Meet Richard Flax: Co-Chair of the BJC’s Government Relations Committee and a Baltimore Native


Growing up in Baltimore

In Baltimore the apple does not fall far from the tree.  I had a real “Ozzie & Harriet” wonderful warm and loving childhood. Graduated from the then Beth Jacob Congregation Hebrew School and even had my Bar Mitzvah at that shul (the former synagogue building is located directly across the street from the Park Heights JCC and the BJC).

Mel Brooks at the wise age of 95 was recently asked his secret of how it was that he sustained such a high level of creativity throughout his life…his comedic reply was “stuffed cabbage kept me going” and then went on to say, “There was something rich and wonderful about growing up in Brooklyn…continuing the love you had as a kid.”

Likewise, for me, there was something rich and wonderful about growing up in Baltimore and continuing the love you had as a kid. 

Fond memories

My maternal grandmother, Mary Rombro, of blessed memory, was an observant Jewish immigrant (born, Masha Kushner, in the late 19th Century Pale of Settlement shtetl of Dinovitz, Ukraine). Even if she only had a dime, some portion still went into the ever present blue-and-white pushke to share with others. I remember her establishing a line of credit for me with the Good Humor man so that on Shabbos when the multitude of kids on our street were getting their frozen treat…so was I.

My Jewish upbringing was in a “modern” orthodox family that kept the holidays and kosher at home (we had milchig, fleishig, and Chinese plates). Jewish holidays, and most other holidays, were celebrated with 30+ family and friends who would savor the warmth and terrific cooking from my balabusta aunts who always did the hosting. 

Richard Flax

Different from today

Unequivocally all of this is different from my/our/your life now, since for the past two “Pandemic” years we watched our Conservative synagogue’s “virtual” High Holiday services from our socially distanced home, as well as not being able to actually gather our family together…instead “virtually” tasting the delicious tzimmes my sister prepares every year.  What keeps us strong is our family (most importantly, my better half Sherry, our children, and our wonderful and still full of wonder granddaughters). 

 

Involvement with The Associated and the BJC

My hands-on volunteer journey with The Associated began by serving on the Board of Directors of HIAS of Baltimore from 1986-1992 during an era of burgeoning Soviet Jewry emigration to the Baltimore area.

Today, I’ve come full circle by becoming “re-involved” with The Associated joining the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) Board of Directors and serving as BJC’s current Government Relations Committee (GRC) co-chairperson

The BJC is a perfect fit for what I can offer within my capabilities and experience, and in turn, BJC fulfills me and our greater community at large.

Issues most pressing to our community right now

ANTISEMITISM and SECURITY   

On a personal note, I do believe the Baltimore “baby boom” generation can join in a hosanna that most of us during our lives never experienced in our surroundings the now topical pressing blights of “antisemitism” or its resulting current need for “security”, until recently perhaps. Yet, I also strongly believe, we will not be intimidated and will continue to go about our lives undaunted. 

With that said, I hope people were able to attend Maryland Jewish Advocacy Day 2022. This annual event was hosted by the GRC, and although we couldn’t be in Annapolis in person, we came together virtually and advocated for our state’s Jewish community.

Words of inspiration to the members of Baltimore’s Jewish community

See personal note above…plus, a sense of humor is a medicine that never has an expiration date.

Getting involved with the BJC

Start out by exploring the BJC website kick the tires by attending the upcoming virtual Advocacy events or reach out about your interest to a member of the BJC staff, Board of Governors, Board of Directors, or among the living members from the almost century long all-star list of past-Presidents.

Something nobody knows about you…yet

Unlike Mel Brooks, I am not overly fond of stuffed cabbage.


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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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