Har Sinai/Oheb merger, the fate of Pimlico, Grand Central closing

Har Sinai

Located at 2905 Walnut Ave. since 2002, Har Sinai is the oldest continuously Reform congregation in the nation. (Provided)

Har Sinai, Oheb Shalom reconsidering merger

In the March issue of Har Sinai’s monthly newsletter The Connection, congregational president Kenneth R. Bell announced that the Owings Mills synagogue and Pikesville’s Temple Oheb Shalom have renewed merger talks. “We have held two meetings to date, one on February 4 and the other on February 25,” he wrote. “The purpose of the first two meetings was to get to know one another better and to lay the ground rules for all future discussions.” In September of 2017, the two historic Reform congregations announced they were exploring the possibility of a merger. But last May, Har Sinai announced a “30-day pause” in merger talks after allegations surfaced against Oheb Shalom’s longtime spiritual leader, Rabbi Steven M. Fink. The accusations were “of an improper incident of a sexual nature that may have occurred a number of years ago involving Rabbi Fink and a then teenager, who was a minor at the time,” according to Oheb Shalom’s leadership.

Read more: Har Sinai, Oheb Shalom Renew Merger Talks


Pimlico: Home of the Preakness (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Pimlico problems

There’s an uneasy sense that history’s about to repeat itself in Baltimore’s long-shot struggle to prevent the Preakness Stakes from galloping out of town and keep Pimlico Race Course alive, Michael Olesker writes. This time, it’s horses slipping away. Last time, it was Colts. This time it’s Mayor Catherine Pugh trying to keep a venerable sporting institution from going to Laurel. Last time, it was William Donald Schaefer awakening to a radio broadcast telling him the Colts were on their way to Indianapolis. Each move evokes a municipal shudder: Are we still a big-league sporting town, or has time passed us by? Just for the record, this month is 35 years since the Baltimore Colts were stolen away while everybody was sleeping.

Read more: Wanted: Someone with Imagination to Rescue Pimlico

Grand Central nightclub to close

Baltimore will lose its largest gay nightclub when new owners start converting Grand Central at 1001-1003 N. Charles St. to an office building with retail space at street level, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. The nearly 15,000-square-foot club changed hands on Feb. 28, following former owner Don Davis’ decision to retire and move out of state. A purchase price was not disclosed. Davis posted a note on Facebook stating that Grand Central’s sale was finalized on Feb. 28, but did not give many details. He later identified the buyers as Jon Pannoni and George Watson and referred questions to Marc Hayes, who has been serving as the club’s general manager while the property was under contract, and has continued to manage the club for the new owners. Hayes released a statement from the new owners, a group called Landmark Partners LLC, saying the club will stay open until the new owners are ready to begin construction on their office project.

Read more: Grand Central nightclub to close; property will be converted to offices and retail space

Pope Pius XII

Critics accuse Pope Pius XII of having turned a blind eye to Jewish suffering during World War II. ( Wikimedia Commons)

Vatican will open secret archive on Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII

The Vatican secret archive relating to controversial Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII will be opened next year. Pope Francis made the announcement at an audience with managers and staff of the Vatican Archives. In a decision made public March 4, he said the archives would be opened on March 2, 2020. “The Church is not afraid of history,” Francis said. Pius was pope from March 2, 1939, to Oct. 9, 1958, and his role during the Holocaust has been a bone of contention for years. Critics accuse him of having turned a blind eye to Jewish suffering. The Vatican maintains that he worked behind the scenes to save Jews. Jewish and other scholars have long called on the Vatican to open its secret archives to clarify the issue. The Vatican said “qualified researchers” will be able to consult the documents, which cover the entirely to Pius’s reign.

Read more: Vatican will open secret archive on Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII

'Schindler's List'

Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler in “Schindler’s List.” (Screenshot from YouTube)

Schindler’s possessions up for auction

Personal possessions of German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than 1,200 Jews he employed in his factory during the Holocaust, will go up for auction. Among the Schindler items included in the sale; his Longines wristwatch, a compass, a 1938 Sudetenland Medal, two fountain pens, and a business card. The Schindler possessions are being sold as a package by the Boston-based RR Auction. They are expected to sell for about $25,000 in the auction that ends March 6. The items are from the estate of Schindler’s wife, Emilie, who died in 2001, according to the auction house. The compass is said to have been used by Oskar and Emilie Schindler while fleeing Russian troops and heading for American occupied territory in 1945. The Sudetenland Medal was awarded to all German officials and members of the Wehrmacht and SS who marched into Sudetenland, and it was later awarded to military personnel participating in the occupation of the remnants of Czechoslovakia.  Schindler had aided in the annexation and occupation of the Sudetenland as a spy for the German government. —JTA

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