Pikesville rabbi leads drive to alleviate hunger


An organization headed by a Baltimore-area rabbi has enlisted 550 Jewish congregations across the country in a campaign to combine the Yom Kippur fast with efforts to alleviate hunger around the world.

Jews are being asked to contribute the money that they would normally have spent on food during the period of the fast to Mazon, a national anti-hunger group, to support emergency feeding programs in Rwanda, former Soviet countries, Israel and the United States.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement concluding the Jewish High Holidays and devoted to prayer, fasting and repentance, will be observed Wednesday evening and Thursday.

Rabbi Mark Loeb, spiritual leader of Pikesville's Beth El Congregation and board chairman of Mazon, said that "malnutrition among the elderly Jewish population of the former Soviet Union and despair in Rwanda are but a few of the desperate situations confronting our collective conscience as American Jews."

Irving Cramer, Mazon's director, said the 9-year-old organization will make grants of $875,000 next month to a variety of programs "that provide immediate food assistance and work for effective, long-term solutions to hunger and poverty."

Mazon's grants since its founding in 1986 have totaled nearly $8 million. Mazon is the Hebrew word for food.

Maryland signers

Two senior priests of the Baltimore archdiocese are among the more than 100 Roman Catholic Marylanders who signed an open letter to the pope criticizing his stand on contraception and who contributed at least $25 to have the letter publicized.

They are the Rev. J. Joseph Gallagher and the Rev. Joseph A. Kenney, both retired. Father Gallagher, author, poet and former editor of the Baltimore Catholic Review, was ordained in 1955. Father Kenney, who was ordained in 1943, is a former pastor of St. Rita's Church in Dundalk and St. Clement's Church in Lansdowne.

Also among the Maryland signers are two Xaverian Brothers, Richard Sliwinski and Cornelius Hubbuch, and at least 13 members of various orders of nuns. Several Benedictine Sisters and several School Sisters of Notre Dame signed the letter anonymously for fear of censure by church authorities.

Catholics Speak Out, an organization based in Hyattsville, circulated the letter in English, Spanish, French, Dutch and German and collected thousands of donations and signatures to protest "the Vatican's continuing opposition to contraception" during the United Nations population conference in Cairo, Egypt.

Telling Pope John Paul II, "On the issue of contraception, you are wrong," the letter concludes with an appeal to the United Nations and church leaders "to embrace as a worldwide goal the provision of voluntary contraceptive family planning services to every woman and man who wants them by the end of this decade."

Sister Maureen Fiedler and the Rev. William Callahan of Catholics Speak Out coordinated the collection of signatures.

Information: (301) 699-0042.

"Friend Day"

The Rev. Robert A. Polanowski II, pastor of Rosedale Baptist Church, 9202 Philadelphia Road, has asked members of his congregation to bring at least one friend to the church Sunday for "an old-fashioned tent meeting" beginning at 10 a.m.

"We are looking to have a wonderful time of fellowship and revival," the pastor said. A nursery will be provided.

& Information: 682-4114.

Ethical Culture

"Ethical Culture and the Good Life" is the subject of the Baltimore Ethical Society's discussion to be led by Steve Boyan at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Questions to be addressed are: "What do you think is important for the good life? What can we learn from our religion about it?"

The society's Sunday programs are held at Baltimore's Bolton Street Synagogue, 1311 Bolton St.

& Information: 581-2322.

St. Timothy's history

About 50 Civil War re-enactors will camp on the Catonsville grounds of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church tomorrow and Sunday as part of the parish's 150th anniversary celebration.

Federal troops camped there after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth, who shot the president, was a graduate of the parish school.

L For more information about the parish celebration: 747-6690.

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