Nine Things You Never Knew About Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation’s Julie Newman

Julie Newman is new to Baltimore, having moved here seven years ago. But being a transplant is nothing new for this mother of two. For over the years, Julie has pulled up roots countless times, living as far away as Bangkok, Thailand and as close as Washington, DC. 

Yet, wherever she went, Julie has always been a fan of strong women, and that is just what got her engaged with The Associated. Following a chance encounter in the Caribbean, when she first learned about the organization, she joined Associated Women’s Chapter Two program and The Associated’s Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF). JWGF combines her passion for women’s and social justice issues. She now sits on its Executive Committee. 

We recently caught up with this dynamic woman who lives in Phoenix, MD with her husband, Jack to whom she has been married to for 31 years.  

Julie has lived her life as a transplant. 

A true “nomad” as she likes to refer to herself, Julie was born in Camden, NJ But at the age of 2 ½, she moved to Vienna VA because of her father’s job at the Department of Defense. Since then, she’s called Bangkok, Thailand, Wilmington, DE, Washington, DC, Raleigh, NC, and Baltimore, her home. 

She became the first bat mitzvah in Bangkok. 

Shortly before the end of the Vietnam War, Julie’s family moved to Bangkok for her father’s job wit the Drug Enforecement Administration.  At the time, the city had a small Jewish community, which was originally established by a Russian Jewish family who emigrated in the early 1900s. In the 1970s, when Julie lived there, the community also included Lebanese, Irani and Iraqi Jews as well as Jews from the Israeli and U.S. embassies. Although there was no rabbi, the US military would occassionally bring in a chaplain to lead services. 

“I was the first bat mitzvah in Thailand. A Lebanese Jewish lay leader led the services in conjunction with instructions from the Rabbi at my synagogue in Virginia. Even today, when I talk to the friends I met while in Bangkok, they still recall this milestone.” 

Julie Newman


She met her husband on a blind date. 

I was working for a commercial real estate company in Washington; he was a fourth-year medical student ‘moonlighting’ on the psychiatric floor at Fairfax Hospital. A family friend of mine was a clinical nurse manager on the floor 

My friend told him that she knew this “nice girl.” Then she called me up—at the time, I remember, I had been on a number of blind dates, I said to her, “what is one more bad blind date?” We were engaged six weeks later and married in 13 months. 

She learned about The Associated for the first time while relaxing in the Caribbean.

“I was on a cruise in the Caribbean, and we had taken an excursion in St. John. I was in bobbing in the water and struck up a conversation with a woman who was next to me.”  

That woman turned out to be Michelle Gordon, Chief of Staff at The Associated. They hit it off and Michelle called her after their return to Baltimore. They met to talk about The Associated. Julie soon became involved with Chapter Two and Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF). 

JWGF merges her love of supporting social justice and women’s issues. 

“I love the idea of making collective and intentional giving decisions that empower women and girls in a thoughtful way. As part of this giving circle, we get to decide what projects to grant money to. Every member has a vote and a voice in the process. I love that we are selecting projects that lift women and girls up. Because I believe that when you do that, it has a positive ripple effect on our community.” 

Julie traces her values to her parents who made volunteering an important part of her life. 

“Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, but when they could, my parents always volunteered. In fact, when my father retired to Florida, he volunteered at the local prison, teaching math to inmates to help them get their GED.” 

When the pandemic is over, she can’t wait to get back to the art galleries. 

She’s a fan of Modern/Contemporary art; her husband leans toward Impressionism. But both like art and the two can’t wait to get back to visiting the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters and the galleries in DC. 

Believe it or not, she doesn’t love ice cream. 

Even as a child, she tended toward other sweets. “I remember being around five or six and standing in line at Gifford’s (an ice cream store in the DC metropolitan area). I couldn’t explain it, but all I wanted was the cone. I didn’t want any ice cream.” 

Best advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

“Mistakes are just that, mistakes. When you look down the road, you realize that nothing that can’t be fixed with a little WD40 and duct tape.” 

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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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