Pikesville resident Jeff Cohn is a fourth-generation Baltimorean who has kept kosher in the Orthodox Jewish tradition.
In addition to eating only kosher-certified foods, not driving or watching TV on Shabbat (from sundown on Friday to an hour after sunset on Saturday) and appropriately dressing to standards of Orthodox Judaism, he is also maintaining a kosher website: BaltimoreJewishLife.com.
"I have watched our community grow by leaps and bounds," Cohn said, referring to the Baltimore Jewish community. "There really needs to be a central focal point for everything that goes on in town. And people wanted a central spot, a clearinghouse of information."
And that has to be a place where families, including Orthodox Jews, can feel comfortable, he said.
His site, launched in June 2010, has evolved to accommodate his readers. He republishes international, national and local news—often including news from the Jewish community throughout the world—and has a staff of editors and writers who generate original and local content as well.
He lists simchas—announcements such as weddings, engagements, births. There are funeral and other alerts by text or email to get the word out quickly.
And he does this in keeping with the mores of Orthodox Judaism, and of keeping kosher.
- For example, he doesn't publish photos of women who are dressed "immodestly," he said, and he won't link to other websites that do. That includes women in sleeveless outfits.
- He accepts only advertising from certified-kosher food establishments.
- And he won't publish news and comments that are harmful gossip, known in Hebrew as Lashon Hara.
Cohn has several consultants in the community who help him keep the site kosher.
"I consult with various professionals regarding the business side. And when there's a question of whether or not articles are appropriate for publication, we go to rabbinic authority," he said.
Cohn said the site has been successful in its first year, garnering 77,000 unique visitors.
The feedback is so good, he's looking to expand. But he's keeping mum on when and what that expansion will be.
"Keep checking our website," he said.