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Stitching History With the Holocaust: A picture of talent and loss
Friday, March 15, 2019

Museum exhibit

The loss the world experiences when people die before their time is difficult to comprehend. Jewish tradition suggests it is immeasurable: “anyone who destroys a life is considered to have destroyed an entire world” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

When immeasurable loss is magnified over millions of souls, it becomes so large as to engender a kind of numbness. Statistics don’t evoke emotion. Individuals, though. Individuals we relate to, we see ourselves in them. Individual’s stories make us want to take action.

That reality is part of what drives the exhibit Stitching History with the Holocaust, curated by the Jewish Museum Milwaukee (JMMilwaukee), and opening at the Jewish Museum of Maryland April 7, 2019.

As the decades pass and the survivors and witnesses to the cruelty and horror of the Holocaust pass on, what lives on is statistics: 6 million Jewish lives lost to the camps, 5 million other lives lost in the camps, 416,000 American soldiers lost. They become numbers.

Stitching History reminds us that every single one of those numbers was a human being with loves and hopes and fears, and, notably, talents that were stolen from the world.

In 1939, Hedy Strnad (pronounced ‘streh-nod’) and her husband Paul knew the future looked bleak for Czech Jews like themselves. Paul wrote to his cousin Alvin in Milwaukee, hoping that Alvin would be able to help them get out of Europe. Paul sent along some of Hedy’s dress designs in his letter to Alvin, to prove her talent and that they could be financially independent. Alvin Strnad did what he could in Milwaukee, but he was unsuccessful. Hedy and Paul both perished.

Fast forward to 1997, Burton Strnad found Paul’s letters and Hedy’s drawings in his parents’ basement. Burton donated the papers to the Milwaukee Jewish Historical Society, now the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, where they became central to the museum’s core exhibit.

(Burton’s discovery, and his choices once he made it, underscore the power of material culture and of museums. If Alvin hadn’t saved his cousin’s letters, of if Burton hadn’t thought to donate them, not only would the world have lost Hedy and Paul, we would’ve lost their memory as well.)

In 2013 JMMilwaukee commissioned the Costume Shop of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater to create the septuagenarian designs. The museum staff and costumers worked hard to ensure the final dresses are historically accurate – they used only technologies and fabrics that would have been available to Hedy in the 1930s (even the zippers are vintage).

These modern-day manifestations of Hedy’s designs make up the core of Stitching History. They are punctuated by letters, photos, and research into Hedy and Paul’s life. JMMilwaukee staff found their niece, Brigitte Neumann Rohaczek, who survived the war through the Kindertransport. Brigitte shared stories of her aunt, Hedwig or Hedy (not Hedvika as the Nazis referred to her in the Thereisenstadt records) and helped fill in details for the exhibit.

The resulting exhibit is a nuanced picture of a talented woman. Hedy Strnad, the individual, makes more real the statistics, and deepens the learning around the Talmud’s assertion that one life is equal to the whole world. People often use the Talmudic insight to underline the fundamental value in human life. In addition to the fact that human lives are inherently valuable, the Talmud’s teaching points to the contributions of which each human being is capable, whether in art, literature, science, medicine, humor, or fashion – that unspoken language we all use every day.

Making Passover Fun for Your Children
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Happy mother and child

By Gabrielle Burger, Director, Jewish Educational Engagement, Macks Center for Jewish Education

Passover is one of my favorite Jewish holidays! I love the food, the time with family, and the child-centric focus of the holiday.

The Torah teaches us "You shall tell your child on that day, saying, 'It is because of what The LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'" (Exodus 13:8). Memory and legacy are integral parts of the Passover holiday. Many see this passage as a mandate to tell the story of Passover to others, especially the children.

How can we make the story of Passover or the time spent reading the Haggadah inviting and engaging to children? At my home we have Passover puppets for the kids to use and hands-on activities for the children to do during the reading of the Haggadah that can help them stay involved. Since before we were taken out of Egypt, we were slaves, and now we are free, we lean to the left during certain parts of the meal to symbolize our freedom.

Many people bring pillows to the table to make the leaning that much more comfortable. One of my favorite pre-Passover activities is making a no-sew leaning pillow for everyone to have at the Seder. You can find instructions on how to make one here

What is a great PJ Library Passover book to read to your children? One of my favorites is And Then Another Sheep Turned Up written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Amy Adele. This story emulates the Haggadah passage “All who are hungry, come eat. All who are needy, come join the Passover celebration.” Every turn of the page brings another unexpected guest to the Passover Seder, and the Sheep family always makes room and is happy to see them!

This is a great message to teach our children. Sharing that which we are lucky to have, as well as being gracious hosts, are wonderful messages for our children to learn at our tables.

Looking for new Passover recipes or a new Haggadah for your Passover meal? Look no further than the CJE library! Jessica Fink, our librarian, has collected over 50 different Haggadah’s and cookbooks for the whole family. Her favorite is Haggadah is The Gateways Haggadah by Rebecca Redner, and her favorite cookbook is The New Yiddish Kitchen, by Simone Miller and Jennifer Robins. This gluten free and Paleo cookbook has something for every holiday. Turn to page 239 to get your Passover cooking started!

For more information, or to pick-up a free set of Got Forth and Learn – A Passover Haggadah by Rabbi David Silber with Rachel Furst for your family (while supplies last), call Jessica at 410-735-5017.

What’s a great Passover dessert to make with your kids? My favorite Passover dessert is chocolate covered matzah. This is so easy to make and is finger-licking good!

Excited for Gramp Camp! His and Her Tales of Jewish Camp
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Gramp Camp at Pearlstone Center

By Ann Abramson

When I first went to camp, I was 10 years old, going into the 5th grade. I won’t say what year it was but my favorite TV show at the time was Father Knows Best. I was excited to go to Chimney Corners in the Berkshires.

I knew I was going to be okay because I went with my best friend from home and I had cousins that lived nearby. Before getting to camp, I was so excited to show my camp friends how I learned to cartwheel and do front walkovers. Since camp was in Massachusetts, but I was from Connecticut, I relished that my bunkmates were from other parts of the United States like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, as well as Massachusetts and Connecticut.

My favorite part of sleepover camp was the comraderies that were created with my bunkmates, and all the adventures we’d have in the outdoors like, riding horses, archery, tennis, hiking, water sports and more. I loved it all!

When my children were younger, it was a pleasure to send them to Jewish camp because I knew they would love it as much as I did, and I am happy to say, I wasn’t wrong. The best part of sending them to a Jewish camp was the added bonus of Jewish tradition sprinkled throughout their time there. They became friends with Jewish children from other areas and not only expanded their friendship circles but grew those friendships into a real community of people who still keep in touch.

Now I have the pleasure of being Granny Annie and I’m over the moon excited that my 9-year-old granddaughter is going to Jewish sleepover camp for the very first time this summer! I know she’s going to have a great time creating her own new community.

This summer also marks a first for my grandchildren and me as we’re registered to attend Pearlstone’s very first Gramp Camp from August 13-14! I can’t believe I’m going to have the opportunity to share a camp experience with my grandchildren! What an amazing idea by the Jewish Grandparents Network! The minute I heard about Gramp Camp, I knew I wanted to register and get involved with the planning of this special program! I’m rapt with anticipation to make memories with my grandchildren which will be memories we will all cherish forever.

I’m excited to share songs, campfires, hikes and connect with other grandparents in the beautiful surroundings of Pearlstone. Who knows, I might even get my courage to zipline over the lake!

The best part is that I can have as much adventure or relaxing time as I want at Gramp Camp. All the meals are Kosher and I know Pearlstone accommodates all food allergies, so I’m relieved that there will be something for everyone at mealtime…even time to schmooze and laugh with other grandparents. And who knows where those connections will lead!

I hope everyone will register to join me and my grandchildren at Pearlstone’s first ever Gramp Camp this summer! I’ll even get you started by sharing the registration link: pearlstonecenter.org/GrampCamp See you this summer!

Gramp Camp from a Guy’s Point of View

By Gil Abramson

I exclusively went to Jewish camp as a child living in Massachusetts. It was at Camp Young Judea in New Hampshire that I spent 11 of the best summers of my life.

I was 11 years old and raised in Yeshiva and everyone knew my father. The best thing about camp for me was that I learned that you could be Jewish and not be strictly Orthodox to be Jewish. During the year, Yeshiva taught me Torah and Gemara, and Camp taught me about Israel and Zionism! Israel was brand new and there was a lot to learn.

When my children were younger, we sent them to Jewish camp and they, too, had very special Jewish camping experiences. The real mixing bowl of Jews happens at camp as children meet new friends from different Jewish backgrounds and different types of Jewish education, from all over.

This summer, I’m overjoyed to share a Jewish camping experience with my grandchildren at Pearlstone’s very first ever Gramp Camp from August 13-14. What a great idea by the Jewish Grandparents Network!

I’m excited to have a nice Jewish experience outside of the home. You can make a Jewish experience wherever you are, and Pearlstone provides the perfect background. More than any activity offered—and there are many—I’m excited to just spend time with my grandchildren and see how they react to the whole camp-like experience when their parents aren’t around.

I hope everyone that can, registers for Pearlstone’s Gramp Camp. It will benefit all the generations present.

I still talk to my camp friends 50 years later, and I hope my grandchildren will make connections as well.

If interested in attending camp with your grandchildren, register at pearlstonecenter.org/GrampCamp.

Gramp Camp is made possible in partnership with the Jewish Grandparents Network and the financial support of The Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds.

Charitable Planning Tips for this Tax Season
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tax Season

By Jackie Yahr, Esq., Assistant Vice President, Charitable Planning, The Associated

As April 15 approaches, many of your clients will be facing a new reality as they see how the changes to the tax laws impact their tax liability. While it may be too late to make any decisions that will affect their 2018 tax return, inviting your clients into your office for a discussion around careful planning for the current tax year and beyond will set you apart from other professionals and position you as the trusted and well-versed advisor.

Here are 3 tips to discuss with your clients:

1. Don’t let the increased Standard Deduction stop charitable giving.

The sweeping changes to the federal tax laws now mean that charitable donations are deductible only if your client itemizes, which is a less likely scenario for many taxpayers given the new, higher standard deduction ($12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples, slightly higher for those over 65). If your client’s gifts to charity last year did not exceed the standard deduction, do not worry, there are planning tools that you can employ this year and, in the years to come, that will help your clients continue to be tax-efficient.

2. Alternative gifting can help your client’s tax situation.

If your client’s annual charitable giving does not put them over the standard deduction threshold, you may consider discussing the option of “bundling” your client’s giving with your client. The idea is to take a few years’ worth of ALL of your client’s charitable donations and give them in a single year to help push your client over the standard deduction threshold. Your client can certainly give the specific charities that they support those bundled amounts designate those gifts over a number of years. Another option is to put the bundled amount into a Donor-Advised Fund at The Associated, which affords your client a larger tax deduction in Year One and additional savings on their federal income taxes. Then, in the subsequent years, your clients have their Donor-Advised Fund from which to recommend all their charitable contributions to the charities that they support.

For any client who is 70 ½ or older, if they have an IRA, they are most certainly taking a Required Minimum Distribution or RMD every year. When your client withdraws their RMD, they are realizing additional income in that taxable year. One solution to avoid paying those additional taxes is to encourage your client to make their charitable gifts directly from their IRA. To do this, your client must simply contact their IRA plan administrator and instruct them to send all or a portion of their RMD directly to the charity or charities that they support; some plan administrators even provide a checkbook which allows them to send portions of their RMD to multiple charities. By employing this tactic, your client will fulfill their obligation to take their RMD, avoid additional taxable income, and continue to support the charities your clients care about most deeply.

3. Look at your client’s entire portfolio for tax-advantageous giving.

Assets that have appreciated in value can be among the most tax-advantaged items to contribute to charity because you can potentially eliminate capital gains tax liability on their sale and enjoy a current year tax deduction, if you itemize. This allows your client to pay lower taxes and also allows the charities your clients’ support to receive the most money possible. Some examples of highly appreciated assets include publicly traded securities, restricted stock, real estate, privately held stock (C-Corp and S-Corp), and limited partnerships or limited liability corporations. And a Donor-Advised Fund is a great vehicle to consider for those assets if your clients are giving to charities that are not as experienced at handling those complex assets. While not all appreciated assets may be suitable for a Donor-Advised Fund, here at The Associated, we can work with you and your clients to sell contributed appreciated assets and put the proceeds into a Donor-Advised Fund, which will allow your clients to recommend charitable contributions on a timetable that suits them.

As always, The Associated’s Philanthropic Planning and Services professionals remain ready to work with you and your clients on how to incorporate charitable planning into their estate plans and how to help maximize the financial and charitable benefits of any such planning strategies available to you. For more information, contact Jackie Yahr at jyahr@associated.org or 410-369-9248.

Jackie Fuchs Yahr

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your own legal and tax advisers.

Top 5 Reasons to Attend This Year’s Most Sought Out Event
Monday, March 11, 2019

High rise building

We know how difficult it is to balance life and work and how time is our most precious commodity. But, here are five reasons why on Thursday, April 11, you should make time to attend the Charles Baum Leadership Symposium.

1. Great keynote speaker. What’s better than a fireside chat with Bill Miller – legendary investor, fund manager and philanthropist? Miller was named Fund Manager of the Decade by Morningstar.com, The Greatest Money Manager of the 1990s by Money Magazine and All-Century Investment Team by Barron’s. Did you know that this celebrated investment officer was once a military intelligence officer overseas and also pursued graduate studies in philosophy in the PhD program at the Johns Hopkins University?

2. Stay relevant. Miller once said, “Markets are context dependent, their behavior is a function of the particular circumstances that obtain and how those circumstances are expected to or do change. The trick is not to predict an unknowable future, but to try to understand the present and the probabilities of the various paths that may evolve from it.”

3. You never know who you might meet. It is not every day that you have an opportunity to connect with key influencers and leaders in Baltimore. Last year over 400 top executive-level professionals attended the symposium.

4. Get inspired! There are so many ways to become a mentor or a leader in our community. Learn about programs and events right for you.

5. The registration fee fits your budget. It’s free! This symposium has been funded in Charles Baum’s memory and his lifelong dedication to the Jewish community.

Don’t miss the Charles Baum Leadership Symposium, featuring Bill Miller, Chief Investment Officer of Miller Value Partners, Thursday, April 11, 5:30 p.m. at The Suburban Club. Click here to register.

Bill Miller headshot

My Journey to Wellness
Monday, March 11, 2019

Jeni Funderburk

By Jeni Funderburk

In 2015 I was at my worst. I was tired, depressed and I wanted to stay in bed all the time. I remember having my mother visit for Thanksgiving and I didn’t even want to get up and cook the meal I typically would have happily and proudly prepared and served. I could barely muster up the energy to push through that day. I had never felt that low and I was just not myself.

I believe the more weight you put on, the more and more out of reach health seems, so you give up, believing a lie that you can never turn it around. This just perpetuates the cycle of gaining. You stuff unhealthy, hyper-palatable, processed food in, then feel guilty, so you indulge again.

I had tried so hard to count calories and exercise, but I could never stay on the bandwagon. I yo-yo dieted.

In July 2016, I watched a film called Forks Over Knives and I said to myself, that’s it! I am going to change the way I eat. Overnight I began a whole foods plant-based diet with no oil. I immersed myself in everything I could find online about the plant-based diet, sought recipe ideas and planned my meals around this new lifestyle. Since then, I have learned about processed food addiction and I eat whole foods from plants with no added oil, sugar, salt, flour or alcohol. Your taste buds adapt if you give them enough time.

After I watched the documentary and started to change my eating habits, I decided to start going to the JCC for group exercise classes. I had been a member for a few years, but never went consistently. I started going to morning classes at the JCC about five times per week.

I remember being so overweight that I tried to hide in the back of a dark spin class. I was so out of shape, but I was inspired by an instructor, Larisa Unger. Larisa didn’t ignore me or make me feel invisible – she made me feel like I was there for a reason and I could do more than I gave myself credit for. I kept going to any classes that fit my schedule: barre, spin, BODY PUMP, BODYSTEP, BODYATTACK, and BODYCOMBAT.

The key to weight loss is caloric density. I only eat foods that are 600 calories per pound or less. This includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. I don’t count, measure, weigh or restrict these plant-based, whole foods. I can eat as much as I want. The body does the work to heal. Exercise helps most with self-esteem, energy, and anxiety/depression.

I found motivation from being in the JCC group fitness classes because the people are so friendly. So many people have supported and encouraged me all along my journey to lose weight.

On December 2, I ran the JCC Chanukah Hot Chocolate Race 5K, my first 5K ever. I’ve never been a runner, but this is my latest endeavor.

To date, I have lost 90 pounds, my cholesterol has dropped from 208 to 138, my blood pressure is down 40 points, I have gone from a size 18 to a size 4, and I am off all prescription medications.

The JCC has been a wonderful place to grow.

7 Things to Do This Spring
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

JCC_Block_Party

With Spring right around the corner, it’s time to get out and do something! Whether you’re a foodie, moviegoer or both, we’ve got something for you.

Check out these seven Spring events you won’t want to miss.

Live with Purpose: Casserole Challenge (Runs until March 31) If you’re a foodie who loves to volunteer, then you will love JVC’s March Live with Purpose program, Casserole Challenge. Last year, nearly 400 casseroles were donated to support families and individuals in need.

Charm City Tribe: Night Shtetl (March 14) Join Charm City Tribe and exeprience Purim through the lens of food, drink, learning, music and theater. Featuring a performance from the Hinenu House Klezmer band.

DBJCC Purim Party (March 15) Join us for some young family fun with a Purim theme – songs, books, crafts and snacks!

Baltimore Jewish Film Festival (March 23 - April 16) For over 25 years the Baltimore Jewish Film Festival has presented internationally renowned films of Jewish interest, many of them Balitmore and Maryland premieres. Join the Gordon Center for a wide range of films starting March 23.

Maryland Premiere of Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel (March 27) Join the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus for a stirring story of sports, patriotism and personal growth. Heading Home follows the underdog journey of Israel’s national baseball team competing for the first time in the World Baseball Classic.

Repair the World: Baltimore "Clothing Swap" (March 28) Did you know that on average only 20% of clothes are worn on a regular basis? Bring your clothes to Repair the World and refresh your wardrobe. RSVP now to snag a spot!

Camp Nai Nai Nai (May 24) The ultimate Jewish summer camp for young adults may be in May but registration starts now! Enjoy an experiment in Jeiwsh community building and spontaneous adventures!

What to Ask Your Advisor this Tax Season
Friday, February 22, 2019

Tax Season

By Jacqueline Fuchs Yahr, Assistant Vice President, Charitable Planning, The Associated

As April 15 looms over us, many will be asking our advisors how the recent changes to the tax laws impacted our 2018 tax consequences. While it may be too late to make any changes to what your taxes will look like in April, by asking your advisor the right questions, you can make well-informed decisions for next year and present yourself as a knowledgeable client. Here are three questions to ask your advisor this tax season:

1. Did my gifts to charity last year help reduce my taxable income?

The sweeping changes to the federal tax laws now mean that charitable donations are deductible only if you itemize, which is a less likely scenario for many taxpayers given the new, higher standard deduction ($12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples, slightly higher for those over 65). If you find yourself in a situation where your gifts last year did not exceed the standard deduction, do not worry, there are planning tools that you can employ this year and, in the years to come, that will help you continue to be tax-efficient.

2. Is there any type of giving that I should be doing to help my tax situation?

If your annual charitable giving does not put you over the standard deduction threshold, you may consider discussing the option of “bundling” your giving with your advisor. The idea is that you take a few years’ worth of ALL of your charitable donations into a single year to help push you over the standard deduction threshold. You can certainly give specific charities those bundled amounts and let them know that it is your giving for a number of years. Another option is to put the bundled amount into a Donor-Advised Fund at The Associated, which affords you a larger tax deduction in Year One and additional savings on your federal income taxes. Then, in the subsequent years, you have your Donor-Advised Fund from which to make all your charitable contributions to the charities that you love to support.

For anyone who is 70 ½ or older, if you have an IRA, you are taking a Required Minimum Distribution or RMD every year. When you withdraw your RMD, you are realizing additional income in that taxable year. One solution to avoid paying those additional taxes is to make your charitable gift directly from your IRA. To do this, you simply contact your IRA plan administrator and instruct them to send all or a portion of your RMD directly to the charity or charities that you support; some plan administrators even provide a checkbook which allows you to send portions of your RMD to multiple charities. By employing this tactic, you fulfill your obligation to take your RMD, avoid additional income, and continue to support the charities you care about most deeply.

3. Which assets are the best to donate to charity?

Assets that have appreciated in value can be among the most tax-advantaged items to contribute to charity because you can potentially eliminate capital gains tax liability on their sale and enjoy a current year tax deduction, if you itemize. This allows you to pay lower taxes and also allows the charities you support to receive the most money possible. Some examples of highly appreciated assets include publicly traded securities, restricted stock, real estate, privately held stock (C-Corp and S-Corp), and limited partnerships or limited liability corporations. And a Donor-Advised Fund is a great vehicle to put those assets into if you are giving to charities that are not as experienced at handling those complex assets. Here at The Associated, we can work with you and your advisor to sell your contributed appreciated asset and put the proceeds into a Donor-Advised Fund, which will allow you to make charitable contributions on a timetable that suits you.

Check with your tax adviser to find out if any of the above strategies would work for you. As always, The Associated’s Philanthropic Planning and Services professionals remain ready to work with you and your advisors on how to incorporate charitable planning into your estate plans and how to help maximize the financial and charitable benefits of any such planning strategies available to you. For more information, contact Jackie Yahr at jyahr@associated.org or 410-369-9248.

Jackie Fuchs Yahr

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your own legal and tax advisers.

Taking the Stage
Friday, February 22, 2019

   

How the JCC Helped My Child Discover Herself

 

Deborah Harburger and family

By Deborah Harburger

"I'm going to perform at the talent show this year." "You are? With friends?" "Nope, by myself." "What are you going to do?" "I'm going to dance." 

That is essentially how the conversation with my 9-year-old daughter, Molly, went earlier this fall. For the first time, she wanted to be part of the annual K-8 talent show at The Mount Washington School.

She quickly selected the song and immediately began choreographing her dance. Although she asked her JCC Hip Hop Instructor, Ms. Grace, for some guidance, she did not reach out for help until after she had already choreographed the first minute of the dance herself.

Other than the recommendations from Ms. Grace, Molly choreographed the entire dance without any assistance. Her father and I repeatedly asked to see her practice her dance, but she refused to let us see it until the talent show.

The night of the talent show, she went up on the stage in the Poly-Western High School auditorium. We held our breath as the music began. She launched into her dance with poise, confidence, talent and skill, and we (as well as her 12-year-old brother, Jack) could not have been prouder!

Molly’s love of dance is part of a larger story of engagement in children’s programming at Baltimore’s Jewish Community Centers. Both of our children are alumni of the Meyerhoff Early Childhood Education Center at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC and are JCamps’ campers every year.

While in preschool, Molly had the opportunity to take ballet during the day at the JCC. Later, she would go on to take it on Sundays at Park Heights and, for the past several years, she has taken dance at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC. One of the clear strengths of the JCC’s children’s programming is their focus on core values. Although she benefited from the skills taught by instructors over the years, when asked what she likes best about taking dance at the JCC, Molly’s response was, “I like that they tell you that you don’t have to get it right the first time.”

Molly’s confidence in her own abilities has been strengthened by how the classes are taught and how the children are treated and encouraged to treat each other. Whether it was her wonderful introductory experience to the JCC’s Children’s Theater program this winter (she played Storyteller 1, a bird and a knight in Shrek’s Fairytale Friends) or amazing times she has at JCamps every summer, Molly is supported to try new things, expand on her skills, have fun and be a kind and helpful friend.

Every year, our challenge is figuring out how to squeeze in as many different camps as possible through JCamps before she heads to Capital Camps, always making sure to get at least one session of Habimah (the arts camp) in every summer. Our whole family appreciates the variety offered by JCamps—there’s something for everyone.

Molly and Jack both love Live it Up! (offered at the beginning of the summer with a variety of cooking, nature, and athletics) and Molly had a great time out at Pearlstone’s Tiyul Adventure Camp last year. Jack has always been a fan of Sports Camp and Tennis Camp and is excited for his first year as a TNT (Top Notch Teen).

Molly is already planning how she might do things differently in next year’s school talent show and is adamant about being part of the Children’s Theater again (in addition to her dance classes, of course). Maybe, if we are lucky, some of Jack’s JCC Maccabi Jr soccer practices this spring will coincide with Molly’s hip hop classes or Mini Maccabi Soccer practices. If not? It is worth it. We have definitely become a JCC family and would not want it any other way.

Deborah Harburger, her husband, Noah, and their two children, Jack (12) and Molly (9), live in Mt. Washington in Baltimore City and are members of Chizuk Amuno Congregation. Deborah is on the Board of Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) Baltimore, serves as a yoetzet (member of the camper care team) at Capital Camps, and is on the Mount Washington School Family Council. She is a faculty member at The Institute for Innovation & Implementation at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

Don’t Let the Cold Keep You Indoors
Monday, February 11, 2019

Women in museum together

Yes, it might be chilly, damp and gray outside, but don’t let any of that stop you from checking out some great things happening around our community. February and March have a lot to offer from politics and advocacy to baking and families.

February 19 | Supporting People with Disabilities: Panel Discussion and Resource Expo
Join The Associated and the Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance during Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month to network and learn about how The Associated agencies support and welcome individuals and families with disabilities.

February 20 | Maryland Jewish Advocacy Day in Annapolis
Join the Baltimore Jewish Council and make your voice heard. You will have the opportunity to meet directly with your elected representatives to discuss and advocate for a robust agenda of issues to benefit the Baltimore Jewish community.

March 5 | Grandparent Gatherings, presented by the Macks Center for Jewish Education
Are you the best grandparent you can be? Become a better listener and navigator of challenging situations in our changed and changing Jewish families. Learn to use the Compassionate Listening methodology to help you in your grandparent role.

March 10 | Purim Hamentashen Make and Take
Bring your kitchen helpers, young and old for a fun and festive holiday experience. Assemble yummy hamentashen (tri-corner hat cookies), then take them home to bake and enjoy with your family and friends! Fun activities for all ages including making gift baskets for friends, blessing bags for those in need and Purim games.

6 Israeli TV shows/movies to binge-watch
Thursday, February 07, 2019

Netflix

With frigid temperatures and winter winds blowing outside, it’s a great time to stay warm curled up under your favorite blanket and stream some of the most popular shows imported from Israel. Did you know that Israel is not only known as the start-up nation but is also viewed as the go-to nation for original drama?

These six Israeli shows/movies are fast becoming “must see” among our top, online preferences.

Fauda (Netflix) Fauda, which means “chaos” in Arabic, is partly based on the Israeli army experiences of creator and star Lior Raz (Doron Kavillio) who is serving in the Duvdevan Unit, famous for its undercover operations. Having retired, Kavillio finds himself pulled back into his old unit in an effort to capture a notorious terrorist.

The Beauty and The Baker (Amazon Prime) The Beauty and The Baker, a romantic comedy, tells the unlikely love story between Noa Hollander (Rotem Sela), one of the richest and most beautiful women in Israel and Amos Dahari (Aviv Alush), a 28-year-old baker who still lives at home with his family. The series is by the same Israeli company behind global hit, Homeland.

When Heroes Fly (Netflix) This dramatic thriller follows four former army buddies who reunite in the Colombian jungle on a quest to rescue the former lover of one man and sister of another -- who had been presumed dead years before. The story of fighting for life and overcoming personal demons to find peace, is based on a book of the same name.

Shtisel (Netflix) This Israeli family drama is set in the ultra-Orthodox heart of Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood and weaves together the raw, complex and intensely human stories of varying members of a multi-generational Haredi family in modern Israel.

False Flag (Hulu) This thrilling drama series, revolves around five ordinary Israelis who wake up one morning and discover that their names, faces, and personal details have been splashed across the world’s media on suspicion of involvement in a high-profile kidnapping.

The Wedding Plan (Amazon Prime) This is a hilarious Israeli romantic comedy about an Orthodox woman whose fiancé bows out on the eve of her wedding. She refuses to cancel the wedding arrangements and begins her quest to find a new husband in 30 days.

Meet Alex Simone, a VolunTeam Leader
Monday, February 04, 2019

Alex Simone and a fellow VolunTeam member

For Alex Simone, manager of the Moveable Feast VolunTeam through Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), part of being in a community is helping one another. Quite simply, he says, it takes a village.

Alex was born and raised in the Baltimore area, attending Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park. Afterwards, he moved to Israel for a few years where he served in the Israel Defense Force. A year or so after his service, Alex moved back to Baltimore where he took a sales role for a food distributor.

“I remember growing up, and even today,” recalls Alex, “My dad was a big influence on me. He was always involved in different service groups. He used to take me to CHAI cleanup days where we would help winterize people’s homes or help with spring cleaning.”

Alex saw how his father combined his professional experience, he was in real estate, with his personal passion, while helping people in a real way.

“He just drilled home how much we have to give back to the community,” says Alex.

So, when Alex was asked by a friend to help prepare meals through Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) for local Baltimore residents, he jumped at the opportunity.

“My friend was managing this group and asked if I would come out on a Sunday and volunteer some of my time.”

Two years later, Alex found himself managing the group himself and continues to do so to this day, despite a career change - Alex is now a commercial real estate broker with Gold and Company.

“It’s been very rewarding,” says Alex, “being a part of a group that’s helping people that really need it.”

Every other month, Alex and the VolunTeam that formed through JVC, volunteer at Moveable Feast. In the span of a few hours, they will wash, prep and package anywhere from 500 to 900 meals that will be delivered to clients in the Baltimore area. Those clients are either homebound or don’t have the means to acquire nutritious meals on their own.

“I think for me, I see it as something that just needs to be done,” says Alex. “I think the people that come to our team enjoy knowing that every sandwich they make, every meal they pack, is going to feed somebody.”

This connection to Moveable Feast, explains Alex, was made possible because of the JVC’s VolunTeam Initiative and their partnership with Repair the World: Baltimore, which works towards matching young adults to volunteer opportunities that suit their interests and passions. The size of the group varies from team to team, but what’s important is that the group is matched with the right volunteer opportunity.

“I think you need to find something that stands out to you,” explains Alex. “You might enjoy it the one day, but if you don’t connect with something, you may not go back. That’s what is great about the team at JVC – they’re good at asking the right questions and matching you up.” Alex and the rest of the VolunTeams are always looking for volunteers. Their next session at Moveable Feast is on March 24.

To join Alex and his VolunTeam or to learn more about other volunteer opportunities you can email Diana Goldsmith or visit JVC's Repair the World page.

Celebrate Purim with these fun local activities
Monday, February 04, 2019

Hamentaschen

Get in the Purim spirit with these fun activities, held throughout Baltimore!

Hamentaschen Make & Take, March 10, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. | Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC

Bring your kitchen helpers, young and old, for a fun and festive holiday experience. Make hamentashen and gift baskets for friends, enjoy some Purim games and create blessing bags for those in need.

DBJCC Purim Party, March 15, 10:00 a.m. | The Downtown Baltimore JCC

Join us for some young family fun with a Purim theme - Songs, book, crafts and snack.

Purim Chagigah in JTown, March 19, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. | Weinberg Park Heights JCC

Get ready for Purim with songs, stories, snack and a craft!

Hamentaschen Bake with your Toddler, March 20, 10:00 a.m. | Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC

Enjoy some Purim fun with your toddler. Bake hamentaschen, make groggers, enjoy music with Miss Corey and march in our special Purim Parade.

Empowering our Daughters
Monday, February 04, 2019

Young girl smiling at the camera

By Susan Kurlander, M.Ed.
Health Educator for Jewish Community Services’ Prevention Education

My friend, the parent of a first grader, knew what to expect when she attended an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting at her daughter's school. A team of school staff would discuss her daughter's progress and update her on any additional plans.

What she wasn’t expecting was for the speech therapist to say she planned to work with her daughter on how to advocate for herself. The therapist added that it is important, especially for a girl, to be able to articulate her needs and to expect action would be taken to meet them, if possible.

My friend immediately thought back to her own childhood when, as a 6-year-old, she wanted to play the drums at school. The band teacher told her mother that, “Girls don’t play drums,” and sent her home with a clarinet. Self-advocacy or even her mother's advocacy, was nowhere on the radar.

Yes, we've come a long way especially in the opportunities for girls and women to be successful in mostly male-dominated fields:

Our past election marked the first time a woman was a contender for the Presidency of the U.S.
A record number of women are serving in the 116th Congress.
Three women currently sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.
A woman recently became the head of a major network television station.
The Association of American Medical Colleges reports, for the first time, more women than men have enrolled in U.S. medical schools.
A woman recently became the first female to officiate an NFL playoff game.
The Orioles head groundskeeper at Camden Yards is, you guessed it, a woman.

Should we rest on our laurels and hope that our young girls will feel empowered enough to have equal footing in any area they choose? Will they automatically absorb, through osmosis, the characteristics and skills needed to attain success in whatever is most important to them?

The answer is no. In fact, thinking that way is not only risky, but potentially self-defeating. For young girls to become the best of who they are requires effort and an awareness of what it takes to maximize their strengths and understand their limitations.

Parents – mothers and fathers – can be a critical guiding force in helping their daughters become empowered young women.

* Check in with them about their feelings. Are they happy when they get a good grade on a test or happier when they win first prize in the art contest? Do they like reading books about animals or would they rather ride their bikes? Encourage them to find their "spark" – that interest that helps them feel good about themselves.

* Teach them to learn from their failures. They don't need to be perfect or even always successful, but if they stay fixated on what went wrong, they won't tap into an inner stamina which can move them forward. Focus more on the progress that’s been made, and less on what wasn’t accomplished. Parents can be instrumental in modeling how they handle drawbacks and obstacles.

* Identify words. As adults, it isn't always easy for us to be direct in what we say or in the actions we choose. How much harder, then, for a child to make sure her teacher understands that she needs help with math. Sometimes, putting the words in a question rather than a statement is easier. Saying, "I can't do the math problems, so I didn't finish the work" could be rephrased to "Could you please help me understand the math problems?”

* Discourage self-deprecation. Even at a young age, girls are afraid that if they own their strengths and successes, they will be perceived as bragging or deliberately making others feel bad. When complimented, we often hear women say, "It was nothing" or "Anyone can do that." We want girls to understand that they should be proud of any efforts they make to reach their goals and not apologize or minimize what it took to get there.

* Model acceptance. Embracing differences is pivotal in raising girls' awareness of how to make the most of what they've been given. Whether physical, intellectual or emotional, if we can learn to accept who we are, we can feel empowered to use those differences to our advantage.

* Encourage problem-solving. My adult daughter struggled for a long time about a work situation in which her boss did not show the professional integrity that was necessary in a corporate workplace. She was distressed enough to consider looking for another job, but then decided to self-advocate so that she could be moved to a different work environment within the same company. She had to rely on her own problem-solving abilities along with her self-advocacy skills to make the situation one with which she could live and continue to grow professionally.

* Get them involved. Find groups like Girl Scouts or Girls on the Run through which young girls can pursue their interests and are surrounded by other people, both peers and adults, who exemplify empowerment and encourage their growth.

Empowering our girls while they’re young makes sense for everyone. Giving them the tools to be the best they can be allows them to pass those skills down to their daughters and their sons, creating a stronger future for all.

How fortunate for my friend's daughter that even at age 6, that awareness is being put into motion for her, thanks to one very caring speech therapist at her school.

Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS, an agency of The Associated, offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.

Four Jewish Baltimore Innovation Grants (JBIG) Projects to Inspire You
Thursday, January 31, 2019

JBIG Logo

For three years, The Associated has awarded micro-grants to promote strengthen Jewish identity and Jewish community in Baltimore. These grants, up to $1,000, are available to those 18 years and older.

This year’s deadline for applications is February 13, 2019. If you are still on the fence, we’ve added four previously funded projects that are sure to inspire you!

The Baltimore Chesed League (BCL)

The BCL encourages middle school boys to participate consistently in acts of chesed – kindness, volunteerism and community service. Utilizing a “league” format, the boys are grouped into teams which receive weekly activity assignments. Each participant also received additional small activities that he completes on his own.

Baltimore Jews on Bikes

This program used seed funding from JBIG to build a community around biking and environmental activism. The group has met for Saturday evening bike rides that conclude with a Havdallah. They’ve also toured sites in Jewish Baltimore on Sunday mornings.

JHacks

JHacks is a place for Jewish students to get more involved in computers and technology. Based at the University of Maryland, College Park, JHacks regularly hosts popular hackathon events where students get together to learn from each other, exploring different technologies and gaining experience in different pieces of software and hardware.

Medfield Tot Shabbat

A welcoming, non-denominational Shabbat community in Baltimore City. This group meets in founder Anna Caplan’s home where she and her husband share responsibility for leading the services, after which families can stay for Kiddush and play-time. The JBIG grant allowed them to purchase interactive educational materials and refreshments for Kiddush.

Click here to submit your application today!

Meet Oksana Nelina
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Oksana at Starbucks

The Associated’s Baltimore-Odessa Partnership fosters personal connections between our two communities and supports a strong Jewish life in Odessa for Odessa’s 35,000 Jews.

Oksana Nelina began working for the partnership in 2016 as the coordinator in Odessa, a place she fondly calls home. Oksana shared with us stories about work, life and the Jewish community in Odessa.

Tell us a little bit about your background and work experience. I was born and raised in Nikolaev, Ukraine, just 2.5 hours from Odessa. I have a master’s degree in German and English languages, as well as engineering (which I never used)! My first job after school was working for The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) in Nikolaev, first, as a camp counselor at summer camps and youth clubs and eventually becoming the coordinator of aliya for people who wanted to move to Israel. I worked for JAFI for eight years before deciding to move to the for-profit sector where I held a variety of jobs translating and teaching English before taking my position with The Associated’s Baltimore-Odessa Partnership.

Tell us a little bit about the Jewish community in Odessa. The Jewish community of Odessa is vibrant and filled with excitement. There are about 35,000 Jews in Odessa and they affiliate with a variety of different Jewish institutions and synagogues. Community members understand that Baltimore is their sister-city and they often express their appreciation and gratitude to the Baltimore Jewish community. They are always asking about when Baltimore community members will visit again.

What are your day-to-day responsibilites? I spend a lot of my time building relationships with my colleagues at Jewish organizations throughout Odessa, attending and photographing community events and programs and learning about the challenges and opportunities that exist. I partner with my peers at institutions throughout Odessa to develop programs like the Annual Challah Bake, facilitate workshops for the Social Innovation Fellowship (a 9-month entrepreneurship programs that inspires and empowers teens to become change-makers in their communities), recruit teens to participate in community programs and serve as a resource to the Baltimore and Odessa Jewish communities.

What is your favorite part of the job? Community organizing is a vital part of my work and it’s also my favorite part. I really enjoy meeting new people and developing long lasting relationships. It’s been so incredible for me to meet so many lay and professional leaders from the Baltimore community, and I’m most excited when I can develop meaningful partnership projects.

Please share a highlight from your week in Israel with the Social Innovation Fellowship. Our week in Israel with the Social Innovation Fellowship teen participants was incredible. Being in Israel, one of the world’s leading countries of Innovation, was such a powerful experience for the teens. They were able to learn about the projects their peers in Ashkelon and Baltimore were developing and spent a long weekend together where they volunteered, presented their entrepreneurial ideas to each other and enjoyed Shabbat dinner with a local host family.

What differences and similarities between the Baltimore, Ashkelon, and Odessa teens did you observe? It was so interesting to be around the teens from Odessa, Baltimore, and Ashkelon and hear how similar they are. They may be miles apart in distance, but they listen to the same music, like the same sports, watch the same movies and play the same video games. The major difference for the teens is the language and cultural customs. For example, teens in Baltimore can drive at 16 years old and teens from Odessa can drive when they are 18.

What were some of the highlights for you when you visited Baltimore? I visited Baltimore in November 2016 and the experience was so important to me. Not only because it was my first time in the United States, but because I had the opportunity to meet so many lay and professional leaders who helped me to better understand the work of the Partnership. I was so excited to drink coffee at a Starbucks (I had only read about it or seen it in the movies)! 

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not working? In my free time I like to take pictures and spend time with my friends, family, and pets. I have two cats (Houston and Venya) and one dog (a Siberian Husky named Archi). They are my world.

A Mother’s Journey: Turning a son’s diagnosis into a Jewish Community Initiative
Thursday, January 17, 2019

Erica Hobby and family

Finding out your child has a disability can be life-altering. Just ask Erica Hobby. Two years ago, when this Pikesville mother of two first learned her son has autism, she found herself adjusting to a new reality – one that left her with more questions than answers.

Erica, who currently sits on The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore’s Disabilities Committee, talks about her personal journey, her determination to provide meaningful, Jewish experiences for her son, as well as other children with disabilities, and how her daughter is determined to join her and make a difference.

My son Jonathan wasn’t diagnosed with high-functioning autism until he was seven. Looking back there were always small things that stood out and that raised the question for us. I remember in preschool he didn’t want to sit on the grass so the teacher would put her sweater down so he could sit comfortably. He often ran away when we would be out running errands. And although he was very bright, he was socially immature.

It was hard when we found out he had autism. All of a sudden, we had to adjust our expectations. We began to think about his future – what does this mean for his life? He’s a smart, kind child, but will he have the ability to pursue and maintain his desired career? Will he live independently? And what kinds of supports might he need?

Having a child with disabilities can be so isolating. Unless you’ve walked in someone’s shoes, you can’t really understand what someone else is going through. We are blessed with amazing friends, and as much as they are supportive, there are aspects of our day-to-day lives that they can’t understand or relate to. Seeking out other moms of kids with disabilities has been critically important for me. We serve as a tremendous resource and support system for one another.

One of our main goals is to give our son the skills so he can be a capable and happy adult. He attends a school that incorporates the building of social and communication skills into their curriculum.

Fortunately, our community, and The Associated also have several programs for children with disabilities. One that has been most impactful for us is the Inclusion Camp at the JCC. My son has been going for two years and the staff knows him inside and out. They recognize his strengths, along with his challenges and understand how to nurture his growth. He’s enjoyed activities like tennis and karate, and camp has become a home away from home.

I’ve also taken him to Karma dog at the (Macks) Center for Jewish Education (CJE). He had a school show he was preparing for and he enthusiastically practiced his script reading to the dog.

One of the struggles we had was making sure that our son felt a connection to his Jewish roots. Our daughter attends Jewish day school, has a solid foundation, and is proud of her Jewish heritage and identity. We wanted our son to have a similar connection.

A few years ago, I approached Eyal Bor at Beth El Religious School about developing Shabbat services geared to children with disabilities. Beth El had previously done a few throughout the course of the year and we wanted to do more to enhance this offering. He loved the idea and soon Kol Echad, a multi-sensory, inclusive Shabbat service, was born. We worked with CJE, SHEMESH and the JCC, three Associated agencies. They brought their educational expertise working with children with disabilities to the table. And we had six partner synagogues participate in year one.

This year, we decided to expand the program to include additional synagogues across the community. The monthly services rotate between the synagogues. CJE is now coordinating the program and The Associated has been so supportive.

Led by Cantor Karen Webber, these monthly, multi-sensory, kid-friendly experiences are welcoming and non-judgmental. We have designed our own siddurim and we project a large, visual one in the front of the room. In addition, each synagogue receives a Sensory Kit, which includes everything from noise-cancelling headphones to reduce sound stimuli to sensory fidgets and light filters that reduce fluorescent lights’ harsh glare.

This has been an amazing experience for our son. This is a kid who always lets us know when he doesn’t want to go somewhere. Every month he’s excited to go, to dress up, to pick out his kippah. He quickly learned the flow of the service and frequently raises his hand to answer the Cantor’s questions.

Having a special needs brother has really inspired our daughter to get involved in this arena. At the end of the month, she and I will be attending the Jewish Federation of North America’s Jewish Disability Advocacy Day in D.C. She’s so excited about advocating for a cause she is so passionate about. In addition, she applied to the TNT camp program at the JCC and wants to work with special needs children in the preschool.

Rina Janet, of blessed memory, a former Associated Women Campaign Chair, and dear friend, often said in regards to her volunteer work, “I get so much more than I give.” This is what Kol Echad has meant to our family. Our goal is to keep that tent wide open so all families with special needs children feel they have a meaningful home within our community.

February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month. Check out events happening around the community at baltimore.jewishabilities.org.

Meet Daniel Davis
Friday, January 11, 2019

Daniel Davis with Painting

Daniel Davis will never forget when he first discovered his love of painting. The year was 1966 and he was living in Akron, Ohio, when he happened to pass the window of a local art store.

“I saw this book, How to Paint, in the window,” he recalls. “It cost $1. It told you how to paint landscapes. It told me I needed brushes, I needed paper and I needed some paint. So, I bought those things, went home, looked out my window and just started painting what I saw.”

Soon, he moved beyond landscapes, putting to paper things he would find around the house. He would move to Baltimore for work, yet his love of painting continued to grow.

Today, Daniel is retired from his job as an engineer, yet painting continues to be his passion. In 2010, after joining the gym at the Edward A. Myerberg Center he learned about the Myerberg’s art classes from a friend.

Every Wednesday, Dan can be found in front of a canvas at the art studio. From 10:00 a.m. until around noon, Dan and his fellow class-mates experiment with paints -- Dan favors oils -- while enjoying an art class that is as much about the friendships as it is the art.

“We have one guy,” says Dan, “He’s 88 and he comes to every class. Everyone does, really. There’s usually a very good reason why someone would miss a class.”

The Wednesday class has become quite popular and is often sold out. Dan attributes this to the social connections that have formed within the class, and because everyone in the class rejoins.

“It’s really become a wonderful group of friends.”

Beyond the classroom, Dan and his painting friends visit a locally owned café that’s popular in the community, on Wednesday afternoons. In the past couple of years, the class started to go on trips, visiting museums and other cities.

“We’ll go off and take trips – in January we are taking a trip to Philadelphia, see the new home of the Barnes Foundation. It’s nice because spouses sometimes come along too. I like to say though, you need a physical for this class! We’re so active.”

For Dan and other students of the various art classes at The Myerberg, a biannual art show gives everyone the opportunity to show off what they’ve worked on throughout the year. Dan and a few other members prepare the show, collecting submissions, artist names and figure out how best to display as many as 175 works of art.

“Each person typically gets three paintings,” explains Dan, “one in each of the major hallways.”

This rule, Dan says, gives everyone the chance to show off a little more of their work, instead of having to choose just one painting. The class instructors will submit to the show as well. One of Dan’s pieces is a recreation of a painting he did years ago, depicting a game he used to play in New York with other kids in his neighborhood.

Take a walk through the halls and you’ll find everything from abstract paintings to portraits, landscapes and so much more. Other mediums, like ceramics, are displayed in a showcase near Myerberg’s Tech-Knowledge Hub. Near the Myerberg's library entrance is a project that Dan is particularly proud of - a collection of still life paintings, arranged together to form a larger piece, contributed by him and other art students.

“Painting,” says Dan “is sometimes all you can think about. Nothing else matters. You could be trying to figure out how to incorporate a shape, a dimension, a feeling. When you get it, it’s exciting. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Seven Events to Brave the Cold
Thursday, January 10, 2019

February Events

The New Year is here, and so is colder weather. Thankfully, these seven events are worth braving the cold for.

The Soap Myth – January 20
Gordon Center for the Performing Arts
3:00 p.m.
Actors Ed Asner and Tovah Feldshuh examine the conflict between those who would honor the memory of the Holocaust and those who would deny it.

MLK Day of Service – January 21
Various Times and Locations Throughout Baltimore
Join JVC in a national day of service that transforms Dr. King's life and teaching into community action while bringing people together.

The Chamber Encounters Concert Series #3: Distant Dreams – January 31
Gordon Center for the Performing Arts
7:30 p.m.
Classical music turns vividly alive as Chamber Encounters utilizes innovative mediums and narrative to magnify the power and meanings of their repertoire.

The Baltimore Dance Invitational – February 6
Gordon Center for the Performing Arts
7:30 p.m.
Experience an evening of the best in regional, professional dance from the area's top talent.

Shifting from School to Adulthood – February 7, 14, 21, 28
Weinberg Park Heights JCC
Times Vary
Jewish Community Services (JCS) Employement Support Services is offering a free four-part workshop to help parents and caregivers of children with varying abilities navigate what can often be a confusing path.

A Little Vienna in Shanghai: World War Two's Jewish Refugees in China – February 10
Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus
1:00 p.m.
Join Dr. Meredith Oyen as she explores the many paths Jewish refugees took to arrive in Shanghai, explains how they experienced the war and the postwar transitions, and discusses how China now remembers its part in their rescue through the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum.

Grandparent Bootcamp – February 17
Weinberg Park Heights JCC
9:30 a.m.
Raising kids is so much different these days! Are you a grandparent with a granchild under age 5 or will soon be? Get the knowledge and tools that can help you navigate this exciting new role in today's world.

Aging in Place in Baltimore
Thursday, January 10, 2019

Two women hugging over lunch

As the temperature drops, and we prepare for the sharp chill of the next few months, we tend to nest. It’s the time of year our houses feel the most like home. We snuggle up with our kids and furry friends for a movie, enjoy hot, hearty meals out of the slow cooker, and use social media to connect from the comfort of the couch.

The concept of home is duly relevant when trying to understand the needs of our aging parents. As they slow down and require some assistance, we lose confidence in their ability to live independently, especially if they live alone. It becomes tempting to relocate them to live with a relative or into an assisted living facility.

However, research shows significant advantages to aging in place. It’s markedly less expensive, slows progression of memory loss and fosters self-determination. And it allows older adults to take pride in and enjoy the comforts of their own home, providing them with a great deal of dignity.

Living alone has its challenges too, including loneliness or inability to get around. We feel responsible for chauffeuring or entertaining our aging parents, but more likely than not, they prefer to engage with the world with more independence.

Fortunately, in Northwest Baltimore, there are agencies like The Associated’s CHAI Inc., that offer day-to-day services and social opportunities to keep our parents independent and engaged. CHAI’s Aging in Community division provides the support services senior adults need to remain independent, safe and secure in the homes they cherish.

For instance, CHAI’s Northwest Neighbors Connecting program organizes social events and cultural activities like a monthly “lunch and a movie” event. Its Volunteer Driver Program, provides a ride to a doctor’s appointment or to go shopping for groceries, all the while making connections with other community members.

CHAI’s Senior Home Repair program offers repairs and safety modifications for eligible homeowners 62 and older. A trusted CHAI technician can address plumbing and electrical problems or install an extra railing, in addition to various handyman projects. Having a dedicated CHAI technician offers piece of mind that your loved one is in good company while their home is being serviced.

It is also important to encourage maintenance of their mental and physical fitness. The Edward E. Myerberg Center is a state-of-the-art facility that offers dozens of courses to enrich the lives of the retired community. From Cycling and Rock Steady Boxing to iPad Essentials and Oil Painting, Myerberg has fitness classes tailored to meet the needs of aging bodies as well as art, humanities and tech courses to stimulate the brain and feed the soul. There are also fun, monthly meet-up groups like The Bagel Boys and Joanna’s Book Club.

It’s nice to know that there are plenty opportunities in Baltimore to help support our aging parents’ independence. Above all else, it’s imperative that we listen to their needs and engage them in the decision making for their future. This kind of open dialogue and consideration will foster feelings of home, no matter where they choose to live.

For questions and information about how to take advantage of CHAI’s aging-in-place programs, contact CHAI’s Intake Line (410) 500 5433 (LIFE).

Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month Events
Friday, January 04, 2019

Children reading a book together

February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month. Check out these upcoming events that focus on disability inclusion.

B’More Inclusive Tot Shabbat
February 1, 8, 15, 22 11:00 a.m. | JTown at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC

iFly All Abilities
February 4, 5:00 p.m. | iFly Indoor Skydiving
Come fly and save at exclusive events on the first Monday of every night for the special needs and differently abled community. Take flight!

Harmony at Home: Promoting Better Behavior and Self Control
February 5, 7:30 p.m. | Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School Rosen Arts Center
SHEMESH presents this parent lecture featuring Russell Barkley, Ph.D., world-renowned expert on ADHD.

Shifting from School to Adulthood
February 7, 14, 21, 28 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. | Weinberg Park Heights JCC
Jewish Community Services (JCS) Employment Support Services is offering a free, four-part workshop to help parents and caregivers of children with varying abilities navigate what can often be a confusing path. The sessions take place each Thursday in February.

Kol Echad: Inclusive Shabbat
February 9, 11:00 a.m. | Chizuk Amuno Congregation
Join for an inclusive Shabbat service for children of ALL abilities. Each monthly service features a hands-on, multisensory experience in a sensory-friendly setting.

Supporting People with Disabilities: Panel Discussion and Resource Expo
February 19, 5:30 p.m. | Weinberg Park Heights JCC
Join The Associated and the Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance during Jewish Disability Advocacy and Inclusion Month to learn about resources available to community members with disabilities.

CHADD Parent Support Group
The first Wednesday of every month | Weinberg Park Heights JCC
Monthly support group for parents of children with attention and executive function issues. Offered by SHEMESH and CHADD of Greater Baltimore.

Meet Michele Shermak M.D.
Thursday, January 03, 2019

Michele Shermak 

Baltimore born and bred, Michele Shermak M.D. is a Pikesville High graduate who grew up in "21208.” Michele currently lives in Roland Park with her husband, Howard Sobkov and two college-age sons, Sam (19) and Max (18). Michele earned her undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA then returned to Baltimore, earning her medical degree from Johns Hopkins, staying at Hopkins for General Surgery/Plastic Surgery training (being the first to graduate from a combined program).

She served as Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, with a niche area of expertise in Massive Weight Loss Body Contouring. After 11 years in academic practice, Michele moved into private practice in Lutherville, where her medical expertise runs across the plastic surgery spectrum including facial plastic surgery, mommy makeovers, breast reconstruction and injectables.

Why plastic surgery as your chosen medical field? I originally got turned on to Plastic Surgery after seeing a video featuring Dr. Paul Tessier, a Parisian craniofacial plastic surgeon, the father of modern craniofacial surgery. I saw the video while in high school and was inspired by the reconstructive work Dr. Tessier pioneered to help children born with facial defects. I have to admit, his jet-set lifestyle, traveling between Paris, LA and Boston was pretty attractive as well. I loved math, science and art, and plastic surgery is a great marriage of all of my interests.

What do you love most about the work that you do? Performing at least one mitzvah a day! It melts my heart when my patients share with me how positively life changing their surgical experience was for them—and getting that special hug afterward. It is humbling and deeply meaningful for me to be able to help people this way.

Why are you a dedicated donor to The Associated? I believe it is critical to protect and support the Jewish community locally and internationally. I truly enjoy working with others interested in the same thing and have made some incredible friendships. I grew up in Baltimore and am constantly surprised by all of the new people I continue to meet! I was fortunate to participate in the Inspired Women's Project last year which culminated in a wonderful trip to Israel, and equally wonderful new sisterhood with 19 other Jewish women in the community. We get together throughout the year.

Details on upcoming Maimonides Society programs We have two great programs coming up this year. The first, in January, is focused on MedTech from Israel. We are interested in learning about some of the incredible medical innovations coming out of Israel and ways we can partner with Israel, one of the leaders in innovative medical technology. Also, this year’s Maimonides Society brunch, on Sunday March 10, will focus on the opioid crisis from a medical perspective. I look forward to this annual event, which is always on my calendar, and a great time to catch up with medical colleagues representing all disciplines. Learn more about Maimonides Society programing here.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I love that I really have all avenues open to me with my career. I do love my current practice and for now, hope to continue to nurture and grow my wonderful surgical practice. I can always change my mind and focus on an MBA, scientific pursuit, writing more books or even going to Law School!

Finish this sentence: When I’m not working, I’m... Relaxing with family and/or friends. I love home decorating and cooking, reading, movies and going to restaurants. I travel quite a bit for work which does not feel like work. I enjoy seeing my plastic surgery colleagues/friends from all over the world many times throughout the year.

Building a Thriving Baltimore Community By Promoting Understanding
Thursday, January 03, 2019

Children at the Jewish Museum of Maryland

James Myers is committed to building a better community. A resident of Fallstaff in Northwest Baltimore City, he enjoys living in a multi-cultural environment with Jewish, African-American and Latinx neighbors.

Myers believes that the more each neighbor understands the “other,” the closer and more sustainable the community will be. That’s why this African-American gentleman participates in a Roundtable every other month, organized by CHAI, CASA of Maryland and the Fallstaff Improvement Association, bringing Latinx, African-American and Jewish neighbors together to increase cultural awareness among one another.

Over the years, CHAI, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, has been committed to building understanding across racial, ethnic and religious lines. Roundtables inspire conversations that lead to better understanding … Multi-cultural Nights, offered through the Fallstaff Multi-Cultural Organizing Project, showcase Jewish, African-American and Latinx culture to neighbors using food, native dress, books and art.

“We are breaking down boundaries and getting people into a room to build better neighborhoods,” says Rachel Elliott, CHAI’s Vice President of Community Development.

Last spring, Stanley Fishkind organized a Shabbat dinner for Jewish, Latinx and African-American residents in the Fallstaff neighborhood. Over a dinner of roasted chicken, challah and gefilte fish, he provided them with a “taste of our Jewish customs and community.”

“We are opening up a window into another culture,” explains Fishkind. “And when you do that, you expand people’s horizons and you make them appreciate living with people who are different.”

“When you speak with individuals from different racial, ethnic or religious backgrounds, you realize that we are really no different – that we have the same goals and values,” adds Pauline Watson, an African-American resident who participates in the Roundtables. Watson, who also connects to her Jewish neighbors through CHAI’s Northwest Neighbors Connecting, a senior supportive community network, attends Shabbat dinners and Jewish holiday celebrations. She also shares a bond with her Latinx friends and neighbors and she participates in their family celebrations and cultural events.

“These programs help us dispel stereotypes and make a community vibrant,” Watson says.

Bringing diverse groups of people together to further understanding is core to The Associated’s mission. It is the recognition that communities thrive when they work together to solve problems – and working together is often strengthened through understanding.

Each year, 3,000 students from Baltimore City and the surrounding counties visit the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM), touring the Lloyd Street Synagogue and the museum’s myriad exhibits. Through these field trips, they learn about Jewish history, customs and traditions.

Although many of the students understand what Judaism is, more than likely this is their first time in a synagogue, explains Ilene Dackman-Alon, JMM’s Director of Learning and Visitor Engagement. “They walk away with parallels to their own world experiences – an understanding that this is a place of worship, similar to a church – and a place where community comes together,” she says.

Through “Voices of Lombard Street,” which chronicles East Baltimore from the early 1900s to today, many of these students see a connection to themselves.

“They begin to understand that Jews share similar experiences. They too have been discriminated against. And, they too have been immigrants, with the same challenges that face immigrants today,” says Tracie Guy-Decker, JMM’s Deputy Director.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), The Associated’s volunteer arm, brings diverse community members together for the greater good. Together, they volunteer side-by-side throughout Baltimore, in projects that include working with organizations such as Higher Achievement and the 6th Branch, to beautify schools and neighborhoods. They also serve meals in local shelters like Beans and Bread and Helping Up Mission.

In addition, JVC will host a signature MLK Day event with programming that includes in-direct service project opportunities such as making blessing bags and snack mixes, while learning about issues affecting the community.

The JVC project is being developed in conjunction with the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC), which for years has spearheaded efforts to encourage dialogue and connection across racial, ethnic and religious lines.

Perhaps the most telling example of how these programs can create a sense of shared understanding is what happened in the aftermath of the tragic synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. A school near Washington, D.C. visited the JMM days shortly after the tragedy.

They brought with them a package of letters. “They were condolence cards from all of the students,” says Dackman-Alon. “They were expressing support and empathy for our Jewish community.”

4Front’s Rabbi Dena Schaffer Talks Jewish Teen Engagement
Thursday, January 03, 2019

Rabbi Dena Schaffer

Growing up, Dena Shaffer knew early on that she wanted to become a Rabbi. A native of Rochester, N.Y., this young woman was very active in her Reform synagogue community – participating in the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) and attending Jewish summer camp.

Yet for Dena, the moment that solidified her interest in pursuing a track in Rabbinic studies had nothing to do with Judaism. This executive director of 4Front, the teen engagement center housed at the JCC (an agency of The Associated), talks about that seminal moment as well as how to inspire today’s Jewish teens and even a “wacky” engagement idea.

So, tell us the story? As a kid, I trained in martial arts. When I was 13, the instructor needed coverage for a class. I was scared to do it, but he pulled me aside and he said to me, “When someone whispers in your left ear, and someone asks for the truth from your right ear, you have an obligation to pass that truth on.” That stuck with me.

You have worked with Jewish teens even before you came to Baltimore. Why do you think they are checking out? It’s an interesting phenomenon. In previous generations, the b’nai mitzvah was the on ramp to Jewish life. What has happened today is that it has been transformed into the exit ramp.

I think there are several reasons for that. The way today’s adolescents form their identity is different than how they defined themselves just two or three generations ago. Today’s teens see themselves as having diverse and complex identities. They take pride in this diversity, and Judaism is only one part of that picture. I also think there is a lot of pressure on teenagers to excel in various aspects of their lives in new ways.

What do you think inspires them to engage? I believe that Jewish teens are looking for something challenging and meaningful. In a recent study, teens admitted that they might come to a program the first time for the pizza, and maybe even the second time. But by the third time you need to give them something of value to their lives or they will stop coming. In fact, when we survey teens who are participating in a 4Front program about their motivations for signing up, they overwhelmingly reflect it was because they thought they would learn something.

Second, Jewish teens are all about feeling connected to a group of their peers. Finally, we try in our programs to draw upon other parts of their lives, to take a holistic approach to Jewish content. That way they are able to see that our values are portable, beyond Jewish – specific times and spaces.

What is success? We are seeing teens who are choosing to plug in all across our community as we collectively raise the priority and profile of this demographic... teens are demonstrating an incredible spirit and energy as they embrace modernity with tradition. They are inventing what hasn’t been invented and embracing Judaism in a different way than their parents; yet showing an amazing commitment to Jewish life and our people. I am also proud of the more than 70 partnerships we’ve developed with Jewish and secular organizations who care about these teens and the adult volunteers who are working with us.

Is there a particular story you could share? Sure, recently we partnered with Beth Israel Congregation and Keshet, a national organization promoting LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. Together we led a session for teens on Jewish attitudes towards gender and sexuality. It was amazing to learn side-by-side with these teens who were not only incredibly insightful but unbelievably genuine and comfortable bringing their authentic selves to a fairly sophisticated text study.

Even in my short career I have led hundreds of immersive Torah experiences with people of all ages and yet, while adults especially have a tendency to hide behind the text, the teens blew me away with their ability to personally relate to Torah and their willingness to share aspects of their lives for which the text offered an appropriate window.

Craziest Jewish engagement idea you have? I have this wacky idea recently that I imagined for say the JCC or any large Jewish gathering space. What if we swapped out one of food vending machine for a Judaic vending machine where everything would be free. You could get Chanukah candles, interesting Jewish books, a set of tefillin and more!

Each item could come with an invitation to hang out with a Jewish professional and share more about your curiosity or Jewish story. I’m really into ideas that make Jewish exploration personal, more experimental and more accessible... I’m always wondering how our organizations and institutions can help more with a sort of DIY approach to Jewish ritual and behavior.

A book you would recommend for Jewish teens? As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg. I read this book every year. It’s the story of a man in the first century (around the time of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem) who dabbles in the world outside of Judaism. He’s interested in math, Greek philosophy and other topics and struggles to keep a foot in both worlds to balance his various identities. He was a real guy who is considered a heretic by his contemporaries and is sort cut off from Jewish life. He’s told there’s not really a place for him and his non-conformity and Elisha also does some things in retaliation that were damaging to the Jewish people.

I love this book because of Elisha’s complexity. It’s hard to tell if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. The book explores themes that are interesting to teens, choice, identity, temptation to stray from the path, redemption, forgiveness, etc. It deals with the challenges of relevancy and how to make Judaism meaningful. This seems to be a continuing narrative in our Jewish history.

Favorite holiday? Purim. I love to teach it to teens. The story is a narrative of how the Jews turned negative experiences into positive celebratory moments. I feel like it is the secret to Jewish longevity and continuity.

Anything else? In general, I am so grateful to this community, to The Associated and the Jim Joseph Foundation, the JCC, my colleagues and peers who have been so supportive of us, the adult volunteers and the 60 professionals in this community who want to make Jewish teens a priority.

Towson Local Finds Meaning Through Jewish Connections
Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Amy Goldberg

By Amy Goldberg, Macks CJE 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.

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.

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.

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.

With a Single Step: The Shanghai Jewish Story
Wednesday, January 02, 2019

With a Single Step

By Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step – Lao Tzu*, c. 550 BCE

Every exhibit at Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) is a journey. Many, like last year’s Just Married!, are journeys through time, set in our own backyard here in Maryland. A few, like our current exhibit, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini, is an example of an exhibit that travels across the globe as well. But no matter how deep or how far the journey, they all, following the Taoist proverb, begin with a single step.

The single step that initiated our next project happened halfway around the world. While touring China, two JMM Board members (Duke Zimmerman and Abe Kronsberg stepped into the former Ohel Moshe synagogue in Shanghai, which has been converted into the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, and started a conversation with the Museum’s director James Yang. Their meeting let to an email and that email led to an agreement and 14 months later, the JMM will host the Maryland premiere of Jewish Refugees and Shanghai, a panel exhibition of photos and facsimiles with bilingual text in English and Mandarin.

My personal interest in the Shanghai story began years ago when I read Rabbi Marvin Tokayer’s Fugu Plan, the story of the Lithuanian refugees saved by Consul Sugihara and their difficult passage across Russia to Kobe, Japan and eventually to Shanghai. I knew that they were a small part of a much larger refugee community in Shanghai during the Holocaust, but I frankly lacked an appreciation for just how much larger (more than 20,000 Jewish residents), and how much longer (1937 to 1948), this refugee community survived.

Shanghai, today by far the largest city in the world, was a relatively small town into the early 1800s. The Treaty of Nanking (1842) imposed by the British at the end of the First Opium War had the effect of making Shanghai an open port – a place where East met West. It also encouraged the first Jewish settlers here, Baghdadi merchant families, like the Sassoons and the Kadoories, who made the city a base for their East Asian operations.

A second wave of Jewish settlement came between 1903 and the mid-1920s. Jews fled the pogroms of Russia and later political uncertainty of the Soviet Union for new lives in Harbin and Shanghai.

The third, and most desperate wave of immigrants began to arrive from Germany in 1937 and, after the Anschluss, from Austria in 1938, many saved by exit visas from Chinese diplomat, Dr. Ho Feng Shan. The neighborhood where they settled, Hongkou, soon acquired the nickname “Little Vienna.” By the time they arrived, Japan had already occupied much of the city outside of the International Settlement and their fate during the war would be entwined with the shifting positions of the Japanese government, consistently under pressure from its German allies to adopt harsher policies towards the Jewish community.

Hongkou - Little Vienna

 

The exhibit not only explains the history of the community as a whole, but also devotes considerable attention to individual stories, of both the famous and unheralded residents. There is a panel on the life of future US Treasury Secretary, W. Michael Blumenthal and one on artist Peter Max and his first Chinese art tutor. There are also stories of work life, weddings, and beauty contests – of help from Chinese neighbors and struggles to survive.

When we agreed to present this exhibit, we also started looking through our own collections for Maryland connections to the Shanghai Jewish experience. We knew we had the marriage certificate in Chinese for Wilhelm and Selma Hirschfeld Kurz who were married in Shanghai and moved to Baltimore after the war. We began conversations with our docent, Rena Rotenberg (whose husband was in Shanghai) and Yvonne Daniels who was born in that community (and has since agreed to be a speaker in an upcoming program). We also discovered a number of fundraising scripts and posters used locally in the effort to support the community both before and after the war.

These conversations and materials will form the basis of a small lobby exhibit on the Jews of Shanghai and Maryland that will be a companion piece to the main exhibit during its run from February 3 through March 10.

Though the exhibit is at JMM for only a short period of time, we are packing a lot of programming into these five weeks. Our members-only preview, taking place on the evening of February 2 is themed “Vienna Meets Shanghai” and features musical performances and culinary treats derived from both cultures – including a first-ever Lion Dance in the Lloyd Street Synagogue. In subsequent weeks we will feature a half dozen lectures and films related to the Jewish experience in China – including two documentaries – Above the Drowning Sea and Minyan in Kaifeng (narrated by Leonard Nimoy, this is the unusual story of a 1,000 year-old Jewish community in central China).

Our education department is also using this exhibit as a platform to expand our offerings. In conjunction with the Baltimore Jewish Council and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum we will offer a “Winter Teacher’s Institute.” In this program, which parallels our annual summer institute, we will provide on-site and off-site workshops that will enable teachers across Maryland to incorporate the Shanghai story into their curricula.

In another initiative, our educators have reached out to Chinese language programs at both the high school and college level, inviting them to take this rare opportunity to practice reading skills in Mandarin while learning about an important piece of history. Several schools and college programs have already scheduled field trips.

With these initiatives we will take thousands more of our visitors on a journey – that began with a single step.

*This is a loose translation of the quote which references a “1000 li”, a Chinese unit of measurement that in the sixth century BCE was actually closer to ¼ of a mile today – but it’s the same concept.

Jordan Halle: Connecting Young Jewish Baltimore
Friday, December 28, 2018

Jordan Halle

Owings Mills native Jordan Halle credits his Whiteford, Taylor and Preston colleague, Howard Feldman, with introducing him to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. It was Feldman who first told him about the work of the organization, and Halle soon began attending its IMPACT (young adult) events.

Believing that becoming involved is a great way for him to give back and grow as a leader, this year, Halle is co-chairing IMPACT’s Young Professionals Committee with Ali Blumberg. Together, they are organizing three programs that they hope will engage young Jewish Baltimore.

Were you familiar with The Associated before you became involved? I didn’t know that much about the organization, but growing up, I would see The Associated’s signs everywhere. When I started speaking with people and learning about their work, I realized I wanted to be involved and give back to a community in which I felt connected.

What are you working on? I am co-chairing IMPACT’s Young Professional Committee with Ali Blumberg. On January 24, we are hosting a professional development program, “Embracing the Art of the Schmooze.” It’s a networking event – a chance to meet other professionals – as well as an opportunity to learn about how to develop your professional network. It will be led by a business and leadership consultant.

Later this winter, we will host a “Mitzvahs and Mimosas” brunch for young adults to socialize and give back to a local organization that will partner with us. And in April, we are planning “L’Dough V’Dough,” a challah-making experience with Holocaust survivors, where we hope to have personal and meaningful conversations with survivors over baking.

What do you want young adults to come away with? I want them to feel they belong to a community and have an opportunity to grow as its future leaders, while at the same time know that they are doing something good for the Jewish community and the people of Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

Being Jewish means? Being Jewish means being the most recent part of a direct line through history reaching back thousands of years and, as a result, belonging to a community in every corner of the globe. The best example of this is when Jessica (my wife) and I were on our honeymoon in Florence over Rosh Hashanah, where we heard the shofar and enjoyed a Rosh Hashanah dinner at the local Chabad Center.

Do you have a favorite Jewish holiday? Passover. As soon as my wife and I bought our first house, I said we are hosting the Passover Seder for her family and mine. I love the sense that Jews all over the globe are doing the same thing and that we have an oral tradition going back millennia.

I also go all out for Chanukah – I put blue lights and holiday inflatables outside on my lawn.

Something people may not know about you I graduated valedictorian in my law school class at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

For more information about these events, visit associated.org/impacthappenings

This story originally appeared in the January issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Tu B’Shevat and The Environment: How deep are your roots? How solid your branches?
Friday, December 21, 2018

Pearlstone Tu B'Shevat

By Ilana Unger, Pearlstone JOFEE Fellow

We have just left two of the darkest months of the year of Kislev and Tevet and are entering the time when sap begins to flow. We too will begin to bear new fruit. On the 15th day of the month of Shevat we celebrate Tu B’Shevat, The New Year of the Trees. It’s an opportunity to recognize our connection to the land, and continue a practice developed by 16th century mystics of eating fruit, drinking wine and honoring the Divine as the Tree of Life. It’s so special that it is one of our four Jewish New Years. It is our Jewish Earth Day if you will and is an opportunity for us to think about our responsibility towards the natural world.

I never grew up celebrating Tu B’Shevat, and it’s amazing to me what this holiday can teach us not only how we can bring to life Judaism's roots in nature but also what it means to be Shomrei Adamah, guardians of the earth. I am struck and continue to be struck by the fact that this holiday is not in our Torah and was created based on our traditions, deep connection to the land and more specifically, trees. I ask myself, and you as the reader what seeds are we planting for ourselves?

Tu B’Shevat is most notably celebrated with a Seder similar in scope to a Passover Seder. It is split into four sections, each reflecting the seasons and symbolizing different aspects of the trees and our own lives. Each section connects to one of the four worlds of Kabbalah (earth, water, air and fire) and represents the transition from the most physical to the most spiritual.

The first world, Asiyah, is that of action or actualization; the physical world or Earth element. The first cup of wine we drink at the Seder is pure white, like winter. It can represent a seed or sapling, waiting patiently beneath the winter snow to fulfill its potential and grow into a beautiful tree. Asiyah is the realm of the concrete, the physical. It’s about protection, about shields and defenses. By removing the outer shell, we enable ourselves to open up to those around us and to enjoy the sweetness inside. This world is represented by fruits and nuts with inedible outer shells and an edible inner core, such as almonds, pistachios, grapefruit and bananas.

The second world, Yetzirah, is that of formation; the emotional world or Water element. We add a few drops of red wine to the white wine already in our cup so that the cup is full again. This mixture of white and red symbolizes the tree’s growth as she is nourished into the spring. The white represents the spark of Divine holiness, and the red, the flame of life which has begun to burn within that spark. Yetzirah is a world of inwardness, emotion, and a sense of feeling. The need for protection and reinforcement is an inner matter of the core, of the heart. This world is represented by fruits with edible outer flesh and pithy, inedible cores, such as dates, mangoes, olives and plums.

The third world, Briah, is that of creation; the intellectual world or Air element. The third cup of wine is partly white and mostly red. In the heat of summer, our tree has rooted herself firmly in the earth, grown into its full being and is blooming. We add more red wine to the mixture in our cup so that the cup is full again. And we’ll soon prepare to drink all but a small drop. Briah is closest to pure spirit of the three lower worlds. It is represented by any fruits that are edible throughout. Here, no protective shells, neither internal nor external, are needed. These symbolic fruits may be eaten entirely and include blueberries, figs, grapes and kiwi.

The fourth world, Atzilut, is that of presence, emanation, birth; or the Fire element. Our final cup of wine is fully red. This cup represents the highest level of creation, the red flame completely overpowers the white light of the beginning. Our tree is in her full autumnal glory. This deep red wine is the citrus whose fruits are now ripe, the etrog whose fragrance we enjoy in the fall, and the melon whose fruit is full of flavor in the summer. The cup of red wine symbolizes the source of our strength, the source of connection with the earth. The world of Atzilut symbolically has no food at all, only what sustains us spiritually. The fourth world is about our highest selves, when we are not eating, when we are not thinking of our bodies, when we have all the tools to bring in pure holiness in each moment.

You may be wondering why celebrate trees during the middle of winter? Not everyone notices trees. Their fruit-bearing, oxygen-making qualities are, in a sense, hidden by the stillness of winter. Whether you live in a sunny warm place or a snow-filled part of the country, let us sit in this stillness of winter and honor our tall friends that provide so much not only for us but for the earth. Just as the Kabbalists in Tzfat over five hundred years ago rooted themselves in their surroundings let us ground ourselves physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

At Pearlstone we connect with these four worlds through making cordials that we use at our community Seders. Our cordials infuse the different qualities of the four worlds.

Six weeks before our Seder we soak dates, figs, apples and cherries in alcohol, and once the essence of the plant has infused with the liquor we add in the other ingredients and enjoy these drinks at our Seder. For the world of Assiah, עֲשִׂיָּה- cherry, almond extract, carob, rum, coconut milk, coconut cream. Yetzirah, יְצִירָה- dates, cinnamon sticks, rum, peach nectar. Beri'ah, בְּרִיאָה or alternatively בְּרִיָּה- figs, vanilla bean pods, rum, pear juice. Atziluth, אֲצִילוּת- apples, cinammon sticks, rum, apple cider.

During this time of year, we find ourselves humble, leafless and barren. Trees root the Jewish people to the here and now. So, as we sit in the stillness let us awaken to the new sap that is flowing and think about these questions- What deep yearnings are flowing within you? How deep are your roots? How solid your branches?

Teaching Children Mindful Eating
Monday, December 17, 2018

Janene

Chicken nuggets and mac ’n cheese are popular meals for children. They’re quick, they’re easy, and the kids typically put ‘em down; another meal- thank goodness!

But parents... not so fast!

For 2019, JCC Early Childhood Health Educators Janene Malamud and Laura Fink are advocating slower, healthier, and more mindful eating and moving for children.

Janene, a Baltimore native and health educator with the J’s Early Childhood Education Center, has taught and served many a picky eater in the J‘s healthy halls since 2011. Janene and Laura have encouraged hundreds of moms, dads, and grandparents to bring healthy eating home.

Janene and Laura teach the J‘s Healthy Choices Curriculum, where children are introduced to new, healthy foods.

Persimmons, Kale, Quinoa, Kiwi – on a typical day in the JCC kids might try one these during a Healthy Choices class; the key word here being “try,” as developing an awareness of nutritional eating often comes in small steps.

“Touch it, smell it, lick it, and then let’s take a small bite together and taste it,” says Janene. “It all comes back to mindfulness.”

Using the USDA’s My Plate model, which emphasizes healthy portions of fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and grains per meal, the two educators teach children and caregivers how to eat whole foods and avoid processed foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat and sodium.

“We talk to our students about ‘Anytime Foods’ vs. ‘Sometimes Foods,’” says Janene.

“We don’t talk about foods as good or bad. We should enjoy all food, especially foods that help our bodies to grow.”

“Cookies and ice cream are wonderful sometimes but not all the time, while carrots and hummus or a handful of sugar snap peas or apples slices are great anytime.”

Moving into 2019, Janene and Laura have 5 great tips for parents and grandparents:

  • Slow down and practice mindful eating. Say a blessing or pause before you eat. Wait until everyone is served and take note of your food and its colors, textures, and smells; appreciate that you are about to enjoy something that is healthy for your body.
  • Parents – don’t use food as a punishment or reward, and never force children to eat anything. Don’t get into power struggles. Give kids as much control over their food as possible: “Broccoli or peas, Hannah – you choose.”
  • Children have small stomachs, yet we often put a lot of food on their plates. If the expectation is to finish, that can be either overwhelming for a child and they will eat nothing, or they’ll learn to eat everything, which can lead to unhealthy eating behaviors. Serve healthy, manageable, appropriate portions.
  • Model healthy behavior and teach your children to MOVE. Eating and exercise go hand in hand. Also, be persistent and positive about trying new foods and make sure there are always healthy foods in the home – it’s all about attitude! Have fun in the kitchen!
  • Frozen veggies are great. They have all the same nutrients as fresh veggies because they are typically frozen right away and they will last a lot longer in the freezer than they will in the refrigerator. Plus, they’re easy, quick, and cheap! And, of course, drink lots of H2O and try to drink less sugary drinks like soda, juice and Gatorade – sugar craves more sugar and they are full of unneeded calories.
National Federation of the Blind Teams up with the Maryland/Israel Development Center: Showcases Technology to Improve Lives of Those with Disabilities
Thursday, December 13, 2018

Man stepping on bus

Assistive technologies are improving the lives of people with disabilities by leaps and bounds including, in the not too distant future, improving their mobility with driverless cars. Mark Riccobono, president of the Baltimore-headquartered National Federation of the Blind (NFB), recently traveled to Israel at the invitation of Israeli technology powerhouse OrCam to test some of the newest breakthrough vision technology at Orcam and its sister company, Mobileye, a manufacturer of the driverless vehicle technology which was recently bought by Intel for $15 billion.

Riccobono and Orcam executives will feature this technology at the Maryland/Israel Development Center’s January 9 networking program in Baltimore.

“This has particular relevance for the State of Maryland, said Barry Bogage, executive director of the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC), as Mobileye and the Maryland Department of Transportation have been working on a joint project to equip buses with Mobileye’s vision technology to improve safety.”

This joint project was developed during Governor Larry Hogan’s trade mission to Israel in 2016, the sixth gubernatorial trade mission to Israel the MIDC has organized. The MIDC is a joint program of the Maryland Department of Commerce, Israel’s Ministry of Economy and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore that promotes bi-lateral trade and economic development.

OrCam will give a live demonstration of its latest product, MyEye, at the January 9 program. The MyEye device instantly and discreetly reads any printed and digital text, from any surface – including newspapers, books, computer and smartphone screens, restaurant menus, labels on supermarket products and street signs – as well as recognizes individual people and products.

Alvin Katz, MIDC chairman, citing a close family member with a disability, praised OrCam and other Israeli assistive technology companies in Maryland such as AmplioSpeech and Acoustic Protocol.

“These breakthrough technologies will enhance independence and provide needed opportunities for people with disabilities,” Katz says.

Riccobono’s trip to Israel further reinforces the collaboration between Israeli and Maryland companies to enhance safety and improve products for blind and visually impaired individuals. The NFB is the one of the oldest and largest organization for the blind in the United States.

MIDC member Howard L. Sollins, of the BakerOber Health Group at the Baker Donelson law firm, will emcee the January 9 event, highlighting the accomplishments of the NFB, MIDC, OrCam and other companies investing in and advocating for the over 50 million Americans who are blind, visually impaired or function with disabilities.

To learn more about the January 9 event, go to MarylandIsrael.org/home/events. Registration to attend will be required. For additional information about the MIDC contact Nancy Boguslaw, NBoguslaw@MarylandIsrael.org.

Doing good on MLK Day
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Volunteering

Join JVC and check out these volunteer opportunities.

The Helping Up Mission – Sunday, January 20
4:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
1029 East Baltimore Street, 21202
Volunteers are needed to help serve a meal for the clients of The Helping Up Mission. The Helping Up Mission is both a day center and an overnight shelter for men in need.

Beans and Bread – Monday, January 21
10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
402 S Bond Street, 21231
Volunteers are needed to provide, prepare and serve a lunch for the clients of Beans and Bread, a homeless day resource program that serves 300 people daily.

Weinberg Housing and Resource Center – Monday, January 21
4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
620 Fallsway, 21202
Volunteers are needed to help serve dinner for the clients of Weinberg Housing and Resource Center. WHRC is an emergency shelter that provides homeless services to over 275 men and women each night in the city of Baltimore.

MLK Day Signature Project at Weinberg Park Heights JCC – Monday, January 21
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
5700 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore 21215
Join the entire Baltimore community for an event that includes hands-on volunteer projects as well as age appropriate opportunities to learn about issue areas affecting our community.

Repair the World Baltimore Documentary Screening – Monday, January 21
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Creative Alliance; 3134 Eastern Ave, 21224
Join Repair the World Baltimore and Black Yield Institute as we screen the documentary, Baltimore’s Strange Fruit, a film exploring the intersections of food, land, race, and class politics through personal narrative and social commentary. There will also be a service project that will benefit Black Yield Institute and Cherry Hill Urban Garden.

And don't forget about our CHANGE campaign. The Associated will have dropoff locations at both JCC locations during MLK Day!

For further information and to register please visit jvcbaltimore.org/annualevents/mlk-day-of-service/

Neil Katz Shares Insight and Experiences After Odessa Mission
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Odessa 

Neil Katz, Baltimore-Odessa Partnership Committee

I first became involved with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore when I was in my mid-20s and joined Young Leadership Council. A few years later, I met my wife Bonnie while serving on a committee that was planning a mission to Israel. Over the years, I traveled on several leadership missions including a trip to Israel and Barcelona with my Dad, Cuba with Bonnie and Kiev, St. Petersburg and Israel with a small group of community leaders. We even traveled with our kids on one of the first family missions to Israel!

Last year, I joined the Baltimore-Odessa Partnership Committee and I have had the opportunity to work side by side with some truly amazing people. When I heard the committee was taking a leadership mission to our sister-city, Odessa, I knew I wanted to go. I was excited for the opportunity to meet the community members and visit Jewish institutions firsthand, so I would be able to make more informed funding decisions. Prior to the start of the mission, I also had the opportunity to travel through other parts of Ukraine with Vlad Volinsky, co-chair of the Partnership Committee, Steve Ashkenazi and Alex Pobersky. We visited Kiev, Bogdanovka and Vlad’s hometown of Bila Tserkva before heading to Odessa to meet up with the rest of the group.

My grandfather was born in Kiev so beginning our trip there was meaningful to me. Just outside of Kiev in the town of Bila Tserkva, we visited Mitzvah-613, this amazing Jewish school which is supported by The Associated’s Global Responsibility Committee. The students there were so excited to see us and gave us a wonderful walking tour of their town and the school. It was great spending time with Vlad back in the city where he grew up. We saw the house where he lived and visited the store where his mother worked. Vlad then arranged transportation for us from Bila Tserkva to Odessa but surprised us with a powerful visit to the Bogdanovka Concentration Camp and Memorial where 54,600 Jews (mostly from Odessa) perished during the Holocaust. It was surreal to be standing in the very same spot where tens of thousands of Jewish people were killed simply because of their religion.

The Odessa mission officially began the next day when we met fellow lay and professional leaders from The Associated at our hotel in Odessa. Like most missions, our days and nights were jam-packed touring and immersing ourselves in the community. I was most inspired by the teenagers and young adults. Many of these children are already leaders among their peers. Seeing them make a better life for themselves through education and hard work was truly motivational.

The bonds formed on Associated missions are ever-lasting. Making new friends, sharing great experiences and spending meaningful time together is one of the most inspiring things anyone can do. We are so lucky to be a part of the greatest Jewish community in the world. I am grateful to our global partners The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and World Ort. These organizations, together with The Associated, help so many Jews around the world live better, more productive lives.

Anxiety In Kids Doesn’t Always Look Like Anxiety
Monday, December 10, 2018

Child sitting on ground

By Stacey Meadows, LCSW-C, Manager, Child Therapy Services, JCS

Anxiety. Just the word itself can be, well… anxiety producing! While it may be hard to define, we have all come to recognize the feeling of anxiety when we experience it – nervously prepping for a big interview, sweating in anticipation of a difficult conversation, pacing while awaiting the results of a medical test, and the list could go on!

For those of us with children in our lives, we’ve also likely witnessed them struggle with anxiety from time to time, whether they (or we) recognize it or not – crying at daycare drop off, stressing over a test, and the like.

So, how do we know when anxiety has crossed the line from normal to clinical? How do we recognize anxiety when it doesn’t fit this classic nervous mold? And, how can we support our little ones when they are experiencing big worries?

Most of us are able to identify anxiety as it comes up in our lives, and while we typically think of anxiety as an unpleasant experience, anxiety, in its most productive form, is actually quite useful. For example, if you weren’t worried about an upcoming test, you probably wouldn’t study or pass!

We also want our kids to experience a healthy dose of anxiety around expectations we’ve set for them. Worry about consequences like getting caught or getting hurt can be a big motivator when it comes to following the rules for both kids and adults alike.

Anxiety turns from productive to problematic when our experience overwhelms our ability to cope. While children are no different than adults in their feelings of anxiety, they have far fewer living experiences, less effective coping skills, and more limited communication skills. Therefore, children can experience more intense and frequent bursts of anxiety.

While there are many times that we are able to see and anticipate our children’s anxiety without much difficulty (for example, a child afraid to be in alone in the dark), sometimes anxiety can look less like nervousness and more like emotional or behavioral disruptions – making it more difficult to recognize.

Let’s consider two children, both of whom are anxious about going to school. In our classic nervous presentation, Child One may cry and beg not to go, refuse to get out of the car or let go of a parent’s hand when he or she arrives. We’d probably easily assess that this child was anxious.

Now consider the second child, who does not fit this “nervous” anxiety presentation. Child Two shares the same anxiety about going to school, but instead of crying and demonstrating difficulty separating, this child might refuse to get dressed, throw breakfast on the floor or get sassy with adults.

Anxiety sometimes can take the form of impulsivity, irritability or reactivity just as commonly as it can look like nervousness.

Here are some tips to consider next time you find yourself faced with an anxious child:

1. Stay calm. Our little ones take their emotional cues from us. When they are having big feelings, it’s that much more important for us to be their calm. Rising to their level will only escalate their anxiety and their reactions to it. Also, when we are calm, we enhance our ability to problem solve and to respond with intention rather than reaction.

2. Get to the root of the problem. While we can’t ignore behaviors that are unsafe or inappropriate, if we only focus on the behavior, then we’re missing a big opportunity to manage their anxiety. When the situation gets stressful, step back and ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?” See if you can put the behavioral correction on hold and instead address the anxiety directly. What does your child need right now – reassurance that you’ll pick them up at the end of the day? Help dealing with a bully? Worry about a big test or new teacher? Start there.

3. Show empathy. Even if you don’t understand or agree with their worry or reactions, be careful not to belittle their feelings. Don’t get caught in the “It’s Ok” or “don’t worry” trap. These are empty reassurances that don’t help. For your little one it doesn’t feel OK, they feel worried for a reason. Our best approach is to work with them to figure out the reason and use that as a starting point for compassion and problem solving.

4. Circle back later. Can’t figure out what’s up? Try again when things aren’t so stressful. In quieter moments don’t hesitate to return to this inquiry to see whether you or your child might have any insight. You can start the conversation by saying something like, “This morning you seemed pretty upset. I noticed you having a hard time getting dressed and out the door. Let’s talk about what was going on so that together we can make it easier for you tomorrow.” With a plan, children can more confidently tackle this worry.

5. Be proactive. If you anticipate something might be stressful for your child, do your best to prepare them ahead and to ward off any potential worries. Practicing coping skills (like deep breathing, or reciting a mantra), anticipating challenges and pitfalls, problem solving, rehearsing, and offering meaningful reassurances can be key in helping your child competently, and confidently, manage their worries before they even happen.

While we all have to accept that anxiety and worry are an important, and unavoidable, part of the human experience, we do not have to live with anxiety that is chronically debilitating.

If you find your child to be frequently immobilized, acting out or otherwise significantly impacted by anxiety, he or she may benefit from professional help in learning new, or more effective, coping skills. Coping lets us navigate anxiety in ways that allow us to experience all the care and joy life has to offer.

Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.

Meet University of Maryland Hillel’s Israel Fellow
Friday, December 07, 2018

Shira

The Campus Israel Fellows program, run by The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), places post-army young Israeli adults for one to three years on university campuses around the world, with the goal of empowering students and creating Israel-engaged campuses. The Associated supports the Fellows at our local college campuses Hillels – Goucher, Hopkins, Towson and University of Maryland.

Shira Gabay began her third year as the Campus Israel Fellow at University of Maryland.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you do before coming to the United States? I was born and raised in the center of Israel. After joining the Israeli scouts I served for two years as a commander in the Israeli Air Force. I graduated from Hebrew University with a B.A. in political science and geography. Prior to coming to the United States, I worked in the marketing department for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, helping to bring tourists to Israel.

What are your primary job responsibilities as the Israel Fellow at University of Maryland Hillel? My primary job responsibility is to engage with students about all things Israel! Personal connection is the most important thing and helps increase student engagement. I also mentor our pro-Israel groups, work on many different events during the year and recruit students to go on our Birthright and other trips to Israel which include students from other faith groups. Spring semester we have Israel week and a Yom Hatzmaut celebration.

What programs at University of Maryland Hillel have been the most successful? One of the big events we had this semester was bringing the “ROOTS” organization to campus, where two activists, an Israeli rabbi and a Palestinian, came together and talked with us, presenting their way of living together. The success of this program was attributed to the fact that it got us to discuss something that people tend to shy away from. And, talking and learning how people live in Israel despite of the situation is a win for everyone.

Can you tell us what the differences are between American colleges/universities compared to those in Israel? Differences among the students? Well we all want the same thing... to be successful and graduate with a degree. The difference may be too big to describe in one question, but the important thing to remember, in my opinion, is that it is mostly the same.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role as campus fellow? I find that sometimes students are afraid of having a real connection to Israel because of fear of being criticized by other people. So, the challenge is to be able to create real relationships where students feel comfortable with me sharing their thoughts and opinions, so we can have an open dialogue and exchange of ideas. This will give them confidence to pursue their love and interest in Israel.

In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions that students have about Israelis? The biggest misconception is that we are aggressive. I wish people understood it’s actually a display of passion…a positive thing rather than a negative one.

How have you adjusted to American culture and what are some of the things you like/dislike? It took time to adjust and there are still things I can’t completely understand, but having supportive friends and coworkers is always helpful.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Wow! Everything about my job is rewarding! Really! I guess if I had to choose one thing it would be the special connection I have with the students that is real and honest and without barriers.

Five Ways to Do Good this Holiday Season
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Five Ways to Do Good This Season

Looking to do some good for someone else this year? Check out these Associated volunteer opportunities that you can do as a group or on your own from our agencies, running now through January 31.

JCS Toy Drive (Runs until January 1) – Every year, Jewish Community Services, brightens the holiday for children whose families are facing financial hardship. Join them this year and donate a new, unwrapped toy, purchase a book from a local bookstore or sponsor a family. To learn more about this initiative, click here

JVC Mitzvah Day (December 24 and 25) – Become part of one of the biggest days of giving back in Baltimore! On Help out at a soup kitchen on Christmas Day, participate in a multi-generational program to brighten a senior’s day or stop by the JCCs to participate in a host of service projects that will make life easier for those in need. In addition, if you are unable to make it, JVC has set up an Amazon Wish List. Purchase an item to go inside a Winter Care Package to be delivered to 2,000 area residents and the purchased items will be included in the packages. Click here for more information.

A Magical Mitzvah Day (December 25) – The Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus is partnering with Jewish Volunteer Connection for their sixth year in a row! This Mitzvah Day, the JMM is working to support the Esperanza center, creating backpacks filled with school supplies for their students. For a list of supplies and more information on how you can help, click this link

Live with Purpose Blessing Bags Project (Runs until January 31) – Blessing Bags, care packages containing food and essential items for people experiencing homelessness, are a great way to help others. Gather friends and family and collect supplies such as shampoo, toothpaste, socks, granola bars and more. Check this page for a list of essential items and instructions.

MLK Day of Service (January 21) - Join JVC in a national day of service that transforms Dr. King’s life and teaching into community action! Interactive service learning experiences and breakout sessions will be held for all ages. From making blessing bags to helping in a neighborhood clean-up there is something for every volunteer. Check this link to stay updated on more information!

Meet Cindy Kasner, the Inspired Women’s Project co-chair
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Cindy

Cindy Kasner, a native Baltimorean, always knew she wanted to raise her family not far from where she grew up. She and her husband, Harvey, whom she met while attending optometry school in Philadelphia, believe that it is easier to connect to Judaism when living and working in a vibrant Jewish community. That’s why after Harvey completed his residency at GBMC they decided to settle in the Owings Mills area.

Cindy has always had an interest in helping others, both in her role professionally and as a volunteer with The Associated. This year, she is co-chairing The Associated’s Inspired Women’s Project with Amanda Levine. This year-long program seeks to bring together a cohort of 20 women who are at a similar stage of life. Cindy, who participated in the program last year, sees this as an amazing opportunity to provide the same great, life-changing experience to a dynamic group of local women. Let’s get to know Cindy...

What is The Inspired Women’s Project? The Inspired Women’s Project focuses on Ourselves. Our Community. Our World. It includes a trip to Israel and monthly programs that are interesting, relevant and empowering. The program is designed to inspire women spiritually, connect them to their own Judaism and to our Jewish Community at large. The women’s trip to Israel is a special opportunity to share this experience together and further encourages us to lead, to give and to take action.

How is this trip to Israel different then when you were there previously? While travelling to Israel with my family was an amazing experience, being there with a group of women affords you different opportunities. You get to just focus on you and immerse yourself completely in the experience, soaking it all in. Being able to share it with a group of women who are interesting, dynamic and smart is really the icing on the cake. We all feed off of one another during group discussions, Jewish learning and touring. Processing everything that we see and do with each other only enriches the experience.

As an optometrist working in Baltimore City how have you managed work/life balance?I’ve been extremely lucky. Working part time all these years has allowed me the opportunity to arrange my schedule so that I wouldn’t miss my kids’ sporting events. Both my sons were three sport athletes growing up which pretty much guaranteed that there was a game every afternoon.

When did you first get involved with The Associated? Why? I first became involved with The Associated in 2010 when I participated in Dor Tikvah, a women’s leadership development program. Although I was already contributing monetarily to The Associated, I was looking for a way to become more actively involved in a volunteer role. This program introduced me to all of the agencies that are part of The Associated and I learned how much the organization supports and serves the needs of the local Jewish community and Israel. I was given the opportunity to observe the Jewish Community Services’ board and found my place in serving on the Economic Services Council for several years. I also joined the Israel & Overseas Education & Travel Committee last year.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be? I would like to be Ina Garten’s sous- chef. I enjoy cooking and love her recipes.

What advice did you give your sons when they went off to college? My sons both attend The University of Maryland…one’s a freshman and the other is a senior. I told them both to be true to yourself. Get a good education, have a good time but always remember our family values and keep them in mind as you venture out into the world.

What’s one thing you like about being an empty nester? One thing that you don’t like about being an empty nester? I like having less laundry, less cooking and less cleaning. I don’t like coming home at 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon instead of watching my kids’ soccer, basketball or lacrosse games.

What’s your favorite app on your phone that you can’t live without? Life 360 – shhh – don’t tell my kids!

Do you have a favorite line from a movie or a favorite quote that you like to use? “What’s meant to be will always find a way"

If you or someone you know would be interested, please contact Jennifer Mendelsohn Millman at jmillman@associated.org or 410-369-9205.

Building the Right Team for Your Charitable Giving
Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Michael Friedman

By Michael Friedman, Senior Vice President, Philanthropic Planning and Services

Estate and financial planning professionals have the unique opportunity to not only help their clients achieve their financial, tax and estate goals, but their charitable goals as well. If you advise clients for a living, you have probably already built up a network of trusted colleagues from the legal, accounting, investment and insurance professions to assist. But who do you rely on when seeking information about charitable giving?

Raising the issue of charitable giving with clients is deeply rewarding and can strengthen the relationship between advisors and clients. Building the right team with the right resources also results in better outcomes, and lasting professional relationships among advisors enhances one’s practice, adding value for everyone involved in the process.

Research shows that clients expect more out of their advisors than just good tax and financial advice. They also want their advisors to help them with their charitable giving. And not just how to save on taxes. They look for charities that reflect their values and make a difference – charities that are well-run, efficient, and get results. They want to know what charities are involved in areas of interest to them – areas such as poverty, workforce development, education and medicine, and promotion and preservation of their religious values.

Building the right team, therefore, requires another advisor at the table – one who is knowledgeable about the tax benefits of well-crafted charitable plans and the charities that are making a difference in areas that the individual cares about.

When you work with organizations like The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, you can provide specialized expertise to enable your clients to live comfortable and rewarding lives and provide for their heirs. Having these trained charitable professionals on your team can help you crystallize your charitable plans in a variety of ways.

  • Assist in the development of a policy statement on grantmaking.
  • Help to provide annual goals and plans, and, if required, longer term strategic philanthropic plans.
  • Assist in developing mission statements, policies and grant guidelines.
  • Review and evaluate grant requests if asked.
  • Coordinate grant making with community priorities.
  • Encourage collaborative philanthropic ventures among funds and foundations.
  • Assist in identifying other sources of funding for projects of interest.
  • Facilitate site visits as appropriate.

In addition, using donor advised funds and foundations, individuals can not only make a difference with their grant making, but also embark on a process of teaching their children and grandchildren about the values that inform their giving. At The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, professionals specially trained in family and intergenerational philanthropy work together with donors and their advisors to ensure a legacy of giving for generations.

For more than 40 years, The Associated has worked with donors and their professional advisors to help devise integrated tax, financial and charitable plans that save taxes and maximize dollars for charity while protecting assets for their loved ones. But financial and tax advice is only half of the equation. Better giving is a result of careful attention to the values that we all hold dear, as well.

So, make sure that you have the right people on your planning team. And make sure you’ve considered not just a rewarding financial future for your client, but also a future that is made better by a charitable plan dedicated to honor the legacy of the one who made the plan.

Five Programs that The Associated Supports in Israel and Overseas
Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Students together

Caring for all Jews, including those in Israel and around the world, is a core value of The Associated. Regardless of age, location or background, The Associated is there to provide help and assistance as needed. We also work to connect Baltimore to Jewish communities in Ashkelon, Israel and Odessa, Ukraine. Below is a small sampling of the programs and innovative opportunities that The Associated helps fund around the world.

Tweens Read A cohort of 20 teens in both Baltimore and Ashkelon connect around their love of reading. Using the PJ Our Way chapter books, the tweens and their families participate in facilitated conversations about the books and the Jewish values depicted. This program is run through the Macks Center for Jewish Education in Baltimore.

Baltimore-Odessa Business Incubator in Odessa The Baltimore-Odessa Business Incubator, a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), offers business and community leadership training to Jewish entrepreneurs in Odessa who are developing socially-minded business ventures. The incubator provides a forum for young adults to think creatively about the challenges and opportunities present within their Jewish community and develop innovative social business approaches to strengthening Jewish identity, education and communal affiliation in Odessa.

Achotenu: Ethiopian Nurses Training Program Achotenu, “our sister, our nurse” in Hebrew, assists Ethiopian youth in Israel to gain acceptance into nursing programs and provides support throughout students’ entire bachelor’s degree in nursing, enabling them to find stable employment, break out of poverty, and better integrate into Israeli society. Click here to view a video about the impact the program is making.

Financial Education for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Chimes Israel serves adults with mild to moderate disabilities, ages 21+. For those who receive communal services and earn a salary from working, this 15-week training program teaches them effective use of financial resources and services, enhancing their independence and helping them to build their economic future.

Mezonot: Hunger Relief in Argentina Mezonot, a program of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), provides a lifeline to 511 individuals in 15 different Argentinean communities who are struggling with hardship and poverty due to unemployment and high inflation. Registered families living in Argentina receive financial support for basic needs (food, medicine, shelter) and opportunities to participate in Jewish communal life - including Shabbat dinners and other Jewish holiday celebrations.

Click here to view all the programs supported by The Associated this year.

End of Year Planning
Friday, November 30, 2018

Elizabeth Green

By Elizabeth Green, Esq., Member at Pessin Katz Law, P.A., Wealth Preservation Department 

As the year draws to a close, many people begin reflecting on the year that has passed and planning for the year to come. From an estate planners’ perspective, that may mean finally getting your clients to sign their estate planning documents that have been sitting in the “to do” pile. From the perspective of philanthropic giving and planning, this may involve phone calls from charities looking to shore up budgets before the end of the year, individuals trying to get additional tax deductions or foundations and trusts making sure that they have met required distribution thresholds.

In general, it is a good idea to remind your clients to review their estate planning documents every three to five years. Further, if you know of any life cycle events (births, deaths, marriages) that a client has gone through, a review of their estate plan is important. But with the recent tax law changes, end of year is a great time to reach out to your clients to remind them to come in to review their plans to ensure those plans work with the current changes. As tax laws change, some planning becomes stale and, at times, even unnecessary. A plan which was geared toward saving estate taxes might no longer be necessary with the increased estate tax exemption. On the other hand, a trust which was initially established for one purpose may take on a new, equally valid purpose as circumstances change.

As a part of end of year planning, many people think about making charitable gifts in order to get a tax deduction. With recent changes to the tax law, the charitable deduction is less relevant for most individuals as they will probably use the new, larger standard deduction. This certainly does not mean that end of year charitable gifts are passé. First, charitable giving is generally not about the deduction; there are other reasons to be philanthropic which extend far beyond the tax deduction. While a person might be less inclined to donate to charities to which he has no connection, giving to charities whose missions are meaningful to them usually is separate and apart from any opportunity for a tax deduction.

Another option which is available to some is to make gifts that will help result in the use of itemization rather than using the standard deduction. This means that if a person has, for example, sufficient medical expenses to qualify for a deviation from the standard deduction, he might choose to make more than one year of charitable gifts in one calendar year. For those with more funds to give to charity, they might choose to make a larger donation to a foundation or a donor advised fund. Those donations would allow a current year, larger deduction while the decision of to whom the contribution will ultimately be made could be delayed to a future time.

Year-end planning is important and can take many forms. The reasons for planning are as varied as the people doing the planning. It is important to be in touch with your clients, particularly at year end, to make sure that their overall estate plans correspond with their personal goals and life cycles.

New Jewish Learning Initiative for Young Families
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Family reading a book

There is a famous Hasidic tale about Reb Zusya of Hanipoli who had taken ill and was near death. As Reb Zusya’s students sat by his side, the great rabbi began to weep. One of his students turned to him and said, “Reb Zusya, why do you cry? Surely if anyone is ensured for a place in heaven it is you!”

Reb Zusya took a deep breath and responded to his pupil, “Dear student, if, when I die, the Creator should ask me, ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Abraham?’ I will confidently respond, ‘I was not born an Abraham.’ If the Creator should then respond with the question, ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Moses?’ I will say with just as much confidence, ‘Nor was I born a Moses.’ I cry, my student, because of the one question I fear I might be asked, ‘Zusya, why were you not Zusya?’”

This beloved story offers us all a great reminder that our goal in life is not to pursue the path of being we are not. We may never live up to such a lofty goal. Instead, we need to remember that our individual task in this life is to ensure that we live our best life; that we most fully reach the potential that we possess to live our fullest selves.

Many parents of young children who either grew up outside the traditionally observant Jewish world – or did not grow up Jewish but are helping to raise children connected to Jewish culture and tradition – often articulate a feeling of insecurity in their ability to chart a course for their family’s Jewish journey.

Many of these folks broadly desire to raise mensches, to celebrate holidays, to instill values that may be expressed in both universal and particularly Jewish language. However, many are at a loss on how to do that.

My Tribe is a new initiative to bring together eight to 10 families to form small groups - chavurot – that commit to having a series of Jewish experiences together over the course of a year. It is an opportunity to build relationships with other like-minded families who seek to provide their children with positive Jewish identification and connection while also having an opportunity to gain a better understanding of and connection to the ideas, themes, rituals, practices and observances that we encounter over the course of a Jewish calendar year.

Over the course of the year, families will create DIY experiences that allow for meaningful engagement with Jewish holidays, ideas and experiences. They also will “tap into” larger community-wide Jewish experiences in order to get a taste of just how much is available for them as they seek to find meaningful connections to other families and to the broader Jewish community.

My Tribe is a family education models that values the family unit along with the individual groups within a family unit - both children and adults. A typical My Tribe gathering ensures activities and experiences that allow for time as a whole group, time for family units to spend together engaged with a Jewish idea or project and time or children to engage with the themes through experiential learning while freeing up parents to have conversations that are relevant to their learning, while deepening their connection.

The goal is to create opportunities for children to get excited about Jewish experiences in a communal setting while also equipping our adult participants with resources and support they need to make Jewish culture and tradition an identifiable part of their lives.

My Tribe is surely a stepping stone. The goal is to help bridge people, who might ultimately end up in our synagogues and congregations. with the support they need to arrive there. It is also a stepping stone to whatever alternative innovations will be born out of this period in which the nature of community and how people connect is currently changing.

My Tribe values the need for people to frame their Jewish journey in relation to becoming the best version of themselves; to strive to learn and engage more deeply over time and to discover ways to make Judaism a meaningful part of their lives.

It’s Never Too Late (or Early) to Discuss Philanthropy
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Advisor Meeting

The end of the year is looming. The question of what to give is therefore at the forefront of many advisors’ conversations with their clients. What is there to do to save on taxes? And while this question is certainly important, the bigger question that advisors should be asking their clients is why they give? Year-end is a perfect time for you to have this conversation; when your clients are really focusing on their giving.

Why is the WHY so Important?

In a previous article, I discussed the findings of the 2016 Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, conducted by US Trust, where it was found that high net worth individuals are continually looking to their advisors to have meaningful conversations about philanthropy. The individuals that were surveyed said they are looking for help with fulfilling their philanthropic missions, involving the next generation, and how they can leave their legacy. But what was also discovered is that the conversations are falling short, if happening at all, and that clients are constantly looking to their advisors to bring up charitable planning.

What are some of the pitfalls of avoidance of a client’s philanthropy?

1. You risk someone else asking the right questions and losing a valued client.

2. Philanthropic goals and investments may conflict with, or impact, the financial planning and financial portfolio management.

3. Trigger events or liquidity events in a client’s life may not be properly planned for or integrated into their wealth planning if charitable interests are an important consideration.

4. Decisions around when to give so that it maximizes tax advantages may not be brought to the table. This year or next? What are the tax and liquidity advantages and disadvantages?

5. They may want to involve family members in their wealth planning but haven’t discussed the family’s financial picture. Philanthropy is a non-threatening and easy way to introduce financial discussions across generations.

6. They think you don’t really care about them as a person; perhaps only see them as an investment portfolio or a legal document.

Your clients are committed to being philanthropic and want to be smarter about their philanthropy. They want their gifts to be more effective, achieve greater impact and be aligned with, and respond to, their interests and passions. They just don’t know how to make this happen and could use some guidance from a trusted advisor.

How to Broach the Subject

If philanthropically-inclined clients want to talk about their philanthropy with their advisors and want to make sure that their philanthropy is an integrated part of their wealth planning, whose responsibility is it to bring the topic up? If an advisor waits for the client to initiate the discussion it may be too late to get the full story or fully understand what would be most helpful to the client in pursuing his or her philanthropy. But the client will talk to someone, at some point, you can bet on that.

All it takes are a few questions to open up a dialogue about a client’s philanthropy and to change the paradigm of client/advisor communication. Consider asking:

  • What issues or causes do you currently support and why?
  • What motivates your charitable giving activities? Do you want to make an impact or create or facilitate change within your community? With specific populations? Around specific issues?
  • What vehicles are you using for your charitable giving?
  • How involved are you or do you want to be, in managing your charitable giving?
  • How would you like to be remembered? What kind of “legacy” do you want to leave?
  • Do you want your giving to occur primarily during your lifetime or after your death?
  • Have you talked with anybody (advisors, family members) about how you want your wishes represented in your annual giving? In your estate plan?
  • What attracted you to the organizations you have given to thus far?
  • How often do you monitor or review your charitable gifts?

Being an active partner with a client around their charitable activities affords an amazing opportunity to build more robust relationships with all of the stakeholders; family members and the other advisors who are part of that client’s life. Being able to point a client to appropriate professional resources to help them build and manage a viable and meaningful philanthropic portfolio demonstrates a scope of knowledge and connections outside the advisor’s traditional practice. That’s far more meaningful to a client than a lot of advisors might realize.

Jackie Fuchs Yahr

And as always, The Associated’s Philanthropic Planning and Services professionals remain ready to work with you and your clients on how to incorporate charitable planning into your planning conversations and how to help maximize the financial and charitable benefits of any such planning strategies available to your clients. For more information, contact Jackie Fuchs Yahr at 410-369-9248 or jyahr@associated.org.

This is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your own legal and tax advisors.

How to Maintain Flexibility for Long-term Health
Friday, November 09, 2018

Myerberg Training

Keeping our bodies fit is crucial as we get older as it can prevent illness, may play a role in injury prevention and help us stay healthy longer. And, making sure we stay limber and flexible is a vital part of keeping our bodies fit.

“Flexibility is important for older adults,” explains Niki Barr, fitness and wellness director of the Edward A. Myerberg Center. “It helps with overall mobility.”

“Working on flexibility can help your walking and balance,” she adds. “And, those who suffer knee or hip pain can increase their range of motion by adding flexibility exercises to their routines.”

Try these easy exercise suggestions from Niki that you can do at home to improve your flexibility and mobility.

1. Ankle Mobility. In a seated position, point and flex your big toe. Lift the toe up as much as you can and do that 10 times on each foot. Another easy exercise to perform, also while in a seated position, is making a circular motion with your toes in one direction. Reverse and do the same in the other direction.

If you want to practice some standing exercises you can try calf raises. Using a chair or a balance bar, rise up on your toes. Hold this position for a couple seconds and then lower your heels back down. Then, if you’re comfortable, balance yourself on one foot and perform the same exercise.

2. Quad and Hamstring Mobility. Your quads and hamstrings are the front and backside of your thighs. A simple stretch you can do, while in a seated position, is extending one leg out and reaching out towards your toes. You should feel a stretch on the back of your thigh. This, in particular, will help with your hamstring mobility.

To work on your quad flexibility, extend your leg like before but instead of reaching for your toes, simply keep your leg extended for a few seconds before bringing it back down. Do this 10 times on each leg.

3. Hip Mobility. This is another exercise you can perform while seated. Cross one of your legs over so that the ankle is above your other knee and hold that stretch. If you have more flexibility in the hip, keep your back straight and lean your chest forward until you feel a stretch in your hip.

If you want to try another stretch, sit with your knees spread wide apart. Keeping your back straight, lean forward until you feel a stretch on your inner thigh. You can hold this stretch for about 30 seconds.

4. Torso Mobility. The spine is meant to move in many ways. Over time, we sometimes lose the ability to move it in certain ways, in particular twisting it from side to side. Thankfully there are some easy exercises you can do to loosen up the spine.

Raise one of your arms over your head. You should feel a stretch going down your side. Hold this pose for about 30 seconds before switching to your other arm.

You can also use the arm of the chair. While in a seated position, twist yourself as far as you can. Hold for about 30 seconds before turning to the other side.

5. Shoulder and Upper Back Mobility. Shoulder rolls are an easy and simple way to work on your flexibility in that area. Roll your shoulders up towards your ear and then back. You can do this about 10 times before you should reverse, rolling the shoulders up towards your ear and then forward.

If you’re finishing up physical therapy on a shoulder, stand close to a wall and walk your hand slowly up the wall. Make sure you do not cause yourself any pain. While walking your hand up the wall, if you feel any pain, stop there and slowly walk your hand back down the wall. Otherwise, hold this pose after you walk your hand up the wall for a few seconds before walking it back down.

If you’re looking for more information on how you can gain flexibility and mobility, stop by the Edward A. Myerberg Center’s Fitness Center.

The 2018 Kolker Fellow Itamar Ben-Hur Comes to Baltimore
Friday, November 09, 2018

Itamar

Last month, I had the pleasure of traveling to Baltimore as a Kolker Fellow, a professional exchange program between The Associated and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), funded by the Kolker-Saxon-Hallock Foundation in honor of Jon Kolker’s presidency at the JDC. As a CFO for JDC-Ashalim, which supports at-risk children and young adults in Israel, I looked forward to gaining insight into the federation world – and their connection to our organization’s work.

Prior to coming, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yet after my week in Baltimore, I had a sense of the strength of the Baltimore federation, some parallels between our two organizations and some surprising lessons I hoped to take back.

During my week in Baltimore, I visited several of The Associated’s agencies, including CHAI, Jewish Community Services, the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Baltimore Jewish Council. I was particularly interested with the work that CHAI was doing, including its work with the non-Jewish sector – building relationships between Jewish and non-Jewish residents and supporting all homeowners in order to create strong, healthy communities.

During that conversation, I recognized parallels between what CHAI is doing and what JDC is doing in Israel. At the JDC-Israel, we are also looking at how to support Israel's vulnerable populations, Jewish and non-Jewish, to ensure a stronger country.

In addition, I was quite impressed with the Houdini exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, not only as an interesting exhibition on Houdini’s life, but also as a concept, focusing on popular culture as a gateway to learn about Judaism.

I also had the opportunity to speak with Jon Kolker, who shared with me the history of the relationship between the JDC and The Associated, and, in particular working with and bringing in immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

And who can forget the Lion of Judah event I attended the last night I was in Baltimore. I enjoyed listening to Janice Kaplan as she examined the science of luck and how one could create a little mazel in love, marriage and career. And I have to admit, it was kind of fun being the only man in the room that evening.

Who is a Jew? What About Israel?

Yet if you asked me the highlight of my week, I would have to say it was two conversations I had surrounding the topic, “Who is a Jew?” The first was held at a private home as a means of promoting civil discourse around the topics that divide our Jewish people.

In particular, I was intrigued with the structure of this program. Before we began, everyone was instructed about the rules – we were to listen respectively and talk without arguing. It made for a lively discussion where each person said what they wanted and no one felt judged. The respect given made everyone comfortable to say something even if others didn’t agree with it.

That conversation followed the next day with a group of teens. We tackled this the question, “Who is a Jew?” and also talked about their relationship with Israel.

The teens I met told me that Israel’s right to exist is unconditional. Even though they may criticize the country at times, it comes from a place of love. And even if they may not always agree with the Israeli government, they believe it is important to continue with the support for the Israelis who need it the most.

Jewish Baltimore and The Associated

I was so impressed with the work of The Associated, the way it grooms leaders as well as its central fundraising structure. The fact that it raises money for the entire system is incredibly smart. It ensures agencies won’t compete for dollars, unifies the community and allows for thoughtful planning for the entire Jewish community.

Meeting with The Associated professionals, I felt the passion they have for the work that they are doing on behalf of the organization.

Seeing that the entire Jewish community, from the Orthodox to the less affiliated, are truly integrated as one is a lesson that I would love to share. The Associated critical role in building community from various points of view is a testament to its strength.

As a final note – my first taste of football at Super Sunday was a huge hit. Watching the community come together at Super Sunday and the Community Watch Party was inspiring.

And I just want to say, I’m looking forward to seeing my new favorite football team, the Ravens, in the Super Bowl!

Itamar Ben-Hur, father of three, is the Finance Manager at JDC-Ashalim in Israel. A former officer in the Israel Defense Forces and commander of a field hospital, Itamar also worked in the ministry of finance and currently lectures at Hadassah College in Jerusalem.

Holiday Family Fun
Thursday, November 08, 2018

Little boy lighting the Menorah

Here are some upcoming holiday opportunities you don’t want to miss!

Jewish Community Services Toy Drive
Runs until January 4 at Jewish Community Services
Bring the joy of the holidays to some very deserving children by donating new, unwrapped toys, books and crafts for children of all ages, or gift cards of $10 or less from stores like Target or Walmart.

Hands on Holidays
Various times and locations
Celebrate Chanukah with the JCC, with free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5K
December 2, 7:30 a.m. at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
Race to the finish for a steaming cup of hot cocoa! Join for the third annual Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5k, 1-Mile Fun Run & Family Fun Day.

Chanukah at Foundry Row
December 2, 11:00 a.m. at Wegman’s Timber Room
Music, face painting, balloon art and more!

Monument Lighting Celebration
December 6, 5:00 p.m. at The Walters Art Museum
Join PJ Library for stories and candle making to celebrate the annual lighting of the Washington Monument!

A Magical Mitzvah Day 
December 25, 10:00 a.m. at the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus
Join to create backpacks filled with school supplies (and homemade stress balls!) to support the Esperanza Center, a Baltimore-based organization whose mission is to welcome immigrants by offering hope, compassionate services, and the power to improve their lives.

Eat Your Way Through Jewish Baltimore
Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Couple eating

Calling all foodies! We hope you love chocolate because we have a treat for you. Learn about the History of the Jews and Chocolate or join the community in a Hot Chocolate 5K which, yes, ends with a steaming cup of hot cocoa. If chocolate is not your thing you can check out the Great Jewish Bake Off filled with tastings, baking and activities for the whole family. These are events you won’t want to miss!

History of the Jews and Chocolate – November 18, 1:00 p.m. at the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus. Join award-winning cookbook author Shelia Kaufman as she explores the history of Jews and chocolate while also imparting her expert knowledge of using chocolate in the kitchen. Tickets to this event include Museum Admission.

Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5K – December 2, 7:30 a.m. at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC. Race to the finish for a steaming cup of hot cocoa! Join the JCC and Hadassah for the third annual Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5k, 1-Mile Fun Run & Family Fun Day.

The Great Jewish Bake Off! – December 2, 1:00 p.m. at the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus. Enjoy a day dedicated to baking, with tastings, tips from professionals and the announcement of Maryland’s greatest baked treat. We’ll also have hands-on activities for the family!

Every Legacy Begins with a Dream
Monday, November 05, 2018

Hurwitz Family

It is my privilege to be Chair of Philanthropic Planning and Services at The Associated. For years I have been intimately involved in the innermost workings of The Associated in many roles including Chair of the Board and at a national level with Jewish Federations of North America. And yet, in some ways, I find my current position to be my greatest challenge yet.

I am so grateful to be able to spread the message about the importance of creating a legacy for The Associated. Planning your legacy allows you to dream “what if.” What if you could continue to make an impact on life in Jewish Baltimore long after your lifetime? What if you could find a way to help The Associated build the foundation that it needs to respond to ever-changing and growing needs in the community as they emerge? What if we can perpetuate this beautiful Jewish community for generations to come just like we were fortunate to indulge in it? How can we not sustain our passion and purpose in The Associated when we have cared so much during our life time?

The legacies of those who came before us have enabled us to build community centers for all Jews to come together to learn, play and grow. Legacies have helped us launch leadership programs that benefit any Jewish organization. Legacies ensure that the world we leave behind to our children and future generations will be rich in spirit and in resources to help our descendants and our community to grow together imbued in Jewish values and vibrant life. And, most importantly and fundamental to our core mission, legacies ensure that we will always be there to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our Jewish community in Baltimore, Israel and around the world – forever.

Every legacy begins with a dream. At The Associated, we pride ourselves on being available to answer your questions about charitable planning. Our experienced dedicated professional staff can help you along your philanthropic journey. Please feel free to call on any one of them to help shape your legacy. Thank you for all you have done and all that you will do in the future.

With much appreciation and admiration,
Linda A. Hurwitz, Chair, Philanthropic and Planning Services

Contact Philanthropic Planning and Services about planning your legacy.

Phone 410-369-9288 | associated.org/philanthropy

Give Charitably and Save With the New Tax Laws
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Family walking through woods

 

By Jackie Fuchs Yahr, Director of Charitable Planning, The Associated

As we say goodbye to summer and usher in the cooler months, we begin to make plans for the rest of the year and, specifically, what that means for year-end. This change not only represents the passing of time, but it also signifies a new era of planning. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is now more than halfway through its first year and represents the largest change to the income tax laws in thirty years. Its overall impact on the economy is yet to be determined but as we approach year-end, many will be focused on the impact on charitable giving and on the charities that benefit from it.

The major concern about TCJA for many has been the increase to the personal exemption coupled with the state and local income taxes limitations which effectively eliminates the ability for most taxpayers to itemize their deductions. Not being able to itemize means that most charitable gifts will no longer be income tax deductible for many more taxpayers. If you have always itemized but won’t be this year for the first time, what can you do to still save on income taxes?

3 Solutions for Tax Savings

Three solutions present themselves which will allow you to continue to save on taxes and give at the same levels.

1. Bunching and the Donor Advised Fund (DAF). First, “bunch” deductions by making three or four years of gifts in one year. Under the new tax law, a gift of $10,000 would not allow a married taxpayer to deduct the gift. Instead, give $30,000 to a donor advised fund (DAF) and use it to distribute the funds over the next three years. Same money, same amount of giving, just timed differently. And by transferring low-basis, appreciated assets such as publicly traded stock, the benefits to this type of gift are enhanced. Since state income taxes are now limited to $10,000, the effect of state tax on the capital gains rate on non-itemizers has essentially raised the cost of selling appreciated assets. Giving them to charity with no tax makes more sense than ever.

2. IRA Charitable Rollover. If you are 70 ½ or older, the IRA charitable rollover is the smartest way to be giving. All charitable dollars that you give should come directly from your IRA instead of taking your required minimum distribution (“RMD”) and writing a separate check from your personal bank accounts. Most investment companies are even giving designated “checkbooks” to those individuals who rollover their RMD to charities, which allow de-facto check writing from your IRA account to the charities that you support. For those who do not itemize and even for those who do, it is the simplest way to reduce your taxable income and continue to give to charity.

3. Life Income Plans. Third, is that the use of almost any of the common life income planned gifts has now become more and more appealing. Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Gift Annuities and other gifts can all create a large, charitable income tax deduction and even increase your current income. While some of these gifts may be complex, some like charitable gift annuities are easy to establish.

Don’t Wait! Waiting until the end of the year to make gifts has been the norm. Perhaps the new law will help change that. There are many opportunities to make giving part of the narrative; it may just need to be more thoughtful and happen a little earlier.

The Associated’s Philanthropic Planning and Services professionals remain ready to work with you and your advisors on how to incorporate charitable planning into your year-end planning conversations and how to help maximize the financial and charitable benefits of any such planning strategies available to you.

For more information, contact Jackie Fuchs Yahr at 410-369-9248 or jyahr@associated.org.

This is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your own legal and tax advisors.

Seven Ways to Make an Impact on #GivingTuesday
Monday, October 29, 2018

Super Sunday at Ravens Stadium

#GivingTuesday. The global day of giving, which occurs annually the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a wonderful opportunity to help those in need. As this day of giving has grown in popularity, so are the number of ways you can show your support. We’re here to give you seven ideas on how you can make an impact on November 27.

Be a #ChangeMaker. Each one of us can make a difference. And just how little acts of kindness add up to a whole lot, so can the loose change in your pocket! Check under those couch cushions and don’t forget to look in that winter coat you haven’t worn since last year. The Associated will have drop-off locations throughout the community where you can donate your spare change. While you’re at it, take a selfie with your change with the hashtag #ChangeMaker and spread the word on social media! Learn more here.

Round Up. Don’t carry coins? Not a problem. The Associated has an app where you can round up your purchases to the nearest dollar, turning that latte or sandwich into a little something extra. It’s a simple way to give, not just on #GivingTuesday, but all year long. To learn more about the app and to sign up you can click here.

Live With Purpose. Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), an agency of The Associated, creates monthly volunteer opportunities that are fun and easy to do. Often serving as a fun activity to share with friends and family, Live with Purpose is a unique way to give back, especially for those with busy schedules. For November, the JVC will be hosting their annual Thanksgiving Casserole Challenge, inviting participants to challenge their friends to make as many casseroles as possible. All Casseroles will be donated to support families and individuals in need.

Take the Call. On November 27, The Associated will be reaching out to the Jewish community to collect critical dollars. Your generous gift will help us continue our mission of supporting and growing our community. If you are interested in volunteering for the event you can sign up here. Or, you can donate online at associated.org/givingtuesday.

Join a VolunTeam. Who says #GivingTuesday has to last for one day? The JVC also has VolunTeams, groups of volunteers geared towards a specific goal or purpose and allows for a flexible volunteer schedule. Check out their VolunTeam page to find a group that suits your needs. Don’t find a group you’re interested in? You can start your own as well!

Donate on Facebook. This #GivingTuesday, Facebook is doing something amazing and matching all donations made to non-profits via their platform. On the morning of #GivingTuesday, there will be a button on our main Facebook page where you will be able to donate and have your contribution matched by Facebook! You can also set up a fundraiser on your own page that day! All Facebook fundraisers created for The Associated on November 27 will be eligible for the match.

Post an UNselfie. Everyone has heard of the selfie. But what about the #UNselfie? Wherever you are, whatever you are doing for #GivingTuesday, take a picture of yourself with the hashtag #UNselfie to spread the word about what you are doing or why you are giving. It’s a great way to get your other friends involved and to spread the word!

Meet Mike Durst
Monday, October 29, 2018

Mike Durst

Mike Durst has always believed strongly in giving back to the community. So, when he moved back to Baltimore after college, he decided to get involved in The Associated. Through IMPACT, its young adult division, Mike is co-hosting the CHAT program, a series of seven sessions that allow young professionals to meet new people and explore new opportunities.

As part of CHAT, Mike and three other hosts will hold sessions at their homes. Those who attend are invited to other community events geared towards young adults. We talked to Mike about this program, and about his interest in helping others.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Right now, I’m a commercial real estate broker in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m from Harford County. My mother’s Jewish and my dad is Christian. I ended up going to Loyola Blakefield for high school. I had an interesting upbringing but was always brought up Jewish. I also attended Tulane University which has a large Jewish representation. I’ve always been proud of my Jewish identity.

How did you find out about The Associated?

I initially heard about The Associated through their Real Estate Industry Group (REIG). I met with a member of the group who told me about some of the other events in which I might be interested. And now I’m one of this year’s CHAT hosts.

You jumped in to the deep end then.

Yes, I did. And I feel good about that. I’ve always liked to be a leader. I think I could add some value there.

Do you have any advice for those who may be afraid to take that leap?

I think I come from a good place here, because in college I wasn’t involved in too many extracurriculars. But what I’ve learned from my experiences since then is that when you push yourself to do something and stick to it, you’re going to find something that you didn’t really know about yourself. When you break routine, you find a little bit of magic in your life. I think it inspires you, and it’s 100% worth it.

How do you think your role as a businessman has affected your volunteerism?

Tulane was really big about giving back, especially after Hurricane Katrina. Before that I was involved with something called Appalachia Service Project which helped those in the Appalachian region maintain their houses.

What’s great about service is that you get to see a lot. Sometimes people, I think, lose sight of the troubles in the world. When you expose yourself to different cultures and different people, you realize how good you might have it and how others might really need help. It’s really fulfilling to help someone and see the effects it has.

Is there anything you’d like to say to young adults interested in CHAT?

We’re fun people. If anyone is hesitant about feeling welcome or that the sessions are going to be stale, we are going to make it fun, and you’re going to develop some friends for life.

Is there someone you admire or who inspires you?

That would be my grandfather on my mother’s side. He was an entrepreneur who owned book and card stores. He started by owning a newspaper stand in the heart of Baltimore City at North and Linden and parlayed the idea into book and card stores. He eventually owned 13 stores at various malls in over 6 states.

He was always a hustler and a hard worker. This made me want to follow in his footsteps.  I love business in general, and a lot of that allows me to connect to a lot of people. My mother tells me my grandfather was exactly the same way.

Favorite Jewish Holiday?

I think Chanukah would be the easy answer. But I do like Yom Kippur because it lets you reflect on the year. You start fresh.

Who Knew that Houdini was Jewish?
Monday, October 29, 2018

Jewish Museum of Maryland

By Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland

In September 2017, the Houdini exhibit team met for the first time. By the time we got together we all were aware that Harry Houdini (a.k.a. Ehrich Weiss) was the Hungarian-born son of an immigrant rabbi. Still I felt I needed to sheepishly raise my hand and ask David London, our curator, "in his own lifetime did anyone know Houdini was Jewish?"

But David assured me that there were plenty of people who knew Houdini's cultural and religious identity – and over the course of the next 10 months he produced the evidence.

Raised Jewish

Early on, the exhibit had a motto "Ehrich Weiss was born...Harry Houdini was invented." We believe we've created the first exhibit that gives equal time to Ehrich/Harry's 26 years of struggle in the 19th century and his 26 years of fame and fortune in the 20th.

This naturally meant a fair amount of research into his childhood and his father, Mayer Samuel Weisz. We were fortunate to be able to benefit from some recent research by scholar David Saltman.

Many doubted that Rabbi Weisz was ever ordained, but Saltman located a copy of his ordination papers in Milwaukee. When the family moved to Appleton, WI, where Weiss (name spelling changed after immigration) served as the community's first rabbi, we know that Ehrich attended his father's Sunday School lessons.

Just before the new synagogue building was finished, the congregation fired Rabbi Weiss and he moved his family to Milwaukee to seek work. The next few years were among the toughest in young Ehrich's life. At age 12, he ran away from home.

Upon learning that his father moved on to New York, Ehrich joined him. Taking odd jobs as a messenger boy, newspaper boy, and working alongside his dad in the necktie factory, he did what he could to help sustain his family.

Rabbi Drachman of Zichron Ephraim (today's Park East Synagogue) saw what dire straits the family was in and offered to provide aide. A proud Rabbi Weiss refused charity but agreed to sell a large collection of Hebrew books to Drachman. Years after his father's death, a now-successful Harry Houdini made a significant contribution to the synagogue to redeem his father's books.

Drachman would later write that although "Houdini's attainments in Hebrew were extremely weak... he desired to obtain the Code of Maimonides out of filial devotion to his father's memory." Rabbi Drachman was familiar with Houdini's "attainments" as he trained him to become a bar mitzvah at age 16.

After experimenting with a magic act at the Young Men's Hebrew Association, Ehrich and fellow tie cutter Jack Hyman quit their jobs to create an act they performed in the neighborhood and later, at Coney Island, under the name Brothers Houdini. Here they meet a singing group called the Floral Sisters.

Houdini fell in love with one of the young ladies, Wilhemina Beatrice Rahner (Bess), and they married within three weeks. Bess was German Catholic and her mother refused to accept her marriage to this poor Jewish magician. Harry's mother, Cecilia, however was fond of Bess and they lived in the same household for much of her remaining years.

Later Connections

There are hints of Houdini's Jewish identity throughout his career. Some are subtle - when he becomes an escape artist, his performance contracts often insisted that there be 18 chairs on the stage in performing his death-defying stunts.

Some are overt – during WWI he formed a relief fundraising agency called Sons of Rabbis Theatrical Benevolent Association. Houdini was president, Al Jolson was first vice president and Sgt. Irving Berlin was second vice president.

His Jewishness not only affected what he did, but what he didn't do. According to Houdini his performances in Russia so impressed the Czar and Czarina that they thought him to be a powerful sorcerer.

They offered him a position at court, possibly replacing Rasputin (this was at least one instance in Houdini's life when he disguised the fact that he was Jewish – having arrived in Russia just three weeks after the Kishinev pogrom). Later in life Houdini suggested that if he had taken the gig he might have been able to prevent Russia's fall into Bolshevism.

Houdini's last act, his efforts to expose the hundreds of fake mediums who had established themselves after WWI, may also have been an expression of his Jewish influence. Harry’s “crusade” began after an encounter with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a big proponent of Spiritualism. Sir Arthur’s wife was a medium and offered to put Harry in contact with his late mother, Cecilia Weiss. When she began her message by drawing a cross and continued in perfect English, Harry knew Lady Doyle was a fraud.

As Bess put it in a 1933 interview: “Harry was religious. He believed in the Jewish religion and an afterlife where we would all be together. He did not believe in spirit messages though he had an open mind and was willing to believe, as I am if he could be given proof.”

Between 1922 and his death in 1926, Harry devoted a substantial amount of time, on-stage and off, to debunking Spiritualist practitioners. Particularly dramatic was his testimony before Congress on an “anti-fortune telling” bill introduced by Congressman Sol Bloom (D-NY) In responde to Harry’s denunciations, one medium was quoted as saying “…2,000 years ago Judas betrayed Christ. He was a Jew, and I want to say that this bill is being put through by two – well you can use your own opinion. I am not making any assertion.”

This was one of many answers to the question, “did anyone know Houdini was Jewish?”

In Memory

Harry passed away on Halloween and every year seances are held on the anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death on the secular calendar. And each year on Houdini’s actual yahrzeit, there is gathering of Jewish magicians at his grave at Machpelah Cemetery?

They perform something called the “broken wand” ceremony, honoring the magic that left this world when Houdini died – one final tie between Houdini and his Jewish roots.

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini runs through January 21, 2019 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, which is supported by The Associated.

Message from Marc Terrill on the Pittsburgh Synagogue Tragedy
Sunday, October 28, 2018

Marc Terrill

Shocking, surreal, tragic and yet believable. How incredibly sad that we are at this place.

I was married in Pittsburgh, my wife is a Pittsburgher and I have a number of people whom I love deeply that live in that wonderful Jewish community and city. In speaking to my in-laws yesterday, I discovered that my wife's two cousins were among those killed in this senseless act of violence. The devastation and grief are beyond words. The pain and suffering will take a lifetime to reconcile and may never occur. How incredibly sad that we are at this place.

I also learned that my dear friend of 30 years was holed up in the JCC where the facility was in lockdown. Just 1,000 feet away, the carnage in the Tree of Life Synagogue, where he and his wife were married decades earlier, still an active crime scene. Unthinkable devastation. Lives lost, families destroyed. How incredibly sad that we are at this place.

It's been a surreal, tragic and yet believable week. The news has been dominated by hatred and intolerance. So sad that we are at this place. Such a common refrain.

Yet, there has been an outpouring of goodwill and human kindness. Good must triumph over evil. This is our time to put an end to accepting this as "believable." Today, we are all Pittsburghers. Today, we must resolve to speak up in all ways we can as Jews, Americans and people who value civility.

These times are not good times, and we all must resolve to act as if our lives depend on it. We must be individually and collectively committed to making the believable, unbelievable.

I encourage every person in our incredible Jewish community to attend the synagogue of their choosing as we mark a Shabbat of Solidarity this coming Shabbat. Let us pray for those who are forever changed due to acts of hate and violence. Let us pray for our country to embrace love over hate.

May we live our strongly-held Jewish values of making the world a better tomorrow because of what we did today.

With love, 

Marc Terrill

Meet Matthew Klatsky
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Matthew Klatsky

Giving back to the community is important for Matthew Klatsky and his wife, Lindsay. The couple has been heavily involved in Jewish Baltimore since settling in Baltimore 10 years ago. Recently, Matthew has been bringing his passion and focus to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore to help guide families on charitable funding.

Tell me a little about yourself and what you do. I am originally from New Jersey and went to University of Maryland. Following college, my wife and I lived in Manhattan for about ten years until we moved here to raise our two children, Jordan (11) and Madison (8).

My team, The Frank and Klatsky Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, is run by my partner, David Frank, and myself. I am a wealth manager and my focus is on generational preservation and transfer of wealth.

What brought you to The Associated? When we moved to Maryland, The Associated was an immediate outlet for my family both professionally and personally as we were getting involved in the community. I got more and more involved and I haven’t looked back since.

Recently my focus has been via donor-advised funds. The donor-advised funds have been an area for me to be help people realize efficiency in their charitable giving.

I understand you went on the Men’s Mission to Israel last March. I had never been to Israel before, but knew it was a great group of people and an experience that I could not pass up. It wasn’t your typical Israel trip. We did a lot of volunteer work, such as picking produce at a farm which donates all the harvested food to Project Leket, the National Food Bank in Israel.

In Tel Aviv we met Hagal Sheli which is funded via a grant from The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). They run a program to help disadvantaged teens living on the streets. The program uses surfing as a vehicle for personal growth and advancement. We spent the day with the organization and surfed with the teens and learned how the program is helping them to make a difference in their community.

We also spent an entire day in Ashkelon, our sister city. While we saw a lot, there is still so much more to see and I know it won’t take me 41 years to return.

What do you think is the value to giving back? I think giving back to the community should encompass both time and money and one does not have to be greater than the other. It also depends on what resources you have and where your passions strike a chord. For me, giving back is helping in both of those avenues.

What strikes a chord with you? My passion towards The Associated is my admiration of how efficient they are in helping large and small both inside and outside the Jewish community.

Financial advising, what do you enjoy about it? For me there is nothing more rewarding than sitting down with a family and helping them uncover unfound paths of efficiencies in their life. It is very rewarding to know that we have a really good grasp on all that’s going on in their lives and knowing that their financial future will be secure.

I try to provide our clients the advice which they deserve. I think that’s a powerful statement. I also know that everybody has the same end-game goal, which is retirement. I tell my clients “I’m only telling you to retire because I have confidence that you are not going to have to change your lifestyle or go back to work.”

What makes you recommend people to The Associated? When you use The Associated’s donor-advised funds and charitable gifting channels, you are getting more than just a vehicle to help you accomplish your charitable needs. You’re also getting a lot of expertise and thought leadership. The Associated is there to help support your family in deciding how best to spread that capital and that doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Through The Associated you may find areas that are in need of money and your services. The Associated helps families find new avenues that will make a difference in this world.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? In the summer I enjoy playing golf & sailing. In the winter I spend time with my family and enjoy snowboard with my children. My wife and I love to travel with our family and experience the world.

What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to? I’d have to say Manhattan. That’s the default answer for my family. But as long as my unit of four is with me, I’m happy.

Join Matthew and other planned giving professionals at our next Planned Giving Round Table program. Click here for more details.

Jessica Fink is Connecting Jewish Baltimore
Thursday, October 25, 2018

jessica fink and family

Growing up, Jessica Fink never expected to find herself living in a strong Jewish community where she would readily embrace her Jewish identity. After all, as a young child in San Diego, she was the only Jewish person in her elementary school. Synagogue was a half hour away.

Even after the family moved to South Florida, Jessica recalls she didn’t have Jewish friends. It wasn’t until she went to college, then moved to Baltimore, that she began to develop a Jewish network.

Today, as a parent of two young children, Jessica and her husband, Steve, are fully ingrained in Jewish community – participating in weekly Shabbat meals with family friends and sending their kids to Jewish schools. And in some ways, Jessica points to her role as a community connector for The Associated’s Macks Center of Jewish Education (CJE), in part, for making that happen.

It was while she was pregnant with her second child and taking time off from her job at a local Jewish day school that she received a call from CJE about being a connector.

She agreed and soon found herself bringing together other young Jewish families in the Pikesville area through creative Jewish programming, volunteer projects and social events.

During Winter Fun Days in December, she, along with fellow connector Carly Greenberg, organized puppet shows, story times and music, all with a Jewish theme. She worked with Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) to create a service project for kids in a local hospital.

One of the great parts of being a connector, says Jessica, is helping Jewish families find the resources and programs that ultimately will enrich their lives. She has connected people to Jewish schools and helped families access Associated programs, including special needs educational support through SHEMESH, volunteer opportunities through JVC, PJ Library through CJE and Israel opportunities through The Associated.

“I’m tapping into an unmet need,” she says.

As for the connector program, it’s had a huge impact on Jessica and her family.

“Today, my family is participating in Jewish life in ways I felt I missed out on,” Jessica says. “We’ve started incorporating Jewish rituals and holidays into our home. Our kids go to Jewish day school and our monthly Shabbat dinners with my husband’s high school friends is a chance for us to get together with and bring Judaism into our homes and into our social circles.

“If I wasn’t a connector I don’t think I would have met so many Jewish families. It’s made me feel like I am part of the Baltimore Jewish community.”

How Social Media Can Save a Life
Friday, October 19, 2018

Girl crying

By Susan Kurlander, M.Ed.
Health educator for Jewish Community Services Prevention Education

Married with children or seeking a long- term relationship, established in a career or considering a career change, enjoying where you live or thinking about a geographic change – young people in their late 20s and 30s often find themselves faced with so many life-changing decisions. No matter where they are, social media, most likely, plays an important role in how they connect with their immediate world as well as the world at large.

Often what is posted is positive – the new job, the marriage, the move. Although social media is most often used to share positive experiences, sometimes people turn to it as a call for help.

That call for help can often preclude thoughts of suicide.

“Suicide is preventable, social media is one channel for monitoring that,” explains Carl Hanson, Ph.D., MCHES, Director of the Master’s in Public Health program and an associate professor in the department of Health Sciences at Brigham Young University. Dr. Hanson contends that people rarely say, “I am going to kill myself.”

Instead, they may post troubling comments such as:

“I’ve never felt so depressed.”

“I don’t think I can handle one more thing in my life.”

“I feel like no one in the world understands me.”

“People always have to fix my mistakes.”

“Everyone would be better off if I weren’t here.”

What do we do if troubling comments from friends show up in our newsfeed? What or how are we supposed to think? To act? To do?

Of course, we always have the option of discounting the post and ignoring what appears to be a plea for sympathy or connection. But given the seriousness of suicide, can we choose to be that one channel for monitoring and perhaps even saving a life?

The first thing to do is assess the situation. Ask yourself:

How well do I know this person?

Has this person faced any life changes recently?

Has this person posted similar comments in the past?

Is this a pattern of behavior?

Am I able to evaluate this person’s mental health situation?

Does this person have a support system in place?

Should you decide that you do want to respond to someone’s post, here are some suggestions:

* Talk with someone else about what you’ve read to see if their perception is similar to yours

* Acknowledge or paraphrase what you’ve read to the writer to make sure you’re not misunderstanding the meaning of the post

* Offer possible resources for professional help. The JCS website offers resources for those experiencing mental and emotional health issues.

It’s hard to get inside someone’s head when you’re sitting on the other side of the screen. As difficult as it may be to assess someone’s situation as communicated on social media, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Jewish tradition tells us that by saving one life, it’s as if we were saving the whole world. Responding to a post that indicates feelings of hopelessness, purposelessness or suicide may be saving that one life. It’s using social media in the most positive way.

JCS, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.

Weekend Family Fall Fun
Friday, October 05, 2018

Woman and Child

Weekends are a great time to spend with the family. Here are some upcoming opportunities you don’t want to miss!

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Box Series: Dinosaurs – November 4 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts. Your child will explore music through these highly engaging and interactive performances by a small ensemble of BSO musicians.

Kol Echad: Inclusive Shabbat – November 10 at Beth Israel Congregation. An inclusive Shabbat service for children of ALL abilities. Each monthly service features a hands-on, multisensory experience in a sensory-friendly setting.

Story Pirates – November 11 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts. The Story Pirates don’t steal gold, pillage villages, or claim land; they’re searching for a different kind of treasure: kid’s wildest, most imaginative stories.

Cirque-tacular – November 25 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts. Aerial and ground performers including World Record Holders, Olympians and Grand Circus Champions, put on a show of mind-boggling artistry and athleticism.

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini – Through January 21 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus. Explore the creation of Houdini while investigating the technologies, marketing prowess and entertainment trends that transformed him into a superstar.

Turning a Page on a New Chapter in Life
Friday, October 05, 2018

Nina Rosenzwog

As a country, we are growing older each year. Longer lifespans, coupled with lower birthrates in recent years, have yielded a population that has almost as many people over age 85 as under age 5.

America’s over-60 population has grown in the last six years and that trend is expected to continue. In 2012, less than 20 percent of the U.S. population was over 60 years old. But by 2050, people over age 60 are expected to account for 25-29 percent of the U.S. population. Jane Fonda, who has written about how to better live what she calls "the critical years from 45 and 50, and especially from 60 and beyond,” delivered a very popular TED Talk about life’s third act: which she defined as the last three decades of our life.

In addition to demonstrating the insights she gained from her own life journey and research on aging for her book, Prime Time, Jane compellingly shares her belief that our third act is an opportunity to “finish up the task of finishing ourselves. “

She also suggested a paradigm shift – seeing age as more of a staircase than an arch, on which we can move upward toward “wisdom, wholeness and authenticity.”

That’s where Chapter Three comes in. Our goal is to provide meaningful social and educational opportunities for women ages 60 and over. In Associated Women, there are hundreds of women in this age cohort who have been long-time volunteers and leaders, who have much to give and more to learn in our community.

(We are drawing on some of the key elements of our transformative Chapter Two leadership program which has engaged hundreds of younger women in The Associated system since its inception in 2009.)

For every woman who is already known to us, there are clearly hundreds more who have not been involved with Associated Women previously. For all of them, we are creating this new program to provide women access to interesting speakers, experts from our community and beyond, addressing topics relevant to their lives, in an intimate setting of their peers. We will also explore the central role that women, as both wealth generators and inheritors, play in making philanthropic decisions for themselves and their families.

This is an opportunity for women to build something special together and to reach out to their contemporaries and invite them to become part of Associated Women.

If you want to get involved with women in our community who are vibrant, smart, interested and interesting, please contact me at nrosenzwog@associated.org. I’d love to count you among Associated Women and our Chapter Three family.

Dishing it Up with Leslie Schaller and Randi Settleman
Friday, October 05, 2018

 

Leslie Schaller and Randi Settleman

Leslie Schaller and Randi Settleman admit they may not love to cook, but when it comes to food, they are definitely connoisseurs. It’s one of the reasons the sisters, who work side-by-side at their family-owned business, Bond Distributing, couldn’t wait to co-chair this fall’s biggest culinary event featuring five of the nation’s most prominent Jewish chefs.

The Associated’s Keynote: A Culinary Experience will feature Michael Solomonov, the James Beard award-winning executive chef of Zahav in Philadelphia, Pati Jinich, host of the PBS show, Pati’s Mexican Table, Molly Yeh, Food Network star of Girl Meets Farm, and Yehuda Sichel, Baltimore-born executive chef at Abe Fisher. Guests will enjoy kosher renditions of their recipes and participate in a discussion led by cookbook author Joan Nathan.

Why did you get involved?

Leslie: When they brought this idea to me, I thought it was perfect. I love the idea of incorporating good food and good beer with a good cause.

Randi: This year’s Keynote is out of the ordinary. I think food appeals to everyone.

Leslie: Food is so central to our Jewish identity. What makes this event unique is that we are showcasing culinary talents who are Jewish. They will talk about how their Jewish upbringing inspired them and helped bring their cooking to life.

How does food intersect with Judaism in your home?

Randi: It seems like whenever we celebrate Jewish holidays there is always great food that we bond over.

Have you eaten at Zahav?

Leslie: My husband Joe and I were lucky enough to dine at Zahav. Not only did we eat from his tasting menu – I tried the short ribs which he is making for the event – but I met him and he told me how excited he was to be part of our evening.

What’s it like co-chairing with your sister?

Leslie: We are used to collaborating at work and Keynote will be a labor of love.

Randi: It’s awesome to go to work every day with my best friend.

 

Why The Associated?

Leslie: It was important to my parents that Randi and I understood the value of giving back and incorporating our Jewish identity in every phase of our lives. Over the years, I’ve hosted several Associated events and even had the special experience of traveling on The Associated family mission to Israel.

I know that growing up in Baltimore’s tight-knit Jewish community, it’s sometimes lost on the Jewish population how small the greater, worldwide Jewish population is and how much they need us. There are Jews in our own backyard who need our help.

Randi: Jewish people need to take care of one another. I feel we can only rely on our own. We must support The Associated so we can all thrive together.

If you could have dinner with anyone who would that be?

Randi: My grandparents. I want to experience the mutual joy of their meeting my children and discussing the success of our family business over the last 40 years.

Leslie: I couldn’t agree more with Randi’s answer and would only, at this point, add my father. We miss him terribly and as ‘an eater,’ Keynote this year would undoubtedly be his all-time favorite Associated event.

Keynote will be held on Nov. 13. For more information, go to associated.org/keynote.

This story originally appeared in the October issue of  JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

4 Ways to Experience Israel in the Baltimore Community
Thursday, October 04, 2018

Falafel

You don’t have to fly all the way to Israel in order to experience traditional Israeli cuisine and culture. Here are a few suggestions on how to stay connected to Israel right here at home!

Israeli Dance Classes with Rikud Baltimore
Rikud Baltimore is a weekly, co-ed Israeli dance class similar to those found in Israel and around the world. It meets on Wednesday nights, 7-10 PM, in the Main Auditorium of Beth Tfiloh Congregation.

Buy for Good
Shop at Buy for Good, an online store for social impact products made in Israel. All products are made by adults and children with disabilities or underprivileged communities in Israel through educational and vocational programs.

Eating Falafel at Eden Café
Craving this popular Israeli street food? Falafel, a mixture made from chickpeas and other ingredients, is often shaped into balls, deep-fried and served wrapped in a hollow pita shell. Eden Café at the Park Heights JCC is just the place to go to treat yourself to this classic dish.

Listening to Israeli Music
The Maccabeats, an American Orthodox Jewish all-male a cappella group, will perform an eclectic array of Jewish, American and Israeli songs on December 9 at The Gordon Center. Don’t feel like waiting to enjoy Israeli music? Stream these popular artists on your favorite free music sites like Pandora and Spotify - The Idan Raichel Project, Sarit Hadad, Itzahak Perlman and Shlomi Shabat.

Meet Our EIGHT Shinshinim
Thursday, October 04, 2018

Shinshinim

For more than a decade, the Macks Center for Jewish Education, through funding allocated by The Associated and in partnership with Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), has brought two Israeli teens to Baltimore to strengthen relations between Israel and our community. This year, we are very fortunate to be one of five hubs chosen to host eight Shinshinim in an effort to deepen the personal connections between the young Israelis and the Baltimore Jewish community. We sat down and spoke to this energetic, personable group of teens and feel like we already know Yonaton, Shira, Efrat, Shani, Matania, Yael, Tomer and Bar.

Why did you decide to become a shinshin?

“It’s different for everyone, but for me, I was a counselor at a summer camp in Pennsylvania. It had a strong impact on me and I felt like I was making a difference with the children I was working with and so I wanted to do it again.” –Shani Kalmanovich, JCC

How does Jewish life in Baltimore compare to your Jewish life in Israel?

“It’s very different. I came from a religious city in Israel. Although the Orthodox host family I’m living with is similar to my family at home, you can really feel the difference in the community. In Israel, you have many more options to eat Kosher food and attend Jewish schools for example. Here you need to be very specific with your choices.” – Matania Grinvald, Ohr Chadash Academy

How do you feel you can make an impact on the children and young families in Baltimore?

“I went to shul on Rosh Hashana and one of the girls from my class ran to me to give me a hug shouting ‘Shira’ in the middle of the shul. So, I feel like the connections between us and the children is the most impactful.” – Shira Avital, Ohr Chadash Academy 

“For the kids here, Israel can be very foreign – they don’t have a real connection with Israel. We are that connection. They hear a lot of things about Israel, but they don’t actually know what is real. If we speak to them and become their friends, they will feel like they have a connection to Israel and can learn from us what it’s like to live there.” – Yael Israeli, Beth Tfiloh

Can you tell us about something you have done in Baltimore so far that you haven’t experienced before at home?

“We went to football and baseball games. It’s a different culture of sport – the game itself and the atmosphere was very different than what I am used to. I hope I have an opportunity to discover more sports that we don’t have in Israel.” – Yonatan Kantarowicz, Beth Tfiloh

How do you spend your free time here in Baltimore?

“I play basketball with my host family at the JCC. I love hiking – I’ve hiked a few times since I came here. I’m having a lot of fun.” – Tomer Sharon, KSDS

“In my free time I am trying to go as much as possible to the gym but most of the time I enjoy staying with my host family. I have one younger sister and one younger brother here. At home I am the youngest so it’s new for me to be the big brother. Every night we have a tradition with my host parents to watch a movie together.” – Bar Ling, JCC

“At home, I am the third sister out of four, my younger sister is 15. I never had a brother so here in Baltimore I have one brother and two sisters and they’re all younger than me so I hang with my host family in my free time along with my Shinshinim friends. I also did the Dillar Teen Fellows program two years ago, so I have some friends that I plan to meet up with as well.” – Efrat Menasheof, KSDS

The Macks Center for Jewish Education still has opportunities to become a host family for 2018/2019. For more information, please contact Reut Friedman at 410-735-5035 or rfriedman@cjebaltimore.org or visit cjebaltimore.org/cjeshinshinim.

Community Helps To Break The Cycle Of Domestic Violence
Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Domestic Violence

By Lauren Shaivitz, Esq., LGSW, Interim Executive Director, CHANA

For many, Rosh Hashana signifies the start of a new year and a new beginning. It is a time to reflect upon our experiences, our joys and our challenges from the previous year. More importantly, Rosh Hashana provides us with the unique opportunity to take a step back, assess our situation and make a conscious decision to stay the current course or chart a new one in search of self-improvement in the upcoming year.

For most, it is a period of optimism and hope. It is a point in time that marks the start of a new cycle in which we get to hit the reset button and work towards achieving the best possible version of ourselves. For each of us, what that looks like and feels like can be vastly different.

It is these cycles that give our lives predictability and stability. We rely on the cycles of the seasons, the moon and the dates on the calendar to ground us in our daily lives. Our journey through life is regulated by our true awareness of these cycles. We know that each day the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening, but it is up to us to determine what we do with the time in between.

The truth is that we are not all so fortunate to live under the premise that cycles promote healthy opportunities and positivity. For the 1 in 4 women who are abused by their partners, their cycle looks much different. For these individuals, the cycle is one of fear, shame and physical and emotional injury, followed by insincere apologies and unreliable promises. In fact, for those living in abusive relationships, the cycle evolves like a hurricane, viciously churning and escalating in intensity and lethality. There is no easily identifiable point in time that serves as a fresh beginning and attempts to escape from the wrath of that hurricane can prove even more risky and harmful. The cycle becomes all-consuming and for many, it seems as if there is no way out.

When one member of a community suffers, the entire community suffers. And the cycles of domestic violence that plague us, not only have a devastating impact on the victims themselves but all members of that community. The first step in the fight to eradicate domestic violence is awareness.

October is nationally recognized as domestic violence awareness month. The goal is to bring attention to the issue, educate communities, and re-assure victims they are never alone. And in our own Baltimore Jewish community, no victim ever needs to experience this journey on their own. CHANA, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, works with individuals and families to help navigate their way out of the cycle of terror and isolation. They help guide those suffering from abuse out of the storm to a safe haven and provide the support to help them rebuild amidst its destruction.

One Woman’s Brave Journey From Ethiopia to Israel
Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Dr Yarden

As a young girl growing up in a remote Ethiopian village, Dr. Yarden Fanta was not afforded the privileges and religious freedoms that are sometimes taken for granted in western democracies like Israel and the United States.

At age 11, Fanta and her family fled Ethiopia and trekked more than 450 miles across the desert toward refugee camps of Sudan. After spending a year there, she and her family were airlifted to a place she had only heard about as a young girl – Israel.

“My family always talked about coming to Jerusalem,” Fanta shares. “I never saw any pictures, but even as a young girl I imagined a better life. In Ethiopia, Jewish children couldn’t go to school, and from the time I was five years old this is all I ever wanted to do.”

Initially life in Israel wasn’t easy for Fanta and the other Ethiopian Jews. As rural villagers emigrating to a modern, technologically advanced country, Fanta often felt overwhelmed and lost.

“Coming to Israel I felt like a newborn – I had to learn everything anew, even as basic as turning on the lights. Nothing was familiar,” she says.

Fanta attended school at the age of 14, learning for the first time how to read and write. “It took a while until I felt okay, but I would tell myself that if Israel and the Jewish community around the world worked hard to bring me to Israel, now it’s my turn to make the effort,” explains Fanta.

The sense of community and her Jewish identity is what gave Fanta the strength and power to persevere and overcome tremendous obstacles. She became the first Ethiopian woman to earn a PhD in Israel and she completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Today, Fanta’s research focuses on immigrants’ adaptation and assimilation to modern societies. She also serves as a Director of Production and Partnerships at Jewish Arts Collaborative, runs a public speaking and career coach clinic and hosts a TV show called “Zoom In.”

“Through my experiences, I have learned that whatever challenges we may have, we can always ‘zoom in’ to ourselves and find our own inner GPS,” Fanta shares. “It’s what got me through all those years.”

Fanta will be sharing with teens and young adults her amazing life story of determination and resilience growing up as an immigrant in Israel as part of the Sue Glick Liebman Visiting Israel Scholar program, which is designed to educate and deepen our community’s relationship with the people and land of Israel.

To learn more and access a schedule of events visit associated.org/israelscholar.

Meet Lauren Sibel
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Lauren Sibel

For the past 6 years, Baltimore native, Lauren Sibel, attended Tulane University in Louisiana earning her Master’s Degree in social work. When she moved back to her home city, it felt a little bit like starting over.

“I had to re-involve myself in Baltimore” says Lauren who moved back in 2017, “I had been away for so long I didn’t have a sense of what was going on in the city.”

For many young professionals, entering the working world after college can prove challenging, especially for those like Lauren who pursue their education in another state. Then she discovered IMPACT, The Associated’s young adult division, which hosts programs and events that allow young adults to network and meet and mingle in an inclusive environment.

“It was an opportunity to meet other young people in the city,” says Lauren. “Going to an IMPACT event, I felt like I would already know some of the people there, which was appealing.”

Aside from providing networking opportunities, IMPACT acts as a channel through which young adults can give back to the community. Even so, some may find it difficult to find meaningful and impactful chances to give back.

Enter IMPACT’s CHAT group, or, Conversations Happening Around Town. Offering the chance to learn what’s what in Jewish Baltimore, CHAT helps young adults build leadership skills, find volunteer opportunities and more. Lauren started attending CHAT sessions last year.

“Half of the CHAT sessions are home sessions. It’s a fun, social way to have people understand more about The Associated and how they can get involved,” explains Lauren. “The other half of the sessions are attending events and experiencing firsthand what is going on in the community.”

Through CHAT, young professionals can explore a path best suited for them. Lauren, for instance, was so invested in IMPACT and CHAT that she has assumed a host role for this year’s home sessions.

“I’m definitely very excited about it. I’m happy knowing I can make someone’s transition easier as CHAT and IMPACT did for me.”

At the same time, IMPACT introduces young adults to The Associated’s agencies and programs with the idea that they will find one that fits their goals and interests.

“I thought I knew the bare minimum” says Lauren, “but I learned there were several agencies and programs I had no idea existed. I have a better understanding now.”

When Lauren isn’t volunteering with IMPACT, you can find her at her hospital’s NICU unit. While she works at the hospital fulltime as a social worker, Lauren spends time in the NICU unit cuddling infants.

Volunteering is second nature for someone like Lauren, who credits her upbringing, as well as her background in social work, as a key inspiration. Lauren’s Parents, Steve and Joy Sibel, were actively involved with the community and The Associated and remain so to this day. Lauren’s father, Steve, also served as Annual Campaign Chair in 2005.

“My parents have always been involved and so I think that’s where I get it from. They are always trying to give back,” says Lauren. “It’s something that is basically ingrained in me. Not everyone has family support or other resources, and I wonder how difficult it would be if I didn’t have that. That’s why I give back.”

A Night on the Town with The Associated
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Young adults networking

Are you a foodie? Perhaps you enjoy a good political conversation. Or maybe you would rather attend a Harry Houdini Séance! Whatever your interest may be, The Associated has something for you.

Charm City Foodies at Pitamore (October 15) The perfect culinary adventure for the Foodie in all of us. Join the Charm City Tribe at Pitamore for a little dinner, some recipe sharing and more!

Young Adult Israeli Movie Night (October 25) Laugh along with the Young Adult Israel and Overseas Committee as they watch The Wedding Plan, a hilarious Israeli romantic comedy about an Orthodox woman who’s fiancé bows out on the eve of her wedding. Refusing to cancel the wedding, she begins a quest to find a new husband in 30 days.

Charm City Beit Midrash – Building Bridges: Cultivating Empathy at The Parkway Theater (October 30) Come to The Parkway Theater for a night of conversation and learning. October’s topic will be political discourse and bringing people of different opinions together.

The Official Houdini Seance (October 31) Did you know that since Houdini’s death 92 years ago, a group of individuals have conducted seances in an attempt to communicate with the deceased musician and escape artist? This year, the Official Houdini Seance takes place right in Baltimore at the Jewish Museum of Maryland for the first time.

SYBARITE5 at the Gordon Center (November 1) Dubbed the “Millennial Kronos,” SYBARITE5’s eclectic repertoire from Bowie to Radiohead and Akiho to Assad is turning heads throughout the music world. Join them at the Gordon Center on November 1 to hear this quintet of talented musicians take the audience on an exciting ride.

Sukkot: A Spiritual Connection to our Environment
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ilana Unger

By Ilana Unger, Pearlstone JOFFEE Fellow 

As our fields are at the height of abundance and our days filled with sunshine we reach a joyful holiday, our Jewish harvest festival, Sukkot. On the full moon of Tishrei we celebrate the season’s bounty, pray for rain, rejoice in our Sukkah commemorating rituals that give us spiritual, emotional and physical sustenance.

Traditionally for seven days and seven nights people gathered in community to eat and sleep in Sukkot. It is a time for us to be connected to nature not only through the bounty of our fields but also through sleeping amongst the stars. It is a time for us to take a step back from our busy fast paced, technology filled lives and to reconnect with ourselves, our community and our natural world. I grew up not having a deep connection to Sukkot and its earth-based connection, so I am excited this year to truly immerse myself in our tradition.

As we build our Sukkah in community, we build our roof (s’khakh) of anything that grows from the ground and has not been manufactured into something new. Symbolically how our structure is built represents the connection between nature and our man-made world. Our sukkah teaches us to find comfort in the vulnerability of the natural world and to witness all its beauty. Our Sukkah connects hearts, minds and souls to the stars, rain and holy winds that breathes all life.

The Torah states: “On the first day, you shall take the first fruit of hadar (goodly) trees (an etrog or citron), branches of palm trees (lulav), boughs of leafy trees (hadassim) and myrtle, and willows of the field (aravot), and you shall rejoice before the Lord thy God seven days” (Leviticus 23:40). These four species represent the beauty and bounty of the land of Israel’s harvest. Each of these four species represent the Earth’s primary habitats (desert, mountains, lowland and river).

We wave our four species in the four directions of the wind: around us, above and below us, and inward towards us. Something very interesting is that these four species are the thirstiest plants in their bioregional zone in Israel.

Is this a coincidence? I think not! During Sukkot, we pray for rain for our next harvest season. What might this rain represent? Even the thirstiest among us should have enough. I ask you to think about what is going to sustain you for the next year? Sustain us a Jewish community? And sustain mother nature?

I invite you to take time this Sukkot think about what it means to be living in a time of global climate change and uncertainty. Let us connect to ourselves, our environment and our community. Let us rejoice in our bounty not only inwards but outwards, intentionally pray for rain and the healing of mother nature and reconnect to the basic fact that mother nature gives us all we need.

Traditionally the elements in the lulav are grown in Israel. But, you can make your own Maryland-local lulav with natural elements found right at Pearlstone, complete with cattails, wild grass, willow leaves and black walnuts. Bring your family and friends to Pearlstone on September 30 for HARVEST: Family Farm Festival and reconnect with nature this Sukkot!

Pearlstone is an Agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, located at 5425 Mt. Gilead Rd in Reisterstown, MD. At Pearlstone, you can Retreat, Farm, Learn & Celebrate! Visit us at pearlstonecenter.org.

JOFFEE (Jewish Outdoor, Food and Environmental Education) fellowship is supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation, in partnership with Pearlstone Center, Urban Adamah, and Wilderness Torah; and local funders and organizations in communities throughout North America.

Summer Camp Feels The Same After All These Years
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Jen Arman

I recently had the opportunity to go back to camp with The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping during a site visit to Camps Airy & Louise. I recall fondly spending seven summers as a camper at Camp Louise during my pre-adolescent years and I was excited to reminisce on my summertime memories spent in Cascade, MD.

As we made the drive from Baltimore to the mountains of Maryland, I instantly felt the same excitement I had all those years ago when my parents would drop me off for the summer. Initially, when I was in elementary school and attending overnight camp for the first time, my parents signed me up for a two-week session, fearful that I would be homesick if I stayed any longer – boy were they wrong! From the very first day I was hooked. I think I enjoyed myself so much that first summer that I forgot to write letters home. Needless to say, for the next six years, my parents agreed to send me for four weeks.

The memories came flooding back as we pulled into camp and saw the familiar “White House”. Though the physical appearance has certainly changed – (it’s no longer scary and haunted looking) – the memories of warmth and kindness resurfaced for me. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to hear the sounds of staff members and counselors cheering and clapping, welcoming me to camp on move-in day.

As we toured the property, I remembered things about camp that made me smile. I loved celebrating Shabbat in the solarium…everyone was dressed in white and the atmosphere was magical. Folk dancing was one of my favorite Shabbat activities (I even did a folk dance with my camp friends at my Bat-Mitzvah) and seeing that campers are still doing those same dances 10+ years later was so meaningful for me. Each summer was a new discovery…I used to love the arts and crafts projects we did…creating necklaces and keychains in the copper studio and learning how to make new foods in cooking.

Although I didn’t realize this at the time, I grew up a lot over those summers. I learned how to be independent and live without my parents. I organized my own laundry, cleaned my bunk, and managed my day-to-day activities. Camp connected me to Jewish culture and tradition, introduced me to new friends, new skills, new experiences, and so much more. Camp helped prepare me for college and living on my own.

I noticed many upgrades throughout camp that day – a slide replaced the diving boards that I used to jump off and air conditioning has since been added to keep campers cool. In the familiar dining hall, food is now served buffet style instead of with wait staff, but it was clear to me that the friendships and bonds that I made all those summers ago still exist in the highest form.

The life-long connections I made with fellow campers has lasted all these years. I have traveled throughout the northeast to attend friends simchas and family events and they in turn have shared in mine. I remember my parents surprising me with a Sweet 16 party and all my camp friends showed up. And even today, thanks to the help of social media, I am still in touch with many of them as we embark on yet another phase of our lives.

When I got home from the incredible tour that day, I told my boyfriend, Jake, that I planned on sending our future kids to Camp Airy and Camp Louise (even though he went to a camp in Pennsylvania) and hopefully passing on to them the sense of community that attending Jewish camp provides. A few weeks after our visit, Jake proposed to me, making the possibility of kids attending camp become even more real – I can’t wait to see what’s in store for future generations of Campers at Airy & Louise. And I can’t wait to go back!

Winds of Change as We Approach Year-End
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Year End Planning

As we say goodbye to summer and usher in the cooler months, we begin to make plans for the rest of the year and, specifically, what that means for year-end planning. This change not only represents the passing of time, but it also signifies a new era of planning. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is now more than halfway through its first year and represents the largest change to the income tax laws in thirty years. Its overall impact on the economy is yet to be determined but as we approach year-end, many will be focused on the impact on charitable giving and on the charities that benefit from it.

The major concern about TCJA for many has been the increase to the personal exemption coupled with the state and local income taxes limitations which effectively eliminates the ability for most taxpayers to itemize their deductions. Not being able to itemize means that most charitable gifts will no longer be income tax deductible for most taxpayers. And while non-itemizers may continue to give at the same rate, what will happen to those gifts that are attributed to those who have always been able to use the deduction and now can’t for the very first time? What advice should advisors be giving their clients so that they still may save on income taxes? What can advisors do to help clients continue their generosity under the new law?

What Can Advisors Tell Their Clients Three solutions present themselves which will allow clients to continue to save on taxes and give at the same levels.

1. Bunching and the DAF. First, “bunch” deductions by making three or four years of gifts in one year. Under the new tax law, a gift of $10,000 would not allow a married taxpayer to deduct the gift. Instead, give $30,000 to a donor advised fund (DAF) and use it to distribute the funds over the next three years. Same money, same amount of giving, just timed differently. And by transferring low-basis, appreciated assets such as publicly traded stock, the benefits to this type of gift are enhanced. Since state income taxes are no longer income tax deductible, the effect of state tax on the capital gains rate has essentially raised the cost of selling appreciated assets. Giving them to charity with no tax makes more sense than ever.

2. IRA Rollover. For all of your clients that are 70 ½ or older and that give any amount to charity, the IRA rollover should be at the top of your planning tips to clients. All charitable dollars that your clients give should come directly from their IRA to those charities instead of taking their RMD and writing a separate check from their personal bank accounts. Most investment companies are even giving designated “checkbooks” to those individuals who rollover their RMD to charities, which allow de-facto check writing from their IRA account to the charities that they support. The process is becoming streamlined and the conversations you have with those clients about IRA giving should be too.

3.Life Income Plans. Third, is that the use of almost any of the common life income planned gifts has now become more and more appealing. Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Gift Annuities and other gifts can all create large, charitable income tax deduction and still leave your client with either an income interest or a reversionary interest in the gift assets. While these gifts may be complex, they are also quite powerful each in its own way.

Don’t Wait!Waiting until the end of the year to make gifts has been the norm. Perhaps the new law will help change that. There are many opportunities to make giving part of the narrative; it may just need to be more thoughtful and happen a little earlier.

The Associated’s Philanthropic Planning and Services professionals remain ready to work with you and your clients on how to incorporate charitable planning into your year-end planning conversations and how to help maximize the financial and charitable benefits of any such planning strategies available to your clients.

For more information, contact Jacqueline Fuchs Yahr at 410-369-9248 or jyahr@associated.org.

Jackie Fuchs Yahr

This is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your own legal and tax advisors.

Local Shows Your Kids Won’t Want to Miss this Fall
Friday, September 07, 2018

Children in theatre

Fall is the perfect time to spend with your family, and theatrical performances are a great way to make that happen! From storybooks, to movies, to magic, to pirates – here are some upcoming local shows you don’t want to miss!

PJWOW Meets Houdini (October 14) at the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus
You're invited to celebrate PJ Library's Baltimore's 10th birthday with a visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland for a special magic performance and tour of Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.

Biscuit (October 21) at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts
Based on the popular storybooks by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrator Pat Schories, the musical theater production of Biscuit portrays the story of a little yellow puppy who arrives at the home of Little Girl as a surprise birthday present.

Story Pirates (November 11) at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts
The Story Pirates don’t steal gold, pillage villages, or claim land; they’re searching for a different kind of treasure: kid’s wildest, most imaginative stories.

Cirque-tacular (November 25) at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts
Aerial and ground performers including World Record Holders, Olympians and Grand Circus Champions, put on a show of mind-boggling artistry and athleticism.

New Learning for the New Year
Thursday, September 06, 2018

Jewish Learning

Fall is a perfect time to start the New Year off right with new learning adventures. Check out these local opportunities:

Anti-Bias Cultural Competence Awareness (October 10) at The Louise D. & Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education
Everyone has a cultural, ethnic, racial, linguistic and/or religious heritage that influences their beliefs, values and behaviors. Participants will identify and develop strategies to promote cultural competence. 

 

Jews of the Ottoman Empire (October 11) at the Edward A. Myerberg Center
Join this class to learn about the rich history of the Jewish community during the Ottoman Empire, which extended over 600 years.  

 

Magic and Monotheism (October 14) at the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus
Jonathan Dauber's lecture traces the controversial role that “real” magic has had in Jewish history and culture. Held in conjunction with the Jewish Museum of Maryland's exhibit, Inescabable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini. 

 

Charm City Beit Midrash – Building Bridges: Cultivating Empathy (October 30) at The Parkway Theater
Join us for a night of conversation and learning. This month’s topic will be political discourse and bringing people of different opinions together. 

 

Kristallnacht: The 80th Anniversary of the November 9, 1938 Pogrom (November 7) at Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Congregation
A community-wide commemoration for the 80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, Eye Witness to the Beginning of the End will feature a panel of four Holocaust survivors who witnessed the Night of Broken Glass, discussing their experiences. 

Five Not-to-Miss Fall Experiences
Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Houdini

Say goodbye to the humid days of Baltimore’s summer and welcome in the new year with the crisp air of autumn. It is a time of new beginnings and experiences. Here are just a few that await you.

Sukkot at Pearlstone (September 28 – 30) Join us for a three-day retreat that includes inspiring Jewish learning, spirited singing, festive farm-to-table meals and an inclusive community building experience.

Understanding Addiction and Recovery (October 9 & October 23) – Part 1: Weinberg Park Heights JCC, Part 2: Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC. Is someone close to you struggling with addiction? Attend Jewish Community Services’ free, two-part series to gain insight into the disease of addiction and treatment options.

Flamenco Pasion (October 11) at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts. Critically-acclaimed flamenco dancer and choreographer Eduardo Guerrero uses classical and contemporary Spanish dance, ballet and contortion to express the depth of passion and skill exhibited in the many styles of this beloved, Spanish art form.

Houdini in Hollywood (November 4) at the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus. Houdini historian and blogger John Cox tells the amazing story of Houdini’s involvement in early cinema. The talk will include dozens of rare photos and film clips of the legendary Harry Houdini in “Action!”

Good Neighbor Day - Morning Project (November 11) at Weinberg Manor South, Afternoon Project: Cross Country Middle School One day, two projects: Volunteer to help older neighbors “winter-proof” their homes or beautify the neighborhood by assisting with the Western Run Stream Clean.

Back-to-School Reads Raise Awareness of Differently-Abled Children
Thursday, August 30, 2018

SHEMESH

By Aviva Weisbord, Executive Director, SHEMESH, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Books can be a wonderful way to raise awareness of the challenges of the differently-abled and how to develop an inclusive outlook and approach. Here are some excellent books to read and discuss with your children.

1. WE’LL PAINT THE OCTOPUS RED by Stephanie Stuve-Boden and Pam DeVito: This is a picture book for young children when a little girl finds out that her new baby brother has Down Syndrome. She wonders what things he’ll be able to do. Her father explains what Down Syndrome is and they realize he’ll be able to do lots of things. The book includes a list of questions and answers.

2. WE’RE AMAZING 1,2,3! A STORY ABOUT FRIENDSHIP AND AUTISM by Leslie Kimmelman and Beth Nelson: This book explains what autism is as a young child wonders why her friend behaves in a different way. Elmo from Sesame Street does the explaining in a way that any child can understand.

3. OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper: A novel for middle school children, this tells the story of a brilliant child who has cerebral palsy. Everyone assumes she’s mentally challenged, because she can’t walk or talk – until she gets the special computer that lets her do both. The story presents a clear picture of the challenges faced by children with disabilities, at home and in school.

 

Books about disabilities through a Jewish lens:

1. CAKE AND MIRACLES: A PURIM TALE by Barbara Diamond Goldin: Hershel’s blindness doesn’t keep him from enjoying life, but he still wants to do more. An angel in a dream tells him to make what he sees in his mind’s eye and he produces beautiful Hamantaschen for Purim.

2. JUMPING JENNY by Ellen Bari: This book offers an inside view of ADHD, as Jenny sets aside her pogo stick when all her jumping gets her into trouble. It takes a school event for to realize she can use her energy for a good cause.

3. NATHAN BLOWS OUT THE HANUKKAH CANDLES by Tami Lehman-Wilzig with Nicole Katzman: Jacob loves his brother Nathan, who has autism. Even so, Jacob is worried that Nathan will embarrass him in from of a new friend. This story helps young children and families understand autism and other developmental disorders.

Recipes, Crafts, and More For A Sweet New Year
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Pomegranate

Looking for something healthy to accompany your traditional holiday menu? How about a pomegranate salad with cabbage from Lifebridge’s Esther Lejtman? Or Elise Rubenstein’s gluten-free brown rice crispy treats to go with your special apple cake?

This year, check out The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s High Holiday pages, where you will discover recipes from community members, holiday books to read to your children and Rosh Hashanah craft ideas to do as a family. There are also interesting articles to make your holidays more meaningful and an important piece on how to navigate the holidays when someone you loved is no longer there.

Discover new ideas that will inspire you to have a sweet year. Go to associated.org/highholidays to learn more.

Pecan Cranberry Biscotti, Courtesy of Wendy Miller, Associated Women 2018 Campaign Chair

  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • Scant ½ oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. In a bowl fitted with a dough hook, mix ingredients until combined. Divide into two small, unlined loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes. 3. Wet a paper towel or kitchen towel. Wring it out and cover pans with it. Allow cakes to cool this way for 40 minutes. Wrap each loaf in foil and freeze overnight (or until you need it). 4. Defrost for 10 minutes. Slice very thinly. Lay on a lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on each side. Watch to make sure they don’t burn.

Meet Eugene Poverni
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Eugene Poverni

Eugene Poverni, principal at Poverni Sheikh Group, is a local business leader, father and Baltimore native who works in the real estate industry. Involved with The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore – he chairs CHAI’s Real Estate Committee - Eugene works towards improving the lives of Baltimore families and seniors, especially as it relates to housing and home repair.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what it was like growing up in Jewish Baltimore? I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and I came to the U.S. when I was six and a half years old. We arrived during the big wave of immigration of the late 80s early 90s. We came to Pikesville. It was hard at first, not knowing the language and the culture. My parents enrolled me in Hebrew school and I went to Camp Milldale. I lived in Pikesville until I was 18 years old then went to University of MD and George Washington University. I moved back to Baltimore afterwards and I’ve been here ever since.

You are a businessman and a volunteer. Yes, I became involved with CHAI, which is an agency of The Associated, as a board member, which I've been on for the past five years, and I’ve chaired their Real Estate Committee since June. My grandparents lived in one of CHAI's buildings back when we came to the U.S. Life in some ways has come full circle.

What makes CHAI stand out to you? It's the mission and the personal connection. Their mission is to help seniors, help them from a housing perspective, from a senior home repair perspective, from the aging in place perspective. I think it is important to our community. But it's also something that my own family and my grandparents benefited from. I feel that there is some impetus, some obligation, for me to make sure that future generations and other families have those same opportunities that CHAI provides.

Have you been involved in other volunteering? Since I've had my daughter it's given me an opportunity to give back. I get to take my daughter to the Pearlstone Center and the activities that are family-oriented. It has opened that door a little bit and it’s been nice. We've found that it's an opportunity to volunteer, clean up, give back and spend time with the family as well.

How has life as a father affected your life as a businessman? Fatherhood certainly has been a game-changer as they call it. I don't know if it's really changed anything on the business side day-to-day except, I'll say this, it changed my schedule in a good way. It forced me to wake up earlier and start work earlier and it gives me a reason to come home earlier at night. It plays both sides of that fence and I’m very thankful for that.

What drew you to The Associated? Really it was initially getting involved with CHAI. I was at a gala and sitting next to the executive director. Now I’m with CHAI as a board member and I chair the Real Estate Committee. I’ve also been involved with IMPACT through the National Leadership Committee and the YLC (Young Leadership Council).

Do you have any advice you would give to a Young Professional? Especially those who are looking to get involved in a leadership role or become more active within their organizations. My advice would be to show up. The Associated has been very open and very embracing of people who want to take the leadership role. Come to the IMPACT event. Come to the annual meetings. If you're in the real estate business come to the Real Estate Committee meetings. Ask them what they do, and ask them how they do it, and ask them why they do it. Don't be shy. People are more than happy to open the door and embrace some of that energy that we bring.

What have been some of the key inspirations of your life? My parents are a big inspiration for me. They wanted to better their lives and were willing to do almost anything to accomplish that – to the point that they were willing to reset their lives and move a world away to do so. I've had a number of professors, teachers and bosses including a boss at the law firm that I came from who was very inspirational as far as work ethic, what it takes to be successful...

And frankly, informal mentors. Other individuals. It's been really helpful to be a guide post or a beacon as to what's possible.

Favorite Jewish Holiday? Rosh Hashanah is great. I like apples. I like honey.

Best advice you ever got? Don't sweat the small stuff. There's a lot of reasons to get annoyed, every day about a lot of things, and you can, but generally if you can let it go, let it go. Focus on what's really important.

Hosting A Shinshin Provides A Lifelong Gift For The Entire Family
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Shinshinim

Six years ago, Nancy Hudes and her family of Owings Mills, made the decision to host a shinshin, an 18-year-old Israeli emissary, putting into action the central Jewish value of welcoming people into one’s home. What they discovered about the experience was how much it enriched their lives as well…so much so they decided to host again this past summer.

What made you decide to become a host family? When were you hosts?

We hosted August 2012- January 2013. And then again January 2017 – August 2017.

I think we decided to host because we heard about the program and knew it would be fun to have an Israeli live with us. We love Israel and it was another way for us to have that connection.

In what ways has your family benefitted from having a shinshin stay with you?

We have made lifelong connections with our shinshinim. They became part of our family. They taught us about Israel and Ashkelon. It can be challenging raising Jewish families in America today, so it was great for our children to be exposed to other cultures. We loved getting to know them and learning about their families, schools and interests.

What would you say was the biggest take-away for the shinshinim from their experience staying with you in Baltimore?

I think they both really got to know us and our kids – which was great. They also learned a lot about American Jewry – which I think is really important. They grew up a lot while they were here, and I think they left having learned a lot about themselves.

Were there any real adjustment or growing pains for you and the shinshinin?

For sure. Any time you go live in a new person’s house, or have someone come live with you, it’s an adjustment. We all had to learn what works and what doesn’t. But we always figured it out and it was never a problem. They truly became part of the family and it was a very positive experience.

What did a typical day look like when the shinshinin stayed with you?

The shinshinim work a ton so they were out most days teaching or preparing for their lessons. We always had dinner together and celebrated Shabbat. We would also try and take the shinshinim out on the weekends to show them around Baltimore and do planned activities.

Are you still in touch with the shinshinim?

We are! Social media really makes it easy to stay in touch. I know the kids are always face timing and snap chatting and sending messages back and forth. My youngest is in Israel right now visiting. On one of the first nights he was there he had dinner on the beach in Ashkelon with both our shinshinim, Aviya Nagar and Itay. Itay’s family has been amazing at taking him around and doing fun things together.

Is this an experience that you would recommend others to do?

Definitely. It’s the best. It’s super easy and you get a fabulous addition to your family.

The Macks Center for Jewish Education is still looking for host families for 2018/2019. For more information, please contact Reut Friedman at 410-735-5035 or rfriedman@cjebaltimore.org or visit cjebaltimore.org/cjeshinshinim.

4 Things You Can’t Miss This September
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Young adults

Whether it’s work, school, or the holidays, September is a busy month for many of us. It doesn’t mean you have to miss out on what’s happening around town. Here are 4 things you can’t miss this September!

Charm City Sukkah at B’nai Israel Congregation (September 25-27) is a chance to join Charm City Tribe, Repair the World, Moishe House and B’nai Israel for a week of volunteer, social and educational activities. Click here for more information.

Sukkah City: A Community Festival of Celebration & Joy (September 27) is an effort to build 10-20+ sukkot in the same proximity, to allow the entire community to experience the multiplicity of themes and ways one may celebrate this beautiful harvest holiday. So, get your Sukkah design and construction teams tougher, and let’s build Sukkah City. More information and team registration can be found here.

Sukkot at Pearlstone (September 28-30) is a 3-day retreat that includes inspiring Jewish learning, spirited singing, festive farm-to-table meals, and an inclusive community building experience. More information and tickets can be purchased here.

Interfaith Governor’s Day to Serve (October 3) is an interfaith act of service helping Marylander’s experiencing homelessness. Volunteers will help make 300 “blessing bags” which can be given out to those in need. Dinner is also provided at this event. Dietary laws observed. Click here to sign up.

Philanthropy in the New Year
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Apples and Honey

By Rabbi Debbie Pine, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy

The beginning of the New Year is a great time to engage in philanthropy. Even more importantly, this is the time when we should align our values with our giving.

This is the moment when we should be asking ourselves:

Why do we give? Because we gave last year? Because someone asked us to give? Because others are giving to the same cause?

Why should we give? Do our priorities match our giving?

Do our deeds align with our values? Does our giving reflect what we cherish the most?

The High Holidays arrive as a personal re-set, to re-align our lives and start over with a fresh, clean start. Just as we take these two months to deeply contemplate who we are and what we want to be, we should align our philanthropy with our true selves. We should be asking ourselves the important questions of why we give while identifying our priorities.

We tend to think of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as simply the time of year when we repent for things we have done wrong. It actually goes much deeper than that. It’s a time when we take stock of our souls and figure out what really matters to us, re-aligning ourselves and our lives to reflect our true values. Rabbi Bachya ibn Paquada wrote Duties of the Heart in the 11th century. His work became central to the Mussar movement. In his book, he included a section entitled Cheshbon Ha’nefesh that describes the process of inner stock-taking. Just as we take stock of our souls, we should also take stock of our giving.

This process of taking stock of our souls is not a quick one. We don’t just show up on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur and re-align ourselves. Rather, our tradition requires that we take the entire month of Elul before Rosh Hashanah even arrives. The process continues through the entire month of Tishri all the way through Sukkot and Simchat Torah, to truly take stock of who we are and what we want to be.

These days of awe call us to deepen our resolve and be the best that we can be. We should also understand and identify the reasons for our giving, learning about the work of the recipients of our giving through site visits and conversations with staff members. On Rosh Hashanah we say “Hayom harat olam,” “This is the day that the world was born.” As we celebrate and contemplate, we recognize that our actions impact our world, and our philanthropy can make a difference. As this important process unfolds and our New Year begins, may the process of our philanthropy reflect the depth of our intentional beginning of this New Year.

This Fall, Pearlstone Can Teach Us How to Honor the Outside Torah
Monday, August 20, 2018

Pearlstone Center

By Joelle Novey

Shofar blasts are waking us up to the coming high holy days, which will culminate, after two months of introspection, honey cake, and prayer, with Simchat Torah: a celebration of Torah.

For many of us, where we grew up, Simchat Torah dancing spilled out of the sanctuary and into the street. Likewise, every Jewish community honors and celebrates Torah. We adorn the scroll beautifully, carry it carefully, touch it lovingly, and read from it publicly. We pray that our hearts open to its teachings, we study its words and generations of commentary, and we sing that its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths peaceful. To many Jews, the thought of a ripped or damaged Torah scroll is physically painful.

In a work of Hasidic philosophy, The Tanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman writes that the actual letters of the words with which God created the world are still present inside and animating the elements of creation.*

Imagine...if the natural world were as precious as the Torah we kiss as it goes past in shul.

This is the gift that Pearlstone Center is giving its visitors – an opportunity to learn Torah outside: by walking on wooded trails, by cultivating carrots, or by tending to goats.

And through Pearlstone’s Community Sustainability Coalition, Baltimore’s Jewish communities are coming together to reflect on how our choices impact the natural world.

How would we get our energy if we saw the Appalachian mountains now being blown apart for coal as containing the Hebrew letters of the words with which they were created?

What changes would we make if we thought of the groundwater in Pennsylvania, in which fracking drills inject chemicals to extract gas, as containing something as precious as revelation?

How would we use energy if we regarded the kids in Baltimore who breathe the pollution from the Brandon Shores coal-fired power plant as themselves precious, made in the image of God?

That’s why Pearlstone is teaching people to live more sustainably. It is important to see our communities recognize that using fossil fueled electricity in the places we gather to read from the Torah is damaging something as holy as the words of the Torah itself. And together, we are doing real teshuvah; returning to living in a better way.

Pearlstone leads by walking the talk, modeling green practices for everyone who visits.

Every year, thousands come to Pearlstone for environmental education, family farm days, and ecological Shabbat and holiday programs.

Pearlstone supports Jewish communities in shifting to greener practices, through a Green Loan Fund, through collaboration with groups like Repair the World, and through an exciting Associated-wide solar project.

And we’ve been proud to speak out as a Jewish voice for environmental action in Maryland: banning fracking and keeping antibiotics working. Save the date: on December 13th, we’ll gather at the Jewish Museum of Maryland to kick off our advocacy for strong environmental policy statewide.

Until then, let’s embrace the encounters with Torah that the high holidays bring to cultivate our own reverence for the sacred teachings of our natural world. Every tree, stone, bird, and person are as worthy of our attention and care as the parchment on which words of Torah are written.

* Likkutei Amarim, by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Hasidism, 1797. Author learned this teaching from Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels’ “Central Ideas in Hasidism” podcasts from Mechon Hadar: http://www.mechonhadar.org/podcast

Glossary of High Holiday Terms
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Kiddush Cup

Source: MyJewishLearning.com and NSW Board of Education

Akedah – Pronounced ah-keh-DAH. Literally “binding,” the Akedah refers to the biblical story of the binding of Isaac, which is traditionally read on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

Chag sameach – Pronounced KHAG sah-MAY-akh. Literally “happy holiday,” a common greeting on Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays.

Elul – Pronounced el-OOL (oo as in food). The final month of the Jewish calendar, it is designated as a time of reflection, introspection and repentance.

Het (also chet) – Pronounced KHET (short e). Sin, or wrongdoing.

Kiddush Cup – A wine goblet, often made of silver, used for making Kiddush, a blessing over wine (or grape juice) recited at the beginning of most Jewish holiday meals.

L’shana tovah u’metukah – Pronounced l’shah-NAH toe-VAH ooh-meh-too-KAH. A Hebrew greeting for the High Holiday season that means, “For a good and sweet year.”

Mahzor (also machzor) – Pronounced MAHKH-zohr. Literally “cycle,” the mahzor is the special prayer book for the High Holidays, containing all the special High Holiday liturgy.

Selichot (also Selihot) – Pronounced slee-KHOTE. Literally “forgivenesses,” selichot are prayers for forgiveness. Selichot refers to two related types of penitential prayers. The first are the prayers that are customarily recited daily at morning services during the month of Elul. This is also the name of the service that takes place late at night on the Saturday preceding Rosh Hashanah and consists of a longer series of these penitential prayers.

Shofar – Pronounced shoh-FAR or SHOH-far (rhymes with “so far”). The ram’s horn that is sounded during the month of Elul, on Rosh Hashanah, and at the end of Yom Kippur. It is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, in reference to its ceremonial use in the Temple and to its function as a signal-horn of war.

Tashlich (also Tashlich) – Pronounced TAHSH-likh. Literally “cast away,” Tashlich is a ceremony observed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, in which sins are symbolically cast away into a natural body of water. The term and custom are derived from a verse in the Book of Micah (Micah 7:19).

Teshuvah (also teshuva) – Pronounced tih-SHOO-vuh. Literally “return,””, teshuvah is often translated as “repentance.”.” It is one of the central themes and spiritual components of the High Holidays.

Tishrei – Pronounced TISH-ray. The first month in the Hebrew calendar, during which Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot all occur.

Unetaneh Tokef – Pronounced ooh-nuh-TAH-neh TOH-keff. Literally “we shall ascribe,” a religious poem recited during the Musaf (additional service). Amidah that is meant to strike fear in us.

Yamim Noraim – Pronounced yah-MEEM nohr-ah-EEM. Literally “Days of Awe,””, a term that refers to the High Holiday season. Sometimes it is used to refer to the 10 days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, which are also known as the Aseret Yimei Teshuva, or the 10 Days of Repentance.

Yom Tov – Pronounced YOHM TOHV or YON-tiff. This is a general term for the major Jewish festivals.

Glossary

Apples and Honey – On Rosh Hashanah it is customary to eat apples dipped in honey. The apples remind us of the roundness of the year and the hope that the coming year will be fruitful, and the honey represents the wish for a sweet year. It is also customary to dip challah (the special bread used on Shabbat or a holy day) in honey rather than in salt (as is done during the rest of the year) in the hope that the new year will be just as sweet as the honey.

Special Challah – Specially-shaped challah is eaten instead of the usual plaited challah (bread) that we eat on Shabbat. The challah eaten on Rosh Hashanah is either round to signify a long life span and a smooth, even year, or (less commonly) in the shape of a ladder to signify our journey upwards to talk to G-d. Challah for Rosh Hashanah is often made with either a sweet dough, or sweet fruit like raisins baked into it.

Pomegranate – A pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds, which is the number of mitzvot (commandments or good deeds) in the Torah. We eat pomegranate on Rosh Hashanah to show our hope that we will perform all the mitzvot of the Torah during the coming year.

Tzimmes – Sweet carrots, cooked with sugar, raisins or prunes are served with the Rosh Hashanah meal, again in the hope of a sweet year.

Make Your Giving Matter
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Charitable Giving

How can you maximize impact with your charitable giving?

By establishing a donor-advised fund at The Associated, you leave the hassle of paperwork and receipts behind and instead focus on the issues that matter most to you. Further, with a donor-advised fund, you can increase your philanthropic dollars tax-free. You can continue to support the numerous charities you always have, on whatever timetable you choose, but now have a vehicle to encourage a family legacy of philanthropy by involving your children and grandchildren in your charitable giving. Our staff prides themselves on being your charitable concierge in helping you identify the values, ideals and institutions that matter the most to you and your family.

How do I establish a donor-advised fund?

Your fund can be established with a gift of as little as $10,000 in cash, securities or other assets. A simple agreement will establish the fund in your name or in the name of a loved one, and provide for you to designate who may recommend grants from your fund. You then have the convenience of recommending grants online on your own timetable through our secure website. There are even ways to advance your giving through a donor-advised fund in order to take advantage of the new tax laws.

Ready to get started?

Contact Jacqueline Yahr, Director of Charitable Planning, at jyahr@associated.org or 410-369-9248.

Judaica for The High Holidays
Thursday, August 09, 2018

Judaica

Need to get some holiday shopping done? Visit Esther's Place the gift shop at The Jewish Museum of Maryland. They have everything you need for the high holidays – decorated plates and bowls, shofars, Kiddush sets and more!

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur Placemats from Pigment & Hue Inc., $9.00

 

Pomegranate Mini Pot with Spoon by Michael Aram, $90.00

 

Honey Pot with Bee Silver by Mary Jurek Designs, Inc., $158.00

 

Kiddush Cup Metal & Glass with Jewels from M. Atzmon, $80.00

 

Flower Blossom Large Bowl Set Purple by Quest Collection, $91.00

 

Recommended High Holiday Books for Children
Thursday, August 09, 2018

Recommended High Holiday Books for Children

The Macks Center for Jewish Education and PJ Library send over 3400 books a month to families raising Jewish children in Baltimore. Here is a highlight of some of the brand-new books coming your way this month:

All the World – Written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Illustrated by Marla Frazee
As this lovely book reminds us, the world is filled with beautiful things – big and small. The trick is to remember to take note of them.

Are We Still Friends? – Written by Ruth Horowitz and Illustrated by Blanca Gómez
Beatrice and Abel are the finest of friends – until a misunderstanding gets in the way. How will they reconcile in time for a fresh start in the new year? Every young child (and many grownups!) will relate to this dilemma.

There Was Evening and There was Morning – Written by Harriet Cohen Helfand & Ellen Kahan Zager and Illustrated by Ellen Kahan Zager. Harriet is a CJE Board member and Ellen is a CJE Board Past President.
When God created the world, each day began in the evening -- just as days in the Jewish calendar still do today. This book’s beautiful, high-concept design gives new life to the words of an ancient story.

Apple Days – Allison Sarnoff Soffer
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is a great time to pick apples and make applesauce. Katy can’t wait. But this year the arrival of a new baby gets in the way. How will Katy celebrate the new year now?

The Apple Tree's Discovery – Peninnah Schram & Rachayl Eckstein Davis
A little apple tree in the middle of a forest of majestic oaks wants more than anything else to have stars in its branches, as the oaks seem to have. God advises the apple to tree to be content as it is and, eventually, the little tree makes a happy discovery.

The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen – Joan Nathan
With 70 recipes, children and families learn about foods for Jewish celebratory occasions while picking up cooking basics and having fun together in the kitchen.

Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride – Deborah Bodin Cohen
Israel’s first train chugs from Jaffa to Jerusalem just in time for Rosh Hashanah, taking treats to children for a sweet new year and seeing sights all along the way.

Happy Birthday, World – Latifa Berry Kropf
With simple text, this book explains symbols and customs of Rosh Hashanah by comparing a child's birthday celebration with the rituals of the Jewish New Year. A birthday cake and honey-dipped apples or a shofar and party horns are just two of the comparisons.

I Say Shehechiyanu – Joanne Rocklin
When you’re a small child, life is a series of firsts – first steps, first words, first teeth, first snow! Jewish tradition has a special prayer, the Shehechiyanu, that recognizes the importance of each and every first.

Today Is the Birthday of the World – Linda Heller
Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world, a day when God and all Earth's creatures celebrate, applauding the contribution that each and every one of us – from the mightiest elephant to the smallest child – can make.

Amian Kelemer’s Reading List
Thursday, August 09, 2018

Amian Kelemer

The executive director of The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) shares her eight favorite books

The CJE has a fabulous library in the very center of its space. The library, which I believe is one of Baltimore’s best-kept secrets, is ringed with the professional offices of the talented CJE staff as well as a creativity-inducing crafts room, conference rooms and a teacher store.

Eyes light up whenever someone walks in – especially people who are first-time users and never knew about this treasure. The inviting children’s couches beg for stories to be told and when they are filled with families, it is charming.

The shelves hold well over 10,000 volumes. Of all of these, I have picked just a very few of my favorites.

1. A Street in Jerusalem: A Travel in Time from the Period of the Bible Until Today

This picture book (written in Hebrew) chronicles the life of one single street in Jerusalem with rich illustrations and a “where’s Waldo” style seek-and-find on every page. The 12 scenes take the reader/viewer all the way from early stone cottages to the malls and coffee shops of today.

2. The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money

A recent addition to our parenting collection is a whole new genre of books that provide guidance for raising children who are not entitled. We live in an affluent time and our children have not always internalized the values of tzedakah and chesed. We can learn wonderful approaches from authors in the general press who have analyzed this need in our society.

3. The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child

Written by Ron Clark, an educator with decades of experience and an amazing fresh way of looking at education, he sets forth 55 rules that I may not entirely agree with, but they certainly make me think about what is important to me as an educator.

4. Its Our Challenge: A Social Entrepreneurship Approach to Jewish Education

The CJE staff is currently reading this book. It is an interesting cross-sector read that taps into so much of what we care about in Jewish life and yet applies it all to the new era in which we are doing our work.

5. Judah Who Always Said “No!”: A Chanukah Story

This clever children’s story elevates the stubbornness of a child and recognizes the benefit of a little attitude. It appeals to me because we, as Jews, always cling to beliefs and customs that are uniquely ours. This book celebrates our stick-to-itiveness and its repetitive chorus will appeal to young children.

6. The Book of Our Heritage: The Jewish year and its Days of Significance

This English translation of a Jewish text written in the 1950s covers the fascinating background of each and every Jewish month. It is an excellent resource for understanding the holidays, history and approaches to Jewish life and an example of one of the many more classic Jewish texts in our library.

7. The Tenth of Av: Do it Yourself Jewish Adventure Series.

This book presents an unusual way to learn the history of the destruction of the Temple. At the end of each page, the reader gets a choice about what to do. For example, should he escape with the followers of Yochanan Ben Zakkai or stay and try to fight? Once a decision is made, the reader is instructed to turn to a specific page to continue the story. This book makes history come alive and a competent middle-grade reader can try on different decisions to see the possible outcomes.

8. The Little Paris Bookshop

This book startled me when I saw it on our shelves because it is not related to a Jewish theme. It is a wonderful story about the power of books and the importance of stories that I truly enjoyed. It showed up in our adult fiction collection because a local synagogue book club had it on their reading list. And that perhaps is one of the best things about the CJE library.

In the CJE library, you will find original source material, an outstanding Jewish children’s’ collection, curricular materials about teaching Hebrew, travelogues, biographies and many unique and surprising books- all spine to spine on our shelves.

Located on the second floor of the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, there is no fee or membership required, and we welcome you to browse!

What will you be thinking about this Rosh Hashanah?
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

High Holidays

By Lawrence Ziffer, Consultant for The Charles Crane Family Foundation.

Each year around this time, my chavrusa (study partner) and I ask each other the following question: what will you be thinking about this year on Rosh Hashanah? We each begin our preparations around a month before the holiday and attempt to choose a theme that will add real meaning to our High Holy Day experiences.

Sometimes the theme is a "big idea," (e.g. what am I doing to make the world a better place?) and sometimes it is intensely personal (how can I improve this one aspect of my personality). The interesting thing is that once you choose a theme, you often find it reflected in many different places and interactions, such as sermons, services, family discussions and so forth (a little like buying a new car and then seeing similar cars everywhere you go).

At the risk of being presumptuous, I would like to share one such "big idea" theme that I found as I reviewed some Rosh Hashanah literature in preparation for this yom tov/holiday. Many of us think about Rosh Hashanah primarily as a time for personal introspection. This often leads one to an exclusively personal focus for Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment, one of the descriptive names for Rosh Hashanah). Was I good or bad this year? Did I live up to the expectations of others (or my own expectations)? Did I achieve the goals that I set last year at this time? Was I sufficiently generous?

In fact, these are all appropriate questions for the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The “Ten Days of Repentance” are traditionally designated for intense self-assessment and regret for past shortcomings. But there is a more important "big idea" for Rosh Hashanah, and that is Ahavat Yisrael (love of Jews) and Achdut Yisrael (Jewish unity).

Another descriptive name for Rosh Hashanah is Yom Teruah (Day of Sounding), based on the primary mitzvah (commandment) of the day. This is based on the passage: "Yom Teruah yihiyeh lachem/It shall be a day of Teruah for you." Our sages point out that the shoresh (root) of the word teruah תרועה (which is both a generic term for sounding the shofar and also the specific name of the rapid staccato shofar sound) is the same as the shoresh of ריעות reyut (friendship). This term for friendship especially implies comradeship and unity.

There's more. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated “B'echad lachodesh hashevi'i/On the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei)." But the Hebrew word echad means "one," and the word usually used for "first" is "rishon." The implied meaning is that on this day of "one" we should become "one," unified as a people.

As a father (and grandfather) I can tell you that one of the best sources of nachas (pride) is when my children (and grandchildren) are all sitting together at the family table, talking and sharing with each other. This is the kind of nachas we provide to the Creator, in a manner of speaking, when we have Jewish unity in our community. When there is unity among us and every Jewish person considers himself or herself a part of the whole, we temporarily leave behind our individualism (and individual faults) and create a unified people (sometimes called peoplehood, a uniquely Jewish euphemism). This unity comes with a prophetic guarantee for positive judgment, since we have G-d's promise that He will never forsake us as a people.

Since Rosh Hashanah is the Yom Teruah, this is a particularly appropriate “big idea” on which to reflect when we hear the sounding of the shofar this Rosh Hashanah. You don't have to like every Jew, but it is a big mitzvah to love every Jew. We do have our differences, and sometimes those differences gnaw away at our unity, but Rosh Hashanah is a time to focus on the things we have in common. Unity does not require uniformity! This is a big idea that could really yield positive results in the year to come.

Best wishes to all for a new year filled with good health, happiness, prosperity and unity! לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו!

Baltimore Onward Israel Takes Summer Internships to a New Level
Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Emily-Onward-Israel

As a rising junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, Mike Pelekhaty is interested in pursuing a career in fire protection engineering. This summer he is laying the groundwork for his future.

Ben Shmerler is a history major at Tufts University. He found the perfect summer internship incorporating an interest in research to help a small Israeli startup penetrate the U.S. market.

Both young men are spending their summer participating in the Baltimore Onward Israel program. Pelekhaty is gaining invaluable field experience inspecting schematics and evacuation plans for tall buildings, as well as the new subway being built beneath the city of Tel Aviv. At the same time, Shmerler is helping MyStore-e, bringing an e-commerce consumer experience into brick and mortar stores. This business approach enables retailers to tell personalized stories to their customers, rework their website, compile store data and set the company’s future strategy.

Baltimore Onward Israel is an eight-week summer internship experience in which college students and recent graduates live, work and travel in Israel with a group of their Baltimore peers. Participants live in Tel Aviv and build their resumes through high-level internships, while enjoying the city’s exciting culture.

For the Baltimore program, now in its fifth year, internships have ranged across the spectrum from financial startups to work in the medical field, public policy organizations and even fashion. Over the years the Baltimore group have worked at Flytrex, an on-demand drone delivery service, Medorian, a cloud platform that helps with patient care and preventative medicine, MinuteMedia, a sports media and technology company and OneDay Social Volunteering, a nonprofit that presents young professionals the opportunity to volunteer around Israel.

Yet, Onward is more than a resume builder. It’s a chance for young adults to spend two months immersed in Israeli life, touring the cities and towns, eating the food, exploring the culture.

It’s also a chance for them to deepen their knowledge by participating in four Israel Seminar educational experiential learning days, where the group travels together to various parts of the country. One of those sessions, “Land and Us: Sustaining, Relating and Living,” is a chance to learn about the Israeli eco-system during a day in the Negev desert, in the south.

Through a combination of active programming, including sledding the sand dunes, to touring a green energy park, the Baltimore Onward Israel participants gain an appreciation of the importance of sustainability, an understanding of the desert lifestyle and a recognition of Israel’s role as a leader in environmental startups.

Other Israel Seminar days include a field trip to Northern Israel, where the group learned about multiculturalism and minorities in Israel, including touring the Baha’i Gardens and meeting members of a small Islamic community and a day in Jerusalem exploring modern Jewish identity, current events and different faces of Judaism.

“Birthright Israel offers young adults a taste of Israel on a seven to 10-day trip, which provides them with a remarkable understanding of the country’s history and a connection to their Jewish heritage. Onward Israel allows these young adults to deepen their relationship by connecting them with the people of Israel, thereby developing a lifelong connection to the country and a strong commitment to Jewish life, says Jason Blavatt, chair of The Associated’s Israel Education and Travel Committee.

“Onward Israel gave me the opportunity to understand and love the country in an in-depth way that other programs don’t allow you to do,” says Emily Kader, who spent last summer on the program. “It’s had a huge impact on strengthening my Jewish identity. Today I feel so much more connected to Israel.”

As a participant on the program, Kader interned for Abraham Hostels, an award-winning hostel chain in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Nazareth where she handled some of the company’s social media efforts, including two Instagram takeovers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“Last summer was an opportunity to work abroad, unlike any opportunity I would have found in the U.S.,” she says. “I developed social media skills and met people from all over the world. I also learned about different cultures and discovered how another part of the world operates in a professional environment,” she recalls.

In addition to the incredible opportunities afforded to the 2,000+ participants taking part in the over 35 various Onward Israel programs this summer, the Baltimore group has the added benefit of traveling to Ashkelon, Baltimore’s partner city, through the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. They spend a weekend volunteering in the community, meeting their Ashkelon peers and staying with a host family for Shabbat.

“I had been to Ashkelon briefly before on the 2016 Associated Family Mission, but this time I really got to know this amazing family that hosted me. We talked about their travels all over the world and I really hope to go back and see them again before I leave,” says Shmerler. When the young adults return home, the experience is far from over.

“We have found that the young adults who participate in Baltimore Onward Israel develop a more meaningful relationship with Israel. When they return home to our Baltimore community and their college campuses, they are able to communicate more effectively about Israel, going beyond the headlines and speaking with authority and passion about our Jewish State,” says Blavatt.

Serving My Community
Monday, July 02, 2018

Linda Hurwitz

By Linda A. Hurwitz, Chair of the Board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Bestselling author and Jewish Baltimore native Leon Uris once wrote, “The only thing that is going to save mankind is if enough people live their lives for something or someone other than themselves.”

This quote embodies the way I approach life. Over the past few decades, I have learned, through the volunteer work I have been fortunate to accomplish, that nothing is more powerful than realizing you have touched someone else’s life.

I must admit, I have been incredibly blessed. As a grandmother of three, I look back and realize that my family has a proud history in Jewish Baltimore that is now five generations strong.

Jewish community has been at the heart of that legacy. From my great grandparents’ earliest days as immigrants, relying on the help of others, to more recently, when my children attended Jewish day school, we have seen Jewish community as pivotal to our identity.

I often like to say to those I meet ‘Find something you are passionate about and give it your all.’ That’s why, many years ago I committed to investing in our Jewish community. It is also why two years ago, when I became Chair of the Board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, I dove right in to do what it takes to ensure a strong future for Jewish Baltimore.

During these past two years, I have always given 110 percent. Through it all, I learned a lot about myself and even more about what is instrumental for ensuring a community’s enduring future.

  • If each of us makes a difference in one person’s life, we can make a difference in our entire community.
  • We are strong – yet we are stronger when we work together across denominations, across ages, across agencies. And we are stronger still, when we truly listen to one another with an open mind. We may not always agree, but if we talk to one another, we ultimately can solve our community’s problems in ways that are both innovative and responsive.
  • We must plan for our future. For anyone who cares that our Jewish community will resonate with our children and grandchildren – for anyone who is concerned that we are there for those who need us most in the years to come – we must make a commitment to give back wisely by investing time and money into causes that will safeguard our future.

Baltimore is an exceptional Jewish community, but we cannot take it for granted. As I move on to other roles with The Associated, I encourage you to reach out and give back to something you believe in.

It’s been a pleasure to serve our community.

Philanthropy: Good for Clients, Good For Business
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Philanthropy

By Jacqueline Fuchs Yahr, Director of Charitable Planning, The Associated

“Philanthropy is an important part of your client’s wealth experience.” This was the resounding theme of the presentation that Claire M. Costello, an expert in philanthropy and the National Philanthropic Practice Executive for Philanthropic Solutions at U.S. Trust Bank of America Corporation, made to a room full of professional advisors attending The Associated’s Planned Giving Round Table’s final program of the fiscal year on June 6. Claire explained that what matters most to high net worth (HNW) individuals in their conversations with their estate planning attorneys, financial advisors, accountants and other wealth management professionals, is not necessarily a discussion about the technical aspects of charitable planning. Rather, these individuals are hoping to have meaningful conversations about philanthropy that are initiated by their advisors early and had often.

U.S. Trust, in partnership with The Philanthropic Initiative, conducted a study of HNW individuals and a random sample of more than 300 advisors to understand how advisors are talking to their clients about philanthropy and how these clients feel about philanthropic planning. The study has shown that while philanthropic conversations between advisors and their clients are happening, they are falling short of their potential. HNW individuals are continually looking to their advisors to help them fulfill their philanthropic missions, involve the next generation, and leave a legacy. They are also seeking more values-based discussions with advisors about their philanthropy, life goals, values and passions and to go beyond the conversations about tax considerations.

For many advisors, the hesitancy to begin the philanthropic conversation is due to the lack of knowledge around the technical aspects of charitable planning. But when asked, the HNW individuals did not list tax planning as the top three, or even the top six reasons as to why they give. So, your clients are not looking to hear from you about tax benefits when discussing philanthropy; clients want you to ask them about their charitable goals, values and interests. You as the advisor do not have to be the expert in philanthropy. If you know the right people who you can refer to your clients, you will undoubtedly be seen as the trusted advisor.

The benefits of discussing philanthropy do not end there. By taking a more comprehensive and holistic approach to managing your clients’ assets, through deeper conversations related to your clients’ wealth and their philanthropy, you have the opportunity to manage more of your clients’ assets. These aspirational and goal-seeking conversations show that you are interested in more than just your clients’ money. And not only do you deepen the relationships with your clients, most notably, having value-based conversations generally can result in establishing relationships with new clients, whether it’s through the next generation or through referrals.

So how do you start the philanthropic conversation? Claire had some potential conversation starters: find the relationship between family and wealth; talk about their desire for philanthropy; ask them how they would want to change the world for their children or grandchildren. You can also refer to The Associated’s list of Ten Critical Questions to Ask Your Clients on ways to begin the conversation about philanthropy with your clients.

Some additional tips from the HNW study:

  • Advisors should be talking about philanthropy early on in their client relationships, at the first meeting or at the latest, by the third meeting.
  • Steer away from the nitty gritty of planning and get down to what really drives your clients.
  • Talk about your own philanthropy as a way to bond with your clients by showing that philanthropy is something you value too.
  • Make sure to include your clients’ extended family in conversations around giving to help your clients pass on their values and make sure the next generation grasps the values of their predecessors. You could even assist your clients in setting up volunteer or site visits with the charities that your clients find impactful.

And as always, The Associated’s Philanthropic Planning and Services professionals remain ready to work with you and your clients on how to incorporate charitable planning into your planning conversations and how to help maximize the financial and charitable benefits of any such planning strategies available to your clients.

For more information, contact Jackie Fuchs Yahr at 410-369-9248 or jyahr@associated.org.

Jackie Fuchs Yahr

This is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your own legal and tax advisors.

Meet Our Solicitors: Joel Fink
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Joel Fink

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Joel Fink.

Tell us about yourself. Professionally, I am a partner with The Zolet Lenet Group at Morgan Stanley. We try to help our clients retire and live comfortably, all while knowing they’ve built sound portfolios that will help get through the ups and downs of the markets.

When I’m not working, I try to spend as much time with family and friends, specifically my wife Chantelle and daughter Aubrielle. I also love to watch and play sports, listen to live music and visit Baltimore’s vibrant arts, theater and culinary destinations.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I am a Baltimore native who is extremely proud of his city. There is something special about Baltimore as a whole, and our Jewish community in particular is nationally and internationally renowned (for good reason). What’s so special about our community is that we can adapt and improve with changing times all while keeping true to our long history, tradition and values.

How did you come to hear of The Associated? What was the turning point into becoming a donor? I grew up driving past the “We Are Associated” signs, not knowing what The Associated actually was. When I first got involved over 10 years ago in Young Leadership Council, I saw how nearly every Baltimore Jewish organization was in some way supported by The Associated. It dawned on me that since being a part of the Baltimore Jewish community was important to me, The Associated should be important to me as well! It was in that first year of YLC that I made my inaugural pledge and I’ve never looked back.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? I give to The Associated because I’ve been fortunate to witness firsthand the tremendous impact that my dollars have on the lives of Jews (and non-Jews) living here in Baltimore, in Israel and across the world.

It’s an amazing feeling knowing that every dollar I give to The Associated will be leveraged to a degree that is hard to comprehend. For example, in addition to simply allocating a piece of every dollar that I donate, The Associated is able to support agencies like Jewish Community Services who use that critical funding to go out and secure more grants, government funding and other revenue to provide additional services and support to people here in our community. Furthermore, when I see the money we allocate to Israel and overseas, I know that our dollars are being leveraged with other campaigns from communities across the country to enable life-changing services for people in Israel and throughout the world. I feel incredibly fortunate for the experiences that I’ve had over the years which have helped me better understand the importance of every dollar we raise, and so grateful for everyone who contributes to the Annual Campaign.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? My goal is to help others find meaning in their philanthropy by connecting them with the vast opportunities for engagement that The Associated provides. As co-chair of the IMPACT campaign, in-addition to growing our campaign in terms of dollars raised, my goal is to bring IMPACT and The Associated to new donors and expand our base of contributors among the younger generations. It is so important for young adults, as our rising stars, to feel connected to and engaged by The Associated and our Jewish community, and my goal is to help others have those meaningful opportunities that I’ve been fortunate to have.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? If I could invite anyone to my Shabbat table, I would invite my grandfather Morris “Mike” Fink (of blessed memory). He’s been gone since I was 9 years old, but I’d love the chance to introduce him to his great-granddaughter and share with him all the ways that I’ve tried to emulate him as I’ve grown up. Pop-Pop was my role model and I hope to carry on his legacy of compassion, excellence and integrity as I further establish myself in all my endeavors.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Jewish Women's Giving Foundation Has an Announcement to Make
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Jewish Women's Giving Foundation

Since 2003, the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation of Baltimore (JWGF) has awarded over $1.2 million in grants to 53 non-profit organizations that help women and girls of all faiths and backgrounds live safer, healthier and more meaningful lives. JWGF awards grants through both a gender and a Jewish lens, honoring our cultural traditions of tzedakah (philanthropic giving) and tikkun olam (repairing the world).

We are proud to announce that JWGF recently awarded a record $147,500 in grants to the following organizations:

  • ¡Adelante Latina!
  • Asylee Women Enterprise
  • Baltimore Hunger Project
  • Higher Achievement (third year of a three-year grant)
  • Jewish Community Services
  • Marian House
  • NATAL
  • Orr Shalom
  • PeacePlayers International
  • Tahirih Justice Center

JWGF is a giving circle that empowers women as funders, decision makers and agents of change. Each member contributes the same amount, and each has an equal voice in directing our grant making. In addition to participating in our annual grantmaking process, JWGF women connect with other remarkable women in engaging, thought-provoking and educational experiences that deepen their knowledge of issues impacting women and girls in our community and beyond. No prior experience is needed, and, by participating, members develop skills in the areas of grant reading, meeting facilitation and leadership. There is no better opportunity to grow personally and professionally, while experiencing the joy of collective philanthropy.

Want to learn more? We would love for you to join us! For more information and to learn about upcoming prospective member open houses over the summer, contact Jennifer Mendelsohn Millman at jmillman@associated.org or 410-369-9205.

L'dor V'dor - Generation to Generation
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Nina Rosenzwog

This time of year, when we are celebrating mothers, fathers and tremendous milestones, I recently found myself surrounded by my son, Stephen, his wife and my two grandchildren, and I couldn’t help but kvell at how fortunate I have been.

I thought about the years of tending to Stephen and his brother, Alex, of being there when they had a fever or simply needed my ear after a difficult day. How many times have I beamed with pride at their awards, their b’nai mitzvahs, their graduations, the birth of my grandkids?

There is this wonderful Jewish proverb, ‘God couldn’t be everywhere, so He made mothers.’ I think nothing is truer. As mothers we are always there... Trying to do our best for our children, both physically and emotionally.

Yet I feel that one of our most important gifts as a mother is to impart the values we hold dear. It’s teaching them to become good people, through our words, and most importantly, through our actions.

Over the years I have tried to live my life as an example. As a mother of two, I wanted them both to feel a strong connection to their Jewish identity and to their Jewish community. I wanted them to understand who they were and what role they play in impacting the world in which they lived.

Today, both are passionate about Israel. I like to believe their commitment began from their traveling to our Jewish homeland on an Associated Family Mission where they experienced the vibrancy of our Jewish homeland and the warmth of its people. And when I chaired The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, they forged friendships with the Ashkelonians who visited.

I showed them the importance of Jewish engagement, through my volunteer work. As they grew older, I served as Associated Women campaign chair, demonstrating to them that every person has the power to impact our community, with their gift of time and dollars—no matter how big or small it is. And, as an Associated Women, I want them to see and respect the power of women as a collective force that can make a difference.

In April, I had the privilege to travel to Israel on an Associated Women Mission. At one point, we gathered together, opening letters from our families, that offered reflections on our roles as mother and wife. What a powerful testament to learn how much I have influenced them.

I live to say our job as mothers is to ensure the past. Our children are in charge of their future. My children are living their own lives today, and I am so proud that they have incorporated the values that I shared in their work and in their private lives.

I am so grateful to The Associated for providing me with opportunities to not only embrace my passions, but to model to them how I wanted them to live.

What is the Best Way to Get My Kids Involved in Charitable Giving?
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Harrel Turkel

By Lauren H. Klein, Assistant Vice President, Funder Services

There is not a right answer. Just like our kids don’t come with manuals, there is not a set of instructions for raising philanthropically-minded children. I wish there was because then it would be so much easier. Some say it’s a good idea to introduce the concept of tzedakah as early as possible, that life lessons are learned when the children are young. Others say it’s better to wait until a child is ready to take on the responsibility from a place of maturity.

You have to decide the right path for your family, and I believe that engaging the next generation should be an ongoing process that is constantly reinforced – not a one-time event.

My first piece of advice is easy…Talk to your children about your own charitable giving. Most people assume their family knows why they give to particular organizations. I encourage you to take the time to tell them why. And tell them why you want them to be charitable as well.

The next step is to involve your kids in the process. There are simple ways to empower your children to take ownership of their giving. For example, in one family I know, the money the sons contribute to the tzedakah box at Hebrew school comes jointly from the parents and the boys themselves. You can also consider establishing a donor-advised fund at The Associated. With a donor-advised fund, you can recommend grants to charities, involving your family in philanthropic decision making.

You can also sit down with your children and ask them to identify a problem they want to fix. If they are very young, you might give them a few options, such as donating holiday gifts for at-risk children or buying winter coats for people who don’t have them. The more you involve your children in the process of giving back, the more they’ll be invested in what you are doing. Allow them to choose the organizations. They’ll feel more connected.

If you have teenage children, encourage them to volunteer for a cause that is important to them. Or, take one day a month to do something in the community together. Jewish Volunteer Connection, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, can help identify the right placement for you and your family to get involved.

I know that college students are even harder to engage than teenagers, but there are of ways to talk to them about charitable giving. As you spend time together this summer, talk about what you are thankful for in your own lives, and identify organizations to which you would like to donate your time and/or money. You might try asking the following questions to start the conversation:

  • What is your favorite organization and why?
  • If you could solve any problem, what would it be?
  • If you had $1 million to give away, how would you do it?

And, if you will be traveling in the next few months, consider using your vacation as an opportunity to give back. One family that I know visits a Jewish community whenever they travel and spends the day volunteering there together.

I know we are all busy with a myriad of commitments, yet I encourage you to make time to have philanthropic conversations and involve your kids in the process. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Heather Cohen on Being a Camp Mom
Monday, June 04, 2018

Heather Cohen

Summer is right around the corner, and Heather Cohen is gearing up to send her two children, Allie, 14, and Michael, 12, away to overnight camp. Although she knows she will miss both of them, she also knows that the time they spend at Jewish overnight camp will bring incalculable rewards – from the friendships they develop to their connection to Jewish life.

In fact, the value of Jewish overnight camp is so important to her that she recently joined The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping Advisory Committee. We had a chance to speak with Heather, a wife, mom, volunteer and Beth Israel Congregation preschool teacher about her commitment to Jewish camp and learn some of her inside tips for parents sending their kids to camp for the first time.

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Jewish community?

My kids attended Goldsmith Early Childhood Center at Chizuk Amuno for preschool, and that’s when I first got involved. As my kids got older, we started volunteering together as a family in the community. I then joined Dor Tikvah (an Associated leadership program) and became active in The Associated system…I was involved with women’s campaign and served as Pomegranate Society Chair, was a campaign delegate, and really enjoyed fundraising so I could directly give back to the community.

You recently joined The Center for Jewish Camping Advisory Committee – did you have a Jewish camp experience as a kid?

I went to URJ Camp Coleman for one summer, and Camp Kamaji for five summers, but I feel like I’m able to see the benefits of camp through my kids. Allie, 14, and Michael, 12, who attend Camp Ramah in the Poconos and love it. Allie is returning for camp for the fourth summer, Michael is returning for his third summer.

How does it feel to have your kids be away from home for the summer?

There’s no doubt that I miss my kids when they are at camp, but I’m so grateful that I’m able to give them this experience. I remember when I met the Camp Director, Rabbi Joel Seltzer…his ruach (spirit), positive outlook, passion, and energy was exhilarating…you just feel like part of the camp family right away – I wanted that for my kids. Allie’s favorite part of camp are the friendships – the bonds she’s made with her bunkmates and counselors. They are role models for her and the relationships she’s formed are unlike anything else.

For my son, Saturdays have become his favorite part of the camp week. He thinks Shabbat services are meaningful and fun. He likes the independence he is given for a less formal Shabbat schedule too.

Does camp play a role during the school year too?

Absolutely! We try and schedule visits for them to see their camp friends a few times during the year – they go to the camp reunion, attend Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s, sleepovers, etc. They talk to their camp friends all the time through Facetime and social media which is great.

Camp Ramah also provides opportunities for campers and their parents to socialize and get together in Baltimore during the school year. We love attending Camp Ramah Shabbat Services and Friday night dinners with Ramah staff and families. This year we also hosted a “Parents night out” in partnership with Ramah – parents came to our house for wine and dessert, and campers went bowling.

Any advice for parents sending their kids to camp for the first time this summer?

My kids love care packages/letters – it doesn’t matter what you put inside, but they like receiving mail. I’m always careful not to write anything that might upset them... I keep the letters pretty basic and talk about the weather or the dog. I never put “I miss you” I only put “I love you.”

Building Leaders in Jewish Baltimore
Monday, June 04, 2018

Walpert Award Winners

Last month, Zachary Garber and Helene Kahn received the Fred Walpert Young Leadership Award from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore for their involvement and leadership within The Associated.

We spoke with Zack, a client advisor at Alex. Brown, a division of Raymond James, and Helene, director of community growth for Thread, Inc., about the importance of young adults taking an active role in helping their community.

How did your upbringing lead to The Associated?

Zack: My family was always involved in the Jewish community. I remember my mother was chair of The Associated’s Pearlstone Center and the Women’s Campaign and my father started the Solomon Society. When I went to college I continued my Jewish learning and was actively involved in Jewish life – from participating in Hillel to traveling to Israel on Birthright.

When I returned to Baltimore [after working in New York and completing my MBA at Wharton], I became involved in Young Leadership Council (YLC) and currently co-chair Impact’s Young Professionals Committee. We plan innovative and meaningful engagement events to help connect young professionals with the Jewish community.

Helene: I was born and raised along Park Heights Avenue. My Jewish identity is deeply rooted in Baltimore and inextricably linked with my dedication to strengthening the Baltimore community for everyone. To me, it has always been clear that The Associated plays a foundational role in our vibrant Jewish community. I became involved with YLC and Impact (its young adult division) to help activate and engage more young adults in Baltimore.

What are you working on at The Associated?

Zack: We recently created “Shabbat Around Town,” inviting young adults to intimate Friday night Shabbat dinners followed by a community oneg. We held the dinners in homes across town – Fells Point, Pikesville, Canton and the Inner Harbor. More than 80 young adults attended the program.

Helene: As co-chair of YLC, we are creating spaces for young Jewish leaders to connect. It’s a great way to develop leadership skills, make meaningful connections that last beyond YLC and help the broader Jewish community.

Why should your generation be engaged?

Helene: If you are successful in life, you have an obligation to take care of those who aren’t. Whatever world we live in is only as successful as the world and communities that surround us. We have the opportunity to shape what we want our community to look like.

Zack: I believe that once you are fortunate enough to take care of yourself, nothing is more important than helping others, and the first place to start is within your community. The Associated has an incredible history and future. The reason the Jewish community is so successful is that The Associated built up the infrastructure to care for the community’s needs.

In one way or another, everyone in the Jewish community has benefited from The Associated – whether it was our ancestors who received immigration services, teens who went to Maccabi, or our grandparents who need elder care.

Best advice parents gave you?

Helene: If you are not willing to do something, don’t complain.

Zack: Care for others and surround yourself with great people who will help motivate and inspire you.

Learn more at associated.org/20s30s.

This story originally appeared in the June issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Take Time to Volunteer This Summer with The Associated
Monday, June 04, 2018

Volunteers

Boy’s Latin student Josh Meister only meant to spend two weeks of his summer volunteering at SuperKids Camp, a summer academic enrichment program to help Baltimore City elementary students. After all, that’s what he needed to complete his community service hours.

Yet, when the final Friday rolled around, and he began to say goodbye to the young students, he started to have second thoughts.

“When I mentioned I wasn’t going to be there, I’ll never forget the look on their faces’,” Meister recalls. “They told me they were looking forward to seeing me on Monday. It was clear to me that we had developed a strong relationship with each other.”

It was then that he realized he could not say no to these youngsters.

Two weeks turned into six in what would become one of the most impactful summers of this teen’s life.

Meister connected with SuperKids Camp, a program of Parks and People, through The Associated’s Jewish Volunteer Connection, which matches community members with volunteer opportunities that reflect their interests. The choices range from one-time experiences to ongoing programs.

Whether it is teens completing community service requirements or families and adults volunteering for the long haul, The Associated offers a variety of opportunities to find one’s niche within the Jewish and broader Baltimore community.

Summer is a wonderful time to volunteer. Here are a few Associated projects to get started.

Volunteer Drivers

CHAI and Jewish Community Services are looking for volunteer drivers to transport older adults to medical appointments, grocery stores or just about anywhere they need to go. Go to chaibaltimore.org or jcsbaltimore.org to learn more.

Summer with Purpose

Looking to add meaning to your child’s summer? JVC’s Summer with Purpose, part of its monthly Live with Purpose program, provides monthly tikkun olam projects you can do at home as a family. This June, families can make snack mixes which will be distributed at summer camps in the city; in July, children can color cards for senior Meals on Wheels recipients.

Volunteer Abroad

Traveling to Israel this summer and want to add a volunteer component to your trip? The Associated has a diverse range of opportunities in Ashkelon, The Associated’s sister city in Israel. Help run a lacrosse or basketball clinic for at-risk children, participate in an arts or cooking project with children living in foster care or work on a sustainable farm. Email Marisa Obuchowski at mobuchowski@associated.org if interested.

Get Community Service Hours

High school students who need community service hours should contact JVC. This Associated program offers volunteer opportunities in Jewish Baltimore as well as the broader Baltimore community.

Learn more about volunteering at associated.org/volunteers.

This story originally appeared in the June issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Meet Our Solicitors: Elise Rubenstein
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Elise-Rubenstein

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Elise Rubenstein.

Tell us about yourself. I consider myself a philanthropist, as I am involved with various charities around Baltimore. My meetings keep me busy, and I feel very fulfilled and fortunate, to do this work. To unwind, I am an avid exerciser; nothing crazy, I’m your basic gym rat. But I do love my red wine and that is the way I end most days. My husband and I like to travel to taste and try new wines in different regions in the US and abroad. Traveling is also a favorite way to unwind.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? As a person who did not grow up here in Baltimore, I can tell you that I was overwhelmed by the generational commitment to giving in our community. The support for our synagogues, the opportunity to raise a Jewish family with so much support from the JCC and other programs for families and the amazing support of our Associated. When I moved here, I joined the JCC and put my kids into their preschool and made lifelong friends there! I then became a member of the JCC Board!

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? I am inspired to support The Associated because of the amazing reach of their support, not only in our community but around the world. I so appreciate that they are our sole solicitors and the 17 agencies that they support with my one gift! I give generously because I know my gift helps so many people!

When I joined the board of the JCC and became a member of the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation, I understood how important it was to give to my community!

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? As I am this year’s Associated Agency Board Campaign Chair, I am speaking with our 300 board members about their gift to support our 2018 Associated Campaign. This has been such a great learning opportunity for me, as I was unaware of the reach of the Associated. I have gained a new-found appreciation for all The Associated does and it’s been a privilege to be an advocate for their mission.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Michael Green on The Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership and its Future
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Michael Green

I had recently retired as principal of Bolton Street Synagogue when The Associated approached me about becoming involved in recreating Gesher Chai, a school twinning program between Baltimore and Ashkelon schools.

Shortly thereafter, Shevet Achim was born, a program that twinned Baltimore’s day and congregational school educators and students with their counterparts in Ashkelon, our sister city. Funded by the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, educators and students in both communities would engage in multiple conversations and joint lessons over a three-year period, laying the groundwork for lasting friendships and understanding between these peers.

That began my involvement with The Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, and that of my wife, Gail, who has since finished a two-year term as funding co-chair. I also served as evaluations co-chair.

Over the years, the Partnership has provided a number of grants to innovative programs that foster personal connections between members of both communities. Today, Baltimore and Ashkelon teens are connecting through a social innovation entrepreneurship program in partnership with 4Front at the JCC. Ashkelonians become campers at our local Jewish camps, where they develop lasting friendships with their fellow campers.

And thousands of Birthright students from our area universities, as well as Associated missions and even Baltimore tourists make our sister city a stop on their Israel journey.

I’ve seen friendships flourish; I’ve seen families traveling to Israel who connect with former shinshinim (Israel emissaries) they first met in Baltimore. I’ve seen weddings... simchas... Shabbat experiences that our community enjoys with Ashkelonian host families.

As the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership enters its 15th year, we have completed a strategic plan and re-envisioned it in order to successfully engage more individuals.

As part of that effort, we will provide opportunities for more leadership to help craft our people-to-people agenda and provide new ideas. We also hope to increase our partnership with synagogues, agencies, day and congregational schools and other Jewish organizations.

When our Ashkelon Partnership friends traveled to Baltimore this month, I had the privilege of attending a dinner with them and a group of young men who recently returned from The Associated’s Young Men’s Mission to Israel. While in Israel, they visited Ashkelon and saw the breadth of our work. As we sat, the conversation turned to the Partnership future, and I was thrilled with their expression of interest in becoming more involved.

The Partnership is so important to ensure that our generation and our children’s will continue to feel connected to Israel as well as appreciate what Israel represents to us and what the two communities offer to each other.

Meet YLC: David & Eugene
Monday, May 14, 2018

David & Eugene

We have so many young adult leaders in Jewish Baltimore – and many of them get their start in the Young Leadership Council (YLC). A two-year program, YLC gives young professionals the chance to develop an understanding of The Associated, acknowledge the importance of philanthropy and gain valuable leadership skills through fundraising, educational programs and community service projects. The 2019 class is our biggest yet at 26 members; today, meet two of these members: David Speer & Eugene Poverni.

Tell me about yourself. Are you a Baltimore native or a Baltimore newbie? What do you do for work?

David: I am a native Baltimorean. I went to the University of Vermont to study forestry and am currently studying for an MBA at the University of Baltimore. I am the associate director for the Washington/Baltimore region of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). We are a 501c3 that supports BGU here in the U.S. through raising awareness of the university, development for the university itself and development of the Negev.

Eugene: I'm a Baltimore native. I work in the real estate development, construction and lending business.

Why did you decide to join YLC?

David: I believe that YLC is an excellent opportunity to help both the Jewish community and Baltimore.

Eugene: I wanted to learn more about the local community and give back.

What has been the best part of the program so far? What's something new that you've learned about IMPACT or The Associated?

David: The best part of the program so far has been to see that there are so many young adults who are committed to the goals and mission of The Associated.

Eugene: The cohort that I am going through the program with and getting to jointly discuss and explore local Jewish topics.

How would you describe Jewish Baltimore to someone who's never been?

David: In my opinion, Jewish Baltimore is very unique. Immediately following college, I worked in the Jewish community in Princeton, NJ and it was very spread out – both geographically and metaphorically. Here in Baltimore, the community is very welcoming and inclusive. Jews of all denominations work together here, which is undoubtedly a product of The Associated's mission to create a cohesive community.

Eugene: A vibrant, immersive and welcoming community.

How do you think you can make a difference in Jewish Baltimore?

David: I work in the Jewish community, so I believe that my connections and understanding of the community from the professional perspective can be helpful in my decisions as a lay person.

Eugene: By being involved and helping to organize events and galvanize people to accomplish our shared mission.

What's your favorite thing to do in Baltimore in your free time?

David: By far, my favorite thing to do is to see the Orioles play at Camden Yards.

Eugene: Spent time with my wife and daughter walking around the Quarry.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why?

David: David Ben-Gurion. Not only do I work for the university that is named for him, but I believe that his vision, courage, intelligence and wit are unmatched. His leadership of Israel in its beginning stages is remarkable.

Eugene: Either the Donald (for the soon-to-follow-tell-all-book-deal), Jeff Bezos (for inspiration) or Larry David (for entertainment).

Recruitment for the Young Leadership Council begins again in May 2019. Want to get involved with other young adults in Jewish Baltimore? Email Rebecca Ellison! 

Meet Our Solicitors: Abigail Malischostak
Thursday, May 10, 2018

Abigail Malischotak

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Abigail Malischostak.

Tell us about yourself. I am the Senior Associate for Community Partnerships at Jewish Volunteer Connection. In this role, I work with Jewish community organizations like schools, synagogues and camps to integrate service into their programming. I live in Mount Washington with my husband, Alex, who is a Jewish Educator in the community, and our dog and cat. To unwind, I love to watch crime drama (Law and Order, NCIS, CSI, etc.) and crochet!

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I spent most of my childhood in Baltimore, then left for 10 years for college, AmeriCorps service and grad school before coming back 2 years ago. I think that the diversity of Baltimore makes it so special – both within the Jewish community and outside. I also know that the way The Associated supports the Jewish community in Baltimore is very unique; we may be one of the only communities whose federations commit to supporting the operating budgets of our Jewish community organizations.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? My parents have been involved in The Associated in various ways since I was a teen. When I returned to Baltimore and began working at a program of The Associated, it was natural to become a donor.

I give to The Associated because I think it makes a true statement when staff in the system support it with our money, along with our time and talents. I believe in the work that The Associated supports, and I'm happy to support that work through my donation.

I know that I am not giving at a level that makes an incredible impact on the budget, but I believe that the impact of my gift is in the statement that it makes: that I both work in the system and contribute to it with my donation.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? I am the co-chair of the staff campaign and I agreed to take on this role because I love that the staff within the system are committed to supporting it. I wanted to show my appreciation to them (which we are doing this year by hosting a staff donor reception, which should be very fun!) and hopefully motivate them to continue (or start) to participate in the campaign.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? If it's allowed to be someone who is no longer with us, I would invite my grandfather (mom's dad), Sam Chyatte, because I never had the opportunity to meet him and have heard wonderful things about him. I would love to get to know him, and learn more about my mother's childhood and our family history.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Meet Our Solicitors: Ira Papel
Thursday, May 03, 2018

Ira Papel

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Ira Papel.

Tell us about yourself. I am a facial plastic surgeon with a private practice in Baltimore, and serve as a professor at the Johns Hopkins Medical school. As co-director of the facial plastic surgery fellowship, I am actively involved in teaching residents, fellows, and visitors from around the world.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I am a New York City area native who came to Baltimore as a student and resident at Hopkins. Baltimore has become home with strong connections to the educational, cultural and Jewish communities.

How did you come to hear of The Associated? After I finished my residency and fellowship, someone recommended the Young Leadership program. That was the beginning of learning about The Associated and all the parts for me.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? This is part of our commitment, and responsibility, to building a better community. Hopefully [my gift] is reaching people with real needs, and assisting The Associated to get the help to where it is needed.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? World leaders who make major decisions about war and peace, who lives and who dies, and who has the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today! 

It Takes a Village to Revitalize A City
Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Community in Baltimore

From taking a leadership role in revitalizing and stabilizing city neighborhoods to working with local schools and other nonprofit partners to foster educational success, The Associated is committed to ensuring that Baltimore thrives.

“The Associated and its network of non-profits are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Baltimore City residents and to partner in building bridges, deepening relationships and enhancing the community together,” says Ruth Miller, vice president of Community Planning and Allocations at The Associated. "In fact our Baltimore Community Partnerships committee is working to enhance collaborations and partnerships in the city as an expression of our Jewish values, history and traditions.”

Neighborhoods. Beginning in 2015, the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) took a leadership role in the Jonestown Vision Plan initiative to redevelop this southeastern neighborhood of Baltimore City, north of Little Italy. The JMM is one of the anchor institutions in the community.

Since the launch of the initiative, Jonestown has seen significant redevelopment along E. Baltimore Street.

“The Jewish community has deep roots on the east side of Baltimore,” says Marvin Pinkert, executive director of the JMM. “We are thrilled to be working with other neighborhood and institutional partners to be part of the redevelopment of this historic community.”

CHAI, meanwhile, has always been at the forefront of strengthening and stabilizing communities in neighborhoods with substantial Jewish populations. In the more than 30 years since the agency’s establishment, CHAI has strengthened five neighborhoods in northwest Baltimore City through promotion of home ownership.

The agency provided hundreds of loans over the years to help residents buy or renovate their homes. They even offer energy-efficient grants and loans to assist low and moderate income homeowners with weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades and improvements to increase energy savings.

In addition, senior home repair programs help seniors who are aging in the community with maintenance, repairs and accommodations so they can live in their homes as long as possible.

Education. Yet for a city to thrive, it needs more than economic development. It needs an educated workforce.

Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) is committed to working with city schools and other youth-serving programs, providing more than 200 volunteers who tutored, mentored and engaged students during the year and in the summer.

Recognizing that many of the children living in economically depressed areas of the city need additional support, JVC partners with Living Classrooms Foundation, an organization committed to strengthening communities and inspiring young people to achieve their potential through hands-on education and job training.

To date, JVC’s volunteers provided more than 375 soup kits, 485 snack bags and hundreds of homemade casseroles to Living Classrooms. Additionally, 85 volunteers donated their time for direct service opportunities such as leading camp activities for kids during field day.

“Our partners at Living Classrooms and in other youth-serving programs aim to motivate and empower children from low-income communities to reach their education and career goals,” says Ashley Pressman, executive director of JVC.

CHAI works with the schools in its neighborhoods to promote educational success.

One of those schools is Fallstaff Elementary and Middle School. According to Mitch Posner, CEO of CHAI, more than 80 percent of the students at Fallstaff receive free and reduced lunches.

Understanding that many students go hungry after school, CHAI partners with the Family League of Baltimore City (FLBC) to participate in their End Hunger campaign. The Supper program provides nutritious full course dinners, five days a week to all students who stay after school for activities, tutoring or enrichment.

CHAI has partnered with the Baltimore Hunger Project to provide more than 60 students from Fallstaff with backpacks filled with nonperishable food for students to take home for the weekends.

The goal of CHAI’s partnership efforts is to provide schools and students with much needed supports to help them achieve academic success.

In one of the more innovative school partnerships, Pearlstone Center received a grant to work with at-risk youth from Baltimore City Public Schools through the Promise Heights Initiative in West Baltimore.

The Promise Heights initiative was established by the University of Maryland School of Social Work to improve educational outcomes for youth and ensure families are healthy and successful in the West Baltimore communities of Upton/Druid Heights.

Students visit Pearlstone three times a year for hands-on workshops where they are exposed to healthy eating and respect for animals, nature and humankind. Students plant, cook, milk and feed the goats, and the program culminates in a fifth grade overnight retreat.

The results to date have been impressive. To participate, students need to improve school attendance. Since they’ve been part of the Pearlstone project, attendance has increased by 10 percent.

CHAI, JMM, JVC and Pearlstone are supported by The Associated.

This story originally appeared in the May issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Staying Friends When Parenting Styles Differ
Thursday, April 26, 2018

By Rachael Abrams, LCSW-C
The Associated’s Jewish Community Services

The sheer volume of parenting advice available in 2018 is nothing short of overwhelming. Seeking out guidance on a particular subject can result in reviewing countless blogs, forums and websites, many of which contradict each other.

Early on in my parenting journey, my wise pediatrician advised me to implement the “go with your gut” philosophy. Now at times when your gut feeling doesn’t seem like enough, but a call to the doctor seems like way too much, many of us consult with friends.

We tend to surround ourselves with friends who share the same morals, philosophies and viewpoints because it helps validate our own parenting decisions. But if a time comes when a friend feels drastically different than we do about an issue, it can be awkward.

When a friend disagrees with your parenting choices, it may feel like criticism. When you disagree with a friend’s decision – especially on an issue you feel strongly about – you might second-guess the friendship itself.

The chances of differing on parenting styles is present at every stage of child rearing. At a young age, subjects such as sleeping habits, feeding choices and preschool curriculum arise. As children enter elementary school, extracurricular activities, screen time parameters, exposure to violence and introduction to social media may take the forefront. When middle school approaches, parents may differ on clothing choices, cell phones and increased independence. Friends can even have differing opinions about colleges.

So, what can we do when we parent differently than our friends?

1. Don’t assume you have all the answers. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your system/rule/decision is the best method. Perhaps this is true for you and your family, but your methods might not work for someone else.

Shaming someone for a certain parenting decision will only add additional stress to your friendship. It is important to remember that there is no one, correct way to parent. Keep an open mind and be willing to widen your world view.

2. Know when to keep quiet. Sometimes, a friend may just want to talk through something and feel heard. A conversation about a friend’s decision to purchase a smartphone for her elementary school child doesn’t necessitate your sharing why you’ve decided to wait until middle school.

Don’t become that friend who feels the need to counteract every statement, especially if you aren’t asked for your opinion. Judging other people’s parenting styles can become a full-time job, if you aren’t careful and discrediting someone for a parenting decision isn’t healthy for any friendship.

3. Remember that who we are is a product of where we’ve been. Our childhood, and the way we were parented (and yes, in 2018, parenting is a verb!) undoubtedly influences the way that we raise our children. Considering a friend’s background may help you better understand motivations behind a decision.

4. Don’t be too sensitive. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when questioned about a specific choice you made for your children. Maybe your friend is just curious about how you came to that decision or wants to know how it turned out.

If your friend is criticizing you, stay calm and remind your friend (and yourself) that just because you don’t agree on this particular issue doesn’t mean that you can’t support each other as friends and parents.

5. Stay true to yourself. Although it often feels like it, parenting is not a competitive sport. Don’t throw away a cherished friendship solely because your friend subscribes to the “Being a Friend to a Child over Being a Parent” philosophy and you don’t. You are entitled to your own parenting paradigms and should stick with them even when someone feels differently. Remind yourself about all the things you have been doing right.

Remember that as parents, regardless of our style, we have similar goals. We want our children to be healthy, make good choices and grow into well adjusted, capable adults. At the same time, we are human. We’ve all made parenting decisions that we aren’t proud of. Sharing these stories with each other and reminding ourselves of our vulnerabilities as parents can help smooth over rough moments between friends.

Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.

Middle School Students Reflect on B’More Inclusive
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Local Jewish middle schoolers participated in the B'More Inclusive community project in which they worked together with peers who have special needs. Together they made placemats for seniors, get well cards and rain sticks for kids in the hospital and scarves for people in shelters.

How did it change them? Here are reflections from our community:

NERVOUS… I was nervous because we couldn’t communicate or relate to them
In the beginning when we came in I was a bit overwhelmed
I was nervous because we were seeing all these kids with special needs and I didn’t know what to expect
I was nervous because two kids got me a little surprised by jumping on me
I was nervous about meeting people that were so different than me and I had no idea what to expect

 

SURPRISED…I didn’t think they would be able to communicate or do anything but they were able to
[I was surprised] how hard it can be for others
Even though some of them could not talk they had their own way to communicate
I was surprised at how much they were able to understand and do
I was surprised at how smart and nice they were I was surprised at how quickly me and my friend bonded
I was surprised that even though they all had very severe disabilities they all had different abilities
[I was] surprised they could do so many things
It was interesting to meet people who are different and have different needs

 

I LEARNED….Even disabled kids have feelings
It was interesting to see the way they did projects compared to the way we would do it
They all had something special about them even though they had some disabilities
Even disabled kids have feelings and I realized they are not so scary

 

WOWED … I was amazed to see this school, the staff and the equipment for the children

 

CHANGED… I felt more comfortable at the end than when we first came in
It changed the way I look at people
I was changed. At the beginning I felt nervous but then I realized she has feelings like everyone else and this has been a great experience!

 

MOTIVATED… Once I met the kids I was motivated to participate in an activity with them
I was motivated to do more activities like this
I was motivated to spread the word that [these] kids are just like other kids
I was motivated to become their friend in a short amount of time
It motivated me help more and do random acts of kindness
Once I met the kids I was motivated to participate in the activity with them
It made me want to learn more about people with different abilities
It made me want to learn more about people with disabilities

 

COMFORTABLE… I didn’t feel weird around them
I was excited and felt comfortable around them
I was excited and happy to be with them and it was really fun
I am used to being around kids with disabilities and I enjoy being around them
They were very nice and fun to be with
I didn’t care that they were different, they are not so different
I felt like there was no difference between me and my friend and we are all kids and the same
It looked like the kids were happy to see us
It was so much fun to work with the kids!
It was interesting to meet people who are different and have different needs
They were really smart and aware
I know more about what it is like for them
The girl I was assigned to was the sweetest little girl
I didn’t think they were so different. They just have a disability
I just felt comfortable. They were so nice and friendly and there was no problem

 

WHAT WE CAN DO ... When there is someone sitting on the side go over to the person and include her
When someone popular goes over to a girl who is left out, it becomes the “in” thing to do
If you are laughing with someone make sure you are both feeling the same way

 

“Just as their faces are different, so are their opinions different”
[Mishna Brachot 58:72]

B’More Inclusive is a project of the Louis D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. This year the CJE has a DoMore Inclusive opportunity. Teenagers of all abilities, including those who have a physical or learning difference, are invited to create a graffiti style mural for the JCC. Email yzelinger@cjebaltimore.org for more info!

Putting Smiles on People's Faces: Why David Levi Volunteers
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet David, a young adult from Ashkelon who believes that volunteering should be a part of every person's life. David volunteers with AMEN, a youth volunteerism program in our sister city of Ashkelon, Israel that supports more than 10,000 teen volunteers on a regular basis.

How did you first get involved with AMEN? I started to volunteer there in eighth grade when I got to Ashkelon. I started to volunteer with [an organization similar to] the Girl Scouts as well as with the youth council in the city. We're deciding on events and helping out in the community – we fill boxes with food and send them to poor families. Overall, it's fun. You do it with friends. You meet all sorts of people. It fills you; it gives you purpose. You feel satisfaction after you finish with the project.

What's the best part about volunteering with AMEN? They say when you give back to other people, you get something back. And it's true ... If everyone did this, if everyone volunteered, the world will be better because we're all helping one another. With the scouts, I lead a group of young kids. I go on trips with them, I show them Ashkelon and we do volunteer work.

How do you think working with AMEN makes an impact in your community? I know I'm helping the community. Sometimes, you meet the people you're giving the food packages to. You can see the smiles on their faces because they have food and now they can do the holy days properly. You know you're making someone's day – or year – better.

Why do you choose to give back to your community? I've never done something more satisfying than this. You feel good after volunteering. There is an expression – send your bread over the water, and after some days, it will come back to you. If you do good things, I believe they come back to you. Helping the community should be a part of everyone's life.

Do you want to make a difference in Greater Baltimore and beyond? Explore your volunteer opportunities.

A Civic Responsibility: Why Jacob Davenport Gives Back
Monday, April 16, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet Jacob, a grad student and volunteer at the Jewish Museum of Maryland who considers giving back part of his civic responsibility.

Tell me how you first got involved with the JMM. I got involved with the JMM shortly after moving to Baltimore in January. Before the move, I looked into museums to volunteer at because I was looking for a history-focused volunteer opportunity. I moved for graduate school, but I wasn’t starting until the summer term, so I figured this was a good time to get some more experience and to see how a museum operated from the inside.

How would you describe the impact that JMM makes in our community? I started a project in the gift shop on Monday which I think speaks to the JMM’s effect in the community. I’m going through the archives and looking for images to produce a line of museum specific cards, by finding archived pictures of families and individuals corresponding to the current available card collection’s themes (birthday, anniversary, bat mitzvah, etc). The idea is to produce cards that speak to the lives people lived in the area, rather than using abstract designs.

That’s what I would say the JMM is primarily about – dignifying the lives of the Jewish community in the area. It keeps the experiences of people who wouldn’t make history books alive for the community. That’s the main effect it has on the community – through its permanent exhibit Voices of Lombard Street and through its archives, it champions ordinary people’s experiences so visitors get to see a more intimate style of history.

Walk me through a typical day of volunteering with JMM. When I come in, I get the mailing lists updated and then I move on to some clerical work, such as typing up feedback from teachers who led school trips and submitting information on the JMM’s upcoming events to local news sources and community organizations. Of course, I’m taking calls and welcoming guests along the way. In the gift shop, I'm assigned a number of organizational tasks, like checking product inventory, repositioning sales displays, assisting with organizing back stock or labeling new product.

Why do you choose to give back? I give back because I think it’s a civic responsibility that I ignored for too long. In the past, I focused almost exclusively on school work while people around me were getting out and helping others, and I don’t want to do that any longer, especially since I moved to Baltimore as part of a fresh start. From what the staff at the JMM have told me, they’ve seen their work make a difference to people, even if just in little ways, and that’s something worth being a part of.

Do you want to make a difference in Greater Baltimore and beyond? Explore your volunteer opportunities with Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus.

Meet Our Solicitors: Rachel Elliott
Monday, April 16, 2018

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Rachel Elliott.

Tell us about yourself. I am the Chief of Staff/VP of Community Development at CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. where I started working in 2006 upon moving to Baltimore. I grew up in Chicago, earned a B.A. in International Studies at the University of Oregon, studied Jewish text and philosophy at PARDES Institute in Jerusalem Israel and earned a masters in Jewish Communal Service and Social Work from Wurzweiler School of SW in New York City.

I'm committed to community development and neighborhood stabilization work in Baltimore and believes that there is endless opportunity for our neighbors and neighborhoods. I met my husband Ray at Pimlico Race Track in 2007, and we have been having a romance with the city ever since. I live in Mt. Washington with my husband, daughter, dogs, snake and some fish and frogs.

What do you think makes our community so special? That our community is very tight-knight, and that many different segments of the community work together for the good of the whole community.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? I give because I love my job at CHAI, and The Associated’s funding and support are critical to the success of CHAI’s ability to achieve its mission.

Every gift counts, and my gift, like everyone else’s, is what makes our campaign successful and our agencies able to do the work we do.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? I hope to increase the Jewish communal professionals’ connection to the Annual Campaign so that they feel like both an Associated Donor as well as a service recipient.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? The Obamas, because they are fascinating.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Filling the World with Love and Respect: Why Ellyn Samuelson Volunteers
Monday, April 16, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet Ellyn, a volunteer with CHANA who grew up volunteering and wants to ensure all people are treated with love and respect.

Tell me how you first got involved with CHANA. At an event in 2015, I was approached by my friend Alyson Friedman who asked me if I would be interested in being on the board of CHANA. When I started going to the board meetings and I found out the level of domestic abuse in the community, I couldn't believe it! CHANA provides a safe place for the community to call for support, guidance and information regarding trauma that occurs to men and women across the lifespan. Through programs like Boys To Mensch, Safety Kid and The Healthy Relationship Program, CHANA provides our youth with tangible skills regarding building healthy relationships. CHANA also gives access to therapists and lawyers to help with the clients' needs.

How would you describe the impact that CHANA makes in our community? As a board member, I volunteer to help collect clothing for the clients and I collect clothing for the CHANA sheds. (Located in both the Weinberg Park Heights and Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCCs.) Next year we are hoping to launch clothing drives in many of the local schools and synagogues. I love driving around town and picking up bags of clothing and throwing them in the shed!

Tell me about an experience you've had volunteering with CHANA that has moved you. The most moving experience I have had with CHANA is participating in the Mother's Day gift program. Each woman is given a gift basket to pamper her with things she would personally enjoy. Through the generosity of board members and community members, we are able to shower the women with gifts that are meaningful to them. They deserve it!

Why do you choose to give back? I chose to give back because I grew up in a family where everyone volunteered. It was common for me to accompany my mother to a charity luncheon, and my father often attended board meetings in the evenings. I feel that, as a part of tikkun olam, we could all spend some of our time helping others. I am honored to be on the CHANA board and it is my hope and wish that all humans will always be treated with love and respect.

Do you want to make a difference in Greater Baltimore and beyond? Explore your volunteer opportunities with CHANA.

How Aaron Martin Gives Back with Jewish Volunteer Connection
Monday, April 16, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet Aaron, a member of Jewish Volunteer Connection's board who conquered the Casserole Challenge and strongly values tzedakah in his everyday life.

You're on the JVC board. Why did you decide to join? I became active in JVC through [a] VolunTeam [volunteer groups with flexible scheduling for projects]. I saw how JVC successfully engaged with the community's existing desire to volunteer and help others ... I am also very drawn to how JVC fosters Jewish community as it brings people together – across the spectrum of Judaism – with a common goal to do good.

How would you describe the impact that JVC makes in our community? On the recipient side, JVC's impact is almost immeasurable. JVC is truly involved in hundreds of direct and indirect service projects every year that impact individuals from all over Greater Baltimore.

Yet, the impact on volunteers is greater than the thousands of acts of kindness they generate. JVC fosters a community culture of giving that is a Jewish value held in high esteem. JVC is also an outlet and tool for parents who value giving to teach and show their children the value hands on. Giving monetarily is great, but not an easy thing to involve children in a way that they learn it.

Tell me about an experience you've had volunteering with JVC that has moved you. About 2 months ago in a meeting with the JVC leadership, I remarked that I wish I could get my son's school involved in JVC. I thought that, if my son sees his Rebbe engaged in giving, it will have a strong impact on him. Karen Singer, chair of the board, challenged me to listen to the passion in my voice and go for it despite any uncertainty that I had. I'm so happy she did! Right before Pesach, the Kosher Meals on Wheels program included almost 100 grape juice bottles and cards drawn and personalized by the school's first graders in its deliveries. [The program] generated a lot of discussion about who the recipients are, which is such an important part of being a giver – being able to see who are the people out there and their needs.

I hear you participated in JVC's recent Casserole Challenge. How was that? When I first heard of the Casserole Challenge, I thought it was not for me; however, I signed up to collect casseroles for an hour, thinking, sure, I can spare that hour. As the collection date came closer, I started to feel funny that I would be showing up empty-handed. I had this moment of, Oh, a lasagna is a casserole. I can do that! I proceeded to make two cheese lasagnas to bring with me. I shared my epiphany moment at the next board meeting and now I've jokingly become the lasagna man. It's great how just being involved with JVC allows me to continually challenge myself to go out of my comfort zone.

Why do you choose to give back? I can't say I've ever made the decision to give back – it's something I always assumed. In Yeshiva, I learned the value and obligation of tzedakah and had strong role models around me who meticulously gave ten percent of their earnings to charity. Growing up, I watched my mother, who was a teacher, have neighbors' kids over who needed help with homework. She also would spend hours and hours on the phone before each summer as the volunteer administrator of a local camp scholarship fund. A few years ago, I made the decision that giving money was not enough and to focus on more active giving. I believe we are obligated to give because there are needs to be met but also because, through giving, we grow spiritually. For me, volunteering is a more potent growth tool and I'm fortunate to be able to do both.

Do you want to make a difference in Greater Baltimore and beyond? Explore your volunteer opportunities with Jewish Volunteer Connection.

Meet YLC: Michael & Gali
Sunday, April 15, 2018

We have so many young adult leaders in Jewish Baltimore – and many of them get their start in the Young Leadership Council (YLC). A two-year program, YLC gives young professionals the chance to develop an understanding of The Associated, acknowledge the importance of philanthropy and gain valuable leadership skills through fundraising, educational programs and community service projects. The 2019 class is our biggest yet at 26 members; today, meet two of these members: Michael Raphael & Gali Wealcatch.

Tell me about yourself. Are you a Baltimore native or a Baltimore newbie? What do you do for work?

Michael: I am a Baltimore newbie, but my wife is from Owings Mills. I work for LGA Capital, a commercial real estate capital markets company.

Gali: My family moved from Jerusalem when I was two, so I definitely feel like a native. I'm a photo layout designer – I work with photographers and individuals to design custom wedding albums and other photo projects.

Why did you decide to join YLC?

Michael: I joined YLC because I wanted to give back to the community, learn more about Judaism and expand my personal and professional networks.

Gali: I was invited to attend a Discovery Tour about The Associated, and after learning more about how essential the organization is in our community, I saw an opportunity to get involved through YLC.

What has been the best part of the program so far? What's something new that you've learned about IMPACT or The Associated?

Michael: The best part of the program has been learning more about The Associated, understanding just how far reaching all the services are.

Gali: At our first session, we spent a lot of time learning about each member's journey and what led them to YLC. For never having met each other, it was an incredibly open and meaningful exercise that made me really excited to be spending the next two years with this group. I've learned so much already, I don't even know where to start! One thing that comes to mind was the amount of volunteer involvement on almost everything The Associated does, and the limitless opportunities there are for individuals looking to help.

How would you describe Jewish Baltimore to someone who's never been?

Michael: It is very unique. As an outsider, I have never seen such a connected area that really builds a sense of community.

Gali: Baltimore has such a special blend of Jewish people, spanning so many different philosophies, backgrounds and types of observance – all coming together to create a warm and supportive community.

How do you think you can make a difference in Jewish Baltimore?

Michael: I would like to continue to connect young Jewish families to one another and increasing the amount of education about the Jewish religion and theology.

Gali: Ask me again in about two years – I'm working on it! I think the key is to always look for opportunities and see where they take you.

What's your favorite thing to do in Baltimore in your free time?

Michael: I work long hours during the week so weekends I like to spend as much time with my two young children and wife.

Gali: I love being social – old friends, new friends... there's always fun to be had!

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why?

Michael: I never met any of my grandparents, so I would love to sit and have a meal with them.

Gali: I would invite my grandparents. My grandparents weren't able to be here, or they were no longer living, by the time I was making Shabbos in my own home, and I would have loved to share that with them.

Recruitment for the Young Leadership Council begins again in May 2019. Want to get involved with other young adults in Jewish Baltimore? Email Rebecca Ellison!

In Her Mother's Memory: Amy Baum Chairs CHANA's Race Against Abuse
Wednesday, April 04, 2018

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Amy Baum has run her fair share of races, including the Baltimore Half Marathon, but on Mother’s Day, May 13, she will be running for something different. That’s the day when she will be participating in the Race Against Abuse, CHANA’s 10K and Fun Run, in memory of her mother, Barbi Hyman, a former prevention educator at CHANA.

Baum, who first conceived of a race shortly after her mother passed away, also is chairing the 10K. She is excited that it will raise funds for CHANA, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, to support CHANA’s work preventing and helping those suffering from domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse in Baltimore.

We spoke with Baum, who lives in Ruxton with her husband, Jeff, and two boys, Eli and Noah.

How did the idea for a race begin? My mom passed away in November, 2016. The following May, I faced my first Mother’s Day without her. I felt I needed a way to turn my first Mother’s Day without my mom into something positive. I organized a run for family and friends at Lake Roland. Thirty people came. Some walked, some ran and then we gathered under the canopy I rented for bagels. I talked about CHANA. Everyone brought a donation for the organization.

And this year? I decided to expand the idea. This year, the race will be held on the NCR Trail. I believe that the cause we are supporting is so important, particularly with everything in the world that has been going on, and the revelations about sexual harassment and the establishment of the #MeToo movement. I’m hoping that CHANA’s Race Against Abuse will be the beginning of something really big.

Is it just for runners? No. You don’t have to be a runner to participate. We also encourage those who want to walk to participate in a 1.8 mile fun run.

What did you learn from your mother? My mother always said, “You only have so many beans in your pocket...so use them wisely” and she lived her life in a way that filled her up. She cared deeply about empowering women. She felt it was important for women to have confidence and be self-assured and she wanted them to be in healthy relationships. She made me aware of how many unhealthy relationships exist and she was determined to get people talking. She wanted to give kids the language to speak out so we could prevent a lot of suffering.

What did she hope the students she spoke with would walk away with? I think she would say, “Trust your gut. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and value you. If it feels uncomfortable or feels off, get out.”

What would you like to say to your Mom when you cross that finish line? Don’t worry, Mom. You have given us everything we needed and more. We will use our beans wisely and we will continue to do the work that was so important to you.

Through its annual allocation, The Associated supports CHANA’s work with domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse. To learn more about the race and to register, go to chanabaltimore.org/race.

This story originally appeared in the April issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Hosting a Shinshin Means Gaining a Life-Long Friend
Wednesday, April 04, 2018

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Harriette Golob Wienner stood in the outdoor garden in Ashkelon, tears in her eyes, watching Liron Menashe walk down the aisle. She could not believe she had known this young Israeli for only 11 years; it felt as if her own daughter was getting married.

Wienner first met Menashe when she arrived in Baltimore from Ashkelon to serve as a shinshin, an Israeli emissary, hoping to connect students and adults to Israel. Wienner and her husband, Steve, were her host family.

For the Wienner family, it was an incredibly rewarding year. As they took her on trips to the beach and University of Maryland football games, as they celebrated Passover with Mensahe and her mother, they began to really understand Israeli life through the eyes of this 18-year-old.

“Not only would our children gain a big sister but she also brought Israel to life in our home,” says Wienner. “Today, we no longer see the country as this place 6,000 miles away, but we see it as a place where we have life-long friends.”

For more than a decade, the Macks Center for Jewish Education, through funding allocated by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, has brought two Israeli teens to Baltimore to connect with community members. Much of the time they interact with youngsters and teens through programming at area schools and Jewish groups.

Over the years, the program has proven so successful that next year, Baltimore will be one of five communities that will expand the Shinshinim program to a new model, in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel. Through this model, eight shinshinim will arrive in Baltimore this fall, increasing opportunities for Baltimoreans to form personal relationships with and feel connected to Israelis.

Vered and Marty Taylor, and their two children, were fortunate to host two shinshinim; Yuval Saadon in 2015 and Avia Eliyahu in fall 2017.

Although the Taylors have been to Israel multiple times – Vered’s family lives there – they saw it as a chance for their two young children to have a big sister, while sharing Jewish Baltimore with the Israelis.

“Scouting was a big part of Avia’s life and she brought her enthusiasm for Scouts to the U.S. with her, along with her Scout uniform,” says Marty Taylor. “Our son, Guy, is also involved in Scouts and Avia shared so much about Scouts in Israel with him and his Cub Scout Pack. The Scouts also were interested to know that scouting is worldwide.”

The Taylors also took their two shinshinim to many Baltimore events that support Israel, demonstrating the community’s commitment to the Jewish state.

Today, Eliyahu is still in Baltimore but Saadon has returned to Israel. The Taylor family still texts and Facetimes her. When they are in Israel, Marty Taylor says, “I Iike to catch up and see how our Israeli daughter is doing.”

Wienner feels the same way. In fact, when her daughter, Jenny, was in Israel for a dance program, she spent many Shabbat dinners at the Menashes’ home and the former shinshin came to her performances.

“We have so much to learn from each other,” says Wienner. “This program brings Israel to life for so many young Baltimoreans who may never, otherwise, meet an Israeli contemporary.”

To become a host family, go to cjebaltimore.org.

This story originally appeared in the April issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

The Associated Connects to Israel for 70 Years
Monday, April 02, 2018

 

The Beginning of a Great Partnership: Baltimore and Ashkelon

By Linda A. Hurwitz
Co-founder of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership (with Michael Lapidus z”l)

It was a little over 14 years ago. The Associated was interested in partnering with a sister city in Israel when it “discovered” Ashkelon. In so many ways, this beautiful city, situated on the Mediterranean Sea, could not have been more perfect.

Outwardly, the comparisons were uncanny. Both communities boasted a Jewish population around 100,000. And Ashkelon recently had built a beautiful new marina that reminded us all of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Yet most important, the people and the municipality of Ashkelon wooed us. Everyone we met was so warm and friendly, and we knew that our two communities would instantly bond.

Since the first moment when we sat down together after the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership was formed, to today when countless Baltimoreans travel to the city to volunteer... when Diller teens are hosted in Ashkelon homes... when shinshinim (Israeli emissaries) travel to Baltimore for a year to share Israel with our students... we have realized that dream.

I have always felt so close to the people and the land of Ashkelon that when our third child was bar mitzvahed we wanted to have the ceremony there. During the service, my son put on tefillin for the first time. The Rabbi had these words for him:

The box on your head, you should always think of Israel and Israel should be at the forefront of your mind;

The box on your arm, it points to your heart. You should always love Israel and Israel should always be a big part of your heart;

And the straps wound around your arm, it will remind you that you have done something for Israel. You came and celebrated with your Ashkelon family. You should always continue to do for your homeland!

 

Israel’s Ambassadors: Shinshinim Join Baltimore’s Community

 

By Nathan Braverman, Macks Center for Jewish Education Board Chair

Over the past 10 years, the Macks Center for Jewish Education’s (CJE) Shinshinim program has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to bring young Israelis from Ashkelon to Baltimore to forge personal relationships between the two communities. These poised and enthusiastic Israeli high school graduates, who defer for a year from the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), are amazing ambassadors for their country. By sharing their hopes, dreams, culture and lives with our students and others in the community, they are exposing us to real Israelis so that even our youngest children can positively identify with the Jewish State.

Because our young people are constantly exposed to negative publicity about Israel in general, and Israeli soldiers in particular, the shinshinim offer them an up close and personal view of their Israeli counterparts. It is an incredibly effective way to counter the often biased views of the press and other detractors on our college campuses. The impressions formed by these relationships strengthen our bond with Israel by providing our children with first-hand experiences to accurately inform them as to the true nature of Israeli society.

Next year, the CJE, with The Associated and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), will bring eight shinshinim to Baltimore, developing more meaningful relationships with an even greater number of individuals in our community.

CJE is grateful for the opportunity granted by The Associated, its Israel and Overseas Committee and JAFI to expand this program and better serve our educational partners in our day schools, congregations and the community-at-large.

 

MIDC Boosts Israel/Maryland Business Partnerships for Over a Quarter Century

 

By Steve Dubin, MIDC Chair

It’s hard to believe it was more than 25 years ago when a group of Baltimore’s Jewish community leaders and business executives sat down to talk about how to absorb the influx of Russian Jewish immigrants to Israel. It was the late 1980s, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, and unemployment hit double digits in the Jewish State.

Recognizing that a Maryland/Israel economic development partnership would prove beneficial to both communities, we enlisted the support of Governor William Donald Schaefer. In 1988, he enthusiastically signed a Maryland/Israel Declaration of Cooperation with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Moshe Arad, which called for both sides to collaborate in high-tech development and business cooperation.

In 1992, the Maryland/Israel Develop Center (MIDC) was established as a public-private partnership between Maryland’s Department of Commerce, Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Trade and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Today, this non-profit membership organization promotes bilateral trade and investment.

Looking back on that time, I don’t know if anyone would have predicted how important that partnership would grow to be – how much it would economically benefit both communities. As Israel has evolved into a global technological powerhouse, many of its industries dovetail with Maryland’s leading industries.

CHANA joins the nation in recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Monday, April 02, 2018

By Naomi Taffet, LCSW-C, VAS-III
Director of Service Coordination, CHANA

Movements like #MeToo, It’s On Us, and Time’s Up have thankfully brought to the forefront public discussions that were once considered a hidden topic, but more needs to be done.

Most sexual violence cases never get reported... only one in five survivors talk to someone about the assault. Many sexual assault survivors say they feel shame. We must continue to engage everyone and change the rhetoric. Moreover, it is imperative that clients are given the safe place to speak about what has happened, to be heard, and to be believed. Having the courage to come forward to speak your truth is incredibly healing and powerful, so this year’s national campaign theme, “Embrace Your Voice” is a great opportunity to empower those affected by sexual abuse to stand up and speak out.

At CHANA, we provide support groups for survivors to do just that...our “Finding Your Voice” and “Sharing Your Voice” programs are facilitated by highly, qualified professionals. CHANA provides individual and group counseling to male and female survivors as well as self-care groups, self-defense classes, and different activities throughout the year designed to encourage survivors to embrace their voice.

Recently, I had the pleasure of being on a conference call with former Vice President Joe Biden during which he emphasized the need, now more than ever, to change the culture in the way we treat women. He spoke of being a proud grandfather and how incredibly special it was for him to help unpack his granddaughter on her first day of college. You could hear his smile over the phone. And then, you could hear his voice and demeanor change when he disclosed his biggest fear…that his granddaughter has a one in five chance of experiencing some kind of sexual assault on campus. Biden, who launched the It's On Us campaign in 2014 together with then-President Barack Obama to end campus sexual assault, is disheartened by the fact that rates of violence on campus against young women hasn’t changed that much over the years.

We all need to get involved in helping to prevent sexual violence on campus, and in our own backyards.

Just like throwing a pebble in a pond, sexual assault does not just affect the survivor, but can create ripples throughout the survivor’s circle and community. CHANA is here for family members, friends, schools, and colleagues when abuse occurs.

Zoë Reznick Gewanter, Prevention Educator at CHANA, works with students in local schools to learn how to practice healthy relationships and how to recognize and respond to abuse when it happens. Together with schools, congregations and community groups, we create events that help people understand the reality of abuse in our communities and get clarity on what to do, if and when, it occurs.

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C, Director of Advocacy and Outreach, was instrumental in bringing Safety Kid to the Baltimore community, an abuse prevention program designed to work with school administrators, families and students, to ensure that our children are educated in age-appropriate ways to handle potentially dangerous situations.

April 3rd is the National Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month (SAAPM) Day of Action! Wear teal to show your support for survivors of sexual assault and help raise awareness. Every 98 seconds, another sexual assault occurs. Remember, if you see something, say something. Together, let’s embrace our voices and work to creating a culture of respect, equality, and safety.

The Great Women of Jewish Baltimore
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

In our community, we are blessed to have many talented and wise women working on behalf of The Associated and our agencies. As chair of Associated Women, I am especially proud that we have a system which empowers and recognizes women for the unique gifts they bring to their communal work.

It is especially gratifying when we have the ability to laud and reward our great women for their efforts. I hope you will join me in celebrating the achievements of three special women: Carole Fradkin will receive The Builder of Tomorrow Award for her work on behalf of The Associated at the Federation of Jewish Women’s Annual Convention on Thursday, May 24. Carole is a long-time, dedicated and passionate volunteer in Associated Women. She holds the distinction of being the first working woman to serve as president of what was then called the Women’s Department. I hope you will join us at the event on May 24. We will share the information about purchasing tickets when it is available.

Wendy Miller has been invited to join the National Women’s Philanthropy Board of Jewish Federations of North America, the umbrella organization for our federation system. Wendy joins other members from our community: Judi Fader, Michele Lax, Laurie Luskin and Nina Rosenzwog and life-time board members, Linda A. Hurwitz and Brenda Brown Rever. Wendy’s term begins with the board’s annual retreat in June. The goal of involvement on this board is for our members to share and learn best practices from our counterparts across the country and bring that knowledge back to our community.

Linda A. Hurwitz will be our community’s recipient of the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award at the International Lion of Judah Conference in January 2019. Each community is encouraged to name one woman who exemplifies the spirit and vision of Lion of Judah through a commitment to tzedakah and tikkun olam. As a past chair of National Women’s Philanthropy and a passionate and dedicated solicitor in our community, Linda is a deserving honoree for this recognition. We will celebrate Linda and her inclusion in this auspicious group of women at the Lion of Judah Conference. Information about the conference will be sent out shortly.

I am so pleased that we have the opportunity to celebrate women in our community who are making a difference. It is my goal to give all women in Jewish Baltimore the chance to find their area of interest and pursue it. If you want to talk to me or a professional about getting involved with the great causes and projects in our community, please contact me at nrosenzwog@associated.org.

Bringing Philanthropy into your Seder
Monday, March 26, 2018

By Rabbi Debbie Pine

The word Seder means order and whether you are the cook, the dishwasher or the service leader, the many steps and complications of hosting a Seder can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost in the details of dishes, when to do what, and what prayers to say when.

Thankfully the Haggadah is a clear outline, and this ancient how to manual can easily get us from start to finish. Seder is about details and preparation. If we can step back from the details, the broad, timeless themes of the Seder can give us guidelines to pause and think about our philanthropy.

There are many natural places to engage in conversation with your family about philanthropy during the Seder. The beginning and end of the Seder act as book ends to challenge us to look outwardly and think about the world around us.

One of the first, dramatic and significant moment of the Seder is Yachatz, the breaking of the middle matzah. Very early in the Seder, we take the middle matzah, break it, and it becomes the afikomen. As we break the matzah, we recite an ancient Aramaic passage that reminds us that this is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat.

The sound of the breaking of the matzah reminds us that the world is broken. This is a great moment to pause and think about brokenness. How is our world broken? What aspects of our world need our attention and support? What does it mean to be poor?

At the very end of the Seder, we say “next year in Jerusalem.” At many moments in our history, Jews longed for Jerusalem. For us today, we are celebrating 70 years of sovereignty in Israel, 70 years of enjoying the streets and sounds of Jerusalem. What does next year in Jerusalem mean to us when we have Jerusalem?

Today, Jerusalem is a mixture of conflict and peace, of diversity and unity. In our tradition and at the Seder, Jerusalem is aspirational. Jerusalem is a symbol of the sense of goodness and peace that we as Jews strive to bring to the world. As much as we have Jerusalem as an important part of our homeland, we are always striving to live up to the values that it symbolizes. What would it take to create a world of peace and equity? How do we bring justice to the world?

A conversation about philanthropy can start with the breaking of the matzah and our understanding of the brokenness in our world. As families, we can identify what aspects of the world we strive to repair. Then, at the end of the Seder, as we long for Jerusalem, recognizing that our work is never really done, we can think and dream about how our efforts and our philanthropy can truly repair the world.

Many families tell me that they are “all over the place” with their philanthropy. They want to make a difference, but there are so many needs and they feel pulled in so many different directions. The Seder can help us focus.

Although the details are many, the themes are clear. The crumbly, dry, plain matzah reminds us that the world is broken. Throughout our history, we have experienced that brokenness.

We know it first-hand. This is the moment, in our comfortable and beautiful homes, with our tables overflowing with food, to remind ourselves of the pain of hunger and poverty. Jerusalem reminds that our work is never done. Seder can focus us to stop and think as a family about what is truly broken in our world. What do we want to fix today and tomorrow?

Passover reminds us that we were slaves in Egypt. We were poor. We were hungry. Jerusalem reminds us that despite how lucky we are, the obligation to fix the world always will be present.

May this Passover bring warmth and joy with your family. At this moment of renewal, seize the moment to recognize brokenness and think together about how your family’s philanthropy can move us toward the aspirational nature of Jerusalem a city of peace, a world of justice.

Farm-to-Table Seder Plate
Monday, March 26, 2018

By Rachel Steinberg Warschawski

Are you personally acquainted with your Seder Plate? Strange question, you say? Not for our family! This year, we’ll be lucky enough to incorporate an almost entirely farm-to-table Seder plate, courtesy of Pearlstone’s USDA certified Organic farm, at our Pesach Seder. For one of the most quintessentially experiential celebrations in our Jewish calendar, what could be more fun and meaningful than to use ingredients to which our family has a personal, year-round connection?

One of our favorite things about Pearlstone Center is the opportunity to touch, taste and experience our Jewish agricultural heritage. Our family has learned Jewish concepts and skills that strengthen the connection to our faith and inform and enrich our modern, Jewish practice. We’ve been inspired to be more conscious of Shmirat HaAdamah (safeguarding the Earth), Tzar Baalei Chayim (the welfare of animals) and Kedushat Shabbat (the sanctity of rest.)

Whether through a wheat harvest demonstrating the Torah’s laws of Tzedakah, a pickling exercise that shows the awesome power of Teshuvah/change, or stomping grapes to make our own Kiddush wine, Pearlstone creates immersive, experiential connections to the Torah that let participants live and truly connect to Jewish practices and values. Throughout the year, at Shabbat and holiday celebrations, family festivals, Tiyul adventure days and Family Farm Camp, we are part of a supportive and warm community engaging in vibrant Jewish life, connected to one another, to the land and to our sacred Jewish tradition.

And so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to incorporate on our Seder plate a Beitzah (egg) laid by the chickens that my daughter chases (and catches) on each of our visits to the farm. Maror (horseradish,) Karpas (parsley) and Chazeret (dandelion greens) will be harvested from the greenhouse produce that we and other local families have helped tend during Family Farm Day visits. We’ll swat each other during Dayenu with green onions cultivated by our farmer friends, Perri and Greg, and we’ll even savor our own home garden-grown lavender in our Charoset.

It says in the Haggadah, “Each of us is obligated to see ourselves as one who actually left Egypt.” I’ll never have a better appreciation of that concept than I did after a morning of mud-brick making at Family Farm Camp (think blazing heat, bare feet, heavy mud, straw and sand – thank the Lord for the Exodus!)

Our sages had it right – the Seder is our original mandate for experiential learning and the epitome of Living Judaism. This year, what a blessing to touch, taste and appreciate on such a personal level the fruits of our communal strength and the source of our Divine deliverance!

Wishing you and your family a Chag Sameach!

Grandparenting from Afar
Thursday, March 22, 2018

By Karen Nettler, MSW
Director of Community Connections, Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

I grew up in the 50s and 60s being blessed by the relationships I had with both sets of grandparents and one great-grandmother. In fact, my great-grandmother’s death when I was 21 years old was the first close family loss I experienced.

All of my grandparents lived nearby – my father’s parents lived within walking distance of my home. It was not unusual for them to drop in for a visit. My mother’s parents had dinner with us on Tuesday nights and my grandmother would then sleep over our house (in my room) before heading off to work the next day. Even as I write this, a smile comes to my face when I think about those days: sitting at the piano with my paternal grandfather, enjoying the stories of the “old country” from my grandmothers, and especially the delicious pastries my maternal grandfather brought from the Bronx each Tuesday afternoon!

Fast forward to today, and I am now relishing being “Bubbie” to twins (a boy and girl) who are now two years old and live in Michigan. I have longed for this stage, yet never anticipated that my grandchildren would not be a regular part of my daily life. But with a little determination and planning – and with the technology we have today, I have managed to build a strong relationship with Whitney and Isaiah.

How have I done it? First and foremost, I have committed myself to visiting them in Michigan every four to six weeks. I hold very special status with the airlines! These visits allow for me to be on-site with them for the entire weekend: when they wake up, go to sleep, play and even get cranky.

It’s total immersion time for me as my daughter and son-in-law often take advantage of the opportunity to go out as a couple or to run errands. It is pure joy – and a ton of work – to watch two toddlers at once. I’ve become a regular at the local parks and library where the kids love all the stimulation, and I enjoy the company of other Bubbies, parents and nannies. I also get to meet my friends, so I can relate to “their world” when I’m back home communicating with them by phone.

Modern technology is a faraway grandparent’s best friend. When my daughter announced she was pregnant, I gave up my flip-phone and bought a Smartphone just so that I could Facetime with the kids. I keep copies of their favorite books in my home so I can read to them; pretty soon we’ll be reading to each other as they memorize the words to the books. I also keep some finger puppets and other bright colorful objects around the house to keep their interest, since looking at Bubbie is not the most exciting activity for a toddler.

Keeping abreast of what captures their interest (versus mine) and honing in on those topics has been so rewarding for me – and I think for them. I’ll never forget the look of amazement on their faces when Elmo showed up at my side during a recent conversation.

In addition to reading and entertaining, I have found another use for Facetime as well. I started sending gifts for occasions like the first day of school, so that I can watch the kids open them while we are on the phone. That way they know the present is from me, and I get to see their excitement when they open the gift.

Even when we’re not on the phone, I found ways to connect by creating photobooks of their milestones and memories while I’m at home. This allows me to reflect on all our special times even when we’re not together.

Time will tell where our relationship will go in the years ahead, but I’ll do my best to keep up with their interests. Time to stop writing; I have a plane to catch!

Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.

*Editor’s note: Since writing this blog, Karen has announced she is retiring from JCS. She and her husband are moving to Detroit to be closer to their grandchildren. Mazel Tov to the whole mishpacha!

Using One’s Senses to Experience the Seder
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

 

By Martha Goodman, coordinator of Maryland Special Needs Advocacy Project at the Macks Center for Jewish Education, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Current research shows that teaching through the five senses – known as multimodality teaching – strengthens how information is absorbed and retained. When we experience something with our whole body and through different channels rather than by being passive observers, we are bound to understand what we have learned and remember it more fully. And while multimodality teaching is often seen as a modern concept, Torah teachers have known this for centuries. Through the Passover seder, our opportunity to hear, see and taste the story of the Israelite's exodus from slavery to freedom helps us each to ultimately feel that we ourselves have experienced the journey.

The Haggadah implores us to each see ourselves as having gone out of Egypt. Some commentators stress that we should envision ourselves as having been in the minority of the Jews who were faithful and were saved. (It is taught that some 80 percent of the Jews perished during the plague of darkness, under cloak of imposed night, so we would not become bewildered and further scorned.) But the simpler explanation is best: We need to not just envision ourselves as having gone out of Egypt but rather experience ourselves as having been taken out.

While the heart of the seder is the retelling of the story of our being taken out of Egypt, it is crucial that one also “tells your son” (or daughter), engaging our sense of hearing. This telling is so critical that if one is alone, one tells oneself the story, asking and answering his or her own questions. While we may think of a printed Haggadah as synonymous with this action of telling, the story of the exodus was an oral tradition until the Middle Ages. As more people had access to books, the seder quickly became more visual, with illuminated Haggadotz. But that was not the first nor the most important use of visual reinforcement.

The text of the Haggadah discusses the proper time to discuss the story of yetziat Mitzrayim (being taken out of Egypt), and the answer given is “…when matza and maror (the bitter herb) are before you” and one points to the matza and maror and says: “Because of this, G-d took care of us.” So much of the seder is visual – the symbols on the seder plate, the covering and uncovering of the matza, and of course the disappearance of the afikomen! In fact, the need to see these symbols is so central that halachic (legal) questions have been posed regarding how certain requirements of the Pesach seder apply to a blind person. While these questions are resolved, they highlight the power and significance of our sensory experiences in engaging in Jewish life.

Of course, we know the importance of engaging our sense of taste in the retelling of the Passover story. We dip the vegetables in salt water to remember our tears; some add even more bitter vinegar. It is well-known that we are told to not eat anything after the afikomen “dessert” to leave the taste in our mouths. We see the charoset – traditionally a mixture of apples, nuts, wine and spices – and are reminded of the mortar that the Israelites were forced to use to build storehouses. In the taste the of this fruit mixture is also the reminder of the pain of couples separating so they would not give birth to children doomed to slavery or death, as well as the heroic efforts of the wives to appeal to their husbands to build their families in the apple orchards. And once again, Sephardic tradition embellishes upon this, adding dates and figs, evoking imagery from Song of Songs regarding love and intimacy.

Rambam, or Maimonides, in his commentary, takes the multisensory experience of retelling the Passover story one step further. He adds a single letter to the verb “to see oneself” (lirot) rendering it “to make oneself seen” (lehiraot). Thus, Sephardic customs add even more to the sensory reenactment of the story of the exodus.

They carry matza on their shoulders and walk around the tables. Moroccans raise the seder plate above each person’s head and declare themselves free. Some Persians, too, add physicality to their remembrance of the harsh beatings of our slavery are remembered through lashes with scallions or leeks during the singing of Dayenu. And thus, the rabbis send us on a multisensory journey out of slavery into a world of even more miracles, gratitude, and the opportunity to serve G-d.

But why must we see and be seen as having been taken out of Egypt by G-d personally? To feel the gratitude, to re-experience the love, to remember God’s unbreakable promise. To taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalms 34)

Martha Goodman is the coordinator of Maryland Special Needs Advocacy Project at the Macks Center for Jewish Education, and is collaborating with Jewish Advocates for Deaf Education and volunteers across the country in Jewish Captioning Initiative, making Jewish learning accessible through a multisensory approach.

Meet Jake & Jessica
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In April, we're celebrating 70 years of Israel! Our Jewish homeland has a deep history and rich culture, but there are also a ton of ways to be involved in Israel – right here in Baltimore. Today, we're chatting with Jake Lieberman and Jessica Pupkin, co-chairs of the Young Adult Israel & Overseas Committee.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jake: I moved to Baltimore about a year ago from South Florida. I work in the real estate industry for Sotheby’s International Realty. I love to play tennis and travel on my free time.

Jessica: I am a home-grown Baltimorean. I am currently in my last semester of law school at University of Baltimore School of Law. I am also currently a law clerk at Johns Hopkins Health System Legal Department and at Fotheringill & Wade, LLC. In my spare time and to unwind, I love to cook, listen to music, travel and read anything other than a law textbook.

Jessica, tell me about your Onward Israel experience.

Jessica: After my senior year of college, I was lucky enough to be a participant in the Onward Israel program. During my summer, I interned with Bnai Darfur which is an organization started and run by the Darfurian refugee population in South Tel Aviv. This was my fourth trip to Israel but the first time I spent more than two weeks in the country and was completely immersed in the culture.

Jake, what's your relationship to Israel?

Jake: I have been to Israel four times; however, I went on a unique program in high school that really did it for me. It was a tennis exchange program where I trained in Ramat Hasharon tennis center during the week and lived in the kibbutz on the weekends. I was able to travel the country and live like an Israeli at the same time.

Jessica, when you returned to Baltimore, you participated in our Young Pros Countering BDS program. What propelled you to join?

Jessica: After spending the summer in Tel Aviv, I fell in love with all things Israel and was completely inspired. I felt a passion and a responsibility to get involved and helped not only protect Israel but to share my experience and effectively educate others about countering the BDS movement.

Now you're both chairing the Young Adult Israel & Overseas Committee. What do you hope to accomplish as co-chairs?

Jake: I took a lead on this committee because I wanted to spread the love I have for Israel and overseas Jewish communities to others. I hope to teach people more about Israel and what it has to offer.

Jessica: I hope to engage and connect the young adult population of Baltimore. I hope to help provide meaningful learning experiences while helping facilitate connections within the community.

Since taking on this role, what have you learned about the Baltimore Jewish community?

Jake: While although Baltimore itself is relatively small, there is certainly a Jewish presence felt. There are organizations for almost anything or anyone who may need assistance. This is truly amazing to see. It is also nice to see so many people who continually come to back to back events to show their support.

Jessica: I’ve learned that the young adult Baltimore Jewish community wants to be engaged! They want to connect with other young adults who share similar values and have similar experiences. The Jewish community here is vibrant, diverse and passionate about Israel – it's inspiring.

What's one myth you'd like to dispel about Israel?

Jake: The shawarma in Jerusalem is much better than that of Tel Aviv.

Jessica: Israel is not all a conflict zone – it's 1,000 times more than that. It's the most unique place I have ever travelled to. There is so much history and such a vibrant culture that is so much more than the political unrest that sits so far in the backseat when you’re actually there immersed in the country.

What's your favorite thing to do in Israel?

Jake: Walk the Tel Aviv port in the evening.

Jessica: My favorite thing to do in Israel is to explore new places like waking up at 5:00 a.m. to watch the sunrise at the Ramon Crater and try different things like eating a traditional Sudanese lunch with the Darfurian refugee population in the Tel Aviv Central bus station.

What's one piece of advice you would give to someone traveling to Israel for the first time?

Jake: Plan it out so you can spend Shabbat in Jerusalem.

Jessica: Put down your phone, take it all in and always stop for the six shekel falafel.

Want to learn more about how you can get involved with Israel — right here in Baltimore? Drop a line to Marisa Obuchowski!

Gleaning for Good: Men's Mission Volunteers Help Pick and Sort Fruit For Those in Need
Friday, March 16, 2018

Project Leket was inspired by the Bible, which states: "When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings."

As part of a jam-packed, six-day itinerary, which included rappelling in Machtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater) and surfing the Mediterranean Sea, participants of the recent Nachalah Men’s Mission volunteered in the rural farming fields near Ashkelon — where they joined forces with some Israelis from Hewlett Packard to pick excess oranges for distribution to the needy. “I was so impressed to learn that more than 56,000 people volunteer with Leket Israel annually,” says Larsson Davis, one Nachalah participant. “It was great to work our two-hour shift with such dedicated volunteers along with our friend Michal, the former shlicha (Israel emissary) to the Pearlstone Center for Living Judaism.”

Leket Israel, a leading food rescue organization in Israel, focuses on salvaging healthy, surplus food and delivering it to those in need thanks in part to the help of partner organizations such as The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

The Associated provided a grant in 2018 to the Leket Women’s Program, a project designed to employ previously exploited agriculture workers, primarily Arab women, to help rescue millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables annually from fields and orchards throughout Israel. Laborers like Sama, an employee in her 20’s, are paid above minimum wage and receive transportation to and from their work sites.

"It is so difficult for women from my village to find a good job, and Leket is great. It's true that I wake up very early and work hours in the blazing sun, but it is for a greater purpose and a common goal," Sama says. “I want to make enough money to go to study, build a house and create a life for my husband and me."

Jacob Hodes, another participant on The Associated’s mission, was happy to contribute and help Israeli families and communities in need. “I found it very rewarding to work in the orange grove with the knowledge that the act of gleaning, a centuries-old practice of collecting produce left behind after a harvest, is tied to the Torah and common Jewish practices from way back,” Hodes shares.

Leket Israel works to eradicate hunger through various food rescue projects providing food to 175,000+ Israelis each week and distributing over two million hot meals a year.

“To keep our trucks on the road collecting and delivering food to those in need, we rely upon the generosity of people and organizations such as The Associated,” explains Varda Livney, Leket Israel's field coordinator. “The 500 kilos of oranges the volunteers from The Associated’s Men’s Mission picked that day, will help feed 250 families in need.”

Meet Our Solicitors: Will Minkin
Thursday, March 15, 2018

William Minkin

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Will Minkin.

Tell us about yourself. I am married with two kids. I’m a lawyer and I like to play golf, go to Orioles and Ravens games, see concerts and travel. I am a life-long Baltimorean.

What do you think makes our community so special? Our community is special, as there are so many people that are committed to giving their time and money, when it’s far easier to simply say “no, thank you” and focus on your own needs.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? I am inspired to give to the Associated by people in our family and others in the community that have a long history of giving. I feel that we must continue their efforts for the community to continue to thrive and serve those in our community in need.

I hope that the impact of our gift is significant. I’m familiar with the budgets of certain agencies, so I know that literally every dollar is important.

How did you come to hear of The Associated? My involvement with the Associated was completely due to meeting my wife, Buffy, who was actively involved at the time we met (and continues to be very involved). She got me involved and becoming a donor was all part of it.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role?  I solicit in the hopes of helping to maintain (and grow) the campaign. I do it because I believe the campaign is important to our community and therefore we are all responsible for helping the effort.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? Hopefully no one would be offended by this, but I would invite Howard Stern. I’m a huge fan and have listened to him most of my adult life.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Passing the Torch of Charitable Giving with Tax Benefits
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

David C. Lehmann, CPA/PFS, CFP of Cooper & Lehmann, LLP

"That is a great idea" or "I've never thought of that before" are common responses we receive when we raise the question of the legacy of values in our financial planning meeting. The question we ask among the many financial details we address is what values, priorities or objectives do you want to leave as a legacy to the next generation. "It really resonates with our clients", my partner Sandi, will often say. Something touches their hearts once we move away from the strictly financial and legal side of the estate planning discussion. This makes them feel as though they are a link in a chain bridging the previous generations to the future ones. It brings them a sense of purpose as well a touch of eternity that the values they cherish will continue on beyond their lifetime. It is always a very powerful moment during the meeting. You see the glaze in their eyes disappear, which has usually been there for much of the meeting, as they begin to take ownership of the conversation. We suggest that the client considers drafting an ethical will which delineates these important life priorities in a more concrete way. Here is a link to a site about ethical wills – http://celebrationsoflife.net/ As the website states "Legacy is more than what we leave behind. It is how we live our lives as we wish to be remembered."

One example of implementing a legacy of values combined with tax-saving technique is the donor-advised fund. If charitable giving or giving back to the community is a desired value to share with future generations, which often is, a donor-advised fund can easily and cheaply provide the notion of legacy of charitable giving to future generations. Whether at The Associated or at large discount houses, a donor-advised fund can be set-up with a typical minimum of $10,000. It is often recommended to fund the account with appreciated securities which provides for a tax deduction for the full amount of the value of the shares without any capital gains tax on the appreciation. It is viewed by us CPA’s as double dipping – a tax deduction along with amnesty on the capital gains. It is not often that such moments arise in tax law. Most importantly, the children and grandchildren can be listed as the successors to the donor-advised fund. This allows for the next generation to be included in the conversation about charity and how it plays a role in the family legacy. Family meetings can be arranged to discuss the various charities being considered for support and why these are important. These are value-clarification discussions that provide ample opportunities to share with multiple generations the specifics relating to charitable giving that these individuals want to share as their legacy. Ultimately, the next generation will take over the stewardship of the family charitable giving ensuring their involvement in charity and giving back to the community in their lifetime. Our firm has implemented many of these structures to the great appreciation of our clients.

It is of critical importance, in general, when meeting with clients regarding financial or estate planning to broaden the conversation to include the soft side of planning. Beyond the realm of taxes and finances – which inevitably consume our planning – what are those values, life lessons or interests that the client would like to pass down to the next generation and to be remembered about. The concept of the legacy of values through the mechanism of the donor-advised fund transforms what could be a very technical meeting into one in which the client is inspired to share something very meaningful to the next generation.

David C. Lehmann, CPA/PFS, CFP and Sandra V. Geller MPH, CFP started Geller & Lehmann, LLC in 2003 and have been serving clients in a multi-family office style of independent financial planning.

The Tax Reform Act. Finding Ways to Give Charitably… and Still Save on Taxes
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

By Jacqueline Yahr, Esq., Director, Charitable Planning, The Associated

The sweeping changes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts have caused many to fear that charitable giving is dead. Many donors can no longer take a tax deduction for their gift with the increase in the standard deduction and the limit on state and local income and property tax deductions; and even though the Adjusted Gross Income limit (AGI) for gifts of cash has been raised to 60%, the checks will have to be pretty big to be deductible. However, what the new law does offer is a number of opportunities for planned giving. With the appropriate planning, the charitably-included donor can continue to give to charities while also creating an opportunity for additional deductions and increased savings on income taxes.

Gifts of appreciated assets

One of the biggest tax advantages in charitable giving is the double benefit donors get when donating appreciated assets instead of cash. By giving appreciated assets, like stocks, held for more than one year, the donor (1) gets a charitable tax deduction for the full value of the asset, and (2) avoids all capital gains taxes. Utilizing a donor advised fund as a place to donate these assets allows donors to receive the benefits of donating stock, but they can take their time in deciding which charities they want to support.

The new power of bunching charitable deductions

The biggest downside for charitable giving in the new tax law is that a higher standard deduction means fewer itemizers, and fewer itemizers means fewer people who can use a charitable tax deduction. But, donor advised funds can change this calculus. Donors with sufficient flexibility can now pick a target year to itemize, transfer several years’ worth of charitable giving to a donor advised fund in advance and take a big deduction only in the target year. During off years, the donor’s favorite charities still receive checks from the donor advised fund. In this way, no charitable deductions are wasted during the off years when the donor is taking the standard deduction.

The power of deduction bunching also makes large planned giving arrangements more attractive because these tend to produce a single, large initial charitable deduction. Using a charitable remainder trust (or charitable gift annuity) in the previous example to earn lifetime income from the full $1 million also generates an immediate tax deduction of over $100,000. Although the planned giving arrangement lasts as long as the donor, all the charitable deductions arrive up front in one lump sum. Under the old tax law, we might have preferred these deductions to be spread out, anticipating regular annual itemizing. But, under the new law, bunching the deductions up front in the target year, and opting for the higher standard deductions afterwards, will be more valuable for many donors.

The beauty of the rollover

Donors 70½ and older can make a direct transfer from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA to charity of up to $100,000 in a single year. The rollover to charity counts toward satisfying the donor’s required minimum distribution and is not included as income to the donor. The donor avoids all income tax on the withdrawal, even if the donor doesn’t itemize after the new law. The net effect of making a charitable IRA rollover gift is to keep at least the same tax benefit as donors who still itemize their deductions. Remember the donor must strictly follow the rules to make a qualified charitable distribution from their IRA: must have attained the age of 70½ at the time of the gift; the total amount of the rollover gifts in any year is limited to $100,000; the IRA administrator must make the rollover distribution directly to the charity; and the donor can receive no benefit in exchange for the rollover gift, so only outright gifts to public charities qualify. The gift of a charitable IRA cannot fund life income gifts, donor advised fund, private foundations, or supporting organization, but it can be used to fulfill a pledge or fund a single purpose fund.

The Trusty Old Bequest

Many donors, especially those in retirement, are often concerned about outliving their resources. These fears discourage them from considering large outright gifts to charity during life. If a larger lifetime gift makes them uncomfortable, a charitable bequest from their estates is always a good option. This leaves them with the flexibility to maintain their assets during life in case of the unexpected and still make a generous gift to charity. For those donors with estates large enough to pay estate taxes, charitable gifts remain an excellent way to reduce estate taxes $0.40 for every $1 given.

It is difficult to predict with precision how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect philanthropy and planned giving. The doubling of the standard deduction and the exemption from gift, estate and generation-skipping taxes will most directly impact tax policy as it concerns philanthropy. And while we know that tax policy can influence philanthropic behavior, it is not taxes that drives the philanthropic impulse, it is the emotional connection that a donor has with a charity and how the charity expresses the donor’s values and concerns.

If you have questions about which planned giving tool works best for your clients or questions about how to incorporate these tips into your client’s portfolios, please contact Jacqueline Yahr at 410-369-9248 or jyahr@associated.org.

This message is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your legal and tax advisors.

Good Deeds Day Inspires Local Baltimore Families to Volunteer
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Written collaboratively by Dori Chait, Good Deeds Day Chair, and Leslie Hollins, Good Deeds Day Volunteer

The arrival of spring is quickly approaching, which brings lots of excitement to the Baltimore community for many different reasons... the end to the cold weather, pretty scenery, opening day at Camden Yards, lacrosse season and, for me, Good Deeds Day.

Good Deeds Day is an international day of service that unites people from 93 countries who perform good deeds for the benefit of others and the planet. Good Deeds Day, sponsored by Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) in Baltimore, falls on April 15 this year – smack in the middle of the month and well into the time when flowers and trees are blooming.

It is incredibly powerful to be a part of a volunteer event that is happening throughout the Jewish community all over the world. I have been told that people feel reinvigorated and filled with purpose when they participate in this day, much like we often feel when springtime finally arrives. Invigorated. Reborn. Motivated. Energetic.

For the Hollins’ family, Good Deeds Day is a day reserved for family time, reflection and tikkun olam. Here is Leslie Hollins’ story:

My kids are lucky. While life is not perfect, they have a safe home with two loving parents. Although they probably feel they hear "no" too often, they do not need to worry about having clothes that fit, food to eat and a roof over their heads every night. They attend schools with teachers who encourage them to work hard and give them the confidence to believe that they can meet whatever goals they set for themselves. They did nothing to earn this privilege – it was just luck of the draw.

However, several years ago, I realized that there was something missing in my children's lives. They took their privileged life for granted. It is not that they were selfish; they simply lacked exposure to those people who were not quite as lucky as they were.

After that realization, I realized I needed to do more than talk with my children about doing for others. I needed to lead by example. Better yet, if I could instill in them the habit and love of volunteering, they would feel empowered to find ways to better our community.

I can't remember how I found JVC, but I am just so thankful. JVC has made it incredibly easy to volunteer with my boys, even though they were only 9 and 12 years old when we began to volunteer together. I love that JVC offers many different opportunities for volunteering because I want my boys to see that there is no one way to give back to the community.

By volunteering with different types of people (those in homeless shelters, senior living communities, etc.), they are able to push past others' prejudices and understand that everyone deserves respect, understanding and a smile. They are able to not only see the importance of giving back to our community, but they are able to FEEL it.

Good Deeds Day is the perfect time to volunteer – either on your own, with friends or with your family. Good Deeds Day is a day that I now reserve to slow down, count my blessings and show my gratitude.

My boys and I volunteer together, and we love this tradition. They love seeing their choices when registration opens and wait anxiously to find out where they get to volunteer.

When we signed up for bingo at Levindale last year, I had no idea how much fun we would have! The boys enjoyed being with this population so much that they ended up staying almost an hour later than we had anticipated. The residents seemed to enjoy the boys too, and I am confident that we all parted ways feeling fulfilled. JVC makes it easy to volunteer on Good Deeds Day and throughout the year, whatever your interests and time constraints may be. Trust me, when you do good, everyone involved feels really good.

Meet YLC: Adam & Corinne
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We have so many young adult leaders in Jewish Baltimore – and many of them get their start in the Young Leadership Council (YLC). A two-year program, YLC gives young professionals the chance to develop an understanding of The Associated, acknowledge the importance of philanthropy and gain valuable leadership skills through fundraising, educational programs and community service projects. The 2019 class is our biggest yet at 26 members; today, meet two of these members: husband-and-wife duo, Adam & Corinne Janet.

Tell me about yourself. Are you a Baltimore native or a Baltimore newbie? What do you do for work?

Adam: I'm born and raised in Baltimore. I attended Northwestern University for college, but I came back to Baltimore to attend UMD School of Law. I currently practice at my father's law firm at Janet, Jenner & Suggs. I represent victims of medical malpractice and product liability.

Corinne: I'm new-ish to Baltimore – I was born and raised in (sunny! warm!) Southern California, moved out to the DMV area in 2012, and then to Baltimore specifically in 2016. I work in higher education – I am the Coordinator for Leadership Development at UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County).

Why did you decide to join YLC?

Adam: I decided to join YLC because I wanted to take an active role in the Jewish community. It's not enough to merely attend events – it's important to create and give back.

Corinne: I have always carried a commitment to supporting the Jewish community wherever I've lived – California, Chicago, Pittsburgh, DC and now Baltimore. It is important to me to create a community of Jewish young adults who have a similar passion for making the Jewish community a welcoming and supportive place for all Jews.

What has been the best part of the program so far? What's something new that you've learned about IMPACT or The Associated?

Adam: The best part of the program has been getting to know my YLC cohort. We have a great, diverse group of people, each having his or her own unique background and perspective.

Corinne: I am very appreciative of the community that we've built over the past few months. YLCers are passionate, friendly people who share a lot of my same values. I've learned that The Associated has ties not only locally but globally to support Jewish communities.

How would you describe Jewish Baltimore to someone who's never been?

Adam: Jewish Baltimore is a loving, caring, supportive community full of inspiring individuals and groups. The community is deeply invested in Jewish life not only in Baltimore but around the world. As for involvement and attending and having fun at events, Jewish Baltimore is like a broken change machine – you get out even more than what you put in!

Corinne: The Jewish Baltimore community is supportive, loving and committed. It's a thriving community of many different types of Jews all working together to support the community as a whole.

How do you think you can make a difference in Jewish Baltimore?

Adam: I feel that as long as I make one more Jewish person feel welcome – or attract one Jewish person to an event that he or she otherwise wouldn't have gone to – that is the difference I can make right now and is something worth working toward.

Corinne: Having worked in higher education for 6 years, I am very passionate about future generations of Baltimore's Jewish teens and young adults. I think I can make a difference by telling my story and helping to inspire younger Jews to find their personal connection and meaning in Jewish life.

What's your favorite thing to do in Baltimore in your free time?

Adam: My favorite thing to do in Baltimore is spend time with my wife Corinne and the rest of my family and friends.

Corinne: Aside from needlepointing (I promise I'm not a bubbe, just an old soul), I enjoy spending time with my husband Adam and our family and friends.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why?

Adam: If I could invite anyone to my Shabbat dinner, it would simply be my family, including my relatives and ancestors who have passed away. While meeting a celebrity or famous politician or biblical figure might be nice, nothing can replace the love and warmth I feel surrounded by my family.

Corinne: I would want to invite all my California family (parents, siblings, nephews, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone) to Baltimore for a Shabbat dinner. In my life, family and Judaism are two of my most important values, and it would mean so much to me to have all my family in one place to bring in Shabbat together.

Recruitment for the Young Leadership Council begins again in May 2019. Want to get involved with other young adults in Jewish Baltimore? Email Rebecca Ellison!

Teaching Technology to Older Adults
Friday, March 09, 2018

By Melanie Waxman
Technology Concierge, Tech-Knowledge HUB, Edward A. Myerberg Center

As soon as they walk through the door I hear their frustration—not with the technology, but with themselves. Using smart devices for our seniors is like learning a new language.

As an educator, and the technology concierge at the Tech-Knowledge HUB at the Edward A. Myerberg Center, I know that it is really important that we utilize our typical “lesson plan” outline with every client to help them on every project. We look, learn, re-learn and then we relearn before we practice with an activity then practice again and again. No amount of practice is too much! The number one hope for our older adults is to be able to text.

The first question is, “What do you want to learn” which is then followed up by why it’s important for you to learn and how it will improve your quality of life.

How could it not…. A grandchild receiving a text from their Bubbe is worth a huge smile. Being able to connect is great but being able to set up plans and receive pictures in the connection that makes us thrive!

When it comes to technology, here are the top five things our older adults want to learn:

1. Photos: If you start the class session by taking a group picture, the class is excited to see what’s next! The first struggle is that the picture is not in the camera app. It’s in the photos app. We open it find the picture and learn how to edit and share our moments and memories. BTW (by the way) their favorite trick to date is how to take a picture using the volume button in lieu of the onscreen dot.

2. Texting: Perhaps the most important technical lesson is how to send a text. We can attach that picture or just say “Have a great day!” The friends of The Tech-knowledge hub need this skill for a few reasons. One gentleman said he could not leave without learning how to text or his “Lady Friend” would not go out with him. Another Nana needed to text her grandchildren just to get a response and much to her shock, they responded quickly!

3. GPS: Those on the go want to be able to use their Google Maps or Waze (my personal favorite). To type in the address by the magnifying glass or search box seems easy enough but to turn it off, move it back from walking to driving after they touched something... Not as easy as you think!

4. Gestures: We work on some motion testing, pinching, tapping, touching, swiping and double clicking or holding while waiting for them to jiggle, we realize something VERY important. One of our greatest issues is a steady hand touching on just the right spot to have the device respond. That leads me to my best tip-- Get a Stylus—this is the most utilized teaching supply at our sessions!!! I’m so glad I bought and labeled ones to use in our session or they would disappear like bread and sugar from a restaurant table!

5. Home: There is no place like home...screen. We try to make sure the apps of their choice are the easiest to reach.

Top 5 Things I Learned on Birthright
Thursday, March 08, 2018

By Jessica Solomon
Goucher College

1.Take Lots of Photographs - As a photographer, with digital SLR experience and iPhone photography experience, I am constantly taking photographers. Memories only last so long, photographs last a life time. From the vibrant looking spices in the Carmel Market to selfies on Camels, there was never a shortage of photographic opportunities.

2.Make Friends - Though I knew a few people on my trip, it was great to get to know the 38 other members of our bus. By sitting in a different seat every single time you are on the bus, you are constantly meeting new people and having new conversations.

3.Eat- Shwarma, Falafel, Hummus, the list goes on and on. You might be hesitant but go for it. I thought corn on cheese pizza with thousand island dressing was crazy, but it turned out to be one of my favorite meals.

4.Sleep - Constant moving around and getting up early can be tiring. Take care of yourself and certainly hang out with friends for a bit but go to bed when you need to. Sleeping on the bus is also ok, but not when your guide is talking.

5.Israelis want to know about Americans - Every bus conversation was filled with Americans informing our Israeli soldiers of trends and current events in America. In turn, we started a group chat and just helped one of our soldiers apply for University in America!

Meet Zhanna A. Maydanich, Esquire
Thursday, March 08, 2018

An attorney with a private practice in Owings Mills, Zhanna Maydanich specializes on providing in-house counsel services to small and family-owned businesses. With her own lifelong personal and professional experiences, she truly understands the impact and pressure that a small and family-owned business has upon the families of its owners and its employees.

When she’s not working, Zhanna is raising her family of two teenage boys. She is also committed to helping the Jewish community, volunteering in a number of ways with The Associated.

I understand your family started a business when they arrived in Baltimore in 1979.
Yes. My family immigrated to Baltimore from the former Soviet Union in 1979 in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. My father, a mechanical engineer, achieved his “American Dream” establishing a manufacturing plant in the Baltimore area for 30 years until he retired. Having grown up in a family business, I understood that success in business is impossible without the support of your family and the assistance of loyal, honest and knowledgeable professional advisors to guide you through obstacles along the way.

What do you love most about the work that you do?
Today, I am grateful that I have the opportunity every day to protect, guide and advocate on behalf of other hard-working and determined individuals, their families and employees and help them achieve their American dream.

What is your Associated journey?
I have come to truly understand and appreciate the impact that The Associated has on Baltimore’s Jewish community since I served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in 2015. It was eye-opening to find out the extent to which The Associated supports the agencies and programs that every Jewish person in Baltimore is a part of in one way or another. I worked with community leaders who volunteer their time to ensure The Associated’s stability, which ensures that the Baltimore Jewish community remains strong. This experience inspired me to get more involved myself.

How are you personally involved?
I co-chaired the Russian speaking Jewish Baltimore initiative (RSJ), and, with the help of our committee, we were charged with engaging Baltimore’s Russian-speaking Jewish community with meaningful participation in The Associated. I have a close connection to this successful, caring and giving community, and I understand its language and culture. By creating programs and events that educated and included Russian-speaking leaders, we helped the RSJ community find its seat at The Associated’s table.

You co-chair the upcoming Jewish Professional Women’s program?
Together with my incredible co-chairs and committee members, co-chairing The Associated’s Jewish Professional Women (JPW), we put together programs to inspire and unite the Baltimore’s diverse community of career-minded Jewish woman. JPW brings professional Jewish women together to teach, inspire, mentor and support each other to be leaders in their fields and give back to their community. In my role, I meet amazing Jewish women in Baltimore who are making a difference in their industry. I am very proud to have the opportunity to encourage and help them navigate their journey and find their own platform for philanthropy and leadership in various agencies at The Associated. We’re excited for our upcoming April 24 JPW LeadHERhsip Event – Transforming the Workplace: Reaching Across the Gender Divide with author, Joanne Lipman.

Why is giving back important to you?
All giving is personal, and everyone has different reasons for why they donate. That’s why I choose The Associated. They are responsible for fundraising in support of agencies and programs which address diverse issues involving, but certainly not limited to, domestic violence, housing for the disabled, teens in crisis and the Pearlstone Center.

As a member of the Jewish community in the world at large, taking care of my fellow Jew is central to the values and virtues I and my family live by. I am confident that every dollar I contribute is valued, respected and properly allocated to ensure that the needs of individual and the community, as a whole, is properly addressed and cared for.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not working, I’m…
enjoying my family. I know it cliché’ but as a working mother, there are sacrifices that I have chosen to make for the sake of my professional success. However, I am so fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband and two incredibly kind, intelligent and inspiring teenage boys who bring me so much joy and fulfillment. Both my boys are competitive swimmers, so many weekends are spent at swim meets all over Maryland. We also love to travel and try to explore this world together as much as possible. As busy as well are, we truly treasure and enjoy the quality time we spend together.

Meet Ziv Friedwald – Campus Fellow at Johns Hopkins University
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

In partnership with The Associated’s global partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel, each year the Associated provides support for four young Israelis to work as key members of the Hillel staff at Hopkins, Towson University, Goucher College and University of Maryland, College Park. Israel Campus Fellows provide opportunities for students to discuss and form connections with an Israeli, educated and inspire students to forge enduring commitments to Israel.

Tell us about your life in Israel prior to coming to the United States.

Before coming to the United States, I was living in my parents’ house in Ramat Gan. In the Army, I served as a cyber security analyst in the intelligence corps. I had the opportunity to deal with a lot of sensitive information and work with high ranking officers. While I was in the Army, I started law school at Ono Academic College, a small private school near Tel Aviv.

What made you decide to become an Israel Campus Fellow and what was the process like for applying?

Before applying to this job, I worked at Camp Ramah in California. There, for the first time, I was exposed to the life of a Jewish community here in the States. After finishing that summer, I had plans to go to med school until I received a phone call from my supervisor from camp telling me about the job at Hopkins and suggested that I apply. At first, I wasn’t sure, but then I remembered how much influence I had on the small community of kids that I worked with that summer and understood that if I work with older people for a longer period I can connect them to Israel and their Jewish identity even more and so I decided to apply. The process to become an Israel Fellow is quite long. You go through a series of four interviews until you get assigned to the different campuses for the last round of interviews. After the first interview with Hopkins I knew it was the perfect fit.

What is your role as an Israel Campus Fellow at Hopkins?

The Israel Fellow’s most important job is to engage the Jewish students on campus and strengthen their connection to Israel. I’m also in charge of all Israel programing that the different student’s groups on campus are having and advise students about programs and different opportunities for them in Israel.

How are the students here different than the students from home?

The students in Israel are older and more focused on their academics. They usually live off campus and they don’t have many student groups. The students here are very invested in the campus community; they spend a lot of time on extracurricular activities.

When not working what do you like to do for fun?

I really enjoy playing sports, volleyball and especially basketball. I also really love skiing and will go whenever I get the chance.

What's one thing that you miss from home?

Real hummus...and of course my family and friends.

What's one thing that you like here that is not available to you at home?

 

Amazon Prime.

What are your plans for when you return to Israel?

When I return to Israel I’m planning to go to med school.

Baltimore's Ali Blumberg on Being Jewish, Volunteering and Meeting Oprah
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

If you ask Ali Blumberg about her identity, she does not hesitate to say how proud she is to be Jewish. Growing up, this 2010 graduate of Franklin High School speaks fondly about the Jewish holidays spent with family, her bat mitzvah, and how these seminal events shaped who she is today.

That commitment to Jewish values is evident in her commitment to giving back. When she is not working, this second grade teacher is involved with IMPACT, the young adult division of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. We talked to Ali about her Judaism and her most recent volunteer work:

I have such fond memories growing up and being Jewish. I loved going to my grandmother’s house for the major Jewish holidays – the High Holy Days, Chanukah, Passover. It was great being with family. My grandmother would always cook everything and her matzo ball soup was my favorite.

My bat mitzvah was so special. It was held at the Sheraton in Columbia. I loved having my friends and family all together for my special day.

Growing up, I didn’t really know much about The Associated, although I knew people who worked at the JCC [which is supported by The Associated]. The first time I really got involved was several years ago, after I got a call from Rebecca [Ellison] who I’ve known for a long time. Rebecca invited me to sit on a Young Professional Committee.

Since I’ve become involved, I’ve helped plan IMPACT’s Gala and the Tu B’Shevat Seder. It’s great being part of a committee because I get to present ideas for events that interest other young professionals.

I’ve even had opportunities to contribute to making these programs a success, like securing food as a donation for the Seder. What I love about being involved with IMPACT is that I’ve had the chance to meet new people and I enjoy giving back.

We are talking about creating an Oneg Shabbat program downtown where so many Jews live. For me, Shabbat is special. I remember when I was little, I have wonderful memories of my family’s Friday night Shabbat dinners. Now I’m excited to celebrate Shabbat with friends and other young professionals.

If I could invite anyone to my Shabbat table it would be Oprah. When I was younger, I used to watch her on TV every day and I envision her as a leader, a role model who gives back to her community. I would ask her what has been her most rewarding experience in her life so far.

To learn more about IMPACT, contact Rebecca Ellison at rellison@associated.org.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Making Music Across Oceans
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Lance Rombro admits that the term “life-changing” can seem trite at times. Yet, when asked to explain the extraordinary opportunity he’s had these past two years participating in HaZamir Baltimore, he has trouble thinking of a better word.

The same can be said for Elihay Skital, a 17-year-old from Ashkelon, Israel. For the past four years, Elihay has been a member of HaZamir Ashkelon, funded by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership.

For both these high school students, participating in this international Jewish teen choir, which jointly performs in Baltimore and in New York, has been an amazing experience.

Amazing, not only because of the opportunity to sing with other teens on a world-renowned stage in New York, but also thanks to the bonds they have formed with their peers across the ocean.

HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir, now in its 25th year, is a network of 38 choral chapters in communities across the United States and Israel which perform Jewish music locally and nationally. The highlight is the annual concert in New York City in which all communities sing together.

This year, the international concert is at David Geff en Hall on March 18. On March 20, the Baltimore and Ashkelon HaZamir choirs will hold a joint concert at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC.

Rombro joined the choir two years ago. This December, he and a group of HaZamir Baltimore participants traveled to Ashkelon where they stayed with host families. From the minute he stepped foot in the city, he was welcomed with open arms.

“Before the trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yet the time I spent with my host family, the long, meaningful conversations I had and hanging out with the Ashkelon teens made me realize that someone so far away cares about me. It changed my world outlook,” says Rombro.

Skital, who has traveled to Baltimore for the past few years, hosted some of the Baltimore teens in his home.

“It’s so fun to have the opportunity to give back to the people who gave me a comfortable feeling at their own house and city,” Skital says. “I have one strong friend from Baltimore and we talk about everything. I feel so connected to her although we live so far away.”

One of the goals of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership is to foster meaningful people-to-people relationships between members of both communities through programs like HaZamir. For the Baltimore teens, these friendships strengthen their connection to Israel.

In fact, says Erika Pardes Schon, who has served as conductor of HaZamir Baltimore since its inception, those connections go well into the future. HaZamir alumni who return to Israel, she says, often include visits to their Ashkelon friends on their itineraries.

“We want our kids to love Israel and view it as the home of their extended family,” Schon says.

“The Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership is visionary as it is not just about building community, but is nurturing relationships we hope will last a lifetime. The Associated is investing in the future of Israel/Diaspora relations,” she adds.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Strictly Business: Adjusting to the Changing Work Climate
Monday, March 05, 2018

By Harel Turkel 
Vice President, Jewish Community Services Board of Directors 
Chair, Strictly Business 2018 

For the third year in a row, business leaders from across Maryland will join together at Strictly Business, a networking and awards breakfast that has become the community’s “can’t miss” event for employers.

Hosted by the Jewish Community Services (JCS) Career Center, Strictly Business offers valuable networking opportunities, as well as the chance to hear from impressive keynote speakers like this year’s guests, BGE CEO, Calvin Butler and Towson University President, Kim Schatzel.

The theme for this year’s event is “Cultivating a Respectful Workplace,” a subject that is timely and relevant for businesses of all sizes and industries. At my company, SOS Technology Group, the key to success has been and continues to be training employees to work successfully with their peers; making sure people understand the type of behavior expected in the workplace and making sure they understand what will not be tolerated.

It’s important that everyone feel safe and valued or know who they can talk to if they don’t. Though we have always fostered a positive climate, recent events have focused attention on the issues of respect, tolerance, diversity and fairness in the workplace, prompting SOS, like many employers, to review and update our current policies.

Because of my involvement with Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, I am also familiar with the well-established policies in place there and throughout The Associated system, to ensure a work environment that is free from harassment and bullying, violence and threats of violence. These policies can serve as a useful guide for business owners like me as we all try to keep up with the changing work climate.

When our company acquired another firm, the process was complicated. Issues involving gender and age jumped to the forefront. But sometimes it can be hard to know when policies are needed. The financial website Balance.com provides this checklist to help employers.

A policy is necessary:

  • if the actions of employees indicate confusion about the most appropriate way to behave
  • if guidance is needed about the most suitable way to handle various situations
  • when needed to protect the company legally
  • to keep the company in compliance with governmental policies and laws
  • to establish consistent work standards, rules and regulations
  • to provide consistent and fair treatment for employees

Everyone deserves a respectful workplace. When the environment is safe, people feel protected, comfortable, and more invested in their jobs. That leads to greater job satisfaction among employees, improved morale, increased productivity and innovation, and decreased turnover. Those factors are good for the employees and for the company.

Having attended the last two Strictly Business Breakfasts here in Baltimore, I’m aware of the incredible buzz in the room as business leaders connect, make new deals and get information that can benefit them as employers.

I am proud to be the Chair for Strictly Business 2018, which is being held on Tuesday, May 8 at Woodholme Country Club. This annual event is a “friend-raiser” (not a fundraiser), enhancing awareness of the comprehensive workforce services the JCS Career Center provides both job seekers and employers, each vital to our region’s economic stability and growth.

If you are a business owner, executive or hiring manager, you will want to be part of Strictly Business. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, you’ll learn more about how others are cultivating a respectful workplace and find out which three companies will be honored with a JCS Employer Partnership Award this year as a thank you for their contributions to our workforce development efforts. We hope business leaders throughout Maryland will join us at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 8 for Strictly Business.

Sponsorships and tickets are still available but are going fast. For more information and to register, visit jcsbaltimore.org/strictlybusiness.

For more information on the JCS Career Center, visit us online at JCSbaltimore.org or call 410-466-9200.

Meet Our Solicitors: Ronnie Footlick
Thursday, March 01, 2018

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Ronnie Footlick, a women’s team captain this year and the 2019 Women’s Campaign Chair.

Tell us about yourself. I am a native of Philadelphia, but grew up in Baltimore and went all through school here, graduating from Forest Park and then on to the University of Maryland. I work in the family business as Director of Human Resources. My entire career has been geared toward helping others achieve their goals.

In that vein, I was attracted to The Associated because of its long and successful history of working to make Baltimore a more vibrant community for the Jewish people, as well as its dedication to the needs of the community at large. Because of its work, The Associated has addressed the many concerns that would otherwise go unrecognized and identified issues that needed to be tackled for Jewish Baltimore to grow and prosper socially, educationally and emotionally.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? Because my initial involvement with The Associated started at the agency level as a board member, I know personally how our clients are impacted by my gift and that of others. Without my gift, we would not be able to offer the many and varied services that our people need through Jewish Community Services as well as through our other agencies.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? And because of our ongoing successes, if I could invite anyone to my dinner table, I would want to share our Associated stories with the leaders of the past who are no longer here, to reassure them that their years of hard work and dedication to the Associated have propelled the next generation with the same passion and devotion to the ideal of repairing the world. For if you save one human being, it’s as if you saved the whole world.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Maryland Advocacy Day: Students Take Action in Annapolis
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

By Zach Pearlstone

Hello, my name is Zach Pearlstone and I am a part of STAC which stands for Students Taking Action for Change. Leading up to this year’s Advocacy Day in Annapolis, our group attended monthly sessions at the Owing Mills JCC where we practiced public speaking and other advocating techniques.

Before attending Advocacy Day, STAC and ECYP (The Elijah Cummings Youth Program), traveled to D.C. for a mini advocacy day. In D.C., we toured the U.S. Capitol and we also met with an aide for one of Maryland’s senators, Benjamin Cardin. However, this hardly prepared us for our spectacular Advocacy Day.

We arrived in Annapolis, excited for the experience that lay ahead. Our first stop was the Maryland State House. After proceeding through security, we entered in time to see the House of Delegate’s first session of the day.

The session was extremely interesting for us to watch; however, we had little idea what they were discussing. To our surprise, we were recognized and welcomed on the full House floor, not only by a Baltimore County delegate, but by 141 delegates.

Afterwards, STAC and ECYP split up for our various advocacy sessions where we met our delegates. STAC met first with Delegate Dana Stein [D-11] and we presented him the three bills supported by the BJC [Baltimore Jewish Council]: the Maryland Cares for Kids Act, Consent and Hate Crimes.

Next, after a meaningful conversation with Delegate Stein, we discussed each bill in depth. Then, we attended a meeting with an aide for Delegate Chris West [R-42B]. Once we finished our meetings, each STAC group freely roamed the Maryland House of Delegates, meeting with the delegates and discussing the BJC supported bills. I met the deputy minority leader of the house and I engaged in a meaningful conversation about Maryland’s government.

Later STAC debated ECYP. We put our advocacy and debating skills to the test as we attempted to pass an education bill in a mock session. We eventually agreed on a bill and voted it through, offering us a new insight on the job our representatives have.

Subsequently, STAC and ECYP were divided again; my group walked to the United States Naval Academy while the ECYP teenagers went for another lobbying session. At the Naval Academy we attended the Jewish chapel where we learned about its construction and the history of Jews serving in the academy. To our surprise Jews had a long history in the Naval Academy. Unfortunately, there were a few instances of anti-Semitism, but for the most part many Jews achieved success, including one who went on to become an admiral.

After the Naval Academy we returned to the House office building and met with ECYP for a debriefing of our day. We divided into mixed groups, shared our experiences and presented what we learned.

A highlight of the day was dinner. The food was good but what was really fun was seeing numerous state delegates who were happy to engage in one-on-one conversations. I enjoyed speaking with Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford. We mostly talked about his and Governor Hogan’s election.

Before attending Advocacy Day, I was not sure how much I would get out of visiting Maryland’s capitol. I was wrong; Advocacy Day lived up to all of its hype. I could not believe we were able to meet with delegates and were actually able to put our advocacy techniques into action.

New Year, New Tax Laws - Now What?
Friday, February 09, 2018

By Michael I. Friedman, J.D., CAP.
Senior Vice President, Philanthropic Planning and Services

OK, let’s be honest. Who among us supports The Associated, our synagogues, day schools, alma maters and countless other excellent causes because Washington and Annapolis subsidizes our charitable gifts? I will bet you my March Madness entry fee that you give $100 because someone in need will get a warm meal, a child will get an education, we’ll find a cure for cancer or something else wonderful and meaningful will result because we cared enough to give back and make a difference; not because of the tax deduction.

In a survey conducted by U.S. Trust a few years ago, only 10% of respondents said that reducing their tax burden was a motivating factor for their charitable giving. Do you want to know the top three reasons that these same people said they give?

  • Being passionate about a cause.
  • Having a strong desire to give back.
  • Making a positive impact on society and the world.

Imagine that. We give because we want to do good.

But doing good shouldn’t cost you any more than necessary – so what can you do to maximize the impact of your giving while minimizing the cost to you?

Tips for Charitable Giving in 2018 and Beyond

With an increase in the standard deduction to $24,000 for a married couple filing jointly and a limitation on state and local property and income tax deductions to $10,000, fewer people will itemize on their 2018 tax returns (filed in 2019). What can you do this year to lower your cost of giving? Here are three suggestions as we begin a new year:

1. Consider contributing to or creating a donor advised fund (like the ones offered at The Associated) from which you can recommend grants to your favorite charities in future years. By donating so that your contributions and allowable tax payments exceed the standard deduction, you will be able to itemize and thereby lower your taxes.

2. Give appreciated stock or other assets that you have held for at least a year to charity. Even if you do not itemize, you will avoid paying tax on the capital gains realized when the stock is sold. Assuming that you are in the 15% capital gains tax bracket (couple filing jointly with income between $77,400 and $480,050), if you contribute $10,000 worth of stock that you purchased for $6,000 more than a year ago, you will not pay capital gains tax on the $4,000 of gain, saving you $600 in taxes.

3. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who is over the age of 70-1/2 and has an IRA should be making their charitable contributions directly to charities from their IRA’s this year. These contributions can be made tax-free, thus reducing your taxable income. For example, if you normally give $5,000 a year to your favorite charities, and you are required to take distributions of $25,000 from your IRA for the year, if you send $5,000 directly from your IRA to the charities, your taxable IRA income will be only $20,000 saving you $1,400 in federal taxes (28% tax bracket). And these savings are realized even if you do not itemize. (Donors are not permitted to make charitable rollovers to donor-advised funds, supporting organizations, and private foundations.)

There is still much to be gained from a bit of advanced planning on your charitable giving in 2018. Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. Check with your accountant or tax advisor before you act, but act! So many are counting on each and every one of us to make a difference again this year with a generous charitable contribution. There is no reason to disappoint, and if you are in a position to follow one of these three suggestions, you won’t be disappointed either. Wishing you a less taxing 2018.

This message is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. When considering gift planning strategies, you should always consult with your legal and tax advisors.

Meet YLC: Adam & Corie
Tuesday, February 06, 2018

We have so many young adult leaders in Jewish Baltimore – and many of them get their start in the Young Leadership Council (YLC). A two-year program, YLC gives young professionals the chance to develop an understanding of The Associated, acknowledge the importance of philanthropy and gain valuable leadership skills through fundraising, educational programs and community service projects. The 2019 class is our biggest yet at 26 members; today, meet two of these members: Adam Rudel & Corie Hoffberger.

Tell me about yourself. Are you a Baltimore native or a Baltimore newbie? What do you do for work?

Adam: I grew up in Hollidaysburg, PA and went to school at Penn State. I relocated to Baltimore for my job in 2014 and have been here ever since. I’m the Marketing & Football Outreach Coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens where I execute a lot of youth and high school football programming along with many other fan development initiatives.

Corie: I am originally from Baltimore and grew up in the Homeland neighborhood. I attended Bryn Mawr for 13 years and then Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. I moved back home to Baltimore 4 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made! I work as a major gifts officer at Johns Hopkins University and love partnering with dedicated alumni to strengthen the institution's mission in advancing knowledge for the world.

Why did you decide to join YLC?

Adam: I was nominated to be a part of YLC and very humbled to be recognized to be in a group of such distinguished young Jewish professionals! The heavy focus on leadership development in the Jewish community is something very appealing to me, and so far, it’s been an unbelievable learning experience.

Corie: I wanted to join YLC because The Associated has a deep and rich legacy within Baltimore. After moving back, I have been looking for opportunities to impact my community while preserving my family's tradition of volunteerism and philanthropy. I feel that part of my responsibility of being included in the next generation of Baltimore Jews and residents is to serve, and by doing so I along with my colleagues, are showing our gratitude for what they have provided and instilled in us.

What has been the best part of the program so far? What's something new that you've learned about IMPACT or The Associated?

Adam: The best part of the program has been the exposure to the Baltimore Jewish community. YLC has presented an opportunity for me to interact with influencers of the Associated that have contributed to its storied success and make friends along the way – which is unlike anything I experienced growing up in a much smaller Jewish community. Something I’ve learned is that The Associated has something to offer for all Jews – no matter your age, background or upbringing. Whether in a time of need or a time for celebration, The Associated can provide an outlet.

Corie: The other YLC members are fantastic and are a dedicated group of men and women who are committed to their principles and community. With them, I have learned the breadth and bandwidth of The Associated and its many programs. The impact it has on Baltimore – but also Israel and partner organizations – is significant.

How would you describe Jewish Baltimore to someone who's never been?

Adam: A vibrant, engaging and welcoming Jewish community who will go above and beyond to make you feel welcome.

Corie: The Jewish community in Baltimore is a tight knit, strong and vibrant community that has a deep impact on the city's diverse landscape. Individuals, families and communities are actively engaged within the city and are leaders in making it a better home for all people.

How do you think you can make a difference in Jewish Baltimore?

Adam: By giving my time, effort and honest opinions to The Associated through YLC. Jewish Baltimore has given me so much in a short period of time and I look forward to giving back throughout the future.

Corie: I believe I can make a difference through my mindset of community matters and proactively work with fellow members on causes that I care about.

What's your favorite thing to do in Baltimore in your free time?

Adam: Hang out with friends and play golf.

Corie: I am a huge Orioles fan – Go O's! – so I love spending time at Camden Yards. I also enjoy walking around the harbor, going to local farmers markets and exploring new restaurants within the city.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat dinner, who would it be and why?

Adam: Larry David. I’m a huge Curb Your Enthusiasm fan and would definitely like to share Shabbat dinner with him!

Corie: I would want to invite Michael Bloomberg as he is an extraordinary leader and philanthropist. He also cares deeply about American cities, in particular Baltimore, and I would like to discuss his thoughts on how to help unite the city's divisions and bring opportunities and pathways to those who are most needy.

Recruitment for the Young Leadership Council begins again in May 2019. Want to get involved with other young adults in Jewish Baltimore? Email Rebecca Ellison!

From Player to Coach: Joe Uddeme Leads Jr. Maccabi Soccer Team
Friday, February 02, 2018

For three years, Joe Uddeme played soccer for the Baltimore Maccabi team, traveling to Detroit and Wayne, N.J. as well as participating in the 1992 Baltimore games. Today, this father of two is bringing his expertise and a love of the game – he also played for Pikesville Middle and Pikesville High Schools and intramural at Towson University – to the next generation.

This year, Uddeme will be coach of the Baltimore Jr. Maccabi soccer team. The 2018 games, for athletes, ages 11 and 12, will be held in Baltimore on May 6 at the JCC, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

What do you remember about your Maccabi days? I remember meeting so many new people and traveling to new places. For years, I kept in touch with the family that I stayed with from Wayne, N.J. I also played in the first Maccabi games ever held in Baltimore. I still remember the pride I had for our city. We were the ambassadors and had the opportunity to show off our town.

I see you coached Maccabi soccer teams for the Mini Maccabi games (ages 9 and 10) and this year you are coaching the junior team. Yes. I love giving back and teaching soccer skills. This year we plan on having two soccer teams, an A and B team. We already have a lot of kids and are looking to add some more.

Three words to describe your coaching philosophy. Help The Kids. Seriously, I want each player to establish one skill that makes them better. It could be a soccer skill or it doesn’t have to have anything to do with soccer. It might be as simple as learning how to be on time or the importance of helping others.

Your son will be on your team. What’s it like coaching him? Awesome. There is nothing better in the world. I have so much fun watching him gain soccer skills and interact with his friends.

I understand you had a Big Brother. I lost my father when I was 8. I was then raised by a single mom who worked two jobs and did everything to provide for us. I was the baby of four and she reached out to [Jewish Community Services] Big Brother Big Sister for a Big. Since then, my Big Brother has been a part of my life.

Tell me about him. He’s basically set the stage for how committed I am to the Jewish community and how important it is to give back. Having a Big Brother was so good for me. I don’t know where I would be without him.

What’s your goal for Maccabi? When I was on Maccabi, I discovered what’s important in life and developed a deeper connection to the history of the Jewish people. It grounded me growing up and helped shape who I am as an individual – someone with strong Jewish values.

More than 700 Jewish athletes from 15 JCCs across the Mid-Atlantic will be competing. To learn more, visit their website.

This article was originally premiered in the February issue of JMORE, a monthly publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Get your copy today!

Making a Difference in the Lives of Baltimoreans with Disabilities
Friday, February 02, 2018

With the recent introduction of Maryland ABLE savings accounts, which allow families of individuals with disabilities to set aside funds to help their children live independent lives, Jane Rossheim knows how important the program could be to the community. After all, Rossheim has a son with autism.

“As a parent, the ABLE accounts enable you to save money so your child with a disability can have a better life,” says Rossheim, who is the special needs coordinator at the JCC and oversees Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance (BJAA), a resource for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Rossheim sees these accounts as vital to the future for those with disabilities. That’s why BJAA, comprised of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, CHAI, Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), SHEMESH, Jewish Community Services (JCS), JCC, and VSP, a department of Sinai Hospital, is sponsoring two programs with Maryland ABLE on February 20 and 27.

That program is one of many offered by The Associated and its agencies this February for Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month. Additional programs can be found at baltimore.jewishabilities.org.

In 2010, when The Associated commissioned its community study, it discovered a growing number of Jewish households seeking assistance for a physical, developmental or learning disability. As a result, the nonprofit made a concerted effort to develop and support programs that help those with disabilities be successful.

The Associated’s SHEMESH and CJE provide educational support to help those with learning differences. And the BJAA provides comprehensive resources so individuals with disabilities and their families can navigate community services.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five Americans lives with a disability. With this in mind, in the next few months The Associated will launch a committee to survey current community services for people with disabilities and assess them at a macro level.

“It’s important to have an inclusive community so that everyone may have the opportunity to be a fully-participating, active member and feel like they have something to contribute,” says Howard Feldman, co-chair of The Associated’s Caring Commission.

One program helping teens and young adults with disabilities transition to adulthood is the JCC’s KLAL (Keep Living and Learning), a summer experience for 14 to 26 year olds. It combines traditional summer activities, like swimming and fitness, with job readiness support and vocational training.

One highlight is the program’s signature café, open one day a week. Participants plan menus, cook, serve and decorate their “restaurant” while JCC members and staff enjoy $4 meals.

“We’ve been successful in identifying participants’ strengths which their families may not have known they have,” says Rossheim. “For example, one young man who cooked at the café is incredibly meticulous and would be great at a detail-oriented job.”

“By interacting with one another and the community, they learn vital socialization skills. I’ve seen incredible growth over the session from these participants,” adds Sara Rubinstein, the JCC’s special needs program director.

This article was originally premiered in the February issue of JMORE, a monthly publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Get your copy today!

Finding a Chance to Live with Purpose
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

By Melissa Rosenblatt

As you are reading this, you are probably also thinking about the millions of things that you need to do. You are tired and stressed out and may feel like you just don’t have time to do a project. Yet, here are some reasons why it is so important and meaningful. It really doesn’t take a long time to complete, but has a ton of impact on the community and your family.

In December, my family lost our Uncle David suddenly. My daughters, ages 5, 6and 7, had to deal with this type of loss for the very first time.

Uncle David was like an extra grandfather to them. My husband and I decided to focus on our fond memories of him with our daughters.

David Rosenblatt was more than just a beloved uncle. He was a retired surgeon who volunteered throughout his community. He not only fixed countless objects around his synagogue, he also built things for the congregation. He created carnival games that he lent out to countless schools to use for absolutely no cost. He built sets for local theatre programs. He was the type of person that was always there to help, no matter what.

In order to honor this special person, we knew we had to do something that he would have done if he were still here. I contacted the Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) for some ideas and of course they had plenty!

What could be better than to have the opportunity every month to honor our uncle? JVC’sLive with a Purpose program is more than just a one-time thing. It is a way to teach our children that it is always the right time to help. It is a way to teach our children that we are very fortunate and we have an obligation to help others who are going through a rough time.

That is why the Live with a Purpose program is so meaningful. It is ongoing, because life is ongoing. Our family wants to honor those who we have lost while making sure that we fulfill our obligation to help others.

For the January project, we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center, a low barrier emergency shelter that provides homeless services to over 275 adult men and women each night in the City of Baltimore.

It was something that was easy for us to do on a Sunday afternoon together. My daughters were very happy to not only make the sandwiches but they also got to decorate the paper bags. As a mother, it was inspiring to watch them work so intently on this project.

I am always telling my daughters to appreciate all that they have, because other people do not have toys, games, a house or even enough food to eat. This was a very concrete example of what I am always telling them. It was such an amazing opportunity and we look forward to many more monthly projects.

Traveling with 4Front to Ashkelon
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

By Ben Nawy 

This past winter break, I traveled to Israel with 4Front’s Social Innovation Fellowship, and the 10 days we spent there were easily some of the best 10 days of my life. The 4Front initiative, directed by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore and supported by The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, is funded by a five-year matching grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Social Innovation Fellowship is one of the programs 4Front manages.

On the trip, we not only visited many of Israel’s historical and traditional sites, which were awesome, but also visited several Israeli startups, work spaces, innovators and entrepreneurs. Then, we spent the final weekend of the trip in Ashkelon, Baltimore’s sister city, and it was the highlight of my trip.

We started off our time in Ashkelon by visiting the desalination plant. Here, we saw first-hand the process for making seawater drinkable for Israeli citizens. Since Israel is a dry land and they don’t get a lot of rain, they need to innovate to provide water for the country. The process takes water from the sea, puts it through a lot of high pressure systems, among other steps, and produces drinkable water.

4Front’s Social Innovation Fellowship includes a partnership between three cities: Baltimore; Odessa, Ukraine; and Ashkelon. So, our final weekend in Ashkelon included an opportunity for teens from all three cities to unite in person. On our first night at the Ashkelon Volunteer Center, we ate dinner, got to know each other, and learned about the partnership between these three cities. We also had the opportunity to skype with Henrik, our mentor from Startup Experience, who is working with all three cities, to help us on our entrepreneurial journey.

It was the first time teens from all three cities came together for a program like this. I didn’t realize how special this was until the mayor of Ashkelon, Itamar Shimoni, arrived. He stressed to us the importance of this partnership, and admired how at a young age, teens like us were already striving to make the world a better place. Seeing the mayor really showed me how awesome this program and partnership is.

The next day, we took a tour of Ashkelon, including Baltimore Park, which members of our group actually helped build. Then, we headed to a local kindergarten, where we welcomed Shabbat with all the kids, and had an opportunity to hang out with them. It was awesome to see that while we are half way across the world, these kids are just like the kids we’re used to; they all just want to play and have fun.

When we returned to the volunteer center, we talked about the importance of social innovation. Over the course of the program, we have all been working on different products or programs to help the communities around us. So, every group presented a pitch of their idea to the rest of the teens.

It was interesting to see how some of the problems the communities in Ashkelon and Odessa face are different from those in Baltimore, and how some were similar. This allowed us to put ourselves in their situation and learn about their culture and the problems their communities face. We also asked questions to one another, which helped us rethink and improve our own ideas.

On the night of Shabbat, the families of the Ashkelon teens hosted two Baltimore teens and one Odessa teen for dinner. We had an opportunity to experience what Shabbat is like for a normal family in Israel.

The family hosting me combined with two other families, creating a big group and allowing me and my fellow teens to connect, bond, and learn about each other’s cultures over dinner. We talked, ate, hung out and eventually realized how much we all had in common. We talked about sports, music, politics, problems our countries face; we tried to learn each other’s languages, and so much more. And the food didn’t disappoint either. Shabbat dinner was easily the highlight of my trip.

The last night, during the closing ceremony, it was crazy to see that, while we spent less than a week with the teens from the other communities, we were already so close and it was difficult to say goodbye. Many of us still keep in touch through social media.

Overall, this trip, specifically the time we spent in our sister city of Ashkelon, will stay with me forever.

The Power of Women
Thursday, January 25, 2018

By Nina Rosenzwog

As chair of Associated Women, I am pleased to share with you information about the work we do both as fundraisers and friendraisers in Jewish Baltimore and beyond.

We began our work in the community as a division of The Associated and have evolved to a strong, vocal group of women that encompasses all segments of our community, from young to old, from secular to religious, from professionals to full-time homemakers.

No matter where we come from, we find common ground around the issues and causes we care about and the Jewish traditions that define us.

Associated Women are at the helm of committees and boards throughout The Associated and its system of agencies; we are volunteers making a difference in the lives of so many in Baltimore, Israel and abroad; and we are generous philanthropists who use our resources to effect positive change in the world around us.

In our community, over 2,000 generous women support our annual campaign with their treasured resources. Together we raised just over five million dollars ($5 million) last year and will strive to exceed that number this year.

Women have long been change-makers and innovators in Jewish Baltimore. When lay leaders in what was then called the Women's Department realized that domestic violence was occurring in the Jewish community, they came together 22 years ago to form CHANA, our community's Jewish response to domestic violence.

As more issues surfaced, CHANA expanded its mission to include adult survivors of childhood sexual trauma and elder abuse, through SAFE, Stop Abuse of Elders.

Advocating community awareness, safety and healing, CHANA’s professionals share their knowledge with others in local and state governments and nonprofit organizations throughout Baltimore, Maryland and the nation.

Women also established the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation, which boasts over 100 members and has provided over $1 million in grants to programs serving women and girls in the Jewish and general communities in Baltimore, Israel and around the globe.

Hundreds of women have gained and sharpened their leadership skills through programs like Young Leadership Cabinet, the Inspired Women’s Project and Chapter Two. No matter what stage of life they were in, Associated Women had a way to connect them to a meaningful experience. We are even exploring a project we have dubbed “Chapter Three” for women between the ages of 60-75 looking for opportunities to learn and grow together.

I like to say that no matter where your interests or passions lie, we can find a place for you in Associated Women. And if you haven’t found that special spark yet, we can help you discover it.

My first Associated experience was a women’s trip to Israel and that cemented my love of not just The Associated, but for Israel too. In the more than 20 years that have passed since that trip, The Associated has given me the opportunity to pursue my passion for Israel and really roll up my sleeves to work with our friends in our partnership city, Ashkelon.

I am thrilled that I get to travel with Associated Women in April as we take more than 70 women to commemorate and celebrate Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days.

If you have not been involved firsthand with Associated Women, there’s no better time than now to take that first step. I invite you to learn more about what we do and let us help you find your path.

We can arrange to take you to visit our agencies to learn more from the people doing great work for our community every day. And we encourage you to attend community events to get to know us.

Please feel free to contact me at nrosenzwog@associated.org to learn how you too can make a difference in our community and, at the same time, enrich your own life. The friendships I have made through my work at The Associated have been some of the most meaningful relationships I have known.

I look forward to helping you find both your place and your people in Associated Women.

Meet Our Solicitors: Kenneth Hornstein
Thursday, January 18, 2018

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Kenneth Hornstein.

Tell us about yourself. I am a Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch. I provide financial advice to families that helps them achieve their personal and financial goals. To unwind, I exercise, including playing tennis, read and follow our local college and professional sports teams.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I was born and raised in this area. Baltimore has a tightly knit and sizable Jewish community, and is a wonderful place to grow up being Jewish and to raise a Jewish family.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? My parents were donors, and my involvement began with serving on a young adult programming committee and then going through what was then called the Young Leadership Program [now Young Leadership Council]. I have been a donor since my mid-20’s.

I give to the Associated because I believe there is no bigger bang for the buck for each dollar given. Funds raised are spread across many worthwhile local agencies that provide a wide variety of services, and also go towards Jews abroad who are in need. Many agencies would not exist but for The Associated.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? Soliciting gifts is another way of giving to The Associated. I enjoy meeting and talking to people, and I think those I meet with or call see this. It’s all about smiling and having positive energy. The best way to reach donors is through a personal touch. So here I can offer The Associated my attitude and skills to make a difference. And each time I get a gift commitment, it feels as good, if not better, than making my own gift, especially if it is a first-time gift or an increase.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? Tough one. Jonathan Sacks would be good. I enjoy discussing Jewish philosophy. The future of modern Orthodoxy would be a good topic.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Does Your Child Need A Therapist?
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By Stacey Meadows, LCSW
Manager of Child Therapy Services for Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs that we may choose to take on. While there can be rewards of tremendous joy and love that blossoms within this role, we are also charged with a seemingly impossible task of keeping our little ones safe and healthy in an increasingly complex world.

Children today face many of the same challenges that we, ourselves, faced growing up – negotiating friendships, pressures and expectations related to school, fights with siblings, struggles to find our own identity while staying connected to our roots, and so on. In the bigger picture, our world continues to evolve, and as such our children may also face challenges that were foreign to us as kids, such as understanding how to engage in the internet at an early age, an increased sense of insecurity as communities become more transient, and socio-political volatility domestic and abroad that seems to threaten our sense of safety in communities small and large.

Our elementary school students are often less consciously in tune with all of these challenges. They walk the line between the naive babies we dropped off to pre-school and the sassy and increasingly worldly middle schoolers that they will soon become.

In this age, children often struggle with classic childhood conflicts like separation anxiety, learning to learn and study, to be patient, learning to be part of a group and to negotiate conflict. Our elementary schoolers often have vivid imaginations, and wild carefree play, and they use these tools to process and understand the world around them.

So, what do we do as parents, when we notice that our child’s experience of this world is causing them distress? How do we know when enough is enough, and something needs to be done in order to protect and keep them socially and emotionally healthy? How do we know whether therapy might be beneficial?

Unfortunately, we all know that children do not come with instruction manuals, and that there is no “one size fits all” approach to parenting. Each child is different; each child has a unique personality, with unique strengths and coping skills.

The single most effective tool that YOU as a parent have, is knowing your child better than anyone else in this world. You will be the first to notice if their personality or mood changes significantly, if their eating or sleeping habits change, if their engagement and closeness with you or others change.

You have the authority to communicate with their teachers – to know how (or whether) these things may be observed at school.

Certainly, a normal degree of challenge can be expected as we experience big changes in our lives, like the transition to elementary school. However, for most children adjustment to life changes like this are relatively minor (increased worry or separation anxiety are common at this age) and will be most difficult during the first few weeks.

For most children, these symptoms can generally be expected to subside in six to eight weeks. Parent and school support around these issues is tremendously valuable in identifying challenges that kids are facing and helping them to adjust in heathy ways.

If you, however, notice that these changes are significant, do not subside within a couple of months of significant transitions, or if the changes appear without any identifiable trigger and do not lessen in a similar timeframe, you may want to consider the possibility of having them evaluated by a mental health professional. A therapist can, at the very least, help you to assess whether your child could benefit from treatment, and at best, can support your family and your child in experiencing symptom improvements.

Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month and Moses
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

By Rabbi Debbie Pine
Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy
The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

Just as we began the secular year of 2018, we turned the page in the Torah to begin the book of Exodus. Imbedded in the important story of the Exodus from Egypt is a unique model for leadership in Moses.

In our contemporary Jewish reality, February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month. We are fortunate to live at a moment in history when our understanding of science, neurology, psychology and technology helps us understand disabilities. We can be proud of the great strides our Jewish institutions have taken to welcome and include all students in Jewish learning.

As the character of Moses’ leadership emerges within the story of Exodus, we realize that our tradition was way ahead of the times. After all, Moses had a disability. Several times throughout the story, Moses tells The Eternal that he is unfit for leadership.

First Moses says, “Please O Lord, I have never been a man of words either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10) Later, Moses says, “The Israelites would not listen to me; how then should Pharoah heed me, a man of impeded speech!” (Exodus 6:12). Moses resists The Eternal’s appointment numerous times and yet despite Moses’ declared speech impediment, The Eternal continually tells Moses to speak, dozens and dozens of times.

The ancient rabbis attempt to understand Moses’ impeded speech with thoughtfulness and creativity, but there is no clear answer as to whether Moses was actually a stutterer or just a shy, humble person.

Moses was our greatest leader. What is the Torah attempting to teach us by describing our greatest leader as one who struggled with a disability?

The Eternal saw Moses as most fit for leadership with his own self-described disability. Slow or impeded speech would not get in the way of Moses’ important role in the redemption of his people. Because of his speech, Moses comes to rely on his brother, Aaron, who becomes a faithful and necessary partner.

Because of his own limitations, Moses learns and experiences true collaboration and partnership with Aaron. Perhaps Moses’ greatest leadership quality of humility grows out of his challenges with speaking.

The Torah teaches us through Moses that disability is challenging, but does not stand in the way of achieving greatness. Despite Moses’ self-doubt, The Eternal believes in Moses’ ability, allowing him to stumble toward greatness.

As we celebrate important strides in Jewish education for students with disabilities, I hope that we can recognize that there is always more that we can do. We must continually strive to always be more welcoming, empathetic, understanding and respectful toward students with disabilities. We must always be ready to learn new ways to help make all students feel comfortable and welcome in Jewish learning environments.

As we follow the story of Exodus during this important month of awareness, we should remember that Judaism’s greatest leader was an individual with a disability. Our optimistic tradition teaches us that the next Einstein or Moses just might be that student with a disability.

May we continually embrace new technology as our understanding of the science of disability changes. May we always apply the optimism embedded within our ancient tradition to our own community, recognizing that out of self-doubt and impeded speech, came Moses, our greatest leader.

Baltimore Educators Witness Acts of Care and Compassion Toward Elderly Odessa Jews
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

By Neil Rubin

Through a grant provided by the Associated’s Baltimore-Odessa Partnership Committee, The Macks Center for Jewish Education recently coordinated a mission for Baltimore Jewish educators to travel to Odessa, Ukraine. The trip enabled educators to develop ongoing educational programs that foster Jewish identity and people-to people connections for students and their families in Baltimore and Odessa.

ODESSA, Ukraine – Even amongst so much renaissance, life’s fragility is so clear for so many in a country where legendary corruption seems to have filled the void of Soviet bureaucracy.

Indeed, this is a nation in which residents would be ecstatic to have the social services and healthcare systems that are the target of so much American ire. When discussing the country’s quasi-functioning services, Jews and non-Jews alike often have a similar refrain: “An election is coming so they’re talking about all they’ve done and about doing more, but I don’t think anything will come from it.”

Step in Hesed, an Associated funded program housed at the sparkling Beit Grand JCC. Its programs are the equivalent of an American senior citizen center and Jewish Community Services on steroids, all attempting to address massive financial, social and healthcare needs.

It’s not that it takes a long time to get such services from the municipality; it’s that they often do not exist. That bears out in stunning statistics: Life expectancy for men in Ukraine is 66, for women 76. Clients of Hesed? They live 13 years longer than the national average.

Case in point is Constantine, or “Costa.” He is 80 and, like many, he came to Hesed’s attention by chance. A case worker was visiting a client Costa knew, who told her about Costa.

Clearly, Costa needs the help. He has eye, stomach and liver problems. He sits at home alone nearly every day. Today, he has guests, so he is sitting on a bed that doubles as a couch in one of his three rooms, the grimy floor tiles long ago in need of repair. The red patterned wallpaper is dark, faded and peeling. To help save costs, he and other pensioners often don’t turn on the heat.

With a weathered, expressionless face, Costa begins his story as Inna Vdovichenko, Missions Department head of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, strokes his hand to calm his anxiety.

Moments ago, he received, thanks to Warm Home, a “shlach manot” package of basic foods and medicine. “Often, I have to choose between medicine and food,” he says, looking down and away from his guests.

As a young child, Costa became very ill; his parents couldn’t care for him, so he was sent to an orphanage. As the only Jew, “it was hard” – code for he was beaten up. After World War II, his parents could not be found. He finished sixth grade and knew that he needed to learn a skill to provide for himself as no one else would. As a young teen, he was already working in construction. He continued to do so for 56 years.

Now, the government says it cannot locate records of his birth papers; that’s because a fire years ago destroyed his orphanage. As a result, he is not eligible for many government programs for survivors of World War II.

Still, he does not seem bitter. Rather, he is fragile while accepting his fate. His message for the Jewish community in Baltimore? “I’m just a usual person. Maybe I have not done anything big in my life. Best regards with pleasure from Odessa.”

Neil Rubin, Ph.D., is Chair of the Jewish History Department at Beth Tfiloh High School.

Retirement Mythbusters
Monday, January 08, 2018

By Elizabeth Schuman

From paper routes and babysitting to corporate titles and entrepreneurship, you’ve covered work territory while earning a paycheck.

Although your teenaged self could not have imagined your career journey, your adult self needs to plan your retirement path.

“A retirement plan must be strategic, mindful and intentional. What does retirement look like to you?” says Ricka E. Neuman, CPA, principal, PBMares, LLP. While financial security is a given, having a clear picture of what you want to do next is equally important.

There is no one answer for everyone. “When people work on retirement plans, it’s not about preparing to retire,” says Michael I. Friedman, J.D., CAP®, senior vice president of philanthropic planning and services, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. “It’s about preparing for a life in retirement.” The best time to map your tomorrow? Yesterday.

Shore Up Your Bank Account. Boomer, take your head out of the sand. Imagine living to age 100 and plan from there. Consider living expenses, health care, insurance and a retirement lifestyle. Then ask: Will my money last?  

Start early; contribute often. Thanks to the power of compound interest, dollars add up. “I tell my clients to contribute a minimum of 10 percent of their pre-tax income each year,” says Morry A. Zolet, CFP®, senior vice president, the Zolet Lenet Group at Morgan Stanley. “You cannot afford not to contribute. Pre-tax contributions reduce your taxes and allow you to save.”

Vehicles such as a 401(k), 403(b), IRA or Roth IRA are relatively simple. Zolet urges employees to contribute enough to meet any employer match and go beyond to achieve at least 10 percent in pre-tax savings. While pensions and Social Security serve as a financial cushion, don’t count on one revenue stream, he adds.

Be realistic. Most people spend more in retirement than they imagine, whether for increased leisure activities or declining health, says Neuman. “Allow your tax-free savings to build-up as long as possible. Be strategic about taking Social Security. Be mindful about taking your required minimum distribution at 70½ for your qualified retirement plan.”

Ready for risk? Before retiring, you need to understand your existing assets and liabilities. You also need to know your risk tolerance, says Zolet. “How much volatility can you handle? Stocks go up and down in value, but there is more opportunity for growth.” Conversely, fixed-income tools such as bonds or CDs have less risk but also less growth potential.

At every age, saving something — even banking the cost of a latte each day — will help in the long run. “You cannot sacrifice your retirement for other needs,” says Zolet.

Plan Your Legacy. You’ve worked a lifetime and want to leave a legacy to your children and causes you support. Just as you planned your career, you can plan your philanthropic legacy by answering key questions and using the right tools, points out Philip “Pete” Sachs, partner, senior client advisor, senior strategist, WMS Partners.

“In addition to the financial aspects, think about what you want to give away, your anticipated tax burden and what you would like to bequeath to your children and to causes you supported all your life,” says Sachs. This is the time to consider:

  • What causes or issues matter most to you
  • How you want to be remembered
  • How to involve your family in charitable giving

Working closely with a financial advisor, you can create a legacy to reflect your values and take into account your means and abilities. Diverse planned giving approaches allow you to give to charity, while benefiting from tax savings and an income stream.

If selling your business or property is in your future, you may opt to pre-fund a donor-advised fund and receive a tax deduction, even if grants aren’t made out of the fund for months or even years later. The benefit is twofold.

“Many donors love using donoradvised funds to help teach their children or grandchildren the value of giving by encouraging the succeeding generations to recommend grants — even small grants as little as $100 — to help their children or grandchildren get in the habit of giving,” says Neuman.

Another approach is look first to your IRA or 401(k) for charitable gifting. You can name a charity as the beneficiary of a retirement plan, eliminating both income taxes and estate taxes on your heirs who would inherit the IRA or 401(k). If you are older than 70½ years old, you and your spouse can each give up to $100,000 a year directly to charity from your respective individual IRA. This can substantially reduce your taxable income, creating a substantial legacy during your lifetime. Depending on your situation, there are various planned giving approaches. For guidance, turn to your financial advisor.

Add Meaning to the Next Chapter. Dollars aren’t the only driver in retirement. Consider how you will fill days no longer packed with projects, meetings and to-do lists. “What are your interests? How you can use your current skills or develop new ones?” says Sachs. “Look at a cause that means something to you and personalize it.”

Become open to new directions — teach the next generation, take courses in subjects you know little about, find new hobbies and become involved in new volunteer activities. These advisors agree while it takes time to create the next chapter in your life, the right plan blends financial health, philanthropy and meaning.

“More than anything, people seek meaning in their lives during retirement,” says Friedman. “They seek time for family, to pass on values; time for travel, to broaden horizons; and the opportunity to engage with their time and financial resources to give back and make a difference in their world.”

This story originally appeared in Jewish Boomer, a collaboration between The Associated and Mid-Atlantic Media. Read the full publication today!

Building Rockets, Solar Ovens and Robots
Friday, January 05, 2018

 

By Rochelle Eisenberg

J Camps Offer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Options. Imagine! You are lost in the woods with little on you and the only way to survive is to use your knowledge of circuitry to invent your own tools. Like a compass, an LED lantern or even a solar oven to cook your food.

Or perhaps you are a budding engineer, intrigued by building structures and machines. How would you design sturdy structures and then create destruction apparatuses to knock them down?

This summer, the JCC’s J Camps will introduce Young Innovators, a new STEM Plus camp in partnership with Krieger Schechter Day School (KSDS). Campers will travel to KSDS to channel their creativity into developing team-based solutions to real-world situations, under the guidance of KSDS science teachers in their new Abramoff MakersSpace.

They then complete their day with traditional camp activities held on KSDS grounds.

“We investigated a number of science curriculums to determine how we could best incorporate math and science in a state-of-the-art setting that would appeal to area campers,” explains Stacy Deems, assistant director of J Camps at the JCC, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

“We’re excited to partner with KSDS for Young Innovators where our campers will run the show, which is something that doesn’t happen often enough in today’s classrooms. The MakersSpace instructors present the authentic question and guide our campers as they come up with and test solutions, learning new skills along the way,” she adds.

Research shows that participation in a summer science program can stimulate greater interest in STEM careers. According to the National Summer Learning Association, when you encourage youngsters to develop projects on their own, based on mutual interests, it promotes important STEM career skills like collaboration and communication.

Young Innovators, one of J Camps new STEM Plus specialty camps, was developed after a successful funding summit organized by The Associated. It follows the success of J Camps’ two end-of-summer STEM programs last year: LEGO Camp and X-treme Science Camp.

Seven-year-old Eli Colòn attended X-treme Science Camp: Space and Rocketry last summer. For one week he learned about the solar system, the physics of outer space, and how to live on the International Space Station. He then designed spaceships, rockets and bouncy balls from scratch.

In fact, according to his mother, Kelly Colòn, he still enjoys flying one of the rockets he designed.

“Eli has always been interested in science and how to make things,” she says. “When he plays with sidewalk chalk, he’ll often make it into dust and mix it with water or soap to see what happens to it.”

Kelly Colòn, who has a background in education, believes that all children are scientists, looking to explore their world and understand why things happen the way they do.

“If you give them the tools to learn about what’s going on, they will find answers,” she says.

For more information, go to www.jcc.org/camps.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Farm, Forest, Rock Climbing and the Agricultural Calendar
Friday, January 05, 2018

By Rochelle Eisenberg

How does it connect to Jewish learning? Shana Alter knew she was on to something special when she signed up her son, Henry, for Tiyul Adventures Year Round program at The Associated’s Pearlstone Center. After all, she and her husband, Jeremy, were married at the site, and they both had an affinity for the way the organization connected individuals to nature while integrating Jewish learning.

“I wanted Henry to feel at home in nature,” says Alter. “And I like that the programming is connecting nature to bigger themes around Judaism and the Jewish year.”

Yes, Henry has learned how to whittle wood, start a fire and even identity and eat wild edibles. Yet, he’s also incorporated an understanding of how the earth-based world is connected to his heritage.

Tiyul, which meets once a month in the fall and spring – the next session is scheduled in March – takes the participants through forest adventures and farm activities, zip lines and rock climbing, while tying it to the Jewish and the agricultural calendars.

“Nature,” says Sara Shalva, assistant director at Pearlstone Center, “tells the story of Jewish life.”

For example, during the Jewish holiday season, as the grapes were ripening in Pearlstone’s vineyards, the young participants picked grapes, crushed them and turned them into grape juice. They then learned what it means to make a blessing over food.

And the following Hebrew month, Cheshvan, when there are no holidays, youngsters learn how to find magic in the ordinary – nature walks while the sun sets – while tackling physical challenges and linking it to our forefathers who were wanderers.

“We let their imagination guide them – we might ask them to meditate on what might have been done a couple thousand years ago,” adds Abby Woloff, director of programming at Pearlstone Center.

Becky Brooks, whose twins Maizy and Max Nodelman have signed up for the year-long Tiyul programming, finds her kids coming home talking about the game or activity they played that day.

“It’s like a summer camp,” Brooks says. “They are singing songs, playing camp-type games and building a little community.”

At the same time, the Brooks twins are bringing home Jewish concepts tied to what they are doing.

“At home, we often talk about mitzvahs, good deeds,” says Brooks. “Yet now they can relate these concepts. We talk about how the actions we do in the world can be the seeds that can grow goodness similar to the seeds we plant in the garden each spring.”

Pearlstone also engaged Tiyul families, inviting them to a community dinner. With the sun setting over the goat pasture, families who signed up for the year enjoyed a sustainable farm-to-table meal of pan roasted black cod filet with glaze plus grilled, marinated tofu and roasted carrots from Pearlstone’s farm, while lingering over conversation as their children played.

“Tiyul,” explains Shalva, “is the culmination of our desire to build a pluralistic Jewish community, open and welcoming to all.”

“I’ve never seen my son so happy,” says Alter. “He is so happy and excited at the end of each session.”

Learn more at www.pearlstonecenter.org/tiyul.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Everybody Wins a Trophy?
Friday, January 05, 2018

By Rochelle Eisenberg

For years, self-esteem, punctuated by an “everybody wins a trophy” mentality, dominated the child-rearing landscape. Whether it was an award for simply showing up or a belief that no student should receive a grade below a ‘C’ – this philosophy was believed to lead to self-confident children.

Yet it soon became apparent to many experts that empty praise was leading to overconfident, entitled kids.

Now, it seems, the pendulum may be swinging.

“Today, we are trying to balance overconfidence with feeling competent,” explains Gila Haor, coordinator for professional development at SHEMESH, a program of The Associated. Competence is based on something real – the sense of ‘I can do the monkey bars, but I may have to work at it.’”

Fueled by the extensive research of psychologist Carol Dweck, author of the book “Mindset,” is the idea of a growth mindset – that by working hard at a skill, problem or challenge, one not only gets better, but gains confidence from that accomplishment.

Take the toddler learning to walk who falls down the first time, says Haor. “If you encourage him to stand back up, he will continue to work at it until he gets it right.

There is a sense of accomplishment as he gets better that ultimately builds confidence.” Today’s growth mindset puts the emphasis on the effort. Although math may not be a strong suit, if one works at it, one can do better, thus building confidence.

In recent years, Elana Weissman, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School Lower School counselor has seen a shift in education to an emphasis on mastering the material.

“We are changing the mentality of what success means,” says Weissman. “Teachers are emphasizing the importance of mastery in learning and they are praising the effort to achieve this mastery. Teachers are focused on students mastering learning and they are praising the effort to get there. Self-esteem comes from feeling competent and valued rather than focusing only on the grade.”

Other local Jewish day schools also have embraced growth mindset and are incorporating it into professional development sessions.

Growth Mindset and Learning Differences

This growth mindset has particular value for instilling self-esteem in those with learning and behavioral disabilities.

“Kids with learning issues often feel less competent,” says Haor. “And, if they feel less competent, in many ways they are less confident.”

According to Faye Friedman, SHEMESH program director, special educators have employed many of these techniques for years, using charts and other tools to mark successes and offering praise for effort.

“A reading specialist might say to a student, ‘when we first started reading, you could read two out of 10 words. Now look at where you are,’” Friedman says.

“Tell kids, ‘You used these strategies, worked hard and therefore you succeeded’ and you will be building self-esteem,” adds Haor.

This story originally appeared in the December issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

Meet Our Solicitors: Elissa Ness
Thursday, January 04, 2018

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Elissa Ness.

Tell us about yourself. I am 68 years old and married with one 32-year-old son, who currently lives in DC as an attorney. I work part-time for the Social Security Administration as a management analyst in the fields of disability and return to work. To unwind, I read and travel.

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? What do you think makes our community so special? I was born in Baltimore. I think it is the strong, vibrant Jewish community that makes our community so special.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? Giving provides a connection to our Judaic values; helping others is paramount to me. I heard about Associated as a child; giving was always integral to our family values. My gift helps to ensure an active Jewish community today and in the future, in Baltimore, Israel and around the world.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? I hope to be a part of a collective effort to care and transform the lives of the Baltimore community, Israel and around the world; a campaign solicitor is vital to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our Jewish populations.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? Benjamin Netanyahu. I’d love to discuss Israeli politics, the future of Israel, how our dollars help Israel, et cetera.

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Meet Our Solicitors: Josh Frederick
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This fiscal year, our goal is to raise $31 million for our community. These dollars allow us to ensure an incredible, cohesive, thriving Jewish Baltimore for years to come. And, we couldn't do it without our team of dedicated volunteer solicitors! This week, meet Josh Frederick.

Tell us about yourself. I’ve been happily married to my wife, Beth, for almost 11 years! I have three awesome kids–Jonathan (10), Leah (8) and Ben (6). Professionally, I’m a Senior Sales Manager at Advance Business Systems, where I recently celebrated my 17th year. I unwind by hanging with my family, friends, going to the gym and playing Fantasy Football!

Are you a home-grown Baltimorean or a transplant? I’m a “hybrid” Baltimorean. I grew up in Ellicott City. Now, I work in Baltimore and live in Frederick (that’s right... Frederick from Frederick).

What do you think makes our community so special? It’s our passion and incredible commitment. Pride oozes wherever I go.

How did you come to hear of The Associated? The President of my company, Jeff Elkin, suggested I have coffee with Erica Hobby to learn more about The Associated. When joining, it was my expectation from the onset that I was to donate my time, talent and treasure. The rest is history.

You're a donor. What inspires you to give to The Associated? Duty. It’s my duty to help those less fortunate. It’s how I was raised. I can’t imagine not giving.

How would you describe the impact of your gift? Plain and simple: I hope it directly helps an individual or family desperately in need of a financial boost.

You volunteer as a solicitor for our Annual Campaign. What do you hope to accomplish and what propels you to continue in this role? I hope to personally raise funds for our community and encourage donors to increase their gifts. Knowing every dollar counts keeps me motivated.

If you could invite anyone to your Shabbat table, who would it be and why? Jimmy Fallon. My family loves to laugh, sing and have fun at dinner; especially at Shabbat dinner when we are unwinding from the week. He would fit right in!

Do you want to make a difference in Jewish Baltimore? You can make your gift online today!

Getting to Know: Ari Abramson
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

By Rochelle Eisenberg

Ari Abramson is a native Baltimorean who grew up in Pikesville and graduated from Pikesville High School. He left his hometown to attend Muhlenberg College, then returned to Baltimore for a job after college at Legg Mason. Today, this investment professional, active member of The Associated’s Real Estate Industry Group (REIG) and father of two lives in Homeland with his wife, Sarah Manekin, and two young children, Eleanor, 5, and Henry, 3.

How did you get involved with The Associated? Growing up in Baltimore I always felt connected to The Associated and Jewish Baltimore. I took a high school trip to Israel with The Associated, then as a young professional, participated in Tel Aviv One, a young professional mission to Israel. I also graduated from the Associated Young Leadership Council program and now sit on the Board of the Real Estate Industry Group (REIG) and The Associated’s Real Estate Committee.

Tell me about REIG. I appreciate being active in The Associated’s REIG as it allows me to better understand and tour new local development projects.

At the same time, I enjoy the networking opportunities within this community. Last year, REIG held their annual event at Brown’s Wharf, a mixed used project in Fells Point, a project that I helped acquire. At this event we had an organized panel discussion that I participated on to celebrate the past, present and future of the neighborhood. Overall, I’ve made many professional contacts and personal friends through REIG and The Associated.

Such as? I got to know J.M. Shapiro, CEO of Continental Realty, the year he chaired The Associated’s Men’s Night Out event. I remember we spoke and then stayed in touch. Today, I work for the company as the vice president of acquisitions.

What’s the most interesting project in Baltimore today? I think the rise of Harbor East, Harbor Point and Fells Point are fascinating to watch and be a part of. These waterfront locations are certainly irreplaceable properties in Baltimore City and centrally located within an area that has been the recipient of a dramatic shift of energy over the past several years.

What’s great about Jewish Baltimore? I went to Hebrew school, had my bar mitzvah, was married and had my son’s bris at Chizuk Amuno Congregation. Now my daughter attends Krieger Schechter Day School there. It’s special to drop her off at the same place I went to.

Best advice? During college, I had interned at the White House in D.C. and for a Wall Street firm in New York and I thought I would end up in one of those cities. I then interviewed for a job in Baltimore and my father told me to take it. By the way, he also told me to go out with Sarah, who became my wife. So, the best advice I’ve had – I guess you could say – is I always should take my father’s advice.

Join Ari and other real estate professionals at the Real Estate Industry Group's Annual Event on June 26! Registration is now open.

Giving Thanks
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

By Wendy Miller

As the 2018 women’s campaign chair for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, I have the privilege of having meaningful Jewish conversations with many members of our community. I hear the reasons why they support the local agencies serving needs in Baltimore; I learn why our work in Israel, the Former Soviet Union and other global Jewish communities resonates with so many, too.

In all these conversations, there is a common thread. Associated donors share beliefs that are integral to our Jewish heritage and their philanthropic decisions are inspired by those core values. We are a community that embraces different streams of Judaism; but when it comes to supporting the needs of the vulnerable and building for tomorrow, we are truly one people. Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh – all Jews are responsible for one another.

As the mother of three children educated at Beth Tfiloh School, I know firsthand how important it is to discuss these values as a family and ensure that our children and grandchildren follow in our footsteps as leaders in and supporters of Jewish life in Baltimore.

We are approaching a time of year when the themes of gratitude and giving thanks are both timely and pervasive. As Jews, these values are constants in our tradition. They were always part of the Jewish conversations my husband and I had with our children; I hope that all of you are drawing upon our tradition to teach these lessons, too.

The Associated and its agencies offer a variety of opportunities for families to come together to support a great cause, whether it’s working on a hands-on project with Jewish Volunteer Connection, winterizing the homes of seniors with CHAI, serving a holiday meal to an adult with a disability at the JCC or making calls at Super Sunday to raise the dollars that make all of this, and so much more, possible.

In October, our community answered the call on Super Sunday and we raised $1.2 million in one day of calling. Last month, we gathered again for Giving Tuesday, a day of generosity that comes the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and raised $937,028.

The Associated has successfully used this national day of giving for the last four years to reach out to members of our community, to thank them for their past support and to give them the opportunity to make our community even better, by giving again this year.

Wendy Miller is chair of the 2018 Women’s Campaign for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. To donate online, visit associated.org/give.

Technologies of the Future
Monday, November 27, 2017

Israeli high-tech investing has been on a tear the past couple of years, raising record amounts of money to fund the technologies of the future. Come see live demonstrations of these products at the Maryland/Israel Development Center’s “Technologies of the Future: Robots, Autonomous Vehicles and More,” on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 5:30 –7:00 pm, at Spark Baltimore at Power Plant Live!, 8 Market Place in Baltimore.

The keynote address will be given by Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn who will discuss the implications of some of these technologies for the future of Maryland.

The Israel Venture Center (IVC) reports that $1.44 billion was raised by 144 Israeli high-tech companies in the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 14 percent over the $1.27 billion raised the previous quarter, and an amazing 54 percent surge from the $933 million raised in the third quarter of 2016. IVC notes that in the first nine months of 2017, Israeli high-tech companies raised a record $3.8 billion.

Here are three “hot” tech companies that will be demonstrating on December 6.

 

MobilEye. The biggest deal announced by far was Intel’s acquisition of vehicle sensor company MobilEye for an astounding $15 billion. A bus equipped with Mobileye’s technology will be onsite at the “Technologies of the Future” event.

Fortune magazine said, “Intel is taking a giant leap into the self-driving car game.” The company plans to launch a fleet of 100 such cars by the end of the year. According to Fortune, “The vehicles will combine Mobileye’s computer vision, sensing, fusion, mapping, and driving policy with Intel’s open computer platforms and expertise in data center and 5G communication technologies to deliver a complete ‘car-to-cloud’ system.”

MobilEye has been testing its collision avoidance technologies on buses with Maryland Transit Authority, a result of Secretary Rahn’s participation in Governor Hogan’s trade mission to Israel last year.

Roboteam. Another deal was by Roboteam, with its U.S. headquarters in Maryland, which raised $50 million. Roboteam has been delivering its “unmanned ground vehicles” (i.e., robots) to the U.S. military for a number of years and will use the funding to develop the next generation robot for civilian and commercial uses. Roboteam will be demonstrating their technology at the MIDC event.

Mantaro. Also in the robotics field is Mantaro of Germantown and Beeper Communications of Israel, who are collaborating to develop robots for public safety and first responders. They are integrating Mantaro’s robotics technology with Beeper’s communications solutions to develop robots for public safety and first responders. The research is being supported by a US-Israel Binational Industry Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation grant. They will also be demonstrating their technologies at “Technologies of the Future.”

Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha entered the headquarters of Saddam Hussain’s intelligence building. It was there that they came upon a flooded basement and discovered a treasure trove of documents, books and artifacts from the Iraqi Jewish community. It took weeks for the American team to gather the 2,700 volumes and tens of thousands of documents which they found floating in four feet of water. And while they were drying out, the water-logged pages soon became moldy in Baghdad’s intense humidity.

Seeking guidance, the American team called upon the National Archives in Washington, DC. With the agreement of Iraqi representatives, these historic materials were shipped to the United States for restoration.

Today 23 of those treasures are on display at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in the National Archives exhibit, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” The exhibit, which runs through January 15, was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, with generous support from the US Department of State Spanning more than 400 years of Jewish life, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage” features a number of manuscripts, documents and liturgical books that represent the centrality of Judaism to Iraqi society throughout the centuries.

Some of the highlights include a 1568 Bible from Venice (one of the earliest printed bibles), prayer books printed in Baghdad, a Haggadah from 1902 decorated by an Iraqi Jewish child and an array of Hebrew calendars, from 1959-1973 – some of the last examples of Hebrew items printed in Iraq.

This story of a once-living community is further displayed in photos by former Iraqi, Maurice Shohet, who tells the story of life in the 20th century. Shohet shares photos of day school life, a bris and marriage.

The Jewish community in Iraq stretches back more than a thousand years, and by the early 20th century many families were playing a prominent role in Baghdad society. Yet by mid-century, tensions between the Jewish and Arab community soured.

A brief pro-Nazi regime in 1941 was followed by a massive pogrom known as the Farhud. The steady decline in relations between Iraqi Arabs and Jews accelerated in the years leading to the formation of Israel and laws limiting Jewish freedoms were enacted in the late 1940s. Thousands of Jewish families fled, leaving behind traces of their rich and once-thriving history.

“These materials provide a tangible link to a once flourishing Jewish community,” said Marvin Pinkert, executive director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. “When we look at the collection of Jewish materials that were published throughout the world – from Lithuania, Italy, the Middle East and Iraq – we become aware of the richness of Baghdad’s Jewish community and its ties to the rest of the Jewish world.”

“We are so fortunate that the National Archives was able to preserve this important part of our Jewish history,” he added.

Discovery and Recovery is divided into six sections:

Discovery: The dramatic story of how these materials were found, rescued and preserved. A short film captures these heroic efforts.

Text and Heritage: This section explores Iraqi Jewish history and tradition through recovered texts.

Iraqi Jewish Life: Constancy and Change: Using recovered texts, this section explores the pattern of Jewish life in Iraq.

Personal and Communal Life: Selected correspondence and publications illustrate the range and complexity of Iraqi Jewish life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Original documents and facsimiles in flipbooks range from school primers to international business correspondence from the Sassoon family.

After the Millennia: Iraqi Jewish life unraveled in the mid-20th century, with the rise of Nazism and proliferation of anti-Jewish propaganda. This section includes the 1951 law freezing assets of Iraqi Jews.

Preserving the Past: These materials were transformed from moldy, water-logged masses to a carefully preserved, and accessible enduring historic legacy. View the National Archives’ state-of-the-art treatment, preservation and digitization of these materials.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Jewish Museum of Maryland will be holding a number of programs to supplement the exhibit including “Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day,” featuring Iraqi food, hands-on crafts and music on December 3.

On January 14, the Museum will host “Iraqi Jewish Voices: Narratives of Memory and Identity” featuring Dr. Henry Green, University of Miami and Sephardi Voices. The program tells the story of the last generation of Iraqi Jews through dramatic contemporary and historical photography, film and personal narrative.

To learn about the exhibit and special events go to jewishmuseummd.org.

Braiding Challah Provides Opportunity for Life Lessons Of Unity and Inclusion Among Ashkelon Students
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Challah, the delicious soft, pillowy and slightly sweet bread prepared especially for Shabbat and Jewish holidays, is full of symbolism and significance. Like Shabbat, the braiding of the challah represents unity, harmony and integration, so it seemed only fitting that this was the activity that brought together a diverse group of people during last month’s Shabbat Project in Ashkelon, Israel.

As part of The Associated’s commitment to connecting Jews in Baltimore with Jews in Israel, members of both communities work diligently to explore Jewish identity and volunteerism together through the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership.

The Shabbat Project, a world-wide initiative, was established to unite Jews of all backgrounds to share Shabbat together. Many groups and organizations around the globe choose to kick-off the event with a community Challah Bake.

On October 27, second grade students at Ilanot Elementary School in Ashkelon, our partner city since 2003, participated in their own Challah Bake with a special twist.

“About a month and a half before the Shabbat Project, I started to think what we can do in Ashkelon that would strengthen the connection between us and our colleagues in Baltimore through the Shabbat Project,” explained Roni Rokach, projects coordinator for the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. "There were lots of events in Ashkelon for the Shabbat Project, but none of them were directly connected to the Partnership.”

Rokach reached out to Yael Zelinger, coordinator of JADE: Jewish Advocates for Deaf Education at the Louis D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) in Baltimore, who recommended that Yaara Brahm and Mordy Weis, two volunteers who had previously participated in CJE’s Deafblind Shabbaton, spearhead an activity with the students centering around braiding challah and the meaning of Hafrashat Challah or separating the challah. Brahm and Weis, two Israelis, both of whom have dual hearing and vision loss, spent time with the kids through the help of special interpreters, teaching them about challah, Shabbat and their disabilities.

“What was especially nice is that we could demonstrate to the students that everyone has something to contribute and share,” said Zelinger. “People with special needs don’t always have to be “receiving” the instruction…during this activity Yaara and Mordy were the teachers.”

This special challah bake, which required special coordination between staff in Baltimore and staff in Ashkelon, facilitated a deeper and more meaningful connection with Jews in both cities.

“Prior to the event, I skyped with Roni and Maggie, the classroom teacher, to help educate and empower them to effectively and appropriately interact with people who are deafblind,” Zelinger added.

The day was a huge success as the students learned about the connection between Baltimore and Ashkelon, the importance of patience and acceptance and the significance of some of the Jewish traditions and values.

"At the beginning, it was hard to understand Mordy and Yaara. But after a few minutes, we managed to understand and even succeed to learn a few words in sign language. The activity was enjoyable and fun!” shared Rona & Revital, second grade students who participated in the project. “We loved making the challah with the visitors, and although they have disabilities we managed to communicate and do things together. It was interesting and exciting."

Chanukah and the Book of Genesis: What Can We Learn To Make the Holiday More Meaningful
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

By Debbie Pine, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy
The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore

This week during Chanukah, we are blessed with multiple opportunities to connect with extended family. In our Torah reading cycle, we are reaching the climatic end of the book of Genesis as the drama between the generations comes to a somewhat satisfying close.

Just as we are coming together to light the Menorah, we are confronted by the reality that in Genesis, our ancestors did not get along so well. In fact, the entire book highlights conflicted relationships between siblings, between parents and children, and between children and grandparents in every generation throughout this book.

What do these troubled relationships come to teach us just at the moments when our children come home for college and we find ourselves with multiple generations under one roof?

The Torah gives us a good dose of reality that family life is complex. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their spouses and children struggle with conflict, jealousy and trauma and yet each generation grows, changes and loves. At this significant time of year, the Torah reminds us that it is okay if our own families echo the challenges and complexities of the relationships in Genesis.

Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, recently wrote about the importance of healthy disagreement in families in the New York Times (November 5, 2017). He cited studies where the most creative adult writers and architects came from families that they described as full of tension and disagreement.

The Wright Brothers argued constantly with each other and their father, and out of those spats came creativity and ingenuity. Our Torah reminds us at this significant time of year, that disagreement and conflict is a natural part of family life that can lead us to growth and deep thought.

At this time of year, when our families come together to celebrate, catch up, talk politics and engage in family philanthropy, we should not be alarmed by disagreement and some tension. After all, our Torah teaches us at this moment that family strife is normal, and it is sometimes the most challenging moments and the most painful conversations that lead to transformative growth and change.

Chanukah and the end of the calendar year are significant moments for families to engage in giving back. There are lots of interesting questions to consider as we give as a family.

Do we want to make a big impact on a smaller organization or perhaps a smaller impact on a larger organization? What are the issues that we care the most about? How can our dollars make the most significant impact?

There will be different opinions, ideals and values for different members of our families. We will disagree. We may argue. Passionate conversations may become heated and can also lead to transformation and growth.

In our reading of Genesis, we can learn from our ancestors that we can grow and change, as generations challenge each other and the next generation leads the former.

As you and your family come together to celebrate and give together at this most important time of year, may the messages of Torah as well as the wisdom of the next generation at this moment inspire us toward creativity, openness and impact.

Bringing the Generations Together for Philanthropic Impact.
Monday, November 20, 2017

By Rabbi Debbie Pine, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy

This week during Chanukah, we are blessed with multiple opportunities to connect with extended family. In our Torah reading cycle we are reaching the climatic end of the book of Genesis as the drama between the generations comes to a somewhat satisfying close. Just as we are coming together to light the Menorah, we are confronted by the reality that in Genesis, our ancestors did not get along so well. In fact, the entire book highlights conflicted relationships between siblings, between parents and children, and between children and grandparents in every generation throughout this book. What do these troubled relationships come to teach us just at the moments when our children come home from college and we find ourselves with multiple generations under one roof? The Torah gives us a good dose of reality that family life is complex, reminding us that it is okay if our own families echo the challenges and complexities of the relationships in Genesis. Disagreement and conflict is a natural part of family life that can lead us to growth and deep thought.

In our own Baltimore raised Sharna Goldseker’s recent book Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving, she emphasizes that this is a golden age of philanthropy. With the high-tech boom and other variables, 20- and 30-year olds have a remarkable capacity to give, unlike generations before. Goldesker beautifully points out how the landscape of philanthropy is changing, mostly for the better, with thoughtful, engaged young donors who truly want to impact the world. Goldseker describes dynamic families, some even within our own community, who are being led thoughtfully by the next generation toward new approaches to giving.

As we look toward a new chapter in philanthropy in the world, I hope that we can learn from our ancestors that we can grow and change, as generations challenge each other, and the next generation leads the former. When you and your family come together to celebrate and give together at this most important time of year, may the messages of Torah, as well as the wisdom of the next generation, inspire us toward creativity, openness and impact.

Reach out to Rabbi Debbie Pine, 410-369-9282, if you want to start a dialogue with your family, bringing generations together for a shared philanthropic purpose.

Baltimore Educators Mission to Odessa
Thursday, November 16, 2017

By Neil Rubin

ODESSA, Ukraine – What does a dancing and colorful animated dreidel, young girls performing a Ladino dance from the Ottoman Empire, and a smiling 90-year-old watch repairman with one tooth have in common?

They are fruits of the proverbial labors of the Baltimore-Odessa partnership, one that sees The Associated system fund an array of programs and facilities for a community slowly but optimistically emerging from seven decades of Soviet communism, Nazi genocide and now two decades plus of national self-rule wrapped in declining life expectancy and legendary corruption.

An intensive day on the Baltimore Center for Jewish Education mission for educators has brought to fore ideas and energy for cooperation, particularly for the children of the communities. Talk among colleagues from both regions included simultaneous projects, joint websites, travel, competitions, book sharing and more.

But first, the scenes painted above. The dreidel demonstration came during a visit to the ORT Zhabotinski School #94, named for Vladimir “Ze’ev” Jabotinsky, one of the city’s many significant Jewish figures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries Indeed, if he can, the charismatic writer and ultra-Jewish nationalist is smiling at the Israeli flags adorning the school, let alone the creative Hebrew lessons and exchanges with Israeli students.

As for the Ladino dance, it came at the JCC Migdal Center, which like many non-profit efforts here sits in a large former mansion whose main entrance is at the end of an alley and not visible from the main street. There are similar approaches to the Holocaust Museum and the Jewish History Museum – both of watch cram a remarkable array of artifacts into their hodgepodge layouts.

And that smiling watch maker? At age 90, he volunteers at Hesed somewhat of a JCC for senior citizens and housed at the Beit Grand JCC. He sits in a small room and repairs watches and other items that seniors bring him. That's because they do not embrace the technological gadgetry of the era and can no longer finds parts to repair the items upon which they depend.

Finally, a Jewish trip to Odessa would not be complete without a visit to a kosher restaurant, pre-schools and the addresses of the titans of classic Jewish literature: personalities such as Chaim Nachman Bialek, the Hebrew poet laureate of the Jewish people whose poem about the Kishinev pogroms rocked the Jewish world; Sholem Aleichem, whose Yiddish stories of village life have entertained multiple generations; Jabotinsky, who organized Russia’s first Jewish defense leagues pogroms mounted in Russia; and so many more.

It’s a complicated land, as is all of Jewish Eastern Europe. Scratch the surface and one finds nostalgia not for communism, but for the security that it brought. While there is much talk of young people leaving, one also hears stories of families who say that, well, they are not Jewish, but their parents or grandparents were. Some of them then get involved in JCC and other programs due to quality and slowly creep towards the label “Jew,” one once so natural in a city about 40% Jewish when the communists took power exactly a century ago this month.

It all breathes new life into the once well-known Yiddish expression: “Ah, to die in Odessa.” In other words, Today, Odessa indeed is heaven on earth for not only those who love the Jewish past, but for those who understand the impact of aiding an increasingly vital small community reemerging in large ways.

Neil Rubin, Ph.D., is Chair of the Jewish History Department at Beth Tfiloh High School.

Thanksgiving: A Time of Food, Family and Philanthropy
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

By Lauren Klein, Assistant Vice President, Funder Services

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If your holiday table is like mine, it’s abundant with food. We often go around the table sharing with each other what we are grateful for in our lives. What if we took it a step further this year and had meaningful conversation about food insecurity and hunger in our country? Repair the World, a national organization that engages young adults in hands-on volunteering and learning about social justice issues, has created discussion guides to spark conversations about food insecurity and Jewish values. Their guides contain suggested questions and readings about this issue, and you can learn more about it on their website, https://werepair.org/thanksgiving.

The holiday season propels me even more to find meaningful opportunities to teach my children the important of giving back to those in need. Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), a program of The Associated, has launched the Casserole Challenge. They are collecting casseroles to be donated to families in Baltimore City. I am planning to make a few casseroles with my family and encourage you to learn more about this project at https://jvcbaltimore.org/casserole-challenge.

Thanksgiving is also a perfect opportunity to share family stories. Sharing stories gives every family member a new and important connection to the past. It also enables you to capture stories, connect generations, and preserve legacies. There are a variety of tools available to help you get started. Being in the age of technology, there is now an app available to make the process of recording an interview easy and accessible. StoryCorps, an organization whose mission is to record, preserve and share stories, has created a free app that I have already downloaded to my iPhone. The app helps users prepare for interviews, and also allows users, if desired, to share it with other family members, including on social media sites.

As we gather together to celebrate a holiday rich in traditions around football, food and family, I think it’s also an ideal opportunity to incorporate philanthropy into our rituals. If you would like more ideas, reach out to me directly at 410-369-9278 or lklein@associated.org. I specialize in helping families design strategies for engaging their children and grandchildren in charitable giving.

Three Young Women Talk What It Means to Be Jewish
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Rochelle Eisenberg

In 2013, the Pew Research Center released a landmark study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” which asked Jews in 50 states what being Jewish means in America today.

What it found was that 93 percent of Jews in the Greatest Generation (born 1930-1946) identified as Jewish on the basis of religion, whereas only 68 percent of Millennials did. Meanwhile 32 percent of Millennials described themselves as having no religion, identifying as Jewish on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture. Yet, despite the changes in Jewish identity, 94 percent of U.S. Jews said they were proud to be Jewish.

What about Baltimore’s Jewish women? As young Jewish families move outside the traditional Jewish zip codes to downtown, Lutherville-Timonium, even Harford County neighborhoods, many still connect to their Judaism, particularly after they had children. These three women talk about what Judaism means to them.

LUCY LEIBOWITZ: “I grew up in St. Louis and Chicago. Today, I live in Locust Point with my husband, Steve, and our two young children, Jasper and Finn. Growing up, my family belonged to a reform temple. One of my favorite childhood memories was celebrating Jewish holidays together. We would often go to New York for Passover to spend Seder with my grandparents.

When I went to college, I decided to keep kosher. For me, it was something I could do daily that would make me stop and think about being Jewish. It was not so much about following the kashrut laws perfectly, but about being mindful. We now keep a kosher home and enjoy having conversations with our sons about why we do what we do with respect to keeping kosher and celebrating holidays.

When we moved to Baltimore, I was looking to connect with other Jewish families. I became involved with the [Macks Center for Jewish Education’s] Connector program when our family attended a Chanukah program hosted by Stacey [Harvey]. Since then, we have attended a few programs with the connectors, including Shabbat morning get-togethers, where we sing songs, eat bagels and mingle.

I want my kids to have a strong Jewish identity and be educated about our religion’s rich history. I hope they will be well-versed in holidays and traditions — why we do what we do. We celebrate Shabbat with the blessings and we love how our older son now knows the prayers and has even made challah multiple times.

My favorite Jewish holiday is Rosh Hashanah. It is the start of a New Year and both sides of our family gather together.

My grandmother makes excellent latkes. She hand grates the potatoes and onions, and I think that is one of the secrets. Another key is that she makes them small and crispy. We often have to convince her that she needs to make more; she always thinks no one will eat all of them, but nevertheless they are always gobbled up. She has shared her recipe, and we’ve tried to make them, but they just never taste as good.

Over the years, I have become more observant and our family currently is temple-hopping to find the right synagogue to join in Baltimore. I don’t speak Hebrew fluently so I want to make sure that the prayers are not exclusively in Hebrew so that I can understand what it is being said.

AMY AKMAN: I live in Lutherville, MD with my husband, Jared and, daughters, Bryn (26-months-old) and Taylor (newborn).

I grew up in Pikesville and my family were members of Beth El Congregation. I went to Hebrew school, had a bat mitzvah and a confirmation. (Rabbi Schwartz also married my husband and me. My husband’s family also belongs to Beth El.)

For a while, Judaism wasn’t as important to me as it is now. I remember I didn’t go to synagogue much after high school and wasn’t too involved with my Judaism in college and as a young adult.

Now that I have kids, I’m becoming involved again. My family celebrates Shabbat and the holidays. And I’m finding that everyone I know with young families feels similar to me. Many of us took a break, but are coming full circle again. And, we all want our children to go to Jewish preschool.

I first got involved with a Connector program when I went to a challah demonstration where we learned about the meaning of challah. I’ve also been to numerous programs from a cooking demonstration around Passover, where we made different kinds of charoset, to Mom’s Night Out. I like meeting other Jewish families who I may not have been connected to otherwise.

We also receive PJ Library books. My daughter loves getting PJ Library books. One of our favorites was a book about Rosh Hashanah called Rosh Hashanah is Coming!, which we read every night for three months straight. We also loved Shabbat Shalom. She knew the song and we would sing it together.

I really like Rosh Hashanah. It’s the beginning of the New Year. I like the idea of a new start and a chance to reflect on what happened over the past year and think about what I might want to do differently.

We try to invite people who don’t have a place to go to our holiday table. One year, we had my husband’s law school friend who couldn’t go home. Everyone is always welcome.

Jewish traditions and values are very important to me. I really like that in the Jewish tradition we name our children after those who are no longer with us. My mom and Jared’s dad both passed away and our daughter, Bryn is named after both of them. My mother’s name was Shelley, Jared’s father was Bryan. My second child will be named after my grandparents, with whom I was very close. (Also named after Jared’s uncle… I never got to meet him as he passed away in the early 90s.)

DEBORAH LEVI LOWY: I grew up in Baltimore County and went to Krieger Schechter Day School. I live in Baltimore City with my husband, Eric, who was confirmed at Temple Oheb Shalom, and our two young sons.

I became involved with the Connector program because my family wanted to connect to other Jewish families and they offered downtown programming.

The Connectors are a family-oriented Jewish experience. The relaxed environment and the warmth from the connectors and families feels like a local chavurah group. Families come as they are (chaos and all) and can enjoy a Shabbat or Havdalah with other families in the community.

We see being Jewish as our ethnic background and culture. Both of our families were uprooted and heavily impacted by the Holocaust. Therefore, it is important to us that our boys know who they are, where their family came from and why.

We want to instill Jewish values in our children. We want them to grow up, be good people, and help this world. Of course, no different than any other parent.

I love a good bagel, lox and shmear. And I enjoy Break fast...not a holiday, I know...but it is when I can get my good shmear.

This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Women Take Charge: Roz Cornblatt
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Sara Malinow

For many, running a 5K is a rather challenging feat. For 73-year-old Roz Cornblatt, it was a goal that she was determined to complete.

In June of 2016, Cornblatt, proud mother, grandmother and Edward A. Myerberg fitness center regular, crossed the finish line of the Charm City Women’s Classic, to the rousing cheers of family and friends.

Euphoria is the one word Cornblatt used to describe that special moment. Recalling her lack of athleticism in school and her not-so-strong back, Cornblatt never saw running a 5K in her future, let alone finishing in 11th place for her age group. “I would have taken 20th place,” Cornblatt jokes. “But it’s not about where you finish, but that you finish.”

Cornblatt first got the idea to run the race from Ross Wilson, her personal trainer at The Myerberg Center. For the past two years, she’s worked with Wilson, coming in three days a week for one-hour sessions. He inspired her to be active each day and even ran the race with her, side-by-side, from start to finish.

“He changed my life completely with exercise,” Cornblatt says of Wilson. “I never would have thought I could have done it if it weren’t for Ross.”

Besides training on her own, walking around Meadowood Park or her neighborhood every day, Cornblatt owes much of her fitness success to The Myerberg.

“The Myerberg had a HUGE impact,” Cornblatt recalls. “It’s not just a gym, but a gym for seniors, and that makes a difference.” She remembers going to work out and seeing the trainers helping 80- and 90-year-olds reach their fitness goals. It was moments like these that inspired Cornblatt to set her own fitness goals and work to achieve them.

One year later and Cornblatt has already run another 5K and plans to start training again for another. She says that despite daily feelings of doubt, she kept going to prove to others and to herself that she could achieve her goals.

“Just do it,” she says. “Get off the sofa and move your body because the feeling is absolutely wonderful.”

Learn more at myerberg.org. This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

Women Take Charge: Meet Sarah David
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Sara Malinow

Attorney and new mother Sarah David was never one to get down on the floor with a group of kids and start teaching games. However, that is where she found herself when she visited the Kids Safe Zone in Baltimore City with The Associated’s Young Leadership Council (YLC). That visit caused her to realize the enormous potential of young children and the difference she could make in their lives.

With the help of JVC and the Kids Safe Zone, David created a VolunTeam program that educates these youngsters about various job possibilities. Underlying this mission is the realization that many of these youngsters have little exposure to the wide range of jobs in our communities.

Initially, David’s VolunTeam consisted of fellow prosecutors, members of the Baltimore City Bar Association, her YLC classmates and her own network. Over a six month period, they met bi-weekly with the group, talked about what they do and worked together on a mock trial that showcased a real world scenario.

Through her newfound connections and growing network over the past year, David, with the help of VolunTeam lawyer, Mark Edelson, has since expanded its VolunTeams to include other professionals, such as dentists, nurses, financial workers, even Under Armour employees.

“The idea is to try to expose these kids to as many jobs and opportunities as possible,” David says. “Networks are so important when it comes to success and we really want to build that for these kids and show them that ‘we have a connection for you.’”

David has always been a volunteer, whether as an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins University teaching civics in schools, tutoring English for Sudanese refugees while living in Cairo, mentoring children after school while working in the Counterterrorism Division of the New York City Police Department or tutoring at a Maryland prison for the Goucher Prison Education Partnership after law school. However, it was the children she met at the Kids Safe Zone, while simultaneously working as a prosecutor on a case that took place in the same neighborhood as the Kid Safe Zone, that inspired her to create a program where she could also make a lasting impact.

Now a mother to a five-month-old, David hopes to expand the VolunTeam further and provide these children with inspiration from as many occupations and outlets as possible.

“Every time I go, I’m impressed, excited and motivated by these kids and it is exciting to see what they take out of it each time,” she says.

To learn more about Sarah David’s VolunTeam contact her at sarahrdavid@gmail.com. Go to jvcbaltimore.org for volunteer opportunities. This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

You Gotta Have Friends!
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Carol Sorgen

“What would life be without friends?!” exclaims Randy Jacobs. “I’d be at a loss without my family and friends,” continues the 64-year-old Jacobs, who has known her best friend, Pam Schneider, virtually since birth. The two are just six months apart in age, grew up as next door neighbors, and now live around the corner from each other in Northwest Baltimore County. Not only are Jacobs and Schneider best friends, so too are their daughters.

Though Jacobs is long divorced and Schneider long married, that makes no difference in their relationship. “I’m one of the family,” says Jacobs. The two families even take an annual beach trip together every summer (though these days, with everyone’s busy schedule, it’s usually just the adults).

“She is my go-to person,” says Jacobs, director of operations at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. “She knows everything — and more — about me, and vice versa. She’s my rock.”

The two “besties,” as the young folks say, do have other friends as well. Jacobs has two pals whom she first met in fourth grade, and though she doesn’t see them as often as she sees Schneider, when she does, “time melts away.”

“And there’s never been a family event that we haven’t shared together,” Jacobs adds. “We’ll always be Ellen/Laurie/Randy…all one word,” referring to her grade school friends.

Jacobs has also always made it a priority to make new friends, especially since her married friends are not always available to join her on, say, a trip to Alaska.

But it’s her longtime friends who share her history (“they knew me when”), are part of her present, and, hopefully, will be there in the future to share in both the good times, such as a child’s wedding, and the sad times, such as the deaths of parents. “Friends mean support,” says Jacobs.

Good friends already know how helpful they can be to one another, but researchers are also extolling the benefits friendship can have on our health, observes Dr. Miriam Alexander, medical director of Employee Health and Wellness at LifeBridge Health.

“There is strong evidence that there are many physiological benefits of friendships,” says Alexander, noting that:

  • Friends can inspire each other to adopt healthier lifestyles.
  • Social ties reduce stress, which can lower blood pressure.
  • Hanging out with friends lowers the risk of depression.
  • Dementia is less common among folks who have strong social ties.
  • Support from friends can lower your risk of heart disease.

Developmental psychologist Susan Pinker, author of The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier and Smarter, also notes how friendships can give us more than just the “warm and fuzzies.”

“Those with a tightly connected circle of friends who regularly gather…are likely to live an average of 15 years longer than a loner,” says Pinker.

Pinker also observes that people with active social lives have greater physiological resilience and recover faster after an illness than those who are solitary. She cites a recent study of women with breast cancer which found that those with a large network of friends were four times as likely to survive as women with sparser social connections.

What researchers are beginning to find, Pinker explains, is that social contact switches on and off the genes that regulate our immune responses to cancer and the rate of tumor growth.

“Social connections are as protective as regular exercise,” says Pinker. “Those with the most face-to-face connections have a two-and-a-half-year survival advantage over those with the same disease who are isolated.

“A hug, a squeeze on the arm or a pat on the back lowers one’s physiological stress responses, which in turn, helps the body fight infection and inflammation,” she continues. “Being there in person is key.”

Which means, says Pinker, that while Facebook may help you reconnect with people from your past or even meet new friends, carrying on a friendship solely online will not provide you with the same physiological and emotional benefits that a night out with your BFF will.

In discussing friendships in these hectic times, Helene Cooper, a therapist at Jewish Community Services, shares concerns that many of us may consider our online friends to be a satisfactory substitute for the friends we used to spend time with in the real world, but have lost touch with over time.

“Online relationships have some value, but can’t take the place of spending time with people who genuinely care about us,” says Cooper. “The beauty of friendship is in tending to each other’s needs, sharing good times and hard times, feeling supported and valued, which is enhanced by spending time with the people who matter to us.”

“Be open to new friendships at every stage of life,” Cooper says, adding that “you’re never too old to make new friends.” Volunteering (consider The Associated), taking a yoga class, joining a book group, or a knitting club are just a few of the options to meet potential new friends who share your interests. “The beauty of friendship is having people in our life who care about us,” Cooper says.

That’s not to say that texting and social media don’t have their place. For community organizer Rachel Kutler, 29, who has spent the past year living in El Salvador, technology has helped her remain in almost constant contact with her friends in Baltimore and across the country. “I’m thousands of miles away but we haven’t lost touch at all.”

That’s important, says Kutler, because as she gets older she finds that she treasures her longtime friends even more. “When I was younger, I had a lot of different circles of friends,” says Kutler. “Now I have a core group of friends I’ve known for years. … they’re people I know and love and can count on.”

Kutler has also found that friendships go through stages; she’s now at the point where many of her friends have serious relationships — as does she — or are getting married, and they’re learning to incorporate the new partners and spouses into the friendship circle. “Being in a relationship means having friends in a way we haven’t experienced before,” she says.

For Melissa Shear Langer, 42, having young children and a busy career as an optometrist influences the amount of time she can spend with her friends. “It’s hard for us to see each other,” she admits, so, like Kutler, she and her friends supplement their occasional get-togethers with texting and social media.

While she’d like to spend more face-to-face time with her friends, Shear Langer says they all know that they’re there for each other, in happy times and in tough times. “My friends remind me of what’s important in life...to have fun, to laugh, and to realize we’re not alone.”

Getting older can also bring an end to friendships, whether through illness, death or simply a friend moving out of town to begin a new chapter in life.

For Nan Rosenthal, a special events planner, the past several years has seen the death of a very close friend she had had since their days together at Camp Louise, the illnesses and deaths of several other close friends, and the relocation out of state of other longtime friends.

These difficult changes have made Rosenthal treasure even more the many friends she does have, from camp friends to high school and college friends to friends she has met through her public relations career, her dance, theater and television experience, as well as her board positions and many volunteer activities.

“I have a wide range of friends,” says Rosenthal, “without regard to color, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, income or age … I choose my friends because I can trust them, have fun with them, learn from them and enjoy the many facets of these non-judgmental, interesting and loving relationships.”

“I feel very lucky to have such loyal and trusted friends in my life,” Rosenthal continues. “They are my support system and I am theirs, for which I am most grateful.”

The bottom line, says Cooper, is “to value the special and irreplaceable friends in your life, and to be open to growing in friendship with the new people you come across throughout the course of your daily living.”

This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

Love, Marriage and Religion: How Interfaith Families are Finding Their Way
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Sally Wolf

After 23 years of marriage to her husband Bill, Susan Fidel, who was raised Episcopalian, decided to take the Introduction to Judaism class, a seminar offered through the Jewish Community Center’s (JCC) Interfaith Baltimore program, prior to her formal conversion. Although she agreed to raise their two children, now 21 and 19, in the Jewish faith, it wasn’t until recently that Fidel felt the need to make it official herself.

“The Jewish religion is amazing. I fell in love with Judaism. It’s very simple. As a Jew you should emulate G-d and help out when needed,” Fidel says. “At services, everyone seemed happy to have me and recently made me a cake that read ‘Welcome to the Tribe’ for the Oneg held in my honor after I became Jewish.”

Fidel, who sits on the board of her synagogue, was given the Hebrew name Eliana, meaning my G-d has answered. She specifically chose the name for herself because she believes G-d really did answer her prayers. Fidel is hoping to have a Jewish ceremony to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary.

It used to be that marrying outside of your religion was rare, but in today’s society, outside of the Orthodox community, marrying partners with different faith and cultural backgrounds, like the Fidels’, has become more commonplace.

Since 2010, interfaith unions have steadily increased; four in 10 Americans reported being in a religiously mixed marriage, according to the findings from the 2014 Pew Forum Religious Landscape Study. This number is up 20 percent from 1960.

In 2013, recognizing the importance of addressing the needs of interfaith families, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and the JCC jointly launched a task force to examine opportunities to welcome, support and connect interfaith couples and families to Jewish life in the Baltimore community. As a result, the JCC launched programming and services to help Jewish families of all backgrounds feel inclusive without feeling different.

Now in her third year as program director for the Center for Jewish Life at the JCC, Lara Nicolson serves as a community concierge to those interfaith families who are looking for opportunities to explore and connect to Jewish life.

“Couples come to me because they feel the door is being closed elsewhere,” says Nicolson, who is in an interfaith marriage herself. “As a professional, I see the value in helping and supporting interfaith couples make Jewish choices important to them. Finding a way to welcome them and include them in the Jewish community means they will feel more connected.”

Navigating marriage and partnership, even in the best of times, often brings its fair share of challenges and compromises. So, what’s the secret to successfully merging families with two very different cultural and religious upbringings?

According to Nicolson, communication from the beginning of any relationship is paramount. “For me personally, my husband and I spoke early on about how we were going to blend our families. It was important for us to keep lines of communication open between our families and ourselves. Most importantly however, is knowing that we share common life values,” she says.

The Center for Jewish Life at the JCC offers a variety of classes about Judaism and Jewish family living and provides resources and support in a nurturing and inclusive environment to individuals and couples from all walks of life.

In 2010, Mark and Debbie Davis enrolled in the Introduction to Judaism class, and two years later, married in St. Michaels, MD. When they first started dating, Debbie, a practicing Christian, was actively involved in a small women’s study group that explored topics of interest dealing with the bible and theology and encouraged faithful conversation.

At the time, the women were discussing the book, The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, a groundbreaking book about Americans searching for faith and mutual respect. It seemed almost beshert then that Mark, a young Jewish professional from the Pikesville area, came into her life.

“Mark wanted to impress me when we first started seeing each other so he read The Faith Club in one week as a way of connecting to me through participation in our discussion group,” Debbie recalls.

“I would represent the Jewish faith and answer the group’s questions that I knew and I followed up later on those that I wasn’t sure of myself,” Mark adds.

According to Debbie, Mark instantly won them over and the two continued to challenge each other to personally apply the lessons they learned to daily life. This openness to inclusivity laid the foundation for what would become the cornerstone of their relationship — a union based on respect of their commonalities, as well as their differences.

“We never look at it as who is right and who is wrong,” explains Debbie, “but rather what can we learn from one another so we can grow stronger together.”

“We were then, and we are now, two people of faith with different religions. We feel lucky to have our families, on both sides, be supportive and open,” says Mark.

Both Debbie and Mark feel connected to Interfaith Baltimore and are working with Nicolson to help expand the program’s resources. They are looking forward to participating in the Love and Religion class, a program designed for all life cycles, and continuing to network and learn from others on similar paths.

Today, one-quarter of millennials (27 percent) say they were raised in a religiously mixed family. Recognizing the impact this can have on extended family members, particularly grandparents, makes programs such as those offered at the Center for Jewish Life even more relevant.

Sharyn Stein, former director of the JCC’s preschool and kindergarten program, served as a facilitator to one of the early “Grandparents Circle” seminars. Stein, a recently retired school counselor and mother of three adult children — all of whom are in mixed faith marriages — stressed the importance of keeping an open mind.

“It’s important to judge the choice of your child based on what you see in front of you, not by religion,” says Stein. “Get to know why your child chose the person they chose and have faith in your child.”

The interfaith grandparents program today helps empower participants to share with their children and grandchildren their Jewish traditions and values in a loving and open manner without crossing boundaries. The three-session seminar provides support to Jewish seniors who may need guidance in dealing with sensitive issues regarding religion, heritage and culture.

Stein says in her family they approach the holidays with a huge amount of sensitivity. “We try to make sure everyone is included and participates in all festivities, perhaps with a different cultural slant,” she explains. “It is important to all of us that diversity and acceptance be part of our value system and we respect everyone’s differences.”

Visit the interfaith website at interfaithbaltimore.org for more information or questions about programming, resources and support. This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

Packing a Philanthropic Punch: Women as Influencers
Friday, November 10, 2017

By Melissa Gerr

Twenty-first century women are a force to be reckoned with, wielding more financial power and holding high profile leadership roles now more than ever before. That status extends into the world of Jewish philanthropy too, where women’s giving is still “the jewel on the crown” of federation contributions, according to Andrea Wasserman, founder and president of Social Profit Ventures.

For now, Wasserman says, conventional outreach strategies still work to keep women engaged, citing data from her nationwide delve into women’s gift giving trends. But it seems their daughters — the next generation of benefactors — approach the experience of “giving” within a community differently. She asserts institutions might be well served to customize philanthropic involvement so that younger women will stay involved.

Emily Taylor is a case in point. The mother of toddler twins, Taylor opened her audiology practice in 2013, but didn’t simply hang up a shingle and invite patients in. She set out with the additional mission of giving back to the community. “I didn’t know what that would look like at the time, I just knew that was important to me,” she says.

Now, Taylor Listening Center donates refurbished hearing aids to those for whom cost might be a barrier. Thy also donate the funds from every hearing aid test they perform to a different nonprofit each month. Recently, Taylor added The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s collaborative giving fund, the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF), to her philanthropic list.

A giving circle that empowers women as funders, decision makers and agents of change, JWGF members each contribute the same amount to a community fund, and each woman has an equal voice in directing the grant making decisions. JWGF focuses its grant-making on women and children.

Taylor and her husband, Ross, give as a couple “but I wanted this to be a check [to JWGF] from me. I was excited to pick something that’s really important to me, making the decisions and seeing where [my donation] went.”

Amy Harlan, a serial volunteer, a Lion of Judah level donor and 10-plus-year JWGF veteran, agrees. “JWGF is like, ‘ok team, we’ve got all this money, let’s make something happen,’” referring to how the group leverages the women’s donations into a larger sum. She loves going on visits to see nonprofits’ work and describes the caliber of women in the group as “intelligent and thoughtful.”

But it’s important too, for Harlan to “get her hands dirty,” and she does, quite literally, volunteer gardening with aphasia patients. She also gives rides to seniors through CHAI’s Northwest Neighbors Connecting.

“I like to spend my volunteer time with organizations that pull at my heartstrings and hopefully make a difference,” says Orlee Engler Kahn, a Jewish Community Services board member and its Associated liaison.

Kahn also negotiates giving with her husband, Jeffrey, and says, “I think it’s very empowering, as a woman, to give as an individual. Even when you’re married, it’s important to make some philanthropic decisions in your own name.”

A graduate of Chapter Two, The Associated’s 10-month educational and engagement program, Kahn is also the director of planned giving at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, so she offers a bilateral perspective. She notices women, including herself, gravitating toward philanthropy that “concerns families, women, children, education, domestic abuse and other issues that affect those populations.”

“What I also see is women assuming more leadership and taking charge of their philanthropic dollars. With their own portfolios and their own investments, women are recognizing how they can truly affect change with their philanthropy and their resources,” she says.

But, heeds Wasserman, “younger women who have more discretion and influence of how money is spent are saying, ‘I want my influence to be felt, I want my leadership to be felt. … The gift is emblematic of a commitment that I and my family are making, but I’m more than just a women’s gift.’”

Wasserman also cites differences between men’s and women’s giving as “transactional versus relational,” so offering opportunities for deeper involvement to decide where dollars go is a big appeal all around. She also lauds federations for “building a sisterhood of women doing great things in the Jewish world,” from which Taylor feels the effects.

“I’m learning from them and learning other ways to give back,” Taylor says. “And they’re busy women who are making time to do this too, because [giving back to the community] is so important to them.”

Above all, “I think it’s important that everybody give,” Harlan says. “Whether you’re a millionaire or someone who’s struggling and can only give a little bit, it feels like you’re contributing to the greater good.”

This article originally appeared in Jewish Women, a partnership publication with the Jewish Times.

Meet Sally Davis
Monday, November 06, 2017

In the excitement and anticipation of gift opening, we can all shamefully admit that the card, the most genuine and personalized part of any gift, is often the last thing on our minds in the birthday gift ripping race.

But, for those living with so little, it is often not what is beneath the wrapping, ribbons, bows or cards that is important but simply the wrapping, ribbons, bows and cards themselves.

For VolunTeam leader Sally Davis, it was this experience that fueled her desire to celebrate those who often go uncelebrated.

Davis, a Philadelphia-raised, Goucher-graduate, part-time dentist and proud mother of two, started a VolunTeam effort through Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) to provide birthday parties to children living at the Sarah’s Hope Hannah More shelter.

Her inspiration came from an article she read in a Southwest airplane magazine titled, “Birthday Party Project.” She described it as a piece about birthday parties at homeless shelters that are devoted to changing a child’s life.

With several years of involvement, service and leadership under her belt, having been a part of ACHARAI cohort V, on the board and as the chair at Goucher College’s Hillel, a volunteer at Beth Tfiloh, and a board member and part of the VolunTeam at JVC, she reached out to Ashley Pressman and Erica Bloom to jumpstart her idea. Luckily, Bloom had a contact at Sarah’s Hope shelter and reached out to see if this was a concept that could be actualized.

After months of preparation, coordinating with the shelter and approaching the community for donations, Davis and her VolunTeam held their first birthday party for those celebrating July birthdays at the Sarah’s Hope shelter. The party was filled with decorations donated from area retailers. Davis’ VolunTeam, whom she calls her ‘Party Pals,’ provided each child with a goodie bag filled with toys and treats.

Davis recalls the smile on one birthday boy’s face when he received his very own present with a card reading “Happy Birthday Chris” in big, bold letters. “He was so excited his name was on it,” Davis remembers. “It wasn’t about what was beneath the wrapping but the fact that we had made him feel special.”

For Davis and the other volunteers, that was the moment that validated all their time and effort.

Niki Barr Talks About Myerberg’s New Brain Fitness Class
Friday, November 03, 2017

For the past five years, Niki Barr has worked at the Edward A. Myerberg Center as a personal trainer for older adults. During this time, she’s gained numerous certifications to help her adapt exercise to meet the specific needs of her clients. For example, she is trained to instruct Rock Steady Boxing designed for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Recognizing the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Barr realized the huge need to promote physical activity to improve brain health. This summer, Barr became an Alzheimer’s disease prevention and intervention specialist with the Medical Fitness Network and Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation.

The program, which focuses on brain health, spurred her to introduce brain fitness classes to The Myerberg Center to help members prevent or slow the progression of dementia. It’s one of the few such programs in the region.

What did you learn this summer? We know that exercise is so important to brain health, but there is so much more we can be doing to prevent dementia. Research has shown that dementia prevention should focus on four key areas – diet, stress management, exercise and brain stimulation. For example, clinical research has shown that practicing relaxation techniques, specifically Kirtan Kriya, for 12 minutes a day activates parts of the brain essential to cognition.

I heard that Myerberg is offering a brain health class that will include these four key areas. This 60-minute class, which will be held for 16 weeks, is unique in that it combines many of the components shown to preserve brain health. The class will include physical exercises and brain aerobics to improve neuroplasticity. There will also be a social component, which is a big part of brain health.

What's the social component? We will encourage participants to interact and be social. If participants don’t currently volunteer, we will recommend local places to volunteer, as this is not only another social outlet, but it gives purpose and stimulates mood.

Who is this class good for? Not only is this class good for older adults who want to preserve their brain health, but it’s great for those at risk of developing dementia and their loved ones. For those who have been diagnosed with early-stage dementia, this class may prevent the dementia from progressing as quickly.

What else should we be doing to prevent Alzheimer’s? Diet is also very important. The Mediterranean or DASH Diet are healthy ways to eat. Walking is also great and it is recommended you walk at least 20 minutes a day. Research shows that walking with friends and talking keeps the mind stimulated.

The brain fitness class will begin in January and registration will open in December. Go to Myerberg.org or call 410-358-6856 to learn more. The Myerberg Center is a program of CHAI, an agency of The Associated.

This story originally appeared in the November issue of JMORE, a new publication that tells the vibrant story of Jewish Baltimore. Read today’s issue!

What to Expect from Your Infant Toddler Care Provider: A Day in the Life
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

 

A day in the life of an infant or toddler should be full of joy and wonder. When you arrive at your chosen childcare facility, check in and greet your child’s teachers. Inquiring providers will want to know: is everything ok with your child’s health, how was your child’s night, do you have any daily scheduling notes – for napping, feeding -- that you wish to share?

The arrival and greeting at your child care center is of critical importance – here is when your child learns to separate from you and integrate into the group. Separation is a process, and not always an easy one.

Following greetings and parent departure, your child may participate in feeding and engage in some free play with friends. He or she may also nap if necessary. This is always a great time for your provider to encourage self-help skills such as holding the bottle, tummy time, rolling over and sitting up.

Sensory activities may often take place in the morning, as well as throughout the day. These may include exploring snow or crushing leaves. Or, your children explore a variety of new textures such as tape, sandpaper, warm or cold water, or ice cubes. They might finger paint or explore musical instruments and play with shakers that make different sounds. All of these activities are great for your child’s brain growth and development, experiential learning, making sense of the world around them, as well as building self-confidence and independence.

Further opportunities for brain development, routine building, socialization, group participation and individual exploration abound with singing, puppets, instruments, music and movement. For these occasions, providers often try to keep the child with the group but they are allowed to explore on their own if they so wish.

The provider’s goal, throughout the day, must be to have your child feel secure in an environment where his/her needs are met.

Taking time out for gross motor activities are also so important. Your provider should encourage lots of developmentally appropriate activities that enable your baby to lie on their tummy, move their head from side to side, roll, scoot, crawl, pull up, reach for objects, walk, pick up toys, fill and dump. Anything goes: rolling on a yoga ball, clapping, dancing!

Your child will develop at his/her own rate while working on appropriate milestones, with support as needed.

Your child’s observation skills and sensory experiences should also include a great deal of outdoor exploration time, such as crawling or walking in an appropriate playground. This provides a great change of scenery, fresh air, and an opportunity to explore the environment. Children learn through play – so let them play!

Sharon Seigel, interim director of the Stoler Early Childhood Education Center of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, is excited to welcome parents to the Stoler’s new Infant Toddler Center opening November 1, 2017.

Seigel’s vision is “to create a community where teachers, children and families grow together, a community based on mutual respect, joy and wonder.”

The J’s new infant/toddler program will be for children ages 3-24 months. It is a Maryland State Department of Education licensed school, staffed by MSDE-certified teachers and features beautiful, state-of-the-art furnishings. It is designed to provide seamless transitions to preschool.

“Infant and toddler providers, here and elsewhere, know that each child is unique, and that their strengths, needs and interests must be addressed through an integrated, developmentally appropriate curriculum designed to promote positive self-esteem,” says Seigel, “It is our philosophy that learning through play, coupled with hands on experiences, creates a caring community of learners.”

Meet Dov Frankel
Monday, October 30, 2017

Emergency Room Physician. Community Connector.

Dov Frankel, MD, is an emergency medicine physician affiliated with Greater Baltimore Medical Center. A native of Montreal, Canada, Dov attended Towson State University and Ner Israel Rabbinical College for his undergraduate degree, obtained his MSc from McGill University in and his MD from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in collaboration with Columbia University. Returning to Baltimore, he joined Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD nine years ago where he served as Assistant Director of Sinai ER-7. Married for 24+ years to Atara Frankel, the couple have raised five children with their first grandchild on the way.

Why emergency medicine? What do you love most about the work that you do?

Great question. I love everything about medicine. When I was doing my trauma rotation as a medical student, I was encouraged to apply for emergency medicine. I knew I would miss the operating room, but the ER gives me much better work/life balance and more time for family.

I love the diversity of my days—the fast speed environment in which you need think and make a decision, instantly. The constant need to make life threatening decisions in a very short time. And, I truly love the ability to meet so many patients and different people from all walks of life. Every day is new, exciting and different.

How has your life experience and career made you the community leader you are today?

Throughout my career in emergency medicine, I was always one the few religious orthodox physicians in the Emergency Department. The gateway to every person’s medical problems is through the emergency room. I get phone calls all day, every day, from community leaders—rabbis and community physicians – who have questions about their congregants or patients in my care. I see myself as the connector.

What is your Associated journey and why is giving back important to you?

My journey is simple. It started about 10 years ago when we first moved back to Baltimore. My wife and I were on a coffee date with Yehuda Neuberger at the Starbucks in Mt. Washington. He told us we were going to be involved in The Associated – and give of our time and our money. And so, we got involved.

The breadth of what the Associated is doing to help the vast Jewish community – and Baltimore– is truly astounding. From helping the Jewish day schools, the agencies and programs, to rebuilding the greater Baltimore community, The Associated is our voice for Jewish Baltimore. Who doesn’t want to be part of a winning team?

Tell me about the upcoming Maimonides Society panel and your involvement.

The panel will address questions about end-of-life care patients receive through hospice that are sensitive to Jewish customs, rituals and laws. I find end-of-life care decisions fascinating because of the work I do. When someone is really, sick, they come to the emergency department. As their physician, I am faced with the decision, ‘Do I or do I not intubate this person?’ I have seconds to make these decisions. In Jewish law, once you put a person on a life-support machine, it is very difficult to take them off.

In the Jewish faith, we don’t always talk about cancer or end of life issues… and no one talks about the power of attorney until it’s too late. If a patient comes into the emergency room and doesn’t have any papers… I must do whatever I can to save their life, even though it may not be the right decision for this patient at this time. If someone is truly on their last breath, it’s okay in Jewish religion to keep them comfortable and let them die in peace and dignity. These are the conversations we’ll be focusing on in this panel.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not working, I’m…

Working. There is really no such thing as not working for me. Even when I’m on vacation, it’s a constant barrage of people from the community contacting me. I am always available. And, that’s fine with me because that is the life I’ve chosen. I want to help people medically, and that means being available. When I’m not working...I’m running. Or, I’m biking with my wife. And, hanging out with my children. And of course, finding time for my Talmudic study.

New Baltimore Ashkelon Volunteer Team to Provide Help During Israeli Crises
Friday, October 27, 2017

 

When Scott Goldstein, Captain of the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company, got the call from the director of U.S. operations for Israel’s Emergency Volunteers Project (EVP), he knew immediately what he had to do. He quickly packed his bags, cleared his schedule and within 24 hours was on a plane to Israel, prepared to fight the fires raging throughout the north of Israel.

Goldstein, who is the EVP regional coordinator for Baltimore, will never forget the power of working alongside Israeli and U.S. first responders, 7,000 miles from home. Recognizing that Israel is a small country with limited resources, he knew that every firefighter made an enormous difference in the outcome and was grateful for the support of The Associated, which funded the deployment.

“In Baltimore County, in times of crises, we can call on other jurisdictions like Baltimore City or Anne Arundel County to help out. Yet in Israel, there is no one else to call upon. That’s why EVP volunteers are so critical,” says Goldstein.

This fall, firefighters, healthcare professionals (physicians, nurses, paramedics, physicians’ assistants) and community members are invited to become certified by EVP so they too can join a new Baltimore-Ashkelon Emergency Response Team, ready at a moment’s notice to respond to any crises in Ashkelon and throughout Israel.

It’s all thanks to a grant by The Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, which connects Baltimoreans to their counterparts in Ashkelon, Israel. If deployed, the Baltimore team will work closely with the community and their peers in Baltimore’s sister city, with medical professionals assigned to the Barzilai Hospital there.

“We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to build upon the people-to-people connections between Baltimore and Ashkelon,” said Gail Green, funding chair of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. “While many of our programs in the past focused on connections between kids and teenagers, this is an exciting opportunity to connect adults from the two communities.”

“When crises arise, many people want to do more than just give money,” adds Adi Zahavi, EVP founder and CEO. “This is a chance for them to put their feet on the ground, take action and save lives.”

To become certified, participants mu