Shelley Hendler is Living
a Meaningful Life

Shelley Hendler

From the time she was a teenager, Shelley Hendler worked. First making money babysitting and tutoring in high school, then later as an educator in the Baltimore County school system, then for 12 years, she served as a middle school administrator for Krieger Schechter Day School.

So, it’s no surprise that Shelley has embraced her retirement years with the same energy and commitment to making a difference in the community she loves.

Tell us about your current involvement with The Associated.

Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF) has been one of my favorites since retiring, and although I have rotated off the Executive Board, I remain active through their educational programming committees, and grantmaking process. I am inspired by the wonderful work being done locally and in Israel to empower and improve the lives of women and girls.

Is there a recent program that received a grant through JWGF that you were most excited/inspired by?

We are just diving in for this year, but I am excited to explore and fund work with girls in the area of mental health. The pandemic has certainly been a challenge for all of us and I would love to see us provide opportunities to help support girls who have been struggling.

Speaking of the pandemic, as someone who is very active in the community, how have you managed to stay busy?  

There were so many virtual opportunities for learning, connecting, and giving. In addition to my usual commitments, which all pivoted throughout the pandemic, I did a lot of cooking for various collections as well as assisted with some food drives at Chizuk Amuno. I also listened to a lot of podcasts, read, cooked, and even did puzzles, crafts and zentangle, which typically are out of my comfort zone.

You are the co-chair of the JCC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Workgroup. What is the goal of the group?

As stated in its mission, the JCC aspires “to provide meaningful experiences and opportunities to enrich, connect and celebrate a vibrant Jewish community.” The purpose of the DEIJ workgroup is to support the J as a welcoming center, while considering the diversity of the community, through programming, communication, culture and vision. As a Board committee, we aim to support the efforts of the professional staff. Thus far, we have been engaged in relevant conversations, setting goals, and building trust, as well as supporting several new programmatic initiatives. Our work with consultants and a recent retreat has helped to create a foundation for this marathon work. We feel that it is critical that all members of the community including those with disabilities, Jews of Color, LGBTQ, interfaith families, and all Jews, no matter of religious practice, will consider the J a home away from home.

As co-chair of the Film Festival committee can you share with us any new films that we can look forward to seeing?

Our final selection is rapidly approaching. While I can’t speak to any specific film, I will share that we have been pleasantly surprised with the offerings this season. We weren’t quite sure what to expect due to the challenges this past year in the industry, but we have screened dozens of potential candidates. The discussions of our wonderful committee are always engaging and it’s a privilege to learn about so many interesting stories through film.

Shelley Hendler

When you are not volunteering, attending board meetings, etc. what can we find you doing?

I like to spend as much time outside as possible. I love exploring local treasures like Liberty Reservoir, Jones Falls Trail, Lake Roland etc. I also enjoy gardening, visiting farmer’s markets, museums, theater and spending time with friends. And of course, there is nothing like being with family, especially when there is a little nugget in the family now!

You’ve been retired now for a bit…ever look back? Advice to those about to enter that phase of life?

I didn’t use the “R word” for several years. The departure from my profession was initially intended to be temporary, but I quickly discovered that there are so many possibilities to have a meaningful, interesting and fun life! I feel very privileged to have this option, which is why I feel it’s important to give back to the community. My best advice is to just say Yes!! Try everything until you find what brings you joy.

Anything else you would like to share?

The news is constantly reminding us of the challenges and gloom in our world. I try to counter that by being inspired by the many people who are working so hard to do their parts to make this a better world. Fundamentally, let’s just try to be kind and grateful and patient.

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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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