Baltimore - we love you but enough already 10.2.2017

Friday was a quiet lazy kind of day with bike riding to the post office, showers and an early steak dinner in preparation for the Yom Kippur fast.

Baltimore Harbor at night as seen from the boat.

We Ubered to Bolton Street Synagogue for Kol Nidre services. Bolton is an interesting synagogue that just affiliated with the Reform Movement, having previously been independent. They still have some prayers that include a more conservative style. I misunderstood the starting time for services so we got there a bit early and heard the cello and piano practicing the musical prelude to the service. The cellist plays for the Baltimore symphony and was incredible. The sound of the cello can be so mournful that I was a bit hypnotized by it. It was so fitting for the evening.

Cello rehearsing at Bolton Synagogue

The service was led by Rabbi Andrew Gordon (so new to the temple that he has not been officially installed), and a cantorial student. The result was a bit off musically, but warm and welcoming. There was a full house with a very diverse group of congregants.

Saturday we went to Beth Am Synagogue a conservative shul very close to the inner harbor area. Thank you Barry Reis for helping to make this connection. Ilene and Neri Cohen and their son Joel, took us to and from the synagogue and invited us for a delicious break-fast. Turns out we know a number of people in common – so nice making new friends. Thank you for including us!

This marked the first time that I stayed all day in synagogue on Yom Kippur. I had thought of streaming services from Cleveland because I love the Tifereth Israel closing service and wanted to hear my rabbis’ sermons. But I was afraid that if I stayed on the boat, boat stuff would get in the way and I would not have the same uninterrupted spiritual experience. I am very glad I made the choice I did.

The service at Beth Am Synagogue was warm, familiar and thought provoking. It gave me a chance to sing (which I always enjoy) some of the melodies that bring back fond memories of childhood services at B’nai Jeshurun. Rabbi Burg is rather young and energetic with an engaging smile. His sermon was more political than I would have expected, slamming Trump for his less than inclusive approach. He also spoke about us being united as a Jewish people and suggesting that there is not an “us” and “them” within Klal Yisrael. He referenced a letter written by rabbis during the Nazi occupation indicating that the assimilated Jews were the issue and that the orthodox observant Jews were not problematic – throwing “them” Jews under the bus. I had never heard this before. Even Bob stayed until the end of the morning services (2:00 pm).

They then had a session called Martyrology – Each year a woman, whose name I don’t remember, researches and highlights some point in history. This year she read a piece she had written about an event that occurred in 1942 when an explosion ripped through the Struma, a ship filed with Jewish refugees fleeing Romania and bound for Palestine. One man survived, David Stollar, and eight hundred perished including many children. I encourage you to google this if you haven’t heard of it. It is a very tragic and moving story. I had no idea how badly the Romanians treated the Jews during the war.

After an open question and answer session with the Rabbi, two Episcopal clergy spoke and answered questions about their experiences in Israel as part of a Shalom Hartman Institute learning program. During the break, Bonnie Stainman took me under her wing, included me in conversation and sharing tidbits about the congregation and some of the congregants. Then services began again and before I knew it we were saying Havdalah and hearing the final shofar blowing. (Shofar is a ram’s horn blown on the holiday). Break-fast at the Cohen's was a wonderful way to complete the day and we didn’t get back to the boat until after 10:00 pm.

Having gotten home late and with no emergent plan, we decided to stay one more day in Baltimore. We had a very nice surprise the next morning when Neri, Ilene and a friend (also Ilene) dropped by the boat to visit. Ilene had also mentioned a kayaking tour of the Baltimore harbor that sounded interesting. We tagged along with the tour in our own kayak and had a beautiful afternoon.

Domino sugar sign holds a prominent place in the Baltimore harbor

Later while Bob was checking the engine prior to our departure the next day, he realized that the raw water pump (which had been leaking for a while and was on the replace-when-I-get-to-it list) had seized up and was not functioning. The pump is necessary to bring in water to cool the engine while operating and we can’t use the engine without it. So, having a spare this seemed like no big deal and something Bob felt comfortable replacing. But, the mounting plate on the spare pump that came with the boat was different than the mounting plate on the existing pump. Bob tried to switch the mounting brackets but, lacking the proper tool, was unsuccessful. Of course this all occurred in the evening after everything was closed.

After a sleepless night, we found a boat yard that could order us a pump (about $600) that would arrive the next day. Oh no, not another two days in Baltimore???? We decided to take the two pumps to the boat yard and see if they could switch out the mounting plates. So off we went. I cannot say enough nice about the people at Tidewater Marine. They switched the backing plates and didn’t even charge us!!!!

So back to the boat – pump installed - and we were off. Good bye Baltimore.

We had a quiet, low wind sail from the Baltimore harbor into the Chesapeake and then had to turn on the motor to get into the Magothy River where we planned to spend the next two nights anchored. We are due in Annapolis on Wednesday for the boat show and to meet Nancy who is driving down from Cleveland. Two days on anchor after the noise of Baltimore and aggravation with the boat sounded like heaven. I have liked anchoring each time we have done it. Karen and Hugh had anchored in this spot when they first left Baltimore and gave it two thumbs up. They were right. It takes a bit to get back into the spot behind Gibbons Island but it is worth it. We are now anchored right next to a horse farm complete with crowing rooster.

When we got here there were five others boats, but this morning it is just us and a trawler.

Bob and I have great plans for today – a quiet morning, phone calls to make, things to read and a kayak trip to investigate the area. The weather is perfect, albeit a bit cool.

OBSERVATIONS –

  • Taking time out to think - which is what I did on Yom Kippur- is good for the soul.

  • Working for the Federation gave me a sense that I was helping to contribute to tikkun olam (repairing the world) and I loved that.I am watching world events happen and feeling helpless to do anything to help.This is not a good feeling.My heart is breaking for the people of Porto Rico and Las Vegas.When I come back to Cleveland I have to find a way to contribute.

  • I believe you should stand up during the national anthem – show decent another way.Having been at Ft. McHenry I have an added appreciation for what the national anthem means.

  • No one will know that I wore the same outfit all three times I went to synagogue on the holidays – that is in some way freeing.

  • I can’t wait to get home for the week.I miss family and friends.

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