Baltimore: Hometown of STAR-K

Baltimore became a prime destination for two great waves of Jewish immigrants from Europe.

A Brief History Of Jewish Baltimore

As the second leading port of immigration in the United States during the 19th century, Baltimore became a prime destination for two great waves of Jewish immigrants from Europe. Their first stop was typically East Baltimore, now considered the heart of historic Jewish life.

The roots of Baltimore's Jewish community can be explored at the Jewish Museum in East Baltimore, in the Jonestown neighborhood, where two landmark synagogues are featured: Lloyd Street and B'nai Israel. Built in 1845, the Lloyd Street Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Maryland and the third oldest surviving synagogue structure in the U.S. It was established to serve the early wave of German-speaking Jewish immigrants. The adjacent B'nai Israel Synagogue building, constructed in 1876 but sold to B'nai Israel in 1895, was known as the Russiche Shul, as its members were largely Russian-speaking immigrants fleeing pogroms in the Pale of Settlement.

In 1905, Shomrei Mishmeres HaKodesh assumed ownership of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. It catered to the later wave of immigrants from Eastern Europe, who arrived between 1880-1920. The site became the forerunner of the of Baltimore Talmudical Academy, which was established in 1917 by Rabbi Abraham Nathan Schwartz. Talmudical Academy recently celebrated its first centennial, a remarkable community achievement.

The Jewish Museum has an archive of Torah commentaries dating back to the 19th century, and features important archeological discoveries, including a functioning matzo oven. In 2011, archaeologists uncovered a mikvah under the Lloyd Street structure. It was built in 1845 and is the oldest known ritual bath in the U.S. The Lloyd Street Synagogue was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is well worth a visit.

Jewish Baltimore Today

One can trace a continuous line from the early immigrants to today's Jewish community.

The beating heart of Jewish Baltimore is without question Ner Israel Rabbinical College, established in 1933 by Rabbi Yaakov Ruderman zt"l. Its thousands of graduates over the years have gone on to make invaluable contributions in both Torah and secular fields throughout the world, with many of them establishing themselves as leaders of the greater Baltimore Jewish community. Almost a century later, its impact on the character and growth of Jewish Baltimore continues unabated. Today, the yeshiva has an enrollment of over 600 students from all over the world.

Baltimore is also home to over a dozen Jewish day schools, yeshivas and seminaries. There are nearly 70 synagogues and minyanim scattered throughout the greater community, with 30 of them in Upper Park Heights alone. The community is also well known for its myriad charitable communal organizations.

For up-to-date information about all aspects of 'Baltimore Jewish life,' please visit Jewish Baltimore's dedicated website, (or 'BJL' as it's referred to by locals), by clicking HERE. The site maintains all types of topical information relevant to the local community, including minyanim, shuls, eruv updates, mikvaos, nichum aveilim, and the Community Calendar. Please note that STAR-K has no affiliation with BJL, and bears no responsibility for its content. The link is provided here as a convenience to our readers.
The waterfront is a picturesque, family-friendly gathering spot

"Charm City": A Prime Tourist Destination

Baltimore, nicknamed Charm City in 1975, has a rich history and much to offer tourists and locals alike. Over 12 million visitors pass through Baltimore each year.

It is the home of the Orioles, the Ravens, the Pimlico Race Course, and the Social Security Administration. It is the birthplace of Henrietta Szold, Babe Ruth, Edgar Allen Poe, Eubie Blake, and was the home of Francis Scott Key, who wrote The Star Spangled Banner in 1812 after the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry. That site, too, is now a popular tourist destination.

Baltimore's historic Inner Harbor is the location of the restored 1797 U.S.S. Constellation, and is encircled by Harborplace and The Gallery. The waterfront is a picturesque, family-friendly gathering spot for impromptu street performances, the occasional holiday firework displays, and open-air concerts.

Visitors can get tickets to cruise the Harbor on paddleboats, or hop on water taxis to transport them to nearby attractions. These include historic Fell's Point, the oldest neighborhood in Baltimore, known for its cobblestone roads and quaint shops; and Annapolis, the state capital and home of the U.S. Naval Academy. The Harbor also houses the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center. Nearby Port Discovery is an exciting, hands-on museum for kids of all ages.

The B&O Railroad, familiar to all Monopoly players, actually refers to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the oldest railway system in the U.S., built in 1830. The B&O Railroad cemented Baltimore's status as a major transportation hub. The B&O Railroad Museum is also a popular tourist site.

Today, Baltimore-Washington is thought of as a single metropolitan area, connected to one another by I-95 or via Amtrak in under an hour. Residents of each city often commute to the other for work. Visitors to Baltimore can easily include the nation's capital in their itinerary. Read more at

Local Kosher Establishments

Jewish Baltimore is not lacking for kosher options with regard to shopping, eating out, or ordering in, with a diversity of cuisines and offerings that include Israeli, Chinese, Thai, French, Italian, Sushi, Barbeque & Grill, Deli, Fine Dining, and Fast Food – among many, many others.

Thanks to the steady growth of the local Jewish community, Baltimore now supports a wide array of kosher establishments, which include coffee shops and caterers, pizza and bagel shops, ice cream stores and Slurpee stands, donut shops and candy stores, kosher supermarkets and butcher shops, as well as a host of popular bakeries. And this list is constantly growing.
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