Meet Dedicated Volunteer and Miami Native Carly Schwartz

Carly Schwartz and family

Carly Schwartz, Director of Congregational Life and Engagement at Chizuk Amuno Congregation and Schools and an active volunteer with Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), grew up in Miami, Florida. Since graduating from the University of Florida, she’s lived in three other cities before making her way to Baltimore, MD. We chatted with Carly to learn about her travels, maintaining her connection to Judaism, and her close encounter with Michelle Obama.

What was your religious background growing up in Florida?

A: Judaism was really important to my parents. Growing up, my family attended a conservative synagogue, Temple Samu-El Or Olam, where I had my Bat Mitzvah. After that, we switched to a Reform synagogue. In high school I was very active in BBYO, and I also attended Alexander Muss High School in Israel. As an adult, Judaism is deeply rooted in my family – my husband and my kids. I’d say we’re culturally Jewish, not religious, but our Jewish identity is extremely important to us, and we absolutely make it a priority. My son and daughter both go to Krieger Schechter Day School and we really enjoy celebrating the Jewish holidays.

How did you remain connected to Judaism in college?

I went to University of Florida and majored in Judaic Studies. I was very active in Hillel and eventually took a job with them while still in college. The University of Florida always has a big celebration for Jewish American Month (JAM) and has a full slate of speakers, activities and events on campus. One year I was the chair of JAM. I then attended the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University and now have a Masters in Jewish Communal Service and an MBA in Nonprofit Management. At Brandeis I interned with local Jewish organizations as a part of my graduate experience.

What did you end up doing after college?

During college I applied for a Professional Development Scholarship with the JCC Association and was lucky to be a recipient. This scholarship helped me through grad school. As a part of the scholarship, I was required to work at a JCC for two years.  The scholarship recipients attend various conferences, and during one of these, I met someone who worked at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. We became friends. She connected me with the New Jersey JCC where I landed my first job after college (and where I first met Barak Herman).

How did you meet your husband?

After I moved to New Jersey, I met Mike through JDate. He is from Connecticut but was living in New Jersey for his job with the U.S. Army.

Then you landed in London! Tell us more about that.

When I met Mike, he was working on an army base in New Jersey. That base was closing and was rerouting everyone to Baltimore. At the time, we were a little hesitant about moving to Baltimore, so we found out there was an option for Mike to work in London for the U.S. Army. Right around our first wedding anniversary, we made the move to London. Our two kids were both born in London.

Was it hard to remain connected to Judaism in London?

London has an interesting Jewish community. Most of the Jews live in specific neighborhoods north of the city. We, however, lived in the city of London, so we weren’t really surrounded by Jewish people. I volunteered at JW3, which is London’s Jewish Community Center. We still celebrated all the Jewish holidays, and we’d invite our local friends over to celebrate with us. Here and there we’d attend the local synagogues.

Alright, I must know, what’s your favorite experience in London?

I can’t narrow it down to just one, but here’s my top three:

  1. Getting to see the U.S. men’s basketball team compete at the 2012 Olympics and sitting across from Michelle Obama
  2. The Royal Wedding. We didn’t attend, but we went to a local pub and met people that actually did go and still had their invitations on them (we took pictures of the invitation).
  3. Being in London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Carly Schwartz and family

After London, you moved to Baltimore and are now very connected to the Jewish community.

Mike’s job led him to Baltimore, so our family of four made the move. I knew Barak Hermann from my time at the JCC in New Jersey, and I was also (luckily) connected to Erica Bloom of JVC through acquaintances. Through those connections, I took a job at the JCC and was there for five years before working at Chizuk Amuno. My family has always been really involved in the JCC here, participating in a lot of the family programming. My husband and I are avid volunteers with JVC. We find it extremely meaningful and it helped us instill a strong sense of giving back in our children. With JVC, my husband and I co-chaired their Mitzvah Day event for the last two years. We are so glad to have ended up in Baltimore and have loved being part of the Jewish community here.

Thank you for sharing your background and journey with us. Let’s do some rapid-fire bonus questions for some fun:

If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be? Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Dream vacation spot? Anywhere in Asia, but for sure Japan

If you were a superhero, what powers would you want to have? Invisibility

What’s your favorite meal? White rice with ketchup (don’t judge me)

What do you do to relax? I’m an avid reader. I read 62 books in 2022. I also love watching TV. We just finished season 2 of White Lotus.

Who is your celebrity crush? John Stamos

What’s a fun fact about you? During COVID I started a pandemic hobby – making resin art. Now, I sell my artwork. I also have a major sneaker obsession.

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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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