Al Feldstein Named to Thomas Kennedy Center Board

March 7, 2024

Albert Feldstein of LaVale was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Thomas Kennedy Center. Based in Hagerstown, Maryland the center is named for Thomas Kennedy, who as a Maryland delegate from Washington County led a long struggle for the 1826 passage of what became known as the “Jew Bill.” Prior to that time Jews could be sentenced to death for not expressing belief in the divinity of Jesus. Kennedy had never met a Jew, but believed religion was “a question which rests, or ought to rest, between man and his Creator alone." The bill gave Jews the right to vote and hold public office.

In 2019 a memorial park was dedicated to Thomas Kennedy, which along with a sculpture features biographical and interpretive plaques. Future plans call for an education and interpretation center for exhibits, community workshops and seminars. Another western Maryland Delegate, John Van Lear McMahon from Allegany County, supported Kennedy in the passage of the bill. McMahon, an attorney, also wrote the charter for the B&O Railroad in 1827. Feldstein hopes to have him acknowledged as well in the interpretation center.

Since 1995, the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates has given out the Thomas Kennedy Award to a former member of the House of Delegates for “his or her personal courage and dedication to the principles of liberty and freedom.” Western Maryland legislators receiving this recognition have included J. Glenn Beall, Jr., Casper R. Taylor and in 2012, George C. Edwards.

Feldstein is a former board member of Preservation Maryland and Maryland Humanities. He is currently serving as a Trustee of the Maryland Historical Trust and is a member of the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority. Feldstein has published or produced over 30 works over the past 40+ years pertaining to regional and national history.