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Baltimore Onward Israel Takes Summer Internships to a New Level
Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Emily-Onward-Israel

As a rising junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, Mike Pelekhaty is interested in pursuing a career in fire protection engineering. This summer he is laying the groundwork for his future.

Ben Shmerler is a history major at Tufts University. He found the perfect summer internship incorporating an interest in research to help a small Israeli startup penetrate the U.S. market.

Both young men are spending their summer participating in the Baltimore Onward Israel program. Pelekhaty is gaining invaluable field experience inspecting schematics and evacuation plans for tall buildings, as well as the new subway being built beneath the city of Tel Aviv. At the same time, Shmerler is helping MyStore-e, bringing an e-commerce consumer experience into brick and mortar stores. This business approach enables retailers to tell personalized stories to their customers, rework their website, compile store data and set the company’s future strategy.

Baltimore Onward Israel is an eight-week summer internship experience in which college students and recent graduates live, work and travel in Israel with a group of their Baltimore peers. Participants live in Tel Aviv and build their resumes through high-level internships, while enjoying the city’s exciting culture.

For the Baltimore program, now in its fifth year, internships have ranged across the spectrum from financial startups to work in the medical field, public policy organizations and even fashion. Over the years the Baltimore group have worked at Flytrex, an on-demand drone delivery service, Medorian, a cloud platform that helps with patient care and preventative medicine, MinuteMedia, a sports media and technology company and OneDay Social Volunteering, a nonprofit that presents young professionals the opportunity to volunteer around Israel.

Yet, Onward is more than a resume builder. It’s a chance for young adults to spend two months immersed in Israeli life, touring the cities and towns, eating the food, exploring the culture.

It’s also a chance for them to deepen their knowledge by participating in four Israel Seminar educational experiential learning days, where the group travels together to various parts of the country. One of those sessions, “Land and Us: Sustaining, Relating and Living,” is a chance to learn about the Israeli eco-system during a day in the Negev desert, in the south.

Through a combination of active programming, including sledding the sand dunes, to touring a green energy park, the Baltimore Onward Israel participants gain an appreciation of the importance of sustainability, an understanding of the desert lifestyle and a recognition of Israel’s role as a leader in environmental startups.

Other Israel Seminar days include a field trip to Northern Israel, where the group learned about multiculturalism and minorities in Israel, including touring the Baha’i Gardens and meeting members of a small Islamic community and a day in Jerusalem exploring modern Jewish identity, current events and different faces of Judaism.

“Birthright Israel offers young adults a taste of Israel on a seven to 10-day trip, which provides them with a remarkable understanding of the country’s history and a connection to their Jewish heritage. Onward Israel allows these young adults to deepen their relationship by connecting them with the people of Israel, thereby developing a lifelong connection to the country and a strong commitment to Jewish life, says Jason Blavatt, chair of The Associated’s Israel Education and Travel Committee.

“Onward Israel gave me the opportunity to understand and love the country in an in-depth way that other programs don’t allow you to do,” says Emily Kader, who spent last summer on the program. “It’s had a huge impact on strengthening my Jewish identity. Today I feel so much more connected to Israel.”

As a participant on the program, Kader interned for Abraham Hostels, an award-winning hostel chain in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Nazareth where she handled some of the company’s social media efforts, including two Instagram takeovers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“Last summer was an opportunity to work abroad, unlike any opportunity I would have found in the U.S.,” she says. “I developed social media skills and met people from all over the world. I also learned about different cultures and discovered how another part of the world operates in a professional environment,” she recalls.

In addition to the incredible opportunities afforded to the 2,000+ participants taking part in the over 35 various Onward Israel programs this summer, the Baltimore group has the added benefit of traveling to Ashkelon, Baltimore’s partner city, through the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. They spend a weekend volunteering in the community, meeting their Ashkelon peers and staying with a host family for Shabbat.

“I had been to Ashkelon briefly before on the 2016 Associated Family Mission, but this time I really got to know this amazing family that hosted me. We talked about their travels all over the world and I really hope to go back and see them again before I leave,” says Shmerler. When the young adults return home, the experience is far from over.

“We have found that the young adults who participate in Baltimore Onward Israel develop a more meaningful relationship with Israel. When they return home to our Baltimore community and their college campuses, they are able to communicate more effectively about Israel, going beyond the headlines and speaking with authority and passion about our Jewish State,” says Blavatt.

Serving My Community
Monday, July 02, 2018

Linda Hurwitz

By Linda A. Hurwitz, Chair of the Board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Bestselling author and Jewish Baltimore native Leon Uris once wrote, “The only thing that is going to save mankind is if enough people live their lives for something or someone other than themselves.”

This quote embodies the way I approach life. Over the past few decades, I have learned, through the volunteer work I have been fortunate to accomplish, that nothing is more powerful than realizing you have touched someone else’s life.

I must admit, I have been incredibly blessed. As a grandmother of three, I look back and realize that my family has a proud history in Jewish Baltimore that is now five generations strong.

Jewish community has been at the heart of that legacy. From my great grandparents’ earliest days as immigrants, relying on the help of others, to more recently, when my children attended Jewish day school, we have seen Jewish community as pivotal to our identity.

I often like to say to those I meet ‘Find something you are passionate about and give it your all.’ That’s why, many years ago I committed to investing in our Jewish community. It is also why two years ago, when I became Chair of the Board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, I dove right in to do what it takes to ensure a strong future for Jewish Baltimore.

During these past two years, I have always given 110 percent. Through it all, I learned a lot about myself and even more about what is instrumental for ensuring a community’s enduring future.

  • If each of us makes a difference in one person’s life, we can make a difference in our entire community.
  • We are strong – yet we are stronger when we work together across denominations, across ages, across agencies. And we are stronger still, when we truly listen to one another with an open mind. We may not always agree, but if we talk to one another, we ultimately can solve our community’s problems in ways that are both innovative and responsive.
  • We must plan for our future. For anyone who cares that our Jewish community will resonate with our children and grandchildren – for anyone who is concerned that we are there for those who need us most in the years to come – we must make a commitment to give back wisely by investing time and money into causes that will safeguard our future.

Baltimore is an exceptional Jewish community, but we cannot take it for granted. As I move on to other roles with The Associated, I encourage you to reach out and give back to something you believe in.

It’s been a pleasure to serve our community.

Philanthropy: Good for Clients, Good For Business
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Philanthropy

By Jacqueline Fuchs Yahr, Director of Charitable Planning, The Associated

“Philanthropy is an important part of your client’s wealth experience.” This was the resounding theme of the presentation that Claire M. Costello, an expert in philanthropy and the National Philanthropic Practice Executive for Philanthropic Solutions at U.S. Trust Bank of America Corporation, made to a room full of professional advisors attending The Associated’s Planned Giving Round Table’s final program of the fiscal year on June 6. Claire explained that what matters most to high net worth (HNW) individuals in their conversations with their estate planning attorneys, financial advisors, accountants and other wealth management professionals, is not necessarily a discussion about the technical aspects of charitable planning. Rather, these individuals are hoping to have meaningful conversations about philanthropy that are initiated by their advisors early and had often.

U.S. Trust, in partnership with The Philanthropic Initiative, conducted a study of HNW individuals and a random sample of more than 300 advisors to understand how advisors are talking to their clients about philanthropy and how these clients feel about philanthropic planning. The study has shown that while philanthropic conversations between advisors and their clients are happening, they are falling short of their potential. HNW individuals are continually looking to their advisors to help them fulfill their philanthropic missions, involve the next generation, and leave a legacy. They are also seeking more values-based discussions with advisors about their philanthropy, life goals, values and passions and to go beyond the conversations about tax considerations.

For many advisors, the hesitancy to begin the philanthropic conversation is due to the lack of knowledge around the technical aspects of charitable planning. But when asked, the HNW individuals did not list tax planning as the top three, or even the top six reasons as to why they give. So, your clients are not looking to hear from you about tax benefits when discussing philanthropy; clients want you to ask them about their charitable goals, values and interests. You as the advisor do not have to be the expert in philanthropy. If you know the right people who you can refer to your clients, you will undoubtedly be seen as the trusted advisor.

The benefits of discussing philanthropy do not end there. By taking a more comprehensive and holistic approach to managing your clients’ assets, through deeper conversations related to your clients’ wealth and their philanthropy, you have the opportunity to manage more of your clients’ assets. These aspirational and goal-seeking conversations show that you are interested in more than just your clients’ money. And not only do you deepen the relationships with your clients, most notably, having value-based conversations generally can result in establishing relationships with new clients, whether it’s through the next generation or through referrals.

So how do you start the philanthropic conversation? Claire had some potential conversation starters: find the relationship between family and wealth; talk about their desire for philanthropy; ask them how they would want to change the world for their children or grandchildren. You can also refer to The Associated’s list of Ten Critical Questions to Ask Your Clients on ways to begin the conversation about philanthropy with your clients.

Some additional tips from the HNW study:

  • Advisors should be talking about philanthropy early on in their client relationships, at the first meeting or at the latest, by the third meeting.
  • Steer away from the nitty gritty of planning and get down to what really drives your clients.
  • Talk about your own philanthropy as a way to bond with your clients by showing that philanthropy is something you value too.
  • Make sure to include your clients’ extended family in conversations around giving to help your clients pass on their values and make sure the next generation grasps the values of their predecessors. You could even assist your clients in setting up volunteer or site visits with the charities that your clients find impactful.

And as always, The Associated’s Philanthropic Planning and Services professionals remain ready to work with you and your clients on how to incorporate charitable planning into your planning conversations and how to help maximize the financial and charitable benefits of any such planning strategies available to your clients.

For more information, contact Jackie Fuchs Yahr at 410-369-9248 or jyahr@associated.org.

Jackie Fuchs Yahr

This is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your own legal and tax advisors.

Meet Our Solicitors: Joel Fink
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Joel Fink

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Joel Fink.

Tell us about yourself. Professionally, I am a partner with The Zolet Lenet Group at Morgan Stanley. We try to help our clients retire and live comfortably, all while knowing they’ve built sound portfolios that will help get through the ups and downs of the markets.

When I’m not working, I try to spend as much time with family and friends, specifically my wife Chantelle and daughter Aubrielle. I also love to watch and play sports, listen to live music and visit Baltimore’s vibrant arts, theater and culinary destinations.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I am a Baltimore native who is extremely proud of his city. There is something special about Baltimore as a whole, and our Jewish community in particular is nationally and internationally renowned (for good reason). What’s so special about our community is that we can adapt and improve with changing times all while keeping true to our long history, tradition and values.

How did you come to hear of The Associated? What was the turning point into becoming a donor? I grew up driving past the “We Are Associated” signs, not knowing what The Associated actually was. When I first got involved over 10 years ago in Young Leadership Council, I saw how nearly every Baltimore Jewish organization was in some way supported by The Associated. It dawned on me that since being a part of the Baltimore Jewish community was important to me, The Associated should be important to me as well! It was in that first year of YLC that I made my inaugural pledge and I’ve never looked back.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? I give to The Associated because I’ve been fortunate to witness firsthand the tremendous impact that my dollars have on the lives of Jews (and non-Jews) living here in Baltimore, in Israel and across the world.

It’s an amazing feeling knowing that every dollar I give to The Associated will be leveraged to a degree that is hard to comprehend. For example, in addition to simply allocating a piece of every dollar that I donate, The Associated is able to support agencies like Jewish Community Services who use that critical funding to go out and secure more grants, government funding and other revenue to provide additional services and support to people here in our community. Furthermore, when I see the money we allocate to Israel and overseas, I know that our dollars are being leveraged with other campaigns from communities across the country to enable life-changing services for people in Israel and throughout the world. I feel incredibly fortunate for the experiences that I’ve had over the years which have helped me better understand the importance of every dollar we raise, and so grateful for everyone who contributes to the Annual Campaign.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? My goal is to help others find meaning in their philanthropy by connecting them with the vast opportunities for engagement that The Associated provides. As co-chair of the IMPACT campaign, in-addition to growing our campaign in terms of dollars raised, my goal is to bring IMPACT and The Associated to new donors and expand our base of contributors among the younger generations. It is so important for young adults, as our rising stars, to feel connected to and engaged by The Associated and our Jewish community, and my goal is to help others have those meaningful opportunities that I’ve been fortunate to have.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? If I could invite anyone to my Shabbat table, I would invite my grandfather Morris “Mike” Fink (of blessed memory). He’s been gone since I was 9 years old, but I’d love the chance to introduce him to his great-granddaughter and share with him all the ways that I’ve tried to emulate him as I’ve grown up. Pop-Pop was my role model and I hope to carry on his legacy of compassion, excellence and integrity as I further establish myself in all my endeavors.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Jewish Women's Giving Foundation Has an Announcement to Make
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Jewish Women's Giving Foundation

Since 2003, the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation of Baltimore (JWGF) has awarded over $1.2 million in grants to 53 non-profit organizations that help women and girls of all faiths and backgrounds live safer, healthier and more meaningful lives. JWGF awards grants through both a gender and a Jewish lens, honoring our cultural traditions of tzedakah (philanthropic giving) and tikkun olam (repairing the world).

We are proud to announce that JWGF recently awarded a record $147,500 in grants to the following organizations:

  • ¡Adelante Latina!
  • Asylee Women Enterprise
  • Baltimore Hunger Project
  • Higher Achievement (third year of a three-year grant)
  • Jewish Community Services
  • Marian House
  • NATAL
  • Orr Shalom
  • PeacePlayers International
  • Tahirih Justice Center

JWGF is a giving circle that empowers women as funders, decision makers and agents of change. Each member contributes the same amount, and each has an equal voice in directing our grant making. In addition to participating in our annual grantmaking process, JWGF women connect with other remarkable women in engaging, thought-provoking and educational experiences that deepen their knowledge of issues impacting women and girls in our community and beyond. No prior experience is needed, and, by participating, members develop skills in the areas of grant reading, meeting facilitation and leadership. There is no better opportunity to grow personally and professionally, while experiencing the joy of collective philanthropy.

Want to learn more? We would love for you to join us! For more information and to learn about upcoming prospective member open houses over the summer, contact Jennifer Mendelsohn Millman at jmillman@associated.org or 410-369-9205.

L'dor V'dor - Generation to Generation
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Nina Rosenzwog

This time of year, when we are celebrating mothers, fathers and tremendous milestones, I recently found myself surrounded by my son, Stephen, his wife and my two grandchildren, and I couldn’t help but kvell at how fortunate I have been.

I thought about the years of tending to Stephen and his brother, Alex, of being there when they had a fever or simply needed my ear after a difficult day. How many times have I beamed with pride at their awards, their b’nai mitzvahs, their graduations, the birth of my grandkids?

There is this wonderful Jewish proverb, ‘God couldn’t be everywhere, so He made mothers.’ I think nothing is truer. As mothers we are always there... Trying to do our best for our children, both physically and emotionally.

Yet I feel that one of our most important gifts as a mother is to impart the values we hold dear. It’s teaching them to become good people, through our words, and most importantly, through our actions.

Over the years I have tried to live my life as an example. As a mother of two, I wanted them both to feel a strong connection to their Jewish identity and to their Jewish community. I wanted them to understand who they were and what role they play in impacting the world in which they lived.

Today, both are passionate about Israel. I like to believe their commitment began from their traveling to our Jewish homeland on an Associated Family Mission where they experienced the vibrancy of our Jewish homeland and the warmth of its people. And when I chaired The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, they forged friendships with the Ashkelonians who visited.

I showed them the importance of Jewish engagement, through my volunteer work. As they grew older, I served as Associated Women campaign chair, demonstrating to them that every person has the power to impact our community, with their gift of time and dollars—no matter how big or small it is. And, as an Associated Women, I want them to see and respect the power of women as a collective force that can make a difference.

In April, I had the privilege to travel to Israel on an Associated Women Mission. At one point, we gathered together, opening letters from our families, that offered reflections on our roles as mother and wife. What a powerful testament to learn how much I have influenced them.

I live to say our job as mothers is to ensure the past. Our children are in charge of their future. My children are living their own lives today, and I am so proud that they have incorporated the values that I shared in their work and in their private lives.

I am so grateful to The Associated for providing me with opportunities to not only embrace my passions, but to model to them how I wanted them to live.

What is the Best Way to Get My Kids Involved in Charitable Giving?
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Harrel Turkel

By Lauren H. Klein, Assistant Vice President, Funder Services

There is not a right answer. Just like our kids don’t come with manuals, there is not a set of instructions for raising philanthropically-minded children. I wish there was because then it would be so much easier. Some say it’s a good idea to introduce the concept of tzedakah as early as possible, that life lessons are learned when the children are young. Others say it’s better to wait until a child is ready to take on the responsibility from a place of maturity.

You have to decide the right path for your family, and I believe that engaging the next generation should be an ongoing process that is constantly reinforced – not a one-time event.

My first piece of advice is easy…Talk to your children about your own charitable giving. Most people assume their family knows why they give to particular organizations. I encourage you to take the time to tell them why. And tell them why you want them to be charitable as well.

The next step is to involve your kids in the process. There are simple ways to empower your children to take ownership of their giving. For example, in one family I know, the money the sons contribute to the tzedakah box at Hebrew school comes jointly from the parents and the boys themselves. You can also consider establishing a donor-advised fund at The Associated. With a donor-advised fund, you can recommend grants to charities, involving your family in philanthropic decision making.

You can also sit down with your children and ask them to identify a problem they want to fix. If they are very young, you might give them a few options, such as donating holiday gifts for at-risk children or buying winter coats for people who don’t have them. The more you involve your children in the process of giving back, the more they’ll be invested in what you are doing. Allow them to choose the organizations. They’ll feel more connected.

If you have teenage children, encourage them to volunteer for a cause that is important to them. Or, take one day a month to do something in the community together. Jewish Volunteer Connection, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, can help identify the right placement for you and your family to get involved.

I know that college students are even harder to engage than teenagers, but there are of ways to talk to them about charitable giving. As you spend time together this summer, talk about what you are thankful for in your own lives, and identify organizations to which you would like to donate your time and/or money. You might try asking the following questions to start the conversation:

  • What is your favorite organization and why?
  • If you could solve any problem, what would it be?
  • If you had $1 million to give away, how would you do it?

And, if you will be traveling in the next few months, consider using your vacation as an opportunity to give back. One family that I know visits a Jewish community whenever they travel and spends the day volunteering there together.

I know we are all busy with a myriad of commitments, yet I encourage you to make time to have philanthropic conversations and involve your kids in the process. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Heather Cohen on Being a Camp Mom
Monday, June 04, 2018

Heather Cohen

Summer is right around the corner, and Heather Cohen is gearing up to send her two children, Allie, 14, and Michael, 12, away to overnight camp. Although she knows she will miss both of them, she also knows that the time they spend at Jewish overnight camp will bring incalculable rewards – from the friendships they develop to their connection to Jewish life.

In fact, the value of Jewish overnight camp is so important to her that she recently joined The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping Advisory Committee. We had a chance to speak with Heather, a wife, mom, volunteer and Beth Israel Congregation preschool teacher about her commitment to Jewish camp and learn some of her inside tips for parents sending their kids to camp for the first time.

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Jewish community?

My kids attended Goldsmith Early Childhood Center at Chizuk Amuno for preschool, and that’s when I first got involved. As my kids got older, we started volunteering together as a family in the community. I then joined Dor Tikvah (an Associated leadership program) and became active in The Associated system…I was involved with women’s campaign and served as Pomegranate Society Chair, was a campaign delegate, and really enjoyed fundraising so I could directly give back to the community.

You recently joined The Center for Jewish Camping Advisory Committee – did you have a Jewish camp experience as a kid?

I went to URJ Camp Coleman for one summer, and Camp Kamaji for five summers, but I feel like I’m able to see the benefits of camp through my kids. Allie, 14, and Michael, 12, who attend Camp Ramah in the Poconos and love it. Allie is returning for camp for the fourth summer, Michael is returning for his third summer.

How does it feel to have your kids be away from home for the summer?

There’s no doubt that I miss my kids when they are at camp, but I’m so grateful that I’m able to give them this experience. I remember when I met the Camp Director, Rabbi Joel Seltzer…his ruach (spirit), positive outlook, passion, and energy was exhilarating…you just feel like part of the camp family right away – I wanted that for my kids. Allie’s favorite part of camp are the friendships – the bonds she’s made with her bunkmates and counselors. They are role models for her and the relationships she’s formed are unlike anything else.

For my son, Saturdays have become his favorite part of the camp week. He thinks Shabbat services are meaningful and fun. He likes the independence he is given for a less formal Shabbat schedule too.

Does camp play a role during the school year too?

Absolutely! We try and schedule visits for them to see their camp friends a few times during the year – they go to the camp reunion, attend Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s, sleepovers, etc. They talk to their camp friends all the time through Facetime and social media which is great.

Camp Ramah also provides opportunities for campers and their parents to socialize and get together in Baltimore during the school year. We love attending Camp Ramah Shabbat Services and Friday night dinners with Ramah staff and families. This year we also hosted a “Parents night out” in partnership with Ramah – parents came to our house for wine and dessert, and campers went bowling.

Any advice for parents sending their kids to camp for the first time this summer?

My kids love care packages/letters – it doesn’t matter what you put inside, but they like receiving mail. I’m always careful not to write anything that might upset them... I keep the letters pretty basic and talk about the weather or the dog. I never put “I miss you” I only put “I love you.”

Building Leaders in Jewish Baltimore
Monday, June 04, 2018

Walpert Award Winners

Last month, Zachary Garber and Helene Kahn received the Fred Walpert Young Leadership Award from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore for their involvement and leadership within The Associated.

We spoke with Zack, a client advisor at Alex. Brown, a division of Raymond James, and Helene, director of community growth for Thread, Inc., about the importance of young adults taking an active role in helping their community.

How did your upbringing lead to The Associated?

Zack: My family was always involved in the Jewish community. I remember my mother was chair of The Associated’s Pearlstone Center and the Women’s Campaign and my father started the Solomon Society. When I went to college I continued my Jewish learning and was actively involved in Jewish life – from participating in Hillel to traveling to Israel on Birthright.

When I returned to Baltimore [after working in New York and completing my MBA at Wharton], I became involved in Young Leadership Council (YLC) and currently co-chair Impact’s Young Professionals Committee. We plan innovative and meaningful engagement events to help connect young professionals with the Jewish community.

Helene: I was born and raised along Park Heights Avenue. My Jewish identity is deeply rooted in Baltimore and inextricably linked with my dedication to strengthening the Baltimore community for everyone. To me, it has always been clear that The Associated plays a foundational role in our vibrant Jewish community. I became involved with YLC and Impact (its young adult division) to help activate and engage more young adults in Baltimore.

What are you working on at The Associated?

Zack: We recently created “Shabbat Around Town,” inviting young adults to intimate Friday night Shabbat dinners followed by a community oneg. We held the dinners in homes across town – Fells Point, Pikesville, Canton and the Inner Harbor. More than 80 young adults attended the program.

Helene: As co-chair of YLC, we are creating spaces for young Jewish leaders to connect. It’s a great way to develop leadership skills, make meaningful connections that last beyond YLC and help the broader Jewish community.

Why should your generation be engaged?

Helene: If you are successful in life, you have an obligation to take care of those who aren’t. Whatever world we live in is only as successful as the world and communities that surround us. We have the opportunity to shape what we want our community to look like.

Zack: I believe that once you are fortunate enough to take care of yourself, nothing is more important than helping others, and the first place to start is within your community. The Associated has an incredible history and future. The reason the Jewish community is so successful is that The Associated built up the infrastructure to care for the community’s needs.

In one way or another, everyone in the Jewish community has benefited from The Associated – whether it was our ancestors who received immigration services, teens who went to Maccabi, or our grandparents who need elder care.

Best advice parents gave you?

Helene: If you are not willing to do something, don’t complain.

Zack: Care for others and surround yourself with great people who will help motivate and inspire you.

Learn more at associated.org/20s30s.

This story originally appeared in the June issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Take Time to Volunteer This Summer with The Associated
Monday, June 04, 2018

Volunteers

Boy’s Latin student Josh Meister only meant to spend two weeks of his summer volunteering at SuperKids Camp, a summer academic enrichment program to help Baltimore City elementary students. After all, that’s what he needed to complete his community service hours.

Yet, when the final Friday rolled around, and he began to say goodbye to the young students, he started to have second thoughts.

“When I mentioned I wasn’t going to be there, I’ll never forget the look on their faces’,” Meister recalls. “They told me they were looking forward to seeing me on Monday. It was clear to me that we had developed a strong relationship with each other.”

It was then that he realized he could not say no to these youngsters.

Two weeks turned into six in what would become one of the most impactful summers of this teen’s life.

Meister connected with SuperKids Camp, a program of Parks and People, through The Associated’s Jewish Volunteer Connection, which matches community members with volunteer opportunities that reflect their interests. The choices range from one-time experiences to ongoing programs.

Whether it is teens completing community service requirements or families and adults volunteering for the long haul, The Associated offers a variety of opportunities to find one’s niche within the Jewish and broader Baltimore community.

Summer is a wonderful time to volunteer. Here are a few Associated projects to get started.

Volunteer Drivers

CHAI and Jewish Community Services are looking for volunteer drivers to transport older adults to medical appointments, grocery stores or just about anywhere they need to go. Go to chaibaltimore.org or jcsbaltimore.org to learn more.

Summer with Purpose

Looking to add meaning to your child’s summer? JVC’s Summer with Purpose, part of its monthly Live with Purpose program, provides monthly tikkun olam projects you can do at home as a family. This June, families can make snack mixes which will be distributed at summer camps in the city; in July, children can color cards for senior Meals on Wheels recipients.

Volunteer Abroad

Traveling to Israel this summer and want to add a volunteer component to your trip? The Associated has a diverse range of opportunities in Ashkelon, The Associated’s sister city in Israel. Help run a lacrosse or basketball clinic for at-risk children, participate in an arts or cooking project with children living in foster care or work on a sustainable farm. Email Marisa Obuchowski at mobuchowski@associated.org if interested.

Get Community Service Hours

High school students who need community service hours should contact JVC. This Associated program offers volunteer opportunities in Jewish Baltimore as well as the broader Baltimore community.

Learn more about volunteering at associated.org/volunteers.

This story originally appeared in the June issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Meet Our Solicitors: Elise Rubenstein
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Elise-Rubenstein

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Elise Rubenstein.

Tell us about yourself. I consider myself a philanthropist, as I am involved with various charities around Baltimore. My meetings keep me busy, and I feel very fulfilled and fortunate, to do this work. To unwind, I am an avid exerciser; nothing crazy, I’m your basic gym rat. But I do love my red wine and that is the way I end most days. My husband and I like to travel to taste and try new wines in different regions in the US and abroad. Traveling is also a favorite way to unwind.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? As a person who did not grow up here in Baltimore, I can tell you that I was overwhelmed by the generational commitment to giving in our community. The support for our synagogues, the opportunity to raise a Jewish family with so much support from the JCC and other programs for families and the amazing support of our Associated. When I moved here, I joined the JCC and put my kids into their preschool and made lifelong friends there! I then became a member of the JCC Board!

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? I am inspired to support The Associated because of the amazing reach of their support, not only in our community but around the world. I so appreciate that they are our sole solicitors and the 17 agencies that they support with my one gift! I give generously because I know my gift helps so many people!

When I joined the board of the JCC and became a member of the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation, I understood how important it was to give to my community!

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? As I am this year’s Associated Agency Board Campaign Chair, I am speaking with our 300 board members about their gift to support our 2018 Associated Campaign. This has been such a great learning opportunity for me, as I was unaware of the reach of the Associated. I have gained a new-found appreciation for all The Associated does and it’s been a privilege to be an advocate for their mission.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Michael Green on The Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership and its Future
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Michael Green

I had recently retired as principal of Bolton Street Synagogue when The Associated approached me about becoming involved in recreating Gesher Chai, a school twinning program between Baltimore and Ashkelon schools.

Shortly thereafter, Shevet Achim was born, a program that twinned Baltimore’s day and congregational school educators and students with their counterparts in Ashkelon, our sister city. Funded by the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, educators and students in both communities would engage in multiple conversations and joint lessons over a three-year period, laying the groundwork for lasting friendships and understanding between these peers.

That began my involvement with The Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, and that of my wife, Gail, who has since finished a two-year term as funding co-chair. I also served as evaluations co-chair.

Over the years, the Partnership has provided a number of grants to innovative programs that foster personal connections between members of both communities. Today, Baltimore and Ashkelon teens are connecting through a social innovation entrepreneurship program in partnership with 4Front at the JCC. Ashkelonians become campers at our local Jewish camps, where they develop lasting friendships with their fellow campers.

And thousands of Birthright students from our area universities, as well as Associated missions and even Baltimore tourists make our sister city a stop on their Israel journey.

I’ve seen friendships flourish; I’ve seen families traveling to Israel who connect with former shinshinim (Israel emissaries) they first met in Baltimore. I’ve seen weddings... simchas... Shabbat experiences that our community enjoys with Ashkelonian host families.

As the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership enters its 15th year, we have completed a strategic plan and re-envisioned it in order to successfully engage more individuals.

As part of that effort, we will provide opportunities for more leadership to help craft our people-to-people agenda and provide new ideas. We also hope to increase our partnership with synagogues, agencies, day and congregational schools and other Jewish organizations.

When our Ashkelon Partnership friends traveled to Baltimore this month, I had the privilege of attending a dinner with them and a group of young men who recently returned from The Associated’s Young Men’s Mission to Israel. While in Israel, they visited Ashkelon and saw the breadth of our work. As we sat, the conversation turned to the Partnership future, and I was thrilled with their expression of interest in becoming more involved.

The Partnership is so important to ensure that our generation and our children’s will continue to feel connected to Israel as well as appreciate what Israel represents to us and what the two communities offer to each other.

Meet YLC: David & Eugene
Monday, May 14, 2018

David & Eugene

We have so many young adult leaders in Jewish Baltimore – and many of them get their start in the Young Leadership Council (YLC). A two-year program, YLC gives young professionals the chance to develop an understanding of The Associated, acknowledge the importance of philanthropy and gain valuable leadership skills through fundraising, educational programs and community service projects. The 2019 class is our biggest yet at 26 members; today, meet two of these members: David Speer & Eugene Poverni.

Tell me about yourself. Are you a Baltimore native or a Baltimore newbie? What do you do for work?

David: I am a native Baltimorean. I went to the University of Vermont to study forestry and am currently studying for an MBA at the University of Baltimore. I am the associate director for the Washington/Baltimore region of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). We are a 501c3 that supports BGU here in the U.S. through raising awareness of the university, development for the university itself and development of the Negev.

Eugene: I'm a Baltimore native. I work in the real estate development, construction and lending business.

Why did you decide to join YLC?

David: I believe that YLC is an excellent opportunity to help both the Jewish community and Baltimore.

Eugene: I wanted to learn more about the local community and give back.

What has been the best part of the program so far? What's something new that you've learned about IMPACT or The Associated?

David: The best part of the program so far has been to see that there are so many young adults who are committed to the goals and mission of The Associated.

Eugene: The cohort that I am going through the program with and getting to jointly discuss and explore local Jewish topics.

How would you describe Jewish Baltimore to someone who's never been?

David: In my opinion, Jewish Baltimore is very unique. Immediately following college, I worked in the Jewish community in Princeton, NJ and it was very spread out – both geographically and metaphorically. Here in Baltimore, the community is very welcoming and inclusive. Jews of all denominations work together here, which is undoubtedly a product of The Associated's mission to create a cohesive community.

Eugene: A vibrant, immersive and welcoming community.

How do you think you can make a difference in Jewish Baltimore?

David: I work in the Jewish community, so I believe that my connections and understanding of the community from the professional perspective can be helpful in my decisions as a lay person.

Eugene: By being involved and helping to organize events and galvanize people to accomplish our shared mission.

What's your favorite thing to do in Baltimore in your free time?

David: By far, my favorite thing to do is to see the Orioles play at Camden Yards.

Eugene: Spent time with my wife and daughter walking around the Quarry.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why?

David: David Ben-Gurion. Not only do I work for the university that is named for him, but I believe that his vision, courage, intelligence and wit are unmatched. His leadership of Israel in its beginning stages is remarkable.

Eugene: Either the Donald (for the soon-to-follow-tell-all-book-deal), Jeff Bezos (for inspiration) or Larry David (for entertainment).

Recruitment for the Young Leadership Council begins again in May 2019. Want to get involved with other young adults in Jewish Baltimore? Email Rebecca Ellison! 

Meet Our Solicitors: Abigail Malischostak
Thursday, May 10, 2018

Abigail Malischotak

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Abigail Malischostak.

Tell us about yourself. I am the Senior Associate for Community Partnerships at Jewish Volunteer Connection. In this role, I work with Jewish community organizations like schools, synagogues and camps to integrate service into their programming. I live in Mount Washington with my husband, Alex, who is a Jewish Educator in the community, and our dog and cat. To unwind, I love to watch crime drama (Law and Order, NCIS, CSI, etc.) and crochet!

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I spent most of my childhood in Baltimore, then left for 10 years for college, AmeriCorps service and grad school before coming back 2 years ago. I think that the diversity of Baltimore makes it so special – both within the Jewish community and outside. I also know that the way The Associated supports the Jewish community in Baltimore is very unique; we may be one of the only communities whose federations commit to supporting the operating budgets of our Jewish community organizations.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? My parents have been involved in The Associated in various ways since I was a teen. When I returned to Baltimore and began working at a program of The Associated, it was natural to become a donor.

I give to The Associated because I think it makes a true statement when staff in the system support it with our money, along with our time and talents. I believe in the work that The Associated supports, and I'm happy to support that work through my donation.

I know that I am not giving at a level that makes an incredible impact on the budget, but I believe that the impact of my gift is in the statement that it makes: that I both work in the system and contribute to it with my donation.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? I am the co-chair of the staff campaign and I agreed to take on this role because I love that the staff within the system are committed to supporting it. I wanted to show my appreciation to them (which we are doing this year by hosting a staff donor reception, which should be very fun!) and hopefully motivate them to continue (or start) to participate in the campaign.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? If it's allowed to be someone who is no longer with us, I would invite my grandfather (mom's dad), Sam Chyatte, because I never had the opportunity to meet him and have heard wonderful things about him. I would love to get to know him, and learn more about my mother's childhood and our family history.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Meet Our Solicitors: Ira Papel
Thursday, May 03, 2018

Ira Papel

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Ira Papel.

Tell us about yourself. I am a facial plastic surgeon with a private practice in Baltimore, and serve as a professor at the Johns Hopkins Medical school. As co-director of the facial plastic surgery fellowship, I am actively involved in teaching residents, fellows, and visitors from around the world.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I am a New York City area native who came to Baltimore as a student and resident at Hopkins. Baltimore has become home with strong connections to the educational, cultural and Jewish communities.

How did you come to hear of The Associated? After I finished my residency and fellowship, someone recommended the Young Leadership program. That was the beginning of learning about The Associated and all the parts for me.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? This is part of our commitment, and responsibility, to building a better community. Hopefully [my gift] is reaching people with real needs, and assisting The Associated to get the help to where it is needed.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? World leaders who make major decisions about war and peace, who lives and who dies, and who has the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today! 

It Takes a Village to Revitalize A City
Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Community in Baltimore

From taking a leadership role in revitalizing and stabilizing city neighborhoods to working with local schools and other nonprofit partners to foster educational success, The Associated is committed to ensuring that Baltimore thrives.

“The Associated and its network of non-profits are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Baltimore City residents and to partner in building bridges, deepening relationships and enhancing the community together,” says Ruth Miller, vice president of Community Planning and Allocations at The Associated. "In fact our Baltimore Community Partnerships committee is working to enhance collaborations and partnerships in the city as an expression of our Jewish values, history and traditions.”

Neighborhoods. Beginning in 2015, the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) took a leadership role in the Jonestown Vision Plan initiative to redevelop this southeastern neighborhood of Baltimore City, north of Little Italy. The JMM is one of the anchor institutions in the community.

Since the launch of the initiative, Jonestown has seen significant redevelopment along E. Baltimore Street.

“The Jewish community has deep roots on the east side of Baltimore,” says Marvin Pinkert, executive director of the JMM. “We are thrilled to be working with other neighborhood and institutional partners to be part of the redevelopment of this historic community.”

CHAI, meanwhile, has always been at the forefront of strengthening and stabilizing communities in neighborhoods with substantial Jewish populations. In the more than 30 years since the agency’s establishment, CHAI has strengthened five neighborhoods in northwest Baltimore City through promotion of home ownership.

The agency provided hundreds of loans over the years to help residents buy or renovate their homes. They even offer energy-efficient grants and loans to assist low and moderate income homeowners with weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades and improvements to increase energy savings.

In addition, senior home repair programs help seniors who are aging in the community with maintenance, repairs and accommodations so they can live in their homes as long as possible.

Education. Yet for a city to thrive, it needs more than economic development. It needs an educated workforce.

Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) is committed to working with city schools and other youth-serving programs, providing more than 200 volunteers who tutored, mentored and engaged students during the year and in the summer.

Recognizing that many of the children living in economically depressed areas of the city need additional support, JVC partners with Living Classrooms Foundation, an organization committed to strengthening communities and inspiring young people to achieve their potential through hands-on education and job training.

To date, JVC’s volunteers provided more than 375 soup kits, 485 snack bags and hundreds of homemade casseroles to Living Classrooms. Additionally, 85 volunteers donated their time for direct service opportunities such as leading camp activities for kids during field day.

“Our partners at Living Classrooms and in other youth-serving programs aim to motivate and empower children from low-income communities to reach their education and career goals,” says Ashley Pressman, executive director of JVC.

CHAI works with the schools in its neighborhoods to promote educational success.

One of those schools is Fallstaff Elementary and Middle School. According to Mitch Posner, CEO of CHAI, more than 80 percent of the students at Fallstaff receive free and reduced lunches.

Understanding that many students go hungry after school, CHAI partners with the Family League of Baltimore City (FLBC) to participate in their End Hunger campaign. The Supper program provides nutritious full course dinners, five days a week to all students who stay after school for activities, tutoring or enrichment.

CHAI has partnered with the Baltimore Hunger Project to provide more than 60 students from Fallstaff with backpacks filled with nonperishable food for students to take home for the weekends.

The goal of CHAI’s partnership efforts is to provide schools and students with much needed supports to help them achieve academic success.

In one of the more innovative school partnerships, Pearlstone Center received a grant to work with at-risk youth from Baltimore City Public Schools through the Promise Heights Initiative in West Baltimore.

The Promise Heights initiative was established by the University of Maryland School of Social Work to improve educational outcomes for youth and ensure families are healthy and successful in the West Baltimore communities of Upton/Druid Heights.

Students visit Pearlstone three times a year for hands-on workshops where they are exposed to healthy eating and respect for animals, nature and humankind. Students plant, cook, milk and feed the goats, and the program culminates in a fifth grade overnight retreat.

The results to date have been impressive. To participate, students need to improve school attendance. Since they’ve been part of the Pearlstone project, attendance has increased by 10 percent.

CHAI, JMM, JVC and Pearlstone are supported by The Associated.

This story originally appeared in the May issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Staying Friends When Parenting Styles Differ
Thursday, April 26, 2018

By Rachael Abrams, LCSW-C
The Associated’s Jewish Community Services

The sheer volume of parenting advice available in 2018 is nothing short of overwhelming. Seeking out guidance on a particular subject can result in reviewing countless blogs, forums and websites, many of which contradict each other.

Early on in my parenting journey, my wise pediatrician advised me to implement the “go with your gut” philosophy. Now at times when your gut feeling doesn’t seem like enough, but a call to the doctor seems like way too much, many of us consult with friends.

We tend to surround ourselves with friends who share the same morals, philosophies and viewpoints because it helps validate our own parenting decisions. But if a time comes when a friend feels drastically different than we do about an issue, it can be awkward.

When a friend disagrees with your parenting choices, it may feel like criticism. When you disagree with a friend’s decision – especially on an issue you feel strongly about – you might second-guess the friendship itself.

The chances of differing on parenting styles is present at every stage of child rearing. At a young age, subjects such as sleeping habits, feeding choices and preschool curriculum arise. As children enter elementary school, extracurricular activities, screen time parameters, exposure to violence and introduction to social media may take the forefront. When middle school approaches, parents may differ on clothing choices, cell phones and increased independence. Friends can even have differing opinions about colleges.

So, what can we do when we parent differently than our friends?

1. Don’t assume you have all the answers. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your system/rule/decision is the best method. Perhaps this is true for you and your family, but your methods might not work for someone else.

Shaming someone for a certain parenting decision will only add additional stress to your friendship. It is important to remember that there is no one, correct way to parent. Keep an open mind and be willing to widen your world view.

2. Know when to keep quiet. Sometimes, a friend may just want to talk through something and feel heard. A conversation about a friend’s decision to purchase a smartphone for her elementary school child doesn’t necessitate your sharing why you’ve decided to wait until middle school.

Don’t become that friend who feels the need to counteract every statement, especially if you aren’t asked for your opinion. Judging other people’s parenting styles can become a full-time job, if you aren’t careful and discrediting someone for a parenting decision isn’t healthy for any friendship.

3. Remember that who we are is a product of where we’ve been. Our childhood, and the way we were parented (and yes, in 2018, parenting is a verb!) undoubtedly influences the way that we raise our children. Considering a friend’s background may help you better understand motivations behind a decision.

4. Don’t be too sensitive. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when questioned about a specific choice you made for your children. Maybe your friend is just curious about how you came to that decision or wants to know how it turned out.

If your friend is criticizing you, stay calm and remind your friend (and yourself) that just because you don’t agree on this particular issue doesn’t mean that you can’t support each other as friends and parents.

5. Stay true to yourself. Although it often feels like it, parenting is not a competitive sport. Don’t throw away a cherished friendship solely because your friend subscribes to the “Being a Friend to a Child over Being a Parent” philosophy and you don’t. You are entitled to your own parenting paradigms and should stick with them even when someone feels differently. Remind yourself about all the things you have been doing right.

Remember that as parents, regardless of our style, we have similar goals. We want our children to be healthy, make good choices and grow into well adjusted, capable adults. At the same time, we are human. We’ve all made parenting decisions that we aren’t proud of. Sharing these stories with each other and reminding ourselves of our vulnerabilities as parents can help smooth over rough moments between friends.

Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.

Middle School Students Reflect on B’More Inclusive
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Local Jewish middle schoolers participated in the B'More Inclusive community project in which they worked together with peers who have special needs. Together they made placemats for seniors, get well cards and rain sticks for kids in the hospital and scarves for people in shelters.

How did it change them? Here are reflections from our community:

NERVOUS… I was nervous because we couldn’t communicate or relate to them
In the beginning when we came in I was a bit overwhelmed
I was nervous because we were seeing all these kids with special needs and I didn’t know what to expect
I was nervous because two kids got me a little surprised by jumping on me
I was nervous about meeting people that were so different than me and I had no idea what to expect

 

SURPRISED…I didn’t think they would be able to communicate or do anything but they were able to
[I was surprised] how hard it can be for others
Even though some of them could not talk they had their own way to communicate
I was surprised at how much they were able to understand and do
I was surprised at how smart and nice they were I was surprised at how quickly me and my friend bonded
I was surprised that even though they all had very severe disabilities they all had different abilities
[I was] surprised they could do so many things
It was interesting to meet people who are different and have different needs

 

I LEARNED….Even disabled kids have feelings
It was interesting to see the way they did projects compared to the way we would do it
They all had something special about them even though they had some disabilities
Even disabled kids have feelings and I realized they are not so scary

 

WOWED … I was amazed to see this school, the staff and the equipment for the children

 

CHANGED… I felt more comfortable at the end than when we first came in
It changed the way I look at people
I was changed. At the beginning I felt nervous but then I realized she has feelings like everyone else and this has been a great experience!

 

MOTIVATED… Once I met the kids I was motivated to participate in an activity with them
I was motivated to do more activities like this
I was motivated to spread the word that [these] kids are just like other kids
I was motivated to become their friend in a short amount of time
It motivated me help more and do random acts of kindness
Once I met the kids I was motivated to participate in the activity with them
It made me want to learn more about people with different abilities
It made me want to learn more about people with disabilities

 

COMFORTABLE… I didn’t feel weird around them
I was excited and felt comfortable around them
I was excited and happy to be with them and it was really fun
I am used to being around kids with disabilities and I enjoy being around them
They were very nice and fun to be with
I didn’t care that they were different, they are not so different
I felt like there was no difference between me and my friend and we are all kids and the same
It looked like the kids were happy to see us
It was so much fun to work with the kids!
It was interesting to meet people who are different and have different needs
They were really smart and aware
I know more about what it is like for them
The girl I was assigned to was the sweetest little girl
I didn’t think they were so different. They just have a disability
I just felt comfortable. They were so nice and friendly and there was no problem

 

WHAT WE CAN DO ... When there is someone sitting on the side go over to the person and include her
When someone popular goes over to a girl who is left out, it becomes the “in” thing to do
If you are laughing with someone make sure you are both feeling the same way

 

“Just as their faces are different, so are their opinions different”
[Mishna Brachot 58:72]

B’More Inclusive is a project of the Louis D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. This year the CJE has a DoMore Inclusive opportunity. Teenagers of all abilities, including those who have a physical or learning difference, are invited to create a graffiti style mural for the JCC. Email yzelinger@cjebaltimore.org for more info!

Putting Smiles on People's Faces: Why David Levi Volunteers
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet David, a young adult from Ashkelon who believes that volunteering should be a part of every person's life. David volunteers with AMEN, a youth volunteerism program in our sister city of Ashkelon, Israel that supports more than 10,000 teen volunteers on a regular basis.

How did you first get involved with AMEN? I started to volunteer there in eighth grade when I got to Ashkelon. I started to volunteer with [an organization similar to] the Girl Scouts as well as with the youth council in the city. We're deciding on events and helping out in the community – we fill boxes with food and send them to poor families. Overall, it's fun. You do it with friends. You meet all sorts of people. It fills you; it gives you purpose. You feel satisfaction after you finish with the project.

What's the best part about volunteering with AMEN? They say when you give back to other people, you get something back. And it's true ... If everyone did this, if everyone volunteered, the world will be better because we're all helping one another. With the scouts, I lead a group of young kids. I go on trips with them, I show them Ashkelon and we do volunteer work.

How do you think working with AMEN makes an impact in your community? I know I'm helping the community. Sometimes, you meet the people you're giving the food packages to. You can see the smiles on their faces because they have food and now they can do the holy days properly. You know you're making someone's day – or year – better.

Why do you choose to give back to your community? I've never done something more satisfying than this. You feel good after volunteering. There is an expression – send your bread over the water, and after some days, it will come back to you. If you do good things, I believe they come back to you. Helping the community should be a part of everyone's life.

Do you want to make a difference in Greater Baltimore and beyond? Explore your volunteer opportunities.

A Civic Responsibility: Why Jacob Davenport Gives Back
Monday, April 16, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet Jacob, a grad student and volunteer at the Jewish Museum of Maryland who considers giving back part of his civic responsibility.

Tell me how you first got involved with the JMM. I got involved with the JMM shortly after moving to Baltimore in January. Before the move, I looked into museums to volunteer at because I was looking for a history-focused volunteer opportunity. I moved for graduate school, but I wasn’t starting until the summer term, so I figured this was a good time to get some more experience and to see how a museum operated from the inside.

How would you describe the impact that JMM makes in our community? I started a project in the gift shop on Monday which I think speaks to the JMM’s effect in the community. I’m going through the archives and looking for images to produce a line of museum specific cards, by finding archived pictures of families and individuals corresponding to the current available card collection’s themes (birthday, anniversary, bat mitzvah, etc). The idea is to produce cards that speak to the lives people lived in the area, rather than using abstract designs.

That’s what I would say the JMM is primarily about – dignifying the lives of the Jewish community in the area. It keeps the experiences of people who wouldn’t make history books alive for the community. That’s the main effect it has on the community – through its permanent exhibit Voices of Lombard Street and through its archives, it champions ordinary people’s experiences so visitors get to see a more intimate style of history.

Walk me through a typical day of volunteering with JMM. When I come in, I get the mailing lists updated and then I move on to some clerical work, such as typing up feedback from teachers who led school trips and submitting information on the JMM’s upcoming events to local news sources and community organizations. Of course, I’m taking calls and welcoming guests along the way. In the gift shop, I'm assigned a number of organizational tasks, like checking product inventory, repositioning sales displays, assisting with organizing back stock or labeling new product.

Why do you choose to give back? I give back because I think it’s a civic responsibility that I ignored for too long. In the past, I focused almost exclusively on school work while people around me were getting out and helping others, and I don’t want to do that any longer, especially since I moved to Baltimore as part of a fresh start. From what the staff at the JMM have told me, they’ve seen their work make a difference to people, even if just in little ways, and that’s something worth being a part of.

Do you want to make a difference in Greater Baltimore and beyond? Explore your volunteer opportunities with Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus.

Meet Our Solicitors: Rachel Elliott
Monday, April 16, 2018

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Rachel Elliott.

Tell us about yourself. I am the Chief of Staff/VP of Community Development at CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. where I started working in 2006 upon moving to Baltimore. I grew up in Chicago, earned a B.A. in International Studies at the University of Oregon, studied Jewish text and philosophy at PARDES Institute in Jerusalem Israel and earned a masters in Jewish Communal Service and Social Work from Wurzweiler School of SW in New York City.

I'm committed to community development and neighborhood stabilization work in Baltimore and believes that there is endless opportunity for our neighbors and neighborhoods. I met my husband Ray at Pimlico Race Track in 2007, and we have been having a romance with the city ever since. I live in Mt. Washington with my husband, daughter, dogs, snake and some fish and frogs.

What do you think makes our community so special? That our community is very tight-knight, and that many different segments of the community work together for the good of the whole community.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? I give because I love my job at CHAI, and The Associated’s funding and support are critical to the success of CHAI’s ability to achieve its mission.

Every gift counts, and my gift, like everyone else’s, is what makes our campaign successful and our agencies able to do the work we do.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? I hope to increase the Jewish communal professionals’ connection to the Annual Campaign so that they feel like both an Associated Donor as well as a service recipient.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? The Obamas, because they are fascinating.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Filling the World with Love and Respect: Why Ellyn Samuelson Volunteers
Monday, April 16, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet Ellyn, a volunteer with CHANA who grew up volunteering and wants to ensure all people are treated with love and respect.

Tell me how you first got involved with CHANA. At an event in 2015, I was approached by my friend Alyson Friedman who asked me if I would be interested in being on the board of CHANA. When I started going to the board meetings and I found out the level of domestic abuse in the community, I couldn't believe it! CHANA provides a safe place for the community to call for support, guidance and information regarding trauma that occurs to men and women across the lifespan. Through programs like Boys To Mensch, Safety Kid and The Healthy Relationship Program, CHANA provides our youth with tangible skills regarding building healthy relationships. CHANA also gives access to therapists and lawyers to help with the clients' needs.

How would you describe the impact that CHANA makes in our community? As a board member, I volunteer to help collect clothing for the clients and I collect clothing for the CHANA sheds. (Located in both the Weinberg Park Heights and Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCCs.) Next year we are hoping to launch clothing drives in many of the local schools and synagogues. I love driving around town and picking up bags of clothing and throwing them in the shed!

Tell me about an experience you've had volunteering with CHANA that has moved you. The most moving experience I have had with CHANA is participating in the Mother's Day gift program. Each woman is given a gift basket to pamper her with things she would personally enjoy. Through the generosity of board members and community members, we are able to shower the women with gifts that are meaningful to them. They deserve it!

Why do you choose to give back? I chose to give back because I grew up in a family where everyone volunteered. It was common for me to accompany my mother to a charity luncheon, and my father often attended board meetings in the evenings. I feel that, as a part of tikkun olam, we could all spend some of our time helping others. I am honored to be on the CHANA board and it is my hope and wish that all humans will always be treated with love and respect.

Do you want to make a difference in Greater Baltimore and beyond? Explore your volunteer opportunities with CHANA.

How Aaron Martin Gives Back with Jewish Volunteer Connection
Monday, April 16, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet Aaron, a member of Jewish Volunteer Connection's board who conquered the Casserole Challenge and strongly values tzedakah in his everyday life.

You're on the JVC board. Why did you decide to join? I became active in JVC through [a] VolunTeam [volunteer groups with flexible scheduling for projects]. I saw how JVC successfully engaged with the community's existing desire to volunteer and help others ... I am also very drawn to how JVC fosters Jewish community as it brings people together – across the spectrum of Judaism – with a common goal to do good.

How would you describe the impact that JVC makes in our community? On the recipient side, JVC's impact is almost immeasurable. JVC is truly involved in hundreds of direct and indirect service projects every year that impact individuals from all over Greater Baltimore.

Yet, the impact on volunteers is greater than the thousands of acts of kindness they generate. JVC fosters a community culture of giving that is a Jewish value held in high esteem. JVC is also an outlet and tool for parents who value giving to teach and show their children the value hands on. Giving monetarily is great, but not an easy thing to involve children in a way that they learn it.

Tell me about an experience you've had volunteering with JVC that has moved you. About 2 months ago in a meeting with the JVC leadership, I remarked that I wish I could get my son's school involved in JVC. I thought that, if my son sees his Rebbe engaged in giving, it will have a strong impact on him. Karen Singer, chair of the board, challenged me to listen to the passion in my voice and go for it despite any uncertainty that I had. I'm so happy she did! Right before Pesach, the Kosher Meals on Wheels program included almost 100 grape juice bottles and cards drawn and personalized by the school's first graders in its deliveries. [The program] generated a lot of discussion about who the recipients are, which is such an important part of being a giver – being able to see who are the people out there and their needs.

I hear you participated in JVC's recent Casserole Challenge. How was that? When I first heard of the Casserole Challenge, I thought it was not for me; however, I signed up to collect casseroles for an hour, thinking, sure, I can spare that hour. As the collection date came closer, I started to feel funny that I would be showing up empty-handed. I had this moment of, Oh, a lasagna is a casserole. I can do that! I proceeded to make two cheese lasagnas to bring with me. I shared my epiphany moment at the next board meeting and now I've jokingly become the lasagna man. It's great how just being involved with JVC allows me to continually challenge myself to go out of my comfort zone.

Why do you choose to give back? I can't say I've ever made the decision to give back – it's something I always assumed. In Yeshiva, I learned the value and obligation of tzedakah and had strong role models around me who meticulously gave ten percent of their earnings to charity. Growing up, I watched my mother, who was a teacher, have neighbors' kids over who needed help with homework. She also would spend hours and hours on the phone before each summer as the volunteer administrator of a local camp scholarship fund. A few years ago, I made the decision that giving money was not enough and to focus on more active giving. I believe we are obligated to give because there are needs to be met but also because, through giving, we grow spiritually. For me, volunteering is a more potent growth tool and I'm fortunate to be able to do both.

Do you want to make a difference in Greater Baltimore and beyond? Explore your volunteer opportunities with Jewish Volunteer Connection.

Meet YLC: Michael & Gali
Sunday, April 15, 2018

We have so many young adult leaders in Jewish Baltimore – and many of them get their start in the Young Leadership Council (YLC). A two-year program, YLC gives young professionals the chance to develop an understanding of The Associated, acknowledge the importance of philanthropy and gain valuable leadership skills through fundraising, educational programs and community service projects. The 2019 class is our biggest yet at 26 members; today, meet two of these members: Michael Raphael & Gali Wealcatch.

Tell me about yourself. Are you a Baltimore native or a Baltimore newbie? What do you do for work?

Michael: I am a Baltimore newbie, but my wife is from Owings Mills. I work for LGA Capital, a commercial real estate capital markets company.

Gali: My family moved from Jerusalem when I was two, so I definitely feel like a native. I'm a photo layout designer – I work with photographers and individuals to design custom wedding albums and other photo projects.

Why did you decide to join YLC?

Michael: I joined YLC because I wanted to give back to the community, learn more about Judaism and expand my personal and professional networks.

Gali: I was invited to attend a Discovery Tour about The Associated, and after learning more about how essential the organization is in our community, I saw an opportunity to get involved through YLC.

What has been the best part of the program so far? What's something new that you've learned about IMPACT or The Associated?

Michael: The best part of the program has been learning more about The Associated, understanding just how far reaching all the services are.

Gali: At our first session, we spent a lot of time learning about each member's journey and what led them to YLC. For never having met each other, it was an incredibly open and meaningful exercise that made me really excited to be spending the next two years with this group. I've learned so much already, I don't even know where to start! One thing that comes to mind was the amount of volunteer involvement on almost everything The Associated does, and the limitless opportunities there are for individuals looking to help.

How would you describe Jewish Baltimore to someone who's never been?

Michael: It is very unique. As an outsider, I have never seen such a connected area that really builds a sense of community.

Gali: Baltimore has such a special blend of Jewish people, spanning so many different philosophies, backgrounds and types of observance – all coming together to create a warm and supportive community.

How do you think you can make a difference in Jewish Baltimore?

Michael: I would like to continue to connect young Jewish families to one another and increasing the amount of education about the Jewish religion and theology.

Gali: Ask me again in about two years – I'm working on it! I think the key is to always look for opportunities and see where they take you.

What's your favorite thing to do in Baltimore in your free time?

Michael: I work long hours during the week so weekends I like to spend as much time with my two young children and wife.

Gali: I love being social – old friends, new friends... there's always fun to be had!

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why?

Michael: I never met any of my grandparents, so I would love to sit and have a meal with them.

Gali: I would invite my grandparents. My grandparents weren't able to be here, or they were no longer living, by the time I was making Shabbos in my own home, and I would have loved to share that with them.

Recruitment for the Young Leadership Council begins again in May 2019. Want to get involved with other young adults in Jewish Baltimore? Email Rebecca Ellison!

In Her Mother's Memory: Amy Baum Chairs CHANA's Race Against Abuse
Wednesday, April 04, 2018

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Amy Baum has run her fair share of races, including the Baltimore Half Marathon, but on Mother’s Day, May 13, she will be running for something different. That’s the day when she will be participating in the Race Against Abuse, CHANA’s 10K and Fun Run, in memory of her mother, Barbi Hyman, a former prevention educator at CHANA.

Baum, who first conceived of a race shortly after her mother passed away, also is chairing the 10K. She is excited that it will raise funds for CHANA, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, to support CHANA’s work preventing and helping those suffering from domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse in Baltimore.

We spoke with Baum, who lives in Ruxton with her husband, Jeff, and two boys, Eli and Noah.

How did the idea for a race begin? My mom passed away in November, 2016. The following May, I faced my first Mother’s Day without her. I felt I needed a way to turn my first Mother’s Day without my mom into something positive. I organized a run for family and friends at Lake Roland. Thirty people came. Some walked, some ran and then we gathered under the canopy I rented for bagels. I talked about CHANA. Everyone brought a donation for the organization.

And this year? I decided to expand the idea. This year, the race will be held on the NCR Trail. I believe that the cause we are supporting is so important, particularly with everything in the world that has been going on, and the revelations about sexual harassment and the establishment of the #MeToo movement. I’m hoping that CHANA’s Race Against Abuse will be the beginning of something really big.

Is it just for runners? No. You don’t have to be a runner to participate. We also encourage those who want to walk to participate in a 1.8 mile fun run.

What did you learn from your mother? My mother always said, “You only have so many beans in your pocket...so use them wisely” and she lived her life in a way that filled her up. She cared deeply about empowering women. She felt it was important for women to have confidence and be self-assured and she wanted them to be in healthy relationships. She made me aware of how many unhealthy relationships exist and she was determined to get people talking. She wanted to give kids the language to speak out so we could prevent a lot of suffering.

What did she hope the students she spoke with would walk away with? I think she would say, “Trust your gut. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and value you. If it feels uncomfortable or feels off, get out.”

What would you like to say to your Mom when you cross that finish line? Don’t worry, Mom. You have given us everything we needed and more. We will use our beans wisely and we will continue to do the work that was so important to you.

Through its annual allocation, The Associated supports CHANA’s work with domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse. To learn more about the race and to register, go to chanabaltimore.org/race.

This story originally appeared in the April issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Hosting a Shinshin Means Gaining a Life-Long Friend
Wednesday, April 04, 2018

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Harriette Golob Wienner stood in the outdoor garden in Ashkelon, tears in her eyes, watching Liron Menashe walk down the aisle. She could not believe she had known this young Israeli for only 11 years; it felt as if her own daughter was getting married.

Wienner first met Menashe when she arrived in Baltimore from Ashkelon to serve as a shinshin, an Israeli emissary, hoping to connect students and adults to Israel. Wienner and her husband, Steve, were her host family.

For the Wienner family, it was an incredibly rewarding year. As they took her on trips to the beach and University of Maryland football games, as they celebrated Passover with Mensahe and her mother, they began to really understand Israeli life through the eyes of this 18-year-old.

“Not only would our children gain a big sister but she also brought Israel to life in our home,” says Wienner. “Today, we no longer see the country as this place 6,000 miles away, but we see it as a place where we have life-long friends.”

For more than a decade, the Macks Center for Jewish Education, through funding allocated by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, has brought two Israeli teens to Baltimore to connect with community members. Much of the time they interact with youngsters and teens through programming at area schools and Jewish groups.

Over the years, the program has proven so successful that next year, Baltimore will be one of five communities that will expand the Shinshinim program to a new model, in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel. Through this model, eight shinshinim will arrive in Baltimore this fall, increasing opportunities for Baltimoreans to form personal relationships with and feel connected to Israelis.

Vered and Marty Taylor, and their two children, were fortunate to host two shinshinim; Yuval Saadon in 2015 and Avia Eliyahu in fall 2017.

Although the Taylors have been to Israel multiple times – Vered’s family lives there – they saw it as a chance for their two young children to have a big sister, while sharing Jewish Baltimore with the Israelis.

“Scouting was a big part of Avia’s life and she brought her enthusiasm for Scouts to the U.S. with her, along with her Scout uniform,” says Marty Taylor. “Our son, Guy, is also involved in Scouts and Avia shared so much about Scouts in Israel with him and his Cub Scout Pack. The Scouts also were interested to know that scouting is worldwide.”

The Taylors also took their two shinshinim to many Baltimore events that support Israel, demonstrating the community’s commitment to the Jewish state.

Today, Eliyahu is still in Baltimore but Saadon has returned to Israel. The Taylor family still texts and Facetimes her. When they are in Israel, Marty Taylor says, “I Iike to catch up and see how our Israeli daughter is doing.”

Wienner feels the same way. In fact, when her daughter, Jenny, was in Israel for a dance program, she spent many Shabbat dinners at the Menashes’ home and the former shinshin came to her performances.

“We have so much to learn from each other,” says Wienner. “This program brings Israel to life for so many young Baltimoreans who may never, otherwise, meet an Israeli contemporary.”

To become a host family, go to cjebaltimore.org.

This story originally appeared in the April issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

The Associated Connects to Israel for 70 Years
Monday, April 02, 2018

 

The Beginning of a Great Partnership: Baltimore and Ashkelon

By Linda A. Hurwitz
Co-founder of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership (with Michael Lapidus z”l)

It was a little over 14 years ago. The Associated was interested in partnering with a sister city in Israel when it “discovered” Ashkelon. In so many ways, this beautiful city, situated on the Mediterranean Sea, could not have been more perfect.

Outwardly, the comparisons were uncanny. Both communities boasted a Jewish population around 100,000. And Ashkelon recently had built a beautiful new marina that reminded us all of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Yet most important, the people and the municipality of Ashkelon wooed us. Everyone we met was so warm and friendly, and we knew that our two communities would instantly bond.

Since the first moment when we sat down together after the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership was formed, to today when countless Baltimoreans travel to the city to volunteer... when Diller teens are hosted in Ashkelon homes... when shinshinim (Israeli emissaries) travel to Baltimore for a year to share Israel with our students... we have realized that dream.

I have always felt so close to the people and the land of Ashkelon that when our third child was bar mitzvahed we wanted to have the ceremony there. During the service, my son put on tefillin for the first time. The Rabbi had these words for him:

The box on your head, you should always think of Israel and Israel should be at the forefront of your mind;

The box on your arm, it points to your heart. You should always love Israel and Israel should always be a big part of your heart;

And the straps wound around your arm, it will remind you that you have done something for Israel. You came and celebrated with your Ashkelon family. You should always continue to do for your homeland!

 

Israel’s Ambassadors: Shinshinim Join Baltimore’s Community

 

By Nathan Braverman, Macks Center for Jewish Education Board Chair

Over the past 10 years, the Macks Center for Jewish Education’s (CJE) Shinshinim program has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to bring young Israelis from Ashkelon to Baltimore to forge personal relationships between the two communities. These poised and enthusiastic Israeli high school graduates, who defer for a year from the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), are amazing ambassadors for their country. By sharing their hopes, dreams, culture and lives with our students and others in the community, they are exposing us to real Israelis so that even our youngest children can positively identify with the Jewish State.

Because our young people are constantly exposed to negative publicity about Israel in general, and Israeli soldiers in particular, the shinshinim offer them an up close and personal view of their Israeli counterparts. It is an incredibly effective way to counter the often biased views of the press and other detractors on our college campuses. The impressions formed by these relationships strengthen our bond with Israel by providing our children with first-hand experiences to accurately inform them as to the true nature of Israeli society.

Next year, the CJE, with The Associated and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), will bring eight shinshinim to Baltimore, developing more meaningful relationships with an even greater number of individuals in our community.

CJE is grateful for the opportunity granted by The Associated, its Israel and Overseas Committee and JAFI to expand this program and better serve our educational partners in our day schools, congregations and the community-at-large.

 

MIDC Boosts Israel/Maryland Business Partnerships for Over a Quarter Century

 

By Steve Dubin, MIDC Chair

It’s hard to believe it was more than 25 years ago when a group of Baltimore’s Jewish community leaders and business executives sat down to talk about how to absorb the influx of Russian Jewish immigrants to Israel. It was the late 1980s, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, and unemployment hit double digits in the Jewish State.

Recognizing that a Maryland/Israel economic development partnership would prove beneficial to both communities, we enlisted the support of Governor William Donald Schaefer. In 1988, he enthusiastically signed a Maryland/Israel Declaration of Cooperation with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Moshe Arad, which called for both sides to collaborate in high-tech development and business cooperation.

In 1992, the Maryland/Israel Develop Center (MIDC) was established as a public-private partnership between Maryland’s Department of Commerce, Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Trade and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Today, this non-profit membership organization promotes bilateral trade and investment.

Looking back on that time, I don’t know if anyone would have predicted how important that partnership would grow to be – how much it would economically benefit both communities. As Israel has evolved into a global technological powerhouse, many of its industries dovetail with Maryland’s leading industries.

CHANA joins the nation in recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Monday, April 02, 2018

By Naomi Taffet, LCSW-C, VAS-III
Director of Service Coordination, CHANA

Movements like #MeToo, It’s On Us, and Time’s Up have thankfully brought to the forefront public discussions that were once considered a hidden topic, but more needs to be done.

Most sexual violence cases never get reported... only one in five survivors talk to someone about the assault. Many sexual assault survivors say they feel shame. We must continue to engage everyone and change the rhetoric. Moreover, it is imperative that clients are given the safe place to speak about what has happened, to be heard, and to be believed. Having the courage to come forward to speak your truth is incredibly healing and powerful, so this year’s national campaign theme, “Embrace Your Voice” is a great opportunity to empower those affected by sexual abuse to stand up and speak out.

At CHANA, we provide support groups for survivors to do just that...our “Finding Your Voice” and “Sharing Your Voice” programs are facilitated by highly, qualified professionals. CHANA provides individual and group counseling to male and female survivors as well as self-care groups, self-defense classes, and different activities throughout the year designed to encourage survivors to embrace their voice.

Recently, I had the pleasure of being on a conference call with former Vice President Joe Biden during which he emphasized the need, now more than ever, to change the culture in the way we treat women. He spoke of being a proud grandfather and how incredibly special it was for him to help unpack his granddaughter on her first day of college. You could hear his smile over the phone. And then, you could hear his voice and demeanor change when he disclosed his biggest fear…that his granddaughter has a one in five chance of experiencing some kind of sexual assault on campus. Biden, who launched the It's On Us campaign in 2014 together with then-President Barack Obama to end campus sexual assault, is disheartened by the fact that rates of violence on campus against young women hasn’t changed that much over the years.

We all need to get involved in helping to prevent sexual violence on campus, and in our own backyards.

Just like throwing a pebble in a pond, sexual assault does not just affect the survivor, but can create ripples throughout the survivor’s circle and community. CHANA is here for family members, friends, schools, and colleagues when abuse occurs.

Zoë Reznick Gewanter, Prevention Educator at CHANA, works with students in local schools to learn how to practice healthy relationships and how to recognize and respond to abuse when it happens. Together with schools, congregations and community groups, we create events that help people understand the reality of abuse in our communities and get clarity on what to do, if and when, it occurs.

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C, Director of Advocacy and Outreach, was instrumental in bringing Safety Kid to the Baltimore community, an abuse prevention program designed to work with school administrators, families and students, to ensure that our children are educated in age-appropriate ways to handle potentially dangerous situations.

April 3rd is the National Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month (SAAPM) Day of Action! Wear teal to show your support for survivors of sexual assault and help raise awareness. Every 98 seconds, another sexual assault occurs. Remember, if you see something, say something. Together, let’s embrace our voices and work to creating a culture of respect, equality, and safety.

The Great Women of Jewish Baltimore
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

In our community, we are blessed to have many talented and wise women working on behalf of The Associated and our agencies. As chair of Associated Women, I am especially proud that we have a system which empowers and recognizes women for the unique gifts they bring to their communal work.

It is especially gratifying when we have the ability to laud and reward our great women for their efforts. I hope you will join me in celebrating the achievements of three special women: Carole Fradkin will receive The Builder of Tomorrow Award for her work on behalf of The Associated at the Federation of Jewish Women’s Annual Convention on Thursday, May 24. Carole is a long-time, dedicated and passionate volunteer in Associated Women. She holds the distinction of being the first working woman to serve as president of what was then called the Women’s Department. I hope you will join us at the event on May 24. We will share the information about purchasing tickets when it is available.

Wendy Miller has been invited to join the National Women’s Philanthropy Board of Jewish Federations of North America, the umbrella organization for our federation system. Wendy joins other members from our community: Judi Fader, Michele Lax, Laurie Luskin and Nina Rosenzwog and life-time board members, Linda A. Hurwitz and Brenda Brown Rever. Wendy’s term begins with the board’s annual retreat in June. The goal of involvement on this board is for our members to share and learn best practices from our counterparts across the country and bring that knowledge back to our community.

Linda A. Hurwitz will be our community’s recipient of the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award at the International Lion of Judah Conference in January 2019. Each community is encouraged to name one woman who exemplifies the spirit and vision of Lion of Judah through a commitment to tzedakah and tikkun olam. As a past chair of National Women’s Philanthropy and a passionate and dedicated solicitor in our community, Linda is a deserving honoree for this recognition. We will celebrate Linda and her inclusion in this auspicious group of women at the Lion of Judah Conference. Information about the conference will be sent out shortly.

I am so pleased that we have the opportunity to celebrate women in our community who are making a difference. It is my goal to give all women in Jewish Baltimore the chance to find their area of interest and pursue it. If you want to talk to me or a professional about getting involved with the great causes and projects in our community, please contact me at nrosenzwog@associated.org.

Bringing Philanthropy into your Seder
Monday, March 26, 2018

By Rabbi Debbie Pine

The word Seder means order and whether you are the cook, the dishwasher or the service leader, the many steps and complications of hosting a Seder can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost in the details of dishes, when to do what, and what prayers to say when.

Thankfully the Haggadah is a clear outline, and this ancient how to manual can easily get us from start to finish. Seder is about details and preparation. If we can step back from the details, the broad, timeless themes of the Seder can give us guidelines to pause and think about our philanthropy.

There are many natural places to engage in conversation with your family about philanthropy during the Seder. The beginning and end of the Seder act as book ends to challenge us to look outwardly and think about the world around us.

One of the first, dramatic and significant moment of the Seder is Yachatz, the breaking of the middle matzah. Very early in the Seder, we take the middle matzah, break it, and it becomes the afikomen. As we break the matzah, we recite an ancient Aramaic passage that reminds us that this is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat.

The sound of the breaking of the matzah reminds us that the world is broken. This is a great moment to pause and think about brokenness. How is our world broken? What aspects of our world need our attention and support? What does it mean to be poor?

At the very end of the Seder, we say “next year in Jerusalem.” At many moments in our history, Jews longed for Jerusalem. For us today, we are celebrating 70 years of sovereignty in Israel, 70 years of enjoying the streets and sounds of Jerusalem. What does next year in Jerusalem mean to us when we have Jerusalem?

Today, Jerusalem is a mixture of conflict and peace, of diversity and unity. In our tradition and at the Seder, Jerusalem is aspirational. Jerusalem is a symbol of the sense of goodness and peace that we as Jews strive to bring to the world. As much as we have Jerusalem as an important part of our homeland, we are always striving to live up to the values that it symbolizes. What would it take to create a world of peace and equity? How do we bring justice to the world?

A conversation about philanthropy can start with the breaking of the matzah and our understanding of the brokenness in our world. As families, we can identify what aspects of the world we strive to repair. Then, at the end of the Seder, as we long for Jerusalem, recognizing that our work is never really done, we can think and dream about how our efforts and our philanthropy can truly repair the world.

Many families tell me that they are “all over the place” with their philanthropy. They want to make a difference, but there are so many needs and they feel pulled in so many different directions. The Seder can help us focus.

Although the details are many, the themes are clear. The crumbly, dry, plain matzah reminds us that the world is broken. Throughout our history, we have experienced that brokenness.

We know it first-hand. This is the moment, in our comfortable and beautiful homes, with our tables overflowing with food, to remind ourselves of the pain of hunger and poverty. Jerusalem reminds that our work is never done. Seder can focus us to stop and think as a family about what is truly broken in our world. What do we want to fix today and tomorrow?

Passover reminds us that we were slaves in Egypt. We were poor. We were hungry. Jerusalem reminds us that despite how lucky we are, the obligation to fix the world always will be present.

May this Passover bring warmth and joy with your family. At this moment of renewal, seize the moment to recognize brokenness and think together about how your family’s philanthropy can move us toward the aspirational nature of Jerusalem a city of peace, a world of justice.

Farm-to-Table Seder Plate
Monday, March 26, 2018

By Rachel Steinberg Warschawski

Are you personally acquainted with your Seder Plate? Strange question, you say? Not for our family! This year, we’ll be lucky enough to incorporate an almost entirely farm-to-table Seder plate, courtesy of Pearlstone’s USDA certified Organic farm, at our Pesach Seder. For one of the most quintessentially experiential celebrations in our Jewish calendar, what could be more fun and meaningful than to use ingredients to which our family has a personal, year-round connection?

One of our favorite things about Pearlstone Center is the opportunity to touch, taste and experience our Jewish agricultural heritage. Our family has learned Jewish concepts and skills that strengthen the connection to our faith and inform and enrich our modern, Jewish practice. We’ve been inspired to be more conscious of Shmirat HaAdamah (safeguarding the Earth), Tzar Baalei Chayim (the welfare of animals) and Kedushat Shabbat (the sanctity of rest.)

Whether through a wheat harvest demonstrating the Torah’s laws of Tzedakah, a pickling exercise that shows the awesome power of Teshuvah/change, or stomping grapes to make our own Kiddush wine, Pearlstone creates immersive, experiential connections to the Torah that let participants live and truly connect to Jewish practices and values. Throughout the year, at Shabbat and holiday celebrations, family festivals, Tiyul adventure days and Family Farm Camp, we are part of a supportive and warm community engaging in vibrant Jewish life, connected to one another, to the land and to our sacred Jewish tradition.

And so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to incorporate on our Seder plate a Beitzah (egg) laid by the chickens that my daughter chases (and catches) on each of our visits to the farm. Maror (horseradish,) Karpas (parsley) and Chazeret (dandelion greens) will be harvested from the greenhouse produce that we and other local families have helped tend during Family Farm Day visits. We’ll swat each other during Dayenu with green onions cultivated by our farmer friends, Perri and Greg, and we’ll even savor our own home garden-grown lavender in our Charoset.

It says in the Haggadah, “Each of us is obligated to see ourselves as one who actually left Egypt.” I’ll never have a better appreciation of that concept than I did after a morning of mud-brick making at Family Farm Camp (think blazing heat, bare feet, heavy mud, straw and sand – thank the Lord for the Exodus!)

Our sages had it right – the Seder is our original mandate for experiential learning and the epitome of Living Judaism. This year, what a blessing to touch, taste and appreciate on such a personal level the fruits of our communal strength and the source of our Divine deliverance!

Wishing you and your family a Chag Sameach!

Grandparenting from Afar
Thursday, March 22, 2018

By Karen Nettler, MSW
Director of Community Connections, Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

I grew up in the 50s and 60s being blessed by the relationships I had with both sets of grandparents and one great-grandmother. In fact, my great-grandmother’s death when I was 21 years old was the first close family loss I experienced.

All of my grandparents lived nearby – my father’s parents lived within walking distance of my home. It was not unusual for them to drop in for a visit. My mother’s parents had dinner with us on Tuesday nights and my grandmother would then sleep over our house (in my room) before heading off to work the next day. Even as I write this, a smile comes to my face when I think about those days: sitting at the piano with my paternal grandfather, enjoying the stories of the “old country” from my grandmothers, and especially the delicious pastries my maternal grandfather brought from the Bronx each Tuesday afternoon!

Fast forward to today, and I am now relishing being “Bubbie” to twins (a boy and girl) who are now two years old and live in Michigan. I have longed for this stage, yet never anticipated that my grandchildren would not be a regular part of my daily life. But with a little determination and planning – and with the technology we have today, I have managed to build a strong relationship with Whitney and Isaiah.

How have I done it? First and foremost, I have committed myself to visiting them in Michigan every four to six weeks. I hold very special status with the airlines! These visits allow for me to be on-site with them for the entire weekend: when they wake up, go to sleep, play and even get cranky.

It’s total immersion time for me as my daughter and son-in-law often take advantage of the opportunity to go out as a couple or to run errands. It is pure joy – and a ton of work – to watch two toddlers at once. I’ve become a regular at the local parks and library where the kids love all the stimulation, and I enjoy the company of other Bubbies, parents and nannies. I also get to meet my friends, so I can relate to “their world” when I’m back home communicating with them by phone.

Modern technology is a faraway grandparent’s best friend. When my daughter announced she was pregnant, I gave up my flip-phone and bought a Smartphone just so that I could Facetime with the kids. I keep copies of their favorite books in my home so I can read to them; pretty soon we’ll be reading to each other as they memorize the words to the books. I also keep some finger puppets and other bright colorful objects around the house to keep their interest, since looking at Bubbie is not the most exciting activity for a toddler.

Keeping abreast of what captures their interest (versus mine) and honing in on those topics has been so rewarding for me – and I think for them. I’ll never forget the look of amazement on their faces when Elmo showed up at my side during a recent conversation.

In addition to reading and entertaining, I have found another use for Facetime as well. I started sending gifts for occasions like the first day of school, so that I can watch the kids open them while we are on the phone. That way they know the present is from me, and I get to see their excitement when they open the gift.

Even when we’re not on the phone, I found ways to connect by creating photobooks of their milestones and memories while I’m at home. This allows me to reflect on all our special times even when we’re not together.

Time will tell where our relationship will go in the years ahead, but I’ll do my best to keep up with their interests. Time to stop writing; I have a plane to catch!

Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.

*Editor’s note: Since writing this blog, Karen has announced she is retiring from JCS. She and her husband are moving to Detroit to be closer to their grandchildren. Mazel Tov to the whole mishpacha!

Using One’s Senses to Experience the Seder
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

 

By Martha Goodman, coordinator of Maryland Special Needs Advocacy Project at the Macks Center for Jewish Education, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Current research shows that teaching through the five senses – known as multimodality teaching – strengthens how information is absorbed and retained. When we experience something with our whole body and through different channels rather than by being passive observers, we are bound to understand what we have learned and remember it more fully. And while multimodality teaching is often seen as a modern concept, Torah teachers have known this for centuries. Through the Passover seder, our opportunity to hear, see and taste the story of the Israelite's exodus from slavery to freedom helps us each to ultimately feel that we ourselves have experienced the journey.

The Haggadah implores us to each see ourselves as having gone out of Egypt. Some commentators stress that we should envision ourselves as having been in the minority of the Jews who were faithful and were saved. (It is taught that some 80 percent of the Jews perished during the plague of darkness, under cloak of imposed night, so we would not become bewildered and further scorned.) But the simpler explanation is best: We need to not just envision ourselves as having gone out of Egypt but rather experience ourselves as having been taken out.

While the heart of the seder is the retelling of the story of our being taken out of Egypt, it is crucial that one also “tells your son” (or daughter), engaging our sense of hearing. This telling is so critical that if one is alone, one tells oneself the story, asking and answering his or her own questions. While we may think of a printed Haggadah as synonymous with this action of telling, the story of the exodus was an oral tradition until the Middle Ages. As more people had access to books, the seder quickly became more visual, with illuminated Haggadotz. But that was not the first nor the most important use of visual reinforcement.

The text of the Haggadah discusses the proper time to discuss the story of yetziat Mitzrayim (being taken out of Egypt), and the answer given is “…when matza and maror (the bitter herb) are before you” and one points to the matza and maror and says: “Because of this, G-d took care of us.” So much of the seder is visual – the symbols on the seder plate, the covering and uncovering of the matza, and of course the disappearance of the afikomen! In fact, the need to see these symbols is so central that halachic (legal) questions have been posed regarding how certain requirements of the Pesach seder apply to a blind person. While these questions are resolved, they highlight the power and significance of our sensory experiences in engaging in Jewish life.

Of course, we know the importance of engaging our sense of taste in the retelling of the Passover story. We dip the vegetables in salt water to remember our tears; some add even more bitter vinegar. It is well-known that we are told to not eat anything after the afikomen “dessert” to leave the taste in our mouths. We see the charoset – traditionally a mixture of apples, nuts, wine and spices – and are reminded of the mortar that the Israelites were forced to use to build storehouses. In the taste the of this fruit mixture is also the reminder of the pain of couples separating so they would not give birth to children doomed to slavery or death, as well as the heroic efforts of the wives to appeal to their husbands to build their families in the apple orchards. And once again, Sephardic tradition embellishes upon this, adding dates and figs, evoking imagery from Song of Songs regarding love and intimacy.

Rambam, or Maimonides, in his commentary, takes the multisensory experience of retelling the Passover story one step further. He adds a single letter to the verb “to see oneself” (lirot) rendering it “to make oneself seen” (lehiraot). Thus, Sephardic customs add even more to the sensory reenactment of the story of the exodus.

They carry matza on their shoulders and walk around the tables. Moroccans raise the seder plate above each person’s head and declare themselves free. Some Persians, too, add physicality to their remembrance of the harsh beatings of our slavery are remembered through lashes with scallions or leeks during the singing of Dayenu. And thus, the rabbis send us on a multisensory journey out of slavery into a world of even more miracles, gratitude, and the opportunity to serve G-d.

But why must we see and be seen as having been taken out of Egypt by G-d personally? To feel the gratitude, to re-experience the love, to remember God’s unbreakable promise. To taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalms 34)

Martha Goodman is the coordinator of Maryland Special Needs Advocacy Project at the Macks Center for Jewish Education, and is collaborating with Jewish Advocates for Deaf Education and volunteers across the country in Jewish Captioning Initiative, making Jewish learning accessible through a multisensory approach.

Meet Jake & Jessica
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In April, we're celebrating 70 years of Israel! Our Jewish homeland has a deep history and rich culture, but there are also a ton of ways to be involved in Israel – right here in Baltimore. Today, we're chatting with Jake Lieberman and Jessica Pupkin, co-chairs of the Young Adult Israel & Overseas Committee.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jake: I moved to Baltimore about a year ago from South Florida. I work in the real estate industry for Sotheby’s International Realty. I love to play tennis and travel on my free time.

Jessica: I am a home-grown Baltimorean. I am currently in my last semester of law school at University of Baltimore School of Law. I am also currently a law clerk at Johns Hopkins Health System Legal Department and at Fotheringill & Wade, LLC. In my spare time and to unwind, I love to cook, listen to music, travel and read anything other than a law textbook.

Jessica, tell me about your Onward Israel experience.

Jessica: After my senior year of college, I was lucky enough to be a participant in the Onward Israel program. During my summer, I interned with Bnai Darfur which is an organization started and run by the Darfurian refugee population in South Tel Aviv. This was my fourth trip to Israel but the first time I spent more than two weeks in the country and was completely immersed in the culture.

Jake, what's your relationship to Israel?

Jake: I have been to Israel four times; however, I went on a unique program in high school that really did it for me. It was a tennis exchange program where I trained in Ramat Hasharon tennis center during the week and lived in the kibbutz on the weekends. I was able to travel the country and live like an Israeli at the same time.

Jessica, when you returned to Baltimore, you participated in our Young Pros Countering BDS program. What propelled you to join?

Jessica: After spending the summer in Tel Aviv, I fell in love with all things Israel and was completely inspired. I felt a passion and a responsibility to get involved and helped not only protect Israel but to share my experience and effectively educate others about countering the BDS movement.

Now you're both chairing the Young Adult Israel & Overseas Committee. What do you hope to accomplish as co-chairs?

Jake: I took a lead on this committee because I wanted to spread the love I have for Israel and overseas Jewish communities to others. I hope to teach people more about Israel and what it has to offer.

Jessica: I hope to engage and connect the young adult population of Baltimore. I hope to help provide meaningful learning experiences while helping facilitate connections within the community.

Since taking on this role, what have you learned about the Baltimore Jewish community?

Jake: While although Baltimore itself is relatively small, there is certainly a Jewish presence felt. There are organizations for almost anything or anyone who may need assistance. This is truly amazing to see. It is also nice to see so many people who continually come to back to back events to show their support.

Jessica: I’ve learned that the young adult Baltimore Jewish community wants to be engaged! They want to connect with other young adults who share similar values and have similar experiences. The Jewish community here is vibrant, diverse and passionate about Israel – it's inspiring.

What's one myth you'd like to dispel about Israel?

Jake: The shawarma in Jerusalem is much better than that of Tel Aviv.

Jessica: Israel is not all a conflict zone – it's 1,000 times more than that. It's the most unique place I have ever travelled to. There is so much history and such a vibrant culture that is so much more than the political unrest that sits so far in the backseat when you’re actually there immersed in the country.

What's your favorite thing to do in Israel?

Jake: Walk the Tel Aviv port in the evening.

Jessica: My favorite thing to do in Israel is to explore new places like waking up at 5:00 a.m. to watch the sunrise at the Ramon Crater and try different things like eating a traditional Sudanese lunch with the Darfurian refugee population in the Tel Aviv Central bus station.

What's one piece of advice you would give to someone traveling to Israel for the first time?

Jake: Plan it out so you can spend Shabbat in Jerusalem.

Jessica: Put down your phone, take it all in and always stop for the six shekel falafel.

Want to learn more about how you can get involved with Israel — right here in Baltimore? Drop a line to Marisa Obuchowski!

Gleaning for Good: Men's Mission Volunteers Help Pick and Sort Fruit For Those in Need
Friday, March 16, 2018

Project Leket was inspired by the Bible, which states: "When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings."

As part of a jam-packed, six-day itinerary, which included rappelling in Machtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater) and surfing the Mediterranean Sea, participants of the recent Nachalah Men’s Mission volunteered in the rural farming fields near Ashkelon — where they joined forces with some Israelis from Hewlett Packard to pick excess oranges for distribution to the needy. “I was so impressed to learn that more than 56,000 people volunteer with Leket Israel annually,” says Larsson Davis, one Nachalah participant. “It was great to work our two-hour shift with such dedicated volunteers along with our friend Michal, the former shlicha (Israel emissary) to the Pearlstone Center for Living Judaism.”

Leket Israel, a leading food rescue organization in Israel, focuses on salvaging healthy, surplus food and delivering it to those in need thanks in part to the help of partner organizations such as The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

The Associated provided a grant in 2018 to the Leket Women’s Program, a project designed to employ previously exploited agriculture workers, primarily Arab women, to help rescue millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables annually from fields and orchards throughout Israel. Laborers like Sama, an employee in her 20’s, are paid above minimum wage and receive transportation to and from their work sites.

"It is so difficult for women from my village to find a good job, and Leket is great. It's true that I wake up very early and work hours in the blazing sun, but it is for a greater purpose and a common goal," Sama says. “I want to make enough money to go to study, build a house and create a life for my husband and me."

Jacob Hodes, another participant on The Associated’s mission, was happy to contribute and help Israeli families and communities in need. “I found it very rewarding to work in the orange grove with the knowledge that the act of gleaning, a centuries-old practice of collecting produce left behind after a harvest, is tied to the Torah and common Jewish practices from way back,” Hodes shares.

Leket Israel works to eradicate hunger through various food rescue projects providing food to 175,000+ Israelis each week and distributing over two million hot meals a year.

“To keep our trucks on the road collecting and delivering food to those in need, we rely upon the generosity of people and organizations such as The Associated,” explains Varda Livney, Leket Israel's field coordinator. “The 500 kilos of oranges the volunteers from The Associated’s Men’s Mission picked that day, will help feed 250 families in need.”

Meet Our Solicitors: Will Minkin
Thursday, March 15, 2018

William Minkin

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Will Minkin.

Tell us about yourself. I am married with two kids. I’m a lawyer and I like to play golf, go to Orioles and Ravens games, see concerts and travel. I am a life-long Baltimorean.

What do you think makes our community so special? Our community is special, as there are so many people that are committed to giving their time and money, when it’s far easier to simply say “no, thank you” and focus on your own needs.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? I am inspired to give to the Associated by people in our family and others in the community that have a long history of giving. I feel that we must continue their efforts for the community to continue to thrive and serve those in our community in need.

I hope that the impact of our gift is significant. I’m familiar with the budgets of certain agencies, so I know that literally every dollar is important.

How did you come to hear of The Associated? My involvement with the Associated was completely due to meeting my wife, Buffy, who was actively involved at the time we met (and continues to be very involved). She got me involved and becoming a donor was all part of it.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role?  I solicit in the hopes of helping to maintain (and grow) the campaign. I do it because I believe the campaign is important to our community and therefore we are all responsible for helping the effort.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? Hopefully no one would be offended by this, but I would invite Howard Stern. I’m a huge fan and have listened to him most of my adult life.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Passing the Torch of Charitable Giving with Tax Benefits
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

David C. Lehmann, CPA/PFS, CFP of Cooper & Lehmann, LLP

"That is a great idea" or "I've never thought of that before" are common responses we receive when we raise the question of the legacy of values in our financial planning meeting. The question we ask among the many financial details we address is what values, priorities or objectives do you want to leave as a legacy to the next generation. "It really resonates with our clients", my partner Sandi, will often say. Something touches their hearts once we move away from the strictly financial and legal side of the estate planning discussion. This makes them feel as though they are a link in a chain bridging the previous generations to the future ones. It brings them a sense of purpose as well a touch of eternity that the values they cherish will continue on beyond their lifetime. It is always a very powerful moment during the meeting. You see the glaze in their eyes disappear, which has usually been there for much of the meeting, as they begin to take ownership of the conversation. We suggest that the client considers drafting an ethical will which delineates these important life priorities in a more concrete way. Here is a link to a site about ethical wills – http://celebrationsoflife.net/ As the website states "Legacy is more than what we leave behind. It is how we live our lives as we wish to be remembered."

One example of implementing a legacy of values combined with tax-saving technique is the donor-advised fund. If charitable giving or giving back to the community is a desired value to share with future generations, which often is, a donor-advised fund can easily and cheaply provide the notion of legacy of charitable giving to future generations. Whether at The Associated or at large discount houses, a donor-advised fund can be set-up with a typical minimum of $10,000. It is often recommended to fund the account with appreciated securities which provides for a tax deduction for the full amount of the value of the shares without any capital gains tax on the appreciation. It is viewed by us CPA’s as double dipping – a tax deduction along with amnesty on the capital gains. It is not often that such moments arise in tax law. Most importantly, the children and grandchildren can be listed as the successors to the donor-advised fund. This allows for the next generation to be included in the conversation about charity and how it plays a role in the family legacy. Family meetings can be arranged to discuss the various charities being considered for support and why these are important. These are value-clarification discussions that provide ample opportunities to share with multiple generations the specifics relating to charitable giving that these individuals want to share as their legacy. Ultimately, the next generation will take over the stewardship of the family charitable giving ensuring their involvement in charity and giving back to the community in their lifetime. Our firm has implemented many of these structures to the great appreciation of our clients.

It is of critical importance, in general, when meeting with clients regarding financial or estate planning to broaden the conversation to include the soft side of planning. Beyond the realm of taxes and finances – which inevitably consume our planning – what are those values, life lessons or interests that the client would like to pass down to the next generation and to be remembered about. The concept of the legacy of values through the mechanism of the donor-advised fund transforms what could be a very technical meeting into one in which the client is inspired to share something very meaningful to the next generation.

David C. Lehmann, CPA/PFS, CFP and Sandra V. Geller MPH, CFP started Geller & Lehmann, LLC in 2003 and have been serving clients in a multi-family office style of independent financial planning.

The Tax Reform Act. Finding Ways to Give Charitably… and Still Save on Taxes
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

By Jacqueline Yahr, Esq., Director, Charitable Planning, The Associated

The sweeping changes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts have caused many to fear that charitable giving is dead. Many donors can no longer take a tax deduction for their gift with the increase in the standard deduction and the limit on state and local income and property tax deductions; and even though the Adjusted Gross Income limit (AGI) for gifts of cash has been raised to 60%, the checks will have to be pretty big to be deductible. However, what the new law does offer is a number of opportunities for planned giving. With the appropriate planning, the charitably-included donor can continue to give to charities while also creating an opportunity for additional deductions and increased savings on income taxes.

Gifts of appreciated assets

One of the biggest tax advantages in charitable giving is the double benefit donors get when donating appreciated assets instead of cash. By giving appreciated assets, like stocks, held for more than one year, the donor (1) gets a charitable tax deduction for the full value of the asset, and (2) avoids all capital gains taxes. Utilizing a donor advised fund as a place to donate these assets allows donors to receive the benefits of donating stock, but they can take their time in deciding which charities they want to support.

The new power of bunching charitable deductions

The biggest downside for charitable giving in the new tax law is that a higher standard deduction means fewer itemizers, and fewer itemizers means fewer people who can use a charitable tax deduction. But, donor advised funds can change this calculus. Donors with sufficient flexibility can now pick a target year to itemize, transfer several years’ worth of charitable giving to a donor advised fund in advance and take a big deduction only in the target year. During off years, the donor’s favorite charities still receive checks from the donor advised fund. In this way, no charitable deductions are wasted during the off years when the donor is taking the standard deduction.

The power of deduction bunching also makes large planned giving arrangements more attractive because these tend to produce a single, large initial charitable deduction. Using a charitable remainder trust (or charitable gift annuity) in the previous example to earn lifetime income from the full $1 million also generates an immediate tax deduction of over $100,000. Although the planned giving arrangement lasts as long as the donor, all the charitable deductions arrive up front in one lump sum. Under the old tax law, we might have preferred these deductions to be spread out, anticipating regular annual itemizing. But, under the new law, bunching the deductions up front in the target year, and opting for the higher standard deductions afterwards, will be more valuable for many donors.

The beauty of the rollover

Donors 70½ and older can make a direct transfer from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA to charity of up to $100,000 in a single year. The rollover to charity counts toward satisfying the donor’s required minimum distribution and is not included as income to the donor. The donor avoids all income tax on the withdrawal, even if the donor doesn’t itemize after the new law. The net effect of making a charitable IRA rollover gift is to keep at least the same tax benefit as donors who still itemize their deductions. Remember the donor must strictly follow the rules to make a qualified charitable distribution from their IRA: must have attained the age of 70½ at the time of the gift; the total amount of the rollover gifts in any year is limited to $100,000; the IRA administrator must make the rollover distribution directly to the charity; and the donor can receive no benefit in exchange for the rollover gift, so only outright gifts to public charities qualify. The gift of a charitable IRA cannot fund life income gifts, donor advised fund, private foundations, or supporting organization, but it can be used to fulfill a pledge or fund a single purpose fund.

The Trusty Old Bequest

Many donors, especially those in retirement, are often concerned about outliving their resources. These fears discourage them from considering large outright gifts to charity during life. If a larger lifetime gift makes them uncomfortable, a charitable bequest from their estates is always a good option. This leaves them with the flexibility to maintain their assets during life in case of the unexpected and still make a generous gift to charity. For those donors with estates large enough to pay estate taxes, charitable gifts remain an excellent way to reduce estate taxes $0.40 for every $1 given.

It is difficult to predict with precision how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect philanthropy and planned giving. The doubling of the standard deduction and the exemption from gift, estate and generation-skipping taxes will most directly impact tax policy as it concerns philanthropy. And while we know that tax policy can influence philanthropic behavior, it is not taxes that drives the philanthropic impulse, it is the emotional connection that a donor has with a charity and how the charity expresses the donor’s values and concerns.

If you have questions about which planned giving tool works best for your clients or questions about how to incorporate these tips into your client’s portfolios, please contact Jacqueline Yahr at 410-369-9248 or jyahr@associated.org.

This message is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your legal and tax advisors.

Good Deeds Day Inspires Local Baltimore Families to Volunteer
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Written collaboratively by Dori Chait, Good Deeds Day Chair, and Leslie Hollins, Good Deeds Day Volunteer

The arrival of spring is quickly approaching, which brings lots of excitement to the Baltimore community for many different reasons... the end to the cold weather, pretty scenery, opening day at Camden Yards, lacrosse season and, for me, Good Deeds Day.

Good Deeds Day is an international day of service that unites people from 93 countries who perform good deeds for the benefit of others and the planet. Good Deeds Day, sponsored by Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) in Baltimore, falls on April 15 this year – smack in the middle of the month and well into the time when flowers and trees are blooming.

It is incredibly powerful to be a part of a volunteer event that is happening throughout the Jewish community all over the world. I have been told that people feel reinvigorated and filled with purpose when they participate in this day, much like we often feel when springtime finally arrives. Invigorated. Reborn. Motivated. Energetic.

For the Hollins’ family, Good Deeds Day is a day reserved for family time, reflection and tikkun olam. Here is Leslie Hollins’ story:

My kids are lucky. While life is not perfect, they have a safe home with two loving parents. Although they probably feel they hear "no" too often, they do not need to worry about having clothes that fit, food to eat and a roof over their heads every night. They attend schools with teachers who encourage them to work hard and give them the confidence to believe that they can meet whatever goals they set for themselves. They did nothing to earn this privilege – it was just luck of the draw.

However, several years ago, I realized that there was something missing in my children's lives. They took their privileged life for granted. It is not that they were selfish; they simply lacked exposure to those people who were not quite as lucky as they were.

After that realization, I realized I needed to do more than talk with my children about doing for others. I needed to lead by example. Better yet, if I could instill in them the habit and love of volunteering, they would feel empowered to find ways to better our community.

I can't remember how I found JVC, but I am just so thankful. JVC has made it incredibly easy to volunteer with my boys, even though they were only 9 and 12 years old when we began to volunteer together. I love that JVC offers many different opportunities for volunteering because I want my boys to see that there is no one way to give back to the community.

By volunteering with different types of people (those in homeless shelters, senior living communities, etc.), they are able to push past others' prejudices and understand that everyone deserves respect, understanding and a smile. They are able to not only see the importance of giving back to our community, but they are able to FEEL it.

Good Deeds Day is the perfect time to volunteer – either on your own, with friends or with your family. Good Deeds Day is a day that I now reserve to slow down, count my blessings and show my gratitude.

My boys and I volunteer together, and we love this tradition. They love seeing their choices when registration opens and wait anxiously to find out where they get to volunteer.

When we signed up for bingo at Levindale last year, I had no idea how much fun we would have! The boys enjoyed being with this population so much that they ended up staying almost an hour later than we had anticipated. The residents seemed to enjoy the boys too, and I am confident that we all parted ways feeling fulfilled. JVC makes it easy to volunteer on Good Deeds Day and throughout the year, whatever your interests and time constraints may be. Trust me, when you do good, everyone involved feels really good.

Meet YLC: Adam & Corinne
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We have so many young adult leaders in Jewish Baltimore – and many of them get their start in the Young Leadership Council (YLC). A two-year program, YLC gives young professionals the chance to develop an understanding of The Associated, acknowledge the importance of philanthropy and gain valuable leadership skills through fundraising, educational programs and community service projects. The 2019 class is our biggest yet at 26 members; today, meet two of these members: husband-and-wife duo, Adam & Corinne Janet.

Tell me about yourself. Are you a Baltimore native or a Baltimore newbie? What do you do for work?

Adam: I'm born and raised in Baltimore. I attended Northwestern University for college, but I came back to Baltimore to attend UMD School of Law. I currently practice at my father's law firm at Janet, Jenner & Suggs. I represent victims of medical malpractice and product liability.

Corinne: I'm new-ish to Baltimore – I was born and raised in (sunny! warm!) Southern California, moved out to the DMV area in 2012, and then to Baltimore specifically in 2016. I work in higher education – I am the Coordinator for Leadership Development at UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County).

Why did you decide to join YLC?

Adam: I decided to join YLC because I wanted to take an active role in the Jewish community. It's not enough to merely attend events – it's important to create and give back.

Corinne: I have always carried a commitment to supporting the Jewish community wherever I've lived – California, Chicago, Pittsburgh, DC and now Baltimore. It is important to me to create a community of Jewish young adults who have a similar passion for making the Jewish community a welcoming and supportive place for all Jews.

What has been the best part of the program so far? What's something new that you've learned about IMPACT or The Associated?

Adam: The best part of the program has been getting to know my YLC cohort. We have a great, diverse group of people, each having his or her own unique background and perspective.

Corinne: I am very appreciative of the community that we've built over the past few months. YLCers are passionate, friendly people who share a lot of my same values. I've learned that The Associated has ties not only locally but globally to support Jewish communities.

How would you describe Jewish Baltimore to someone who's never been?

Adam: Jewish Baltimore is a loving, caring, supportive community full of inspiring individuals and groups. The community is deeply invested in Jewish life not only in Baltimore but around the world. As for involvement and attending and having fun at events, Jewish Baltimore is like a broken change machine – you get out even more than what you put in!

Corinne: The Jewish Baltimore community is supportive, loving and committed. It's a thriving community of many different types of Jews all working together to support the community as a whole.

How do you think you can make a difference in Jewish Baltimore?

Adam: I feel that as long as I make one more Jewish person feel welcome – or attract one Jewish person to an event that he or she otherwise wouldn't have gone to – that is the difference I can make right now and is something worth working toward.

Corinne: Having worked in higher education for 6 years, I am very passionate about future generations of Baltimore's Jewish teens and young adults. I think I can make a difference by telling my story and helping to inspire younger Jews to find their personal connection and meaning in Jewish life.

What's your favorite thing to do in Baltimore in your free time?

Adam: My favorite thing to do in Baltimore is spend time with my wife Corinne and the rest of my family and friends.

Corinne: Aside from needlepointing (I promise I'm not a bubbe, just an old soul), I enjoy spending time with my husband Adam and our family and friends.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why?

Adam: If I could invite anyone to my Shabbat dinner, it would simply be my family, including my relatives and ancestors who have passed away. While meeting a celebrity or famous politician or biblical figure might be nice, nothing can replace the love and warmth I feel surrounded by my family.

Corinne: I would want to invite all my California family (parents, siblings, nephews, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone) to Baltimore for a Shabbat dinner. In my life, family and Judaism are two of my most important values, and it would mean so much to me to have all my family in one place to bring in Shabbat together.

Recruitment for the Young Leadership Council begins again in May 2019. Want to get involved with other young adults in Jewish Baltimore? Email Rebecca Ellison!

Teaching Technology to Older Adults
Friday, March 09, 2018

By Melanie Waxman
Technology Concierge, Tech-Knowledge HUB, Edward A. Myerberg Center

As soon as they walk through the door I hear their frustration—not with the technology, but with themselves. Using smart devices for our seniors is like learning a new language.

As an educator, and the technology concierge at the Tech-Knowledge HUB at the Edward A. Myerberg Center, I know that it is really important that we utilize our typical “lesson plan” outline with every client to help them on every project. We look, learn, re-learn and then we relearn before we practice with an activity then practice again and again. No amount of practice is too much! The number one hope for our older adults is to be able to text.

The first question is, “What do you want to learn” which is then followed up by why it’s important for you to learn and how it will improve your quality of life.

How could it not…. A grandchild receiving a text from their Bubbe is worth a huge smile. Being able to connect is great but being able to set up plans and receive pictures in the connection that makes us thrive!

When it comes to technology, here are the top five things our older adults want to learn:

1. Photos: If you start the class session by taking a group picture, the class is excited to see what’s next! The first struggle is that the picture is not in the camera app. It’s in the photos app. We open it find the picture and learn how to edit and share our moments and memories. BTW (by the way) their favorite trick to date is how to take a picture using the volume button in lieu of the onscreen dot.

2. Texting: Perhaps the most important technical lesson is how to send a text. We can attach that picture or just say “Have a great day!” The friends of The Tech-knowledge hub need this skill for a few reasons. One gentleman said he could not leave without learning how to text or his “Lady Friend” would not go out with him. Another Nana needed to text her grandchildren just to get a response and much to her shock, they responded quickly!

3. GPS: Those on the go want to be able to use their Google Maps or Waze (my personal favorite). To type in the address by the magnifying glass or search box seems easy enough but to turn it off, move it back from walking to driving after they touched something... Not as easy as you think!

4. Gestures: We work on some motion testing, pinching, tapping, touching, swiping and double clicking or holding while waiting for them to jiggle, we realize something VERY important. One of our greatest issues is a steady hand touching on just the right spot to have the device respond. That leads me to my best tip-- Get a Stylus—this is the most utilized teaching supply at our sessions!!! I’m so glad I bought and labeled ones to use in our session or they would disappear like bread and sugar from a restaurant table!

5. Home: There is no place like home...screen. We try to make sure the apps of their choice are the easiest to reach.

Top 5 Things I Learned on Birthright
Thursday, March 08, 2018

By Jessica Solomon
Goucher College

1.Take Lots of Photographs - As a photographer, with digital SLR experience and iPhone photography experience, I am constantly taking photographers. Memories only last so long, photographs last a life time. From the vibrant looking spices in the Carmel Market to selfies on Camels, there was never a shortage of photographic opportunities.

2.Make Friends - Though I knew a few people on my trip, it was great to get to know the 38 other members of our bus. By sitting in a different seat every single time you are on the bus, you are constantly meeting new people and having new conversations.

3.Eat- Shwarma, Falafel, Hummus, the list goes on and on. You might be hesitant but go for it. I thought corn on cheese pizza with thousand island dressing was crazy, but it turned out to be one of my favorite meals.

4.Sleep - Constant moving around and getting up early can be tiring. Take care of yourself and certainly hang out with friends for a bit but go to bed when you need to. Sleeping on the bus is also ok, but not when your guide is talking.

5.Israelis want to know about Americans - Every bus conversation was filled with Americans informing our Israeli soldiers of trends and current events in America. In turn, we started a group chat and just helped one of our soldiers apply for University in America!

Meet Zhanna A. Maydanich, Esquire
Thursday, March 08, 2018

An attorney with a private practice in Owings Mills, Zhanna Maydanich specializes on providing in-house counsel services to small and family-owned businesses. With her own lifelong personal and professional experiences, she truly understands the impact and pressure that a small and family-owned business has upon the families of its owners and its employees.

When she’s not working, Zhanna is raising her family of two teenage boys. She is also committed to helping the Jewish community, volunteering in a number of ways with The Associated.

I understand your family started a business when they arrived in Baltimore in 1979.
Yes. My family immigrated to Baltimore from the former Soviet Union in 1979 in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. My father, a mechanical engineer, achieved his “American Dream” establishing a manufacturing plant in the Baltimore area for 30 years until he retired. Having grown up in a family business, I understood that success in business is impossible without the support of your family and the assistance of loyal, honest and knowledgeable professional advisors to guide you through obstacles along the way.

What do you love most about the work that you do?
Today, I am grateful that I have the opportunity every day to protect, guide and advocate on behalf of other hard-working and determined individuals, their families and employees and help them achieve their American dream.

What is your Associated journey?
I have come to truly understand and appreciate the impact that The Associated has on Baltimore’s Jewish community since I served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in 2015. It was eye-opening to find out the extent to which The Associated supports the agencies and programs that every Jewish person in Baltimore is a part of in one way or another. I worked with community leaders who volunteer their time to ensure The Associated’s stability, which ensures that the Baltimore Jewish community remains strong. This experience inspired me to get more involved myself.

How are you personally involved?
I co-chaired the Russian speaking Jewish Baltimore initiative (RSJ), and, with the help of our committee, we were charged with engaging Baltimore’s Russian-speaking Jewish community with meaningful participation in The Associated. I have a close connection to this successful, caring and giving community, and I understand its language and culture. By creating programs and events that educated and included Russian-speaking leaders, we helped the RSJ community find its seat at The Associated’s table.

You co-chair the upcoming Jewish Professional Women’s program?
Together with my incredible co-chairs and committee members, co-chairing The Associated’s Jewish Professional Women (JPW), we put together programs to inspire and unite the Baltimore’s diverse community of career-minded Jewish woman. JPW brings professional Jewish women together to teach, inspire, mentor and support each other to be leaders in their fields and give back to their community. In my role, I meet amazing Jewish women in Baltimore who are making a difference in their industry. I am very proud to have the opportunity to encourage and help them navigate their journey and find their own platform for philanthropy and leadership in various agencies at The Associated. We’re excited for our upcoming April 24 JPW LeadHERhsip Event – Transforming the Workplace: Reaching Across the Gender Divide with author, Joanne Lipman.

Why is giving back important to you?
All giving is personal, and everyone has different reasons for why they donate. That’s why I choose The Associated. They are responsible for fundraising in support of agencies and programs which address diverse issues involving, but certainly not limited to, domestic violence, housing for the disabled, teens in crisis and the Pearlstone Center.

As a member of the Jewish community in the world at large, taking care of my fellow Jew is central to the values and virtues I and my family live by. I am confident that every dollar I contribute is valued, respected and properly allocated to ensure that the needs of individual and the community, as a whole, is properly addressed and cared for.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not working, I’m…
enjoying my family. I know it cliché’ but as a working mother, there are sacrifices that I have chosen to make for the sake of my professional success. However, I am so fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband and two incredibly kind, intelligent and inspiring teenage boys who bring me so much joy and fulfillment. Both my boys are competitive swimmers, so many weekends are spent at swim meets all over Maryland. We also love to travel and try to explore this world together as much as possible. As busy as well are, we truly treasure and enjoy the quality time we spend together.

Meet Ziv Friedwald – Campus Fellow at Johns Hopkins University
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

In partnership with The Associated’s global partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel, each year the Associated provides support for four young Israelis to work as key members of the Hillel staff at Hopkins, Towson University, Goucher College and University of Maryland, College Park. Israel Campus Fellows provide opportunities for students to discuss and form connections with an Israeli, educated and inspire students to forge enduring commitments to Israel.

Tell us about your life in Israel prior to coming to the United States.

Before coming to the United States, I was living in my parents’ house in Ramat Gan. In the Army, I served as a cyber security analyst in the intelligence corps. I had the opportunity to deal with a lot of sensitive information and work with high ranking officers. While I was in the Army, I started law school at Ono Academic College, a small private school near Tel Aviv.

What made you decide to become an Israel Campus Fellow and what was the process like for applying?

Before applying to this job, I worked at Camp Ramah in California. There, for the first time, I was exposed to the life of a Jewish community here in the States. After finishing that summer, I had plans to go to med school until I received a phone call from my supervisor from camp telling me about the job at Hopkins and suggested that I apply. At first, I wasn’t sure, but then I remembered how much influence I had on the small community of kids that I worked with that summer and understood that if I work with older people for a longer period I can connect them to Israel and their Jewish identity even more and so I decided to apply. The process to become an Israel Fellow is quite long. You go through a series of four interviews until you get assigned to the different campuses for the last round of interviews. After the first interview with Hopkins I knew it was the perfect fit.

What is your role as an Israel Campus Fellow at Hopkins?

The Israel Fellow’s most important job is to engage the Jewish students on campus and strengthen their connection to Israel. I’m also in charge of all Israel programing that the different student’s groups on campus are having and advise students about programs and different opportunities for them in Israel.

How are the students here different than the students from home?

The students in Israel are older and more focused on their academics. They usually live off campus and they don’t have many student groups. The students here are very invested in the campus community; they spend a lot of time on extracurricular activities.

When not working what do you like to do for fun?

I really enjoy playing sports, volleyball and especially basketball. I also really love skiing and will go whenever I get the chance.

What's one thing that you miss from home?

Real hummus...and of course my family and friends.

What's one thing that you like here that is not available to you at home?

 

Amazon Prime.

What are your plans for when you return to Israel?

When I return to Israel I’m planning to go to med school.

Baltimore's Ali Blumberg on Being Jewish, Volunteering and Meeting Oprah
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

If you ask Ali Blumberg about her identity, she does not hesitate to say how proud she is to be Jewish. Growing up, this 2010 graduate of Franklin High School speaks fondly about the Jewish holidays spent with family, her bat mitzvah, and how these seminal events shaped who she is today.

That commitment to Jewish values is evident in her commitment to giving back. When she is not working, this second grade teacher is involved with IMPACT, the young adult division of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. We talked to Ali about her Judaism and her most recent volunteer work:

I have such fond memories growing up and being Jewish. I loved going to my grandmother’s house for the major Jewish holidays – the High Holy Days, Chanukah, Passover. It was great being with family. My grandmother would always cook everything and her matzo ball soup was my favorite.

My bat mitzvah was so special. It was held at the Sheraton in Columbia. I loved having my friends and family all together for my special day.

Growing up, I didn’t really know much about The Associated, although I knew people who worked at the JCC [which is supported by The Associated]. The first time I really got involved was several years ago, after I got a call from Rebecca [Ellison] who I’ve known for a long time. Rebecca invited me to sit on a Young Professional Committee.

Since I’ve become involved, I’ve helped plan IMPACT’s Gala and the Tu B’Shevat Seder. It’s great being part of a committee because I get to present ideas for events that interest other young professionals.

I’ve even had opportunities to contribute to making these programs a success, like securing food as a donation for the Seder. What I love about being involved with IMPACT is that I’ve had the chance to meet new people and I enjoy giving back.

We are talking about creating an Oneg Shabbat program downtown where so many Jews live. For me, Shabbat is special. I remember when I was little, I have wonderful memories of my family’s Friday night Shabbat dinners. Now I’m excited to celebrate Shabbat with friends and other young professionals.

If I could invite anyone to my Shabbat table it would be Oprah. When I was younger, I used to watch her on TV every day and I envision her as a leader, a role model who gives back to her community. I would ask her what has been her most rewarding experience in her life so far.

To learn more about IMPACT, contact Rebecca Ellison at rellison@associated.org.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Making Music Across Oceans
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Lance Rombro admits that the term “life-changing” can seem trite at times. Yet, when asked to explain the extraordinary opportunity he’s had these past two years participating in HaZamir Baltimore, he has trouble thinking of a better word.

The same can be said for Elihay Skital, a 17-year-old from Ashkelon, Israel. For the past four years, Elihay has been a member of HaZamir Ashkelon, funded by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership.

For both these high school students, participating in this international Jewish teen choir, which jointly performs in Baltimore and in New York, has been an amazing experience.

Amazing, not only because of the opportunity to sing with other teens on a world-renowned stage in New York, but also thanks to the bonds they have formed with their peers across the ocean.

HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir, now in its 25th year, is a network of 38 choral chapters in communities across the United States and Israel which perform Jewish music locally and nationally. The highlight is the annual concert in New York City in which all communities sing together.

This year, the international concert is at David Geff en Hall on March 18. On March 20, the Baltimore and Ashkelon HaZamir choirs will hold a joint concert at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC.

Rombro joined the choir two years ago. This December, he and a group of HaZamir Baltimore participants traveled to Ashkelon where they stayed with host families. From the minute he stepped foot in the city, he was welcomed with open arms.

“Before the trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yet the time I spent with my host family, the long, meaningful conversations I had and hanging out with the Ashkelon teens made me realize that someone so far away cares about me. It changed my world outlook,” says Rombro.

Skital, who has traveled to Baltimore for the past few years, hosted some of the Baltimore teens in his home.

“It’s so fun to have the opportunity to give back to the people who gave me a comfortable feeling at their own house and city,” Skital says. “I have one strong friend from Baltimore and we talk about everything. I feel so connected to her although we live so far away.”

One of the goals of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership is to foster meaningful people-to-people relationships between members of both communities through programs like HaZamir. For the Baltimore teens, these friendships strengthen their connection to Israel.

In fact, says Erika Pardes Schon, who has served as conductor of HaZamir Baltimore since its inception, those connections go well into the future. HaZamir alumni who return to Israel, she says, often include visits to their Ashkelon friends on their itineraries.

“We want our kids to love Israel and view it as the home of their extended family,” Schon says.

“The Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership is visionary as it is not just about building community, but is nurturing relationships we hope will last a lifetime. The Associated is investing in the future of Israel/Diaspora relations,” she adds.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Strictly Business: Adjusting to the Changing Work Climate
Monday, March 05, 2018

By Harel Turkel 
Vice President, Jewish Community Services Board of Directors 
Chair, Strictly Business 2018 

For the third year in a row, business leaders from across Maryland will join together at Strictly Business, a networking and awards breakfast that has become the community’s “can’t miss” event for employers.

Hosted by the Jewish Community Services (JCS) Career Center, Strictly Business offers valuable networking opportunities, as well as the chance to hear from impressive keynote speakers like this year’s guests, BGE CEO, Calvin Butler and Towson University President, Kim Schatzel.

The theme for this year’s event is “Cultivating a Respectful Workplace,” a subject that is timely and relevant for businesses of all sizes and industries. At my company, SOS Technology Group, the key to success has been and continues to be training employees to work successfully with their peers; making sure people understand the type of behavior expected in the workplace and making sure they understand what will not be tolerated.

It’s important that everyone feel safe and valued or know who they can talk to if they don’t. Though we have always fostered a positive climate, recent events have focused attention on the issues of respect, tolerance, diversity and fairness in the workplace, prompting SOS, like many employers, to review and update our current policies.

Because of my involvement with Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, I am also familiar with the well-established policies in place there and throughout The Associated system, to ensure a work environment that is free from harassment and bullying, violence and threats of violence. These policies can serve as a useful guide for business owners like me as we all try to keep up with the changing work climate.

When our company acquired another firm, the process was complicated. Issues involving gender and age jumped to the forefront. But sometimes it can be hard to know when policies are needed. The financial website Balance.com provides this checklist to help employers.

A policy is necessary:

  • if the actions of employees indicate confusion about the most appropriate way to behave
  • if guidance is needed about the most suitable way to handle various situations
  • when needed to protect the company legally
  • to keep the company in compliance with governmental policies and laws
  • to establish consistent work standards, rules and regulations
  • to provide consistent and fair treatment for employees

Everyone deserves a respectful workplace. When the environment is safe, people feel protected, comfortable, and more invested in their jobs. That leads to greater job satisfaction among employees, improved morale, increased productivity and innovation, and decreased turnover. Those factors are good for the employees and for the company.

Having attended the last two Strictly Business Breakfasts here in Baltimore, I’m aware of the incredible buzz in the room as business leaders connect, make new deals and get information that can benefit them as employers.

I am proud to be the Chair for Strictly Business 2018, which is being held on Tuesday, May 8 at Woodholme Country Club. This annual event is a “friend-raiser” (not a fundraiser), enhancing awareness of the comprehensive workforce services the JCS Career Center provides both job seekers and employers, each vital to our region’s economic stability and growth.

If you are a business owner, executive or hiring manager, you will want to be part of Strictly Business. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, you’ll learn more about how others are cultivating a respectful workplace and find out which three companies will be honored with a JCS Employer Partnership Award this year as a thank you for their contributions to our workforce development efforts. We hope business leaders throughout Maryland will join us at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 8 for Strictly Business.

Sponsorships and tickets are still available but are going fast. For more information and to register, visit jcsbaltimore.org/strictlybusiness.

For more information on the JCS Career Center, visit us online at JCSbaltimore.org or call 410-466-9200.

Meet Our Solicitors: Ronnie Footlick
Thursday, March 01, 2018

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Ronnie Footlick, a women’s team captain this year and the 2019 Women’s Campaign Chair.

Tell us about yourself. I am a native of Philadelphia, but grew up in Baltimore and went all through school here, graduating from Forest Park and then on to the University of Maryland. I work in the family business as Director of Human Resources. My entire career has been geared toward helping others achieve their goals.

In that vein, I was attracted to The Associated because of its long and successful history of working to make Baltimore a more vibrant community for the Jewish people, as well as its dedication to the needs of the community at large. Because of its work, The Associated has addressed the many concerns that would otherwise go unrecognized and identified issues that needed to be tackled for Jewish Baltimore to grow and prosper socially, educationally and emotionally.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? Because my initial involvement with The Associated started at the agency level as a board member, I know personally how our clients are impacted by my gift and that of others. Without my gift, we would not be able to offer the many and varied services that our people need through Jewish Community Services as well as through our other agencies.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? And because of our ongoing successes, if I could invite anyone to my dinner table, I would want to share our Associated stories with the leaders of the past who are no longer here, to reassure them that their years of hard work and dedication to the Associated have propelled the next generation with the same passion and devotion to the ideal of repairing the world. For if you save one human being, it’s as if you saved the whole world.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Maryland Advocacy Day: Students Take Action in Annapolis
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

By Zach Pearlstone

Hello, my name is Zach Pearlstone and I am a part of STAC which stands for Students Taking Action for Change. Leading up to this year’s Advocacy Day in Annapolis, our group attended monthly sessions at the Owing Mills JCC where we practiced public speaking and other advocating techniques.

Before attending Advocacy Day, STAC and ECYP (The Elijah Cummings Youth Program), traveled to D.C. for a mini advocacy day. In D.C., we toured the U.S. Capitol and we also met with an aide for one of Maryland’s senators, Benjamin Cardin. However, this hardly prepared us for our spectacular Advocacy Day.

We arrived in Annapolis, excited for the experience that lay ahead. Our first stop was the Maryland State House. After proceeding through security, we entered in time to see the House of Delegate’s first session of the day.

The session was extremely interesting for us to watch; however, we had little idea what they were discussing. To our surprise, we were recognized and welcomed on the full House floor, not only by a Baltimore County delegate, but by 141 delegates.

Afterwards, STAC and ECYP split up for our various advocacy sessions where we met our delegates. STAC met first with Delegate Dana Stein [D-11] and we presented him the three bills supported by the BJC [Baltimore Jewish Council]: the Maryland Cares for Kids Act, Consent and Hate Crimes.

Next, after a meaningful conversation with Delegate Stein, we discussed each bill in depth. Then, we attended a meeting with an aide for Delegate Chris West [R-42B]. Once we finished our meetings, each STAC group freely roamed the Maryland House of Delegates, meeting with the delegates and discussing the BJC supported bills. I met the deputy minority leader of the house and I engaged in a meaningful conversation about Maryland’s government.

Later STAC debated ECYP. We put our advocacy and debating skills to the test as we attempted to pass an education bill in a mock session. We eventually agreed on a bill and voted it through, offering us a new insight on the job our representatives have.

Subsequently, STAC and ECYP were divided again; my group walked to the United States Naval Academy while the ECYP teenagers went for another lobbying session. At the Naval Academy we attended the Jewish chapel where we learned about its construction and the history of Jews serving in the academy. To our surprise Jews had a long history in the Naval Academy. Unfortunately, there were a few instances of anti-Semitism, but for the most part many Jews achieved success, including one who went on to become an admiral.

After the Naval Academy we returned to the House office building and met with ECYP for a debriefing of our day. We divided into mixed groups, shared our experiences and presented what we learned.

A highlight of the day was dinner. The food was good but what was really fun was seeing numerous state delegates who were happy to engage in one-on-one conversations. I enjoyed speaking with Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford. We mostly talked about his and Governor Hogan’s election.

Before attending Advocacy Day, I was not sure how much I would get out of visiting Maryland’s capitol. I was wrong; Advocacy Day lived up to all of its hype. I could not believe we were able to meet with delegates and were actually able to put our advocacy techniques into action.

New Year, New Tax Laws - Now What?
Friday, February 09, 2018

By Michael I. Friedman, J.D., CAP.
Senior Vice President, Philanthropic Planning and Services

OK, let’s be honest. Who among us supports The Associated, our synagogues, day schools, alma maters and countless other excellent causes because Washington and Annapolis subsidizes our charitable gifts? I will bet you my March Madness entry fee that you give $100 because someone in need will get a warm meal, a child will get an education, we’ll find a cure for cancer or something else wonderful and meaningful will result because we cared enough to give back and make a difference; not because of the tax deduction.

In a survey conducted by U.S. Trust a few years ago, only 10% of respondents said that reducing their tax burden was a motivating factor for their charitable giving. Do you want to know the top three reasons that these same people said they give?

  • Being passionate about a cause.
  • Having a strong desire to give back.
  • Making a positive impact on society and the world.

Imagine that. We give because we want to do good.

But doing good shouldn’t cost you any more than necessary – so what can you do to maximize the impact of your giving while minimizing the cost to you?

Tips for Charitable Giving in 2018 and Beyond

With an increase in the standard deduction to $24,000 for a married couple filing jointly and a limitation on state and local property and income tax deductions to $10,000, fewer people will itemize on their 2018 tax returns (filed in 2019). What can you do this year to lower your cost of giving? Here are three suggestions as we begin a new year:

1. Consider contributing to or creating a donor advised fund (like the ones offered at The Associated) from which you can recommend grants to your favorite charities in future years. By donating so that your contributions and allowable tax payments exceed the standard deduction, you will be able to itemize and thereby lower your taxes.

2. Give appreciated stock or other assets that you have held for at least a year to charity. Even if you do not itemize, you will avoid paying tax on the capital gains realized when the stock is sold. Assuming that you are in the 15% capital gains tax bracket (couple filing jointly with income between $77,400 and $480,050), if you contribute $10,000 worth of stock that you purchased for $6,000 more than a year ago, you will not pay capital gains tax on the $4,000 of gain, saving you $600 in taxes.

3. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who is over the age of 70-1/2 and has an IRA should be making their charitable contributions directly to charities from their IRA’s this year. These contributions can be made tax-free, thus reducing your taxable income. For example, if you normally give $5,000 a year to your favorite charities, and you are required to take distributions of $25,000 from your IRA for the year, if you send $5,000 directly from your IRA to the charities, your taxable IRA income will be only $20,000 saving you $1,400 in federal taxes (28% tax bracket). And these savings are realized even if you do not itemize. (Donors are not permitted to make charitable rollovers to donor-advised funds, supporting organizations, and private foundations.)

There is still much to be gained from a bit of advanced planning on your charitable giving in 2018. Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. Check with your accountant or tax advisor before you act, but act! So many are counting on each and every one of us to make a difference again this year with a generous charitable contribution. There is no reason to disappoint, and if you are in a position to follow one of these three suggestions, you won’t be disappointed either. Wishing you a less taxing 2018.

This message is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your legal and tax advisors.

Meet YLC: Adam & Corie
Tuesday, February 06, 2018

We have so many young adult leaders in Jewish Baltimore – and many of them get their start in the Young Leadership Council (YLC). A two-year program, YLC gives young professionals the chance to develop an understanding of The Associated, acknowledge the importance of philanthropy and gain valuable leadership skills through fundraising, educational programs and community service projects. The 2019 class is our biggest yet at 26 members; today, meet two of these members: Adam Rudel & Corie Hoffberger.

Tell me about yourself. Are you a Baltimore native or a Baltimore newbie? What do you do for work?

Adam: I grew up in Hollidaysburg, PA and went to school at Penn State. I relocated to Baltimore for my job in 2014 and have been here ever since. I’m the Marketing & Football Outreach Coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens where I execute a lot of youth and high school football programming along with many other fan development initiatives.

Corie: I am originally from Baltimore and grew up in the Homeland neighborhood. I attended Bryn Mawr for 13 years and then Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. I moved back home to Baltimore 4 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made! I work as a major gifts officer at Johns Hopkins University and love partnering with dedicated alumni to strengthen the institution's mission in advancing knowledge for the world.

Why did you decide to join YLC?

Adam: I was nominated to be a part of YLC and very humbled to be recognized to be in a group of such distinguished young Jewish professionals! The heavy focus on leadership development in the Jewish community is something very appealing to me, and so far, it’s been an unbelievable learning experience.

Corie: I wanted to join YLC because The Associated has a deep and rich legacy within Baltimore. After moving back, I have been looking for opportunities to impact my community while preserving my family's tradition of volunteerism and philanthropy. I feel that part of my responsibility of being included in the next generation of Baltimore Jews and residents is to serve, and by doing so I along with my colleagues, are showing our gratitude for what they have provided and instilled in us.

What has been the best part of the program so far? What's something new that you've learned about IMPACT or The Associated?

Adam: The best part of the program has been the exposure to the Baltimore Jewish community. YLC has presented an opportunity for me to interact with influencers of the Associated that have contributed to its storied success and make friends along the way – which is unlike anything I experienced growing up in a much smaller Jewish community. Something I’ve learned is that The Associated has something to offer for all Jews – no matter your age, background or upbringing. Whether in a time of need or a time for celebration, The Associated can provide an outlet.

Corie: The other YLC members are fantastic and are a dedicated group of men and women who are committed to their principles and community. With them, I have learned the breadth and bandwidth of The Associated and its many programs. The impact it has on Baltimore – but also Israel and partner organizations – is significant.

How would you describe Jewish Baltimore to someone who's never been?

Adam: A vibrant, engaging and welcoming Jewish community who will go above and beyond to make you feel welcome.

Corie: The Jewish community in Baltimore is a tight knit, strong and vibrant community that has a deep impact on the city's diverse landscape. Individuals, families and communities are actively engaged within the city and are leaders in making it a better home for all people.

How do you think you can make a difference in Jewish Baltimore?

Adam: By giving my time, effort and honest opinions to The Associated through YLC. Jewish Baltimore has given me so much in a short period of time and I look forward to giving back throughout the future.

Corie: I believe I can make a difference through my mindset of community matters and proactively work with fellow members on causes that I care about.

What's your favorite thing to do in Baltimore in your free time?

Adam: Hang out with friends and play golf.

Corie: I am a huge Orioles fan – Go O's! – so I love spending time at Camden Yards. I also enjoy walking around the harbor, going to local farmers markets and exploring new restaurants within the city.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why?

Adam: Larry David. I’m a huge Curb Your Enthusiasm fan and would definitely like to share Shabbat dinner with him!

Corie: I would want to invite Michael Bloomberg as he is an extraordinary leader and philanthropist. He also cares deeply about American cities, in particular Baltimore, and I would like to discuss his thoughts on how to help unite the city's divisions and bring opportunities and pathways to those who are most needy.

Recruitment for the Young Leadership Council begins again in May 2019. Want to get involved with other young adults in Jewish Baltimore? Email Rebecca Ellison!

From Player to Coach: Joe Uddeme Leads Jr. Maccabi Soccer Team
Friday, February 02, 2018

For three years, Joe Uddeme played soccer for the Baltimore Maccabi team, traveling to Detroit and Wayne, N.J. as well as participating in the 1992 Baltimore games. Today, this father of two is bringing his expertise and a love of the game – he also played for Pikesville Middle and Pikesville High Schools and intramural at Towson University – to the next generation.

This year, Uddeme will be coach of the Baltimore Jr. Maccabi soccer team. The 2018 games, for athletes, ages 11 and 12, will be held in Baltimore on May 6 at the JCC, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

What do you remember about your Maccabi days? I remember meeting so many new people and traveling to new places. For years, I kept in touch with the family that I stayed with from Wayne, N.J. I also played in the first Maccabi games ever held in Baltimore. I still remember the pride I had for our city. We were the ambassadors and had the opportunity to show off our town.

I see you coached Maccabi soccer teams for the Mini Maccabi games (ages 9 and 10) and this year you are coaching the junior team. Yes. I love giving back and teaching soccer skills. This year we plan on having two soccer teams, an A and B team. We already have a lot of kids and are looking to add some more.

Three words to describe your coaching philosophy. Help The Kids. Seriously, I want each player to establish one skill that makes them better. It could be a soccer skill or it doesn’t have to have anything to do with soccer. It might be as simple as learning how to be on time or the importance of helping others.

Your son will be on your team. What’s it like coaching him? Awesome. There is nothing better in the world. I have so much fun watching him gain soccer skills and interact with his friends.

I understand you had a Big Brother. I lost my father when I was 8. I was then raised by a single mom who worked two jobs and did everything to provide for us. I was the baby of four and she reached out to [Jewish Community Services] Big Brother Big Sister for a Big. Since then, my Big Brother has been a part of my life.

Tell me about him. He’s basically set the stage for how committed I am to the Jewish community and how important it is to give back. Having a Big Brother was so good for me. I don’t know where I would be without him.

What’s your goal for Maccabi? When I was on Maccabi, I discovered what’s important in life and developed a deeper connection to the history of the Jewish people. It grounded me growing up and helped shape who I am as an individual – someone with strong Jewish values.

More than 700 Jewish athletes from 15 JCCs across the Mid-Atlantic will be competing. To learn more, visit their website.

This article was originally premiered in the February issue of JMORE, a monthly publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Get your copy today!

Making a Difference in the Lives of Baltimoreans with Disabilities
Friday, February 02, 2018

With the recent introduction of Maryland ABLE savings accounts, which allow families of individuals with disabilities to set aside funds to help their children live independent lives, Jane Rossheim knows how important the program could be to the community. After all, Rossheim has a son with autism.

“As a parent, the ABLE accounts enable you to save money so your child with a disability can have a better life,” says Rossheim, who is the special needs coordinator at the JCC and oversees Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance (BJAA), a resource for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Rossheim sees these accounts as vital to the future for those with disabilities. That’s why BJAA, comprised of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, CHAI, Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), SHEMESH, Jewish Community Services (JCS), JCC, and VSP, a department of Sinai Hospital, is sponsoring two programs with Maryland ABLE on February 20 and 27.

That program is one of many offered by The Associated and its agencies this February for Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month. Additional programs can be found at baltimore.jewishabilities.org.

In 2010, when The Associated commissioned its community study, it discovered a growing number of Jewish households seeking assistance for a physical, developmental or learning disability. As a result, the nonprofit made a concerted effort to develop and support programs that help those with disabilities be successful.

The Associated’s SHEMESH and CJE provide educational support to help those with learning differences. And the BJAA provides comprehensive resources so individuals with disabilities and their families can navigate community services.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five Americans lives with a disability. With this in mind, in the next few months The Associated will launch a committee to survey current community services for people with disabilities and assess them at a macro level.

“It’s important to have an inclusive community so that everyone may have the opportunity to be a fully-participating, active member and feel like they have something to contribute,” says Howard Feldman, co-chair of The Associated’s Caring Commission.

One program helping teens and young adults with disabilities transition to adulthood is the JCC’s KLAL (Keep Living and Learning), a summer experience for 14 to 26 year olds. It combines traditional summer activities, like swimming and fitness, with job readiness support and vocational training.

One highlight is the program’s signature café, open one day a week. Participants plan menus, cook, serve and decorate their “restaurant” while JCC members and staff enjoy $4 meals.

“We’ve been successful in identifying participants’ strengths which their families may not have known they have,” says Rossheim. “For example, one young man who cooked at the café is incredibly meticulous and would be great at a detail-oriented job.”

“By interacting with one another and the community, they learn vital socialization skills. I’ve seen incredible growth over the session from these participants,” adds Sara Rubinstein, the JCC’s special needs program director.

This article was originally premiered in the February issue of JMORE, a monthly publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Get your copy today!

Finding a Chance to Live with Purpose
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

By Melissa Rosenblatt

As you are reading this, you are probably also thinking about the millions of things that you need to do. You are tired and stressed out and may feel like you just don’t have time to do a project. Yet, here are some reasons why it is so important and meaningful. It really doesn’t take a long time to complete, but has a ton of impact on the community and your family.

In December, my family lost our Uncle David suddenly. My daughters, ages 5, 6and 7, had to deal with this type of loss for the very first time.

Uncle David was like an extra grandfather to them. My husband and I decided to focus on our fond memories of him with our daughters.

David Rosenblatt was more than just a beloved uncle. He was a retired surgeon who volunteered throughout his community. He not only fixed countless objects around his synagogue, he also built things for the congregation. He created carnival games that he lent out to countless schools to use for absolutely no cost. He built sets for local theatre programs. He was the type of person that was always there to help, no matter what.

In order to honor this special person, we knew we had to do something that he would have done if he were still here. I contacted the Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) for some ideas and of course they had plenty!

What could be better than to have the opportunity every month to honor our uncle? JVC’sLive with a Purpose program is more than just a one-time thing. It is a way to teach our children that it is always the right time to help. It is a way to teach our children that we are very fortunate and we have an obligation to help others who are going through a rough time.

That is why the Live with a Purpose program is so meaningful. It is ongoing, because life is ongoing. Our family wants to honor those who we have lost while making sure that we fulfill our obligation to help others.

For the January project, we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center, a low barrier emergency shelter that provides homeless services to over 275 adult men and women each night in the City of Baltimore.

It was something that was easy for us to do on a Sunday afternoon together. My daughters were very happy to not only make the sandwiches but they also got to decorate the paper bags. As a mother, it was inspiring to watch them work so intently on this project.

I am always telling my daughters to appreciate all that they have, because other people do not have toys, games, a house or even enough food to eat. This was a very concrete example of what I am always telling them. It was such an amazing opportunity and we look forward to many more monthly projects.

Traveling with 4Front to Ashkelon
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

By Ben Nawy 

This past winter break, I traveled to Israel with 4Front’s Social Innovation Fellowship, and the 10 days we spent there were easily some of the best 10 days of my life. The 4Front initiative, directed by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore and supported by The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, is funded by a five-year matching grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Social Innovation Fellowship is one of the programs 4Front manages.

On the trip, we not only visited many of Israel’s historical and traditional sites, which were awesome, but also visited several Israeli startups, work spaces, innovators and entrepreneurs. Then, we spent the final weekend of the trip in Ashkelon, Baltimore’s sister city, and it was the highlight of my trip.

We started off our time in Ashkelon by visiting the desalination plant. Here, we saw first-hand the process for making seawater drinkable for Israeli citizens. Since Israel is a dry land and they don’t get a lot of rain, they need to innovate to provide water for the country. The process takes water from the sea, puts it through a lot of high pressure systems, among other steps, and produces drinkable water.

4Front’s Social Innovation Fellowship includes a partnership between three cities: Baltimore; Odessa, Ukraine; and Ashkelon. So, our final weekend in Ashkelon included an opportunity for teens from all three cities to unite in person. On our first night at the Ashkelon Volunteer Center, we ate dinner, got to know each other, and learned about the partnership between these three cities. We also had the opportunity to skype with Henrik, our mentor from Startup Experience, who is working with all three cities, to help us on our entrepreneurial journey.

It was the first time teens from all three cities came together for a program like this. I didn’t realize how special this was until the mayor of Ashkelon, Itamar Shimoni, arrived. He stressed to us the importance of this partnership, and admired how at a young age, teens like us were already striving to make the world a better place. Seeing the mayor really showed me how awesome this program and partnership is.

The next day, we took a tour of Ashkelon, including Baltimore Park, which members of our group actually helped build. Then, we headed to a local kindergarten, where we welcomed Shabbat with all the kids, and had an opportunity to hang out with them. It was awesome to see that while we are half way across the world, these kids are just like the kids we’re used to; they all just want to play and have fun.

When we returned to the volunteer center, we talked about the importance of social innovation. Over the course of the program, we have all been working on different products or programs to help the communities around us. So, every group presented a pitch of their idea to the rest of the teens.

It was interesting to see how some of the problems the communities in Ashkelon and Odessa face are different from those in Baltimore, and how some were similar. This allowed us to put ourselves in their situation and learn about their culture and the problems their communities face. We also asked questions to one another, which helped us rethink and improve our own ideas.

On the night of Shabbat, the families of the Ashkelon teens hosted two Baltimore teens and one Odessa teen for dinner. We had an opportunity to experience what Shabbat is like for a normal family in Israel.

The family hosting me combined with two other families, creating a big group and allowing me and my fellow teens to connect, bond, and learn about each other’s cultures over dinner. We talked, ate, hung out and eventually realized how much we all had in common. We talked about sports, music, politics, problems our countries face; we tried to learn each other’s languages, and so much more. And the food didn’t disappoint either. Shabbat dinner was easily the highlight of my trip.

The last night, during the closing ceremony, it was crazy to see that, while we spent less than a week with the teens from the other communities, we were already so close and it was difficult to say goodbye. Many of us still keep in touch through social media.

Overall, this trip, specifically the time we spent in our sister city of Ashkelon, will stay with me forever.

The Power of Women
Thursday, January 25, 2018

By Nina Rosenzwog

As chair of Associated Women, I am pleased to share with you information about the work we do both as fundraisers and friendraisers in Jewish Baltimore and beyond.

We began our work in the community as a division of The Associated and have evolved to a strong, vocal group of women that encompasses all segments of our community, from young to old, from secular to religious, from professionals to full-time homemakers.

No matter where we come from, we find common ground around the issues and causes we care about and the Jewish traditions that define us.

Associated Women are at the helm of committees and boards throughout The Associated and its system of agencies; we are volunteers making a difference in the lives of so many in Baltimore, Israel and abroad; and we are generous philanthropists who use our resources to effect positive change in the world around us.

In our community, over 2,000 generous women support our annual campaign with their treasured resources. Together we raised just over five million dollars ($5 million) last year and will strive to exceed that number this year.

Women have long been change-makers and innovators in Jewish Baltimore. When lay leaders in what was then called the Women's Department realized that domestic violence was occurring in the Jewish community, they came together 22 years ago to form CHANA, our community's Jewish response to domestic violence.

As more issues surfaced, CHANA expanded its mission to include adult survivors of childhood sexual trauma and elder abuse, through SAFE, Stop Abuse of Elders.

Advocating community awareness, safety and healing, CHANA’s professionals share their knowledge with others in local and state governments and nonprofit organizations throughout Baltimore, Maryland and the nation.

Women also established the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation, which boasts over 100 members and has provided over $1 million in grants to programs serving women and girls in the Jewish and general communities in Baltimore, Israel and around the globe.

Hundreds of women have gained and sharpened their leadership skills through programs like Young Leadership Cabinet, the Inspired Women’s Project and Chapter Two. No matter what stage of life they were in, Associated Women had a way to connect them to a meaningful experience. We are even exploring a project we have dubbed “Chapter Three” for women between the ages of 60-75 looking for opportunities to learn and grow together.

I like to say that no matter where your interests or passions lie, we can find a place for you in Associated Women. And if you haven’t found that special spark yet, we can help you discover it.

My first Associated experience was a women’s trip to Israel and that cemented my love of not just The Associated, but for Israel too. In the more than 20 years that have passed since that trip, The Associated has given me the opportunity to pursue my passion for Israel and really roll up my sleeves to work with our friends in our partnership city, Ashkelon.

I am thrilled that I get to travel with Associated Women in April as we take more than 70 women to commemorate and celebrate Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days.

If you have not been involved firsthand with Associated Women, there’s no better time than now to take that first step. I invite you to learn more about what we do and let us help you find your path.

We can arrange to take you to visit our agencies to learn more from the people doing great work for our community every day. And we encourage you to attend community events to get to know us.

Please feel free to contact me at nrosenzwog@associated.org to learn how you too can make a difference in our community and, at the same time, enrich your own life. The friendships I have made through my work at The Associated have been some of the most meaningful relationships I have known.

I look forward to helping you find both your place and your people in Associated Women.

Meet Our Solicitors: Kenneth Hornstein
Thursday, January 18, 2018

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Kenneth Hornstein.

Tell us about yourself. I am a Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch. I provide financial advice to families that helps them achieve their personal and financial goals. To unwind, I exercise, including playing tennis, read and follow our local college and professional sports teams.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I was born and raised in this area. Baltimore has a tightly knit and sizable Jewish community, and is a wonderful place to grow up being Jewish and to raise a Jewish family.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? My parents were donors, and my involvement began with serving on a young adult programming committee and then going through what was then called the Young Leadership Program [now Young Leadership Council]. I have been a donor since my mid-20’s.

I give to the Associated because I believe there is no bigger bang for the buck for each dollar given. Funds raised are spread across many worthwhile local agencies that provide a wide variety of services, and also go towards Jews abroad who are in need. Many agencies would not exist but for The Associated.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? Soliciting gifts is another way of giving to The Associated. I enjoy meeting and talking to people, and I think those I meet with or call see this. It’s all about smiling and having positive energy. The best way to reach donors is through a personal touch. So here I can offer The Associated my attitude and skills to make a difference. And each time I get a gift commitment, it feels as good, if not better, than making my own gift, especially if it is a first-time gift or an increase.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? Tough one. Jonathan Sacks would be good. I enjoy discussing Jewish philosophy. The future of modern Orthodoxy would be a good topic.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Does Your Child Need A Therapist?
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By Stacey Meadows, LCSW
Manager of Child Therapy Services for Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs that we may choose to take on. While there can be rewards of tremendous joy and love that blossoms within this role, we are also charged with a seemingly impossible task of keeping our little ones safe and healthy in an increasingly complex world.

Children today face many of the same challenges that we, ourselves, faced growing up – negotiating friendships, pressures and expectations related to school, fights with siblings, struggles to find our own identity while staying connected to our roots, and so on. In the bigger picture, our world continues to evolve, and as such our children may also face challenges that were foreign to us as kids, such as understanding how to engage in the internet at an early age, an increased sense of insecurity as communities become more transient, and socio-political volatility domestic and abroad that seems to threaten our sense of safety in communities small and large.

Our elementary school students are often less consciously in tune with all of these challenges. They walk the line between the naive babies we dropped off to pre-school and the sassy and increasingly worldly middle schoolers that they will soon become.

In this age, children often struggle with classic childhood conflicts like separation anxiety, learning to learn and study, to be patient, learning to be part of a group and to negotiate conflict. Our elementary schoolers often have vivid imaginations, and wild carefree play, and they use these tools to process and understand the world around them.

So, what do we do as parents, when we notice that our child’s experience of this world is causing them distress? How do we know when enough is enough, and something needs to be done in order to protect and keep them socially and emotionally healthy? How do we know whether therapy might be beneficial?

Unfortunately, we all know that children do not come with instruction manuals, and that there is no “one size fits all” approach to parenting. Each child is different; each child has a unique personality, with unique strengths and coping skills.

The single most effective tool that YOU as a parent have, is knowing your child better than anyone else in this world. You will be the first to notice if their personality or mood changes significantly, if their eating or sleeping habits change, if their engagement and closeness with you or others change.

You have the authority to communicate with their teachers – to know how (or whether) these things may be observed at school.

Certainly, a normal degree of challenge can be expected as we experience big changes in our lives, like the transition to elementary school. However, for most children adjustment to life changes like this are relatively minor (increased worry or separation anxiety are common at this age) and will be most difficult during the first few weeks.

For most children, these symptoms can generally be expected to subside in six to eight weeks. Parent and school support around these issues is tremendously valuable in identifying challenges that kids are facing and helping them to adjust in heathy ways.

If you, however, notice that these changes are significant, do not subside within a couple of months of significant transitions, or if the changes appear without any identifiable trigger and do not lessen in a similar timeframe, you may want to consider the possibility of having them evaluated by a mental health professional. A therapist can, at the very least, help you to assess whether your child could benefit from treatment, and at best, can support your family and your child in experiencing symptom improvements.

Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month and Moses
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

By Rabbi Debbie Pine
Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy
The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Just as we began the secular year of 2018, we turned the page in the Torah to begin the book of Exodus. Imbedded in the important story of the Exodus from Egypt is a unique model for leadership in Moses.

In our contemporary Jewish reality, February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month. We are fortunate to live at a moment in history when our understanding of science, neurology, psychology and technology helps us understand disabilities. We can be proud of the great strides our Jewish institutions have taken to welcome and include all students in Jewish learning.

As the character of Moses’ leadership emerges within the story of Exodus, we realize that our tradition was way ahead of the times. After all, Moses had a disability. Several times throughout the story, Moses tells The Eternal that he is unfit for leadership.

First Moses says, “Please O Lord, I have never been a man of words either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10) Later, Moses says, “The Israelites would not listen to me; how then should Pharoah heed me, a man of impeded speech!” (Exodus 6:12). Moses resists The Eternal’s appointment numerous times and yet despite Moses’ declared speech impediment, The Eternal continually tells Moses to speak, dozens and dozens of times.

The ancient rabbis attempt to understand Moses’ impeded speech with thoughtfulness and creativity, but there is no clear answer as to whether Moses was actually a stutterer or just a shy, humble person.

Moses was our greatest leader. What is the Torah attempting to teach us by describing our greatest leader as one who struggled with a disability?

The Eternal saw Moses as most fit for leadership with his own self-described disability. Slow or impeded speech would not get in the way of Moses’ important role in the redemption of his people. Because of his speech, Moses comes to rely on his brother, Aaron, who becomes a faithful and necessary partner.

Because of his own limitations, Moses learns and experiences true collaboration and partnership with Aaron. Perhaps Moses’ greatest leadership quality of humility grows out of his challenges with speaking.

The Torah teaches us through Moses that disability is challenging, but does not stand in the way of achieving greatness. Despite Moses’ self-doubt, The Eternal believes in Moses’ ability, allowing him to stumble toward greatness.

As we celebrate important strides in Jewish education for students with disabilities, I hope that we can recognize that there is always more that we can do. We must continually strive to always be more welcoming, empathetic, understanding and respectful toward students with disabilities. We must always be ready to learn new ways to help make all students feel comfortable and welcome in Jewish learning environments.

As we follow the story of Exodus during this important month of awareness, we should remember that Judaism’s greatest leader was an individual with a disability. Our optimistic tradition teaches us that the next Einstein or Moses just might be that student with a disability.

May we continually embrace new technology as our understanding of the science of disability changes. May we always apply the optimism embedded within our ancient tradition to our own community, recognizing that out of self-doubt and impeded speech, came Moses, our greatest leader.

Baltimore Educators Witness Acts of Care and Compassion Toward Elderly Odessa Jews
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

By Neil Rubin

Through a grant provided by the Associated’s Baltimore-Odessa Partnership Committee, The Macks Center for Jewish Education recently coordinated a mission for Baltimore Jewish educators to travel to Odessa, Ukraine. The trip enabled educators to develop ongoing educational programs that foster Jewish identity and people-to people connections for students and their families in Baltimore and Odessa.

ODESSA, Ukraine – Even amongst so much renaissance, life’s fragility is so clear for so many in a country where legendary corruption seems to have filled the void of Soviet bureaucracy.

Indeed, this is a nation in which residents would be ecstatic to have the social services and healthcare systems that are the target of so much American ire. When discussing the country’s quasi-functioning services, Jews and non-Jews alike often have a similar refrain: “An election is coming so they’re talking about all they’ve done and about doing more, but I don’t think anything will come from it.”

Step in Hesed, an Associated funded program housed at the sparkling Beit Grand JCC. Its programs are the equivalent of an American senior citizen center and Jewish Community Services on steroids, all attempting to address massive financial, social and healthcare needs.

It’s not that it takes a long time to get such services from the municipality; it’s that they often do not exist. That bears out in stunning statistics: Life expectancy for men in Ukraine is 66, for women 76. Clients of Hesed? They live 13 years longer than the national average.

Case in point is Constantine, or “Costa.” He is 80 and, like many, he came to Hesed’s attention by chance. A case worker was visiting a client Costa knew, who told her about Costa.

Clearly, Costa needs the help. He has eye, stomach and liver problems. He sits at home alone nearly every day. Today, he has guests, so he is sitting on a bed that doubles as a couch in one of his three rooms, the grimy floor tiles long ago in need of repair. The red patterned wallpaper is dark, faded and peeling. To help save costs, he and other pensioners often don’t turn on the heat.

With a weathered, expressionless face, Costa begins his story as Inna Vdovichenko, Missions Department head of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, strokes his hand to calm his anxiety.

Moments ago, he received, thanks to Warm Home, a “shlach manot” package of basic foods and medicine. “Often, I have to choose between medicine and food,” he says, looking down and away from his guests.

As a young child, Costa became very ill; his parents couldn’t care for him, so he was sent to an orphanage. As the only Jew, “it was hard” – code for he was beaten up. After World War II, his parents could not be found. He finished sixth grade and knew that he needed to learn a skill to provide for himself as no one else would. As a young teen, he was already working in construction. He continued to do so for 56 years.

Now, the government says it cannot locate records of his birth papers; that’s because a fire years ago destroyed his orphanage. As a result, he is not eligible for many government programs for survivors of World War II.

Still, he does not seem bitter. Rather, he is fragile while accepting his fate. His message for the Jewish community in Baltimore? “I’m just a usual person. Maybe I have not done anything big in my life. Best regards with pleasure from Odessa.”

Neil Rubin, Ph.D., is Chair of the Jewish History Department at Beth Tfiloh High School.

Retirement Mythbusters
Monday, January 08, 2018

By Elizabeth Schuman

From paper routes and babysitting to corporate titles and entrepreneurship, you’ve covered work territory while earning a paycheck.

Although your teenaged self could not have imagined your career journey, your adult self needs to plan your retirement path.

“A retirement plan must be strategic, mindful and intentional. What does retirement look like to you?” says Ricka E. Neuman, CPA, principal, PBMares, LLP. While financial security is a given, having a clear picture of what you want to do next is equally important.

There is no one answer for everyone. “When people work on retirement plans, it’s not about preparing to retire,” says Michael I. Friedman, J.D., CAP®, senior vice president of philanthropic planning and services, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. “It’s about preparing for a life in retirement.” The best time to map your tomorrow? Yesterday.

Shore Up Your Bank Account. Boomer, take your head out of the sand. Imagine living to age 100 and plan from there. Consider living expenses, health care, insurance and a retirement lifestyle. Then ask: Will my money last?  

Start early; contribute often. Thanks to the power of compound interest, dollars add up. “I tell my clients to contribute a minimum of 10 percent of their pre-tax income each year,” says Morry A. Zolet, CFP®, senior vice president, the Zolet Lenet Group at Morgan Stanley. “You cannot afford not to contribute. Pre-tax contributions reduce your taxes and allow you to save.”

Vehicles such as a 401(k), 403(b), IRA or Roth IRA are relatively simple. Zolet urges employees to contribute enough to meet any employer match and go beyond to achieve at least 10 percent in pre-tax savings. While pensions and Social Security serve as a financial cushion, don’t count on one revenue stream, he adds.

Be realistic. Most people spend more in retirement than they imagine, whether for increased leisure activities or declining health, says Neuman. “Allow your tax-free savings to build-up as long as possible. Be strategic about taking Social Security. Be mindful about taking your required minimum distribution at 70½ for your qualified retirement plan.”

Ready for risk? Before retiring, you need to understand your existing assets and liabilities. You also need to know your risk tolerance, says Zolet. “How much volatility can you handle? Stocks go up and down in value, but there is more opportunity for growth.” Conversely, fixed-income tools such as bonds or CDs have less risk but also less growth potential.

At every age, saving something — even banking the cost of a latte each day — will help in the long run. “You cannot sacrifice your retirement for other needs,” says Zolet.

Plan Your Legacy. You’ve worked a lifetime and want to leave a legacy to your children and causes you support. Just as you planned your career, you can plan your philanthropic legacy by answering key questions and using the right tools, points out Philip “Pete” Sachs, partner, senior client advisor, senior strategist, WMS Partners.

“In addition to the financial aspects, think about what you want to give away, your anticipated tax burden and what you would like to bequeath to your children and to causes you supported all your life,” says Sachs. This is the time to consider:

  • What causes or issues matter most to you
  • How you want to be remembered
  • How to involve your family in charitable giving

Working closely with a financial advisor, you can create a legacy to reflect your values and take into account your means and abilities. Diverse planned giving approaches allow you to give to charity, while benefiting from tax savings and an income stream.

If selling your business or property is in your future, you may opt to pre-fund a donor-advised fund and receive a tax deduction, even if grants aren’t made out of the fund for months or even years later. The benefit is twofold.

“Many donors love using donoradvised funds to help teach their children or grandchildren the value of giving by encouraging the succeeding generations to recommend grants — even small grants as little as $100 — to help their children or grandchildren get in the habit of giving,” says Neuman.

Another approach is look first to your IRA or 401(k) for charitable gifting. You can name a charity as the beneficiary of a retirement plan, eliminating both income taxes and estate taxes on your heirs who would inherit the IRA or 401(k). If you are older than 70½ years old, you and your spouse can each give up to $100,000 a year directly to charity from your respective individual IRA. This can substantially reduce your taxable income, creating a substantial legacy during your lifetime. Depending on your situation, there are various planned giving approaches. For guidance, turn to your financial advisor.

Add Meaning to the Next Chapter. Dollars aren’t the only driver in retirement. Consider how you will fill days no longer packed with projects, meetings and to-do lists. “What are your interests? How you can use your current skills or develop new ones?” says Sachs. “Look at a cause that means something to you and personalize it.”

Become open to new directions — teach the next generation, take courses in subjects you know little about, find new hobbies and become involved in new volunteer activities. These advisors agree while it takes time to create the next chapter in your life, the right plan blends financial health, philanthropy and meaning.

“More than anything, people seek meaning in their lives during retirement,” says Friedman. “They seek time for family, to pass on values; time for travel, to broaden horizons; and the opportunity to engage with their time and financial resources to give back and make a difference in their world.”

This story originally appeared in Jewish Boomer, a collaboration between The Associated and Mid-Atlantic Media. Read the full publication today!

Building Rockets, Solar Ovens and Robots
Friday, January 05, 2018

 

By Rochelle Eisenberg

J Camps Offer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Options. Imagine! You are lost in the woods with little on you and the only way to survive is to use your knowledge of circuitry to invent your own tools. Like a compass, an LED lantern or even a solar oven to cook your food.

Or perhaps you are a budding engineer, intrigued by building structures and machines. How would you design sturdy structures and then create destruction apparatuses to knock them down?

This summer, the JCC’s J Camps will introduce Young Innovators, a new STEM Plus camp in partnership with Krieger Schechter Day School (KSDS). Campers will travel to KSDS to channel their creativity into developing team-based solutions to real-world situations, under the guidance of KSDS science teachers in their new Abramoff MakersSpace.

They then complete their day with traditional camp activities held on KSDS grounds.

“We investigated a number of science curriculums to determine how we could best incorporate math and science in a state-of-the-art setting that would appeal to area campers,” explains Stacy Deems, assistant director of J Camps at the JCC, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

“We’re excited to partner with KSDS for Young Innovators where our campers will run the show, which is something that doesn’t happen often enough in today’s classrooms. The MakersSpace instructors present the authentic question and guide our campers as they come up with and test solutions, learning new skills along the way,” she adds.

Research shows that participation in a summer science program can stimulate greater interest in STEM careers. According to the National Summer Learning Association, when you encourage youngsters to develop projects on their own, based on mutual interests, it promotes important STEM career skills like collaboration and communication.

Young Innovators, one of J Camps new STEM Plus specialty camps, was developed after a successful funding summit organized by The Associated. It follows the success of J Camps’ two end-of-summer STEM programs last year: LEGO Camp and X-treme Science Camp.

Seven-year-old Eli Colòn attended X-treme Science Camp: Space and Rocketry last summer. For one week he learned about the solar system, the physics of outer space, and how to live on the International Space Station. He then designed spaceships, rockets and bouncy balls from scratch.

In fact, according to his mother, Kelly Colòn, he still enjoys flying one of the rockets he designed.

“Eli has always been interested in science and how to make things,” she says. “When he plays with sidewalk chalk, he’ll often make it into dust and mix it with water or soap to see what happens to it.”

Kelly Colòn, who has a background in education, believes that all children are scientists, looking to explore their world and understand why things happen the way they do.

“If you give them the tools to learn about what’s going on, they will find answers,” she says.

For more information, go to www.jcc.org/camps.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Farm, Forest, Rock Climbing and the Agricultural Calendar
Friday, January 05, 2018

By Rochelle Eisenberg

How does it connect to Jewish learning? Shana Alter knew she was on to something special when she signed up her son, Henry, for Tiyul Adventures Year Round program at The Associated’s Pearlstone Center. After all, she and her husband, Jeremy, were married at the site, and they both had an affinity for the way the organization connected individuals to nature while integrating Jewish learning.

“I wanted Henry to feel at home in nature,” says Alter. “And I like that the programming is connecting nature to bigger themes around Judaism and the Jewish year.”

Yes, Henry has learned how to whittle wood, start a fire and even identity and eat wild edibles. Yet, he’s also incorporated an understanding of how the earth-based world is connected to his heritage.

Tiyul, which meets once a month in the fall and spring – the next session is scheduled in March – takes the participants through forest adventures and farm activities, zip lines and rock climbing, while tying it to the Jewish and the agricultural calendars.

“Nature,” says Sara Shalva, assistant director at Pearlstone Center, “tells the story of Jewish life.”

For example, during the Jewish holiday season, as the grapes were ripening in Pearlstone’s vineyards, the young participants picked grapes, crushed them and turned them into grape juice. They then learned what it means to make a blessing over food.

And the following Hebrew month, Cheshvan, when there are no holidays, youngsters learn how to find magic in the ordinary – nature walks while the sun sets – while tackling physical challenges and linking it to our forefathers who were wanderers.

“We let their imagination guide them – we might ask them to meditate on what might have been done a couple thousand years ago,” adds Abby Woloff, director of programming at Pearlstone Center.

Becky Brooks, whose twins Maizy and Max Nodelman have signed up for the year-long Tiyul programming, finds her kids coming home talking about the game or activity they played that day.

“It’s like a summer camp,” Brooks says. “They are singing songs, playing camp-type games and building a little community.”

At the same time, the Brooks twins are bringing home Jewish concepts tied to what they are doing.

“At home, we often talk about mitzvahs, good deeds,” says Brooks. “Yet now they can relate these concepts. We talk about how the actions we do in the world can be the seeds that can grow goodness similar to the seeds we plant in the garden each spring.”

Pearlstone also engaged Tiyul families, inviting them to a community dinner. With the sun setting over the goat pasture, families who signed up for the year enjoyed a sustainable farm-to-table meal of pan roasted black cod filet with glaze plus grilled, marinated tofu and roasted carrots from Pearlstone’s farm, while lingering over conversation as their children played.

“Tiyul,” explains Shalva, “is the culmination of our desire to build a pluralistic Jewish community, open and welcoming to all.”

“I’ve never seen my son so happy,” says Alter. “He is so happy and excited at the end of each session.”

Learn more at www.pearlstonecenter.org/tiyul.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Everybody Wins a Trophy?
Friday, January 05, 2018

By Rochelle Eisenberg

For years, self-esteem, punctuated by an “everybody wins a trophy” mentality, dominated the child-rearing landscape. Whether it was an award for simply showing up or a belief that no student should receive a grade below a ‘C’ – this philosophy was believed to lead to self-confident children.

Yet it soon became apparent to many experts that empty praise was leading to overconfident, entitled kids.

Now, it seems, the pendulum may be swinging.

“Today, we are trying to balance overconfidence with feeling competent,” explains Gila Haor, coordinator for professional development at SHEMESH, a program of The Associated. Competence is based on something real – the sense of ‘I can do the monkey bars, but I may have to work at it.’”

Fueled by the extensive research of psychologist Carol Dweck, author of the book “Mindset,” is the idea of a growth mindset – that by working hard at a skill, problem or challenge, one not only gets better, but gains confidence from that accomplishment.

Take the toddler learning to walk who falls down the first time, says Haor. “If you encourage him to stand back up, he will continue to work at it until he gets it right.

There is a sense of accomplishment as he gets better that ultimately builds confidence.” Today’s growth mindset puts the emphasis on the effort. Although math may not be a strong suit, if one works at it, one can do better, thus building confidence.

In recent years, Elana Weissman, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School Lower School counselor has seen a shift in education to an emphasis on mastering the material.

“We are changing the mentality of what success means,” says Weissman. “Teachers are emphasizing the importance of mastery in learning and they are praising the effort to achieve this mastery. Teachers are focused on students mastering learning and they are praising the effort to get there. Self-esteem comes from feeling competent and valued rather than focusing only on the grade.”

Other local Jewish day schools also have embraced growth mindset and are incorporating it into professional development sessions.

Growth Mindset and Learning Differences

This growth mindset has particular value for instilling self-esteem in those with learning and behavioral disabilities.

“Kids with learning issues often feel less competent,” says Haor. “And, if they feel less competent, in many ways they are less confident.”

According to Faye Friedman, SHEMESH program director, special educators have employed many of these techniques for years, using charts and other tools to mark successes and offering praise for effort.

“A reading specialist might say to a student, ‘when we first started reading, you could read two out of 10 words. Now look at where you are,’” Friedman says.

“Tell kids, ‘You used these strategies, worked hard and therefore you succeeded’ and you will be building self-esteem,” adds Haor.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Meet Our Solicitors: Elissa Ness
Thursday, January 04, 2018

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Elissa Ness.

Tell us about yourself. I am 68 years old and married with one 32-year-old son, who currently lives in DC as an attorney. I work part-time for the Social Security Administration as a management analyst in the fields of disability and return to work. To unwind, I read and travel.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? What do you think makes our community so special? I was born in Baltimore. I think it is the strong, vibrant Jewish community that makes our community so special.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? Giving provides a connection to our Judaic values; helping others is paramount to me. I heard about Associated as a child; giving was always integral to our family values. My gift helps to ensure an active Jewish community today and in the future, in Baltimore, Israel and around the world.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? I hope to be a part of a collective effort to care and transform the lives of the Baltimore community, Israel and around the world; a campaign solicitor is vital to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our Jewish populations.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? Benjamin Netanyahu. I’d love to discuss Israeli politics, the future of Israel, how our dollars help Israel, et cetera.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Meet Our Solicitors: Josh Frederick
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Josh Frederick.

Tell us about yourself. I’ve been happily married to my wife, Beth, for almost 11 years! I have three awesome kids–Jonathan (10), Leah (8) and Ben (6). Professionally, I’m a Senior Sales Manager at Advance Business Systems, where I recently celebrated my 17th year. I unwind by hanging with my family, friends, going to the gym and playing Fantasy Football!

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I’m a “hybrid” Baltimorean. I grew up in Ellicott City. Now, I work in Baltimore and live in Frederick (that’s right... Frederick from Frederick).

What do you think makes our community so special? It’s our passion and incredible commitment. Pride oozes wherever I go.

How did you come to hear of The Associated? The President of my company, Jeff Elkin, suggested I have coffee with Erica Hobby to learn more about The Associated. When joining, it was my expectation from the onset that I was to donate my time, talent and treasure. The rest is history.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? Duty. It’s my duty to help those less fortunate. It’s how I was raised. I can’t imagine not giving.

How would you describe the impact of your gift? Plain and simple: I hope it directly helps an individual or family desperately in need of a financial boost.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? I hope to personally raise funds for our community and encourage donors to increase their gifts. Knowing every dollar counts keeps me motivated.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? Jimmy Fallon. My family loves to laugh, sing and have fun at dinner; especially at Shabbat dinner when we are unwinding from the week. He would fit right in!

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Getting to Know: Ari Abramson
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Ari Abramson is a native Baltimorean who grew up in Pikesville and graduated from Pikesville High School. He left his hometown to attend Muhlenberg College, then returned to Baltimore for a job after college at Legg Mason. Today, this investment professional, active member of The Associated’s Real Estate Industry Group (REIG) and father of two lives in Homeland with his wife, Sarah Manekin, and two young children, Eleanor, 5, and Henry, 3.

How did you get involved with The Associated? Growing up in Baltimore I always felt connected to The Associated and Jewish Baltimore. I took a high school trip to Israel with The Associated, then as a young professional, participated in Tel Aviv One, a young professional mission to Israel. I also graduated from the Associated Young Leadership Council program and now sit on the Board of the Real Estate Industry Group (REIG) and The Associated’s Real Estate Committee.

Tell me about REIG. I appreciate being active in The Associated’s REIG as it allows me to better understand and tour new local development projects.

At the same time, I enjoy the networking opportunities within this community. Last year, REIG held their annual event at Brown’s Wharf, a mixed used project in Fells Point, a project that I helped acquire. At this event we had an organized panel discussion that I participated on to celebrate the past, present and future of the neighborhood. Overall, I’ve made many professional contacts and personal friends through REIG and The Associated.

Such as? I got to know J.M. Shapiro, CEO of Continental Realty, the year he chaired The Associated’s Men’s Night Out event. I remember we spoke and then stayed in touch. Today, I work for the company as the vice president of acquisitions.

What’s the most interesting project in Baltimore today? I think the rise of Harbor East, Harbor Point and Fells Point are fascinating to watch and be a part of. These waterfront locations are certainly irreplaceable properties in Baltimore City and centrally located within an area that has been the recipient of a dramatic shift of energy over the past several years.

What’s great about Jewish Baltimore? I went to Hebrew school, had my bar mitzvah, was married and had my son’s bris at Chizuk Amuno Congregation. Now my daughter attends Krieger Schechter Day School there. It’s special to drop her off at the same place I went to.

Best advice? During college, I had interned at the White House in D.C. and for a Wall Street firm in New York and I thought I would end up in one of those cities. I then interviewed for a job in Baltimore and my father told me to take it. By the way, he also told me to go out with Sarah, who became my wife. So, the best advice I’ve had – I guess you could say – is I always should take my father’s advice.

Join Ari and other real estate professionals at the Real Estate Industry Group's Annual Event on June 26! Registration is now open.

Giving Thanks
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

By Wendy Miller

As the 2018 women’s campaign chair for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, I have the privilege of having meaningful Jewish conversations with many members of our community. I hear the reasons why they support the local agencies serving needs in Baltimore; I learn why our work in Israel, the Former Soviet Union and other global Jewish communities resonates with so many, too.

In all these conversations, there is a common thread. Associated donors share beliefs that are integral to our Jewish heritage and their philanthropic decisions are inspired by those core values. We are a community that embraces different streams of Judaism; but when it comes to supporting the needs of the vulnerable and building for tomorrow, we are truly one people. Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh – all Jews are responsible for one another.

As the mother of three children educated at Beth Tfiloh School, I know firsthand how important it is to discuss these values as a family and ensure that our children and grandchildren follow in our footsteps as leaders in and supporters of Jewish life in Baltimore.

We are approaching a time of year when the themes of gratitude and giving thanks are both timely and pervasive. As Jews, these values are constants in our tradition. They were always part of the Jewish conversations my husband and I had with our children; I hope that all of you are drawing upon our tradition to teach these lessons, too.

The Associated and its agencies offer a variety of opportunities for families to come together to support a great cause, whether it’s working on a hands-on project with Jewish Volunteer Connection, winterizing the homes of seniors with CHAI, serving a holiday meal to an adult with a disability at the JCC or making calls at Super Sunday to raise the dollars that make all of this, and so much more, possible.

In October, our community answered the call on Super Sunday and we raised $1.2 million in one day of calling. Last month, we gathered again for Giving Tuesday, a day of generosity that comes the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and raised $937,028.

The Associated has successfully used this national day of giving for the last four years to reach out to members of our community, to thank them for their past support and to give them the opportunity to make our community even better, by giving again this year.

Wendy Miller is chair of the 2018 Women’s Campaign for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. To donate online, visit associated.org/give.

Technologies of the Future
Monday, November 27, 2017

Israeli high-tech investing has been on a tear the past couple of years, raising record amounts of money to fund the technologies of the future. Come see live demonstrations of these products at the Maryland/Israel Development Center’s “Technologies of the Future: Robots, Autonomous Vehicles and More,” on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 5:30 –7:00 pm, at Spark Baltimore at Power Plant Live!, 8 Market Place in Baltimore.

The keynote address will be given by Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn who will discuss the implications of some of these technologies for the future of Maryland.

The Israel Venture Center (IVC) reports that $1.44 billion was raised by 144 Israeli high-tech companies in the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 14 percent over the $1.27 billion raised the previous quarter, and an amazing 54 percent surge from the $933 million raised in the third quarter of 2016. IVC notes that in the first nine months of 2017, Israeli high-tech companies raised a record $3.8 billion.

Here are three “hot” tech companies that will be demonstrating on December 6.

 

MobilEye. The biggest deal announced by far was Intel’s acquisition of vehicle sensor company MobilEye for an astounding $15 billion. A bus equipped with Mobileye’s technology will be onsite at the “Technologies of the Future” event.

Fortune magazine said, “Intel is taking a giant leap into the self-driving car game.” The company plans to launch a fleet of 100 such cars by the end of the year. According to Fortune, “The vehicles will combine Mobileye’s computer vision, sensing, fusion, mapping, and driving policy with Intel’s open computer platforms and expertise in data center and 5G communication technologies to deliver a complete ‘car-to-cloud’ system.”

MobilEye has been testing its collision avoidance technologies on buses with Maryland Transit Authority, a result of Secretary Rahn’s participation in Governor Hogan’s trade mission to Israel last year.

Roboteam. Another deal was by Roboteam, with its U.S. headquarters in Maryland, which raised $50 million. Roboteam has been delivering its “unmanned ground vehicles” (i.e., robots) to the U.S. military for a number of years and will use the funding to develop the next generation robot for civilian and commercial uses. Roboteam will be demonstrating their technology at the MIDC event.

Mantaro. Also in the robotics field is Mantaro of Germantown and Beeper Communications of Israel, who are collaborating to develop robots for public safety and first responders. They are integrating Mantaro’s robotics technology with Beeper’s communications solutions to develop robots for public safety and first responders. The research is being supported by a US-Israel Binational Industry Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation grant. They will also be demonstrating their technologies at “Technologies of the Future.”

Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha entered the headquarters of Saddam Hussain’s intelligence building. It was there that they came upon a flooded basement and discovered a treasure trove of documents, books and artifacts from the Iraqi Jewish community. It took weeks for the American team to gather the 2,700 volumes and tens of thousands of documents which they found floating in four feet of water. And while they were drying out, the water-logged pages soon became moldy in Baghdad’s intense humidity.

Seeking guidance, the American team called upon the National Archives in Washington, DC. With the agreement of Iraqi representatives, these historic materials were shipped to the United States for restoration.

Today 23 of those treasures are on display at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in the National Archives exhibit, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” The exhibit, which runs through January 15, was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, with generous support from the US Department of State Spanning more than 400 years of Jewish life, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage” features a number of manuscripts, documents and liturgical books that represent the centrality of Judaism to Iraqi society throughout the centuries.

Some of the highlights include a 1568 Bible from Venice (one of the earliest printed bibles), prayer books printed in Baghdad, a Haggadah from 1902 decorated by an Iraqi Jewish child and an array of Hebrew calendars, from 1959-1973 – some of the last examples of Hebrew items printed in Iraq.

This story of a once-living community is further displayed in photos by former Iraqi, Maurice Shohet, who tells the story of life in the 20th century. Shohet shares photos of day school life, a bris and marriage.

The Jewish community in Iraq stretches back more than a thousand years, and by the early 20th century many families were playing a prominent role in Baghdad society. Yet by mid-century, tensions between the Jewish and Arab community soured.

A brief pro-Nazi regime in 1941 was followed by a massive pogrom known as the Farhud. The steady decline in relations between Iraqi Arabs and Jews accelerated in the years leading to the formation of Israel and laws limiting Jewish freedoms were enacted in the late 1940s. Thousands of Jewish families fled, leaving behind traces of their rich and once-thriving history.

“These materials provide a tangible link to a once flourishing Jewish community,” said Marvin Pinkert, executive director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. “When we look at the collection of Jewish materials that were published throughout the world – from Lithuania, Italy, the Middle East and Iraq – we become aware of the richness of Baghdad’s Jewish community and its ties to the rest of the Jewish world.”

“We are so fortunate that the National Archives was able to preserve this important part of our Jewish history,” he added.

Discovery and Recovery is divided into six sections:

Discovery: The dramatic story of how these materials were found, rescued and preserved. A short film captures these heroic efforts.

Text and Heritage: This section explores Iraqi Jewish history and tradition through recovered texts.

Iraqi Jewish Life: Constancy and Change: Using recovered texts, this section explores the pattern of Jewish life in Iraq.

Personal and Communal Life: Selected correspondence and publications illustrate the range and complexity of Iraqi Jewish life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Original documents and facsimiles in flipbooks range from school primers to international business correspondence from the Sassoon family.

After the Millennia: Iraqi Jewish life unraveled in the mid-20th century, with the rise of Nazism and proliferation of anti-Jewish propaganda. This section includes the 1951 law freezing assets of Iraqi Jews.

Preserving the Past: These materials were transformed from moldy, water-logged masses to a carefully preserved, and accessible enduring historic legacy. View the National Archives’ state-of-the-art treatment, preservation and digitization of these materials.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Jewish Museum of Maryland will be holding a number of programs to supplement the exhibit including “Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day,” featuring Iraqi food, hands-on crafts and music on December 3.

On January 14, the Museum will host “Iraqi Jewish Voices: Narratives of Memory and Identity” featuring Dr. Henry Green, University of Miami and Sephardi Voices. The program tells the story of the last generation of Iraqi Jews through dramatic contemporary and historical photography, film and personal narrative.

To learn about the exhibit and special events go to jewishmuseummd.org.

Braiding Challah Provides Opportunity for Life Lessons Of Unity and Inclusion Among Ashkelon Students
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Challah, the delicious soft, pillowy and slightly sweet bread prepared especially for Shabbat and Jewish holidays, is full of symbolism and significance. Like Shabbat, the braiding of the challah represents unity, harmony and integration, so it seemed only fitting that this was the activity that brought together a diverse group of people during last month’s Shabbat Project in Ashkelon, Israel.

As part of The Associated’s commitment to connecting Jews in Baltimore with Jews in Israel, members of both communities work diligently to explore Jewish identity and volunteerism together through the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership.

The Shabbat Project, a world-wide initiative, was established to unite Jews of all backgrounds to share Shabbat together. Many groups and organizations around the globe choose to kick-off the event with a community Challah Bake.

On October 27, second grade students at Ilanot Elementary School in Ashkelon, our partner city since 2003, participated in their own Challah Bake with a special twist.

“About a month and a half before the Shabbat Project, I started to think what we can do in Ashkelon that would strengthen the connection between us and our colleagues in Baltimore through the Shabbat Project,” explained Roni Rokach, projects coordinator for the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. "There were lots of events in Ashkelon for the Shabbat Project, but none of them were directly connected to the Partnership.”

Rokach reached out to Yael Zelinger, coordinator of JADE: Jewish Advocates for Deaf Education at the Louis D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) in Baltimore, who recommended that Yaara Brahm and Mordy Weis, two volunteers who had previously participated in CJE’s Deafblind Shabbaton, spearhead an activity with the students centering around braiding challah and the meaning of Hafrashat Challah or separating the challah. Brahm and Weis, two Israelis, both of whom have dual hearing and vision loss, spent time with the kids through the help of special interpreters, teaching them about challah, Shabbat and their disabilities.

“What was especially nice is that we could demonstrate to the students that everyone has something to contribute and share,” said Zelinger. “People with special needs don’t always have to be “receiving” the instruction…during this activity Yaara and Mordy were the teachers.”

This special challah bake, which required special coordination between staff in Baltimore and staff in Ashkelon, facilitated a deeper and more meaningful connection with Jews in both cities.

“Prior to the event, I skyped with Roni and Maggie, the classroom teacher, to help educate and empower them to effectively and appropriately interact with people who are deafblind,” Zelinger added.

The day was a huge success as the students learned about the connection between Baltimore and Ashkelon, the importance of patience and acceptance and the significance of some of the Jewish traditions and values.

"At the beginning, it was hard to understand Mordy and Yaara. But after a few minutes, we managed to understand and even succeed to learn a few words in sign language. The activity was enjoyable and fun!” shared Rona & Revital, second grade students who participated in the project. “We loved making the challah with the visitors, and although they have disabilities we managed to communicate and do things together. It was interesting and exciting."

Chanukah and the Book of Genesis: What Can We Learn To Make the Holiday More Meaningful
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

By Debbie Pine, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy
The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

This week during Chanukah, we are blessed with multiple opportunities to connect with extended family. In our Torah reading cycle, we are reaching the climatic end of the book of Genesis as the drama between the generations comes to a somewhat satisfying close.

Just as we are coming together to light the Menorah, we are confronted by the reality that in Genesis, our ancestors did not get along so well. In fact, the entire book highlights conflicted relationships between siblings, between parents and children, and between children and grandparents in every generation throughout this book.

What do these troubled relationships come to teach us just at the moments when our children come home for college and we find ourselves with multiple generations under one roof?

The Torah gives us a good dose of reality that family life is complex. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their spouses and children struggle with conflict, jealousy and trauma and yet each generation grows, changes and loves. At this significant time of year, the Torah reminds us that it is okay if our own families echo the challenges and complexities of the relationships in Genesis.

Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, recently wrote about the importance of healthy disagreement in families in the New York Times (November 5, 2017). He cited studies where the most creative adult writers and architects came from families that they described as full of tension and disagreement.

The Wright Brothers argued constantly with each other and their father, and out of those spats came creativity and ingenuity. Our Torah reminds us at this significant time of year, that disagreement and conflict is a natural part of family life that can lead us to growth and deep thought.

At this time of year, when our families come together to celebrate, catch up, talk politics and engage in family philanthropy, we should not be alarmed by disagreement and some tension. After all, our Torah teaches us at this moment that family strife is normal, and it is sometimes the most challenging moments and the most painful conversations that lead to transformative growth and change.

Chanukah and the end of the calendar year are significant moments for families to engage in giving back. There are lots of interesting questions to consider as we give as a family.

Do we want to make a big impact on a smaller organization or perhaps a smaller impact on a larger organization? What are the issues that we care the most about? How can our dollars make the most significant impact?

There will be different opinions, ideals and values for different members of our families. We will disagree. We may argue. Passionate conversations may become heated and can also lead to transformation and growth.

In our reading of Genesis, we can learn from our ancestors that we can grow and change, as generations challenge each other and the next generation leads the former.

As you and your family come together to celebrate and give together at this most important time of year, may the messages of Torah as well as the wisdom of the next generation at this moment inspire us toward creativity, openness and impact.

Bringing the Generations Together for Philanthropic Impact.
Monday, November 20, 2017

By Rabbi Debbie Pine, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy

This week during Chanukah, we are blessed with multiple opportunities to connect with extended family. In our Torah reading cycle we are reaching the climatic end of the book of Genesis as the drama between the generations comes to a somewhat satisfying close. Just as we are coming together to light the Menorah, we are confronted by the reality that in Genesis, our ancestors did not get along so well. In fact, the entire book highlights conflicted relationships between siblings, between parents and children, and between children and grandparents in every generation throughout this book. What do these troubled relationships come to teach us just at the moments when our children come home from college and we find ourselves with multiple generations under one roof? The Torah gives us a good dose of reality that family life is complex, reminding us that it is okay if our own families echo the challenges and complexities of the relationships in Genesis. Disagreement and conflict is a natural part of family life that can lead us to growth and deep thought.

In our own Baltimore raised Sharna Goldseker’s recent book Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving, she emphasizes that this is a golden age of philanthropy. With the high-tech boom and other variables, 20- and 30-year olds have a remarkable capacity to give, unlike generations before. Goldesker beautifully points out how the landscape of philanthropy is changing, mostly for the better, with thoughtful, engaged young donors who truly want to impact the world. Goldseker describes dynamic families, some even within our own community, who are being led thoughtfully by the next generation toward new approaches to giving.

As we look toward a new chapter in philanthropy in the world, I hope that we can learn from our ancestors that we can grow and change, as generations challenge each other, and the next generation leads the former. When you and your family come together to celebrate and give together at this most important time of year, may the messages of Torah, as well as the wisdom of the next generation, inspire us toward creativity, openness and impact.

Reach out to Rabbi Debbie Pine, 410-369-9282, if you want to start a dialogue with your family, bringing generations together for a shared philanthropic purpose.

Baltimore Educators Mission to Odessa
Thursday, November 16, 2017

By Neil Rubin

ODESSA, Ukraine – What does a dancing and colorful animated dreidel, young girls performing a Ladino dance from the Ottoman Empire, and a smiling 90-year-old watch repairman with one tooth have in common?

They are fruits of the proverbial labors of the Baltimore-Odessa partnership, one that sees The Associated system fund an array of programs and facilities for a community slowly but optimistically emerging from seven decades of Soviet communism, Nazi genocide and now two decades plus of national self-rule wrapped in declining life expectancy and legendary corruption.

An intensive day on the Baltimore Center for Jewish Education mission for educators has brought to fore ideas and energy for cooperation, particularly for the children of the communities. Talk among colleagues from both regions included simultaneous projects, joint websites, travel, competitions, book sharing and more.

But first, the scenes painted above. The dreidel demonstration came during a visit to the ORT Zhabotinski School #94, named for Vladimir “Ze’ev” Jabotinsky, one of the city’s many significant Jewish figures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries Indeed, if he can, the charismatic writer and ultra-Jewish nationalist is smiling at the Israeli flags adorning the school, let alone the creative Hebrew lessons and exchanges with Israeli students.

As for the Ladino dance, it came at the JCC Migdal Center, which like many non-profit efforts here sits in a large former mansion whose main entrance is at the end of an alley and not visible from the main street. There are similar approaches to the Holocaust Museum and the Jewish History Museum – both of watch cram a remarkable array of artifacts into their hodgepodge layouts.

And that smiling watch maker? At age 90, he volunteers at Hesed somewhat of a JCC for senior citizens and housed at the Beit Grand JCC. He sits in a small room and repairs watches and other items that seniors bring him. That's because they do not embrace the technological gadgetry of the era and can no longer finds parts to repair the items upon which they depend.

Finally, a Jewish trip to Odessa would not be complete without a visit to a kosher restaurant, pre-schools and the addresses of the titans of classic Jewish literature: personalities such as Chaim Nachman Bialek, the Hebrew poet laureate of the Jewish people whose poem about the Kishinev pogroms rocked the Jewish world; Sholem Aleichem, whose Yiddish stories of village life have entertained multiple generations; Jabotinsky, who organized Russia’s first Jewish defense leagues pogroms mounted in Russia; and so many more.

It’s a complicated land, as is all of Jewish Eastern Europe. Scratch the surface and one finds nostalgia not for communism, but for the security that it brought. While there is much talk of young people leaving, one also hears stories of families who say that, well, they are not Jewish, but their parents or grandparents were. Some of them then get involved in JCC and other programs due to quality and slowly creep towards the label “Jew,” one once so natural in a city about 40% Jewish when the communists took power exactly a century ago this month.

It all breathes new life into the once well-known Yiddish expression: “Ah, to die in Odessa.” In other words, Today, Odessa indeed is heaven on earth for not only those who love the Jewish past, but for those who understand the impact of aiding an increasingly vital small community reemerging in large ways.

Neil Rubin, Ph.D., is Chair of the Jewish History Department at Beth Tfiloh High School.

Thanksgiving: A Time of Food, Family and Philanthropy
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

By Lauren Klein, Assistant Vice President, Funder Services

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If your holiday table is like mine, it’s abundant with food. We often go around the table sharing with each other what we are grateful for in our lives. What if we took it a step further this year and had meaningful conversation about food insecurity and hunger in our country? Repair the World, a national organization that engages young adults in hands-on volunteering and learning about social justice issues, has created discussion guides to spark conversations about food insecurity and Jewish values. Their guides contain suggested questions and readings about this issue, and you can learn more about it on their website, https://werepair.org/thanksgiving.

The holiday season propels me even more to find meaningful opportunities to teach my children the important of giving back to those in need. Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), a program of The Associated, has launched the Casserole Challenge. They are collecting casseroles to be donated to families in Baltimore City. I am planning to make a few casseroles with my family and encourage you to learn more about this project at https://jvcbaltimore.org/casserole-challenge.

Thanksgiving is also a perfect opportunity to share family stories. Sharing stories gives every family member a new and important connection to the past. It also enables you to capture stories, connect generations, and preserve legacies. There are a variety of tools available to help you get started. Being in the age of technology, there is now an app available to make the process of recording an interview easy and accessible. StoryCorps, an organization whose mission is to record, preserve and share stories, has created a free app that I have already downloaded to my iPhone. The app helps users prepare for interviews, and also allows users, if desired, to share it with other family members, including on social media sites.

As we gather together to celebrate a holiday rich in traditions around football, food and family, I think it’s also an ideal opportunity to incorporate philanthropy into our rituals. If you would like more ideas, reach out to me directly at 410-369-9278 or lklein@associated.org. I specialize in helping families design strategies for engaging their children and grandchildren in charitable giving.

Three Young Women Talk What It Means to Be Jewish
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Rochelle Eisenberg

In 2013, the Pew Research Center released a landmark study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” which asked Jews in 50 states what being Jewish means in America today.

What it found was that 93 percent of Jews in the Greatest Generation (born 1930-1946) identified as Jewish on the basis of religion, whereas only 68 percent of Millennials did. Meanwhile 32 percent of Millennials described themselves as having no religion, identifying as Jewish on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture. Yet, despite the changes in Jewish identity, 94 percent of U.S. Jews said they were proud to be Jewish.

What about Baltimore’s Jewish women? As young Jewish families move outside the traditional Jewish zip codes to downtown, Lutherville-Timonium, even Harford County neighborhoods, many still connect to their Judaism, particularly after they had children. These three women talk about what Judaism means to them.

LUCY LEIBOWITZ: “I grew up in St. Louis and Chicago. Today, I live in Locust Point with my husband, Steve, and our two young children, Jasper and Finn. Growing up, my family belonged to a reform temple. One of my favorite childhood memories was celebrating Jewish holidays together. We would often go to New York for Passover to spend Seder with my grandparents.

When I went to college, I decided to keep kosher. For me, it was something I could do daily that would make me stop and think about being Jewish. It was not so much about following the kashrut laws perfectly, but about being mindful. We now keep a kosher home and enjoy having conversations with our sons about why we do what we do with respect to keeping kosher and celebrating holidays.

When we moved to Baltimore, I was looking to connect with other Jewish families. I became involved with the [Macks Center for Jewish Education’s] Connector program when our family attended a Chanukah program hosted by Stacey [Harvey]. Since then, we have attended a few programs with the connectors, including Shabbat morning get-togethers, where we sing songs, eat bagels and mingle.

I want my kids to have a strong Jewish identity and be educated about our religion’s rich history. I hope they will be well-versed in holidays and traditions — why we do what we do. We celebrate Shabbat with the blessings and we love how our older son now knows the prayers and has even made challah multiple times.

My favorite Jewish holiday is Rosh Hashanah. It is the start of a New Year and both sides of our family gather together.

My grandmother makes excellent latkes. She hand grates the potatoes and onions, and I think that is one of the secrets. Another key is that she makes them small and crispy. We often have to convince her that she needs to make more; she always thinks no one will eat all of them, but nevertheless they are always gobbled up. She has shared her recipe, and we’ve tried to make them, but they just never taste as good.

Over the years, I have become more observant and our family currently is temple-hopping to find the right synagogue to join in Baltimore. I don’t speak Hebrew fluently so I want to make sure that the prayers are not exclusively in Hebrew so that I can understand what it is being said.

AMY AKMAN: I live in Lutherville, MD with my husband, Jared and, daughters, Bryn (26-months-old) and Taylor (newborn).

I grew up in Pikesville and my family were members of Beth El Congregation. I went to Hebrew school, had a bat mitzvah and a confirmation. (Rabbi Schwartz also married my husband and me. My husband’s family also belongs to Beth El.)

For a while, Judaism wasn’t as important to me as it is now. I remember I didn’t go to synagogue much after high school and wasn’t too involved with my Judaism in college and as a young adult.

Now that I have kids, I’m becoming involved again. My family celebrates Shabbat and the holidays. And I’m finding that everyone I know with young families feels similar to me. Many of us took a break, but are coming full circle again. And, we all want our children to go to Jewish preschool.

I first got involved with a Connector program when I went to a challah demonstration where we learned about the meaning of challah. I’ve also been to numerous programs from a cooking demonstration around Passover, where we made different kinds of charoset, to Mom’s Night Out. I like meeting other Jewish families who I may not have been connected to otherwise.

We also receive PJ Library books. My daughter loves getting PJ Library books. One of our favorites was a book about Rosh Hashanah called Rosh Hashanah is Coming!, which we read every night for three months straight. We also loved Shabbat Shalom. She knew the song and we would sing it together.

I really like Rosh Hashanah. It’s the beginning of the New Year. I like the idea of a new start and a chance to reflect on what happened over the past year and think about what I might want to do differently.

We try to invite people who don’t have a place to go to our holiday table. One year, we had my husband’s law school friend who couldn’t go home. Everyone is always welcome.

Jewish traditions and values are very important to me. I really like that in the Jewish tradition we name our children after those who are no longer with us. My mom and Jared’s dad both passed away and our daughter, Bryn is named after both of them. My mother’s name was Shelley, Jared’s father was Bryan. My second child will be named after my grandparents, with whom I was very close. (Also named after Jared’s uncle… I never got to meet him as he passed away in the early 90s.)

DEBORAH LEVI LOWY: I grew up in Baltimore County and went to Krieger Schechter Day School. I live in Baltimore City with my husband, Eric, who was confirmed at Temple Oheb Shalom, and our two young sons.

I became involved with the Connector program because my family wanted to connect to other Jewish families and they offered downtown programming.

The Connectors are a family-oriented Jewish experience. The relaxed environment and the warmth from the connectors and families feels like a local chavurah group. Families come as they are (chaos and all) and can enjoy a Shabbat or Havdalah with other families in the community.

We see being Jewish as our ethnic background and culture. Both of our families were uprooted and heavily impacted by the Holocaust. Therefore, it is important to us that our boys know who they are, where their family came from and why.

We want to instill Jewish values in our children. We want them to grow up, be good people, and help this world. Of course, no different than any other parent.

I love a good bagel, lox and shmear. And I enjoy Break fast...not a holiday, I know...but it is when I can get my good shmear.

This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Women Take Charge: Roz Cornblatt
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Sara Malinow

For many, running a 5K is a rather challenging feat. For 73-year-old Roz Cornblatt, it was a goal that she was determined to complete.

In June of 2016, Cornblatt, proud mother, grandmother and Edward A. Myerberg fitness center regular, crossed the finish line of the Charm City Women’s Classic, to the rousing cheers of family and friends.

Euphoria is the one word Cornblatt used to describe that special moment. Recalling her lack of athleticism in school and her not-so-strong back, Cornblatt never saw running a 5K in her future, let alone finishing in 11th place for her age group. “I would have taken 20th place,” Cornblatt jokes. “But it’s not about where you finish, but that you finish.”

Cornblatt first got the idea to run the race from Ross Wilson, her personal trainer at The Myerberg Center. For the past two years, she’s worked with Wilson, coming in three days a week for one-hour sessions. He inspired her to be active each day and even ran the race with her, side-by-side, from start to finish.

“He changed my life completely with exercise,” Cornblatt says of Wilson. “I never would have thought I could have done it if it weren’t for Ross.”

Besides training on her own, walking around Meadowood Park or her neighborhood every day, Cornblatt owes much of her fitness success to The Myerberg.

“The Myerberg had a HUGE impact,” Cornblatt recalls. “It’s not just a gym, but a gym for seniors, and that makes a difference.” She remembers going to work out and seeing the trainers helping 80- and 90-year-olds reach their fitness goals. It was moments like these that inspired Cornblatt to set her own fitness goals and work to achieve them.

One year later and Cornblatt has already run another 5K and plans to start training again for another. She says that despite daily feelings of doubt, she kept going to prove to others and to herself that she could achieve her goals.

“Just do it,” she says. “Get off the sofa and move your body because the feeling is absolutely wonderful.”

Learn more at myerberg.org. This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

Women Take Charge: Meet Sarah David
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Sara Malinow

Attorney and new mother Sarah David was never one to get down on the floor with a group of kids and start teaching games. However, that is where she found herself when she visited the Kids Safe Zone in Baltimore City with The Associated’s Young Leadership Council (YLC). That visit caused her to realize the enormous potential of young children and the difference she could make in their lives.

With the help of JVC and the Kids Safe Zone, David created a VolunTeam program that educates these youngsters about various job possibilities. Underlying this mission is the realization that many of these youngsters have little exposure to the wide range of jobs in our communities.

Initially, David’s VolunTeam consisted of fellow prosecutors, members of the Baltimore City Bar Association, her YLC classmates and her own network. Over a six month period, they met bi-weekly with the group, talked about what they do and worked together on a mock trial that showcased a real world scenario.

Through her newfound connections and growing network over the past year, David, with the help of VolunTeam lawyer, Mark Edelson, has since expanded its VolunTeams to include other professionals, such as dentists, nurses, financial workers, even Under Armour employees.

“The idea is to try to expose these kids to as many jobs and opportunities as possible,” David says. “Networks are so important when it comes to success and we really want to build that for these kids and show them that ‘we have a connection for you.’”

David has always been a volunteer, whether as an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins University teaching civics in schools, tutoring English for Sudanese refugees while living in Cairo, mentoring children after school while working in the Counterterrorism Division of the New York City Police Department or tutoring at a Maryland prison for the Goucher Prison Education Partnership after law school. However, it was the children she met at the Kids Safe Zone, while simultaneously working as a prosecutor on a case that took place in the same neighborhood as the Kid Safe Zone, that inspired her to create a program where she could also make a lasting impact.

Now a mother to a five-month-old, David hopes to expand the VolunTeam further and provide these children with inspiration from as many occupations and outlets as possible.

“Every time I go, I’m impressed, excited and motivated by these kids and it is exciting to see what they take out of it each time,” she says.

To learn more about Sarah David’s VolunTeam contact her at sarahrdavid@gmail.com. Go to jvcbaltimore.org for volunteer opportunities. This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

You Gotta Have Friends!
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Carol Sorgen

“What would life be without friends?!” exclaims Randy Jacobs. “I’d be at a loss without my family and friends,” continues the 64-year-old Jacobs, who has known her best friend, Pam Schneider, virtually since birth. The two are just six months apart in age, grew up as next door neighbors, and now live around the corner from each other in Northwest Baltimore County. Not only are Jacobs and Schneider best friends, so too are their daughters.

Though Jacobs is long divorced and Schneider long married, that makes no difference in their relationship. “I’m one of the family,” says Jacobs. The two families even take an annual beach trip together every summer (though these days, with everyone’s busy schedule, it’s usually just the adults).

“She is my go-to person,” says Jacobs, director of operations at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. “She knows everything — and more — about me, and vice versa. She’s my rock.”

The two “besties,” as the young folks say, do have other friends as well. Jacobs has two pals whom she first met in fourth grade, and though she doesn’t see them as often as she sees Schneider, when she does, “time melts away.”

“And there’s never been a family event that we haven’t shared together,” Jacobs adds. “We’ll always be Ellen/Laurie/Randy…all one word,” referring to her grade school friends.

Jacobs has also always made it a priority to make new friends, especially since her married friends are not always available to join her on, say, a trip to Alaska.

But it’s her longtime friends who share her history (“they knew me when”), are part of her present, and, hopefully, will be there in the future to share in both the good times, such as a child’s wedding, and the sad times, such as the deaths of parents. “Friends mean support,” says Jacobs.

Good friends already know how helpful they can be to one another, but researchers are also extolling the benefits friendship can have on our health, observes Dr. Miriam Alexander, medical director of Employee Health and Wellness at LifeBridge Health.

“There is strong evidence that there are many physiological benefits of friendships,” says Alexander, noting that:

  • Friends can inspire each other to adopt healthier lifestyles.
  • Social ties reduce stress, which can lower blood pressure.
  • Hanging out with friends lowers the risk of depression.
  • Dementia is less common among folks who have strong social ties.
  • Support from friends can lower your risk of heart disease.

Developmental psychologist Susan Pinker, author of The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier and Smarter, also notes how friendships can give us more than just the “warm and fuzzies.”

“Those with a tightly connected circle of friends who regularly gather…are likely to live an average of 15 years longer than a loner,” says Pinker.

Pinker also observes that people with active social lives have greater physiological resilience and recover faster after an illness than those who are solitary. She cites a recent study of women with breast cancer which found that those with a large network of friends were four times as likely to survive as women with sparser social connections.

What researchers are beginning to find, Pinker explains, is that social contact switches on and off the genes that regulate our immune responses to cancer and the rate of tumor growth.

“Social connections are as protective as regular exercise,” says Pinker. “Those with the most face-to-face connections have a two-and-a-half-year survival advantage over those with the same disease who are isolated.

“A hug, a squeeze on the arm or a pat on the back lowers one’s physiological stress responses, which in turn, helps the body fight infection and inflammation,” she continues. “Being there in person is key.”

Which means, says Pinker, that while Facebook may help you reconnect with people from your past or even meet new friends, carrying on a friendship solely online will not provide you with the same physiological and emotional benefits that a night out with your BFF will.

In discussing friendships in these hectic times, Helene Cooper, a therapist at Jewish Community Services, shares concerns that many of us may consider our online friends to be a satisfactory substitute for the friends we used to spend time with in the real world, but have lost touch with over time.

“Online relationships have some value, but can’t take the place of spending time with people who genuinely care about us,” says Cooper. “The beauty of friendship is in tending to each other’s needs, sharing good times and hard times, feeling supported and valued, which is enhanced by spending time with the people who matter to us.”

“Be open to new friendships at every stage of life,” Cooper says, adding that “you’re never too old to make new friends.” Volunteering (consider The Associated), taking a yoga class, joining a book group, or a knitting club are just a few of the options to meet potential new friends who share your interests. “The beauty of friendship is having people in our life who care about us,” Cooper says.

That’s not to say that texting and social media don’t have their place. For community organizer Rachel Kutler, 29, who has spent the past year living in El Salvador, technology has helped her remain in almost constant contact with her friends in Baltimore and across the country. “I’m thousands of miles away but we haven’t lost touch at all.”

That’s important, says Kutler, because as she gets older she finds that she treasures her longtime friends even more. “When I was younger, I had a lot of different circles of friends,” says Kutler. “Now I have a core group of friends I’ve known for years. … they’re people I know and love and can count on.”

Kutler has also found that friendships go through stages; she’s now at the point where many of her friends have serious relationships — as does she — or are getting married, and they’re learning to incorporate the new partners and spouses into the friendship circle. “Being in a relationship means having friends in a way we haven’t experienced before,” she says.

For Melissa Shear Langer, 42, having young children and a busy career as an optometrist influences the amount of time she can spend with her friends. “It’s hard for us to see each other,” she admits, so, like Kutler, she and her friends supplement their occasional get-togethers with texting and social media.

While she’d like to spend more face-to-face time with her friends, Shear Langer says they all know that they’re there for each other, in happy times and in tough times. “My friends remind me of what’s important in life...to have fun, to laugh, and to realize we’re not alone.”

Getting older can also bring an end to friendships, whether through illness, death or simply a friend moving out of town to begin a new chapter in life.

For Nan Rosenthal, a special events planner, the past several years has seen the death of a very close friend she had had since their days together at Camp Louise, the illnesses and deaths of several other close friends, and the relocation out of state of other longtime friends.

These difficult changes have made Rosenthal treasure even more the many friends she does have, from camp friends to high school and college friends to friends she has met through her public relations career, her dance, theater and television experience, as well as her board positions and many volunteer activities.

“I have a wide range of friends,” says Rosenthal, “without regard to color, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, income or age … I choose my friends because I can trust them, have fun with them, learn from them and enjoy the many facets of these non-judgmental, interesting and loving relationships.”

“I feel very lucky to have such loyal and trusted friends in my life,” Rosenthal continues. “They are my support system and I am theirs, for which I am most grateful.”

The bottom line, says Cooper, is “to value the special and irreplaceable friends in your life, and to be open to growing in friendship with the new people you come across throughout the course of your daily living.”

This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

Love, Marriage and Religion: How Interfaith Families are Finding Their Way
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Sally Wolf

After 23 years of marriage to her husband Bill, Susan Fidel, who was raised Episcopalian, decided to take the Introduction to Judaism class, a seminar offered through the Jewish Community Center’s (JCC) Interfaith Baltimore program, prior to her formal conversion. Although she agreed to raise their two children, now 21 and 19, in the Jewish faith, it wasn’t until recently that Fidel felt the need to make it official herself.

“The Jewish religion is amazing. I fell in love with Judaism. It’s very simple. As a Jew you should emulate G-d and help out when needed,” Fidel says. “At services, everyone seemed happy to have me and recently made me a cake that read ‘Welcome to the Tribe’ for the Oneg held in my honor after I became Jewish.”

Fidel, who sits on the board of her synagogue, was given the Hebrew name Eliana, meaning my G-d has answered. She specifically chose the name for herself because she believes G-d really did answer her prayers. Fidel is hoping to have a Jewish ceremony to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary.

It used to be that marrying outside of your religion was rare, but in today’s society, outside of the Orthodox community, marrying partners with different faith and cultural backgrounds, like the Fidels’, has become more commonplace.

Since 2010, interfaith unions have steadily increased; four in 10 Americans reported being in a religiously mixed marriage, according to the findings from the 2014 Pew Forum Religious Landscape Study. This number is up 20 percent from 1960.

In 2013, recognizing the importance of addressing the needs of interfaith families, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and the JCC jointly launched a task force to examine opportunities to welcome, support and connect interfaith couples and families to Jewish life in the Baltimore community. As a result, the JCC launched programming and services to help Jewish families of all backgrounds feel inclusive without feeling different.

Now in her third year as program director for the Center for Jewish Life at the JCC, Lara Nicolson serves as a community concierge to those interfaith families who are looking for opportunities to explore and connect to Jewish life.

“Couples come to me because they feel the door is being closed elsewhere,” says Nicolson, who is in an interfaith marriage herself. “As a professional, I see the value in helping and supporting interfaith couples make Jewish choices important to them. Finding a way to welcome them and include them in the Jewish community means they will feel more connected.”

Navigating marriage and partnership, even in the best of times, often brings its fair share of challenges and compromises. So, what’s the secret to successfully merging families with two very different cultural and religious upbringings?

According to Nicolson, communication from the beginning of any relationship is paramount. “For me personally, my husband and I spoke early on about how we were going to blend our families. It was important for us to keep lines of communication open between our families and ourselves. Most importantly however, is knowing that we share common life values,” she says.

The Center for Jewish Life at the JCC offers a variety of classes about Judaism and Jewish family living and provides resources and support in a nurturing and inclusive environment to individuals and couples from all walks of life.

In 2010, Mark and Debbie Davis enrolled in the Introduction to Judaism class, and two years later, married in St. Michaels, MD. When they first started dating, Debbie, a practicing Christian, was actively involved in a small women’s study group that explored topics of interest dealing with the bible and theology and encouraged faithful conversation.

At the time, the women were discussing the book, The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, a groundbreaking book about Americans searching for faith and mutual respect. It seemed almost beshert then that Mark, a young Jewish professional from the Pikesville area, came into her life.

“Mark wanted to impress me when we first started seeing each other so he read The Faith Club in one week as a way of connecting to me through participation in our discussion group,” Debbie recalls.

“I would represent the Jewish faith and answer the group’s questions that I knew and I followed up later on those that I wasn’t sure of myself,” Mark adds.

According to Debbie, Mark instantly won them over and the two continued to challenge each other to personally apply the lessons they learned to daily life. This openness to inclusivity laid the foundation for what would become the cornerstone of their relationship — a union based on respect of their commonalities, as well as their differences.

“We never look at it as who is right and who is wrong,” explains Debbie, “but rather what can we learn from one another so we can grow stronger together.”

“We were then, and we are now, two people of faith with different religions. We feel lucky to have our families, on both sides, be supportive and open,” says Mark.

Both Debbie and Mark feel connected to Interfaith Baltimore and are working with Nicolson to help expand the program’s resources. They are looking forward to participating in the Love and Religion class, a program designed for all life cycles, and continuing to network and learn from others on similar paths.

Today, one-quarter of millennials (27 percent) say they were raised in a religiously mixed family. Recognizing the impact this can have on extended family members, particularly grandparents, makes programs such as those offered at the Center for Jewish Life even more relevant.

Sharyn Stein, former director of the JCC’s preschool and kindergarten program, served as a facilitator to one of the early “Grandparents Circle” seminars. Stein, a recently retired school counselor and mother of three adult children — all of whom are in mixed faith marriages — stressed the importance of keeping an open mind.

“It’s important to judge the choice of your child based on what you see in front of you, not by religion,” says Stein. “Get to know why your child chose the person they chose and have faith in your child.”

The interfaith grandparents program today helps empower participants to share with their children and grandchildren their Jewish traditions and values in a loving and open manner without crossing boundaries. The three-session seminar provides support to Jewish seniors who may need guidance in dealing with sensitive issues regarding religion, heritage and culture.

Stein says in her family they approach the holidays with a huge amount of sensitivity. “We try to make sure everyone is included and participates in all festivities, perhaps with a different cultural slant,” she explains. “It is important to all of us that diversity and acceptance be part of our value system and we respect everyone’s differences.”

Visit the interfaith website at interfaithbaltimore.org for more information or questions about programming, resources and support. This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

Packing a Philanthropic Punch: Women as Influencers
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Melissa Gerr

Twenty-first century women are a force to be reckoned with, wielding more financial power and holding high profile leadership roles now more than ever before. That status extends into the world of Jewish philanthropy too, where women’s giving is still “the jewel on the crown” of federation contributions, according to Andrea Wasserman, founder and president of Social Profit Ventures.

For now, Wasserman says, conventional outreach strategies still work to keep women engaged, citing data from her nationwide delve into women’s gift giving trends. But it seems their daughters — the next generation of benefactors — approach the experience of “giving” within a community differently. She asserts institutions might be well served to customize philanthropic involvement so that younger women will stay involved.

Emily Taylor is a case in point. The mother of toddler twins, Taylor opened her audiology practice in 2013, but didn’t simply hang up a shingle and invite patients in. She set out with the additional mission of giving back to the community. “I didn’t know what that would look like at the time, I just knew that was important to me,” she says.

Now, Taylor Listening Center donates refurbished hearing aids to those for whom cost might be a barrier. Thy also donate the funds from every hearing aid test they perform to a different nonprofit each month. Recently, Taylor added The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s collaborative giving fund, the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF), to her philanthropic list.

A giving circle that empowers women as funders, decision makers and agents of change, JWGF members each contribute the same amount to a community fund, and each woman has an equal voice in directing the grant making decisions. JWGF focuses its grant-making on women and children.

Taylor and her husband, Ross, give as a couple “but I wanted this to be a check [to JWGF] from me. I was excited to pick something that’s really important to me, making the decisions and seeing where [my donation] went.”

Amy Harlan, a serial volunteer, a Lion of Judah level donor and 10-plus-year JWGF veteran, agrees. “JWGF is like, ‘ok team, we’ve got all this money, let’s make something happen,’” referring to how the group leverages the women’s donations into a larger sum. She loves going on visits to see nonprofits’ work and describes the caliber of women in the group as “intelligent and thoughtful.”

But it’s important too, for Harlan to “get her hands dirty,” and she does, quite literally, volunteer gardening with aphasia patients. She also gives rides to seniors through CHAI’s Northwest Neighbors Connecting.

“I like to spend my volunteer time with organizations that pull at my heartstrings and hopefully make a difference,” says Orlee Engler Kahn, a Jewish Community Services board member and its Associated liaison.

Kahn also negotiates giving with her husband, Jeffrey, and says, “I think it’s very empowering, as a woman, to give as an individual. Even when you’re married, it’s important to make some philanthropic decisions in your own name.”

A graduate of Chapter Two, The Associated’s 10-month educational and engagement program, Kahn is also the director of planned giving at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, so she offers a bilateral perspective. She notices women, including herself, gravitating toward philanthropy that “concerns families, women, children, education, domestic abuse and other issues that affect those populations.”

“What I also see is women assuming more leadership and taking charge of their philanthropic dollars. With their own portfolios and their own investments, women are recognizing how they can truly affect change with their philanthropy and their resources,” she says.

But, heeds Wasserman, “younger women who have more discretion and influence of how money is spent are saying, ‘I want my influence to be felt, I want my leadership to be felt. … The gift is emblematic of a commitment that I and my family are making, but I’m more than just a women’s gift.’”

Wasserman also cites differences between men’s and women’s giving as “transactional versus relational,” so offering opportunities for deeper involvement to decide where dollars go is a big appeal all around. She also lauds federations for “building a sisterhood of women doing great things in the Jewish world,” from which Taylor feels the effects.

“I’m learning from them and learning other ways to give back,” Taylor says. “And they’re busy women who are making time to do this too, because [giving back to the community] is so important to them.”

Above all, “I think it’s important that everybody give,” Harlan says. “Whether you’re a millionaire or someone who’s struggling and can only give a little bit, it feels like you’re contributing to the greater good.”

This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

Meet Sally Davis
Monday, November 06, 2017

In the excitement and anticipation of gift opening, we can all shamefully admit that the card, the most genuine and personalized part of any gift, is often the last thing on our minds in the birthday gift ripping race.

But, for those living with so little, it is often not what is beneath the wrapping, ribbons, bows or cards that is important but simply the wrapping, ribbons, bows and cards themselves.

For VolunTeam leader Sally Davis, it was this experience that fueled her desire to celebrate those who often go uncelebrated.

Davis, a Philadelphia-raised, Goucher-graduate, part-time dentist and proud mother of two, started a VolunTeam effort through Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) to provide birthday parties to children living at the Sarah’s Hope Hannah More shelter.

Her inspiration came from an article she read in a Southwest airplane magazine titled, “Birthday Party Project.” She described it as a piece about birthday parties at homeless shelters that are devoted to changing a child’s life.

With several years of involvement, service and leadership under her belt, having been a part of ACHARAI cohort V, on the board and as the chair at Goucher College’s Hillel, a volunteer at Beth Tfiloh, and a board member and part of the VolunTeam at JVC, she reached out to Ashley Pressman and Erica Bloom to jumpstart her idea. Luckily, Bloom had a contact at Sarah’s Hope shelter and reached out to see if this was a concept that could be actualized.

After months of preparation, coordinating with the shelter and approaching the community for donations, Davis and her VolunTeam held their first birthday party for those celebrating July birthdays at the Sarah’s Hope shelter. The party was filled with decorations donated from area retailers. Davis’ VolunTeam, whom she calls her ‘Party Pals,’ provided each child with a goodie bag filled with toys and treats.

Davis recalls the smile on one birthday boy’s face when he received his very own present with a card reading “Happy Birthday Chris” in big, bold letters. “He was so excited his name was on it,” Davis remembers. “It wasn’t about what was beneath the wrapping but the fact that we had made him feel special.”

For Davis and the other volunteers, that was the moment that validated all their time and effort.

Niki Barr Talks About Myerberg’s New Brain Fitness Class
Friday, November 03, 2017

For the past five years, Niki Barr has worked at the Edward A. Myerberg Center as a personal trainer for older adults. During this time, she’s gained numerous certifications to help her adapt exercise to meet the specific needs of her clients. For example, she is trained to instruct Rock Steady Boxing designed for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Recognizing the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Barr realized the huge need to promote physical activity to improve brain health. This summer, Barr became an Alzheimer’s disease prevention and intervention specialist with the Medical Fitness Network and Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation.

The program, which focuses on brain health, spurred her to introduce brain fitness classes to The Myerberg Center to help members prevent or slow the progression of dementia. It’s one of the few such programs in the region.

What did you learn this summer? We know that exercise is so important to brain health, but there is so much more we can be doing to prevent dementia. Research has shown that dementia prevention should focus on four key areas – diet, stress management, exercise and brain stimulation. For example, clinical research has shown that practicing relaxation techniques, specifically Kirtan Kriya, for 12 minutes a day activates parts of the brain essential to cognition.

I heard that Myerberg is offering a brain health class that will include these four key areas. This 60-minute class, which will be held for 16 weeks, is unique in that it combines many of the components shown to preserve brain health. The class will include physical exercises and brain aerobics to improve neuroplasticity. There will also be a social component, which is a big part of brain health.

What's the social component? We will encourage participants to interact and be social. If participants don’t currently volunteer, we will recommend local places to volunteer, as this is not only another social outlet, but it gives purpose and stimulates mood.

Who is this class good for? Not only is this class good for older adults who want to preserve their brain health, but it’s great for those at risk of developing dementia and their loved ones. For those who have been diagnosed with early-stage dementia, this class may prevent the dementia from progressing as quickly.

What else should we be doing to prevent Alzheimer’s? Diet is also very important. The Mediterranean or DASH Diet are healthy ways to eat. Walking is also great and it is recommended you walk at least 20 minutes a day. Research shows that walking with friends and talking keeps the mind stimulated.

The brain fitness class will begin in January and registration will open in December. Go to Myerberg.org or call 410-358-6856 to learn more. The Myerberg Center is a program of CHAI, an agency of The Associated.

This story originally appeared in the November issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

What to Expect from Your Infant Toddler Care Provider: A Day in the Life
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

 

A day in the life of an infant or toddler should be full of joy and wonder. When you arrive at your chosen childcare facility, check in and greet your child’s teachers. Inquiring providers will want to know: is everything ok with your child’s health, how was your child’s night, do you have any daily scheduling notes – for napping, feeding -- that you wish to share?

The arrival and greeting at your child care center is of critical importance – here is when your child learns to separate from you and integrate into the group. Separation is a process, and not always an easy one.

Following greetings and parent departure, your child may participate in feeding and engage in some free play with friends. He or she may also nap if necessary. This is always a great time for your provider to encourage self-help skills such as holding the bottle, tummy time, rolling over and sitting up.

Sensory activities may often take place in the morning, as well as throughout the day. These may include exploring snow or crushing leaves. Or, your children explore a variety of new textures such as tape, sandpaper, warm or cold water, or ice cubes. They might finger paint or explore musical instruments and play with shakers that make different sounds. All of these activities are great for your child’s brain growth and development, experiential learning, making sense of the world around them, as well as building self-confidence and independence.

Further opportunities for brain development, routine building, socialization, group participation and individual exploration abound with singing, puppets, instruments, music and movement. For these occasions, providers often try to keep the child with the group but they are allowed to explore on their own if they so wish.

The provider’s goal, throughout the day, must be to have your child feel secure in an environment where his/her needs are met.

Taking time out for gross motor activities are also so important. Your provider should encourage lots of developmentally appropriate activities that enable your baby to lie on their tummy, move their head from side to side, roll, scoot, crawl, pull up, reach for objects, walk, pick up toys, fill and dump. Anything goes: rolling on a yoga ball, clapping, dancing!

Your child will develop at his/her own rate while working on appropriate milestones, with support as needed.

Your child’s observation skills and sensory experiences should also include a great deal of outdoor exploration time, such as crawling or walking in an appropriate playground. This provides a great change of scenery, fresh air, and an opportunity to explore the environment. Children learn through play – so let them play!

Sharon Seigel, interim director of the Stoler Early Childhood Education Center of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, is excited to welcome parents to the Stoler’s new Infant Toddler Center opening November 1, 2017.

Seigel’s vision is “to create a community where teachers, children and families grow together, a community based on mutual respect, joy and wonder.”

The J’s new infant/toddler program will be for children ages 3-24 months. It is a Maryland State Department of Education licensed school, staffed by MSDE-certified teachers and features beautiful, state-of-the-art furnishings. It is designed to provide seamless transitions to preschool.

“Infant and toddler providers, here and elsewhere, know that each child is unique, and that their strengths, needs and interests must be addressed through an integrated, developmentally appropriate curriculum designed to promote positive self-esteem,” says Seigel, “It is our philosophy that learning through play, coupled with hands on experiences, creates a caring community of learners.”

Meet Dov Frankel
Monday, October 30, 2017

Emergency Room Physician. Community Connector.

Dov Frankel, MD, is an emergency medicine physician affiliated with Greater Baltimore Medical Center. A native of Montreal, Canada, Dov attended Towson State University and Ner Israel Rabbinical College for his undergraduate degree, obtained his MSc from McGill University in and his MD from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in collaboration with Columbia University. Returning to Baltimore, he joined Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD nine years ago where he served as Assistant Director of Sinai ER-7. Married for 24+ years to Atara Frankel, the couple have raised five children with their first grandchild on the way.

Why emergency medicine? What do you love most about the work that you do?

Great question. I love everything about medicine. When I was doing my trauma rotation as a medical student, I was encouraged to apply for emergency medicine. I knew I would miss the operating room, but the ER gives me much better work/life balance and more time for family.

I love the diversity of my days—the fast speed environment in which you need think and make a decision, instantly. The constant need to make life threatening decisions in a very short time. And, I truly love the ability to meet so many patients and different people from all walks of life. Every day is new, exciting and different.

How has your life experience and career made you the community leader you are today?

Throughout my career in emergency medicine, I was always one the few religious orthodox physicians in the Emergency Department. The gateway to every person’s medical problems is through the emergency room. I get phone calls all day, every day, from community leaders—rabbis and community physicians – who have questions about their congregants or patients in my care. I see myself as the connector.

What is your Associated journey and why is giving back important to you?

My journey is simple. It started about 10 years ago when we first moved back to Baltimore. My wife and I were on a coffee date with Yehuda Neuberger at the Starbucks in Mt. Washington. He told us we were going to be involved in The Associated – and give of our time and our money. And so, we got involved.

The breadth of what the Associated is doing to help the vast Jewish community – and Baltimore– is truly astounding. From helping the Jewish day schools, the agencies and programs, to rebuilding the greater Baltimore community, The Associated is our voice for Jewish Baltimore. Who doesn’t want to be part of a winning team?

Tell me about the upcoming Maimonides Society panel and your involvement.

The panel will address questions about end-of-life care patients receive through hospice that are sensitive to Jewish customs, rituals and laws. I find end-of-life care decisions fascinating because of the work I do. When someone is really, sick, they come to the emergency department. As their physician, I am faced with the decision, ‘Do I or do I not intubate this person?’ I have seconds to make these decisions. In Jewish law, once you put a person on a life-support machine, it is very difficult to take them off.

In the Jewish faith, we don’t always talk about cancer or end of life issues… and no one talks about the power of attorney until it’s too late. If a patient comes into the emergency room and doesn’t have any papers… I must do whatever I can to save their life, even though it may not be the right decision for this patient at this time. If someone is truly on their last breath, it’s okay in Jewish religion to keep them comfortable and let them die in peace and dignity. These are the conversations we’ll be focusing on in this panel.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not working, I’m…

Working. There is really no such thing as not working for me. Even when I’m on vacation, it’s a constant barrage of people from the community contacting me. I am always available. And, that’s fine with me because that is the life I’ve chosen. I want to help people medically, and that means being available. When I’m not working...I’m running. Or, I’m biking with my wife. And, hanging out with my children. And of course, finding time for my Talmudic study.

New Baltimore Ashkelon Volunteer Team to Provide Help During Israeli Crises
Friday, October 27, 2017

 

When Scott Goldstein, Captain of the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company, got the call from the director of U.S. operations for Israel’s Emergency Volunteers Project (EVP), he knew immediately what he had to do. He quickly packed his bags, cleared his schedule and within 24 hours was on a plane to Israel, prepared to fight the fires raging throughout the north of Israel.

Goldstein, who is the EVP regional coordinator for Baltimore, will never forget the power of working alongside Israeli and U.S. first responders, 7,000 miles from home. Recognizing that Israel is a small country with limited resources, he knew that every firefighter made an enormous difference in the outcome and was grateful for the support of The Associated, which funded the deployment.

“In Baltimore County, in times of crises, we can call on other jurisdictions like Baltimore City or Anne Arundel County to help out. Yet in Israel, there is no one else to call upon. That’s why EVP volunteers are so critical,” says Goldstein.

This fall, firefighters, healthcare professionals (physicians, nurses, paramedics, physicians’ assistants) and community members are invited to become certified by EVP so they too can join a new Baltimore-Ashkelon Emergency Response Team, ready at a moment’s notice to respond to any crises in Ashkelon and throughout Israel.

It’s all thanks to a grant by The Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, which connects Baltimoreans to their counterparts in Ashkelon, Israel. If deployed, the Baltimore team will work closely with the community and their peers in Baltimore’s sister city, with medical professionals assigned to the Barzilai Hospital there.

“We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to build upon the people-to-people connections between Baltimore and Ashkelon,” said Gail Green, funding chair of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. “While many of our programs in the past focused on connections between kids and teenagers, this is an exciting opportunity to connect adults from the two communities.”

“When crises arise, many people want to do more than just give money,” adds Adi Zahavi, EVP founder and CEO. “This is a chance for them to put their feet on the ground, take action and save lives.”

To become certified, participants must attend a day-long training on November 19 at the Carroll County Public Training Facility. The training will be conducted by emergency personnel from Ashkelon and across Israel, including medical professionals from Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, EVP trainers, senior officers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Search and Rescue teams and firefighters from the Israeli Fire and Rescue Service. It will include an overview of Israeli emergency protocols and emergency work methods as well as hands-on simulations, geared toward each professional group in order to certify the volunteers as emergency responders in Israel.

In addition, for the first time, EVP will create a mock “destruction site”— a rubble pile to simulate an earthquake or bomb—and professionals will work together in a critical search and rescue operation. This simulation, led by the IDF Search and Rescue officers, is expected to become a model and replicated in EVP trainings across the country.

“We work closely with the Israeli government who know that they are getting well-trained volunteers who can hit the ground running when they arrive,” says Billy Hirth, U.S. chief of operations for EVP.

Zahavi adds that the organization coordinates with U.S. government entities like the American embassy, the National Guard and others when the first responders are activated for deployments to Israel.

EVP was established in 2009 to create trained and certified volunteer teams that will deploy to Israel in times of crises. Since then the non-profit organization has brought over 65 deployments to the State of Israel, during conflicts such as Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza conflict, and Operation Fire and Water, the 2016 fires.

EVP currently operates in nine U.S. communities from California to New York. According to Goldstein, Baltimore’s team will be the second predominately Jewish volunteer group in the country. This speaks volumes about the various religions represented in the organization.

Goldstein, cannot say enough about how grateful he is that The Associated is supporting this project.

“I see this as a natural partnership between two organizations who are working toward a similar goal – to benefit and protect the State of Israel.”

Adds Green, “For anyone who has a love of Israel, this is an amazing opportunity to really make a difference and save lives.”

To learn more about the Baltimore-Ashkelon Emergency Response Team and to register, please click here.

Baby Boomers and Depression
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

By Lori Lickstein, MSW, LGSW
Therapist, Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Did you know that one of the most chronic conditions that baby boomers are diagnosed with is depression? In fact, more boomers suffer from depression than hypertension, according to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH).

Depression is often thought of as an invisible disease, yet it takes many forms such as insomnia, relationship difficulties, lack of hope and joy. Factors contributing to baby boomer depression include empty nest syndrome long work hours, reduced chances for career advancement, caring for children, grandchildren and elderly family members, health issues, worries about lack of resources for retirement, and isolation.

As people age it is natural to look forward to retiring and focusing on things that are pleasurable. Yet, a recent study by the Institute of Economic Affairs found the likelihood someone will suffer from clinical depression increases by 40 percent after retirement. Aging includes physical changes, life changes and male and female hormonal changes all affecting mood and mental health.

So, what can be done to head off depression as people age? It is natural to become distracted focusing on endless to do lists rather than being present in the moment. The challenge is finding a way to slow down.

  • Get enough sleep at night. Sleep hygiene is as important to our mental health and physical health as grooming and good nutrition, so create a sleep routine which includes turning off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Skipping meals and poor nutrition can negatively impact health in many ways, both mental and physical.
  • Avoid alcohol at least six hours before sleep. Alcohol prevents REM sleep, aggravates breathing problems and causes dehydration.
  • Get up, get dressed, and get moving. Taking a daily walk increases circulation and releases hormones that make you feel better. Try some form of physical activity even if you can’t get to the gym.
  • Get creative and explore interests. Take a trip, start writing, study photography or explore nature. Seeing the world, or even taking a car ride, helps keep the mind active.
  • Reach out to friends or make new ones. Isolation can lead to loneliness and depression. Connecting with others can be exciting and can lead to a sense of community and belonging.
  • Volunteer your time. Helping others improves mood and creates a purpose. Many people end up finding themselves by helping others, whether is it with animals, nature or people.
  • Take time to be present and mindful. There are interesting and exciting new moments to experience every day. By engaging and being mindful people tend to feel better.
  • Forgive and let go. Realize there’s no need to hold onto the pain. Letting go can help find a clearer connection with life and one’s purpose. Baby Boomers need to realize that although life has changed, it can still be worthwhile. It is natural to become distracted focusing on endless ‘to do’ lists rather than being present in the moment.

Concentrate on the here and now so that you’re not just hearing someone, but listening to them. Being present leads people to learning more about themselves and becoming a better friend to themselves and others.

Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated, provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors.

Hang Out at Moishe House
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Where can you find the hub of the young Jewish community in downtown Baltimore? Look no further than Moishe House. Located in Canton, Moishe House brings together the vibrant, young Jewish community of the metropolitan Baltimore area.

Get to know the residents of Moishe House: Linda Bucay, a transplant from Mexico City who studied and now works at Johns Hopkins; Gabe Davidson, who recently moved to Baltimore for a teaching program; Rachel Dechowitz, a Pikesville native who works in orthopaedics at Union Memorial Hospital; and Hana Feiner, a Baltimore newbie who works at UMBC Hillel.

What brought you to Moishe House?

Linda: I previously worked on several Jewish organizations and I am really excited to be a Moishe House resident, contributing to the the creation of a diverse and vibrant young Jewish community.

Gabe: I came to Moishe House because of people I met who told me about engaging and enjoyable events for young Jewish professionals that were happening in Baltimore under this organization.

Rachel: I first heard about Moishe House through Vadim who was a resident in the house. I have known him since I was about 5 years old and he told me about a few events.

Hana: I just moved to Baltimore in August, and joining Moishe House was an amazing opportunity I could not pass up. Organizing events has been a great way for me to make friends and grow my network in a new city, while being able to contribute to building and strengthening the Baltimore Jewish young adult community.

What's your favorite thing about young Jewish Baltimore?

Linda: I am relatively new in the community, but so far, I love how diverse the Jewish community in Baltimore is.

Gabe: I have sensed that other community leaders like myself are devoted to collaboration with other like-minded people and organizations. This is something beneficial if we are to most effectively engage our audiences.

Rachel: My favorite thing about young Jewish Baltimore is how small our Jewish geography is. Everybody knows everyone in some way, shape or form.

Hana: My favorite thing (in addition to all of the kind and welcoming people) is the variety of partnerships and all of the support between the many Baltimore Jewish young adult organizations.

How do you envision the year ahead at Moishe House?

Linda: This year we will be hosting different events aiming to create meaningful conversations and great experiences for our community members. Moishe House was created to find a way for young Jews to gather and learn from one another, and we have the resources and support to make that happen. We look forward to this new beginning in our new location and into new and creative ways to engage our peers!

Gabe: It will be an exciting one with a diverse array of events in which we seek to engage our community socially, spiritually, intellectually and personally as we traverse our respective Jewish journeys.

Rachel: I envision the year ahead at the Moishe House as a fresh start. This past August we moved our location of the house and welcomed new residents. I hope we are able to build a stronger community with new residents as well as bring in new community members and creative ideas.

Hana: I envision the year as a collaboration between Moishe House, our community members and other Jewish young adult organizations. We would love to hear your feedback on our events thus far and work together to make your event ideas come to fruition!

Tell me about your ideal Shabbat.

Linda: I love our Shabbat dinners because each one of them offers a different experience for our guests. My ideal Shabbat has great food, music, and most importantly, is formed by a community of reciprocity, where members both gain from and contribute to our network with their ideas, presence and energy.

Gabe: My ideal Shabbat would be in nature – the desert to be exact. The sky would be clear, and the presence of stars in the sky would be abundant. It would be preceded by a Kabbalat Shabbat with Shlomo Carlebach melodies, and followed by a dinner with drinks, engaging, intellectually stimulating conversation and splendid fare.

Rachel: My ideal Shabbat would be preparing all of the food the day before so when Shabbat comes around all we have to do is put it in the oven to be re-heated. I would love to bake my own challah and make the classic maztah ball soup to go along with it. Can’t forget about the Kosher-style chicken from 7-Mile Market – it’s just the best!

Hana: My ideal Shabbat includes a Friday night musical service (camp style), a home-cooked Shabbat dinner (matzo ball soup is a must, of course), hanging out with friends, sleeping in, an alternative service involving hiking/nature and Havdallah.

Check out more about Moishe House on Facebook, or email them at moishehousebaltimore@gmail.com. And, don't forget to join them at their next event – a comedy show featuring Michael Capozzola, a Jewish comedian, on Sunday, November 12.

Ancient Beauty, Modern Spirit: A Women’s Journey to Israel
Wednesday, October 04, 2017

 

For Barbara Hyatt and Esther Jacobson, co-chairing a women’s mission to Israel for Associated Women presented a unique opportunity that neither could pass up. Both had been to Israel once before as adults on other organized trips and came home wanting more. Each relished the chance to once again experience the beauty and wonder of Israel with other women who share their passion.

“When I left Israel the first time, I said ‘I have to come back,’ I am just drawn to it,” recalled Esther, whose first trip to Israel was a Hadassah mission six years ago, with her husband, Ed. “My husband and I were both affected by the trip. We came home very inspired and very invested in Israel and its future.”

Barbara and Esther are leading a group of women from our community to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashkelon and Zichron Yaakov to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary among Israel’s people on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day). Running April 15-23, 2018, this is the first locally-organized women’s mission offered by The Associated in 10 years.

The trip will include such popular Israeli sites as Yad Vashem, Masada, the Dead Sea and the Machane Yehuda market, plus unique experiences such as a fashion tour in Tel Aviv, an emotional ceremony with the fiancées of fallen soldiers and a volunteer project in our partnership city, Ashkelon.

While the trip is geared to both first-timers and veteran travelers alike, Barbara and Esther are especially excited to share the experience with other women visiting Israel for their first time. Both vividly remember how it felt to first step onto the soil of the Jewish homeland.

For Barbara, standing on Mount Scopus with the other women from Baltimore who traveled with her on a national Heart to Heart mission and reciting the Shehecheyanu to mark the occasion was deeply moving. “I was pinching myself and asking, ‘am I really here?’”

A fan of historical and biblical fiction, Esther was moved by her visits to Independence Hall, “the room where it happened,” Masada and the Dead Sea. “I was fascinated by being at the site of Israel’s founding and blown away by walking in the desert, harkening back to the Bible and Moses.”

Both women recall fondly the incredible colors, smells and tastes of the food in Israel, particularly in the stalls of the shuk. “The colors really come alive and are so vibrant,” Barbara said.

As chairs for the mission, Barbara and Esther are enjoying the opportunity to talk to others about what it’s like to travel with a group of women and see the wonders of Israel through a female lens. “As women, we see things differently and feel the experiences very deeply,” Barbara said. “We have a natural tendency to nurture and it will be very meaningful to see how our support as women philanthropists has helped care for the people and the country of Israel.”

Limited space is still available on the women’s mission. Women interested in learning more are encouraged to visit associated.org/womensmission or contact Melinda Michel at 410-369-9289 or mmichel@associated.org.

It's a Scary World
Wednesday, October 04, 2017

 

Gunfire from a high-rise hotel rains down on a crowd at an open air country music festival on the Las Vegas strip.

The horror that played out late Sunday night is a nightmare you hope would never happen. If you’re the parent of a young child, all your protective instincts are on high alert. But when everyone is talking about the shootings, you can’t shield children from hearing about it. How in the world do you explain such random violence to children, and keep their natural fears from overwhelming them?

We posed these questions to Loren Walsh, MA, at Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, who shared excellent advice for parents.

Listen: Violent incidents like the Las Vegas shooting that happen in places we normally perceive as safe (concerts, movie theatres, schools, stores) are very frightening to children. You first need to find out exactly what fears your children have.This means listening carefully, without jumping in to interpret or reassure them. Let them express what they are scared of in their own words.

After a violent event, children most often worry that it could happen again anywhere, not only in the kind of place where it just happened. They also want to know: “Will it happen to us?”

Every child reacts differently to fear or trauma, so talk to each of your children to learn what’s on their minds. Don’t dismiss or minimize their fears. Children also observe our reactions, and they’ll be more upset if we “lose our cool” or convey our own anxiety when discussing a violent event with them, or if they overhear us talking about it on the phone. How we portray the event affects how our kids react.

Reassure: Without dwelling on the details with a young child, it’s fine to acknowledge that the Las Vegas shooting is frightening, and that we are sad for the victims, their families and the community. Tell your child that, yes, this did happen, and there are bad people in the world, but such occurrences are rare. Explain that many people are working to keep us safe, including parents, teachers, police, and neighbors. Be available to your child more than usual during the days after the incident to provide comfort and reassurance.

Here are some tips:

Take control of the information your child is getting and from what sources. All kinds of partial, inaccurate, and skewed information swirls around after a violent incident. Kids pick it up at school, on the playground, in playmates’ homes, as well as in the media. Ask your child, “What have you heard? Do you have questions?”

Don’t make the media so accessible to young children. You can turn off the TV or radio, and tell your child the news yourself, in words appropriate for his/her ability to understand and absorb it. Think about how you would want bad news broken to you: with empathy and sensitivity. If you choose to allow your child to watch or listen, don’t leave him alone. Watch together, explain what is happening and talk about it.

If your child is quiet, look for opportunities to bring up what has happened. Just because a child isn’t talking or asking doesn’t mean the child is unaware and unaffected. A good conversation starter is: “Have you heard about…?” or bring it up in the car, when you are together in an enclosed space.

Look for signs of stress, especially changes in usual behavior.Watch for indications that your child may be fearful or anxious, such as trouble sleeping, bad dreams, changes in appetite, not wanting to be alone in the dark, difficulty concentrating, etc.

Seek professional help if these problems persist and interfere with your child’s normal functioning, by consulting a physician, psychologist or social worker.

In a scary world where we can’t control everything that happens, one thing we parents can do is to make home a safe haven for our children. Communication is the best form of reassurance. And don’t forget to give lots of hugs, no matter how old your child is.

Navigating School After an Adverse Life Event
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

 

Back to school season can be incredibly stressful but becomes even more complicated when a child is confronting an adverse life event. Whether it’s divorce, abuse, bullying or even a move to a new home, these events can impact school success.

Experiencing traumatic events is surprisingly common. According to a report by the Center for Healthy Kids and School, 68 percent of children and adolescents experienced at least one potentially traumatic event by age 16, and data suggests that every classroom has at least one student affected by trauma.

Unfortunately, research shows that these adverse life events impact behavior. Children may demonstrate a wide range of symptoms including irritability, aggressiveness and withdrawal. As many of these symptoms can mimic other behavioral diagnosis such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) it’s important that parents inform teachers of what’s happening in their child’s lives to help them better navigate potential school issues.

“Parents don’t need to let teachers know all the details of their family life,” explains Stacey Meadows, manager of child therapy services at Jewish Community Services (JCS), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. “But by letting teachers know that there may be things going on in a student’s life that could cause he or she to be more irritable or withdrawn, and by providing them with insights into what works at home, it can help teachers be more understanding and respond more effectively to a situation.”

“If something comes up in class, a teacher can be a student’s ally,” adds Shmuel Fischler, director of outreach and advocacy at CHANA. “And if they know that something is going on in the home, they can be responsive when a child may need to take a break, is clingy, acts out, or needs to step out of the classroom if a topic being discussed is distressing.”

Three years ago CHANA partnered with the Magen Yeladim Safety Kid program to address how to protect students from abuse. One component of the program included training teachers and administrators in Jewish day schools on signs of trauma and abuse.

Yet parents need to remember that teachers are not therapists. If a student is struggling because something is going on in his or her life, parents should seek professional help. Therapists also can become allies if the behaviors associated with a situational adverse life event, such as anxiety, becomes chronic. They often are advocates in a 504 plan or IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) to ensure that public school students with a disability receive the specialized services they need.

JCS provides experienced professionals who can help children and parents navigate these challenges and CHANA’s Shofar Coalition is a network of therapists trained in trauma and sexual abuse. CHANA also is currently organizing parent support groups for parent(s) of children who have gone through crisis. The first one will take place toward the end of October.

For more information go to jcsbaltimore.org or chanabaltimore.org or contact Shmuel Fischler at 410-234-0030 about the parent support groups.

Tammy and Fred Heyman Take on Super Sunday
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

 

From the first time they met, as part of the JCC Softball League, Fred and Tammy Heyman realized how similar their values were. Proud of their Jewish identity, as a young married couple they were committed to making Judaism a central part of their lives.

Over the years the couple raised two children, Ethan and Adam, in a Jewish home filled with Jewish holiday celebrations and Jewish education. They also committed to Jewish philanthropy, and this year chair The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Super Sunday, the Baltimore Jewish community’s largest fundraiser, on Oct. 29.

What shaped your Jewish identity?

Fred: I grew up in Baltimore in a traditional Jewish home. My family attended Beth El Congregation and I went to Hebrew school where I became a bar mitzvah. However, most of my youth was spent on the baseball field playing with mostly non-Jewish athletes. It was very important for my parents that I maintained my Jewish identity.

Tammy: I grew up in Pittsburgh in a strong Zionist home. Israel was always part of the discussion and my family supported it and made us realize why there needed to be a Jewish homeland. I was the first person in my family to go to Israel – I went when I was 15 – and my world shifted. I fell in love with the country and what it means to us as Jews.

Tell me about Israel?

Tammy: I love Israel and have been there five times. We went as a family and our children have also been there many times. We also hosted shinshinim (Israeli emissaries) as part of the [Macks] CJE program.

You’ve been involved with The Associated for many years. When you talk to your friends, what surprised them most?

Tammy: I don’t think everyone realizes how much The Associated touches our community. From the kid on the Maccabi team to the teen involved in leadership programs to the adult who needs help with vocational counseling, The Associated is there.

Fred: It’s an organization that literally works 24/7, not just 9 to 5. Every day, The Associated and its agencies are providing lifelines to so many of our most vulnerable community members not just here in Baltimore, but around the world.

You are co-chairs of this year’s Super Sunday.

Tammy: This is such an important day for Jewish Baltimore. It’s the jump-start to The Associated’s Annual Campaign. I want people to realize that in today’s world of robo-calls and telemarketing calls that are easy to ignore, this call is important to take. The money raised makes a huge difference to our community.

Fred: We want you to know that every dollar counts in terms of moving the needle. It is so important for Jews to help other Jews and it is reassuring to know that there is a safety net in our community.

Lastly, you’re known for your holiday gatherings?

Tammy and Fred: Nothing makes us happier than seeing a table filled with laughter and love celebrating the holidays!

Welcome Shinshinim, Aviya and Benny
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

 

Shinshinim, young Israeli emissaries, complete a “Year of Service” before entering the Israeli army. They live and work in Jewish communities around the world teaching students and community members about Israeli life and culture. We are so privileged to have Aviya and Benny in Baltimore this year.

Get to know this year’s shinshinim: Aviya and Benny! And we hope you get to meet them in person too…

Where in Israel are you from?

  Aviya: I’m from Ashkelon, the best city in Israel!

Benny: I am from Ashkelon.

Where’s one place in Israel you recommend everyone to visit/must see?

Aviya: Wow… Mitzpe Ramon is definitely one of the beautiful places in Israel. It’s a town in the Negev desert of southern Israel and the views are incredible! I went hiking there every year with the Israeli Scouts.

Benny: The place I recommend everyone to visit is the National Park in Ashkelon. I grew up near the park and almost every day of the summer I would walk there with my family. I suggest the National Park not only because it has a special place in my heart, but also because of the beautiful landscapes and the interesting historical buildings.

What are your hobbies?

Aviya: I was a member of the Israeli Scouts and I spent most of my time there, planning activities, social events and more… I also like traveling outside, being in nature with friends and family. When I find time, I like to do some arts and crafts, reading and watching a movie.

Benny: My hobbies are going to the beach, traveling with my friends and playing sports. In Israel, I play rugby, soccer and I go to the gym. Here in Baltimore, I love working out at the JCC.

What are some of the differences that you have noticed here in Baltimore compared to back home?

Aviya: The Jewish community is very diverse here. You actually need to choose to be Jewish and to make a real effort in order to have a Jewish life. What really surprises me here is that the synagogues here are a real home. It’s not just a place to pray; it’s a place to meet people and a place that gives life to the community.

Benny: The difference in my life is that for the first time I am in charge of myself. Also, speaking every day in a language that is not native is very hard. And the hummus is very different here. I wish everyone could experience the hummus in Israel. It’s so delicious; they will have their minds blown!

Where have you started working and what have you been doing?

Aviya: We work at Krieger Schechter lower and middle school, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Beth Israel, Beth Am, E.B Hirsh Early Childhood Center, Oheb Shalom’s Learning Ladder, JCC programs for youth and teens, Bolton Street Synagogue, Chizuk Amuno Congregation and many more!

Benny: I started working at Krieger Schechter, Oheb Shalom’s Learning Ladder, E. B. Hirsh Early Childhood Center, JCC preschool, JCC teens. In each place, my co-shinshin Aviya and I teach about Israel and what it is like to live in Israel. Every day is something new!

What do you do for fun here in Baltimore? At home?

Aviya: Working! Just kidding… well, right now my favorite thing to do during my free time is to stay home with my host family and play with the kids, chatting with them and building a real connection that I hope will last forever!

Benny: In Baltimore, I recently went to the Maryland State Fair, ate a lot of food and ran an obstacle course. I go to lunch a lot with my host family, travel and go hiking. I love the Baltimore Harbor. Love the views!

What do you hope/plan to do when you return home?

Aviya: I will join the Israel Defense Forces (Israeli army) in order to serve my country for three years. I believe that the next three years will be meaningful to me and I’m very excited. I also hope to bring Baltimore back to Israel. I’m sure that after a whole year in Baltimore, this amazing community and those memories will stay with me forever, and I want to share my year with people in Israel! Most Israelis have no idea how much Jewish Americans do for Israel.

Benny: When I return home, I am going to join the army and study geology. I will have a month or two at home before my service will begin and I am hoping to travel to all my favorite places and eat a lot of the Israeli food that I’ve missed. I plan on visiting with family and friends and sharing with them my journey and experiences from my time living and working in Baltimore.

Five PJ Library Books that Teach Values to Your Preschooler
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

By Gabrielle Burger, Director of PJ Library and PJ Our Way at the Macks Center for Jewish Education

Children are easy to inspire, but sometimes difficult to keep inspired. Here are five PJ Library books with Jewish values that will continuously speak to our children.

1. Bagels from Benny by Aubry Davis offers many values for discussion, including the concept of being grateful, or Hakarat Hatov. When Benny notices that his grandfather does not take a compliment on the delicious bagels and breads in his bakery without thanking G-d, Benny starts thinking of ways in which he can thank G-d, and a wonderful story of gratitude unfolds.

We strive to teach our children manners and constantly remind them to “say thank you,” but gratitude is more than that. It is something that children may express with a hug or a smile, rather than words. They may not yet have the vocabulary to express how they are feeling, but their emotions are genuine and clear. As parents we can watch for moments of gratitude and help them name these feelings.

2. Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson emphasizes the concept of visiting and caring for the sick, or bikur cholim. The theme unfolds through a group of forest animal friends helping their friend Bear get over a cold. Each friend takes a turn caring for Bear and bringing him food or a blanket.

The story demonstrates that this value is something everyone can do. Preschool classrooms often make get well cards for children that are sick, or children call friends who were out of school that day. These acts of kindness towards others enforce the idea that we should try to take care of each other whenever we can. Children understand what it feels like to be sick, and they truly love bringing others joy when they are down. You can help your child package something special to give, like the forest friends.

3. My son once lost his favorite stuffed animal on a plane ride, and I cannot tell you the heartbreak that this caused, especially since it was never recovered. There are many books about losing a favorite toy, but in Found by Salina Yoon, a stuffed bunny is found by Bear, and he is then faced with the question—what can he do to reunite the owner with the lost item.

The Jewish values of Hashavat aveidah are very helpful for children to understand. What happens if you start to love this lost toy, but know you have to try to return it? Children engage with this concept of “lost and found” on a daily basis. This book helps children move from only thinking about themselves to thinking about helping others.

4. Another phrase parents say on a loop is “say you’re sorry.” No matter if we do this to help them take responsibility for a mistake or make a hurt friend feel better, this is a concept that is difficult to inspire in young children. In The Hardest Wordby Jacqueline Jules, an extremely large mythical bird called the Ziz makes a mistake and then creates a huge mess. Over and over again Zin tries to fix it, all in an effort to say he is sorry.

Instilling in our children the concept of asking for forgiveness, or teshuvah, is not an easy one and one that we must work on regularly. Asking for forgiveness or saying we are sorry is not any easier for children than it is for adults and we can lead by example so this value can resonate with our children.

5. Lastly, the value of staying connected to our family is something that is easy to say but not something we might make part of our everyday lives, especially if we don’t all live close. The Jewish concept of L’Dor V’Dor, or from generation to generation, is one that we find in Rise and Shine a Challah-Day Tale by Karen Ostrove. While playing in the attic of their home, a brother and sister find a piece of paper written in a language they don’t understand They decide to take it to their grandmother for help. It turns out to be the family challah recipe written in Yiddish. During their visit with their grandmother at the “Shalom House,” the kids, their grandmother and others living there make the challah to the delight of all – even grumpy Old Ned!

Strengthening the connection between the generations is something of great importance for the continuity of the Jewish people. Even something as simple as a Skype date can anchor the relationship our children and parents or other special older adults have with each other in their lives.

I hope that these five books and their values will help bring inspiration to you and your family! If you have any questions about these or any other PJ Library books, feel free to be in touch! gburger@cjebaltimore.org / 410-735-5004.

Meet Mindy and Jeff, Our Generosity Gala Chairs
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Meet Mindy and Jeff

 

Together, we can make an incredible IMPACT – through our 4th annual Generosity Gala. This year, Mindy and Jeff Rosen have decided to chair the Gala. Learn a little about why they took on this important role:

Tell me about yourselves and your family. Are you originally from Baltimore? Jeff is a native Baltimorean, having grown up in Pikesville with his parents and two brothers. Mindy is from Wyomissing, PA, a suburb of Reading, PA (but according to Mindy, she’s from outside of Philadelphia – to each their own). She grew up with her parents and brother, all of whom still reside in PA.

We have been married for 15 years and have two children, Evan (10) and Lexi (7). We are an active family – the kids have constant activities (although not too many) and we’re constantly on the move as a family. Evan is a typical boy, with an interest in various sports, while Lexi is also involved with sports as well as dance and cooking. A favorite pastime for our kids is family game night – Evan and Lexi’s favorites include Rummikub (Israel’s #1 exported game!), Qwerkle and Ticket to Ride. We are blessed that Evan and Lexi have a unique relationship – they get along famously and truly enjoy each other’s company.

Jeff is a CPA and partner in the business consulting and accounting firm of Rosen, Sapperstein & Friedlander, LLC. Mindy is a mentor teacher for aspiring student teachers at Stevenson University and also a camp consultant with Camp Experts and Teen Summers.

Both of us are very active in the community in a variety of capacities. Jeff is currently president of CHAI’s Board of Directors and has been involved with numerous committees at CHAI for about 15 years. Additionally, Jeff has served on various committees within the Associated and is a past participant and co-chair of the Young Leadership Council. Jeff’s other community endeavors include serving on the board of visitors for Towson University and board of governors for Woodholme Country Club. Mindy is currently on the Rabbinic Transition and Search Committee at Chizuk Amuno Congregation and enjoys volunteering through JVC.

You’re chairing the Generosity Gala this year! What brought you to this decision? We were honored to be asked to chair this year’s Gala and nobody had to twist our arm. When asked to serve the community and take on leadership opportunities, it’s simply what we do. We were particularly excited by the opportunity to expand the reach of the Gala and build on its momentum as an already successful event. The Gala is a special opportunity to engage Jewish people in a social forum with a Jewish twist. It’s important to foster and celebrate giving when people are accelerating their career, growing their families and developing their personal passions.

What are your hopes for the Gala? We hope the Gala will be successful in terms of number of attendees, but also serve to inspire people to get involved or more involved with the Jewish community as a donor and volunteer. At the event, we hope that attendees feel the energy and passion that exists within Jewish Baltimore.

We’re in the middle of High Holiday season! Have any special traditions? We make sure our children spend time at synagogue and continue to get exposed to Jewish prayer and rituals. Besides these traditional activities, we visit a pick-your-own farm each year around the holiday season to pick apples. Evan and Lexi enjoy this tradition and we hope they have sweet new years.

What does giving to The Associated mean to you? We are very fortunate to live in a dynamic and vibrant community. Giving to The Associated allows us to support this community and give to one place that makes a difference in the lives of so many people. It is cliché to say that we get much more out of our involvement with The Associated than we put in, but it’s true. We know that if we are ever in need, the community will be there for us, so we must be there for the community.

Join us for a celebration of doing good, fundraising, dancing and live entertainment from improv comedy group, North Coast. Registration for the 4th Annual Generosity Gala is open now!

Meet Your CHAT Hosts
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

CHAT hosts

 

New to town or a longtime Baltimorean looking to branch out? Then IMPACT's CHAT program is for you. You'll get to meet new people and discover opportunities all around Jewish Baltimore. Get to know a few of your hosts: Phillip Chalker, Katie Fink and Alana Yoffe.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do for work? Phillip: I am from Montgomery County, Maryland. I am an attorney that opened up a solo practice in Baltimore City.

Katie: I am originally from Baltimore, MD, and returned here after college in upstate New York. For work, I am the Business Development Manager for a Green Building and Sustainability Consulting firm called Lorax Partnerships in Federal Hill. We work with developers, building owners, architects, engineers, designers, contractors and operations managers to ensure their buildings are designed, constructed and operated in a sustainable and healthy way.

Alana: I'm from Baltimore, and I'm a nurse.

What’s your favorite thing about Baltimore? Phillip: I like how laid back and approachable people in the city tend to be. Also, Baltimore has an amazing brunch scene.

Katie: There is so much to love about Baltimore! I love being in a city where I can walk to everything I need and truly have the urban experience! I love that there is so much to do here! I can be involved in a diversity of organizations and activities, yet there is so much crossover and connection between organizations that I always seem meet someone that I can connect with. I enjoy going to a professional event and running into friends I know from volunteer organizations. Or, making a friend from CHAT and taking yoga classes together after discovering our mutual love of fitness! Baltimore is so interconnected and close-knit that I feel comfortable and confident in any new situation.

Alana: The craft donut scene is really booming.

What made you decide to become a CHAT host? What are you excited about? Phillip: I thought this would be a great way to make new friends, learn about other's experiences and bring together the Jewish community.

Katie: I became a CHAT host because I had a wonderful experience in CHAT last year. I went into the program looking to make genuine connections with other CHAT participants and meet people with mutual interests. Sometimes the only barrier to attending events or activities is not having someone to go with. Through CHAT, I was able to connect with a whole crew of people who are interested in attending IMPACT events and programs with me! I hope to foster those same genuine connections between CHAT participants that I experienced.

Alana: I participated in CHAT over a year ago and think the program is a great idea. I'm excited about sharing what I love about Baltimore with others. Baltimore often gets a bad rap (I blame The Wire), but there is so much that is unique to Baltimore... you just need to know where to look.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why? Katie: If I had the ability to invite anyone to my Shabbat dinner – past, present or future – I would invite my grandparents. I wish I had the opportunity to learn more about their deep-rooted history in Baltimore and how the Jewish community has evolved here since they were young.

Alana: Zach Galifianakis. We have the same birthday and I'm not embarrassed to say he is my celebrity crush. And, of course, dinner would have to be between two ferns :).

Finish this sentence: When I’m not working, I’m… Phillip: ...doing some sort of physical activity: hiking, running or hanging out with friends.

Katie: I'm hosting Volo City leagues in South Baltimore, riding horses, volunteering with Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), hanging out with my Little Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters, exercising and spending time with my family and friends.

Alana: ...at the gym, running or watching TV.

Learn more about Alana, Katie, Pammy and Phillip when you register for CHAT: Conversations Happening Around Town! Registration is open now, so save your spot! We’ll help you find your place with special speakers and discounted community events.

We Want People to Know They’re Still Women
Monday, September 25, 2017

 

It started, like so many revolutions these days, with a blog. Breast cancer is a taboo subject in much of Eastern Europe, and women there often feel alone in their struggles against the disease.

Bori Halom started blogging in 2012, largely out of a need to break this silence. Soon the platform grew into a support group for fellow Hungarian breast cancer patients and survivors that now connects over 900 women on Facebook under Bori’s motto: “Together, it’s easier.”

These words also describe her relationship with Associated partner the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Her support group is a partner in JDC’s Women’s Health Empowerment Program (WHEP), which works in Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina to educate about the importance of early detection, offer mammograms and provide support for women currently wrestling with the disease.

“We want people to know they’re still women,” she says. “My main goal is to break down the taboos, to shake the stigma, to end women being gawked at for wearing headscarves or having shaved heads. We never asked for cancer, it just happened.”

In partnership with the Susan G. Komen ®, WHEP also provides survivors like Bori with leadership training, empowering them to start NGOs, run peer-support groups and become advocates for better women’s health services.

Once a year, Bori’s group gathers at Budapest’s JDC-supported Jewish Community Center for a daylong summit of mutual comfort and support. Women swap stories of chemotherapy and tragedy, remission and resilience.

From Zero to Recovery. About 350 miles away, Stoja-Mira Simic is standing adrift in a sea of pink. Growing up in a remote village in the former Yugoslavia, electricity was a late addition to her life, let alone mammograms. Besides, she had always had perfect health. So when a friend told her a WHEP mobile mammogram unit was coming to her village, she went because it was free.

Ten days later, she got the results. “I had cancer. I had to keep saying it to myself over and over—I have cancer,” she recalls.

A WHEP representative also led Stoja-Mira down the road to recovery, delivering first-aid packages and making sure she never felt alone. “It was as if we’d known each other our entire lives,” she says.

Once healed, she learned that women from a nearby town were traveling to Sarajevo for the annual WHEP co-sponsored Race for the Cure ®. She immediately bought a ticket.

“When we arrived in Sarajevo, I suddenly saw a sea of 500 other women in pink around me,” she says. “I felt sadness that there were so many of us, but also joy that I’d survived and that my life was saved. I’ll attend the Race every year.”

For herself, Stoja-Mira and countless others affected by breast cancer, perhaps Bori says it best: “I’m very grateful to JDC. We started from zero. It’s amazing that they believed in my vision and were willing to follow me.”

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is a partner organization of The Associated.

The Four Species of Sukkot
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

By Rabbi Dena Shaffer, Executive Director, 4Front

It has been referred to as a “marathon,” this High Holy Day season. And indeed the flood of holidays that accompanies the transition from summer to fall can often leave us with the same exhilarated feeling that I would imagine 26.2 miles of pounding the pavement might illicit; that unique combination of sheer exhaustion and total fulfillment. After two days of Rosh HaShanah and a day of fasting and pouring out our souls before the Holy One on Yom Kippur, we might feel spiritually depleted, wanting nothing more than to take a long nap and recharge our religious batteries.

And yet, at precisely that time, the Jewish calendar provides us with a spectacular array of festivals – Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah – one after the other, within the space of a week, and each with its own set of rituals, symbolism, songs, foods and customs.

Since my arrival in Jewish Baltimore just before this season last year, it has been the ritual of the Lulav and Etrog on the festival of Sukkot that has captivated my attention. There is almost a comical juxtaposition between the exhaustion of the high holy days already behind us and the frenetic energy of waving the four species in all directions – like a second wind at mile 13. There is also beautiful symbolism in this ritual and room for personal interpretation. Midrash Vayikra Rabbah for example, suggests that the etrog, myrtle and willow represent our three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, while the single date palm, or Lulav symbolizes G-d. By holding the three against the One, we ritually role play our hope that the merits of our ancestors will count for us before G-d and we demonstrate, through the act of waving, our link to Jewish history and our individual place within it.

A medieval compilation of commentary called Kad ha-Kemah offers that each of the plants refers to a different body part; the heart (etrog), the spine (lulav), the eyes (myrtle) and the lips (willow), thus suggesting that when it comes to making the world more holy, one must use one’s whole self.

But my favorite explanation of these symbols, and the one that I feel is most relevant to our special community, comes from Pesikta D’Rav Kahana, a fifth century collection of Midrashim that were thought to have been preached in early synagogues during the Jewish holidays. Here we discover an interpretation that the lulav and etrog correspond to four different types of Jews. The etrog, because it has both taste and fragrance, symbolizes a Jew who has made both Torah and righteous deeds a part of his life. The palm, which produces a tasty fruit but has no smell, alludes to a Jew who is rich with Torah knowledge but not with righteous deeds. The myrtle leaf, which has a strong scent but no taste refers to a Jew who performs righteous deeds, but has no interest in Torah learning. And the willow, which has neither taste nor scent, suggests a Jew who has neither Torah knowledge nor performs righteous deeds.

Our sages, contrary to what we might expect, never articulate that one part of the lulav is better than another, that one type of Jew is preferable to another. Rather, the authors of this passage articulate that one simply cannot perform the mitzvah without all four elements. It is a strong statement for inclusivity, for pluralism, for tolerance and shared existence. For how is this ritual physically performed? Only with both hands, tightly clasped together, clinging to each element so that none should fall from the bundle. The message of the Midrash is clear, it takes all types, tightly held, embraced by both hands, to make our Jewish community.

We are blessed here, in this city, to enjoy a Jewish diversity that is unique. From shared sacred space to the wide spectrum of choices with which we are presented, the metaphor of the lulav and etrog from Pesikta d’rav Kahana is acted out and lived in this community more than in any other place I have ever called home.

This Sukkot I pray that this ritual may continue to be an ever-relevant metaphor and communal goal for us to strive for. May we be inspired by the four species to live up to the symbolism it suggests – to demonstrate both our celebration of diversity, of individual Jewish expressions and choices, and our unity as a people.

Gordon Center for Performing Arts Presents Fall Season
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

This fall, the Gordon Center for Performing Arts has something for everyone. From family entertainment to award-winning films, from internationally-acclaimed music to dazzling dance, you will experience world-class acoustics in an intimate, comfortable, state-of-the-art 550-seat venue. Featuring abundant, free parking in well-lit spaces, handicap-accessible, and equipped with a brand new loop system for the hearing impaired, there is not a bad seat in the house!

 

On Your Marc
Saturday, October 21 | 8:30 p.m.
Sponsored by the Allan and Charlene Macht Philanthropic Fund
Co-presented with IMPACT, The Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Young Adult Division

TV icon Marc Summers comes to the Gordon to present the new documentary about his fascinating television career. Summers helped launch both Nickelodeon and Food Network with his two hit shows, Double Dare and Unwrapped, in the late eighties and nineties. Today at 65, he continues to produce television for numerous networks but to get to where he is, Marc has had to overcome battles with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), a five-year bout with cancer and a recent near-fatal car accident. He remains as effervescent as ever and is now the subject of this new documentary. Marc will present the film and to answer questions after the screening.

 

Mark Nizer
Sunday, November 5 | 3:00 p.m.
Sponsored by BGE

One of the world’s foremost practitioners of the art of juggling, Mark Nizer brings his unpredictable mix of comedy and technology to the Gordon Center. The 1990 winner of the International Juggling Association’s prestigious individual world juggling title, Nizer has performed all over the world while juggling all kinds of objects. Nizer blends crowd-pleasing music, technology and showmanship while balancing Ping-Pong balls, propane tanks, laser beams and even more outrageous objects.

 

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Thursday, November 9 | 7:30 p.m.
Sponsored by the Allan and Charlene Macht Philanthropic Fund

Béla Fleck is a sixteen-time Grammy Award winner who has played the banjo all over the world and in every genre imaginable. Abigail Washburn is a singer-songwriter and who has gained critical acclaim for seamlessly combining the banjo with Far East music and sounds. Their first album together won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album. Don’t miss the couple Paste magazine calls “the king and queen of the banjo.”

 

Boston Brass
Sunday, November 26 | 3:00 p.m.
Co-presented with The Peggy and Yale Gordon Trust

In over 100 performances each year, throughout 49 states and 30 countries, Boston Brass bridges classical and jazz music. They’ve performed with orchestras, organists and other ensembles internationally and on their own. But no matter where they play or what they’re playing, their philosophy is to provide audiences with a wide selection of musical styles in a fun and engaging atmosphere.

 

David Broza and Peter Yarrow
Saturday, December 9 | 8:00 p.m.
Sponsored by the Allan and Charlene Macht Philanthropic Fund
Co-presented with The Associated’s IMPACT

David Broza is an Israeli rock legend whose flamenco-tinged rock music reflects his roots in Israel, Spain and England and whose lyrics reflect his lifelong work to promote peace. He’s performed with artists of all genres, countries and ethnicities and earned comparisons to Bruce Springsteen. Peter Yarrow helped revolutionize folk music in the 1960s with Peter, Paul and Mary and has been entertaining audiences the world over ever since.

Being Strategic In Our Living And In Our Giving
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A message from Rabbi Debbie Pine, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy

The leaves are starting to turn, it’s finally getting cooler and our marathon of Jewish holidays is almost over. Soon we will turn the page in the Jewish calendar from the month of Tishri with holidays almost every week to Cheshvan. Jewish tradition calls Cheshvan “Mar Chesvan” the bitter month because it contains no holidays and none of the sweetness of the holidays of Tishri. By this time, most of us are ready for a break.

The long cycle of the fall Jewish holidays actually extends beyond the full month of Tishri. This cycle of preparation and celebration can teach us how we might approach philanthropy as Jews. The cycle of the Jewish year calls upon us to look forward and be intentional. We do not just show up on Rosh Hashannah and engage in the process of repentance deciding to change our ways by Yom Kippur. The process of repentance for us as Jews is deep and drawn out. It starts in August when the month of Elul begins. We spend the entire month of Elul beginning the soul-searching process of repentance, so that when Rosh Hashannah finally arrives, we are really ready to begin. The Days of Awe stretch all the way through this week of Sukkot with the last day bringing themes of judgment and reflection. From the first day of Elul to the last day of Sukkot, we spend almost two months engaging in the process of reflection, renewal and repentance.

The Hebrew word for sin is “chet” which also means arrow. Jewish tradition connects the concept of sinning to aiming at a target and missing the mark, as the arrow inevitably falls short of the bullseye. Assuming we have missed the mark and will continue to do so throughout our lives, every year, we wipe the slate clean and begin fresh. We don’t just step up and start shooting the arrows all over again, but rather Jewish tradition assumes that we first have to set the target. It makes no sense to shoot those arrows without a bullseye or a goal. The first step is carefully setting the target. Elul, Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot are not only about confronting our sins, but perhaps even more importantly, this significant time of our year is about setting that target, identifying our own personal goals and searching for what in life brings us the most meaning.

Our philanthropy should be strategic and intentional like this time of the year. Just as we don’t shoot an arrow without a target, we can challenge ourselves to set our targets for philanthropy. The process of identifying what resonates with us in Judaism, what impact we want to have on our people, our community and our world can and should be as important and significant as writing the check. For us as Jews, the process of repentance shapes us as individuals. We can model our process for philanthropy on the thoughtful, deep, soul searching cycle of our year.

In my role at the Associated, I look forward to hearing what matters to you as I begin my work in Strategic Philanthropy. Before we identify together who needs our care, concern and support, I welcome the chance to pause, reflect and contemplate, hearing what motivates and inspires you and your family as human beings and as Jews. Together, we will create opportunities to learn from each other, to identify the needs of our city, our community and our people as we set out to meet those needs with intentionality and careful consideration. Like these fall holidays, philanthropy is a marathon and not a sprint. Now, after reflection and intention our important work can begin. May the significance of this time of year and the challenge of our tradition inspire us to be strategic and intentional in our living and in our giving.

Reflections of a Katrina Evacuee: Watching The Devastation in Texas and Florida
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

By Debbie Pine, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy

As we watch the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey in Houston and now Irma in Florida and hope for recovery for these communities, I reflect on my experience as a Katrina evacuee in Houston. We had just moved to New Orleans and we were new to the Jewish community and the distinctive rhythms of the city.

As I experienced the unique way that we as Jews care for one another, I thought of Maimonides’ teaching about Tzedakah. We learn in the Mishnah Torah (Gifts to the Poor 7:3) that

“one is commanded to give to a poor person according to what he lacks. If he has no clothes, they clothe him. If he has no utensils for a house, they buy [them] for him. If he does not have a wife, they arrange a marriage for him.….Even if it was the custom of [a person who was rich but is now] a poor person to ride on a horse with a servant running in front of him, and this is a person who fell from his station, they buy him a horse to ride upon and a servant to run in front of him, as it is said (in Deuteronomy 15:8) ‘Sufficient for whatever he needs.’”

We safely evacuated before Katrina hit and like so many New Orleanians, we thought we would be right back home in a matter of days. Just to be on the safe side, we brought five changes of clothes for each of us, and at the last minute my husband grabbed the “important random document” file including bank accounts, birth certificates and passports.

We slowly learned that our kids’ schools would not open until January, that our house sustained $100,000 worth of damage but no major flooding, our other car was flooded, and we wouldn’t enter our house till over 3 weeks later when the water finally receded and a few weeks after that, the power came back on. When we did finally return, there were 30 refrigerators piled on our corner, as almost everyone, even if their homes did not flood, came home to a very stinky irreparable mess.

In those days after the storm as we scrambled to figure out where to go, our colleagues in Houston summoned us to their city to help our fellow New Orleans Jews. By the time we arrived, most people were already situated with temporary housing.

We were late to the game but our rabbinic colleague Rabbi David Lyon at Beth Israel promised us not to worry that he had a congregant that would find us a place to live. If all the apartments were rented, what could this place possibly be like?

With three young kids, would there be room for all of us? I thought of Maimonides’ teaching and the rich person who was used to riding on a horse with a servant running in front of him. After all, I was accustomed to decent coffee, a firm bed and an o.k. bathroom. What could the last apartments in Houston actually be like? We didn’t have any furniture, nothing but our important random documents and five pairs of shorts and five t-shirts.

Joe and Karen, sent to us from Beth Israel in Houston, got us a beautiful new two bedroom apartment in a building that had not yet opened but was owned by one of Joe’s fraternity brothers. Joe convinced him to open his building early to evacuees and we were first on the list.

Joe and Karen also happened to own the Ethan Allen furniture stores around Houston and before we even arrived, the apartment was furnished with floor samples, far nicer than our own furniture. Between my mother’s over stocked kitchen and Karen’s, we quickly had enough dishes, silverware, pots, pans and even a coffee maker to last us the semester. In Karen and Joe’s incredible help and support, we felt the true meaning of Maimonides’ teaching. Tzedakah requires sensitivity and understanding the needs of recipients. Everyone’s needs are different and for many, accepting help is not easy.

Before we collect socks and toiletries for those struggling in Houston and Florida today, we should think carefully about what they lack and what they need. It was the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) funding that enabled the New Orleans Jewish community to rebuild after Katrina, and that funding sustained the community far beyond the Target cards and cleaning supplies that were collected early on. Houston, Florida and surrounding communities will need our help now and in the weeks and months ahead. As Maimonides teaches us, we will have to listen carefully to the needs both now and in the future.

Thankfully, Karen and Joe’s house did not flood and Karen is already busy volunteering in her own community all over again. I will never forget how Karen and Joe and the entire Houston Jewish community lived up to Maimonides’ understanding of Tzedakah.

May we follow their lead and respond with graciousness, attention and generosity as these communities now engage in a long recovery process. Go to associated.org/texasrelief or associated.org/irmarelief to help.

My Child Has ADHD. Working with Teachers For a Great School Year
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

By Dr. Aviva Weisbord, executive director, SHEMESH

With close to five million American children diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), many parents are concerned about how their children will manage in school. They worry about the effects of ADHD in the classroom: the struggle to concentrate, difficulty controlling impulses, problems with organization of thoughts and papers and often a learning difference thrown into the mix.

Against the backdrop of these challenges, there is the reality of the typical classroom, where the children are told to sit still, listen quietly, pay attention follow instructions and concentrate.

Thankfully, there are several things SHEMESH, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore that provides the educational support for children with learning differences, advises parents to do to make school life smoother for children with ADHD.

The most important way parents can help is to become their child’s advocate. They can make sure to meet with the new teacher, bringing with them a list of their child’s strengths, special interests, learning style, and struggles, along with a few ideas that have worked in the past. This approach helps parents form a strong partnership with the teacher, making it clear that they understand the joys and pains of dealing with someone who has ADHD.

There are some children who are helped greatly by technology. It’s easier for them to take notes on an iPad or laptop, for example. We advise parents to check with the school and the individual teacher if using these is permissible.

At home, parents can help their child by setting up a quiet spot to read, do written homework and study. They can also help the child with executive function, the part of the brain that deals with organizing, managing time, planning and scheduling. Sometimes enlisting the services of an executive function coach can be offer the most help.

Perhaps the best thing parents can do is reassess their expectations, bringing them in line with reality. While a child’s IQ might be very high, that same child may not be able to sustain a straight A average – something that almost all parents set as the standard.

Children with ADHD have trouble working independently or finishing classwork within the time allotted, all things that may keep them from getting those A’s and B’s. Adopting a new definition of success can be a great gift for the child with ADHD: Instead of all A’s, success can be defined as a sense of competence, willingness to struggle and overall happiness. (That actually sounds good for everyone!)

SHEMESH also recognizes that when children deal with ADHD, everyone around them must deal with it, too. To help parents with this fact of life, SHEMESH formed the Northwest Chapter of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), with regular meetings, held on the first Wednesday of each month, offering support and tips for living with ADHD. Experts in the fields of developmental pediatrics, nutrition, psychiatry, occupational therapy and psychology have shared their knowledge and understanding with the group, providing insights and assurance to parents anxious to help their children navigate life successfully.

In addition, we offer small-group opportunities for parents to focus on behavioral issues in the home, acquiring tools and information to create a peaceful family atmosphere that fosters the growth of each child. Living with someone who has ADHD is a 24-hour/365 day job from which there really is no vacation. With the help of SHEMESH and its multitude of programs, parents can tackle that job with more equanimity, less anxiety and greater chances of success. Learn more at shemeshbaltimore.org.

Meet the Getz Family
Friday, September 08, 2017

Meet the Getz family

 

Grandparents Day celebrates the connections between the generations, honoring grandparents and giving them an opportunity to show love and guidance for their children’s children.

When Carollee and Alan Getz’s daughter Lyn passed away at age 32, they wanted to honor her memory in a special way. Embracing Lyn’s love of children, the family honored her in many ways: they built a playground in our sister city Ashkelon, Israel and the Lyn Stacie Getz Creative Playground here in Bel Air, Maryland.

They also established the Lyn Stacie Getz Foundation, dedicated to children’s health: "Our family is dedicated to helping people – all people. We have learned how important it is to have an organization dedicated to helping others, like The Associated, as a resource. Working together with input from our family – our sons Randy and Joel and our daughter-in-law Stacey – we set up the parameters of the Lyn Stacie Getz Foundation exactly as we wanted. Lyn would have been pleased with the mission of the foundation and how we can carry on with her wishes," says Alan. 

The Getz family makes charitable decisions across generations. Both Alan and Carollee come from a long line of family members whose mission was to give back and to help others. They both agree they want their grandchildren to have the same sense of giving their own parents and grandparents had. Below is a conversation with Carollee, Alan and their four grandchildren Sophie, Eli, Hannah and Noah.

What family members influenced your giving? Carollee: My grandmother, Rebecca Block, was a homemaker. To supplement her income during The Depression, she took boarders into her home. She would also go to Jewish nursing homes to help take care of the patients, volunteering because she didn’t have the money to give. My father was a dentist – half of his patients were probably given service free of charge, because they couldn’t afford it. My father also spent most of his time during WWII helping widows through the American Legion, and was also active with the Red Cross.

Alan: My parents owned a store and the family lived over the store. My father kept a ledger for what people owed because if they needed something, they were given it, even if they didn’t have the money to cover their expenses. When I was 26 or so, an older gentleman came in the store wanting to pay a bill for $700 dating back to 1929. He didn’t want to leave this world owing something and he paid in cash. Since his debt happened during my grandfather’s time, and he had since died, we divided the money among my grandfather’s heirs.

What do you hope your grandchildren will say about you? Carollee and Alan: We do what we think is right. Follow the golden rule.

What have your grandparents taught you about giving? Sophie – 15 years old: That as long as you can give something, you should, because even one person makes an impact.

Eli – 15 years old: My grandparents have taught me a lot about giving. They taught me that giving is a very important thing to do in life. My grandparents always stress the Jewish moral that if you have the ability to give, give.

Hannah – 13 years old: It is good to give something to someone you think is needy, and if you care about it.

Noah – 10 years old: That it is a good thing to do.

What are three words you would use to describe your grandparents?

Sophie: Honest, giving and caring.

 

Eli: Loving, kind and understanding.

 

Hannah: Generous, kind and loving.

 

Noah: Fun, funny and awesome.

 

Do you have any words of wisdom to pass along to your children and grandchildren? Carollee and Alan: Be friendly, kind and help others. We have always believed in the “lead by example” adage and it has proven to be so true. As we sit together trying to do our best – old and young together; grandparents, parents and grandchildren – all of us with one thought: how we can help children who cannot help themselves.

When the time comes every year for decisions to be made regarding requests for help by families and/or institutions, our children and grandchildren are involved. Requests through the Lyn Stacie Getz Foundation are read and discussed together as a family. Hopefully as our grandchildren mature, more decisions will be made entirely by them. For the moment, it’s great fun and very rewarding working together. 

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Meet Amy Rotenberg, Esq.
Thursday, September 07, 2017

Strategic communications expert: Helping her clients navigate issues at the intersection of law and media.

As founder and president of Rotenberg Associates, Inc., Amy has more than 20 years of legal, crisis management, media relations and strategic communications experience. She began her career as a trial lawyer focused on First Amendment media law, but made a decisive career shift in 2001. Rather than defending media reporting negative stories about individuals and organizations, she now helps the targets of negative media communicate about their bad news and protect their reputations. Rotenberg Associates, a strategic communications firm with offices in Minneapolis and Baltimore, serves clients throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countries.

What do you love most about the work that you do? I love helping individuals and organizations navigate through their most trying times. And I love that every day is different. The issues I deal with are complicated, diverse and honestly, you can’t make up half of what I have seen!

What advice can you offer entrepreneurial women who are looking for a career in media and/or business? Network and build relationships like crazy! Opportunities develop when many people know what you do professionally and respect you. Being involved in the community (separate from work) is a good way to develop additional skills, gain credibility and meet people. In my experience, my big breaks professionally often came to me from unexpected relationships.

As founder and president of your own company, how do you maintain a work/life balance? Finding work-life balance is always a challenge for professionals who are building their careers, raising families and also want to be involved in the community. The balance ebbs and flows at different points in your life and in the development of your family. Take stock each year of your personal goals and priorities and then pledge to live those values. Sometimes you have to say “no.”

Tell me about your family. How does Jewish Baltimore play into your and your family’s lives? The Baltimore Jewish community has been a foundation of our new life in Baltimore and we feel profoundly grateful for that. The community was unbelievable warm and welcoming to our family when my husband Mark and I moved to Baltimore with our son Max in late 2013 from Minneapolis. We quickly continued our longtime involvement with AIPAC, joining the AIPAC Baltimore Leadership Counsel. I also serve on the AIPAC National Counsel and recently concluded my service on the Board of Johns Hopkins Hillel.

Mark, Max and I are active members of Beth Tfiloh. During his high school years, Max was an active member of the Teen Minyan there. Mark has served on the Board of Beth Tfiloh, and I have recently been appointed to the Executive Committee of the Board.

What is your Associated journey? How did you originally get involved, and how did that lead you to your current role on the Board? When I first arrived, I was invited to participate in the Chapter 2 Program of the Associated. This was a great introduction to the community and helped me learn more about all of the institutions that the Associated supports. I recently completed the Master Class Program and I currently serve on the Board of the Associated. All of this involvement has been so enriching for me and helped me feel part of this community. And of course I have also have made some extraordinary friends.

You’re an Associated donor. What inspires you about the work The Associated does in Baltimore, Israel and around the world? I feel tremendously privileged to be Jewish and feel a strong sense of responsibility to the Jewish community here and abroad. I have spent most of my adult life working hard to protect Israel as an advocate, primarily with AIPAC. Over two decades, I developed longstanding relationships with members of Congress and other elected officials, and travelled with a number of them on their first visits to Israel.

The work the Associated does is so important in supporting Israel’s many important social and educational institutions. When I arrived in Baltimore, I wanted to learn more and firsthand on the impact the Associated has on so many institutions in Baltimore and abroad. This has been a very broadening and enriching experience for me.

If you could have a drink with any woman, alive or not, who would that be? What would you be drinking? I would love to meet Queen Esther – an extraordinary woman who used diplomacy and her marriage to the Persian King to save the Jewish people. I would like to hear her unpack that Purim story and also to say thank you. We would be drinking a fabulous Israeli wine, of course!

If not this current career path, where else might you be doing today? Serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Israel! (Ha Ha)

Finish this sentence: When I’m not working at Rotenberg Associates, Inc., I’m… Biking, running, cooking for Shabbat, binge watching Game of Thrones, or planning our next fun trip or family adventure.

Coffee, College and Jewish Conversation
Wednesday, September 06, 2017

By Rochelle Eisenberg

For high school seniors, it’s that time of year when the college application process looms. Students begin the rush to finalize their lists of where they want to go to college, checking off considerations as varied as academic rigor, location and social environment. Yet many believe that Jewish students should add another criteria to that mix.

“Having a Jewish presence on campus is critically important,” explains Rabbi Ari Israel, executive director of Maryland Hillel. “Not only will students find a built-in social network of like-minded peers but a strong Jewish presence often ensures that a campus is sensitive to Jewish issues, such as missing classes for holidays or supporting a pro-Israel environment.”

At the same time, adds Rabbi Josh Snyder, executive director of Goucher Hillel, college is an important time in an emerging adult’s life. “This is when they begin to form an identity and figure out where Jewish ideas fit in. That’s why organizations such as Hillel have expanded, providing engaging programs that will excite Jewish students across the religious spectrum,” he says.

More than a decade ago, Hillel International recognized that there were many Jewish students who were not connecting to traditional Hillel programs. Hillel developed a variety of leadership and involvement opportunities so students can connect to their Jewish identity through their passions and interests.

Today, not only does Hillel offer Shabbat meals and services in its building but it hosts Shabbat dinners in fraternities and sororities, in campus dorms and with innovative offerings like the University of Maryland College Park’s Global Justice Shabbat.

In addition, programs such as the Maryland Hillel’s National Hillel Basketball Tournament, Hackathons and social justice projects that focus on such far-ranging topics as hunger, immigration and interfaith relations, are reaching a diverse Jewish student body. And so are ambassador programs in which students engage their peers.

Mia Kaufman, a sophomore at University of Maryland College Park, served as an ambassador last year. As part of that effort, she reached out to her peers, met them for coffee, talked over bagels, even organized freshman dorm events such as a ”Carb Loading Event” following Passover.

“As an ambassador, I got to know other students and find out what is important to them. Hillel has so many opportunities that I could connect them to projects they might enjoy,” she says.

Goucher College also engages students who get together with their Jewish peers at sporting events, over coffee, and for meals. They talk about what they enjoy and connect them to programs of interest.

“College is a time when Jewish students are integrating with peers from many faiths,” says Snyder. “We want Jewish students to understand where their Jewish identity fits into the mix.”

“When students own their Jewish journey, they will make Jewish-oriented decisions,” adds Israel.

This story originally appeared in the September issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Laury Scharff on Making a Difference for Women and Girls
Wednesday, September 06, 2017

About 10 years ago, Amy Harlan told Laury Scharff about the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation of Baltimore (JWGF), a giving circle of women who leverage their dollars to make charitable contributions to improve the lives of women and girls locally and internationally.

Harlan, a JWGF member, raved about the opportunity to effect real change and spoke about how wonderful it was to make these decisions with a group of women who are passionate about making a difference. Scharff signed on and today is chair of JWGF, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

What’s special about JWGF? First of all, our mission is to focus on women and girls. Did you know that funding for women and girls by private foundations is staggeringly low? It hovers around seven percent of all monies granted.

Second, we are about the power of collective and democratic philanthropy. Each member contributes $1,000, which pooled together creates the donor fund of over $140,000, distributed to selected programs based on members’ votes.

What have you learned? We all know there is tremendous need in our community. Attending site visits of prospective grantees and foundation-sponsored education programs is eye opening. For example, there are hundreds of elderly, Jewish women living alone in Baltimore with very limited resources. We are funding, for a second year, the JCC’s Senior Connection Initiative, which provides weekly lunches and programming for these otherwise isolated women. For many, this program is their only opportunity to socialize and be meaningfully engaged.

Other programs? This year we are planning a Financial 101 workshop to provide our members with the tools to read financial data for making informed grant-making decisions. We are also hoping to participate in a Poverty Simulation.

Poverty simulation? It’s an interactive activity where we each take on an assigned role so that we can begin to understand the realities of poverty. For example, we may focus on a case of a single mother who is struggling to raise five children, some of whom are struggling in school. Each of us takes a role in the family’s struggle – the mother, children, the teacher, even the cashier who has to explain to the mother that she doesn’t have enough money to buy what they need. You are tasked with making “things work.”

How has it empowered you? It’s empowering to have a voice in how your charitable dollars are spent. It’s also incredibly empowering to be in a room with more than 100 intelligent, inquisitive women who care about their community and care about effecting change.

To learn more about JWGF or to join, contact Jennifer Millman at 410-369-9205 or jmillman@associated.org.

This story originally appeared in the September issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Some Truths About Suicide
Tuesday, September 05, 2017

September: National Suicide Prevention Month

By Karen James, LCSW-C, Jewish Community Services

People in my generation are dying. By their own hands, according to a recent CDC report. The numbers are staggering. Did you know that 121 Americans die by suicide every day?

Suicide now claims more lives than those lost in motor vehicle accidents. Twice as many people die from suicide than do from homicide. Between 1999 and 2014, the suicide rate for middle aged women rose by 63% and for middle aged men by 43%. Why is this happening?

We never know exactly why a suicide occurs. That is part of the tragedy. Survivors are always left with unanswered questions as they grieve and rage over their loss. The reasons and emotions can be very complex, and may never come untangled. But what puts a whole generation at risk?

It may be that the particular “life and times” of the Baby Boomer generation play a role in our higher suicide rates. We were generally born into “plenty” and things were only going to get better. And now, we realize that’s not always the case. Sometimes in the midst of job loss or economic hardship, we are also caring for our aging parents, growing children and some stumbling young adults.

Some of us might even say that we’ve considered suicide as our only “out” from overwhelming circumstances: trauma, shame, humiliation or terrible loss. With easy access to firearms and strong prescription painkillers, no wonder suicides are increasing.

What can be done? We need to debunk the myths and stereotypes. We need to know what puts someone at risk and recognize the warning signs, and then act to protect ourselves and those we love.

  • Myth: Only an insane person would ever consider taking his or her own life.

Actually, only a person who sees no way out considers suicide. It is not usually a delusional thought, but instead, it may occur when a person feels overwhelmed by terrible circumstances. A despairing person is not necessarily ill.

  • Myth: Those who talk about it never do it or talking about it is just a cry for help.

Just? It may be a cry that needs to be heard. Survivors almost always realize that there were signs. Suicide talk must be taken seriously and is truly a red flag.

  • Myth: Don’t bring up the subject of suicide. It will give them the idea to do it.

Talking about suicide does not plant the idea. Instead, talking may create a connection and the outlet for fears and emotions. Do remain aware, though, of patterns of the suicide act itself within communities. This can affect how seriously other people then contemplate it. This is a real risk, especially among adolescents. Talk more, not less, when such tragedies occur. This kind of conversation can actually help someone control their impulses.

  • Myth: People in our community or our religion would never commit suicide.

Unfortunately, they have and they will. No community is untouched. Strong connections and religious beliefs are good protective factors, but even those strengths may not be enough for the despairing individual. All groups, ages and genders are at risk under the wrong circumstances. This remark could also be quite shaming to a distraught person.

What puts a person at risk for committing suicide? Financial problems, professional setbacks or failures in life can increase the risk, as can other life events such as emotional trauma or loss of a loved one. Serious physical or psychiatric illness, a depressed mood and general feelings of hopelessness can put a person at risk. Dependence on drugs or alcohol, and a history of suicide in the family can also increase the chances.

If you think someone close to you may be at risk for suicide, be especially alert for any of these warning signs:

  • Talking about no reason to live or the wish to die.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and activities.
  • Taking unnecessary risks.
  • Giving away possessions.
  • Making out a will unexpectedly or “tying up loose ends.”
  • A feeling of hopelessness, or conversely, seeming suddenly more relaxed after such a period (this could mean the decision has been made).

What can we do to prevent someone from taking his or her life? First, provide support. Feeling connected to others can be a powerful protection against many risks. Kindness and caring have even greater impact on people who are truly hurting.

At the same time, someone who is expressing hopelessness and a wish to die really needs help, so urge the person to see a professional counselor. If the situation is heating up, remember that suicidal thoughts are a health emergency. Contact a hotline or a physician, who can provide the information and procedures needed in a crisis. Rather than hesitate, get the person to the hospital.

In Myths about Suicide, Thomas Joiner shares personal experience and professional understanding. He says that we may desire and be more at risk for suicide if and when we believe two particular thoughts for too long: “We are a burden in this world,” and “We do not belong.” Fight against this lethal combination in your loved one.

Resources 

1-800-SUICIDE – 1-800-784-2433. 24-hour national crisis intervention hotline.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Nationwide network of local crisis centers committed to suicide prevention and intervention. 24 hours.

Baltimore County Crisis Response System – Community Hotline 410-931-2214. Telephone triage for mental health needs. Linkage to psychiatric treatment services. Family intervention team. 24 hours.

Baltimore Crisis Response Phone: (410) 433-5175. Area Served: Baltimore City. Provides crisis intervention and addiction treatment services. 24 hours.

JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.

Hurricane Harvey Update. Help Is Still Needed
Friday, September 01, 2017

Our hearts are heavy and minds filled with thoughts of the devastation in Texas this past week. The horrific stories and pictures are as equally gut wrenching as the stories of the heroism and kindness are inspiring.

The leadership of The Associated has tried to keep abreast of the situation with our partners at the Jewish Federations of North America and those in the affected regions. The situation continues to evolve as rescue efforts are still ongoing and community needs are still being determined.

Much information is available via the news and social media about the vast impact on families and communities across the impact areas. Through our relief efforts, we will help the all those affected by the Hurricane and want to provide a few highlights of how the Jewish community is faring and responding.

“The devastation is unimaginable.” The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston reports that 71 percent of the city’s Jewish population of 63,700 lives in areas that have experienced high flooding, including 12,000 Jewish seniors. The Federation staff and other Jewish professionals are working tirelessly to respond to community needs while managing flood damage in workplaces and in homes. The Federation and Jewish Family Service (JFS) facilities, as well as at least one large Orthodox synagogue, are flooded.

The Evelyn Rubinstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, the city’s only JCC, was under 10 feet of water. It reopened yesterday and will serve as the central address for the donation and distribution of aid and supplies. JFS case workers will be on location to assist individuals and households in need, and JFS is working with the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies to set up a counseling hotline, among other things.

Israel Rescue Coalition and the Israeli humanitarian group, IsrAID, have already deployed first responders to Texas. Local Jewish camps are housing refugees forced to evacuate their homes.

HOW YOU CAN HELP. The most important way to help is to make a donation to the many organizations providing relief and aiding in recover.

Thank you to the many generous donors who have already contributed to The Associated’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Our funds will be used for locating and relocating residents, and ensuring they have the basics: food, blankets, clothes, a satellite phone to reach their loved ones. In addition, funds will go toward renovations of organizations and homes – a tedious process, and we will partner with organizations like NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster. The actual rebuilding and renovating comes in the months ahead.

There is still time to make a donation and 100 percent of your donation will directly benefit the people and communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Your donation to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is still needed as the recovery is just beginning. To make your donation, click here.

We have received many requests for providing in-kind goods to the affected regions. While the needs are still coming together and the ability for the emergency shelters to receive in-kind goods are still uncertain, there are a few in-kind ways to help:

    • Jewish Volunteer Connection is collecting gift cards to Target and Walmart to distribute to affected families. Gift cards can be mailed to JVC at 5708 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215, or dropped off in collection boxes at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC or the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC.
    • JVC also will devote a significant portion of its Day to Unite event on Sunday, September 10, from 12:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. to helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey. A variety of projects will be coordinated to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Learn more.
    • Area synagogues are also participating in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Feel free to reach out to your synagogue for more information.
    • Seasons will send a truck on Monday, September 4 to the region to provide kosher food and supplies. Click here.

We will continue to share news and updates with you in the days and weeks ahead. If you know of any displaced families that are in the Baltimore area, please let us know how we can support them.

Thank you for your generosity and for being here for those in crisis.

Meet Jake Max, New Director of Charm City Tribe
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Housed at the JCC, Charm City Tribe is a dynamic group of adults in their 20s and 30s exploring Judaism in the diverse backdrop of Baltimore City. This summer, Jake Max returned to his hometown to be the director of Charm City Tribe.

You just finished your fellowship year at Repair the World in New York City. Tell us how you got there. I went to Emory University for undergrad, where I was a business major studying consulting. During my senior year I was applying to all kinds of jobs. But, then the election season came around, and I decided that I didn't want to go work for a bank right now. Instead, I applied for Repair the World.

There, I focused on food justice. I spent my time in two soup kitchens and one food pantry volunteering as well as recruiting volunteers. We'd host educational and social events. It was a really motivational experience for me – from the professional development perspective, but also from the whole experience. I got to see a lot of things on the ground.

So, what brought you back to Baltimore? I kept saying all year: this work really resonates with me, and it feels like the right to be doing. But if I'm going to be doing community organizing work, I feel like it should be in my own community, and not someone else's. That's why it was really important to me for my next job to come back to Baltimore.

What attracted you to Charm City Tribe? There's such a huge opportunity for young people to make a difference today and the first step to that is building community. So many people my age are out here trying to do great things, but it's all disconnected. How do we get people back to here and now? This job is an incredible opportunity to really bring people together in a real way and also in a communal way that is much less common now.

What are you most excited about working at Charm City Tribe? I'm most excited about bringing people together – it's the only way we can move forward. We need people to understand each other and to really appreciate our differences, not hate each other because of them. I'm in a unique position because I can connect people in a way that's more meaningful.

I'm excited to see where this can go. Charm City Tribe has been doing awesome work for a number of years now, and I'd like to continue that and make it stronger in whatever way possible. More than anything, I would like to bring power to our peers to make what they want to happen, happen. That's going to start happening in a big way very soon.

Keep an eye out for Charm City Tribe's next event – the Mobile Sukkah, happening this October! You can learn more about Charm City Tribe online. Questions? Reach out to Jake Max at jmax@jcc.org.

Meet Jen Arman, CHAT Chair
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

CHAI-lights shine light on one of our young adult leaders. This week, meet Jen, a teacher from Baltimore who is chairing IMPACT's CHAT: Conversations Happening Around Town program this fall.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do for work? I'm Jen Arman from Reisterstown. I am a 5th grade teacher at Baltimore Highlands Elementary School. I graduated from Muhlenberg College and am currently working towards a Masters in special education at Goucher College.

What’s your favorite thing about Baltimore? I love how comforting Baltimore is. Everyone seems to know each other and is super friendly. I am also a very big fan of the Ravens!

We know you did CHAT last year. What propelled you to join the program? What did you take away from it afterward? I wanted to join the program to make more connections with Jewish people living in the city. I love meeting and learning about others. From the program I learned that there are so many awesome events that occur each year for Jewish young adults.

Now, you’re chairing CHAT! What excites you about this role? I am excited to get more people back involved with the Jewish community. I feel that many people come home from college and lose their Jewish roots. I am really looking forward to giving people the opportunity to reconnect and make new friends.

What’s different about CHAT this year? CHAT is going to be awesome this year! We want to promote genuine conversations and give people the opportunity to see all the exciting events that The Associated and IMPACT have planned. It will create new friendships and get people excited to get connected.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why? I would invite Adam Levine so he could sing all of the blessings!

Rosh Hashanah is coming up! Do you have any special holiday traditions? I would if I didn't routinely dip my apples in honey throughout the year. Jokes aside, I absolutely love going to Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not working, I’m… planning school lessons, shopping, working out or hanging with my friends!

Interested in joining CHAT? Register for our fall session now! Any questions? Email Rebecca Ellison at rellison@associated.org.

How to Let Your Kid Come Home after a Great Summer at Camp
Thursday, August 17, 2017

habonim-beth

By Beth Rheingold

My husband and I were late getting our kids into the summer camp gig. My son turned 15 during his first week at Jewish sleep away camp, so you see what I mean.

I may have been behind the Jewish mother eight ball, but I did know that recent studies point to the importance of Jewish camp in shaping Jewish identity. I didn’t want my son to miss out on this rite of passage. And because there was a lot more at stake sending a rising high school freshman to camp for the first time, I researched best practices (my go-to: Pinterest).

Pinterest taught me how to organize socks into Ziploc baggies by week, where to order a laundry stamp, and to include various arrays of bug sprays and toiletries I might not have thought of otherwise.

Popsugar.com suggested mesh hampers for athletic gear (check) and how to pre-address and stamp stationary so your darling has no reason not to write home. Our camp provided a handy cheat sheet of Hebrew frequently used at camp, as well as a standard packing list and parent handbook. All of this was helpful. I marveled at how my parents did not have resources like this when I headed off to the B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp circa 1989. I’m pretty sure that I not only applied to the camp on my own, but packed my own duffle and did everything except drive myself to the Poconos.

Visiting Day has since come and gone at Camp Mosh, and all of the Facebook stalking and fretting over whether or not our son is having a great time has ended. On Visiting Day, we saw firsthand that our son is flourishing in his ohel (tent), complete with bug-netting and overstuffed crates full of shoes and gear. He enjoys the community avodah (work). He has forged what promise to be lifelong friendships with the guys in his bunk, and pretty much everyone he has gotten to know. The counselors have had a major impact on his world view. Our reluctant camper begged for an extra week and wants to go to Israel next summer. My husband and I could tell that he’s had the transformative Jewish camp experience we hoped for.

So now what? Our son comes home in just a few days. Things are going to be different. His sister will be competing for her big brother’s attention, and we will be at work. There is the summer grind of required reading, chores, and boredom, not to mention the menace of media and digital devices (which remarkably he’s been without).

I’ve once again gone to the experts. How do we help our teen come home? Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Let the kid sleep. I figure that my teenager, while on a good schedule and routine at camp, will have spent his last night trying to fit in everything and everyone before he comes home with us. I’m guessing that re-entry will require a day of sleep.

2. Be patient and don’t fuss. I try hard not to give in to my natural instincts to smother my teen with hugs and kisses. I fight it. So I am going to wait it out, take my cues from him (this is way easier for my husband). Does he want a hug? Does he want to hang out and tell us all about his friends and activities, what he’s learned? We will wait, and then we will listen.

3. Expect some mood shifts. Dr. Michael G. Thompson, author of Homesick and Happy, tells scarymommy.com that the happy camper who’s made strong friendships is going to miss her friends and counselors. A lot. So I plan to see some sadness, and I aim to take it in stride. After all, I remember coming home from camp and feeling a sense of loss and an inability to communicate to my parents all that had changed me in three weeks’ time. This is not a bad thing. It means your child has had a meaningful camp experience, and they’re going to miss that 24/7 schedule of friends and fun.

4. Dirty toenails and missing clothes. On Visitor’s Day, I couldn’t help but notice our son’s dirty toenails. Ick. So when I came across Lauren Kozloff Sinrod’s advice to parents “not to be too grossed out,” I laughed. She says that your kid “will be dirty, things will be missing, clothes will be ruined. Signs of a good summer, I’d say. Don’t give your camper a hard time for the fact that his or her feet are a permanent shade of dirt brown, their formerly white socks are now pink, or they came home without any of their sweatshirts.” When we visited with our son, he had already misplaced all his bath towels and was sharing his bunkmate’s towel. I shivered at the sight of that grubby beach towel, but I commended him on his newfound sense of communal sharing. After all, this is a kibbutz-style camp.

And so it seems that all of us have not only survived sleepaway camp, but we’ve each learned some pretty important lessons:

Ziploc baggies come in a variety of sizes, t-shirts will be lost, and your child is going to be OK.

Kids will develop their independence no matter what. So what better place to give it a shot than at camp?

jLINK Connects Jewish Baltimore
Wednesday, August 02, 2017

jLINK

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Thanks to a new online resource, jLINK, individuals can find everything they need, from nonprofit services to Jewish resources, all in one click.

The site, managed by Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, is a compilation of more than 1,500 resources useful to the Baltimore community.

Categories range from business services and education to health and wellness to Jewish life and more. Within each category, visitors will find resources such as preschools, human services or places to buy a menorah.

“Anyone can find anything they want these days on Google,” says Calla B. Samuels, who chaired the task force to develop jLINK. “But this is a one-stop shop.”

For example, she adds, “if you are interested in sending your child to Jewish camp, you no longer have to Google each one. By going to jLINK, you can find Jewish camps all in one place.”

jLINK replaces JCS’s Jewish Information and Referral Services, an online database that needed updating. The development of the new tool was funded by a grant from the Herbert Bearman Foundation.

“People are always asking about where to apply to CHAI’s Weinberg Senior Living facilities and where they can donate clothes. It’s all here on one site that is easy to navigate,” says Karen Nettler, Director of Community Connections at JCS.

“We believe there is nothing else like this out there,” says Samuels. “And, because this is part of The Associated, it will have a Jewish fingerprint.”

We’re your first contact – no matter the question. Call us: 410-466-9200, email us: info@jlinkbalt.org.

This story originally appeared in the July issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Summer Fun
Thursday, July 06, 2017

Summer-Fun

As the weather heats up, kick back, relax and check out these five activities around town hosted by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and its agencies. 

Lounge, Swim and Get in Shape. Why not enjoy the long, lazy days of summer by the pool? The JCC has made it easy with its Red, White and Blue summer membership offer. Join now and get September free! Check out the JCC’s four outdoor pools, playgrounds and tennis courts. And for those who want to get out of the sun, membership includes access to the JCC’s numerous classes and programs. Learn more at jcc.org.

Shabbat in the Park (or by the pool). Charm City Tribe is hosting several Shabbat Picnics in the Park for young adults. Bring your friends – and a picnic lunch – and enjoy a little Jewish learning, challah, grape juice and games at The Pagoda at Patterson Park. Charm City provides the tents, chairs, water, challah, grape juice and Frisbees. You provide the rest. Picnics are held on July 22 and August 12 at noon. Email Ellie Brown at ehbrown@jcc.org for more information.

Read and Play. Thanks to the Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), you can enjoy the pleasure of reading and earn rewards with the Macks CJE’s summer reading program. Pick up a Book Zone bookmark at the CJE library and read five Jewish-themed books. Bring the bookmark to Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Timonium to receive one free 30-minute jump session. For information, go to cjebaltimore.org.

Make a Difference. Before you know it, school will be right around the corner. Make a difference and start someone’s school year off with the tools they need to succeed. Join Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) on August 29 at 4:30 p.m. at the Woodholme Country Club to assemble backpacks, filled with school supplies for students at Cross Country Elementary Middle School. Visit associated.org/suppliesforsuccess or contact Erica Bloom at ebloom@associated.org to learn more.

A Wedding for All Seasons. Stop by the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) this summer for its newest exhibit, Just Married: Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland. Running through September 17, Just Married! incorporates the JMM’s collections of wedding artifacts – including dresses, tuxedos, invitations, albums, ketubahs (Jewish wedding contracts), photos and more – to show how Jewish Marylanders navigated the demands of their particular religious and secular identities when planning and enjoying the wedding. Go to jewishmuseummd.org to learn more.

This story originally appeared in the July issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Jewish My Way
Tuesday, June 06, 2017

By Rochelle Eisenberg

When Amy and Ben Goldberg decided to move from their downtown Baltimore apartment, they knew immediately where they wanted to live. Amy, who recently finished graduate studies in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service at Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University, had spent countless hours in the Towson community and wanted to raise her family there.

Towson, she felt, was a diverse community that didn’t feel too suburban. At the same time, this Jewish professional didn’t want to live in the same community in which she worked. For more than half a century, Jewish Baltimoreans put down roots in Northwest Baltimore. Jews concentrated in neighborhoods like Forest Park, then Pikesville and Randallstown, attending schools and synagogues in their communities.

Yet over the past two decades, Baltimore’s Jewish community began spreading out, buying homes in nontraditional zip codes including downtown, Guilford, Ruxton, Lutherville, Timonium and Towson.

According to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore 2010 Greater Baltimore Community Study, approximately 25 percent of the Jewish community lives outside the traditional five zip codes of Northwest Baltimore (Pikesville, Park Heights, Owings Mills, Reisterstown and Mt. Washington). More than 10 percent of Baltimore’s Jewish community live along the I-83 corridor. In the past seven years since the study was conducted, it is expected that number has increased.

This year, The Associated undertook a 10-month Community Services Review Task Force to learn more about the interests of Jewish community members living in Guilford, Roland Park, Towson, Lutherville, Timonium and Hunt Valley. They conducted numerous focus groups with Jews living along the I-83 corridor.

“As demographics shift and as people move to new communities, we wanted to make sure The Associated is providing programs and services of interest to Jews, no matter where they live,” says Katie Applefeld, who co-chaired the task force with Alan Edelman.

What was found, says Edelman, is that those they spoke with wanted to be engaged and involved Jewishly.

However, what that looks like may be different for each family. It could translate into Shabbat dinners with neighbors, wine and cheese under the sukkah or Mom’s Night Out with other Jewish mothers in the community.

Goldberg, who hosted one of the focus groups in her home, wants to connect with other Jewish families in her Towson neighborhood. In part, that’s why she recently signed on to become a Community Connector, a program of the Macks Center for Jewish Education, an agency of The Associated.

Community Connectors engage young Jewish families in their neighborhood, creating social – Jewish and non-Jewish-themed – programs. Currently there are 13 connectors scattered throughout the Baltimore community, four that focus on families living in the I-83 corridor.

Goldberg will connect Jewish families who reside in Towson neighborhoods. One of the first projects she is planning to organize is “Shabbat in the Park” in local parks and playgrounds.

The program will include songs, storytelling, an informal Shabbat celebration with challah and grape juice and informal time for families to get to know one another.

This story originally appeared in the June issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Ally Train, Consummate Camper
Tuesday, June 06, 2017

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Camp is right around the corner and 17-year-old Ally Train can’t wait. She’s off to Wimberley, Texas, next month to become a CIT at a Jewish overnight camp. Ally, who got her first taste of camp at the age of 4 when attending Camp Milldale in Reisterstown, spent a number of years as a camper there. We spoke with this Franklin High School junior about why she loves camp.

Why Texas? My family is originally from Texas. We moved to Baltimore when I was little; however my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins still live there. Going to Jewish camp in Texas meant having a chance to see them and attending camp with my cousins.

Do you have favorite memories? I still remember when I was little. We learned about Jewish weddings by putting on a wedding ceremony. Everyone had a role. I was the bride’s mother and got to stand to the left of the chuppah.

During my last year, we camped in the Southwest, in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. There were so many great adventures, like whitewater rafting, and we learned how to work together.

Tell me about last summer? I went to a Jewish camp in upstate New York and I met Jewish kids from all over the world. We focused on social action issues from a Jewish perspective. We researched a topic – I focused on Syrian refugees. Then we traveled to D.C. and lobbied our congressmen and senators. It was an amazing experience, works with our close camp friends and feeling like we were making a difference.

You mentioned camp friends. I made some of my best friends at camp. Even though I don’t see them often, we’re very close. I think when you spend extended time together in a bunk, and go through similar experiences, some good, some not – like living through bugs, thunderstorms and even homesickness – the bond gets stronger.

A few years ago you went to The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping Leadership Summit.* I had a chance to get an inside view on how things are done at camp, like how to make sure every camper feels at home for however long they are away. I’m going to use what I learned when I’m a CIT this summer.

How has Jewish camp influenced you? I’m very involved with USY (United Synagogue Youth). I don’t think I would have been as interested in getting involved if not for camp. USY is very similar to camp – we sing the same songs; we have an incredible bond and it’s a place you feel accepted. Camp has taught me about being Jewish, and it did so in fun ways.

Interested in finding the right Jewish day or overnight camp for your child? Contact Janna Zuckerman at The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping for a FREE camp consultation. Email her at jzuckerman@associated.org or visit us at livecamp.org.

*The Jewish Camping Leadership Summit was funded by The Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education.

This story originally appeared in the June issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Odessa Teens Travel to Maryland to Attend Jewish Camps
Monday, June 05, 2017

According to a 2011 study conducted by the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Jewish camping has been proven to be a very effective tool in building a teen’s Jewish identity. The opportunity to make friends with Jews from around the world and learn about the different ways each connects to Judaism also helps shape and strengthen one’s Jewish faith. That is why both the Odessa and Ashkelon Partnership committees decided to combine these two life changing experiences. This summer, eight campers from Odessa and two Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) Camp Counselors will travel from Odessa, Ukraine to attend Camps Airy & Louise in Western Maryland. These teens will join ten of their peers from Ashkelon, Israel for two-weeks of action-packed fun. It is one of the first projects subsidized by the Partnership Committees to connect youth from our three cities – Ashkelon, Baltimore, and Odessa – all together.

Jonathan Gerstl, Executive Director of Camps Airy & Louise recently had the opportunity to travel to Odessa to meet the teens and counselors who will be attending camp. He was impressed by the strong Jewish community in Odessa and overwhelmed by the excellent teens who interviewed to be a part of the program. They brought a fresh enthusiasm for connecting with other Jewish teens from around the world and making new friends for life. We had a chance to sit down with some of the teens in Odessa and learn a bit about them…

Svitlana Berina, 14 years old. Favorite Hobbies: Dancing, painting, speaking Spanish, playing the Piano. Favorite Camp Activities: Arts & crafts, dancing, playing musical instruments. What are you most looking forward to about attending camp in the U.S.?  I am excited to play a variety of sports, meet new friends from all over the world, practice speaking English, and learn about American culture.

 

Vladyslav Drezels, 14 years old. Favorite Hobbies: Playing sports (baseball, ping-pong, football, basketball), watching movies. Favorite Camp Activities: Any and all sports, Israeli and Jewish culture. What are you most looking forward to about attending camp in the U.S.? I'm looking forward to meeting new friends from Israel and the U.S. and excited to try new activities like art!

Izolda Zogranian, 14 years old. Favorite Hobbies: Playing guitar, singing, reading, dancing, art. Favorite Camp Activities: Meeting new people, arts & crafts, being outdoors. What are you most looking forward to about attending camp in the U.S.? I'm most excited to meet new friends and stay in-touch with them after the camp season ends. It will be interesting to learn how our upbringings are similar or different.

Dmytro Mariash, 14 years old. Favorite Hobbies:Acrobatics, computers/electronics and reading/writing. Favorite Camp Activities: All types of sports. What are you most looking forward to about attending camp in the U.S.? I'm looking forward to meeting new friends and learning more about the culture of the U.S. and the Jewish Community.

Meet the campers on June 29th at Camps Airy & Louise. If you are interested in participating in this visit to camp, please contact Janna Zuckerman at jzuckerman@associated.org.

Not Just Your Average Joe
Friday, May 12, 2017

Lawrence-Ziffer
By Lawrence Ziffer

This week we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, which commences immediately after Shabbat Parashat Bemidbar. Shavuot is a holiday with many facets. It has several names and several explanations associated with its celebration. It is the conclusion of seven weeks since Pesach (Chag HaShavuot, the celebration of weeks), it is the time for bringing first fruits to Jerusalem in order to give thanks for agricultural bounty (Chag HaBikkurim, the celebration of first fruits) and, perhaps most importantly, it is the time designated to commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai 3,300 years ago (Zman Matan Torateinu, the time of the giving of our Torah).

The Talmud, in tractate Pesachim, (68b) tells the following terse story: Every year, on the festival of Shavuot, Rav Yosef would say to his servants: "Prepare for me a particularly well-developed calf for a sumptuous holiday celebration." He explained the reason for such a lavish celebration by saying: "If it were not for 'this day,' then I would be indistinguishable from all the other Joes (he really said 'Yosi's) in the shuk (market place)."

Rashi*, in his Talmud commentary, explains the reason for Rav Yosef's celebration: Rav Yosef recognized that it was his mastery of the Torah (which the Jewish people received on Shavuot) that distinguished and elevated him over other Yosefs (i.e. other people who did not have Torah learning). But Rashi's comment here seems to be a non-sequitur to the Talmud's statement. We already know from other sources that Rav Yosef was an outstanding scholar, so what does the explanation add? To strengthen the question, we know from another Talmudic passage (Sotah 49) that Rav Yosef was the quintessential humble person. Why would he "brag" that his Torah knowledge elevated him over other people who pursue more mundane day-to-day activities?

One way to understand this story is to get a better picture of Rav Yosef from other Talmudic sources. In tractate Horayot (14a) we learn that Rav Yosef was a brilliant scholar who at one point in his life fell seriously ill and suffered profound amnesia, forgetting all the Torah that he had learned. His devoted student, Abayei, who later succeeded him as a leading Talmudic scholar and head of the academy at Pumbeditha, dedicated himself to re-teaching his master all he had learned from him.

There is something else we know about Rav Yosef from the Talmud in Menachot (99a): Rav Yosef taught an important lesson about the tablets on which the ten commandments were inscribed. The first tablets were smashed when Moshe/Moses brought them down from Mt. Sinai at Shavuotand found the Israelites worshiping a golden calf. The second tablets were brought down by Moshe the following Yom Kippur and they replaced the smashed tablets. But both the smashed pieces of the first tablets and the second tablets were kept in the aron/ark that accompanied the people through their desert journey and into Canaan. (This point is not self-evident from the ambiguous verse in Devarim/ Deuteronomy 10:2, but Rav Yosef interprets it as such). Rav Yosef explains that the reason for keeping the smashed pieces together with the intact tablets was to teach us a valuable lesson. Someone who was once a scholar but involuntarily forgot his knowledge still deserves respect (note the significance of this being quoted in Rav Yosef's name!). Just as the first tablets retained their sanctity even after they were no longer legible, so too, a scholar should be honored as when he was at his peak, even if he has lost his knowledge.

We might have thought that once Rav Yosef suffered his illness and loss of Torah learning, he was indeed just like all the other Yosefs in the shuk. But despite suffering the despair of his amnesia, he retained his love of Torah. That love was based on the Sinai experience and the fact that Rav Yosef felt he had a timeless connection to that historic event. We can assume that Rav Yosef actually relived the event every year at Shavuot; it would not have been sufficient for him to merely celebrate the holiday and recall the event. That is why he attributed his status as a unique Yosef to "this day." It was not merely his scholarship, but his love of and connection to the Torah that was given on Shavuot that elevated him. No one could mistake such a statement for immodesty!

And so it is for us on Shavuot. We have an opportunity to reconnect to the Torah. Our essential connection need not be through profound scholarship (although that helps!). Rather it is can be through any learning commitment we may have, as long as we realize how special it is to be a descendant of those who received the Torah at Mt Sinai. Jewish education has the ability to help us understand more deeply the lessons of life as seen through uniquely Jewish eyes and to teach us the importance of maintaining our special identity and traditions. Jewish educators must focus on transmitting a love of Torah and a love for the Jewish people, all of whom share in receiving the Torah, now in the present as in the past.

In the journal New Scientist (May 21, 1964), Psychologist B. F. Skinner wrote, "Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten." On Shavuot we have an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the Jewish educational tradition that has distinguished us as a people through ups and downs, celebrations and tribulations, good times and bad times, for the past three thousand years.

Sources: Peninim; Likutei Sichot; Sefer Mareh Kohen. *Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Hebrew: רבי שלמה יצחקי), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (Hebrew: רש"י); (February 22, 1040 - July 13, 1105), was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). He is considered the "father" of all commentaries that followed on the Talmud (i.e., the Baalei Tosafot) and the Tanach.

Samuel G. and Margaret A. Gorn’s Enduring Legacy
Thursday, May 04, 2017

Gorn

"It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Never having children of their own, but enjoying the blessing of more than six decades of shared life and love, Sam and Maggie Gorn cared deeply for the most vulnerable members of our community – young families in financial distress and the elderly. The Gorns left behind a significant legacy to provide needed financial assistance to families with young children in crisis. Additionally, their legacy for the elderly allows members of our Jewish community to age in place and with dignity. The Gorn's enduring generosity allows The Associated and its agencies to find the most innovative and effective ways to support our community in need.

An excerpt, in their own words, from The Associated's Endowment Book of Life, August 2003:

“I have always felt that a man has an obligation to provide amply for his family, but also to assist those less fortunate.

In giving charity one gives more than money, one gives a bit of heart to the future. Charity is a trait taught early in the Jewish household. Even though my family was far from wealthy, I remember the Tetley Tea carton with a slot in the top, which served as the “pushke” in the kitchen. There was always something available for those in need.

This year my wife and I will make our 54th contribution to The Associated. We have chosen The Associated to continue our legacy of giving because we feel that our desire to have the funds help the indigent aged and sick children will be honored and carefully monitored.”

Leaving a legacy ensures succeeding generations will live in a strong and vibrant Jewish community. While each family’s situation is different, there are some planning strategies that can help you provide for your heirs and create your Jewish legacy. Click here to request your free Planning Your Legacy wills guide and to learn more.

Contact Jacqueline Fuchs Yahr, Esq., Director of Charitable Planning at jyahr@associated.org or call 410-369-9248 with questions. Or visit associated.giftlegacy.com for more information.

Sports and Competition: Are We Pushing Our Kids?
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Sports-and-Competition
By Rochelle Eisenberg

If you have young children in sports, you know the deal. Game day. The pressure to win. The desire to be the best.

It often happens as early as four or five years old, as parents begin to enroll their children in rec leagues. Later, if they are not part of a travel team, there’s worry they won’t succeed.

Yet, this desire to push our children too early may be impacting their enjoyment of sports. According to a poll by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organized sports by age 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore.”

That’s not to say parents shouldn’t sign their kids up early for sports. The benefits are enormous: from better health to opportunities for socialization. It just means it may be time to rethink how sports programs are designed. That’s one of the reasons the JCC, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, recently introduced a new program that incorporates learning the basic skills in a clinic environment, in addition to playing the game.

“I was finding that many kids who were in sports leagues lacked many of the basic skills to be successful. They often grew frustrated. They lost confidence in their abilities and began to not enjoy the game,” says Rebecca Chinsky, senior director of recreation and JCC Maccabi at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

This new program teaches everything from kicking, passing and goalkeeping in soccer to dribbling and shooting in basketball. Kids even learn the rules. The more they learn, the more proficient they become and confidence rises.

“In an era of sport specialization, at the youngest ages, finding the balance is not easy. A modest schedule of year-round activity that focuses on basic skills that are common to most sports promotes an active lifestyle. It also promotes the skill development necessary to compete at a higher level once the sports that they love are chosen in adolescence,” explains Wendell Lee, youth wellness coordinator at the JCC.

One of the biggest fans of the program is Esther Jandorf. Her son Ian signed up for the youth basketball league at the JCC this past winter. As the shortest kid on the team, Ian often had trouble making a basket. But thanks to Coach Lee, what could have been a negative sports experience turned positive.

“Wendell was so calm. He didn’t yell. He just guided my son. Ian often would stay late after clinic to practice. And Wendell stayed late watching him until he was done,” says Jandorf.

The JCC program is based on the National Alliance for Youth Sports’ Nine National Standards which serve as a blueprint on how organizations should conduct youth sports programs. These standards emphasize teaching developmentally-appropriate skills and age-appropriate competitive environments.

“Participating in sports provides so many benefits for children, from cutting down on body fat to providing an outlet for stress. It provides opportunities for interacting with peers and teaches self-control and time management. That’s why it’s important to make these programs positive experiences so that our kids will continue to find ways to participate as they grow,” says Chinsky.

“This JCC program was a great way for my son to have fun in a relaxed atmosphere, one in which he was constantly being assessed. I think that’s why he learned more than he ever thought,” says Jandorf.

Visit jcc.org/leagues to learn more.

Top photo: These youngsters participated in the JCC’s basketball clinic where they learned skills that would help them gain confidence and enjoy the game.

Volunteering with Jennifer Grossman
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Jennifer-Grossman
By Rochelle Eisenberg

A little over 10 years ago, Jennifer Grossman reached out to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore to become more involved in her community. She quickly realized how interested she was in the work of Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC). In 2007, she became chair of JVC’s signature event, Community Mitzvah Day, and served in that capacity for three years.

Since then, she’s made JVC her passion – serving in a variety of roles, including chair of the board. She’s engaged her family; husband Andy and children Matthew, Alexa and Kate, involving them along the way. This May, Grossman will move on after 10 years of volunteering with JVC.

Your first involvement was Mitzvah Day? I became chair in 2007. The idea of mobilizing a large group of people with one goal in mind intrigued me. We had people of all ages, from all parts of our community, coming together to help those in need. We made sandwiches, prepared and delivered winter care packages, served meals to the homeless and brought gifts to children less fortunate. To be so hands-on was incredibly empowering.

I know you always involved your children on Mitzvah Day. It was important to Andy and I that we open our kids’ eyes to the larger community and ways they could impact it. One year we delivered the winter care packages. The streets were empty except one very frail gentleman who had just received a bag. He reached into it and pulled out the hand colored card before even checking what was inside and smiled. What an incredible lesson for the kids to see, to realize about giving things with dignity and the power of humanity and kindness.

Volunteering and Israel? Right before I became chair, I spent 10 days in Israel traveling the country through the lens of JVC. Two years ago, I visited again as part of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership mission. One of the most powerful days was when we painted bedrooms for at risk children at Orr Shalom* and helped construct their playground. Watching their excitement when they saw what we did was probably one of the most gratifying times in my life.

My dream was to run a Mitzvah Mission to Israel for families and create these kinds of experiences for them. Last December, as a culmination of chairing JVC, I was given the honor with my husband to chair The Associated’s Family Mitzvah Mission.

What did you do? For 10 days we traveled Israel and participated in different volunteer projects in each city we visited. We did everything from making chocolate in a factory created for youth at risk as a means to teach them vocational skills, to spending a magical day with foster families at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, to refurbishing the grounds of a low income school in Ashkelon, making it usable again for hundreds of kids.

What’s next? My work with JVC and The Associated rooted me in my Jewish identity and made me realize I want to continue to be part of the Jewish community and find ways to strengthen it.

I am currently in the process, with a longtime colleague of mine, of launching a non-profit organization focusing on improving the lives of Jewish children who have been negatively impacted by stressors in the home.

* Orr Shalom rescues Israeli children suffering from abuse, neglect or tragedy and provides them with a safe home and educational material and psychological support.

Learn more at jvcbaltimore.org. This story originally appeared in the May issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Top Photo: Jennifer Grossman (middle) involves her family (left to right) Matthew, Andy, Kate and Alexa in her volunteer projects. (Courtesy photo)

Navigating the News
Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Navigating-the-News
By Karen Nettler, MSW 

Reading the morning newspaper and watching the evening news was a “habit” I picked up as a child. Even when I was young, I enjoyed learning about the world around me. Looking back on those years, I do not remember being terrified by what I read and watched. Fast forward to today, and it’s an entirely different experience.

Over the decades, access to information and communication has developed at an incredibly rapid pace. Any news organization that is not prepared to showcase Live, Local, Late-Breaking news will not survive. The more visual images that accompany the stories – the better for their ratings! Further, we are exposed to graphic images on a regular basis – both in print, on-line and on television. Social media has also become a popular media to re-transmit these stories and images. I know I am not alone when I recognize the negative effects these stories and images have on my daily outlook. I struggle to find the balance between staying informed and protecting myself from such disturbing (and often depressing) news.

Natural disasters; destruction of our environment; war across the globe; the plight of the poor in our country and around the world; victims of political and fanatic ideologies; and targeted and random aggression in our streets -- all these stories and images appear up in my living room and on my computer and smartphone. Wanting to be a caring, concerned and educated member of society should not mean I have to be consumed by the never-ending stream that is put out there.

Finding the right balance for me means that I set aside 30 minutes in the early morning to catch up on the overnight news and I watch only one 30-minute national news story in the evening. I refuse to subscribe to “breaking news” alerts coming to my smartphone which are offered by all the media outlets. By doing so, I choose to contain these fear and sadness provoking stories to small windows in my daily routine. Here are a few additional tips to consider when balancing the need to know with the need not to know too much:

  • Look for news summaries. Many news outlets daily emails that recap world events. Sign up to have them sent to your inbox or look for the edited version of the day’s events at the beginning of certain news programs.
  • Limit exposure to social media. Some people like to share disturbing news clips on their social media feed, so if you’re avoiding the nightly news, you might want to stay completely unplugged.
  • Protect your children. If graphic pictures and details of tragic events are disturbing to you, imagine what they’re doing to your kids. Try to avoid as much as you can when the little ones are around.

The key to remember -- you are in charge. You can’t control what they send out, but you can limit what you and your family allows in. Taking back control of my viewing habits has freed me to enjoy the blessings of each day and to be more productive in the work I enjoy doing.

Four Ways to Get Involved this Summer
Monday, May 01, 2017

Get involved with IMPACT

 

Your twenties and thirties are filled with life changes – landing your first “real” job, connecting with new friends and neighbors, buying a home in your favorite neighborhood and starting a family. Luckily, you’re not alone – you have a place in Jewish Baltimore with IMPACT, the young adult division (ages 22 – 39) of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

We host social happy hours, volunteer days to give back, professional networking events, philanthropic opportunities, young family programming and so much more. Here are a couple of ways you can get involved this summer!

Meet Up. No matter how long you’ve lived here, you’re invited to our next social event. Make new friends, reconnect with old ones and bring others along! Make sure to check out our event calendar for what’s coming up – hands-on happy hours, gatherings at Orioles games and more.

Volunteer. Cleaning up our neighborhoods, providing meals to the homeless, visiting seniors in assisted living facilities – find a volunteer opportunity that speaks to you! Our partner, Repair the World Baltimore, oversees two young adult VolunTeams (volunteer teams) that meet and serve at different locations around Baltimore. (Learn more about the young adult VolunTeams here!)

Lead. Take the next step and learn how to become a leader within the community. Applications are now open for Young Leadership Council (YLC), a two-year leadership development program featuring fundraising, educational programs, community-service projects and agency observation experiences. You’ll walk away an understanding of Baltimore’s organized Jewish community and the importance of philanthropy.

Give Back. What can you do with $18? Grab an Uber. Buy some lattes. See an Orioles game. Change a life. With The Associated, there are so many ways your gift can improve the quality of Jewish life right here in Baltimore.

Want to get involved with IMPACT? Send Rebecca Ellison an email at rellison@associated.org.

Meet Penny Pazornick
Monday, May 01, 2017

Baltimore

 

There's someone new at IMPACT! Meet Penny Pazornick, our new director. Whether you're new in town or looking to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore, Penny is here to help you on your journey. 

You came to The Associated and IMPACT from New York City. What brought you to Baltimore? I’m originally from Baltimore and when this opportunity came up to return home, I couldn’t pass it by. Those of us that have moved away, really get a rare opportunity to appreciate everything that our close-knit community has to offer. I’ve really missed Baltimore and I’m so glad to say that I’m finally home!

What are you most excited to start working on here at The Associated? That’s a hard question. The Associated does so much for our community and has so many great events. I’m thrilled and privileged to be part of this innovative and creative team that every year raises millions of dollars to care for those who are less fortunate in Baltimore and around the globe. As far as events, I can’t wait to start working on the Generosity Gala, as I know what a phenomenal event it has been and will continue to be.

Summer is almost upon us! Any big plans? Baltimore has so much to offer. I can’t wait to take advantage of the warm weather by hiking and biking. I’m a huge Orioles fan and I look forward to wearing my orange and black and cheering for the O’s.

If you could invite one person to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? There are so many people that I would love to see at my Shabbat table from the past and present but if you are forcing me to pick one, then I would have to say Elie Wiesel. I would invite him to share his experiences in surviving the Holocaust. Can you just imagine, sitting in the presence of a man who spent his entire life fighting for peace, human rights and simple human decency?

Want to get in touch with Penny? Send her an email or give her a call at 410-369-9296.

Technology and Stalking: Why We Need To Be Concerned
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Technology-Stalking
By Rochelle Eisenberg

The numbers are staggering. Each year, more than 7.5 million women and men find themselves victims of stalking, resulting in serious emotional and physical ramifications. Stalking affects approximately 15 percent of women and six percent of men in their lifetime. Half of all victims are stalked before the age of 25.

According to Lauren Shaivitz, program director at CHANA, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community of Baltimore, there is a strong correlation between stalking and homicide. Also, a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that teens who were stalked were more likely to report symptoms linked to depression and engage in risky behaviors such as binge drinking and sexting.

We asked Shaivitz to talk about the issue and how CHANA can help.

How has stalking changed? The stereotypical view of stalking is that of the ex-boyfriend who destroys property or sends threatening notes. Although that still happens, stalking has moved to the cyber world. Today, with the advent of technology, stalkers may use it to learn more information about their victims than was previously available. Through vehicles such as social media, cell phones and the internet, they may spread rumors as well as harass and defame a person’s character. We’ve even seen an increase in stalkers placing tracking and listening devices in cars and phones so victims are not aware they are being stalked.

Devices? Yes. The stalker can monitor what’s going on in their victim’s lives, listening to conversations through cell phones and reading personal texts and emails. They may even use cameras to watch what one is doing. And tracking devices tell stalkers where their victims are at any given time.

What can stalking victims do? Organizations like CHANA can help. We will look at each person’s situation, individually, evaluate the facts, as well as the type of stalking experience, to determine the best approach to take. Sometimes a protective order might work yet other times it can escalate the danger.

For example, we tell victims not to cut off all contact at once, like blocking them from text messages, social media and phone conversations because that can increase the potential for real danger. At CHANA, trained professionals can help develop a safety plan.

Should you get friends involved? I think it’s always a good idea to share your situation with people you trust, including friends, family members, your rabbi. That way those who care won’t share your whereabouts with the stalker. However, sometimes, these people become victims of the stalker themselves, getting pulled into the situation. Agencies like CHANA may need to get involved.

I understand CHANA was involved with changing Maryland's stalking law? Yes. Last year, CHANA testified in the Maryland General Assembly on behalf of a bill to redefine stalking to also include behavior that causes an individual serious emotional distress. The bill also expanded the list of harassing and stalking behaviors to include newer technologies such as misuse of electronic communications and interactive computer services, as well as visual surveillance. The bill passed and was enacted last fall.

If you know someone who may be a victim of stalking, contact CHANA at 410-234-0023 or go to chanabaltimore.org.

 

Moving A Parent To Assisted Living
Monday, April 24, 2017

Assisted-Living

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Moshe Englander remembers when his mother, Edith, first moved to assisted living. She had gone to convalesce at Weinberg Park following hip replacement surgery.

Her husband, Sidney, was already living there. Unfortunately, he passed away a week and a half after Edith arrived.

“I remember my mom said to me at the time, ‘I’m here. Why should I go back to an empty house?’” recalls Englander.

For eight years, Edith lived at Weinberg Park.

“In the beginning, my mother was alert and could get around with a walker. Then she was diagnosed with dementia and began to deteriorate. Weinberg Park adjusted her care accordingly, bending over backward to make sure she was happy and never had to move to another facility or nursing home.”

For Englander, the move to assisted living was made easier by his mother’s attitude. But for many families, it’s not so simple.

It’s not easy for parents and children to reach the conclusion that it’s time for assisted living says Shoshana Zuckerbrod, a social worker with the Patient Care Connection Program at Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. But, when they reach that conclusion, it’s important for them to approach this major lifestyle change in the right way.

“Don’t come in and say, ‘This is what we are doing,’” Zuckerbrod says. “Instead, begin by planting the seed about why this move is important for their health and safety.”

In addition, finding the right person to make the case is critical. It might not be the adult child. “If you know a parent listens to a sibling or grandchild more, enlist their help,” she says.

One of the best approaches to getting buy-in is to check out the facility with one’s parent during an activity they would enjoy. And says, Zuckerbrod, “If you know someone in assisted living having a positive experience, visit their living space and talk to them.”

Picking the right assisted living facility should include a tour. And one of the things families should pay attention to is the atmosphere, says Penina Berman, housing asset specialist at CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc., an agency of The Associated.

“When touring facilities, ask yourself if you could live there. And pay attention to the friendliness of the staff, the entire staff,” Berman says.

Berman also recommends asking about staff turnover, the number of hours a nurse is on duty and the size of facility. “Sometimes, your family member can get more personal attention in a smaller facility,” she says.

And, of course, one should consider what programming a parent might like.

For example, at Weinberg Park, which is owned by CHAI, much of what they do is based on Jewish traditions. There are Shabbat meals, with gefilte fish, matzoh ball soup and roast chicken. And, for those who are interested, the Jewish holidays are celebrated.

For Englander, the Jewish traditions, from megillah reading at Purim to meals in the Sukkah were important to his mother, a Holocaust survivor. But most important was the care.

“The staff loved my mother and always made her feel comfortable. My family have such gratitude for the love and care they gave my mother, all the way to the end.”

Learn more at weinbergpark.com.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Music from Hell: World ORT Compiles Largest Archive of Music from the Shoah
Friday, April 21, 2017

Holocaust music

 

It was the perfect assignment for a lifelong music aficionado – compose a note for the London Symphony Orchestra about the famous German conductor who had been invited to perform. But Clive Marks just couldn't do it.

“I didn’t know how he acted during World War II,” Clive says. “Did he refuse to play the Nazi anthem? How did he feel when the Nazis fired the Jewish members of his orchestra?”

An orchestra official told him to just get over it, “It happened a long time ago!” But Clive couldn’t. This was in 1965.

But through his frustration came a revelation: studying the Holocaust through music could spark new interest among Jews inured to stories of death and destruction. “From then on, I knew the subject of music and the Holocaust was one I had to pursue,” he says.

His quest received a huge boost following a life-changing trip with Federation partner World ORT.

World ORT took Clive – a former chair of the London College of Music and London School of Jewish Studies, and a lecturer on music and the Third Reich for over 40 years – on what he calls “one of the most incredible experiences of my life”: a whirlwind tour of ORT’s cutting-edge Jewish day schools in ten countries around the world. “Tremendously impressed,” he realized World ORT’s global reach and emphasis on Jewish education made them the perfect partner to spearhead his unique approach within Holocaust studies.

Together with Dr. Shirli Gilbert – a history professor at the University of Southampton as well as a musician and a grandchild of survivors – he curates World ORT’s Music and the Holocaust website. It’s now the world’s largest archive of such materials, including information on hundreds of composers, places, and themes, plus hours of sound and video clips.

Now, anyone in the world can learn about Aleksander Kulisiewicz, who composed 54 songs over five years in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp; Herman Sachnowitz, a trumpeter in one of the six orchestras at Auschwitz; or any of the hundreds of other people who took the worst experience in human history and—willingly or not—turned it into art. “You listen to it and realize how much we’ve lost,” Clive says.

No matter how much one learns about the Holocaust, listening to it is of vital importance to any Jew and lover of 20th century music. “People are moved by the rawness of the early recordings, and the voices of the young survivors freshly liberated from the camps. It opens their minds to a different perspective on the Holocaust,” Shirli says.

Their dedication is paying off. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, BBC 3 Radio aired a major London concert of music from the Holocaust to great success. “The radio concerts have generated a huge amount of publicity and interest,” says Shirli. “Most people were not aware of this.”

It’s also prompted the creation of 20 fellowships for post-graduate students to explore new avenues such as the role of Sephardic music in the Holocaust and the effect it had on sacred music.

“People ask me, ‘Why do you want to be involved with this tragic music all day?’ but I find it inspiring that it was composed against such long odds,” Clive says. “You can’t describe the hunger or the cold or how it feels to know you’ll never see your loved ones again. But when you hear the music, you begin to realize the savagery of what happened. World ORT’s work explains that the Holocaust is deeper and more far-reaching than anyone could imagine.”

World ORT is a partner organization of The Associated.

Meet Andrew Finkelstein
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Andrew-Finkelstein

Real Estate Industry Group (REIG) Chair Andrew Finkelstein works in the Capital Markets Group of JLL as an investment sales broker, primarily selling office assets in the Baltimore Metro area and south into the Baltimore Washington corridor. Andrew, a 4th generation Baltimorean, attended McDonogh and grew up on Gerard Court off of Pimlico Road until moving to Owings Mills when he was six. Andrew was a 2017 recipient of the Fred Walpert Award, recognizing young leaders within The Associated community for their involvement and effective leadership.

How did you first get involved with The Associated? I went to work at David S. Brown Enterprises in 2004 after coming back to Baltimore from college in Philly. I was looking to get involved in the community and Arthur Adler suggested The Associated’s Young Leadership Council (YLC) as a great place to start.

Has the Real Estate Industry Group (REIG) helped to increase your professional network? Yes. I have been attending REIG events since its inception about 10 years ago, and joined the committee a few years ago, taking over the leadership reins from Geoffrey Mackler and Sam Polakoff as chair two years ago. I have absolutely increased the reach of my professional network, and more importantly, have had the opportunity to strengthen relationships with many individuals within my network through attendance of committee meetings, lunch and learns, and the annual events.

What do you love about the work that you do? I get to tell Baltimore’s story to real estate investors from all over the country. Baltimore has all the potential in the world, and has a foundation comprised of some of the most important assets a city can have – from large institutions (Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, LifeBridge Health), to elite corporations (Under Armour, TRowe Price, Legg Mason), a huge talent pool of employees, and possibly most importantly, Baltimore has an amazing food scene that is constantly producing great new concepts. The momentum in downtown Baltimore continues to pick up every second of every day.

Do you have a favorite Baltimore institution? One of my favorite Baltimore institutions has to be the Science Center. I loved it as a kid, and now taking my boys there is one of my favorite weekend activities. They run from exhibit to activity with huge smiles on their faces. I love it.

How have your life experiences and career made you the community leader you are today? I realized a long time ago that I was very blessed to have the upbringing that I did, to grow up in the community that I did, and to have access to the resources that I did. My goal, since taking on my first leadership role at The Associated, has been to inspire anyone that would listen to want to help others – by getting involved with an organization whose mission is to help others, or by financially supporting those institutions.

What advice can you offer others looking for a career in commercial real estate? Tough question. I think the best advice I can give is to suggest that anyone looking to break into commercial real estate should seek out experience. The industry is tough in general, and takes a significant amount of expertise to navigate successfully. Find a successful firm, or individual, that is willing to teach you in exchange for your effort and you may have a path to a great career.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not at work, I’m… eating. And sometimes when I’m at work I’m eating. And sometimes when I’m out eating, I’m working. Aside from that I’m spending time with my family and friends. And we’re usually eating.

Join Andrew and other real estate professionals at the Real Estate Industry Group's Annual Event on June 26! Registration is now open.

Meet Elise Rubenstein
Thursday, April 06, 2017

Elise-Rubenstein

For the past 13 years, Elise Rubenstein has been making a difference as a member of the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF), a giving circle that empowers women to make funding decisions for programs that affect women and girls. She’s played a major role in determining how grants will be allocated and for the past two years, she has served as chair of JWGF. As she winds down her two-year term as chair, Elise talks about the role she’s played and how important the program is to the community.

How did you first become involved in JWGF? Fourteen years ago, my dear friend Alyson Friedman told me that she was starting a new program with The Associated and asked me to join. I told her that it sounded interesting, but that I wanted to see how the first year went. What piqued my interest was the fact that all types of women were being asked to come around a table and make a difference together. The next year, I joined JWGF and have been a member ever since!

How has the group responded to community needs? With the way our grant cycle works, our site visits of potential grant recipients take place in the early spring followed by a voting session in May. Two years ago, we encountered the Baltimore riots during the time of our site visits. As we met with executive directors of different organizations here in Baltimore, I knew that we had the ability to make a big impact. As we came around the voting table, we made the decision to keep 80 percent of our dollars in Baltimore. It was inspiring to see how our group came together to recognize an immediate need and respond.

Why was it important to participate in a giving opportunity that targeted women and girls? Unfortunately, there are fewer opportunities available to women and girls. We are helping women in all walks of life get the support and skills they need to make it on their own. Our grants have helped women overcome homelessness and abuse to become financially independent. Our work with middle and high school girls often funds mentoring and skill building programs that will enable many of these girls to be the first in their families to go to college.

What have you learned from the other women in JWGF? These women around the table are so passionate, intelligent, committed and dedicated to making the lives of women and girls better. Through the work of JWGF, members are not only philanthropists, but businesswomen. Many of us would not have the evaluation and financial acumen without this experience.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention that we have all learned so much about our Jewish community and greater Baltimore community through the grantmaking process. This knowledge has been eye-opening and inspiring for us all.

What did you hope to accomplish in your term as chair of JWGF? As my term comes to an end, I feel proud of what we have accomplished over the past two years. I am thrilled that we could make our first multi-year grant last year. I have worked to make our grantmaking process more strategic and equitable. We have also grown by 50 members since I began my term! It has been a joy and privilege to serve as chair and I am confident that JWGF will continue to do great things as it moves forward. It has also been great to work with such a dynamic professional partner as Jennifer Millman.

Why do you feel philanthropy is so important? Does your family practice philanthropy together? Since joining JWGF I have discovered my passion for philanthropy. There is no feeling quite like the one I have after giving and helping others. I can’t contain myself when I come home from a site visit – I must tell my family all about what I saw and learned. In fact, after having visited an organization that tutors middle school-aged girls, I encouraged my daughter to seek a similar organization in her community. And she did! She has been tutoring the same girl for the past two years and hopes to continue through the student’s high school years.

If you are interested in learning more about JWGF, contact Jennifer Millman at jmillman@associated.org or 410-369-9205. 

Shlicha Michal Wetzler Shares Life Experiences at Pearlstone
Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Michael

With her contagious smile and passion for everything she does, Michal Wetzler, the Israeli shlicha (emissary) at The Pearlstone Center, clearly is a woman with a mission. Her mission and drive come from a deep love for the land of Israel and the Jewish people – and her own family history.

Originally from Hungary, Michal’s grandparents were taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in 1944. Michal’s grandmother was pregnant at the time they arrived at Bergen-Belson, and three months after being liberated from the concentration camp, gave birth to Michal’s father. The new family then went on to fulfill a lifelong dream to immigrate to Israel. Her grandparents became part of the founders of Kfar HaChoresh, a kibbutz in the north near Nazareth, established to help plant trees for the newly formed State of Israel.

Life in Israel wasn’t always easy for the Wetzler family. Michal’s uncle, the youngest of the three Wetzler brothers, was killed in 1969 in battle. Michal shares how losing a family member who was fighting to protect the people of Israel continues to affect her family and the kibbutz. “This tragic and unfortunate loss for my family, community and country gives me a really deep connection to the land and people.”

One of five children, four whom still live on the kibbutz with their spouses and families, Michal was always surrounded by a strong community. Growing up on a kibbutz and being very active in her youth movement, Michal discovered the importance of volunteering and responsibility for one’s community. When she had the opportunity as a solider to participate on a Birthright bus of students, she learned about Jews all over the world and instantly wanted to continue to contribute to the global Jewish community. “At that point my understanding and my connection to Jews all over the world began. I fell in love with Jewish life and Jewish people around the world.”

Following her army service, she immediately enrolled as a shlicha at a summer camp and spent the summer in California. Returning to Israel, she attended college, trained to be a tour guide, as well as a teacher, and knew she would return to America. Upon finishing college, she applied to be a shlicha, and found herself a dream position at Pearlstone.

“There is nowhere else in the world, like Pearlstone, that currently has a shaliach. Deepening the connection between the Jewish people, land, nature and Israel is something that is groundbreaking.”

Michal’s goal for her time in Baltimore is to show that Judaism, nature and Israel is a very powerful combination. Nature is a big part of the Jewish culture – holidays are built around seasons, the moon, agriculture, etc., - and the land of Israel is an important part of the Jewish people.

At Pearlstone, Michal has created and expanded programs that connect people to Israel and Judaism through nature. She works with people who visit Pearlstone, the Baltimore community and the staff. At Pearlstone, Michal helped create and facilitate a very successful Israeli Family Farm Day on the Farm in partnership with The Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE). The day served as an opportunity for 30 Hebrew-speaking families to have fun, learn and meet other Israeli families. The day included Israeli music, make your own pita over a fire pit, time with Pearlstone’s goats and chickens, shofar blowing and a nature hike. One of the popular activities that day, was making your own hummus….on a bicycle blender!

Michal also runs monthly programs for Israeli families, called Shomeri HaAretz. Participants have the opportunity to take part in many fun activities at Pearlstone, much like the recent Israeli Family Farm Day - all while speaking Hebrew.

Throughout the year, Michal interacts with many different groups at Pearlstone including facilitating the Tiyul Outdoor Adventures, year-round and summer immersive farm and forest experiences with daytime and overnight summer options for 2nd to 8th graders. At Tiyul Outdoor Adventures, an out-of-the-box, inspirational, earth-based Jewish educational program, children learn about nature and Judaism while having fun, being safe, and challenging themselves.

She has also created monthly Havdalah bonfires for young adult and an immersive Hebrew language program called Ivrit B’aretz. Beyond Israel educational programs, Michal has begun leading Israel dialogues, creating safe space for young adults at Pearlstone, and working in Partnership with the Associated’s IMPACT young adults.

Michal recently got engaged and will return in the summer to live on the kibbutz with her family and her grandmother who is currently 96 years old. The kibbutz is not the same as when it was established in the 1940s. Today the kibbutz runs a bakery that supplies the majority of bread for the north of Israel and raises chickens. It even has farms that produce almonds, olives, wheat, cotton, sunflower seeds and oranges. “I know my Shlichut will never end. When I go back home, I will take inspiration back to Israel. We take Judaism for granted in Israel, so I will take the strong Jewish identity that I have learned back to Israel with me and continue to share it with others.”

IMPACT Passover Traditions
Tuesday, April 04, 2017

IMPACT Passover Traditions

 

Each year for Passover, families across the country gather to abstain from eating foods with leaven, participate in the Seder, read from the Haggadah and more. Although we have these rituals, many families have their own special traditions for their Seder tables. We spoke with a few members of the IMPACT Board and discovered what makes their Seders so special.

Julie Blumenfeld: Every year I travel home to Savannah, Georgia for Passover. My parents' first Seder is always a special one in which they invite people who don't have family to be with for the Seder or might not necessarily have another Seder to go to. My dad welcomes everyone to add their own words of Torah to share so that we can all benefit from learning new things! It is truly my favorite holiday!

Sarah David: My Jewish holidays have always been celebrated with my immediate family and our closest family friends, the Salzbergs. For Passover, our families each host one of the Seders and our families have each written our own Haggadot – comprised of all the required elements of the Seder as well as some fun Passover songs (last years' were Hamilton themed) and personal family stories (we watch a recording of Steve's uncle, a Holocaust survivor, discuss making matzah in the concentration camp). Instead of searching for the afikoman – all the children make demands and engage in a negotiation – gifts from the adults in exchange for the afikomen. While we never got the cruises or cars we demanded as children, we worked well as a team before handing the adults the afikomen and ending the Seder. This year, both families have a third generation to celebrate Passover together! While at four weeks old my son might need some help with the four questions, I am thrilled he will grow up with our wonderful extended family and traditions!

Joel Fink: We have an interfaith family, and Passover is really special for us. We invite my wife's family, some friends and our interfaith neighbors, so we have a really inclusive Seder. What's nice is that, for Passover, you can customize the experience for what is special to your family. So, we found different verses of the prayers that speak to everybody, that are inclusive, that are modern and that reflect the times in which we live. We don't stick to anything super traditional – we try to make it so that everybody is included. It's something where everybody can – whether it's their first time or their hundreth time – just sit and participate and not feel excluded. 

Harel Turkel: Our Passover tradition includes two nights of seders with both sides of the family and then a Passover lunch, which we host, on the first day. For generations, my mother’s family would make Kubeh, a matzo meal ball that is filled with ground beef and onions and then fried, which is prepared a week before Passover and served at this lunch. They are accompanied by Arak, an anise liquor from Israel, as well as hard boiled eggs and chopped liver which rounds out the best meal of the holiday. Since our children started attending Jewish day school their spring break falls over Passover, so after the second seder we usually leave for a 4-5 night vacation where we keep Passover by having a strict diet. Looking forward to another great holiday!

Chag Sameach from all of us at IMPACT! Want to dive in to some leavened goodness post-Passover? Join us, Repair the World and Moishe House for CarbFest on April 19! Registration is now open

How Much Do You Know About Passover?
Monday, April 03, 2017

Associated Quiz

 

You’ve learned about the Exodus from Egypt countless times in congregational school, attended numerous mock and real Seders, eaten your share of Matzah and macaroons, but how much do you really know about the holiday? Test your knowledge of Passover and see if you lead family and friends in the ultimate Seder this year.

A Trip of a Lifetime
Monday, March 27, 2017

Remi-Kessler
By Remi A. Kessler
Hopkins Hillel 

As a college student who had never visited Israel before my trip on Birthright in January 2017, I didn’t know what to expect. Still recovering from my final exams in late December, I hadn’t even glanced at the itinerary before the trip nor did I know anyone traveling with me.

The ten days that would follow would be transformative - intellectually, personally and spiritually - and the sensibilities Israel awakened within me forever changed my worldview.

Traveling with 39 other peers from Johns Hopkins University from the northernmost point in Israel all the way to the Dead Sea and the Negev Desert was incredible. The biblical and historical sites, spending time getting to know the Israeli people and the other students as well as the excursions – made me appreciate Israel in a way I never previously conceived possible. However, the most influential aspect of the trip was the six Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who accompanied us throughout our journey.

Questions about Israel, its politics and policies overwhelmed me when I arrived in Israel. I realized how much I didn’t know and didn’t fully understand. One of the soldiers, Guy, the only combat soldier of the six, explained his perception of the situation at hand.

I would ask him question after question about patrolling the Gaza border. He explained how Hamas used money it received from the United Nations to construct tunnels into Israel to conduct acts of terror. He described his inconceivable shock when he first observed just how sophisticated these tunnels were – constructed out of huge, high quality stones with full electricity and full air-conditioning – and how these underground passages were used for terrorist black market trading.

Guy also spoke of the interactions between Israelis and Palestinians, and that in fact, most wanted peace. Having Guy there to explain these issues was helpful to my understanding of Israel, the threats it faces on a daily basis, what it must do to protect itself from aggressors on all sides and how it can continue to work towards peace.

Soldiers on the trip described how they are all incredibly proud of Israel, to represent the IDF, and to defend its democratic values in a region where no other democracy exists.

On the last day of our trip, the entire group spent the morning at Yad Vashem and the afternoon in the military cemetery. For me, this was the most significant part of the trip. Our tour guide, Ari, lead the way, pointing out Golda Meir’s grave among other formidable contributors to Israel. We visited the tombstone of a young American named Max Steinberg, who had been on a Birthright trip and had loved Israel to such an extent, that he joined the IDF. He ultimately fell in battle fighting Hamas. According to Ari, Israelis were so grateful for his service that 30,000 people attended his funeral. As we continued our walk past tombstones, Ari announced that Guy would like to pay a tribute to a fallen comrade. We followed him up several flights of stairs, passing rows of graves of fallen soldiers. The most shocking part was that these soldiers were our age. Israeli and American flags draped several graves, and I later learned that multiple Americans, not only Max Steinberg, had come to Israel and joined the IDF.

Guy stopped in front of a grave, and spoke to us about his fallen comrade. He described his friend, a 20-year-old man with a wife and a baby at home, who was in the supermarket one evening last year. Across several aisles, he heard the sound of violence, and immediately rushed over to help. A Palestinian armed with a knife had stabbed a customer. Guy’s friend immediately intervened to subdue the attacker. He was successful, but in the midst, the Palestinian stabbed his neck. He died shortly thereafter.

Guy spoke of this man’s selflessness, his honor and courage, his deep-hearted desire to always serve and protect others even though he had much at stake with a young family at home. At the end of this speech he took his pin off his beret and placed it on the beret of his fallen comrade, which lay upon his tombstone. Engraved into the edge of the stone was a quote, “Live for yourself and you will live in vain; Live for others and you will live again.”

Following a group prayer for both the fallen soldiers and those still serving, the IDF soldiers changed tone. They described how we should not be melancholic, because these individuals were so proud to serve Israel, the Jewish state and only democracy in the Middle East. Guy explained that he trusted his fellow soldiers with his life, and that this bond – in the defense of Israel and its values – was unbreakable.

The presence of these six remarkable people left me with a sense of awe, admiration and pride for Israel. In that moment in the cemetery, never had I felt more connected to this land and more devoted to supporting Israel.

I take this experience and I now apply it back home – I use every opportunity I have to educate classmates, colleagues and friends about the oasis in the Middle East – Israel - the nation of freedom, democracy and tikkun olam.

How Would Hogwarts Host a Seder: Inclusive Passover Traditions for the Modern Muggle Jewish Family
Monday, March 20, 2017

Interfaith-Passover
By Lara Nicolson, Interfaith Engagement Director at the JCC

As a child, Passover was my favorite family holiday. We hosted Seders with my extended family, including my two living grandmothers, my aunts and my three girl cousins; so our celebrations always involved beautiful and confident female voices leading the songs, asking the questions and making lots of jokes. Our mothers were amazing hosts and cooks and hand-made all the Passover foods from their Lithuanian roots, including herring, Imberlach (ginger candy), and of course, matzah ball soup. They would adapt the recipes using ingredients they found in South Africa, and would make their own Kosher for Passover wine with grapes from the local vineyards.

Fast forward 40 years to Baltimore, Maryland and my immediate and extended family here represents a new Jewish reality – we are diverse in Jewish denominations, nationalities, gender orientation and faith backgrounds. My husband is not Jewish and though we are raising our children in a Jewish home, their connections and interests are far from my homogenous upbringing.

Over the last 12 years, we have adapted our Passover traditions to ensure that they are meaningful to everyone. We’ll include vegan-friendly dishes, and compare the Passover story to current political issues, while still singing our closing song in Yiddish. This year I even bought the Hogwarts Haggadah for my children, hoping it will help them to connect the Exodus story to their current fascination with Harry Potter. 

This Passover, I will be with my sister’s family and my mother for their more traditional Seder. I know that my interfaith family should be able to participate fully, so I thought I would write a few guidelines that we can all use to make our modern family Seders more inclusive:

1. Make your Seder interactive to learn from and with the children: When my children were younger, we had great Passover gimmicks collected from their JCC preschool (Plague masks, velcro Seder plates and coloring books) and later PJ Library books. Plays and cooking contests were critical tools for keeping them engaged in the Seder and before dinner. Now, I realize that my husband and other guests new to Passover were learning together with them. Maybe even more than the Haggadah and song sheets, the games were informal Jewish education tools. Rabbi Robyn Frisch of Interfaith family also has some useful suggestions on how to make your Passover Seder fun for kids of all ages

2. Find themes that are meaningful and relevant for all: For my children the message of Harry Potter (Moses) and his values of truth and good conquering evil Voldemort (Pharaoh) will resonate at the Seder this year. A few years ago, my cousin created her own version of a Human Rights Haggadah that we used to add modern relevance to our age-old ‘slavery to freedom’ story. On March 26, 2017, Jews United for Justice will be hosting a Labor Seder and focus on the need to support the oppressed in our Baltimore community. 

3. Add some pink to your Passover: Women play an important role in the Exodus story including Moses’ mother and sister, Miriam, the midwives and Pharaoh’s daughter who defies his order to kill the first-born Jews and save Moses. For the past few years, my friends and I have attended the Women’s Seder hosted by Associated Women in Baltimore, where we gained a new appreciation of the strong women in our lives and their role in our Jewish journeys. It was inspiring to dance with community leaders, female rabbis and generations of families- while dancing with Miriam’s tambourine, drinking from her cup and adding an orange to the Seder plate- for all who are marginalized in society. You can also add Girl Power to your Seder

4. Ask the Tough Questions: During the Seder, we are obligated to recite the four questions and we learn about the four sons, including “the one who doesn’t know how to ask.” All night we are encouraged to engage with the Passover story through thought-provoking questions. For Interfaith couples challenging issues may come to the fore when Easter and Passover fall at the same time. You need to decide how to celebrate, explains interfaith expert Marion Usher. She encourages couples to plan ahead by reflecting on past experiences and making changes that work for their new lives together

Now more than ever, the holiday of Passover is symbolic of our obligations to stand up for all who are marginalized, welcome strangers into our community and make a place at our tables for all. If you are new to celebrating Passover or just want a refreshed approach, you can sign up for a Passover email series with an overview of the story, Seder plate and how to make the holiday relevant to our lives today.

If you are looking for more resources for interfaith families, visit www.interfaithbaltimore.org

Strictly Business
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

JCS-Career-Center
By Rochelle Eisenberg

Win-win. It’s a phrase you’ve certainly heard, but there doesn’t seem to be many scenarios to which it truly applies. It’s a circumstance in which each party benefits in some way, as in a win-win situation. At Jewish Community Services (JCS), the workforce services provided through our Career Center are win-win because they benefit both job seekers and local employers.

Word is spreading about the amazing work being done at the JCS Career Center. Clients are learning what they need to do to get a job in this very competitive market. The JCS Career Center helps them succeed by offering professional career coaching plus workshops on resume writing, interviewing skills, and social media recommendations for networking. Last year more than 800 people benefitted from career services at JCS’s two locations in Baltimore and Owings Mills. The combined total salary of those who found employment with the help of the Career Center was more than five million dollars.

Those looking for work aren’t the only ones who benefit. JCS partners with employers to help them fill their positions with qualified candidates who are current clients of the Career Center. What’s even more impressive is that the service is free to employers. All they do is alert the career center about current openings, and a JCS Account Representative will provide them with personalized service.

Acme Paper & Supply Company CEO Ronald Attman understands the need for an agency like JCS in the community. “Whenever we get an opening at our business, we always post it with the JCS Career Center,” he explains. “We have had a number of Career Center clients who have come through here, they’ve done and still do a great job for us. The JCS Career Center saves employers time and money by screening job candidates before they send them to us. That means we don’t have to do as much of a background check as we do with typical job applicants.”

Acme Paper is one of the many employers who will be attending Strictly Business, a networking breakfast for local business leaders designed to highlight the win-win that comes from partnering with the JCS Career Center. Strictly Business is in its second year here in Baltimore. Last year 275 people attended the inaugural event. This year, the event is nearly sold out so 350 guests will be on hand to hear featured speakers Scott Burger, president of Pandora Jewelry and Erin Chamberlin, general manager of Horseshoe Casino.

Laura Bristow, JCS director of economic Services, sees the purpose of Strictly Business as twofold. “Not only are we engaging employers with JCS, we are providing a venue for employers to engage and network with each other.”

She and her staff are encouraging employers to submit openings for a variety of positions. “We work with people at any stage in their career,” she says. “The JCS Career Center is helping people move forward in the workplace. We like to say we meet them where they are – understand their needs and help them take the next step.”

That next step leads to a brighter future for everyone – job seekers looking for work and the employers who hire them. The connection is the JCS Career Center – truly a win-win for everyone.

For more information on the JCS Career Center visit us online at JCSbaltimore.org or call 410-466-9200. To find out more about Strictly Business, visit strictlybusinessbalt.org.

Finding Common Ground
Thursday, March 09, 2017

Finding-Common-Ground
By Rochelle Eisenberg

For more than a decade, Martha Weiman has been part of a group of Jewish and Muslim women, sharing Passover communal Seders, breaking fast following Ramadan and discussing what’s important to both communities. Over the years as they’ve developed a bond, they’ve come to cherish these conversations, while recognizing how much they share in common.

The get-togethers were first conceived when Weiman chaired Baltimore Jewish Council’s (BJC) Jewish/Muslim Dialogue group. It’s one of many BJC initiatives organized over the years that focus on dialogue to build stronger communities.

Recognizing a need to engage younger adults in the conversation, BJC relaunched its programming last year with an interfaith trialogue series geared toward younger adults. Led by clergy from the three faiths –Charm City Tribe’s Rabbi Jessy Gross, Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore’s (MCCCB) Imam Tariq Najee-ullah and Canton Church on the Square’s Pastor Jim Hamilton – this year’s topics include a tour and post-election discussion on the intersection of politics and religion at the MCCCB and a discussion on gentrification at the Church on the Square.

In addition, on March 30, participants are invited to Stories from the Fringe, a stage production featuring the voices of 18 women rabbis exploring their commitment to Judaism. Held at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, Gross will lead a private pre-performance workshop for trialogue attendees.

Already, these dialogues are paying off. “When I talk to participants they are telling me they are going out and having coffee with people they never would have connected with before. They are talking about various viewpoints. It’s beginning to build trust,” says Madeline Suggs, director of public affairs at BJC.

First conceived in January 2015, these three clergy met to discuss how religion could be helpful in strengthening relationships across race and faith lines through learning and dialogue. Following Freddie Gray’s death and the riots later that spring, they kept talking.

In the spring of 2016, they led a discussion on the intersection between faith and social justice at the Station North Arts Café.

“We want to educate and create relationships across faiths,” explains Najee-ullah. “We can’t grow and change if we are insular. By presenting different narratives from each of the faiths, we broaden our perspectives.”

“In our day-to-day lives, some of us may work or share other spaces with people of different backgrounds. Yet how often do we really take time to share our lives and intentionally build bridges?” asks Gabriel Pickus, who participated in the program.

In addition to BJC’s trialogue series, Muslim and Jewish community members are coming together through Repair the World, a program of Jewish Volunteer Connection. Recently, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day., BJC, Repair the World and the MCCCB discussed the legacy of interfaith partnership in the civil rights movement.

“Meeting Rabbi Jessy, I realize that although we are of different faiths, we share very similar ideals and passions,” says Najee-ullah.

Ultimately, explains Suggs, “If we want to combat anti-Semitism, we must get to really know diverse groups of people.”

Featured image: Rabbi Jessy Gross (middle) joins her counterparts, Pastor Jim Hamilton (left) and Imam Tariq Najee-ullah, for interfaith dialogues outside traditional institutions.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Prepping for Purim
Monday, March 06, 2017

Hamantaschen
By Rochelle Eisenberg

As a young child in French Morocco, Tsipi Renbaum remembers how much she looked forward to Purim each year. From the thrill of putting on lipstick, to the fun of dressing up as Queen Esther, to the bonding over baking hamantaschen with her mother, Purim evoked some of her most wonderful childhood memories.

Later, when her family moved to Israel, Renbaum was amazed at how the holiday was celebrated by the entire country. The streets, the schools and the homes were filled with jubilation and acted out in school plays, city parades, street festivals and parties.

It is her desire to share her childhood Jewish memories and pass down those traditions that motivated Renbaum to co-chair Associated Women’s upcoming Prep for Purim at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, March 7, 7:00 p.m.

Women and children will gather to make hamantaschen and then take them home for holiday baking and sharing with their families.

Attendees also are encouraged to bring a donation of canned vegetables to be included in mishloach manot (Purim baskets), which will be assembled for residents of Weinberg Woods and Weinberg Gardens & Terrace. The project is being led by The Associated’s Jewish Volunteer Connection.

“When I was asked to co-chair this event, I remembered the beautiful experiences I had with my mother celebrating the holiday and I wanted to share this with my children and grandchildren,” says Renbaum, who is co-chairing the event with her daughter-in-law, Stephani Renbaum, and another intergenerational pair, Sora Greenlinger and her daughter, Rena.

“What’s been most special to me is the excitement I’ve seen from my granddaughter, Sarah. When she heard I was co-chairing this project, she wanted to be a part of it, presenting ideas and recruiting Rena Greenlinger her friends. This is why I do it.”

Purim commemorates the time the Jews living in Persia were saved from death by Mordecai and Queen Esther. When learning about Haman’s plot to kill the Jews, Mordecai alerted his cousin, Esther, who was Queen, to talk to the King and persuade him to change his order. It begins the evening of March 11.

“I see mothers, daughters, sisters, grandchildren, cousins coming out to this event to share in the Jewish traditions of Purim,” says Renbaum. “For me, it’s about l’dor v’dor (generation to generation).”

HAMANTASCHEN RECIPE. Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened. 1 cup white sugar. 2 eggs. 6 tablespoons orange juice. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. 2 teaspoons baking powder. 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. 1 (12 ounce) strawberry, raspberry, apricot, chocolate or poppy seed filling.

Directions: 1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in orange juice and vanilla. Mix in baking powder, then gradually stir in flour until dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. 2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. 3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch circles using a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place circles on the prepared cookie sheets. Spoon 1 teaspoon filling onto the center of each circle. Pinch circle sides to form a triangle, covering as much of the filling as possible. 4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool before serving.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Disclosing a Disability
Friday, February 17, 2017

disclosing-a-disability

By Andrea Fenwick
Manager of Supported Employment, JCS, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

When you’re looking for a job, one of the things most people worry about is saying the wrong thing during an interview. For people with disabilities, it’s even more of a concern, especially, if your disability is something not apparent to the average person, like low vision, gastro intestinal issues, anxiety disorders or learning disabilities like dyslexia.

It’s easy to understand why someone would not want to disclose their disability to a potential employer. People want to present themselves in the best light when interviewing. That’s how you secure the job.

Deciding whether or not to disclose your disability can be stressful. Legally, you don’t have to reveal it, the law is on your side, but is that really fair to the employer? Ethically, is it fair to withhold information that may or may not affect your ability to do the job? The bottom line is that it’s a personal decision. You have to examine the pros and cons.

The Pros. The main benefit to disclosing your disability is to secure accommodations from the employer to help you perform the job. Once you choose to disclose, the question becomes when to do it. This can be prior to your interview, during the interview, or once you’re working on the job.

  • Prior to the interview – If you are going to need an accommodation for the interview, then you will need to disclose early. For example, if you are in a wheelchair you will need to ask ahead of time if the building is handicap accessible. Additionally, if you have a condition that may be uncomfortable or distracting during the interview, you might want to make it known to the interviewer.
  • During the interview – If it becomes apparent that you would not able to perform the job functions because of your disability, you may want to disclose this. It will allow you to bring accommodations into the conversation and there by show the employer that you are still qualified to do the job.
  • On the job – Once the employer has been made aware that you need an accommodation, they are legally obligated to provide it for you. Accommodations can range from making a building more handicap accessible to providing software or other assistive technology at your individual work space.

The Cons. Depending on the nature of your disability, some people can find it embarrassing to reveal or talk about it. Not knowing the workplace culture only adds to apprehension. You don’t know how you will be perceived by the employer and other employees. The fear of discrimination based on your disability is a real concern. Making your disability known may lead to misconceptions, negativity and pre-judgment of your ability to handle job duties and responsibilities. This is especially true when the hidden disability is related to a mental health condition. You may chose not to disclose for a very simple reason, the right to privacy.

Job coaches will tell you only disclose if it’s going to impact your ability to do your job. But if the employer does not know, then they are not obligated to make accommodations. And that might cause you to struggle in the position.

Only mention it if it’s actually going to affect your job performance. And if it is, tell them you would need accommodations. So, if you have low vision and are interviewing for a stock clerk position, you would benefit from using a Ruby magnifying device, assistive technology to enhance the size of print.

One very important thing to remember is that no matter what you decide to reveal to a potential employer, always make sure your disability and need for accommodations is secondary to your qualifications and ability to do the essential functions of the job. If your disability won’t affect your job, then skip it, and focus on what you CAN do. Make sure they know all your strengths and qualifications that make you a good candidate. Many employers will offer accommodations if they are convinced you’re the best person for the job.

Keeping Kids Fit and Fitness Fun!
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Fitness-Fun

A Q & A with Alek Groopman, Youth Fitness Coordinator
Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC

1.) Why is it so important for children to stay active and what are the advantages gained from exercising?

So many studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between exercise and overall physical health regardless of age, as well as a profound effect on one’s emotional well-being. At this age it’s so important to create healthy habits that will lead to life-long wellness. Additionally, children who exercise are calmer throughout the rest of their day. Exercise provides children a sense of accomplishment. If a child is struggling in school or elsewhere, having an outlet via exercise can provide a huge benefit.

2.) What are parents’ main concerns about their kids becoming involved in fitness training, like lifting too much weight, stunting their growth, etc.?

The two most common misconceptions there are about kids becoming involved in a fitness regimen, and especially resistance training, are that it can stunt their growth and that they shouldn’t do any lifting until they are 12. The truth is resistance training actually helps with development when it’s properly done. Under the proper supervision of one of the J’s certified personal trainers, we make appropriate modifications in children’s programs and teach kids how to be safe in the gym and have fun.

3.) Not all children take to participating in organized sports and team activities, what else can they do to stay active and healthy?

Not everyone takes to playing sports, true, but everyone benefits from moving around and exercising. This is why the J offers a broad range of fitness classes for youth and teens and we are always trying to expand our offerings. Outside of the gym itself kids can be encouraged to play around outside, go to the pool and swim, or just walk around the neighborhood with friends. Even when children are resistant to doing some of these activities, things like Wii Fit or Pokemon GO can be attractive alternatives as something is better than nothing.

4.) What is the J Fitness team’s philosophy towards motivating kids to work out and about youth fitness as a whole?

As JCC Fitness Director Raychel Setless always says about youth fitness, ‘The goal with this age group is to enjoy fitness and get this group to create healthy habits." I wholeheartedly support this notion. The most important thing for me to do as a trainer working with kids is to get them to have fun and make the fact that they are working and sweating a 'happy accident.’ If the kids are having fun they’ll keep coming back. They’ll be motivated to try new things in fitness they find enjoyable – exercises they may not have found enjoyable before.

5.) How can parents and fitness instructors work together to educate children and teens about the benefits of fitness?

My job is to make things fun and really encourage children and teens to become engaged in fitness not only at the J, but as part of an active lifestyle that carries with them wherever they go in life. The best thing parents can do is make healthy activities positive. They should encourage their children to be outside with their friends, let children help with healthy meal preparations, and bring their children and teens to the J to swim, play basketball, and run around on the playground -- ideally together. And that last part is so important -- If parents are coming into the gym and participating in fitness programs with their children everyone is more motivated and everyone benefits.

6.) What youth fitness classes are offered through the JCC’s Youth and Teen Programs?

Over the last several months, the J’s Fitness Team has been working with other departments at the JCC to provide fitness offerings for many of our programs including School’s Out, TNT, and J Camps. On the heels of a successful summer bookended by fitness instruction during our three Specialty Camps, we will be offering four fitness classes for our 9 -12 year-olds; Junior Weight Training for our 12 – 15 year olds; as well as a number of classes and enhanced fitness offerings for the fall.

Questions? Contact Alek Groopman, Youth Fitness Coordinator, JCC of Greater Baltimore | 410.559.3539 | agroopman@jcc.org

Local JBIG Grants Spur Grassroots Projects
Monday, February 13, 2017

Jbig

When best friends Jenny Green and David BenMoshe attended a Shabbaton in Washington, D.C. last year, they happened to strike up a conversation with Lisa Kaneff, a young woman who told them about a program she was organizing, Jews on Bikes.

Part exercise, part social, part spiritual – Jews on Bikes brought Jews together for a bike ride throughout DC, followed by Havdallah services and happy hour.

Why not, they thought, take that idea and bring it to Baltimore, a city boasting a thriving bike culture and a growing Jewish young adult presence?

With that in mind, this spring, the two will launch a Baltimore version of Jews on Bikes. Beginning with a leisurely bike ride along Baltimore City bike paths, it will culminate at a downtown bar for Havdallah and drinks.

“Havdallah is one of my favorite parts of Shabbat,” says Green. “It’s a beautiful way to start the beginning of the week – from the singing to the wine to the aroma of the spices.”

“It’s also a great way to build Jewish community,” adds BenMoshe. Jews on Bikes is one of several grassroots projects being launched in Baltimore, thanks to microgrants from The Associated’s JBIG initiative. These grants, up to $1,000 each, fund new ideas to foster Jewish community and Jewish identity.

Last year, JBIG supported 11 projects, ranging from a back-to-the-land, all-night Shavuot celebration to a Shabbaton themed around technology and Jewish identity. The grants were made available through the generosity of the Grandchildren of Harvey M. and Lyn P. Meyerhoff Philanthropic Fund and the Nathan & Lillian Weinberg Family Foundation.

Liz Simon-Higgs, another grant recipient, learned about the grants from the Macks Center for Jewish Education, where she formerly volunteered as a community connector before returning to work full-time. As a connector, Simon-Higgs started bringing downtown families together for Havdallah and now wanted to expand the experience.

“Havdallah is a great way to end Shabbat – to mark Jewish time with family and neighbors in a friendly setting, it’s a beautiful service that is great for the senses,” she says.

Through JBIG, Simon-Higgs has organized Havdallah events at the Downtown Baltimore JCC. Each evening includes the service, a vegetarian pizza dinner and a craft – in one instance families made their own Havdallah candles for home observance. There is talk of bringing in a local rabbi for informal learning.

Since she started the program, it’s become a central gathering for the downtown Jewish families in the community.

Not only has the experience provided meaning to Shabbat, it’s had an unintended, yet positive outcome for the Simon-Higgs family. The service has been an accessible way for her older son, who is on the autism spectrum, to learn about Jewish observance.

I’m hoping these Havdallah programs continue and that families can tailor them to be meaningful as their children grow,” she says.

Learn how you can seed your own grassroots program. Go to associated.org/jbig for more information. Applications for this year close March 15, 2017.

This story originally appeared in the February issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Hallie Miller Tackles Israel
Thursday, February 09, 2017

Hallie-Miller

Last summer, Hallie Miller, a University of Maryland, College Park student, joined 16 other local college students and recent college graduates for Baltimore Onward Israel, an eight-week internship program in Israel. During the summer, she worked at Newshound Media International, an international news production company, while living in Tel Aviv.

Miller talked about her once-in-a-lifetime experience on Baltimore Onward Israel, subsidized by The Associated’s Israel Engagement Center.

Tell me about the company you worked for. My boss, Paula Slier, founded Newshound Media, headquartered in Tel Aviv. She, along with her freelancers, produce video packages all over the world, which are syndicated on such news sites as Channel News Asia and Russia Today.

What was your job? I edited video packages and went on shoots with the photographer. In addition, I did a lot of research on her projects. For example, she was traveling to Denmark to moderate a debate on Syrian refugees, and all of the participants on the panel were members of the APF (The Alliance for Peace and Freedom), a European nationalist party within the EU. I provided her with profiles of the debaters, what they were likely to say and the platform they were espousing.

Most interesting experience? I got to live stream the Jerusalem gay pride parade. Paula provided commentary and I offered pointers on what she should talk about.

Difference between working in Israel and the U.S.? I felt like there wasn’t a traditional internship culture in Israel, the way there is in America. I didn’t expect to be so immersed in my work and treated like an employee and given so much responsibility.

How was Tel Aviv? Amazing. We lived in the heart of the city, a five-minute walk to the beach, 10 minutes to the Shuk Ha’Carmel (the Carmel Market). I spent weekends at the beach. We would often enjoy Kabbalat Shabbat on the beach with a live band playing. I also loved the boutiques. Tel Aviv is like New York if it were also a beach town.

Did you travel? Mondays were our travel day and the group would go all over Israel. We went to the Negev, Haifa, Ashkelon, Safed. I have relatives in Jerusalem so I got to see them at least once a week.

What would you tell others about the Onward experience? I loved it. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my journalism degree. This internship made me realize how much I want to produce.

Learn about the 2017 summer Baltimore Onward Israel program at associated.org/experienceisrael

This story originally appeared in the February issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Meet Randi Hertzberg
Monday, February 06, 2017

randi-hertzberg

Since moving to Baltimore in 1999, Randi Hertzberg has been volunteering in the Jewish community. She was president of the JCC’s Parent Association (where her children attended) and has been serving on the JCC board for the past 11 years. She even was a founding member of The Associated’s Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (then the Initiative).

Now, this mother of four is chairing The Associated Inspired Women’s Project, a new women’s engagement and leadership program designed for women to find inspiration and meaning through Jewish values, and bring it back to their families and the community. The program includes a highly subsidized eight day trip to Israel that includes inspired Jewish learning. Randi talks about the program, traveling to Israel and her family’s special connection to the Jewish State.

Tell me about the Inspired Women’s Project. It’s a chance for women in our community to engage in an immersive Jewish experience. The first half features Associated-related content. Sessions include Modern Day Miriam: What Makes a Great Female Leader and Pesach – Passing on Identity and Value to the Next Generation. The second half features content from the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project and includes programs such as Raising Generous Children and Teens and Shalom in the Home: Staying Connected to Your Spouse. In the middle of the program, we all travel to Israel.

Sounds fascinating. I’m really looking forward to learning more about Jewish women and Jewish leaders. And I’m excited about meeting new women who share common interests. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from them. And of course, there’s the trip to Israel. I’ve never been there and am excited to share this experience with a group of women.

I understand you recently found out you have a unique connection to Israel. Yes. I was participating in The Associated’s Dor Tikvah program and we were at Pearlstone Center. The executive director, Dick Goldman at the time, was interested in Jewish ancestral history. He told us to hand in our family names.

It turns out, when he came back to me, he told me that my great great-great-great grandparents were some of the original founders of Tel Aviv. I never had any idea. Their names are listed on a monument there!

You seem to really be connected to your Judaism. Do you have a favorite Jewish memory? Growing up, each year, I spent a week at USY’s Encampment in the Poconos. I still remember Havdalah there – everyone arms around each other, singing. We have this special bond, having grown up together. Even today, the friends I made in USY are my dearest friends.

Do you keep in touch? I do. We are all over the world and Facebook makes it easier. In fact, we held a reunion in New York several years ago. One of my USY friends lives in Israel and I am planning to extend my trip to spend a few days with him.

The Patient Navigator
Monday, February 06, 2017

patient-navigator

 

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Jill Mull understands how overwhelming a breast cancer diagnosis can be. Ten years ago, at the age of 32, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease. Suddenly, this young mother found herself facing a number of decisions that would impact her life.

What treatment was best for her? Should she test for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation? How about the best place to buy a wig? And how would she still manage the day-to-day routines of her young children’s lives?

Today, Mull, a breast cancer survivor, has a lot to share about navigating the myriad decisions faced when getting a breast cancer diagnosis. She is using that knowledge as an education outreach patient navigator at Johns Hopkins Breast Center at Greenspring Station, providing much needed advice for women 45 and younger.

“Although I may not have a medical degree, I can go with patients to their initial appointment with the medical oncologist as they go over the pathology report. I can provide social and psychological guidance and support.”

For example, having gone through chemotherapy herself, she understands the regime. “I know there are good days and not so good ones. I can help the patients establish a routine. You begin to learn what days will be good to get groceries, what days you can take the kids to their soccer games, and which days you need to rest.”

Working with younger women, she says, is important because they often have a diff erent experience. They may be working and raising young children while facing treatment. They may not have peers who had breast cancer to talk to for advice.

Mull also can provide them with resources, help them fi nd a wig and connect them to discussion groups with others going through similar experiences.

In addition to working with women with a new diagnosis of breast cancer, Mull and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins are promoting educational activities regarding breast cancer risk in the Jewish community. “I think it would be nice to share this with the Jewish community, if possible.”

She adds, “It’s hard to see the light at the end of the journey. Or if you see it, the light is so dim, it may as well be dark. I can say, ‘I’ve done this and this is how it works.’ It gives comfort.”

“Patients can look at me. I try to bring hope. I’m 10 years out from my diagnosis and living life to the fullest.”

 

Leslie Ries hoped that as a mother, lawyer, law school professor and community volunteer, the legacy she would leave for her two daughters was as a loving mother who had a life filled with hard work and care for family, friends, clients and the community. And perhaps a gift for baking with a penchant for anything chocolate.

Then, 11 years ago, Ries was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. The third daughter in her family, she was the first to receive a cancer diagnosis.

Ries recalls a conversation with her mother and a nurse as she prepared for her first chemotherapy treatment after her lumpectomy.

“My mother said that my father’s mother died of breast cancer before my parents were married. She said she had been told by doctors that since it was only the mother’s side that put children at higher risk, and she did not need to be concerned that her children had an increased risk of getting cancer.”

When her mother added that it was not just Ries’ paternal grandmother who had breast cancer but also the grandmother’s sister and niece, Ries knew immediately there was likely a family genetic connection.

The test for genetic mutations for breast and ovarian cancer was recently approved, and Ries’ oncologist sent her for genetic counseling and testing. The result: Ries learned she had the BRCA1 genetic mutation.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genetic mutations identified by scientists as increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. These mutations are more prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population than the general population.

“When I learned I had a genetic mutation, I elected to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction after chemotherapy. Since I was done having children, I decided to have my ovaries removed.”

The testing and her surgical choices afterwards may have saved her life and dramatically reduced her chances of getting cancer related to the BRCA1 mutation. Although still at risk for a recurrence of the cancer for which she had originally been treated, Ries’ greater concern was her daughters. She learned they should be tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in their mid-twenties.

Worried about her children and many people, especially in the Jewish community, who were not educated about their increased risk, she and her husband, Tom, started a foundation to fund research and education on breast cancer prevention risks.

It’s important, she says, to learn about your family history, and if you are an Ashkenazi Jew, to consider testing for known mutations. “Ask questions, find out what your relatives may have died from. If relatives say, ‘female problems’ (which is what people often called any gynecological or breast issue), it could mean breast or ovarian cancer.”

She urges internists, gynecologists and even urologists (men can have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation, too) to ask questions to determine if a patient should be tested.

"I don’t want people to be paralyzed by fear to get information.Knowing you have the mutation can simply mean being monitored more frequently and earlier in life.”

“I was very lucky,” she says. “But if I had known sooner that I was at risk, I would have had the test. I could have been monitored differently and possibly avoided chemotherapy and the trauma of surgery.”

Winning Strategies for Tackling the IEP Process
Thursday, February 02, 2017

IEP-Process

By Martha Goodman
Macks Center for Jewish Education, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore 

As football season begins, we can turn to many of its lessons to help us make our IEP team meetings victorious ones. What are the first things any coach wants you to know? That it’s all about teamwork. Working to reach a common goal. Respect. Communication. Preparation. The most important thing I want you to know is that you are a full member of team.

So how can you prepare for your IEP game day? There’s a fascinating list of preparations for NFL games available at operations.nfl.com. For example, did you know that teams travelling by air must be in the host city 18 hours in advance of the game? Similarly, did you know that parents have the right to notification 10 days in advance of the meeting? That notification must include the roster of team members. Teams must include a general educator, a special educator, the parent, an administrator, and a representative from any additional areas on concern. (Lack of any of these team members constitutes an illegal formation.)

“Success requires an organized, rigorous system that clearly defines where everyone needs to be, what tasks need to be done, and when they need to be started and completed.” (ibid.) Success in school requires the same thing, and for students with disabilities that system is the Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is a legally enforceable document.

In Maryland, the draft IEP and all documents to be discussed at an IEP meeting must be shared with the parents five days in advance. This is what creates a level playing field for all team members. Read the materials thoroughly, and prepare your strategy. The team must respond to any request made by a parent at the meeting, in writing.

What should you focus on? How the student is performing, what does he need to improve, and how that is going to be accomplished. “Football is a game of numbers, and the study of statistics is essential for analyzing and understanding the game. Also, statistics can diagnose potential performance problems in players.” (49ers Museum Education Program)

The same is true in special education, and the student performance data is recorded in a section of the IEP called Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance, or PLAAFP. Each area must have a multifaceted description of the student’s performance, and specify any gap between that level and the grade level standards. “When analyzing player performance, coaches typically look at the change in statistics over a period of time… perhaps further coaching support or change in strategy is needed..(ibid) IEP teams do the same thing, targeting areas for development.

In football, there are four downs to move the ball 10 yards, IEP goals are broken down into objectives to move the student toward the annual goal. Winning University of Alabama Coach Bear Bryant gave this advice: “Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.”

The next big element of the plan is the services, which outlines the special teams that will be responsible for accomplishing the goals, and how many hours of service students will receive, and in what setting. Finally, teams must decide in what arena all this will play out, whether it is the student’s zoned school, or a more specialized setting.

Of course there are football rules and referees, and in the IEP process teams must follow the rules too, which are laid out in the Procedural Safeguards. No delay of game. No equipment violations. No unsportsmanlike conduct. There are various methods to address violations, should they arise. First, one can always request a new meeting, and input from central office. Beyond that, one can file a state complaint, a request for mediation, and, finally, a due process hearing.

The first line of defense, though, is an informed parent, and an effective advocate, who can coach you along the way.

To reach Martha Goodman, coordinator Maryland Special Needs Advocacy Project (MDSNAP), at the Macks CJE, call 410-735-5012 or mgoodman@mdsnap.org

Abby Sullivan Talks About Overnight Camp and Being a CIT
Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Abby-Sullivan

It was very fitting that when I spoke to Abby Sullivan, a junior at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School, she was in route to Philadelphia for a camp reunion – one of the many trips she will take to visit camp friends this year. Abby has attended Camp Ramah in the Poconos for the past seven summers and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. “I’m going to be going back to Camp Ramah for the rest of my life,” she said.

I asked Abby what made camp so special for her and she said, "Camp is a place where you develop who you are. You take risks, try new activities and find your passion. My second summer at camp I tried ceramics for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing, but I tried making a mezuzah for my mom because hers broke right before I left for camp. I remember giving it to her on visiting day and she was so happy. It’s been hanging on the door to her bedroom ever since and it always reminds me camp.”

Last summer Abby was in Gesher, the oldest camper division at Camp Ramah, which meant she also worked as a counselor-in-training (CIT). She spent her eight weeks at camp as a CIT to the youngest campers and participated in leadership development classes with her peers. Her favorite part of working as a CIT with a cabin of 9-year-old girls was helping to shape their camp experience.

"I loved watching my campers grow and mature throughout the summer...they really understood the beauty of Camp Ramah early on, and I felt like I had 12 younger sisters that I was really influencing.”

Being a CIT came with challenges as well. Abby had some campers that had a tough time at camp and she shared her camp experiences to help them feel better.

"Even when I wasn't with my bunk, my girls were watching me. I had to find a medium between being a camper and being a counselor, because I wanted my campers to look up to me and aspire to be a CIT someday themselves."

In summer, 2017, most of Abby's peers will be attending Ramah Israel Seminar, a six-week travel program, designed for rising 12th graders who are former campers of the eight Ramah overnight camps in North America. Since Abby will be traveling to Israel on a very similar trip with her school during her senior year, she's decided to spend her summer giving back to camp instead. She called the Camp Ramah office and asked what jobs needed to be filled and that she'd be willing to do anything to be back at camp. This summer Abby will work as a babysitter for staff kids who are too young to be in a camper bunk and she already has plans for summer 2018 where she plans to be on staff.

Abby concluded our conversation by saying that she always associates camp as her happy place, but as she has gotten older, she realized it’s not just camp itself that she loves, but the people there.

Abby-Sullivan-camp-friends

“Ramanicks believe everyone is special, unique, and different. We value each other’s differences and always find the beauty in each other. I’ve made friends from up and down the East Coast because of camp and I truly treasure all the relationships and the memories I have because of this amazing place.”

Abby Sullivan works at Camp Ramah in the Poconos and is a Camp ambassador with The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping. To learn more about Jewish camp visit livecamp.org or contact Janna Zuckerman at (410)-369-9237 or jzuckerman@associated.org for a FREE camp consultation.

Meet Community Leader Laurie M. Wasserman
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Laurie-Wasserman
A family law attorney making a real difference in other's lives.

Laurie Wasserman was born and raised in Baltimore and currently lives in Pikesville. A graduate of Owings Mills High School, where she first met her husband, Andy, she is the mother of two children, ages 6 and 8. Laurie is a family law attorney in Offit Kurman’s Baltimore office and will be co-chairing The Associated’s upcoming Jewish Professional Women’s LeadHERship Panel on March 30.

Tell us your Associated story? When I first decided to get involved with The Associated it was through Young Leadership Council, about five years ago. As a lawyer, I wanted to be engaged in a program with my professional contemporaries. I had young kids and was looking for something that would not only compliment my family life but also my professional life. That is why I really wanted to join a group for Jewish professional women.

How has Jewish Professional Women (JPW) helped to increase your network? Being a professional woman, there is a need to find a balance in your life. I wanted to be part of a group that speaks to both my business and personal life. JPW is both a sisterhood and a support network.

A lot of us in JPW are working moms, raising our families, balancing work and home and taking care of ourselves. JPW has programming on all of those issues. It has also reconnected me to people I had lost touch with and strengthened some of my current friendships. I’ve also met new people and created business opportunities. I’m actually co-counsel in a family law case right now with someone I met through JPW.

Tell us about the upcoming LeadHERship Panel you are co-chairing. The speakers we have lined up – Lynn Abeshouse, Laura Black, and Amy Elias – are the Baltimore celebrities of women professionals. It’s great to have these women come and talk to us about their experiences. I think that everyone will be able to take at least one lesson away from these seasoned women, who not only are connected to and leaders in the Jewish community, but are also leaders in their profession.

What inspires you about the work you do? Knowing I can help somebody. I have been practicing family law for more than a decade. Family law has a little bit of a bad reputation because of the nature of our work. We are dealing with families going through a difficult transition, whether it is a divorce, custody or a property division. But if you are skilled at practicing family law, it’s a profession in which you can really make a difference in others’ lives. I help my clients through the process as painlessly as possible and show them creative solutions for moving forward with their lives. I often tell my clients that today may not be okay, but tomorrow will be. I love being a part of my client’s transformation.

I also do a lot of work that affects children, whether I represent a mom or dad in a custody case, or am appointed as an attorney for a child. I have some cases where I really feel that I have made a difference in somebody’s life. I recently represented a child who was in a terrible home situation and now he is thriving. Those are the victories that drive me to work hard for my clients.

Why is it important for you to give of your time? I try to find activities that I can do with my family, like JVC’s Mitzvah Day, where I can teach my kids about the importance of doing good deeds. In terms of the community, I do a lot of work for Disability Rights Maryland; I am on their board of directors. I am a strong advocate for those in the disabled community and I think they deserve a voice. Families with special needs have a higher incidence of divorce because of the stress a child with special needs puts on a marriage.

When I find an opportunity that allows me to feel fulfilled, I’m going to go for it. Whether it’s at my temple or a professional activity or a program through The Associated, time is precious – when you can do something and feel good about it, I think it’s worth it.

Networking Rules You Need to Know
Friday, January 27, 2017

Ari Abramson

 

In the current job market, networking is a necessary part of your job search or career-building. Networking is somewhat of an art, and not everyone finds it easy to walk into a room and start talking.

You can get your practice with The Associate through initiatives such as Real Estate Industry Group (REIG) where real estate professionals can network at Baltimore's most innovative development projects. Often held on-site at real estate projects in various stages of development, these networking and educational opportunities bring together professionals interested in deepening their relationships with one another and the Baltimore Jewish community.

We touched base with Ari Abramson, Vice President of Acquisitions for Continental Realty Corporation and a member of the REIG committee, for his tips and tricks on how to work a room.

Many people find networking events intimidating. What would you advise to someone like this? To overcome networking anxiety, you have to have a solid elevator pitch. This includes a concise overview of your professional role and brief overview of your personal background. After you’ve practiced your pitch, remember to be an active listener and modify your pitch depending on your audience. The ability to control or guide the conversation will create confidence. Dale Carnegie once said, “Face the thing that seems overwhelming and you will be surprised how your fears will melt away.”

How do you start a conversation in a way that doesn’t sound awkward or forced? People attend networking events to network, so be confident and comfortable engaging people. Usually, at those kind of events, attendees have name tags, so a low risk opener would be to address the person by name and ask him or her about their role at their company or about what brought them to this particular event.

Let’s say you made a connection at a networking event – what are the most pertinent next steps? If you had an interesting conversation or would like to learn more about a new connection, ask for their business card. Following the event, send a follow-up email stating where you met, recap the conversation and either look to make arrangements to speak again or leave open the possibility to connect at an appropriate time in the future. Without a follow-up, the connection will be lost. Relationship building requires personal follow-up.

If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting out in your career? You can get interested about different roles, by reaching out to connects (alumni, friend's parents, former professors, etc.) and asking questions about different industries. Given technology today, I would encourage young professionals or job seekers to do their research in order to prepare for these networking conversations. Often times, you have one shot to make an impression and that current conversation can lead to an expanded network of conversations. Anyone can send an email or make a call, but to differentiate yourself, you have to be the most prepared in terms of knowledge and your goal. People are willing to assist you, but you need to know how you’d like them to assist you. Know what questions you want to ask and know what specific role interests you. People, in general, want to be helpful and offer advice; however, I have found that people are more willing to assist when the advice seeker can clearly articulate how the advice giver can provide assist.

If you could sum up your networking rules, what would it be? Be genuinely interested in other people, ask good questions and look people in the eye when speaking. Getting to know a connection should always be mutually beneficial. Catalogue the conversation, follow-up and everything else will follow.

Head to the next REIG Lunch & Learn on Thursday, February 16 for your next networking opportunity. Register online today!

Exterior Home Tips from CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

comprehensive-housing-assistance-inc

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Spring is just around the corner. Now is the time to start planning and saving for exterior home improvements. Whether you’re ready to sell your home or just want to boost its curb appeal, the front façade of your home is an important element that should receive regular upkeep and attention. Enhancing the façade of your home is relatively inexpensive and there’s much creativity involved in picking out materials.

Here are six cost-effective ways to spruce up the front appearance of your home, from CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc., an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

1. Touch up on Paint. Peeling paint is just not a good look and takes away from the initial impression of a home. While a fresh coat of paint may not always be necessary, it’s a good idea to touch up on any peeling spots. If your façade has mildew or heavy dirt accumulation, we suggest power washing before painting.

2. Consider Large, Visible Address Numbering. The numbers on your home provide another outlet for you to be creative and customize the look of the front façade. However, number plaques can easily go wrong — hard-to-read numerals, hard-to-read painted numbers, or plaques with pictures generally should be avoided. Consider numbers that are large, easy to read and have a simple design. Not only is this more practical and attractive, but it’s also a matter of safety. Emergency services can locate your house much faster if it the numbering is clearly marked.

3. Create Visual Interest Through Landscaping. A front facade is greatly enhanced with shrubbery, flowering trees, plants and evergreens. No matter how small of a space you may have, try to add some greenery to liven up the space. If you have no space in the front, you can be creative with window planter boxes or potted plants. Remember to remove vines growing on any part of your house because they will damage your façade.

4. Get Creative with Lighting. Lighting is an essential component to the overall look of your home. Lighting key paths and steps is essential for safety. There are energy efficient outdoor bulbs that will last up to 20 years. There also are low voltage LED super high efficiency options. If you don’t have electricity nearby, consider solar-powered lights which are easily movable if you want to change up the look.

5. Freshen up Doors and Windows. While you can choose to replace your front door with a grand-looking one, you can also enhance old doors by painting them or simply changing handles. Note: many doors from 50+ years ago will outlast some new doors, so before you go shopping, think about saving your money! If your windows are well maintained, they might only need a fresh coat of paint. Some windows, however, will require more work than it would cost to buy new ones so we suggest consulting a trusted contractor who will give an honest suggestion.

6. Always Put Safety First. Maintaining front walkway steps and rails is key to your family’s and visitors’ safety. Repair or replace these vital areas to not only boost curb appeal but to also ensure that no one gets hurt entering or leaving your house. If your steps don’t have a handrail, consider adding one. Home centers or contractors can help.

Need a place to start? CHAI has a contractor referral list! CHAI's Senior Home Repair department has also started a new program to combat contractor fraud and incompetency.

If you have questions about contractors or work needed, call CHAI at 410-500-5316 and Ed Schaffer will be happy to advise.

Are You Connected?
Thursday, January 19, 2017

By Lawrence Ziffer
Chief Executive Officer, Macks Center for Jewish Education

We are presently reading the weekly portions (parashiot) in the book of Exodus (Shemot), the second book of the bible (Chumash). The book of Shemot opens with the verse: “These are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob (Yaakov), each person with his household.”

Throughout the book of Shemot, we watch the transformation of Yaakov’s descendants from a nuclear family into an extended family, from a family to a tribe, from one tribe into twelve tribes, and eventually, with the exodus from Egypt and the divine encounter at Sinai, into a people: from Bnei Yisrael (children of Israel) to Am Yisrael (people of Israel).

The dictionary definition of a people is “a plurality of persons considered as a whole, as is the case with an ethnic group or nation.” This plurality must have some sense of commonality, of connection. They do not necessarily need to have a single geographic location. They do not even have to have identical beliefs or views. So what is it that binds people together as a People?

We Jews have formed many kinds of connections throughout the ages. In some cases, the lowest common denominator connection was anti-Semitism, a phenomenon that forced us to realize that we were neither welcomed nor part of the mainstream (no matter how hard we tried or how much we professed our loyalties). In the past, finding positive forms of connection to each other was not so hard. We had common appearances, common names, common language(s), common values, etc.

More recently, we have been beneficiaries of growth and progress in our Western Democracies. We have experienced unparalleled freedom and the ability to assimilate into our home environment more than was ever possible before. As such, it has become more difficult to find the connections that can reach all Jews. We tend to blend into our surrounding and dispersed neighborhoods and social circles. Jewish identity factors that used to be celebrated as unique and special can sometimes seem like an impediment or burden to full integration.

At CJE, we place considerable emphasis on Jewish educational engagement and connections. We develop programs that enhance connections for people who want to feel connected, but just don’t quite know how to take the first steps. Our approach to connection has three modalities, and those modalities have a specific sequence as well as distinct stages.

Stage one is about my connections to me. What does being Jewish really mean to me? How do I define myself as a Jew? There are obviously many possibilities, but if this question is not at least explored seriously, then Jewish identity ends up being an artifact, a characteristic with about the same significance as the color of my hair or eyes. I can change the color of my hair with dye, I can change the color of my eyes with contacts, and I can change my external image by just blending in and not behaving as a Jew. We must find new, interesting, deeply meaningful ways for people to explore and define their internal, personal Jewish connections.

Stage two is about connecting to other Jews. Judaism has never been a monastic religion. Prayer is best fulfilled with a minyan (quorum). Our life-cycle events are always celebrated together with others. Jews doing things together with other Jews is a fundamental part of our culture. This does not mean that our connections need be exclusively Jewish, but it does mean that we find meaningful fulfillment when we experience things together with others who share our values and history (and destiny!). Stage two has two components. The first is social and the second is educational. Our goal is to combine them and have Jews joining with other Jews for accessible educational programs that are also socially meaningful and reinforcing.

Stage three is about connecting to the larger Jewish community. Once we get people to focus on what it means to be part of a community, we can talk about collective responsibility, the needs of others and how we respond to meet those needs. When our connections are complex and intersecting, as a community, we can explore what it means to be a global Jewish people in the 21st century, as well as the centrality of Israel to our Jewish identity, even in the Diaspora.

In the past, we might have taken stages one and two for granted. They were part of our identity as a sub-culture. They shaped our feelings of “otherness” in a world that often forced us to think about our Jewish identity. They often led us to behave in clannish ways (we created fraternal organizations like B’nai B’rith and Hadassah, organizations for teens like NCSY, NFTY and USY, and Zionist advocacy organizations like BZD and Young Judea). We learned all about stages one and two at home and in our neighborhoods. Most of our communal and educational efforts were focused on stage three, on building a sense of community and collective responsibility (e.g. synagogues and temples, federations, national service organizations, etc.)

We can no longer take the first two stages for granted. It seems abundantly clear that most Jews are not prepared to jump directly to stage three. We need to meet them where they are and help them develop stage one and stage two Jewish identities. This is one of the most important challenges facing our community. It is a challenge that will require human and financial resources. It will require new and creative alliances among many divergent organizations and entities. If we succeed, we will have a newly energized, creatively engaged Jewish community. If we fail… We cannot fail!

Meeting Global Crisis
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Meeting-Global-Crisis

Venezuela. France. Ukraine. Israel. How do we respond when Jews face emergencies around the world?

The Associated continues to respond quickly in the most pressing global crises, strategically through national and international partnerships. Supported through The Associated’s Annual Campaign, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)’s dual mission is to both save Jewish lives and to revive Jewish life in 70 countries around the world.

Last month, when the Syrian refugee crisis reached epic proportions and more than 11 million innocent civilians were forced to flee, JDC and the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, delivered humanitarian assistance. Food, medicine and clean water were sent as quickly as possible to ensure that those suffering tragically would find some relief.

As the political climate in Venezuela continues to become more complex and anti-Semitism continues to rise, JDC has been a lifeline for the Jewish community there, enabling the Jewish community to move to safety. For some, this also means working with the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) for assistance in moving to Israel. JAFI is also a partner supported by The Associated’s Annual Campaign, with a goal of connecting Jewish outside of Israel to the Jewish State.

JDC is also strengthened through partnerships, including through the work of the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC), another partner of The Associated, an organization that creates a continuum of care in the trauma field, response and emergency preparedness. JDC has taken ITC’s lessons learned on emergency preparedness and resilience in Israel and applied them in other areas of the world, including Venezuela and France.

In Israel, in addition to working with ITC, The Associated worked closely with EVP, the Emergency Volunteers Project, (EVP), a network of over 950 American volunteers and professional first responders. Just months ago, when fires ravaged Northern Israel, some as a result of arson, local firefighters dropped everything to rush to the Jewish State, responding to a call from EVP.

Yet they lacked the funds for travel. Thanks to the quick thinking of Yossi Kelemer, who serves on the board of The Associated, and Linda A. Hurwitz, Chair of the Board, within 24 hours, funds were secured through The Associated.

It’s the flexibility of our unrestricted Annual Campaign that enables The Associated to be nimble, allocating funds to be utilized when crises arise. And through strategic, ongoing partnerships The Associated extends a caring hand to those in crisis around the world.

Meet Camp Expert Janna Zuckerman
Monday, January 09, 2017

Janna Zuckerman

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Janna Zuckerman understands how transformative Jewish camp can be. Ask her where she developed her Jewish Identity – and made life-long friends – and she’ll point to her 15 years at JCC Camp, Yom Tov, and JCCA overnight camp, NJY Camps in the Poconos.

Now, this young woman is hoping other Baltimore families discover this same love for Jewish camp. As manager of The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping, she provides free guidance to families on the best Jewish camp for their children. We asked Zuckerman to share her insights.

WHAT'S A GOOD AGE TO START OVERNIGHT CAMP? If your child is confident spending time away from home and enjoys sleepovers, it’s a sign they could be ready. If they’ve expressed interest, you may want to start researching and even enroll them in a week-long Rookie camp.

HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT FIT? Call me. I talk to parents to get an understanding of what they and their children want from the experience. Do they want a co-ed or single-sex environment? How far away do they want to be from home? Do they prefer arts and crafts or sports or science? Do they need an inclusive environment? What’s their personality? I’ll help narrow it down to three to four camps to investigate.

WHY JEWISH CAMP? It’s unlike any other camp experience. You connect with other Jewish kids like you. You get to enjoy all the great programming that a secular camp offers – from arts and crafts and dance to rock climbing and sports. And, you connect to your Jewish identity in ways that are fun – in ways different from the experiences you may get in Hebrew school or Jewish day school.

FUN? Yes. You may create a menorah in arts and crafts bake challah in culinary or enjoy Israeli dancing. You’ll learn gaga (Israeli dodge ball) from Israeli Shlichim (Israel emissaries) or participate in camp-wide Maccabiah (Jewish Olympics). Some of my favorite memories from camp are the Shabbats I celebrated with my friends and counselors – surrounded by nature, singing, dancing, celebrating being Jewish – it’s hard to explain the magic.

ISN'T CAMP EXPENSIVE? I can help identify scholarships to defray some of the costs. We are fortunate in this community that many camps offer scholarships. Funds are also available from local synagogues for congregants’ children. The Foundation for Jewish Camp partners with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to encourage attendance at Jewish overnight camp through the PJ Goes to Camp incentive grant program.

WHAT'S NEXT? Visit the camp. Talk to staff. Ask questions to get a better understanding of how they operate. Questions such as ‘What makes your camp different from others?’ Or, ‘What skills and values do you want the campers to take away?

Call me at 410-369-9237 or email me at jzuckerman@associated.org. We work with Jewish camps around the country and I’ll help you find the right fit.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

PJ Library: 200,000 and Counting
Monday, January 09, 2017

PJ Library

By Rochelle Eisenberg

For those old enough to remember, it was like the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. You know, the one where the Prize Patrol showed up at the door of a family with the surprise that they had won millions of dollars.

So perhaps it wasn’t a giant check. Yet it seemed close to that for young Zachary Wynn of Pikesville.

For when this two-year-old opened the front door last spring, he and his family found themselves at the center of a big celebration. They had been selected as the recipient of Baltimore’s 200,000th PJ Library book.

“It was such a great surprise,” says Kimberly Wynn, his mother. “The PJ Library team knocked on the door, envelope in hand, balloons surrounding them, and gave him his book. Linda Hurwitz [chair of the board of The Associated] read to him and we had a small party.”

Since 2008, thanks, in part, to the support of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, free Jewish-themed PJ Library books have been landing in the mailboxes of local Jewish families with children, six months through age eight.

These books, an international initiative of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, are distributed monthly by the Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), an Associated agency.

The monthly package is something that Zachary looks forward to. He loves to open it and listen to the stories. And his mother really appreciates the Jewish themes, as well as the educational information for parents included in each book.

“I grew up in an involved Jewish family and was president of my youth group at my Reform synagogue,” says Wynn. “My husband grew up in a Virginia suburb outside of D.C. where he was one of only four Jewish kids in his high school. We were both immersed in Jewish life, yet these books broadened our Jewish understanding of Jewish holidays and culture and added to what our child is learning in Jewish preschool.”

“In fact,” says Gabrielle Burger, director of CJE’s PJ Library program,” PJ Library has been a huge success, not only because of the free books. Many parents are excited they are learning something new about Judaism.”

CJE often supplements PJ Library through hands-on programming at area retailers and holds events throughout town.

“One mother told me she attended a PJ event where they made Havdalah candles and learned about Havdalah. At the conclusion we gave them a Havdalah kit. Not only did she start making Havdalah at home, but she began bringing her friends to CJE’s weekly Tot Shabbats.”

Wynn can’t wait for her younger son, Asher, to be old enough to get his own book. “It’s been a wonderful experience sharing these Jewish stories with my child. And it’s helped us build a library, while developing a foundation for Jewish learning.” Learn more at pjlibrary.org.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Sara Malinow Explores Israel: Baltimore Onward Israel Experience
Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sara Manilow

By Sara Malinow

This summer I am working for an online magazine called Happy in Tel Aviv. In addition to writing articles, running social media accounts, translating content from French and Hebrew, and taking videos around Tel Aviv for a current project, I recently taught myself French. While I would not say I have mastered the language (yet), I know how to say ‘It sounds better in French’ in French, and with two French people as your bosses, that’s really all that matters.

The Israelis I’ve met are unlike any breed of human that can be encountered on the planet. Not only have the people I’ve met been straightforward and blunt but they’ve been charming and overall nicer than the majority of Americans I’ve met.

The quality of life in Israel is, in my opinion, simply happier than in the States and from them, I’ve learned to live each day fully. Surely I can appreciate the American political correctness that seems to be a myth here in Israel. However, Israelis know how to get what they want, a quality I appreciate very much!

If you’re expecting to come to Israel and lose weight (HAH), are you in for a treat! I would regard myself as a health nut back home, however, I decided that I wanted to get the full Tel Aviv experience, abandon my old eating habits and fully immerse myself in the unique cuisine of Tel Aviv.

For the brunch of your life, there is nowhere better than Benedict. With no shame, I admit I’ve been there three times already. From eggs benedict to shakshuka to Oreo pancakes, they have it all. For the burger of your life, Vitrina is the answer. California-style burgers with sweet potato fries with lemon zest (yeah, I’m drooling also). Oh, and I couldn’t forget the falafel and shawarma. I’m a shawarma girl myself and would say my favorite so far has been the stand across from Shuk Hacarmel (Carmel Market).

Now, I feel like it’s my duty to actually tell you all the must-see, must-do things besides eating. Obviously if you’re in Tel Aviv, you’re going to the beach. There’s just no question. Imagine a tropical Caribbean beach with less coral reefs and more people. Nothing beats the beaches in Tel Aviv.

For my fair-skin friends (or those of you trying to avoid wrinkles), Tel Aviv has some of the best shopping I’ve seen. Check out the Dizengoff mall and all of the surrounding streets for the best shops and boutiques. But in all seriousness, if you’re planning to take a trip to Tel Aviv, you may as well just bring me with you since I can take you everywhere and anywhere you want to go :)

Baltimore Onward Israel provided me with an opportunity unlike any other. Instead of simply visiting Tel Aviv and exploring for a day or two, I was given the gift to live in Tel Aviv for two months. I was given the opportunity to immerse myself in the Tel Aviv culture and lifestyle, whether it be through work, food or daily activities.

I was provided with the chance to go to other places in Israel and gain a greater understanding and perspective of what makes Israel holy and what makes it so special. Although I did of course miss the home-cooked meals that hot plates and microwaves do not supply, I was prompted to therefore explore and experience all that Tel Aviv has to offer.

My experience with Onward Israel has been simply unforgettable and one I wish was not so close to being over.

I would recommend Baltimore Onward Israel to anyone with a desire to further their connection with Israel, a strong sense-of-self, a thirst for adventure, a passion for trying new things and a love for this country. And for a more realistic answer: I’d recommend the program to anyone who isn’t allergic to sesame seeds, doesn’t mind if their hair looks like Mufasa from The Lion King, has little taste for fancy living, speaks/reads some Hebrew, understands public transportation easily and is great at making new friends!

Want to spend your summer living and working in Tel Aviv? Registration is now open for Baltimore Onward Israel Summer 2017! Learn more and apply online today. You can also check out more stories from Onward Israel.

Meet Lauren Ades
Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lauren Ades

Canton Resident, Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) Connector

WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND? I am from Baltimore and grew up in Owings Mills. I have always been in the community and have been involved in The Associated for the last 10 years as the co-chair of IMPACT (The Associated’s young adult division) and have taken a campaign role. This is the first time I have taken a grassroots engagement role and it has been so wonderful and enriching for me. It has opened my eyes to the power of our dollars and what we can do to bring people together and fulfill a need in the community.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BE A CONNECTOR? I decided to be a connector because when I had my daughter last year I participated in CJE’s Ahava Baby program and went to so many great events. The last event was a challah bake downtown and that is when I said ‘I would like to do this!’ I was so inspired by what the other connectors were doing.

DESCRIBE YOUR BEST "CONNECTOR" MOMENT? Probably the best connector moment is really a series of moments! We have been holding monthly family Havdalah gatherings downtown at the JCC. I am just overwhelmed by how many people are coming! we have 25- 40 people at every gathering. It is not easy to get out of the house on a Saturday evening, but they are making the effort. At each event, we see people who are exchanging telephone numbers - for example, they meet and did not even know that their kids were in the same day care. It’s really served as a catalyst to bring people together.

HOW HAS BEING A CONNECTOR INFLUENCED YOUR FAMILY? It has made us mindful of how we want to bring up our daughter. We want her to grow up with Jewish traditions. For example, we never celebrated Havdalah before and now we are gathering with our community to do that monthly. We have family Shabbats. It has made us more mindful of instilling Jewish traditions in our daughter.

ANY GREAT INSIGHTS ABOUT BALTIMORE AS A RESULT OF BEING A CONNECTOR? What’s been really eye opening is how many Jewish people are downtown and how hungry everybody was for this program. Blockbuster attendance and selling out our events (like our recent Family Fundays) has made us even more aware of the community. And probably the best thing is that people are saying: ‘I don’t have to move to the suburbs to get this. I can get it downtown!'

Interested in becoming a connector or meeting a connector, Liz Rozmaryn, CJE connector coordinator at lrozmaryn@cjeb.org

Surviving An Abusive Relationship
Monday, December 19, 2016

Surviving an abusive relationship CHANA

By Simone Ellin

When she married her ex-husband in 1999, Lauren,* a mother of three, never dreamed she would find herself needing the services of CHANA.

“In the beginning, my husband seemed like a nice guy. He seemed devoted, had a lovely, welcoming family and got along great with my son,” she recalls. “I was a single mother and wanted to give my son a daddy.”

Lauren says it took about two years before her husband began to show signs of abusive behavior. Unable to find support through her husband’s family and not wanting to burden her own family who lived across the country, Lauren turned to Jewish Community Services (JCS) and was referred to CHANA. The healing process for her and her children began there.

“CHANA is the ultimate Jewish mother,” she says. “They take you in, feed you, get you any help you need and completely validate your feelings.”

CHANA helps victims and survivors of physical, sexual, financial, verbal and emotional abuse, neglect and trauma by providing crisis intervention services, legal aid, individual and group counseling and prevention education. “We provide services that enhance self-worth, give options and support,” says CHANA’s Director, Dr. Nancy Aiken. “We want you to be safe, emotionally and physically. Sometimes people think that if they don’t need a shelter, are financially well off or aren’t planning to get a divorce, they don’t need CHANA. That isn’t true. We can offer support and education, whether you stay or go.”

While physical and sexual abuse are the most commonly recognized forms of domestic violence, many of us are less familiar with financial, verbal and emotional abuse. These types of abuse may be more difficult to identify, but can be devastating to their victims. 

“Being controlling about money, not sharing financial information, asking a lot about what things cost, wanting to see receipts, even when the money being spent belongs to the woman … these are some warning signs that a relationship is unhealthy,” says Aiken. Lauren, who experienced financial abuse, verbal and emotional abuse with her former husband, agrees.

“[Financial abuse] is horrific. Someone is controlling you by withholding grocery money. Sometimes there was no money unless I agreed to have sex with him. I tried to work outside the home but my ex would always change his schedule so that I would have to call in and tell my job I couldn’t come. I constantly suffered the stress of being fired. At the beginning of the marriage, I first attended medical massage therapy school, but after I finished and passed the national board exam, he refused to give me the money for my license, so I wasn’t able to practice,” she recalls. “Financial abuse is debilitating. It weakens your self-esteem and causes you to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. And it is harder for other people to understand. But when I went to CHANA, they weren’t shocked at all. They helped me to name it.”

Adina* was also surprised to find that CHANA had heard stories similar to her own many times over. Adina met her ex-husband through a matchmaker, and after a brief courtship, the couple married and soon had a baby.

“The relationship was abusive from the beginning,” says the 36-year-old mother of four. “But I didn’t recognize it. I didn’t see how he was controlling me, twisting my words, manipulating me. I was taught to bend to my husband’s will and told never to complain to friends. When you don’t talk to friends, you don’t know when something’s wrong.”

In her marriage, Adina experienced both physical and emotional abuse, but says the emotional abuse was most scarring. Adina went to the rabbis, but soon learned that her husband was consulting them and invalidating her story. “He convinced all the rabbis I was crazy and a bad mother and I lost every one of the friends I made through my marriage. When I asked them to testify for me during the divorce, they all said they couldn’t. ‘It was over their heads.’” She felt stuck, hopeless and alone.

Although she had heard about CHANA, Adina didn’t contact them for many years. She assumed they wouldn’t believe her story of abuse either. Finally, on a colleague’s recommendation, Adina decided to give CHANA a try.  

“I met with Naomi and she validated me. She sent me to Cynthia [Ohana], who explained the legal aspects to me, and I saw a therapist. When you go through your story, you feel like it is unique. Then you find out it’s not. It took my therapist four years to convince me I wasn’t crazy.”

CHANA also helped Adina regain her confidence as a mother. “I remember one Mother’s Day — I was feeling so bad and the doorbell rang and it was someone from CHANA. She brought a package with all kinds of gifts — a cookbook, perfumes, jewelry — I just burst into tears. It was so meaningful to know that someone thought of me and made me feel like a good mother.”

Nowadays, Adina, who is divorced and shares custody of their children with her ex-husband, says that though he still tries to control her, she now has the tools to cope.

Lauren’s life also changed for the better. She completed certification in pediatric massage therapy for trauma victims and is working in her field. Lauren also volunteers as a speaker for CHANA.

“I’m in a new relationship with an old college boyfriend,” she says. “He was always my best friend, and we have a deep bond.”

Life isn’t always easy for her and her three children; they struggle with financial issues because her ex still creates problems by withholding alimony and child support.

“My children and I love each other and we still receive help from CHANA. All of us have developed coping skills and healing tools. We know how to recognize red flags [in relationships] and we know what to do about them. We aren’t victims anymore. I have taken my experience and turned it around to heal myself and other people. CHANA is completely unique and a precious gem in our community.”

Warning signs that a relationship may be abusive, from The National Domestic Violence Hotline:

  • Telling you that you never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away and/or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
  • Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
  • Controlling who you see, where you go or what you do
  • Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
  • Preventing you from working or attending school
  • Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with

To learn more about domestic abuse, visit chanabaltimore.org, call the CHANA office at 410-234-0030, or call CHANA’s confidential helpline at 410-234-0023.

* Names have been changed to protect the safety of these women. This story originally appeared in Jewish Women. Read the rest of the publication now!

Tailgate With A Purpose
Thursday, December 08, 2016

Tailgate with a purpose

By Rochelle Eisenberg

When Dori Chait moved to Baltimore in 2005, she quickly discovered that in the fall, everything revolves around the Ravens. So today, the former New Yorker is incorporating what she’s learned about her adopted community into a volunteer project she hopes others get behind.

You turned something uniquely Baltimore into a way to give back? During football season, it seems as if everyone is either at or watching a Ravens game. It’s hard to get many Baltimoreans engaged in other things. So I thought why not create a volunteer project that you could do as a group right before or after the game. Or during halftime?

You kicked it off on September 11th? I was chairing Day to Unite for Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) in conjunction with the Governor’s Day to Serve. That happened to be the Ravens’ opener. With Tailgate with a Purpose, we encouraged people to volunteer in between watching the game.

This is the second year of Tailgate. What's new? This year, JVC will be hosting a Community Tailgate with a Purpose at the Park Heights JCC on Sunday, September 10! We will be streaming the game, doing service projects and learning how to incorporate service throughout the year. Ilene Schwartz is chairing Day to Unite this year and I am so excited for her to take the reins and expand on last year’s Tailgate with a Purpose program!

What makes these projects special? An important piece of JVC is service learning, and each tailgate bag includes a list of volunteer projects and guided questions to make it meaningful.

Why is this a great program for young children? We believe volunteerism can begin at any age! JVC provides projects and opportunities that even our youngest volunteers can participate in. From our Volunteam Playdate Together, where families with young children visit local senior facilities, to coloring cards for Mitzvah Day, we have projects for every interest and ability.

What are you bringing? I will be donating The Rainbow Fish because it teaches the importance of giving to others and how it makes a person feel when they share a piece of themselves. I also will donate something funny like Confessions of a Scary Mommy because it really normalizes the transition into motherhood for people.

Has volunteering impacted your children? There’s more awareness of the community at large. When they know we are going to the city, they suggest we bring a blessing bag. It’s created an awareness of the world outside of them.

How can people get involved? Check out www.jvcbaltimore.org/daytounite to sign up for specific opportunities or reach out to JVC any time to learn more!

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Connecting Interfaith Families to Jewish Community
Thursday, December 08, 2016

Connecting Interfaith Families

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Diana Coyle grew up Catholic. Her husband, Michael Fishman, is Jewish. When the two decided they wanted to get married, one of the first things they did was talk about how to raise the children.

It wasn’t a decision Coyle took lightly. She knew how important it was for her husband that their kids were Jewish. So after a lot of thought, and a number of conversations, she knew it was the right move for her future family.

From the beginning she felt comfortable in her decision. “I was always fortunate,” she says. “I had a great support system and whenever I had questions, my husband was always able to answer them.”

Yet sometimes she felt like an outsider, looking at the world through a different lens, worried she might ask or do something that might offend. That’s when she learned about the Mother’s Circle, where she could find support with other non-Jewish mothers raising Jewish children.

The JCC Mother’s Circle is a three-week education and support group that focuses on Jewish rituals, ethics, holidays and Jewish life cycles. In addition to educating, it is a place where mothers share challenges and discuss situations in a non-threatening environment.

“It’s a chance to be with a group of people who grew up similarly, to make connections and to validate your experiences,” Coyle explains.

The rate of intermarriage has been steadily rising in this country. Just last month, the Pew Research Center released a study that found that roughly one-in-five U.S. adults were raised with a mixed religious background. Broken down even further, one-quarter of Millennials (27 percent) were raised in a religiously mixed family, while 20 percent of Generation Xers and 19 percent of Boomers were.

The results were not surprising for those who have been looking at the Jewish community. In 2010, when The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore conducted its community study, it found that 42 percent of 18-34 non-Orthodox Jews indicated they were intermarried.

Those trends, and the fact that many interfaith couples didn’t feel as welcome as they could in the Jewish community, led The Associated to create an interfaith task force to understand the best ways to make interfaith families feel connected. One of the recommendations was to hire an interfaith engagement director for the Baltimore Jewish community.

Last year, Lara Nicolson took on that role. “I’m taking a community-wide approach to making interfaith families feel welcome,” she says. “I can help provide resources, support and programs that help them find their place in the community so they have positive Jewish experiences.”

And Nicolson can relate to those she speaks with – she is Jewish, her husband is not, and they are raising their kids Jewish.

Chantelle Terrillion, who co-chaired the interfaith task force with Kevin Keane and her husband Joel Fink, learned about the Mother’s Circle from Nicolson.

“It was great to hear other people’s experiences. Some were similar to mine, others were different. Yet it gave us a chance to explore our situations in a non-judgmental space,” she says.

In addition to the Mother’s Circle, other programs include a revamped Introduction to Judaism, taught by local rabbis and sponsored by the JCC and the Baltimore Board of Rabbis. The Board of Rabbis has been supportive of the interfaith initiative. And, the JCC and Jewish Community Services have teamed up for a workshop for interfaith couples, called Love and Religion.

And Coyle has become an interfaith connector, meeting with non-Jewish mothers, providing them with ways to get answers, as well as other resources, and helping them to connect to other families.

As for Terrillion, the connections she’s made have been invaluable. “I’m so happy The Associated is putting into action the recommendations from our interfaith task force. It’s providing interfaith families ways to feel connected and welcome in Baltimore’s Jewish community,” she says.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Chanukah Family Fun!
Monday, December 05, 2016

Chanukah Fun

By: Lisa Bodziner

As the days become shorter, darker and more difficult to stay up for we are reminded to embrace light and hope during this holiday season. Chanukah soon approaches and our rich Jewish heritage provides so many wonderful opportunities to create light together as a family. Here are five great ways to celebrate:

Reading PJ library books during bedtime is certainly an incredible way to create light in your family. If you haven’t read or received Potatoes at Turtle Rock come visit the CJE to get your own copy. This PJ library book is an incredible way to share and make your own family Chanukah traditions as this family shares to start the book “when it comes to Chanukah, if it’s snowing, we celebrate in the woods…” and you will have to come get your own copy to hear what happens at Turtle Rock.

If you are looking for hands on Chanukah activities to do in your own home or with family and friends over winter break, check out some cool activities below: before you purchase crafts be sure to visit the CJE crafts room for materials you can take! Here’s one craft idea we love. It’s a fabric menorah. You will need: felt (yellow and other colors); fabric for the back of your hanging; fabric glue (older children may like to sew instead); fabric paints; hook and eye fastening tape or buttons.

  1. Using this template, cut out a menorah shape and nine candles from the felt.
  2. Using fabric glue stick these shapes to your backing fabric.
  3. Cut out nine flames from yellow felt. Stick the ‘eye’ of nine hook and eye fasteners just above each candle and the ‘hooks’ to the flames.
  4. Decorate your menorah hanging with fabric paints.

Join us for Winter Fun Days. These days of activities are scheduled the week between Christmas and New Years Day when parents and caregivers are looking for fun, safe and educational things to do with young children. Winter Fun Days will be filled with puppet shows, crafts and community service projects while encouraging families to get to know one another by playing in various locations throughout the city. Learn more online

Try this latke recipe from kvellerYou will need: 5 potatoes; 1 onion; 3 eggs; 1 cup flour; 1 ½ tsp. salt; ½ tsp pepper. Peel potatoes and grate with onion in the food processor using the s blade (for mushed potato) or grating blade (for grated potato). Mix with other ingredients and fry until golden. Then flip over and fry the other side until golden. This recipe can be multiplied. It is very versatile and potatoes can be substituted for sweet potatoes, apples, spinach, or tuna.

For more ideas, go to our Chanukah portal or check out additional programs. As always, we hope to see you around town and be sure to be in touch if you have any questions about family programs during the holiday season or year round! 

Nine Things to do in December
Thursday, December 01, 2016

Young adults at Charm City Tribe Chanukah event

 

Celebrate the end of 2016 with one or more of these events from The Associated or one of our agencies.

December 8, 8:00 a.m. The Top Ten Estate Planning and Estate Tax Developments of 2016. Learn about the top ten estate planning and estate tax developments of 2016, the likely developments of 2017 and the implications for your practice. Presenter: Ronald D. Aucutt, Partner, McGuireWoods LLP. The Associated Krieger Building.

December 8, 6:30 p.m. The Associated’s Keynote Event. The former White House press secretary will share insider strategy from Capitol Hill to the corporate boardroom, at this event recognizing donors giving $1,000 or more to The Associated’s Annual Campaign. Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor.

December 11, 1:00 p.m. Stars in the Ring: Jewish Champions in the Golden Age of Boxing. Author and historian Mike Silver presents this vibrant social history of Jewish boxers in an entertaining and informative presentation. Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Through December 14. Sue Glick Liebman Visiting Israel Scholar – Israel: It’s Complicated. Explore and better understand key issues and complexities that face the Jewish homeland and the Jewish people with world-renowned speaker, Avraham Infeld. Locations around Baltimore.

December 14, 6:00 p.m. PJ in your PJs Powered By IMPACT. Help your little one drift off to dreamland – meet up with IMPACT and gather ‘round for story time with books from PJ Library. J Town and Studio J at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC.

December 24, 6:00 p.m. Chrismahanukwanzakah Cocktails with a Conscience. Come out to enjoy some Chrismahanukwanzaakah cocktails, test your knowledge about the holiday season, and volunteer as part of Community Mitzvah Day! Join Repair and Moishe House to play a round of trivia – testing your knowledge about the customs of Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa – followed by packing boxes to assist people experiencing homelessness as part of Operation Shoebox. Moishe House Baltimore.

December 25. Community Mitzvah Day. Be a part of Mitzvah Day and join hundreds of fellow volunteers of all ages in making this winter warmer and better for members of the Baltimore community. Locations around Baltimore.

December 25, 3:00 p.m. The Mama Doni Band “Chanukah Fever” Concert. The internationally-acclaimed Mama Doni Band offers up a contagious blend of reggae, rock, disco, klezmer and “Jewgrass” – all woven together with a hip Jewish sensibility. The Gordon Center for Performing Arts.

December 28, 7:30 p.m. Chanukah BrewHaHa. Join us for a rousing night of celebrating miracles, gifts and gift giving, and pride in community festivus – at the biggest, most spectacular Chanukah party in Baltimore! The Associated Krieger Building.

Use It or Lose It
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

staying engaged as you age

By Melissa Gerr

Brain games such as Lumosity, CogniFit and Fit Brains are engaging, stimulating and pass the time, but when it comes to some of the associated cognitive health claims, such as staving off the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease or aging-related dementia, that’s when the scoreboard doesn’t quite add up.

“What we consistently have found that appears to be [cognitively] beneficial are exercise, social support and continuing social interactions like volunteering,” says Jessica McWhorter, Ph.D., a rehabilitation neuropsychologist at LifeBridge Health’s Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain and Spine Institute.

“Things we don’t have evidence for are things like brain games and brain computer training, but it’s not going to hurt you,” she added. “Given the research, [playing computer brain games] means you can get better at a specific task, but doesn’t necessarily apply to the real world. However, we are learning more each day, and we may come to find that some of these brain games have some utility.”

Given a choice between attending a local community center class and sitting hunched over a computer or smart phone tapping keys or a screen, McWhorter implores, “Go to the class.” Whether it’s learning a new instrument, a new dance step or playing new games, “If you’re using your brain in new ways it’s a beneficial thing,” she says. “Even going out with people and having conversations helps. Use it or lose it — it’s kind of true.”

Bev Rosen, 66, a member of the Edward A. Myerberg Center, subscribes to that philosophy. “I give a lot of thought to how to stimulate my brain and engage in creative problem solving. And I look for activities that help do that. It’s a conscious thing to stay engaged, to stay sharp. I don’t sit still.”

Rosen certainly doesn’t. She participates in the Broadway Dance class at the Myerberg and attends the History of Comics course. In her semi-retirement from work as a licensed clinician, certified executive coach and owner of Work Wonders, which specializes in workplace training, she also studies French, participates in two book clubs, a drama club and plays tennis. She volunteers as a docent at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, as a walking tour leader for Baltimore Heritage and organizes events for Senior Box Office through the Baltimore County Department of Aging, which range from behind the scenes tours of Maryland Public Television and Wockenfuss Candies to naturalist-led hikes.

“I think the reality is that with our careers, we [had] structures which provided opportunities to stay sharp, and now we’re finishing those chapters,” Rosen says, “so it’s up to us to find [other] things because it’s not being handed to you. And give yourself permission to change, and to have the guts to try something you haven’t done. And if you don’t like it, it’s ok, move on and try something else.”

That seems to illustrate Myerberg member Vicki Coronel’s approach, too. At age 61, she’s dedicated to her weight and circuit training but also experiments with Zumba, Nia, ballet, yoga and tai chi.

“It takes a lot of coordination, otherwise I would trip over myself. I can’t let my mind wander. I have to be really focused on what I’m doing,” Coronel, who retired first from information technology then spent 11 years as an English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher, says of the classes. She appreciates the physicality but “I like the brain thinking part of it as well. Following the teacher makes me coordinated, and emotionally, I feel really good after I do anything.”

“Because I feel better and I’m less stressed then it’s easier to grasp things,” she says. “It’s like your brain is more open. I’m not worried; my brain isn’t occupied by stressful things.”

McWhorter says that Coronel’s experience has clinical proof. “First, exercise has been shown to help improve attention. Second, exercise is a very good treatment for depression and depression is associated with cognitive functioning, so if someone is depressed, if they exercise, then their cognition can improve. It’s shocking to people how much depression can impact cognition.”

McWhorter adds it’s not uncommon to misdiagnose the two. “The other thought is that [physical and mental engagement] can help with fatigue, so [a person] might be able to remember more or think more clearly” when not feeling so tired.

McWhorter laments the fact that many people “are looking for the fastest, shiniest and most exciting way to combat aging and cognitive changes. What I try to teach my patients is it’s important to take a step back, and sometimes the most basic of things are the most powerful,” she says, such as a commitment to eating balanced meals, exercise and managing stress.

“They’re not as exciting and shiny and they don’t make big claims in commercials, but they work and we have the research to back it up.”

Longtime co-chair of Bookworms through the Jewish Volunteer Connection, canasta enthusiast and devoted grandmother Jane Siegel says she doesn’t necessarily consider her volunteering and social activities from a health standpoint, but she’s aware of research claims that they can help prevent cognitive loss.

“Does this help keep you sharp? I’m only 59,” Siegel says, “but it’s all a natural progression of aging and menopause. Things slow down. I don’t know how sharp it keeps me but it can’t hurt!”

Top photo: Jane Siegel volunteers at Bookworms, where she reads to elementary-age students. This story originally appeared in Jewish Boomer, a collaboration between The Associated and Mid-Atlantic Media. Read the full publication today!

Body Works
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Owings Mills JCC

By Rochelle Eisenberg

As adults enter their 50s and 60s, fitness needs begin to change. With metabolism slowing down and increased pain or injuries from long-term use, individuals need to rethink their fitness routines if they want to stay healthy longer.

And staying fit over the long haul has long-term benefits, in particular, increasing the time one can live independently in one’s home.

The JCC and the Edward A. Myerberg Center offer fitness and health programs to help boomers live a healthier life. From exercise classes to personal trainers who understand their needs, they can help boomers reach their healthiest potential. In addition, they offer classes for those with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s, to help increase balance, flexibility and endurance. Here are a few tips from the experts:

INJURIES. According to Niki Barr, certified personal trainer at the Myerberg Center, certain injuries are more prevalent as one ages. She sees a lot of shoulder pain, often a result of years of slouching while sitting at a desk or computer. “Even when we drive,” she says, “we tend to sit forward instead of using our headrest. That increases our risk for shoulder and neck pain.”

Over time, the upper back muscles become weakened, causing tension in the cervical spine and general postural weaknesses.

A personal trainer can develop appropriate exercises to strengthen muscles. A few simple exercises that can be done at home include:

  • Scapular Retraction: Squeeze the shoulder blades together. Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat.
  • Walk the Wall: Facing a wall, walk the finger tips slowly up the wall as far as you can go. Repeat 10 times on each arm.
  • Resisted External Rotation: Sit or stand with a resistance band in your hands. Keep elbows at sides, bent to 90 degrees, forearms forward. Pinch shoulder blades together and press forearms away from the body (in a backhand motion), keeping elbows at your sides. Repeat 10 times.

If you’ve had a hip replacement or knee surgery, it’s important to tailor your routine to strengthen the parts of the body that are weak. Following a course of physical therapy, a personal trainer can help with strengthening those body parts, beginning with more simple exercises and moving to more advanced ones.

BALANCE. Another concern is balance. Often, legs become weaker and individuals begin to have trouble with basic daily tasks, like standing up from a chair. Their risk for falling is greatly increased at this point.

It is critical to engage in weight-bearing exercises to build muscle in the legs. Ankle mobility is also a major part of balance and stability, so calf raises and calf stretches are important to include in your exercise routine. Fall prevention exercises will help individuals live longer, alone and unassisted. What to do to increase balance:

  • Squats w/ Dumbbells: With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet hip distance apart, weights at your side. Bend the knees and drop the hips back, as if about to sit in a chair. Try to maintain a straight spine, with your chest facing forward as you squat. Return to standing and repeat 10 times.
  • Box Stepping: Place a box/step in front of you and near a balance barre for safety. Step up and down on the box, leading with your right foot. Repeat 10 times and then repeat on your left foot. To advance this exercise, time yourself and try to beat your time.
  • Join a class that works on balance and core strength, such as tai chi, Otago, yoga or boxing

Try this: Can you stand up off the floor without using your hands? If you can, you are on the right track for flexibility and balance. If you need help with one hand or two to lift off the floor, you may want to work on your balance for long-term health.

NUTRITION. “Nutrition is as important as exercise,” says Barr. “As we age, we become deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, and that takes a toll on the body.”

For example, vitamin D deficiency, common to many, increases as we get older. Not only is it a result of not getting enough sun or eating enough foods with vitamin D in them, such as greens, it could be a factor of thinning skin, which makes vitamin D harder to absorb.

When you get older, you sometimes find that certain foods become harder to digest. “You may not be able to eat some things you used to enjoy because they don’t make you feel well. For example, you may not have celiac disease, but you may develop gluten sensitivity,” says Amy R. Schwartz, senior director, fitness & wellness, at the JCC. “Adding more natural items, like fruits and vegetables, may be easier to digest.”

WOMEN AND MEN. As we enter our 50s and 60s, metabolism slows down, making it harder to lose weight. Women see an increase in mid-belly fat.

Women and men often have different exercise needs at this point in their lives. Women need to think about adding more muscle to their bodies (which increases metabolism), while men should begin to add more cardio to their routines. Balance and flexibility training are really important as well. With reduced flexibility, people tend to lose their balance. Loss of balance can result in falls. It doesn’t require a lot of time — 10 minutes of daily stretching and five minutes of balance.

Women: The higher the percentage of muscle, the higher one’s metabolism, explains Schwartz. Having more lean muscle means your body will burn more calories at rest. Having more muscle increases your basal metabolic rate, or BMR (that is, how many calories your body burns just to keep itself running). The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day.

On average, women tend to focus on cardio exercise in their younger years. As they get older, in addition to adding muscle, they need to think about their bones, modifying their exercise routine to include more strength training.

That goes for women of all shapes and sizes. “Have you ever head of the skinny, but fat syndrome?” Schwartz asks. “Women who have low, normal BMIs (body mass indexes), but no muscle tone. As they lose estrogen and progesterone, they become thicker around the middle.”

To counteract that try squats and lunges, which work on the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, and lifting weights to build the biceps, triceps and shoulders. In addition, weight training, lifting dumbbells or using weight machines help.

When looking for classes to join, BODYVIVE, BodyPump and Barre are excellent ways to build strength.

Men: When they are younger, men’s fitness routines typically focus more on strength training. As