That old Yiddish proverb “Man plans, God laughs” has been invoked countless times ad nauseum since the beginning of this pandemic. But one group that knows that adage all too well is East Baltimore’s historic B’nai Israel Synagogue, which was planning a “Roots & Return: Descendants’ Day” Shabbaton weekend last March.
More than 200 people – descendants of founders or early congregants of B’nai Israel – were expected to attend the gathering at the synagogue, at 27 Lloyd St., and the adjacent Jewish Museum of Maryland. Descendants were coming from Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and Kansas, as well as throughout the Baltimore metropolitan region.
B’nai Israel’s Rabbi Etan Mintz planned for “Descendants’ Day” to become an annual event, leading up to the congregation’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2023. However, the weekend of events and activities was postponed of course, due to the pandemic.
But now, B’nai Israel will hold a “Descendants’ Day Event” on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. as part of an ongoing virtual series on the history of the congregation and its neighborhood.
“Stories of the Old Neighborhood” will offer a nostalgic look at life in old Jewish Baltimore, featuring Eli W. Schlossberg, author of “My Shtetl Baltimore” (Targum Press), and Rabbi Dr. Herbert Mandl, rabbi emeritus of Kehilath Israel Synagogue, Kansas City, Missouri. A native Baltimorean, Rabbi Mandl attended B’nai Israel as a youngster.
The free program is supported by the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Fund of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. To attend, visit this Zoom link.
To read the Jmore story from last March about “Descendants’ Day,” click here.
B’nai Israel plans to hold a “Descendants’ Day” virtual conference on the weekend of June 6, as well as an in-person gathering at a later date in 2021 or 2022.
“Our story is one of continuity,” Rabbi Mintz said in March of B’nai Israel, the state’s oldest continuously operating synagogue. “People often tell me they hadn’t been to our shul in many years and they would love to daven where their grandparents once prayed, where it all began. This is the roots.”