2021: A Year of Change and Hope

It was a year filled with challenges, but also a year filled with hope. Although it began with COVID-19 cases surging, January brought an unprecedented vaccine roll-out that solidified our belief that tomorrow would be brighter. 

Even though the pandemic continued to take center stage in 2021, our community began to get out there, reconnect and affect change. We worked to overcome challenges — whether it was soaring antisemitism, rockets fired on our partner city Ashkelon or a spike in domestic violence and mental health issues. The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, through our network of 27 agencies, has been working behind-the-scenes to ensure our community stayed strong. 

Here are the stories of the year — the personal tales of the people who were impacted and the people who stepped up to bring about change.  

Marcia Glickman

Marcia Glickman: Vaccines

When the pandemic began in 2020, life got scary for Marcia Glickman. Worried about COVID-19, she began limiting her social interactions, drastically changing her life to prevent getting sick. 

So, this Weinberg Village resident was thrilled when a vaccine was approved for those over 65. Marcia remembers rushing to her computer to schedule an appointment, only to discover that nothing was available.  

Then CHAI, an agency of The Associated, came to the rescue. Working with the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccinations, they set up clinics in their senior housing communities. While friends who lived elsewhere spent weeks searching for appointments, Marcia quickly signed up to get the vaccine in her building. 

“I can return to my ‘new normal,’” she says.

Jill Grimm

Jill Grimm: Holocaust Education 

If there was one silver lining in teaching virtually, says Jill Grimm, it was that she finally had time to participate in the Winter Teacher’s Institute, a Holocaust workshop presented by the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) — both Associated agencies. 

For this Crofton Middle School history chair and teacher, it gave her new insight into how to teach this subject. 

This year’s workshop focused on children of the Holocaust. Jill invited survivors, who were young at the time, to speak virtually to students. 

“Sometimes it’s hard to get kids to care about history, but when they see real people, it’s powerful. These survivors went to school — played sports — then everything changed for them. Our students could relate to their experiences.” 

Students then engaged in conversations about oppression, abuse of power and what happens when people aren’t valued. 

Moving forward, Jill plans to expand her Holocaust lessons from two days to a week. 

“As people rewrite history and say the Holocaust didn’t happen, it’s important we teach about it.”

Alexa Grossman

Alexa Grossman: Volunteer

When Alexa Grossman was looking to fulfill her community service hours, she knew she didn’t merely want to check a box. If she was going to volunteer, she was going to make an impact.  

That’s why she reached out to The Associated’s Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC). After speaking with Alexa, JVC curated a customized list of opportunities to fit her goals. They then connected her to Baltimore Neighbors Network. 

Every Sunday, from January to June, Alexa called 10 older adults living in Baltimore City. She helped them alleviate the loneliness of the pandemic and provided resources. 

Once, an older woman needed food, and Alexa directed her to a nearby food pantry. Another time, a woman was desperate for a vaccination and couldn’t find one. Alexa mentioned it in her report to her supervisors, and the next week, she was vaccinated. 

“These people were lonely. For some, I was the only person they spoke to all week. When we talked, they told me they felt heard — that someone cared.” 

“JVC made it easy to do something that really mattered.” 

Amy*: Domestic Violence

There were red flags from the beginning of Amy’s relationship with her now ex-partner, but the pandemic marked the turning point. “We were together [nearly] 24 hours a day and it was like a pressure cooker,” Amy recalls. 

As the months went on, Amy’s partner’s emotional instability grew. His abuse escalated from emotional and financial to physical, and she knew she had to move out. 

Yet the pandemic left her unemployed, money was tight and safe shelter options had dwindled. When petitioning for a protective order she turned to CHANA. 

CHANA, an Associated agency, arranged safe housing in another city prior to her trial for a final protective order, as well as transportation and housing in Baltimore for the trial. 

“I’m on the more secular side of Judaism, but working with a Jewish agency made me feel comfortable, especially when I saw they served Jews across the religious spectrum. They even offered to help me find a Zoom High Holiday service. CHANA does a great job providing a welcoming and safe space.” 

*Not her real name or photo.

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The Associated is a home for everyone in the Baltimore Jewish community. We offer several email lists to help people find a community, engage with their peers and support Jewish journeys around the world.

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