Building Community:
Staying Connected


By Brian Litofsky

In a short period of time, and despite an entirely virtual way of communicating, my wife Teri and I have already enjoyed our experience in the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership Kesher Program. Participating in Kesher, which literally means connection, seems to be a contradiction when every meeting has been via Zoom; but our cohort is marching on, we are getting to know one another, we are learning and are already connecting with our new friends in Ashkelon, Israel.

There are many meaningful facets to the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership and my family has been the beneficiary on many levels. Our son, Ethan, is an alumnus of HaZamir. I remain grateful to Erika Schon who encouraged us to have Ethan consider trying out for the International Jewish High School Choir.

Little did we know how positively it would impact our family so soon after Ethan became a member of HaZamir. The Baltimore chapter was only one piece of the choir “relationship” and we were soon hosting three boys from Ashkelon who remain our friends for life.

Years ago, while having dinner with Leslie and Stephen Pomerantz, we were discussing Israel and the fact that Teri had not yet traveled there. I had been a tourist as a kid and, years later, had the opportunity to spend a summer with my friend, Hillel Glazer, and his family. As a Jew by choice, a visit to Israel had not been on her radar prior to getting married. Leslie literally said to Teri, “we have to find a trip for you or I’ll lead a group.”

Through Momentum, Leslie lead a group and Teri was on her way to what became a spiritual and very emotional visit to our holy land. I did not recognize Teri’s voice the few times we spoke while she was abroad. Not a frequent crier, she could barely speak without getting choked-up as she attempted to describe her experiences. She had instantly connected! A few hours after landing in Tel Aviv, Teri reached for a door to enter a store and bumped into one of our HaZamir Ashkelon boys, Elihay. I got a selfie of the two of them a few seconds later.

It’s clear that Ashkelon has a piece our family’s heart.

When Liz Minkin-Friedman suggested that we apply to participate in Kesher, it was a no-brainer for us. I’ve known Liz since she was born, trust her implicitly and one strong connection begets another. So welcome to Kesher where we have already reconnected with old friends while making new connections.

We’ve had great panels of speakers who have taught us the history of ancient Ashkelon, virtually toured the modern city, discussed who the people really are and what a “melting pot” it is, the political climate and the elections process, what it’s been like living so close to Gaza and how The Associated is impacting so many lives and programs.

It’s truly just the beginning of a two-year program. We look forward to hosting our friends from Ashkelon later this year and visiting with them in Israel in 2022. And Teri and I look forward to greeting all of these great people in person with some hugs!

The Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership Kesher (Connections) program is a new two-year program for adults ages 45+ interested in exploring Jewish identity, building connections with peers in Ashkelon and deepening understanding between our two communities. To learn more, contact Liz-Minkin Friedman at lmf@associated.org.




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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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