Meet Abe Adler

Abe Adler: Consummate Volunteer

When Abe Adler accepted the Carole Sibel Outstanding Fundraising Achievement Award at The Associated’s Annual Meeting this year, he admitted it was an enormous honor. After all, he received an award named after a woman he calls “the ultimate volunteer.”

Yet at the same he wants everyone to know that giving back was never about gaining notoriety and praise. For him, it was always about caring for the Jewish community.

It’s a lesson he learned early on from his parents Milton and Anna Adler. Growing up on Burleith Avenue in Baltimore City, he saw, from an early age, how important it was to make a difference.

Both his parents were actively involved in numerous volunteer roles including fundraising for The Associated to participating in the brotherhood and sisterhood at their synagogue, Shaarei Tfiloh. As a young boy, he recalls going with his mother to the Hadassah offices and on G-Day, The Associated Women’s Day of Giving, knocking on doors in various neighborhoods to raise money for the organization. He often saw his father come home with cards, calling donors about giving to The Associated’s Annual Campaign.

“My parents took great pride in what they were doing. They never preached to us about giving back. They didn’t have to. We saw how important it was by watching their example. We learned that if we didn’t take care of the Jewish community, no one else would.”

Abe first became involved in The Associated as a young lawyer, when Julius Rosenberg approached him about participating in the organization’s Young Lawyer Division. He remembers his first event was a volleyball game at the YMHA (Young Men’s Hebrew Association).

Since then, Abe served in a number of volunteer capacities at The Associated, from Chair of the Young Lawyers and Senior Lawyers Division to Chair of the Julius Rosenberg Memorial Award Committee and chair and solicitor of the mentor-mentee program.

He recalls in his early years as chair of the Young Lawyers Division he suggested that the group move its events from a downtown hotel to a kosher venue in the suburbs. Despite receiving initial pushback for fear that the attorneys wouldn’t go out once they went home, Abe persevered. That first event was held at the Bluefeld Caterers. It was a huge success.

“I realized that there were lawyers who wouldn’t come to our events because of the dietary laws so I wanted to make sure the programs were accessible to everyone. We tried it that time and about 125 people showed up. We never looked back,” he says.

He also recalls showcasing the work of The Associated to other lawyers, organizing trips around the city and taking them to places like the Lloyd Street Synagogue, the JCC and CHAI neighborhoods. “I wanted them to get a flavor of where their money goes.”

His overarching philosophy of showing the importance of giving back by being a role model has paid off in the next generation. His daughter Linda A. Hurwitz has held countless roles with The Associated and currently serves as its Chair of the Board. His son, Arthur, is a former chair of the board of the JCC, in addition to other philanthropic roles, and his daughter Debra Buslik is involved in UJA – Federation of New York, Long Island.

As for the award, Abe admits he was thrilled that the award was presented by an old friend, Bean Sibel, who he first met in Hebrew College in 1945. Yet he wants to make it clear that his work was always about helping the community.

“I didn’t go into this to get any awards,” he says. “I did it because I believe it’s important we all take care of our community.”

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