Ten in the Twentieth: Baltimore Jews and Social Justice 1980s

Posted on March 1st, 2017 by

Article by Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations 2009-2010: 50th Anniversary Double Issue: The Search for Social Justice.

The Baltimore Jewish community has produced many leaders who have worked to make the world a better place. The range of issues they have addressed is impressive: from women’s suffrage to civil rights, labor relations to helping the elderly, refugee resettlement to eliminating poverty, and much more.

This chronology traces the careers of ten Baltimoreans who stood up for social change, with each person’s entry revolving around a turning point—one for each decade of the twentieth century. This is by no means a “Ten Best” list. The people included here are remarkable for what they accomplished, but others, equally remarkable, could have been chosen as well. These profiles should be seen as representative of a larger group of Baltimore Jews who have made major contributions to their communities and to the broader society in myriad ways.

The 1980s: Ruth Wolf Rehfeld

Click here to start from the beginning.

1989: Ruth Wolf Rehfeld (1927-2003) becomes the executive director of BLEWS, the Black-Jewish Forum of Baltimore. Her new job is the logical extension of a long career as an activist.

Ruth Wolf Rehfeld, c. 2000. Courtesy of Carla Wolf Rosenthal.

Ruth Wolf Rehfeld, c. 2000. Courtesy of Carla Wolf Rosenthal.

Arriving in Baltimore as a refugee from Nazism in 1939, Rehfeld graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College in 1951. She joined the staff of Americans for Democratic Action in the 1950s and served as education director of the Citizens’ Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) in the 1960s. As a community organizer and then executive director of the Northwest Baltimore Corporation in the 1970s, she immersed herself in neighborhood issues, becoming an expert on the zoning code. She also gained experience bringing together blacks and Jews—the dominant population groups in northwest Baltimore—to work on neighborhood revitalization.  She went on to work at the Associated before heading up BLEWS. After her stint as director, she became an active board member of the organization, whose mission is to strengthen the relationship between Baltimore’s African American and Jewish communities.

Rehfeld participates in a radio program with police and community members, during her stint as education director at the Citizen's Planning and Housing Association in the 1960s. Courtesy of Carla Wolf Rosenthal.

Rehfeld participates in a radio program with police and community members, during her stint as education director at the Citizen’s Planning and Housing Association in the 1960s. Courtesy of Carla Wolf Rosenthal.

A longtime resident of Mount Vernon, Rehfeld was “one of the downtown neighborhood’s strongest advocates,” according to the Baltimore Sun. A fellow resident called her “the backbone of the Mount Vernon community.” After her death, CPHA director Al Barry offered an apt appraisal of her career: “She was a formidable community activist who saw neighborhood revitalization as the backbone of the city.”

Continue to The 1990s: Rabbi Mark Loeb

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Once Upon a Time…05.06.2016

Posted on January 31st, 2017 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church by email at jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

 

20060133162Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  May 6, 2016

PastPerfect Accession #:  2006.013.3162

Status: Unidentified! Do you know the actresses in this 1973 production of “The Martian Chronicles” at Goucher College?

 

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Once Upon a Time…11.21.2014

Posted on July 14th, 2015 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

 

1980029027bDate run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  November 21, 2014

PastPerfect Accession #:  1980.029.027b

EDIT Status: Identified! Goucher College girls basketball team, 1915. Forwards: Sylvania Nagle, Eline Von Borries; Centers: Lucille Liberles, Evelyn Martine (Captain); Guards: Ruth Hayden, Caroline Diggs; Manager: Virginia Merritt.

Special Thanks To: twitter user @impresservation and to Goucher Libraries for having a fully digitized copy of the 1915 Donnybrook Yearbook!

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