Towson Local Finds Meaning Through Jewish Connections

By Amy Goldberg, Macks Center for Jewish Education Connector

When I moved to Baltimore ten years ago for graduate school, I never imagined that I would stay and raise my family here. But I met my husband, found a great professional community, and we started to build our life. Four and a half years ago, we moved to Towson from Baltimore City and quickly realized how difficult it was to find a Jewish community in Towson.

About two years ago, I was approached about taking on the role as the first Macks CJE Community Connector in the Towson area. The timing was not ideal as I was 9 months pregnant with my son Asher and had just started a new job at Beth El Congregation. However, on maternity leave, I made the decision to take the position as I knew that it would benefit my family’s Jewish identity as much as my own.

Personally, my own family’s Jewish connections have grown tremendously during my time as a Connector. We have built relationships with new Jewish families who we otherwise would have not known. What usually starts out as a “coffee date” with a mom and sometimes with children in tow, has often turned into holiday dinners and informal play days. Many families that I connect with in Towson are also transplants to Baltimore and do not have family in the area.

As a Connector my role is to build relationships with families who identify as Jewish and connect them to Jewish family programs. In addition, I often create my own community programs in the Towson area. I recently created a book club, Beyond the Cover, in collaboration with Beth El to bring together parents of young children to discuss relevant books and have a related hands-on experience. As a Jewish educator professionally, it is always my number one goal to make sure each program is not only engaging and community building but also elevates each person Judaically.

Growing up, my family never lived by our extended family, so we always had our doors open to friends for holidays or just to spend time together; that value really rings true as part of my work as a Connector. I’ve hosted holiday dinners, brought moms together to discuss the Pittsburgh tragedy and put together a babysitting list for Towson area families who need recommendations.

My family and I have created a small but flourishing Jewish community of families in Towson and it has largely been because of my work as a Community Connector. I look forward to showing my son the pictures of him and his friends as babies when they had tot Shabbat in the park together or met for lunch “dates” on Fridays. My hope is that I have started to set the foundation for my son to see the value of creating community and he will, on his own, seek opportunities to bring people together.

After my two- year role as a Connector is over, I know that I will continue to enjoy spending time with my new “mom friends” and their families. In addition to the families that I’ve met in Towson, I’ve also been fortunate to have been part of a community of Connectors who have been supportive and with whom I have built friendships with as we’ve worked side by side.

I hope to continue to participate in Connector-created programming throughout the Baltimore community as well as support the new Connectors that come after me in Towson. For the experience has taught me that sometimes all it takes is one small outreach opportunity for families to connect Jewishly.

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