Last Sunday’s Grand Opening

Here are a few more pics: a nice before and after to give you a sense of how truly transformational this has been, and some wonderful shots of the playground at its best: being played on by children! (Photo Credits: Howard P. Fink)

Removing the Fence

Ready, Set, Play!

the most popular piece of equipment!

Kids get free ice cream!

In “Freddie Firetruck”

Beth Am’ers come out to support the Opening

three hundred bodies in (e)motion

Isaac Newton’s first law of motion stipulates that a body in motion tends to stay in motion.  Three hundred bodies, then, can make a forceful impact.  Particularly if they have motivating them what I might call an inertia of good will.  There is no rule that a mob must be a destructive force.  Sometimes, people can come together, inspired by a collective vision for the future and achieve what KaBOOM! founder Darell Hammond has called “cascading steps of courage.”  This past Thursday, there was no stopping the physical and emotional force of so many Reservoir Hill residents (including 100 walk-ins!) with volunteers from several wonderful organizations.  I am proud to say we had a good showing from our shul, and many Beth Am’ers were also out three days later for the playground’s grand-opening.

Mazel tov to us all!  If you are reading this from Baltimore, please consider yourself invited to German Park playground at Linden and Whitelock in historic Reservoir Hill. (Photo Credits: Howard P. Fink)

Several of our Beth Am volunteers
Building the swings
Dick Cass, Miriam Burg and Lainy Lebow-Sachs
Neighborhood kids with Poe and the Ravens Cheerleaders
I like the guy with the yarmulke!
Rabbi Miriam Burg speaks with Mayor and City Council President
Burg Family after an exhausting and inspiring day

Here are some links with media coverage:

A Different Sort of "Mitzvah Day"

Tomorrow, June 16th, approximately twenty-five Beth Am congregants (plus kids) will join over 300 volunteers from the neighborhood and the Baltimore Ravens to build a playground in a day. It’s going to be amazing! This is a story that transcends race, background and belief.  And yet, I believe there is still a compelling Jewish story to be told
Many American synagogues hold “mitzvah days” during which they reach out to other neighborhoods or organizations in need.  Or they (rightly) get involved in the civic affairs of their own generally more affluent and homogeneous communities.
In Reservoir Hill, a once “Jewish” and now diverse neighborhood, there is something quite unique happening.  We at Beth Am, along with other strong local institutions and so many proud residents of our community, are helping to create meaningful change on our front doorstep.  I am blessed to lead such a congregation and to live in such a community. 

This is what “mitzvah day” looks like in The New Jewish Neighborhood.