Jeff and Alexa Find Belonging in Jewish Baltimore


Alexa and I moved to Harford County, MD in August 2020, following an adventurous two-car, cross-country road trip from Washington that took us through 11 states and two national parks. I was seeking my next job opportunity, and somehow, I convinced Alexa and our young French Bulldog Cal to pack up and leave the lush Pacific Northwest for the rolling hills and pastoral countryside of northern MD. We have now lived here for almost a full year, have started new careers, and bought our first house.

As someone who moved around quite a bit over the last several years for various military assignments, I was used to the change of scenery and lifestyle. Having lived in Kansas most of her life, Alexa was brand new to the East Coast. 

Though the learning curve was a bit steep at the beginning, we eventually found The Associated through Jen and Jake Lieberman. After a several hour Zoom call with them, we knew that this organization would help us not only in cultivating new friendships in a new place, but also with establishing Jewish roots in a welcoming community for the first time in our relationship.

One year later, we are members of the The Associated IMPACT’s Couple’s Committee and the local Reform synagogue Adas Shalom in Harford County. The Couple’s Committee has hosted a couple of Zoom planning meetings for future events, a very well-received session on DIY home improvements, and is preparing for the in-person kick-off of fall activities in early September.

Early on, we also researched Reform synagogues in our area, and found Adas Shalom. We’ve been active Zoom participants for Friday evening Shabbat services, and just recently began attending services in the beautiful sanctuary itself. I also joined the temple choir, which has been fun and rewarding. We put together a virtual Purim schpiel, taking popular TV show theme songs and adapting them with lyrics evoking the story of Purim. 

We were also fortunate to sing both the American and Israeli national anthems in person at a recent baseball game between Team Israel and the Cal Ripken All-Stars, during Team Israel’s pre-Olympics barnstorming tour throughout the mid-Atlantic. Both The Associated and the temple are hoping just beginning to resume in-person activities following the pandemic, and thus, it is an exciting time for us to meet many of our friends and congregants who we have only been able to correspond with virtually up to this point.

Also immensely helpful to the fostering of our Jewish identity here was a virtual Introduction to Judaism course, geared toward interfaith couples and singles who may be exploring the religion for the first time. 

Run by the Baltimore Board of Rabbis (our rabbi acting as the primary instructor), the organization offers the course multiple times throughout the calendar year. Examples of lesson topics include the “History of the State of Israel,” “The High Holy Days” and “10 Ways to do Tikkun Olam.” We enjoyed the two-hour session every Wednesday, meeting our classmates and the various clergy covering the material, and quizzing each other on what we learned during the sessions.

Though we departed the West Coast with much uncertainty as to what the future might hold, we are extremely happy that we have found a vibrant Jewish community to help us grow and nurture our relationship. Moving to the other side of the country can indeed be daunting, but with the help from our new family here, we have no doubt that we’ll continue to adventure and thrive in our new home.


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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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