Meet Larraine Bernstein

Larraine Bernstein, born and raised in Baltimore, defines herself through her work as a professional in the public health field, her volunteer and philanthropic commitments and most importantly, through her family – her biggest priority. As far back as she can remember, Larraine says she always wanted to be a mother.

I feel blessed that my sons, Jonathan and Jeffrey, have grown to be exceptional, young adults, and giving birth to and raising them has been my most gratifying job. My younger son, Jeffrey now lives in Miami with his fiancé Alli and my older son Jon and his wife Erika live nearby.

The piece de resistance.

On April 6 our granddaughter and first grandchild, Dalia Shir Hornstein, was born to Jon and Erika. I haven’t stopped smiling since she arrived. It is also so gratifying to see my son as a father. He has been so attentive to both Dalia and Erika, and I am proud to see the adult he has become.

More than 35 years in the field of public health – mostly focused on child health.

I care so much about the health and well-being of everyone and, in particular, children, adolescents and young adults. They start out so dependent on the adults in their lives, and how they develop is a byproduct of that dependence and hopefully interdependence later on in life. 

Buckle Up

My first professional job was with the State of Maryland Kids and Safety Seats program. I was an integral part in getting the Maryland Safety Seat and Safety Belt legislation passed. I worked with grass roots organizations to advocate for passage of the safety seat law and had the unique opportunity of testifying at the Maryland Legislature. 

Claim to Fame

I was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in 1983, after passage of the first safety seat law and right before she left for Chicago and her own TV talk show. Oprah was anchoring the noon news, and she invited me to do a five-minute interview about the safety seat law and the importance of child safety seats. While engaged in child passenger safety work at the national level, I also got to meet Jim Henson (of blessed memory) and Kermit the Frog, both of whom were honorary chairs of National Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week.

Involvement with The Associated

Ken Hornstein, my husband of 33 years, encouraged me to go through the Young Leadership Council program at The Associated as he had done when we began dating in 1986. When our kids were young, I was on the Board of the JCC. Once they were in high school, I became involved with UMBC Hillel and ultimately served as its Board Chair from 2014-2016.  During that time, I was also in the ACHARAI leadership program and graduated from Cohort V.  Through ACHARAI, I was able to enhance my leadership skills and interface with many smart and talented leaders in the Jewish community. Participating in ACHARAI was a true gift that I continue to value. I still reach into my “tool box” of strategies I learned through that experience for my professional and volunteer work.

Greatest Role Yet

I have a steady babysitting job lined up, and I cannot wait for it to start. I look forward to celebrating Jewish holidays, birthdays, and all the days in between with Dalia. And laughing, singing, and dancing, playing games, reading books, fingerpainting and using sidewalk chalk together. I am excited to share childhood memories of her daddy, grandparents and great-grandparents. Most of all I look forward to learning and celebrating who is Dalia Shir.

What’s in a Name?

Ever since my daughter-in-law announced she was pregnant people have asked me what I want the baby to call me. I thought about it for a long time and decided on grandma. My mother (of blessed memory) was grandma to my kids and I think that word gives kavod (respect, dignity, or honor) to a woman who has risen to a new level in her life. I look forward to hearing Dalia call me grandma. 

Spare Time

I draw and paint. I always used to doodle and about 16 years ago, at a time when the testosterone was pretty intense in our house with my teenage sons and their friends, my husband saw an ad for an art class not far from where we live. He encouraged me to sign up for the class, and I have been taking lessons since that time. 

We now have a house full of pastel drawings and oil paintings that I have created. And my sons are starting to fill their walls, as well. One of the most meaningful paintings I have done is of my father, Joseph Bernstein (of blessed memory). The painting is a re-creation on canvas from a photograph of my father davening in Shul at the amud (bima) the Thursday before my younger son’s Bar Mitzvah.

I’ve always been creative and when I was young, I often made my own clothes. I remember making a coat, hat, shorts, and my junior and senior prom dresses.  I also made the dress I wore to my sister’s wedding when I was 8 months pregnant.  Most recently, I used my sewing skills to alter the dress for Dalia Shir’s baby naming because even the newborn size was too big for her. 

I also play mah jongg and canasta and look forward to playing in person with my friends as we all become vaccinated. And I enjoy playing board and card games and doing crossword and jigsaw puzzles.

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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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