Just In: Despite Shabbos Rally, Baltimore JCC Votes to Stay Open for Shabbos


shabbos_bannerThe Rosenbloom Owings Mills Jewish Community Center in Baltimore will be open on Shabbos beginning 1 p.m. June 6 after a vote of 97-33, with four abstentions, via secret ballot, by the board of directors of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.          

An estimated five to six thousand members of the Baltimore Jewish community had gathered on Sunday, May 17, in the ballfields of Northwestern High School to demonstrate their honor and love for the holy day of Shabbos. Although the impetus for the rally was a recent vote by members of the executive board of the Jewish Community Center of Owings Mills – a suburb of Baltimore – to open their facilities on Shabbos, the mood of the event was one of outreach and introspection rather than anger and confrontation. The rally was sponsored by the Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore and the Vaad Harabbonim with the goal of “strengthen(ing) the honor and observance of Shabbos in our homes, community and communal institutions.” In the flyer advertising the event, the Vaad Harabbonim called upon each member of the community “to dedicate meaningful discussion at their Shabbos table to what they – as individuals and as families – can do to enhance the honor of Shabbos in their lives and homes.” In conjunction with the rally, the rabbonim of all the shuls in town devoted their Shabbos morning drashos the previous day to the topic of Shabbos Kodesh.

The assemblage heard from Rav Aharon Feldman, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Rav Yissocher Frand, Rav Moshe Hauer, and Rav Menachem Goldberger.

The rally unfortunately did not achieve the goal of keeping the Owings Mills JCC closed on Shabbos, as did a similar rally twelve years ago. Over 100 board members voted today after listening to approximately 30 minutes of discussion in favor and against opening on Shabbos afternoons.

It can only be hoped that at some point – hopefully sooner than later – the JCC will reconsider its decision

{Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. A frum website such as this should stay far away from quoting an article verbatim from sources that describe Shabbos this way. Shabbos is being portrayed over here as a matter of choice. As if some can keep it while others, do not. This truth is this is a very,very sad day for Baltimore’s Jewish community. A status quo is being broken and gods’ law, punishable by death, is openly being violated. This tone of the article with quotes such as, “The positions shared at today’s Associated board of directors meeting were all noble in their intent.” “The leadership did a great job in letting everyone have their say”. “It’s important to note, there are no winners or losers” is a huge Chilul Hashem and does not belong on an orthodox website. We should passionately cry out for what is occurring! Not chas v’eshalom observing from the sidelines, hearing comments on how “civil”, full of “mutual respect” and “understanding” this whole decision process was.

  2. Bezras Hashem Baltimore a bastion of peace will see the seeds of bracha from their endeavor to santify Shabbas.

  3. The Alm-ghty took Am Yisrael out of Mitzrayim in a roundabout way and they traveled for 49 days before receiving the Torah. There’s a lot to learn from this that is apropos to the Owings Mills JCC issue.

    Regardless of how the message is dressed, most Jews who have little or no insight into the beauty of the Torah only see the rally as the so called “Orthodox” trying to force our ways on them. They feel judged and they resent it. Like it or not the frum community needs to admit that.

    Had the rabbinical leadership spent the last 12 years engaging, educating and inspiring the wonderful Jews of Owings Mills, instead of staging a public rally, the division and resentment that has now increased would not have transpired and many of our brothers and sisters would likely have become reunited with the beauty of Shabbos and all of the mitzvos.

    Now, there are fresh wounds that need attending to.

    I believe that’s the lesson from all of this.

    Baltimore’s Torah leaders, and all of us for that matter, now have an even greater obligation to reach out with ahavas Yisroel and ahavas ha’Torah to the Jews of Owings Mills.

  4. In response to those who criticize the Baltimore community:

    There is – and has been – a great deal of kiruv activity directed at the non-frum community in Baltimore, much of it targeted at the suburban communities in and around Owings Mills. However, as those who work in kiruv elsewhere know, bringing people closer to Torah is a gradual process. Haranguing and insulting the non-frum does not bring them any closer.

    Positively oriented events such as the Shabbos rally reported here are one way of affirming Torah without being negative about those who do not yet observe it.

    The Baltimore Sun should be complimented on its mostly positive attention to the frum community.

    All our communities could benefit from a more positive approach to publicizing the Torah viewpoint without alienating those who have not yet seen its beauty.