26th Street sinking again, GM leaving White Marsh and ‘Northern Exposure’ returns

Problems return to 26th Street

A portion of E. 26th Street above a CSX train route appears to be sinking, four years after a retaining wall two blocks away collapsed into the rail bed below. Multiple news reports and posts on social media show the sidewalk running along the southern portion of the road, in the block between N. Calvert Street and Guilford Avenue, buckling, with jagged blocks of concrete tilting toward the train tracks, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. A representative with the freight rail company said Nov. 26 that it has employees working with the Baltimore City Department of Transportation to assess the integrity of the retaining wall. Train traffic was halted. In an evening update on Nov. 26, DOT said it had completed its assessment and crew had begun removing the sidewalk and retaining wall. The agency has closed areas of E. 26th Street and N. Calvert Street nearby to traffic as crews work. “Once this area is secured, plans for a new wall will be developed,” officials said in a tweet.

Read more: City crews removing sidewalk, retaining wall seen sinking on E. 26th Street

GM White Marsh plant to shut down

The White Marsh-based plant that makes transmissions for General Motors is one of five North American facilities that will cease operations in 2019, the auto company announced Nov. 26. Facing declines in sales and the overall number of car owners, GM says it is shutting down the plants and ending several car lines to streamline its operations and meet the changing demands of customers. Overall, a reported 14,700 blue- and white-collar employees will be laid off, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. General Motors expects to save $6 billion in cash by 2020 after these cuts are made. Opened in 2000, the 580,000-square-foot factory employs 310 workers, according to the automaker, and GM has promoted the factory’s green technology. Currently, the factory produces the A1000 Transmission that goes in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pick-up trucks. In a statement, Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler said the county will offer job and counseling services to the affected employees and use the Eastpoint Career Center to try to match them with manufacturing jobs.

Read more: GM plant in White Marsh among five to cease operations

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg speaking at Advertising Week in New York, Sept. 27, 2016. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York)

Sheryl Sandberg admits she was aware of PR firm that singled out Soros

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged that she was aware of the company’s work with a Republican-led opposition-research company, and said that Facebook did not intend to foment anti-Semitism. “I want to be clear that I oversee our Comms team and take full responsibility for their work and the PR firms who work with us,” Sandberg said in a statement on the Facebook website Nov. 21. She said that when The New York Times broke the story about the company’s work with Definers Public Affairs, she did not remember the firm. Sandberg said she has since explored the issue and realized that “some of their work was incorporated into materials presented to me and I received a small number of emails where Definers was referenced.” The firm was hired to push back against critics who denounced Facebook for the leak of users’ personal information to a political data firm linked to then-candidate Donald Trump. The firm set out to discredit activist protesters in part by linking them to George Soros, the Jewish billionaire who supports liberal causes. Critics said singling out Soros fed into a far-right and sometimes anti-Semitic narrative about the liberal philanthropist. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview Nov. 20 with CNN Business threw his support behind Sandberg, who has been criticized for her role in handling Facebook’s recent crises.

Read more: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg admits she was aware of PR firm that singled out George Soros

Ex-teacher at 2 Toronto Jewish day schools convicted of sex offenses

A former teacher at two Toronto-area Jewish day schools was found guilty of several sexual offenses. Stephen Joseph Schacter was found guilty last week by a Superior Court of Justice judge of three counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference and one count of gross indecency, the Canadian Jewish News reported last week. Sentencing hearings on the child pornography charge and the sexual offenses are scheduled for early 2019. The offenses occurred between 1982 and 2002. The case featured four complaints. Schacter was a teacher at Eitz Chaim schools between 1986 and 2004. At a news conference Nov. 26, police said Schacter taught second and third grades at the Orthodox Jewish school, which runs three campuses in the Toronto area. In May, Schacter was found guilty of one count of possessing child pornography. Aspects of that case were introduced as evidence in the trial over the sexual offenses. Police arrested Schacter in 2016. In 2015, he had been charged with one count of possessing child pornography. At the time, police encouraged his former students to come forward. At his trial in June, the court heard from a male witness, now 47, who testified that he was sexually exploited by Schacter 30 or 40 times between the ages of 11 and 13, from approximately 1982 to 1985. At the time, Schacter was a supply teacher at Yeshiva Yesodei HaTorah, an all-boys Orthodox Jewish school that the witness attended. Schacter was a substitute teacher for afternoon secular studies classes. Police also said Schacter was an office administrator, student supervisor and supply teacher at United Synagogue Day School, now Robbins Hebrew Academy, in 2004 and 2006. He worked as a private tutor from 2009 until 2011.–JTA

Man wearing tallit arrested for ‘anti-Semitic tirade’ on airplane

A George Washington University senior posted a video on Twitter in which he claimed that a man “went on an anti-Semitic tirade” on his plane to Atlanta. Jordan Dale, who was traveling on Thanksgiving eve, tweeted that the man “demanded ‘all Jews raise their hands’ so he could ‘identify them.’” The man, identified as David Toaff, a home loan officer in Bethesda, was arrested by police when he got off the Delta Air Lines plane at the Atlanta airport, and can be seen in the video taken by Dale struggling with the officers. What also is obvious from the video, however, is that Toaff is wearing a tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl. His Facebook page includes pictures of the city of Jerusalem drawn by his father, as well as inspirational videos and a Washington Post article about the recent synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. He did not identify himself as Jewish while being arrested, according to the video. “I’m not a bad person,” Toaff told the police officers who were arresting him. “Preliminary information indicates that while in flight to Atlanta a male began uttering anti-Semitic words to passengers aboard the aircraft,” Atlanta police said, according to NBC News. “When the flight arrived at the gate the male continued the disturbance and refused to provide officers with identification. He was charged with obstruction and disorderly conduct following his arrest.–JTA

Ruth Bader Ginsburg action figure

Brooklyn-based company Fctry is selling a Ruth Bader Ginsburg action figure. (Fctry via Kickstarter)

RBG returns

Fans of Ruth Bader Ginsburg can officially exhale. The Jewish Supreme Court justice and liberal icon was back on the bench Nov. 26, where she heard oral arguments at the start of the court’s December session. Ginsburg, 85, fell in her office on Nov. 7 and fractured three ribs. The fall set off an alarm on social media among progressives, who are wary of the court’s future under President Donald Trump. But Ginsburg was discharged from the hospital the next day and was back at her notoriously vigorous workouts within a week. According to The Hill, she hasn’t missed a day of oral arguments in her 25 years on the Supreme Court, including after cracking two ribs in 2012.–JTA


‘Northern Exposure’ is coming back

Neurotic Jewish physician Dr. Joel Fleischman will return to Cicely, Alaska in a revival of the TV series “Northern Exposure.” Actor Rob Morrow will return as his Jewish doctor character, Variety reported. According to the report, Dr. Joel Fleischman returns to Cicely for the funeral of an old friend. Once there he meets new characters and reunites with old ones. The series, created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey, and known for its quirky characters, ran for 110 episodes on CBS from 1990 to 1995. It was nominated 39 times for Emmy Awards, and won seven including best drama series and best writing for a drama series in 1992. It also won two Golden Globe Awards and a Peabody Award.–JTA


It’s #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday is a movement to create an international day of charitable giving during the holiday season. Here’s a list of Baltimore-area nonprofits to give your time and resources to. For more information, follow at #GivingTuesday



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