‘Sho­far Fac­tory’ gives an old prac­tice new life

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Pitts

The prayer books were put away, the his­tory lessons fin­ished, and 10-year-old Macken­zie Ryan was re­minded again that she doesn’t at­tend an or­di­nary He­brew school.

In a tree out­side hung the head of a deer. On a pic­nic ta­ble nearby lay a hoof and a pile of sheep­skins. And 21 class­mates looked on as Macken­zie worked a hack­saw nois­ily back and forth with a bearded, mid­dle-aged rabbi.

Macken­zie and Rabbi Hillel Baron were cut­ting the tip off a re­cently har­vested sheep’s horn — a fi­nal stage in the cre­ation of a sho­far, the sim­ple, curved wind in­stru­ment blown to cel­e­brate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which be­gins Sun­day.

The ex­er­cise was part of a work­shop in sho­far-mak­ing that Baron has of­fered at Gan Is­rael, the He­brew school of the Lubav­itch Cen­ter of Howard County, for more than 25 years.

At a time when many synagogues have taken to us­ing highly pol­ished ver­sions of the cer­e­mo­nial in­stru­ment — of­ten made from the siz­able horns of the African an­te­lope cov­ered in polyurethane — Baron has built a tra­di­tion of teach­ing chil­dren the sim­ple, some­times messy method used by the Jewish peo­ple as far back as the time of Moses.

Each child who vis­its the “Sho­far Fac­tory,” as Baron calls it, ends up go­ing home with the kind of in­stru­ment Is­raelite priests are said to have blown to bring down the walls of Jeri­cho — mod­est in size, hewn from the horn of a sim­ple an­i­mal,

fa­ther, step­mother and grand­mother — sat in the last two rows of the court­room hold­ing hands as the jury fore­woman read the ver­dict.

Jol­ley’s mother, Tiffany Jol­ley, be­gan to trem­ble and weep. Her mother held her tight. Jol­ley’s fa­ther sat, tears welling in his eyes.

Af­ter the jury left the court­room, Tiffany Jol­ley ran out the door and down the hall­way cry­ing hys­ter­i­cally.

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” she screamed. “My baby. My baby.”

Craw­ford looked dazed as he stood up to be es­corted out by sher­iff’s deputies. De­fense at­tor­ney Jonas Needleman caught him as he nearly fell onto a ta­ble.

Craw­ford and Jol­ley both were par­tic­i­pants in Seeds of Prom­ise, the in­ten­sive men­tor­ing pro­gram at Bal­ti­more Re­nais­sance Academy.

Craw­ford tes­ti­fied that Jol­ley and his friends, some of them as­so­ci­ated with the M Street Gang of McCul­loh Homes, had tor­mented him for months. They started fights with him at school and at­tacked him in the neigh­bor­hood af­ter school. He said they hounded him con­stantly about his mother, who he said would show up to school drunk.

Craw­ford said he com­plained to his men­tor and the school’s prin­ci­pal, Nikkia Rowe, but they did not stop the bul­ly­ing.

On the day of the at­tack, Craw­ford said, Jol­ley and his friends had in­tim­i­dated him through­out the day.

“I felt some­body was go­ing to do some­thing af­ter school,” he tes­ti­fied. “I just didn’t know what. I was scared.”

Tears poured down his face and he be­gan to trem­ble as he de­scribed walk­ing into the bi­ol­ogy lab where Jol­ley was that Novem­ber day. He said he had wanted to re­turn a friend’s cell­phone, but also try and speak to Jol­ley. Craw­ford tes­ti­fied that he paced in front of the class­room try­ing to fig­ure out if he should leave early.

He in­stead en­tered the class­room and said Jol­ley rushed to­ward him and started fight­ing. He tus­sled with Jol­ley and be­came afraid for his life.

“I tried to fight him back,” Craw­ford said. “I just got scared and started jab­bing. I had a small pocket knife and just started jab­bing.

“I was try­ing to get him off of me,” Craw­ford said. “I had no in­ten­tion of hurt­ing that man.”

Craw­ford said ev­ery­thing was a blur, and Ana­nias Jol­ley he and Jol­ley fell to the ground. Craw­ford said he got up and started run­ning. He said he didn’t know what else to do.

“I’m no killer,” Craw­ford said. “That’s not me.”

Craw­ford’s ac­count dif­fered from that of Wanda Quick, the sub­sti­tute teacher in the bi­ol­ogy class­room that day. She tes­ti­fied Thurs­day that Craw­ford charged Jol­ley.

But Needleman asked whether she ac­tu­ally re­mem­bered it was Donte, or just what she saw on news re­ports.

Jol­ley was stabbed Nov. 24. He died at Mary­land Shock Trauma Cen­ter on Dec. 20.

In clos­ing ar­gu­ments, As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Bethany Du­rand said Craw­ford was the ag­gres­sor. She said he sneaked a knife into the school past metal de­tec­tors and the pat-down all stu­dents get when en­ter­ing the build­ing.

Du­rand re­called the tes­ti­mony of Rowe, the prin­ci­pal, and Ant­won Cooper, Craw­ford’s men­tor, who said they be­lieved some­thing was wrong with Craw­ford that day. When they asked him if ev­ery­thing was OK, they said, he brushed them off.

“Mr. Craw­ford had 800 dif­fer­ent ways he could have avoided this sce­nario,” Du­rand told the jury.

She told ju­rors not to base their de­ci­sion on feel­ings. “With re­spect to this case, even though you’ll be filled with emo­tion … a 17-year-old boy is dead,” Du­rand said. “There has to be a di­vide be­tween your emo­tions and the ev­i­dence.”

She walked the jury through video sur­veil­lance footage taken from the school, in­clud­ing a clip that showed Jol­ley stum­bling from the class­room and bleed­ing.

She pointed out that Craw­ford looked down the hall­way, as if to see if any­one was around, be­fore en­ter­ing the class­room.

“He acted on his in­ten­tion to kill,” Du­rand said.

Du­rand de­clined to com­ment af­ter the ver­dict.

Rochelle Ritchie, spokes­woman for the Bal­ti­more state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice, is­sued a state­ment via Twit­ter.

“This is an ab­so­lutely tragic in­ci­dent that did not have to hap­pen, es­pe­cially in a school where our chil­dren at­tend with the ex­pec­ta­tion of learn­ing and not be­ing killed,” she said. “We send our deep­est con­do­lences to the vic­tim’s fam­ily, who should not have had to bury their son at such a young age.”

Tiffany Jol­ley de­clined to com­ment af­ter the ver­dict.

Needleman said the state did not prove its case.

AMY DAVIS/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Eleven-year-old Eliana Feldman of Lau­rel sounds a sho­far dur­ing her visit to the “Sho­far Fac­tory” at Gan Is­rael He­brew school in Howard County. Rabbi Hillel Baron has been teach­ing area chil­dren how to make the cer­e­mo­nial horn for more than a quar­ter-cen­tury.

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