Meet Myrna Cardin


Ask Myrna Cardin what she remembers about growing up on Fairview Avenue in Northwest Baltimore and she might mention Shabbat dinner and the follow-up on Saturday night, when she would gather with extended family over platters of white fish and sturgeon. 

Or maybe, she’ll talk about how she met her husband, Ben, one of her many elementary school friends from School 64, and how he asked her out in 10th grade when he was “pledging a frat and needed a date.” 

And she could mention the fact that until kindergarten she was nicknamed Muffy – a name of a debutante her aunt saw in The Baltimore Sun – because her aunt thought the name Myrna was too old for a baby. 

Yet, at the heart of what she will say – and emphasize over and over again – was the blessing of growing up in a tight-knit Jewish community, one filled with close family and friends and a dedication to Jewish life. 

Today, as this former teacher heads up The Associated’s Jewish Lead Team, she will bring this passion for Judaism to her new volunteer role. For she, along with other leaders, have a chance to help shape The Associated’s Jewish education and engagement agenda, ensuring our system is addressing key community issues with excellence. 

“From my earliest days, Jewish life has defined me. From the weekly Shabbat dinners to my group Bat Mitzvah at Beth Tfiloh to religious school to the traditions Ben and I still engage in with our family, they have been such a pivotal part of my identity. I am such a big believer in what it means to have your family live a vibrant Jewish life.” 

Family and Tradition 

Judaism was always a core part of Myrna’s life, Shabbat dinner the centerpiece. 

Although an only child, not a Friday night would go by, without a house filled with relatives. It was a tradition that would live on, even when Myrna left home. 

“In many ways, Ben and I kept these Jewish traditions alive,” she says. “When we were first married, my mother-in-law would always host Shabbat dinner. When she passed away, my sister-in law, Judy and I would take turns hosting the meal,” she says. 

Even today, in a pandemic, Shabbat dinner over Zoom has become a family affair. The tradition begins Wednesday, when the nieces, nephews, children and grandchildren take charge – crafting conversation starters and sending them out to the 10, 15 or more who will attend the week’s dinner. It’s always a lively conversation, three generations getting together over blessings and thoughtful conversation. 

“Growing up, you don’t always think about the values you are taught, but you absorb them. It makes me so proud that I am part of a family that leads a joyous Jewish life and share the same values,” she says. 

Myrna Cardin’s Corned Beef (a family favorite for Shabbat)

  • 5 lb. 1st cut corned beef 
  • 1 can crushed pineapple with juice 
  • 1 box dark brown sugar1/2 cup water

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2) Rinse off corned beef. Place in large pan. 
3) Mix together crushed pineapple with juice and brown sugar. Add 1/2 cup water to mixture and pour over corned beef. Cover tightly and cook until tender. 
4) It will probably take about 4 hours, but I would start to check it after 3 hours. Enjoy!


Getting Involved at The Associated: Shoshana Cardin Calls 

Myrna can point to the exact moment when she first became involved with The Associated. The year was 1967 and Israel was fighting the Six Day War. That’s when she got the call from Shoshana Cardin. 

“She was soliciting me for what I believe was Israel’s Emergency Campaign,” Myrna recalls. “I thought it was such an honor to hear from her. I knew it was an important cause and of course, I said ‘yes.’” 

Soon she would join the Young Women’s Council; later she would become involved with Jewish Community Services and serve as president of the board of the JCC and the Baltimore Jewish Council.  

It was the work of the agencies that inspired her, how much they contributed to the Jewish community … and, she loved the fact of sitting around with other community leaders, finding solutions on ways to enhance people’s lives. 

“It seemed very daring, but we know now how important that was; serving on search committees for CEO’s of new agencies—knowing the importance of getting it right the first time.” She also loved co-chairing the first Super Sunday with Marsha Manekin and Sandy Shapiro and co-chairing the Festival of Jewish Literature last year with Ed Berlin. 

“It just never gets old to work with other committed people to enhance our Jewish community,” she says. 

On a personal level, she points to the first time her husband decided to run for the Senate. It was 2005 and the couple agreed they would work together as hard as possible to win the open seat. 

“For a year and a half, we worked with volunteers and campaign staff, seven days a week. I definitely used all the leadership skills that I learned at The Associated. Of course, the candidate was pretty good by himself!” 

Now that she is in her new position, she is looking forward to using all her skills to make a difference for future generations.

“I love working together with other Jewish Baltimoreans to build a strong Jewish future.” 


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