US Senator Ben Cardin Keynote Speaker at 125th Anniversary of Congregation B'nai Abraham; Senator Praises Thomas Kennedy Center

June 16, 2018

On Saturday June 16th, there was a great 125th Anniversary gala event at the Congregation B'nai Abraham.

US Senator Ben Cardin was the keynote speaker, and said that there was no more important work done in the 19th Century by a Maryland Legislator, than done by Thomas Kennedy - and he said his work resonates with importance still today.

"The Jewish community being here adds to the strength of Western Maryland, and now to pay homage to Thomas Kennedy with this park that's going to be across the street, this community has given back so much beyond just its boundaries," said Cardin. A ground breaking is expected at the park on July 25th.

Gala event co-chair Buck Macht, US Senator Ben Cardin, event co-chair Rachel Nichols, and Senator Cardin's Western Maryland Chief of Staff Robin Summerfield. Senator Cardin is admiring the Thomas Kennedy sculpture "maquette."

After the concert, Thomas Kennedy Center Executive Director Tom Riford, US Senator Ben Cardin, and Rabbi Ari Plost.

Members of the Congregation B'nai Abraham choir, after performing Simon Sargon's "Come Fill Up Your Glasses," which was commissioned for the gala event. The song is directly from a Thomas Kennedy peom, that had been published in 1816. 

Sargon composed the piece, and it had its world premiere for the occasion. 

Rachel Nichols, a former congregation president, commissioned the work. She said that the poem was written as a drinking song, but carries the deeper messages of acceptance and not judging others. That, she said, was what struck a chord with Sargon when she asked him to compose a song for the ceremony.

“He was tickled by the lyrics, and was moved to write this lively and tongue-in-cheek piece,” she said.

The words extol camaraderie and drinking and decry divisive politics and prejudice:

A plague upon politics, party and strife,

When they mar the enjoyments and blessings of life;

When they scatter discord round a table like this,

When they mingle the bitters of hate with our bliss.

On July 25, the city will break ground on a site near the congregation that will include a statue and park dedicated to Kennedy.