Articles by Margie Pensak

Seminary in Israel or America? That is the Question

by play

When Bais Yaakov Middle School teacher Mrs. Rochelle Goldberg’s only daughter Shoshana was applying to seminary, she concluded that she preferred to stay home and attend Maalot Baltimore, rather than join the vast majority of her class, who only considered going to seminary in Israel. That was back in the day when Maalot offered a first-year seminary experience. The ever-increasing popularity of Israeli seminaries resulted in closing that program. Maalot now offers only a second-year seminary program.

“People exerted a lot of pressure on us, and we finally caved,” recalls Mrs. Goldberg. “My daughter is happily married with children, b”H, but even now, I wonder if she had to go. She was unhappy much of the year.”

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Chesed, Lonnie Style


The first thing that struck me as I pulled into the Bnos Yisroel parking lot to attend the shloshim for Lonnie Borck, a”h, were Hatzalah’s four ambulances lined up outside the school’s entrance. It was just as touching to see Lonnie’s Hatzalah colleagues lined up against the rear wall of the auditorium in tribute throughout the almost two-hour-long gathering. Hespedim were not allowed at Lonnie’s levaya, since his petira was on Shabbos Chol Hamoed Succos. The shloshim therefore provided the opportunity to share stories of Lonnie’s extraordinary middos and his care and concern for others. 

Alan Borck, Lonnie’s brother, noted that after moving here to attend the Talmudical Academy in tenth grade, Lonnie fell in love with the Baltimore, and Baltimore fell in love with him. It is customary to learn Mishna in the niftar’s memory, because the word mishna is comprised of the same letters as the word neshama and because it helps give an ilui (elevation) to the neshama. “It was particularly appropriate to learn Mishna in Lonnie’s memory,” said his brother, “because he looked at every neshama in a special way. He went out of his way for people who were completely different than he was or not on the derech at all. We need to learn from his example.”

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A New Jewish Hospice Program at Gilchrist Services


The first time I heard of the word “hospice” was in 1980, just six years after Connecticut Hospice, the first hospice in the U.S., opened in Branford, Connecticut. It was there that my mother, a”h, spent the last days of her life when it became too difficult for my father to care for her.

In August I sat in on a training program for volunteers at Gilchrist Hospice Care, Maryland’s largest hospice organization. It gave me a fascinating glimpse into both the world of hospice care and Gilchrist’s new Jewish outreach initiative. Mrs. Chaya Lasson, recently hired as Jewish Hospice Program Manager, arranged the training, and approached Jewish Caring Network and Bikur Cholim of Baltimore to cosponsor it.

“We thought we’d have 15 or 20 participants at the volunteer training event,” says Mrs. Lasson. “In fact, we had 65 and had to close our registration!” She is grateful for the partnership with Bikur Cholim and the JCN and hopes this will be the beginning of many more such collaborations. “Volunteers are vital and essential for the peace of mind of patients’ family members. We hope that this initial training program will encourage the participants to join the Gilchrist volunteer team.”

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Peregrine’s Landing at Tudor Heights: Where Homey Assisted Living and Tradition Meet

tudor heights

By the time I got to Peregrine’s Landing at Tudor Heights, shortly before 10 a.m. on Friday, preparations for Shabbos were already in full swing. Several pairs of Shabbos candlesticks were set up on a beautiful granite-topped chest of drawers in the synagogue (doubles as an events room), where residents were watching a Shabbat Tunes video. In the adjoining lobby, the spunky director of activities, Goldie Milner, was dancing to the music with a sweet resident named Anita. Permeating the air was the aroma of succulent roasted chicken and a hearty, meaty cholent – kosher, of course – prepared by former King David Hotel executive chef, Menashe Shabtai who is now the facility’s director of dining services and head Star-K Kosher Certification mashgiach.

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A Family United Reunites : The Scheinerman Family Reunion

familoy reunion

Last Purim, when Tom and Gloria Golbert of Princeton, New Jersey, came to their daughter and son-in-law’s Purim seudah in Long Island, they did not know that they were about to experience their own personal Purim miracle.

“If I were a good mother, I would have been in the kitchen helping my daughter; instead, I stretched out on the couch and picked up a magazine on the coffee table,” relates Gloria. “It turned out to be Jewish Action, and as I was idly thumbing through it, it almost opened itself up to page 36, where I saw the words, ‘Peretz Scheinerman,’ and I shouted, ‘That’s my great-uncle!!’”

Gloria, was so excited to see the article, “Unbroken Faith: American Jewish Families Who Defied the Odds” [Spring 5776/2016] that she immediately contacted her children. When she spoke to her son, Bob, who lives in England, he told her, “Mom, I can’t believe this! I have never seen or heard of Jewish Action, but today it was in my mailbox. I saw the article and said to myself, Peretz Scheinerman is my great-great uncle!”

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Mitzvah Motivators: Catering to the Spiritual Needs of Baltimore and Beyond

pirkei avot

Fishel Gross, owner of O’Fishel Kosher Catering, got his start early. He was cooking and selling hamburgers and other culinary delights even as a bachur in Yeshiva Bais Moshe in Scranton. Yet he is anything but your run-of-the-mill caterer. During his 38-year food service career, Mr. Gross’s creativity has spread well beyond the elegant wedding to encompass a smorgasbord of innovative mitzva-inspiring programs. His numerous Mitzvah Motivator projects have prompted children and adults alike to take on such challenges as memorizing Pirkei Avos, saying brachos out loud, and learning Chumash and mishnayos.

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