Two Jewish congregations are mergingIt will be both an end...


July 29, 1993|By Reported by Frank P.L. Somerville

Two Jewish congregations are merging

It will be both an end and a beginning.

With a ceremonial procession of seven Torah scrolls in seven convertibles from one Northwest Baltimore synagogue to another at 1 p.m. Sunday, two Orthodox Jewish congregations will become one. The smaller of the synagogues will cease to exist -- as it has for 42 years -- at 3910 W. Rogers Ave.

The 325-member Ohr Knesseth Israel Sphard-Rogers Avenue Synagogue and the 450-member Beth Jacob Synagogue at 5713 Park Heights Ave. have agreed to merge.

The last Sabbath service of the Rogers Avenue group at the old location will be held Saturday morning, followed by a buffet lunch to celebrate the move.

The congregation's final prayers in the Rogers Avenue shul will be said Sunday, just before the parade to the new location.

"We have mixed emotions," said Ann Cohen. Her husband, Morris Cohen, has been the congregation's president for 22 years.

A continuing shift of the Jewish population away from the immediate neighborhood of the Rogers Avenue synagogue and the aging of its membership led to the decision to join Beth Jacob, Mrs. Cohen said.

The property at Price and Rogers avenues, a block south of Northern Parkway, is being sold through a real estate agent, probably to a Christian congregation for use as a church, she said.

The procession of Rogers Avenue members, city and state dignitaries and the Kol Chaim Band will accompany the Torahs along an eight-block route to Beth Jacob, which is on the east side of Park Heights Avenue, a block north of Northern Parkway.

The public is invited to watch or to take part.

Singing pastor:

Singing pastor: The Rev. R. Douglas Force, the senior minister of Baltimore's Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church, who is well known for his baritone singing voice, was the featured performer in a recital Sunday at the church.

It was the third event in the Morris Chester Queen Concert Series. Mr. Queen is the congregation's minister of music.

For information about future concerts at the church, at Dolphin and Etting streets, call Elizabeth Mitchell Stemley, chairwoman of the Ecumenical Committee for the Arts, at 235-1728, or the church office, at 523-7200.

Quaker agenda:

Quaker agenda: The Middle Atlantic Region of the American Friends Service Committee, at 4806 York Road, is organizing opposition to the Pentagon's plan to more than double the size of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program for the nation's high school students.

"What is incredible is the willingness of schools to incorporate the costly military training at the same time they are being forced to cut needed academic programs," the Friends' group said in a statement.

"Most schools in the country are limiting or eliminating art, music, languages, sports and other programs that would benefit the students far more than marching and drilling."

When Baltimore County recently approved spending $36,000 annually to match Army funds and provide JROTC training for 100 to 125 students next year at Lansdowne High School, the principal said she saw it as a way to motivate youngsters to attend classes and graduate.

"Our goal is to get a mixture of students in the program," she said.

An Army spokesman said the 12 existing JROTC units in Maryland high schools emphasize self-esteem, leadership and academic achievement, and offer scholarship opportunities and career options. Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has praised the JROTC program as "the best opportunity for the Department of Defense to make a positive impact on the nation's youth."

But the American Friends Service Committee, referring to Baltimore County's decision to create its first JROTC unit, said, "The confusion and chaos in the school system provided the military with the easy access they had long sought. The county will now join other school systems in subsidizing a military program that in most cases displaces a teacher."

Last year, Congress authorized increasing the number of JROTC units from 1,600 to 3,500. The Clinton administration is requesting $150 million for the program in fiscal 1994, to be supplemented by about $40 million in local funding.

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