Year in Review 2022

2022 was a year filled with hope, recovery and challenges. However, no one could have predicted that COVID-19 cases would continue to soar, mental health concerns would grow, we’d be combating antisemitism in our own community and Russia would invade Ukraine.

Through our collective network of agencies, overseas partners and community organizations, we worked tirelessly to help many in our community, locally and globally, overcome their struggles.

Here are a few highlights from the past year:

Woman and child in Ukraine

Supporting Ukraine

We created the Ukrainian Emergency Fund, raising more than $2 million from our generous community. These funds helped support on-the-ground work of our global partners, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Through their networks, we distributed food, medicine and more for women, children, Holocaust survivors and homebound seniors. Together, we also helped provide safe passage to the border for fleeing families and assistance to refugees who made aliyah. At the same time, the friendships created through our Baltimore-Odesa Partnership — now 30 years strong — brought hope to the many Odesa residents living through these unsettled times. We communicated daily with messages of caring and concern while providing direct aid to local organizations that offered trauma-focused therapy, medical support and resources for young adults so they could continue to find beauty in Jewish life.

Responding to a Mental Health Crisis

An unprecedented number of young adults faced mental health challenges as a result of COVID-19. We responded with unwavering commitment to help our community cope during these emotionally difficult times. Jewish Community Services’ (JCS) therapists provided more than 14,000 telehealth and in-person therapy sessions. JCS also offered numerous support groups that ranged from spouses navigating the loss of a loved one to parents coping with a child’s suicide and young adults finding comfort as they talked about their challenges.

We invested in countless prevention programs in our schools and universities. Additionally, our local Hillels engaged in suicide prevention training programs with other campus organizations and held a wellness retreat for student leaders.

Finally, we continued our system-wide work to nurture our community’s mental well-being. From the Myerberg to the Jewish Community Center, we offered fitness, arts and social programming that encouraged people to come together and connect both in person and online.

Combating Antisemitism

In a year marked by increased antisemitic incidents worldwide, Baltimore was not immune. Several Jewish cemeteries were vandalized, their gravestones spray-painted with antisemitic graffiti. Our Jewish Cemetery Association responded immediately, removing all evidence of hate. At the same time, public officials — as well as community and faith-based leaders and organizations — joined us in a rally against antisemitism that also promoted unity.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) and the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) continued to convene Holocaust workshops for Maryland’s public and private school educators. And the BJC, along with our five area Hillels, met with campus administrators to include antisemitism into conversations on diversity and racism.

Finally, we remained committed to the safety of our community, securing more than $4 million in federal grants for Jewish institutions in the Greater Baltimore area and $7 million in state grants for religious institutions, schools and childcare centers at risk of hate crimes.

Reimagining Jewish Life

Recognizing changes in Jewish engagement, as outlined in The Associated’s 2020 Greater Baltimore Community Study, we created three new organizations to help us develop a strong Jewish future. By building upon our successes and scaling up our programming, these new organizations aim to offer a lifetime of Jewish experiences that will engage and connect our community with Jewish life and learning.

The Macks Center for Jewish Connections creates meaningful opportunities for involvement and discovery in Jewish Baltimore. Jewish Educational Services supports Jewish day schools, congregational schools and Jewish preschools, as well as their educators, so that children of all abilities can reach their full potential. And the Jewish Library of Baltimore connects community members with educational resources to support them in their Jewish journeys.

Photo courtesy of AG.

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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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