manage. Further, in order to generate the necessary volunteer hours to have a financial impact, parent participation would need to be made obligatory (staff excluded). There is a case to be made for making participation voluntary for full paying families while making financial aid grants conditional on participation. It is not unreasonable to ask the beneficiaries of financial aid to give a small amount of their time back to the school each year. However, in many schools, the perceived disparity would be a non-starter.

A little over ten years ago, the school I manage instituted such a program. We made participation obligatory for all families receiving tuition assistance and voluntary for all full-paying families. Staff was exempt. The results of the program are compelling. From a pool of approximately 200 parent volunteers, annual gross revenue raised totals on average $170,000 while annual costs savings total on average $30,000. The program’s methodology has been fine-tuned over the years so that today not only has it become a vital part of our operating budget, it takes a relatively small amount of time to administer.

Either way, undertaking and implementing such a program is a serious commitment. While the program is not difficult to manage once it is up and running, it can be somewhat time consuming to establish. In addition, there is no doubt that many parents will be less than happy with this new obligation. But by having the parents give back a minimum of one or two hours each month, the increase in revenue and cost savings can bring great financial relief to the school especially in these very difficult economic times.

Finally, it should be pointed out that this is only part of an overall solution. Schools need to adapt many of the best practices in corporate management in order to grow and thrive. Foremost is implementing strong and effective internal and financial controls and then training the staff with the knowledge to execute these controls properly. This should be done in conjunction with establishing proper governance and long-term strategic planning with active parent involvement.

Storming The Gates Of Heaven For A Miracle

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

On January 31, my family’s world was turned upside down. I received a phone call from my mother early in the morning. “Go to Baltimore, your sister is sick. Daddy and I are flying up today [from Florida]. Her organs are shutting down. It’s bad.”

My mother had no other information. My sister had been sick for a couple of days. She thought she had the flu. My brother-in-law had taken her to the hospital the previous evening and she was receiving IV antibiotics.

I now packed for a trip I was afraid to take. I didn’t know what I would find once I arrived in Baltimore. A place that had always been a joy to visit, to see my sister and her family, now held the unknown and possibly my worst nightmare.

I sent a text to my cell phone contacts: “Please say Tehillim for my sister Chaya Esther bas Faiga Yenta – mother of 4 who was admitted to the hospital with flulike symptoms and now has multi organ failure.” I drove the three hours from New York City to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore saying Tehillim and crying. It was a miracle I arrived safely.

I will never forget sitting in the hospital with my parents and my brother-in-law and his family when the doctors told us my sister had been diagnosed with strep pneumonia, meningitis, DIC, endocarditis and multi-organ failure. They said she might not make it. I went to bed not knowing if I would be attending a levayah the next day.

For two weeks my sister was in the MICU. She was sedated, unaware how Klal Yisrael was davening for her complete refuah. We received dozens of texts on a daily basis from friends, family and people who had heard of my sister’s machlah and were davening for her. I received messages on Facebook from strangers in other countries who were praying for her.

Women baked challahs, shuls held Tehillim groups, children learned Torah – all in the hope my sister would recover.

Much of those two weeks are a blur now. I would sit at my sister’s bedside for roughly eleven hours each day reciting Tehillim, talking to her, rubbing her hands. My parents and brother-in-law would sleep at the hospital during the night while I went to my sister’s home to sleep. I told my sister numerous times while she was sedated, “You’ve gone viral! Thousands are saying Tehillim and davening for you! Please come back to us.”

Our prayers were answered. Two weeks after my sister was admitted to the hospital, she emerged from her sedation. At first we didn’t know if her illness would affect her brain; Baruch Hashem, it hadn’t. Days after the infectious disease doctor informed us my sister had a growth on her heart (the endocarditis), she came back and told my family, “I can’t find it. I just don’t know where the growth went.”

Slowly my sister’s kidneys and liver began to function again. When the top pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins came to drain fluid from my sister’s lungs, he told the family the fluid had basically drained itself. Nissim – miracles – were happening.

One morning I quietly stood behind the doctors in the MICU as they spoke of my sister. The wonderful resident who had been treating her from the moment she’d been admitted said, “The family is what’s pulling her through. They are here 24/7 and encourage her so much.” She had no idea I was standing close by but in my mind I said to her, “The family is Klal Yisrael. We are storming the gates of Shamayim.”

Storm the gates we did. My family and I continue to receive calls, texts and e-mails from people telling us they are davening so that my sister recovers b’karov. The frum community of Baltimore came together with offers to cook dinners, watch my nieces and nephews, clean for Pesach, drive carpool, and more. Friends of the family sought out gedolai hador to ask for berachos for my sister’s refuah.

Baruch Hashem, my sister is doing well, recuperating at home with her family. Every time I look at her I see a miracle. The doctors gave her hours to live and here she is speaking, eating, visiting with friends and family. All because of Klal Yisrael’s tefillahs and Hashem’s chesed.

West Coast Happenings

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Shul Updates: Some West Coast shuls have ended their search for a new rabbi while others are still searching. Here’s an update: Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, originally from Los Angeles, will be moving back as the rav of Kehillat Yavneh, while Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz of San Francisco’s Adath Israel is leaving to become the rav at the West Side Institutional Synagogue in New York when Rabbi Einhorn leaves that position. Another L.A.-born rabbi, Avi Stewart, will be the new rav at Westwood Kehilla. Meanwhile, EDOS in Denver is continuing its search for a new rabbi.

ENCINO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Daniel and Rachel Weisman, a son.

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Jacob Sclar, son of Gavin and Zara Sclar… Adam Wechsler, son of Jeff and Stace Wechsler.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Yossi and Shani Milstein of Yerushalayim, a daughter (Grandparents Yisroel and Reeva Milstein… Shmueli and Samantha Hauptman, a son (Grandmother Maureen Landers of Santa Monica)… Avi and Bryna Webb of Crown Heights, NY, a daughter (Grandparents BenZion and Yocheved Novack)… Rabbi Shmule and Shterny Gurary, a daughter (Grandparents Shimon and Chana Raichik).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Avishai Mermelstein, son of Shlomo and Mariana Mermelstein… Michael Szabo, son of Howard and Helen Szabo… Noam Gershov, son of David and Michal Gershov… Yehuda Mandelbaum, son of Shemayah and Devorah Mandelbaum.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Shmuel Cohen, son of Rabbi Gabriel and Grace Cohen, to Rivky Alon of Toronto, Canada… Harry Etra, son of Donald and Paula Etra, to Daniella Schwartz of Englewood, NJ… Malka Lowi, daughter of Irwin and Tania Lowi, to Mendy Pechter of Monsey, NY… Esti Gross, daughter of Yossi and Sheindy Gross, to Menachem Neustadt of Detroit, MI… Shmuel Schlussel, son of Gerson and Sara Schlussel, to Hindel Sofer of Melbourne, Australia… Tova Klavan, daughter of Yehoshua and Ruchel Klavan, to Pinchas Schulman of Baltimore, MD… Rivka Stoll, daughter of Warren Zev and Susie Stoll, to Gideon Leiser of Belgium.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Adam Lebovitz, son of Jerry and Linda Lebovitz, to Dr. Talia Shainhouse.
Graduation: USC – Jonathan Gerber, Master’s in Business Taxation.

PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Boruch Kreiman, son of Rabbi Yankel and Rochel Kreiman, to Michal Retman of Melbourne, Australia.

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Rabbi Joey and Sarah Felsen, a son.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Yehudis and Yaakov Kaplan, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Avram and Leah Bogopulsky).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Matan Moyal, son of Uri and Lior Moyal.

MERCER ISLAND, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Birth: Mike and Bluma Ekshtut, a son.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Births: Aaron and Naomi Katzman, a daughter (Grandmother Rivka Katzman)… Yeshaya and Nechama Poyours, a daughter.

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Diedra Willner, daughter of Shmuel and Sonia Willner, to Jay Schreiber.

Eliyahu Werdesheim Convicted, Brother Avi Cleared, in Baltimore Shomrim Case

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Eliyahu Werdesheim, one of two Baltimore brothers charged with beating an African-American teenager, was found guilty by a circuit court.

Werdesheim, a former member of Israeli special forces, was found guilty on charges of false imprisonment and second-degree assault, while his brother Avi was cleared of all charges in the beating of Corey Ausby in November 2010.

“He relied on his military training to take Ausby down,” Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Pamela J. White said in handing down her verdict on Thursday, according to the Baltimore Jewish Times.

At the time of the incident, Eliyahu, now 24, was a member of the Jewish neighborhood watch group Shomrim. Avi is now 21.

Eliyahu, was found not guilty on the charge of carrying a deadly weapon with intent to injure but still could face up to a maximum of 10 years in prison for the other two charges. Sentencing is set for June 27.

Henry S. and Benjamin H. Hartogensis

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Usually Jewish history books deal with those who have made their mark by doing extraordinary things. While such people obviously are important, there are those who may not have enjoyed much fame yet whose efforts and accomplishments were crucial to maintaining Yahadus in their community. Two such men are Henry S. Hartogensis and his son, Benjamin H. Hartogensis, who devoted their lives to the Jewish community of Baltimore.

Henry S. Hartogensis 1

Henry S. Hartogensis was born on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, October 27, 1829, in Hertogenbosch, the capital of Noord Brabant Province in the Catholic southeastern Netherlands. On his father’s side he was descended from the distinguished Rabbi Aryeh Loeb ben Chaim (Breslau), whose authorization of the Rodelheim Machzor is printed on the back page of the Heidenheim edition. His father was a well-known philanthropist, scholar and banker, and was referred to as “Rabbi Samuel,” despite the fact that he refused to let others consider him a rabbi. On his mother’s side he was descended from the well-known Lewyt family.

Nineteen-year-old Henry immigrated in 1848 to Baltimore via New York City to “earn a living” and escape the “financial crash owing to the impending French revolution.” He first started a stationery and printing firm and later owned a large sporting goods store on East Baltimore Street. In 1849 he married a fellow Hollander, Rachel de Wolff, daughter of Jacob who had arrived in the 1830s. In the 1850s Henry’s younger brother Eleazar (Edward) joined the growing family and worked as a clothier. After marrying he moved to Washington, D.C., opened a “dry goods emporium,” and established that branch of the family.In religion, the Hartogensis brothers were strictly Orthodox. Edward helped found the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington and taught in its religious school. Henry frequently officiated as hazan at Baltimore Hebrew [Congregation] until the majority espoused Reform in 1870. He led the minority to start the Chizuk Amuno Congregation in 1871 and served as secretary for twenty years. He also helped fund and erect its new synagogue in 1876, located on Lloyd Street only a few doors from its nemesis, Baltimore Hebrew. When Chizuk Amuno moved uptown in 1892, Hartogensis financed a new Ashkenazic synagogue, Zichron Jacob, located near his home on Baltimore Street, where he served as president, hazan, and “chief mainstay (financial and otherwise).” Earlier, in 1887 Congregation Oheb Shalom’s Society for the Education of the Poor elected him as its secretary.

From 1904 until his death [in 1918], Hartogensis affiliated with Shearith Israel Congregation, which remained an ultra-Orthodox synagogue for a century. Again he served as reader at services and was much honored by the congregation.

Henry took an active part in communal and fraternal organizations, both Jewish and non-sectarian alike. For over 40 years he was involved with the Society for the Education of Poor and Orphaned Hebrew Children (Hebrew Education Society), serving at one time as its director and later as treasurer. He was the manager of the Hebrew Free Burial Society for a quarter of a century and in this capacity attended all funerals, and performed many acts of kindness to the living as well as the dead.

Following a lengthy vacation in the Netherlands in 1890, Hartogensis wrote a report for the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent extolling the virtues of Dutch religious Orthodoxy. Despite their achievements in the arts and literature, in sciences and statecraft, which “compares favorably with the best Israelites of other countries,” Hartogensis boasted, “nowhere have I seen ‘orthodoxy’ so triumphant.” The Dutch had no use for “modern innovations to devotion – viz. the family pew, the organ, the mixed choirs mainly composed of Christians, the mutilation of the prayer-book, and the desecration of the holidays. What we call ‘conservative’ congregations,” Hartogensis added, “are unknown to Holland Jews.” Despite the rising materialism of the young, he concluded with satisfaction, there “are not enough of them in the whole country to form a ‘Reform’ congregation.”

Henry S. Hartogensis passed away on December 25, 1918 leaving behind a wonderful shem tov.

Benjamin H. Hartogensis 2

Henry and Rachel Hartogensis had seven children, several of whom led prominent lives. The most notable of their offspring was Benjamin (April 19, 1865 – July 13, 1939).

Benjamin graduated Johns Hopkins University in 1886. He spent the following year doing graduate work at Hopkins and worked for a short time as an analytic chemist. In 1887 he became the associate editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, serving in this capacity for 12 years. From 1890 to 1896 he also served as one of the editors of the Baltimore American. While engaged in this work, Benjamin studied law at the University of Maryland from 1892 to 1893, earning a law degree.

In December 1893 he was admitted to the bar and three years later began to actively practice law. Benjamin was also the founder and president of the Baltimore branch of the Alliance Israelite Universelle and served as president of the Hebrew Education Society of Baltimore for a number of years. Furthermore, he took an avid interest in the Jewish history of Baltimore and wrote several articles that appeared in the Proceedings of the American Jewish Historical Society.

Staunch devotion to Judaism and Americanism characterized the life and works of Benjamin Henry Hartogensis. As an American, he trenchantly searched for deviations from religious liberty to set them aright. As a Jew, he vigorously maintained unswerving loyalty to the faith and traditions of his fathers, which he sought to perpetuate through education.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/henry-s-and-benjamin-h-hartogensis/2012/05/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: