Education of the Baltimore Jewish Community and its Leaders

In 1967, businessman and philanthropist Harvey Meyerhoff welcomed attendees to The Associated’s third annual Community Leadership Conference. He told the assembled group of Jewish leaders that it was up to them to develop a vision of their community–and to join The Associated in carrying out that vision.

“We are now asking you to deliberate with us in considering where our community is going this year, and in the years to come,” he told them. “The leadership of [The Associated], is not composed of self-appointed guardians of a public trust. They are representative people like yourselves, who share not only a very personal and compelling commitment to the Jewish community, but also have a very real stake in the successful accomplishment of our mandate.”

During the prior decade, leaders of The Associated had realized that they needed to educate the public –and particularly leaders of the Jewish community—exactly what the organization did and how they did it. The idea was that this strategy would not only increase the donor base, but also turn donors into volunteers and, potentially, into future leaders of the organization.

In 1971, The Associated formalized the education process by establishing the Baltimore Institute for Jewish Communal Service, which became the Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development in 2002. The program provided students formal training in Jewish education and communal service through a dual degree from Baltimore Hebrew University in Judaic Studies and the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

“Our mission is to produce professionals with exceptional leadership abilities and the potential for excellence,” read a brochure from the 1990s. “To prepare a group of dedicated men and women for positions of responsibility at high levels of Jewish communal service, bringing to their work a synthesis of Jewish commitment, leadership, knowledge and professional skill.”

DFI, which is now part of The Associated’s Center for Leadership, continues to cultivate leaders today, offering programs in Jewish learning, inter- and intra-personal skills, organizational culture and effective management strategies.

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