Update 10/14/20: The Baltimore Jewish Council and ECYP are honoring the legacy of Congressman Cummings with a virtual event tonight, Wednesday, October 14th at 7pm. Registration for that event can be found here.
On the evening of November 18, 2019 – members of the Baltimore community gathered at the Jewish Community Center in Park Heights.
It was a night to remember and celebrate the life and impact of Congressman Elijah Cummings. From legislative officials to community leaders, many were in attendance.
From current fellows to alumni, this fellowship program aimed at investing in promising teens from Maryland’s 7th congressional district, proved the value of learning from one another, building bridges and looking towards the future.
The program began when the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, reached out to Congressman Cummings about starting an organization to connect the African American and Jewish communities.
As the Hon. Chaya Friedman explained, “The idea was, if we could educate the future leaders of the African American community about Israel and the struggles of the Jewish community, and have them build relationships with Jews in the community, that when those leaders were running the city and conflicts arose, it would be easier to communicate and have meaningful dialogue.”
It was an evening of inspiring stories, passionate words and the promise of tomorrow. Frequently people spoke on their first impressions when meeting Congressman Cummings, his booming voice, his kind heart. But they also spoke of his legacy, what that meant to them, and how it would have a rippling effect on the rest of their lives.
“Congressman Cummings often spoke of our children as our living messengers to a future we will never see,” said Michelle Waxman Johnson, chair of the board at ECYP, a sentiment echoed by many who spoke during the event.
And it seemed plain to everyone in attendance how true those words were — from two current fellows Lawrence Finch, who founded and is the current president of his school’s first Black Student Union, and Jewel Grant, who was recently elected president of her schools’ National Honor Society, to Leah Rowell, an aspiring legislative professional who became a summer intern for Governor Hogan in 2017, interned for Maryland State Senator Joanne C. Benson in 2018, and is now serving as her legislative director.
Congressman Cummings has impacted the lives of over 200 Baltimore City students, and his legacy will continue to impact future students as the program lives on.
“Congressman Cummings perfectly embodied the phrase — Tikkun Olam,” said Leah Rowell, “He understood that the world wasn’t perfect, but that he had a role to play in its fixing… he lived by example on how to get the job done… to stand for what’s right and to be the change that you want to see in the world.”
“He truly was a man of the highest character,” she added.
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