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Connecting to Ashkelon through Volunteering
Thursday, December 12, 2019

Howard Goldstein and family

Howard Goldstein and his wife Sally first travelled to Israel in the late 70’s, visiting a family member who had made aliya years before.

Having taken a ten-year hiatus, they began to visit more frequently, not at all deterred by the political climate and unrest.

“We were in Israel during the First Intifada in 1987 (Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza) and that’s when I first felt a very visceral connection and knew that I wanted to be there as much as possible,” Howard shared.

Over the years, the Goldsteins and their family travelled back and forth to Israel, immersing themselves in Israeli culture, history and language. A few years ago, they purchased an apartment in Ashkelon, Baltimore’s partner city, spending time in the summers with their two younger children.

“The growth and development and education and culture that is going on in Ashkelon is fantastic,” said Howard. “People in Ashkelon are very interesting. They are very understated and dedicated to Israel. Almost everyone I met had underwent large self-sacrifice to move there and made a life and contribution to the country.”

Howard’s desire to interact with more Israelis and give back to a country he loves, led him to volunteer work in the city of Ashkelon. A self-proclaimed “handy man”, Howard volunteered doing carpentry at a nearby school and spent time engaging with people of all ages.

For one week this past summer, Howard volunteered at a day school camp, joining the kids in their activities and helping the teacher in class as needed. During his second week volunteering, Howard worked at the Halperin Elderly Home.

"Howard came and joined our activities in the art room. He helped the elderly with their crafts and during that time had a chance to have long conversations with them. Despite the short time, some of our residents really got attached to him," said Rivkah, volunteer coordinator at Halperin.

“I try and help the community, help the people, help the country in whatever small way I’m able. I am very proud of all Israel accomplishes and the benefit Israel provides to all Jews,” explained Howard. “Volunteering allows me to express my gratitude and allows me to give something back. I hope to do much more in the future as well.”

Howard will be returning to volunteer in Ashkelon later this month.

Students Build Professional Skills Through Onward
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Onward Israel Internship

Alyssa Miller, a student at the University of Maryland, worked in Israel last summer for Israelevitz Architects as part of an eight-week internship program through Baltimore Onward Israel. Alyssa says that living and working in Tel Aviv-Yafo, provided her the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the people of Israel, immersing herself in the country’s culture and strengthening Jewish connections.

What did you do for Israelevitz Architects? I interned for Israelevitz Architects, a private architecture firm in Southern Tel Aviv. Specifically, I worked with their interior design department utilizing a program that highlights different sections of a house so that the carpenter can make custom units for those rooms.

What was the advantage of going to Israel and doing this versus having an internship somewhere in the States? In Israel, you're treated like an employee, which is what I wanted to do rather than getting coffee or copying papers. In the States, part of becoming a licensed architect is pursuing an internship. This means I would be competing with kids who have completed graduate school. Working in Israel, I learned more about my intended area of study from a professional standpoint and felt that my employers and supervisors valued my work.

How do you think this will help you in your career next year and in the future? I think because there were no other kids in the office, I was held to a different standard. I was forced to elevate my skills which will be an advantage over my peers since more was expected from me this past summer.

What were some of your favorite parts about Onward Israel? Living in Yafo and being outside of Tel Aviv proper was a highlight because it was nice to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. I enjoyed a lot of our ‘Israel nowadays’ when we’d go out to see different cities. I think that's important because we need to remember we're not just there to work, we were there to experience the culture in the country as well.

What was the greatest, positive surprise of this experience? Overall, I was surprised by how welcoming people were. Israelis were honest and friendly whether I was walking down the street, going to a restaurant, or having a conversation with a taxi driver. Having gone to day school, I spoke Hebrew. People were pleasantly surprised to hear and encouraged me to speak Hebrew even if I was embarrassed by my accent or forgot a couple of words.

What was your weekend away or Shabbaton like? I went to the Negev and stayed on a Kibbutz about 30 minutes south of Be’er Sheva. We learned about different minorities – the Bedouins and the Ethiopian communities in Israel. Often, Americans assume that the only issue that Israel has is safety, security and defense, but we talked a lot about racism, healthcare, failing infrastructure and other issues that Americans aren't necessarily aware of. I really enjoyed doing learning about that.

So, you've been to Israel before, but what was new this time besides working? All my other trips we had gone to the Kotel, the Dead Sea, rode a camel and so on. I think this is the first time that I really felt immersed in the culture and that I got to know the people.

If you were telling a friend about the program, what would you tell them? Why should they sign up? I would tell someone to sign up for Baltimore Onward Israel because I think the program gives you an internship that you would not have the ability to pursue in the States. People in Israel like to work hard and play hard because it is a fun country and a fun culture, but we were also there to learn. If you want a summer where you can have fun but also learn and grow, I think that Onward is a great way to do that.

Year-End Strategies For Charitable Giving
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Charitable Giving

For many, year-end giving looks the same every year. Most people look for ways of combining their desire to help the causes they believe in with their desire to save on taxes. And, before the changes to the tax laws, it was simple – a charitable contribution meant a charitable deduction which meant the lowering of your tax burden. But the increase to the standard deduction means that now a lot of those charitable contributions will not necessarily have the same impact on your taxes.

So how can you make your charitable giving have the same impact on your taxes that it does on the charities that receive your contributions? Here are 5 year-end strategies to consider that can help you make the most out of your giving this year.

1. Give long-term appreciated securities, rather than cash. The expression “cash is king” does not apply when it comes to charitable giving. While donations made by cash or check are, by far, the most common methods of charitable giving, contributing stocks, bonds, or mutual funds that have appreciated over time has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason.

Most publicly traded securities with gains that you have not yet sold may be donated to a public charity. When the donation is made, you can claim the fair market value as an itemized deduction on your federal income tax return and avoid paying any capital gain when you eventually sell that stock.

2. Consider establishing a donor-advised fund. A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a giving vehicle sponsored by a public charity, like The Associated. It allows you to make a charitable contribution to the public charity, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then recommend grants from the fund over time. You can contribute to the charity as frequently as you like and then recommend grants to your favorite charities whenever it makes sense for you. It can also be a great way for charitably inclined individuals to offset a year with unexpectedly high earnings, or to address the tax implications of year‐end bonuses. Click here to learn more about DAFs at The Associated.

Further, by “bunching” or “clumping” 3 or 4 years of annual gifts in year one and placing them into a DAF, you can take advantage of a higher deduction. Under the new tax law, a gift of $10,000 does not afford a married taxpayer the opportunity to deduct their gift. But a gift of $40,000 would. The idea is to bunch multiple years of giving into just one year and take a large charitable deduction in the same year. Same money and same amount of giving, just timed differently. Moreover, by transferring low-basis, appreciated assets, such as publicly traded stock, the benefits to this type of gift are enhanced.

3. Over 70½? Consider a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) from an IRA. If you are at least age 70½, have an IRA, and plan to donate to charity this year, another consideration may be to make a QCD from your IRA. This action can satisfy charitable goals and allow funds to be withdrawn from an IRA without any tax consequences. A QCD is appealing because it can be used to satisfy your required minimum distribution (RMD) – up to $100,000 for tax year 2019.

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.

Tip: You cannot use your QCD to fund a DAF, but there are opportunities for alternative funds at The Associated. Contact Jackie Yahr at or 410-369-9248 to find out more.

4. Life income plans The use of almost any 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 provide you with an income stream for a term of years or for life. While these gifts may be complex, they are also quite powerful each in its own way.

5. Consider donating complex assets. You may also contribute complex and illiquid assets—such as private company stock, restricted stock, real estate, alternative investments, bitcoin, or other long-term appreciated property—directly to charity. The process for making this type of donation requires more time and effort than donating cash or publicly traded securities, but it has distinct advantages. These types of assets often have a relatively low cost basis. In fact, for entrepreneurs who have founded their own companies, the cost basis of their private C-corp or S-corp stock may effectively be zero.

Don’t Wait! The end of the year is quickly approaching. There are many giving opportunities available. The Associated’s professional team remains ready to work with you on how to incorporate charitable planning into your year-end planning 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 410-369-9248 or

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 Jill Snyder - Lawyers' Division Co-Chair
Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Jill Headshot

Jill Snyder, owner of Law Office of Jill A. Snyder, LLC, is a trust and estate attorney. Prior to opening her practice, she worked as a senior attorney in the Division of Enforcement of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

What brought you to Baltimore? I was living in Washington, DC, when I met and married my husband who is from Baltimore. After we got married, his job took us to Chicago for a few years and then we moved to Baltimore to raise our children.

Why is being involved in The Associated and giving back to the Jewish community important to you? My family was very involved in the Pittsburgh Jewish community throughout my childhood, so it was natural for me to gravitate toward The Associated upon my relocation to Baltimore. My first introduction to The Associated was through my participation in a two-year women’s leadership program called Dor Tikvah. This program taught me about the many ways that The Associated meets the needs of our Jewish community and the greater Baltimore community. Upon completing Dor Tikvah, I created a volunteer program called Mitzvah Makers with the support of The Associated. This program was designed to provide bi-monthly hands-on volunteer activities for families with young children. It was important to me to expose my children to charitable giving from a young age with the hope that they would incorporate this value into their lives and pass it on to future generations.

You currently serve as Lawyers’ Division Co-Chair. What other leadership roles have you held within The Associated and the broader community? I have enjoyed various leadership roles at The Associated that complimented the different stages of my personal and professional life. When my children were young and I was not working, I served on the board of the Jewish Volunteer Connection and coordinated several volunteer events. My favorite event that I was coordinated was making hundreds of toiletry bags for homeless individuals during Mitzvah Day on Christmas at the JCC. As my children grew and I returned to the practice of law, I began attending the Planned Giving Roundtable and later joined the planning committee. This group provides excellent educational and networking opportunities to professionals who advise clients regarding charitable giving as part of their financial, tax, or estate planning practices. I also served as a member and chair of the Administration Committee of The Associated, which is responsible for developing policies and procedures regarding matters such as gift acceptance, donor advised funds, charitable gift annuities, and life insurance. This year, I am pleased to join the board of The Associated in addition to serving as Co-Chair of the Lawyers’ Division with Searle Mitnick.

You are a Trust and Estate attorney. How did you get into this type of law? When I first graduated from law school, I was an attorney in the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission. I loved investigating and prosecuting financial crimes, but the travel was very demanding and no longer desirable once I had children. I spent six years at home with my three young sons before opening my own estates and trusts law practice. I became passionate about this area of law after my father died because I wanted to help families avoid the mistakes that we made by failing to timely plan and communicate.

What’s one piece of legal advice you would give related to your area of expertise? It is much less expensive and stressful to plan ahead than to clean up messes that may arise in the event of death or incapacity.

How have you seen this area of law change over the years? When I first began practicing this type of law, the primary focus of estate planning was on tax planning to reduce or eliminate estate taxes. Now that the tax exemption amounts are so high and very few people’s estates will be subjected to estate tax, planning has shifted from being tax-driven to values-driven. I enjoy talking to clients about leaving a legacy. Of course, I still talk to clients about tax planning, but the discussion now includes income tax and capital gains tax considerations in addition to estate taxes.

What is something most people do not know about you? After taking the bar exam, I participated in an army volunteer program on an air force base in Israel for three weeks before starting my job at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Teaching Our Children About Community Service
Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Mike Schwartz & family

By Mike Schwartz

From as far back as I can remember – being married to my wife of 10 years (and knowing her for 12) – we have enjoyed participating in various types of “Community Service” days whether living in New Jersey or Maryland. While it has a different, yet familiar name in New Jersey (Mitzvah Day at the J), and we did not have our two children then, it was and still is a day full of activities/mitzvot supporting the community.

Now that our two children are at the age where they understand what we are doing and why, we feel that it is important to inspire them and demonstrate that kindness and understanding brings the community closer.

While in Maryland, we have participated four times in Jewish Volunteer Connection’s (JVC) Annual Community Mitzvah Day where our children have enjoyed helping the community. They are naturally curious and want to know who needs winter care packages and why.

They ask many questions about why people don’t have clothes or food to eat, and we have explained how many small mitzvot like making trail mixes, sandwiches and coloring pictures can have more impact on the community than a single, large activity. Year after year, we have come back to JVC to support them on this important day. And after participating in the Mitzvah Days, it was an easy progression for the kids to want to do more.

This past spring, we participated in the JVC’s Good Deeds Day where we cleaned up a portion of the Western Run Stream in Park Heights. Our children, aged four and seven, could not have been more excited to help.

It may have had to do with the fact that they would be able to play near or even in a stream and use a cool trash grabber tool (yes, that’s the technical term), but they also understood why cleaning up the stream was important. This was not in their neighborhood. Nor was it really something that would have had a direct impact on their daily lives, yet they understood the impact to the community.

Maybe the direct impact is the way these events make it easy to teach kindness to our children. Simple acts of help go a long way.

Community Mitzvah Day, Jewish Volunteer Connection’s largest volunteer event, takes place on December 24 and 25 at sites throughout the Baltimore area. Learn more and register today!

Chanukah Activities To Do With Your Children
Friday, November 22, 2019


The holidays are just around the corner! Fill up your calendar with these amazing Chanukah activities.

Hands on Holidays, Light Street
December 11, 11:15 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Light Street)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

DBJCC Pre-Chanukah Party
December 13, 10:00 a.m. | Downtown Baltimore JCC
Join us for PJ Library story time, craft, songs, and kosher snack. $5/guest, free for members.

Hands on Holiday: Govans
December 13, 10:30 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Govans)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Hands on Holiday: Ivy Bookshop
December 15, 10:00 a.m. | The Ivy Bookshop
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free story time, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Chanukah at Foundry Row
December 15, 11:00 a.m. | Foundry Row
Join the JCC for Chanukah activities story-time, and a special Chanukah singalong.

The Great Jewish Bake Off: Holiday Cookie Edition
December 15, 1:00 p.m. | Jewish Museum of Maryland Herbert Bearman Campus
This year we take inspiration from the season - with the approach of December holidays, what could be more perfect than holiday cookies? Share your family favorite or create a new tradition. We are looking for delicious cookies that can be given as gifts or shared by the whole family, something that looks great and tastes event better!

Chanukah Yolka
December 15, 4:00 p.m. | Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
Join PJ Library and the ArtXutor theater troupe for a family-friendly Chanukah-Yolka celebration with a Jewish twist. Children and families will be treated to an original, interactive production in Russian. Traditional New Year and Chanukah delicacies will be served plus arts and crafts for kids! $20 for kids, $15 for adults, Kids under 18 months – free.

Hands on Holiday: Patterson Park
December 16, 11:00 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Patterson Park)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free story time, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

A Shining Light
December 18, 4:30 p.m. | Weinberg Park Heights JCC
A gathering to honor loved ones who are no longer with us but continue to be a light in our lives. Join us for candle making and menorah lighting. Cost: $5/family

Chanukah at Hunt Valley Towne Centre
December 21, 4:30 p.m. | Hunt Valley Towne Centre
Join the JCC at Wegmans (upstairs dining area) for Chanukah activities, story time and a special singalong with Chanukah songs. Activities Include: Make Chanukah candles, Spin dreidels, Decorate tzedakah boxes, Play a healthy memory matching game, Enjoy treats from Wegmans and a Chanukah Sing Along.

December 22, 3:00 p.m. | Gordon Center for Performing Arts
Celebrate Chanukah and jam with this Jewish a cappella group featuring soulful harmonies and a dynamic, full-band sound.

Mitzvah Day
December 25, various times and locations
Join our community and see what an impact you can make in one day. Assemble winter care packages, help in soup kitchens and shelters, visit the elderly and much more.

Chanukah Wonderland
December 29, 10:00 a.m. | Weinberg Park Heights JCC
Two days of fun-filled activities for the entire family – Chanukah Arts & Crafts, Moon Bounce, New! Toddler Corner, Face Painting, Balloon Animals, Donut Decorating, Olive Press Demonstrations, Food for Purchase. A partnership between the JCC of Greater Baltimore and Chabad of Park Heights. RSVPs preferred, walk-ins welcome!

Chanukah Wonderland
December 30, 11:00 a.m. | Weinberg Park Heights JCC
Two days of fun-filled activities for the entire family – Chanukah Arts & Crafts, Moon Bounce, New! Toddler Corner, Face Painting, Balloon Animals, Donut Decorating, Olive Press Demonstrations, Food for Purchase. A partnership between the JCC of Greater Baltimore and Chabad of Park Heights. RSVPs preferred, walk-ins welcome!

Raising Kids Who Care About The World
Thursday, November 21, 2019

Camp Connections Speakers

Achieving independence is an essential part of our children’s journey to adulthood, yet many parents struggle with finding the right balance of freedom, support and guidance. If you ask Dr. Deborah Gilboa, internationally known parenting expert, speaker and author of several books, she will tell you it comes down to one thing – building resilience.

Dr. Gilboa, popularly known as Dr. G and a regular expert on the TODAY Show, will be the keynote speaker on December 15 at The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping community-wide event for families and professionals.

“To raise kids who care about the world, we have to be willing to introduce them to it and help them navigate the world from a younger age than might be comfortable for us. Talking to our kids about what is happening to our neighbors, in our communities, in our country and even on the global scene takes perseverance and courage,” explains Dr. G. “Getting them involved in tikkun olam – hearing about our work and diving into their own – will give them all those values: respect, resilience, empathy and action.”

Pamela Rae Schuller, full-time disability-inclusion advocate, couldn’t agree more. Named one of the "36 under 36" who are changing the face of the Jewish community by The Jewish Week, Schuller, who is also a stand-up comedian, will be the opening act on December 15. Relentlessly funny, Schuller, who grew up with Tourette syndrome, found her happy place at Jewish summer camp.

“I talk a lot about Jewish summer camp when I speak and perform because for me, it was transformative. It was the first place where I felt like I was being included NOT because it was a mitzvah or good deed but because the camp knew I added something to the community, and they wanted to accommodate me so they could celebrate me,” Schuller shares. “It's a place that often has the flexibility to really get creative when it comes to inclusion and helping young people find themselves, explore their identities and relationships and build resilience.”

Both Dr. G and Schuller agree that Jewish summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to develop a strong character, gain life skills and grow spiritually and socially.

“There are two kinds of people in the world: camp people, and people who never had the chance to become camp people! Jewish summer camp is a values-driven, communication and skills-building world where everything from schedules to songs are focused around one central goal: to grow our kids' character. And, in a world of growing antisemitism, we have an obligation to strengthen our children's ties to our community so they will feel a part of something larger, rather than feeling alone,” Dr. G. says.

Dr. G and Schuller will share stories of how Jewish camp shaped who they are today. Join us and our partner camps to hear how their Jewish camp experiences influence their work in inspiring parents to raise children to be thoughtful, caring citizens of the world.

For more information or to register for the event on December 15, visit

Connecting Across Faiths
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Sam Hopkins

By Sam Hopkins

During 2019 I was pleased to participate in two events connected to my year as part of the Baltimore Jewish Council’s (BJC) Leadership Development Program that showed the interest and attention the BJC and the Associated put into connecting Jewish Baltimore to our neighbors of other faiths: the Interfaith Trialogue Series and the Interfaith Dinner at Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore. It is not incidental that these experiences were connected by communal meals and positive conversation – through both we were nourished and given energy to continue the commitment to interaction.

Understanding others comes from action and interaction – we may be the People of the Book eternally, but we are people of Baltimore daily. Breaking bread with others allows for exploration of the common need for sustenance as well as our different approaches to giving thanks for our blessings through different prayers, foods, and even ways of eating.

The Interfaith Trialogue series involved three faiths joining in discussion three weeks in a row. The venue was the R House, itself a place of hope and revitalization in Baltimore that emphasizes sharing of space and personal interaction with strangers. Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy opened with discussions of varying approaches to community, focusing on overlap and mandates in each tradition to love one another--both our co-religionists and those around us.

There are of course many significant differences among faith traditions, and those have been taken in dark directions at various points in history. Our Jewish calendar is full of actual or near-genocides, cultural assaults, and other commemorations of sadness.

However, we also mark the role of the righteous among the nations in our survival. Baltimore has always been a city of refuge and mixture, but tendencies toward division threaten the potential for shared peace from Fell’s Point to Park Heights.

I did not come from Baltimore – my family began settling in the Kansas City area before the Civil War, and that is where I was raised. But being in Baltimore for 15 years has required me to figure out how to represent myself and my community authentically.

I am not religious, which prompted interesting discussions about what it means to be a Jew with some involved in these interfaith events. A mezuzah may mark the door of a home where prayer is seldom heard, and that can be striking to an African American who converted to Islam. My family has a deep history of intermarriage, first Catholic-Protestant and then Christian-Jewish, but my guiding faith and sense of community come from Judaism.

The series of conversations arranged by the BJC forced me to articulate my own background and goals in a way that simply does not come up in most day-to-day interactions. It is a heavy burden to try to represent a community of tens of thousands, but it is always possible to represent yourself.

Lively chats about individual faith journeys turned naturally into discussions of neighborhoods, children, challenges and goals. We shared hopes, fears and food. Baltimore is a puzzle worth continuing to put together though it will never be finished.

This is our religious and cultural lot as Jews – knowing that salvation is always just around the corner, and that we know the holy is among us when we know peace. We do not wait for the age of perfection to do our part in repairing the world, so we look around and we engage to hasten better times.

Meet Rachel Samakow
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Rachel Samakow

Coming to a new city is never easy but discovering a community that gives you a sense of purpose can connect you to your new home. Originally from Pittsburgh, Rachel moved to Baltimore after receiving her bachelors’ degree in 2009 and then beginning law school at the University of Baltimore.

After permanently relocating to Baltimore, she soon found her niche in the Jewish community. It all started with one event, that has since grown into an active life in Jewish Baltimore.

How did you end up in Baltimore? I originally moved to Baltimore to go to law school, after graduating from GW (George Washington University) in DC. One of the things they tell you before going to law school is to choose a school in a state where you would want to practice. I have some family in Bethesda so Maryland seemed like it would be a great fit. Baltimore is so similar to Pittsburgh that it really felt like home when I moved here. I love that there is always something to do, always something to check out. There are mini pockets of adventure pretty much everywhere you turn – it’s a great city for exploring.

How did you become involved in IMPACT? A friend invited me to the Tu Bishvat seder where I met some truly incredible people. From there I started going to more events. Before I knew it, I was a CHAT hostess and on the Young Professionals Committee (YPC) helping plan events with The Associated.

Have you enjoyed your experience as a CHAT host? I had such an incredible time. The CHAT program itself is great and you really get a chance to know people in a more intimate setting. Like the program name suggests, I enjoyed great conversations which have led to some really wonderful friendships. It was also an opportunity for me to get involved in The Associated community in a more IMPACTful way – pun intended. It’s been great to be a part of an organization that involves different types of young adults with different experiences.

What do you think Jewish young adults are looking for? I think it’s having a place. It’s being part of the community and understanding and exploring your Jewish identity. I think it’s finding where you fit and having the opportunity to participate in activities that allow you to give back to the community and develop that identity.

Is there a fun fact about yourself that you would like to share? In college I got into white-water kayaking and can roll over in a kayak. I love hiking and camping but I’m probably better known for my cupcake making skills. I’m also a pretty terrible guitarist, but hopefully more practice will change that.

Who has had a big influence on your life? It’s hard to narrow down to just one person, but I think the advice that I’m always surprised by and resonates with me the most is from my younger sister, Becca. Her advice is always an incredible combination of empathy and humor, not to mention she has a gift for directness. I look up to her, but that may be because she’s an inch taller.

Empowering the Next Generation - L’dor V’dor
Thursday, November 14, 2019

Family lighting Shabbat candles

By Eli Bass, Jewish Education Coordinator, Macks Center for Jewish Education

Parents have a critical role to play in helping kids to form a strong Jewish identity as parents are their primary Jewish educator and guide. Specifically, the traditions established early in life help kids to develop necessary skills later on.

These skills help us to build better relationships, strengthen responses to stress and anxiety and connect with the infinite. “Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:7

We celebrate that there are so many ways to affirm and develop Jewish identities. There is an abundance of Jewish traditions and knowledge and it is impossible to know it all.

Invite your family to join you as you grow and develop traditions and further your learning. There are so many small steps which can have a big impact on your child.

Here are a few of our favorite suggestions as you guide your child down their Jewish path.

  • Develop a before bed Jewish ritual. You can use traditional liturgy or an alternative option both are great at developing connection and routinizing bedtime. Make your storytime Jewish with Books from PJLibrary.
  • Bond over Jewish crafts as you go through the Jewish calendar.
  • Put Judaism on in the background with PJLibrary radio. They have a great option which has energetic music for playtime and more relaxing music for bedtime. They have a great app for Apple and Android.
  • Take out a Jewish cookbook and try a recipe. The Library at the Center for Jewish Education at the Park Heights JCC has many options including The Children’s Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan. These are great ways to both celebrate and engage with a wide variety of Jewish culinary traditions.
  • Create Shabbat traditions. Braiding challah, shabbat meals and blessings create special family moments in the midst of a hectic week.
Making the Holidays Meaningful
Monday, November 11, 2019

Child lighting Hanukah candles

By Rachael Abrams, LCSW-C

It may already have happened in your house. The toy catalogs arrive. Commercials for the newest games, technology and “must haves” are everywhere. Children concentrate on eight whole days of gifts! And as much as you try to focus on the meaning of the holidays – the giving back, the time with family, the historical significance of Chanukah – it is hard to compete with the culture of consumerism that grabs hold onto all of us.

Are you looking for ways to take back Chanukah, to make it more meaningful for your family beyond wrapped presents and new products? Check out the following eight suggestions to celebrate Chanukah in meaningful ways and remind kids that this holiday is about more than just new presents.

Consider giving (and asking for) gifts rather than presents. Have an age appropriate conversation with your kids that gifts don’t necessarily mean tangible items you hold in your hand. Rather, a gift can be an experience, a memory or a tradition. Instead of the latest game (that is quickly discarded), the hottest toy (little kids prefer the box anyway) or a variety of other things that end up by the wayside, consider a gift that allows for adventure. Try: bowling, pottery painting, live theater or a concert, movies, trip to the fire station, visit the library or bookstore, ice cream outing, roller/ice skating, miniature golf or a special meal together. 

Consider a gift that allows you to spend time with family and friends. Our lives are busy, so busy and we often wish we had more time to spend with family, friends and loved ones. Give a gift that promotes togetherness and makes memories at the same time. How about a membership to: the zoo, an art museum, the aquarium, an amusement park, a children's museum, a national park/campground, a science museum, an industrial museum, a train museum or a cultural museum. 

Consider a gift that keeps on giving. Think about what your children – or those you’re giving gifts to – are interested in doing, learning or trying. This type of gift shows that you have a personal interest in their hobbies or interests and allows them to experience the gift over time. How about lessons for: horseback riding, art/crafting, swimming, music, rock climbing, karate, dance, chess, gymnastics or woodworking. 

Consider a gift to share an interest or a passion. All children love individual one on one time with adults to engage in an activity set aside just for them. Think about your own hobbies and interests and how you could pass on your love to a child. How about:

  • Teaching knitting, sewing or crafting.
  • Create a memory book or photo book together.
  • Explore a science kit and conduct experiments together.
  • Go on a nature walk, hike or bike ride together and document your experience.
  • Give a magazine subscription that conveys your passion and read together.
  • Go to a sporting event, musical show, local play or art exhibit together.
  • Give a favorite book and read together.
  • Plan and cook a meal for your family together.

Consider volunteering together. While the holidays are about celebrating each other, they are also the perfect time to be grateful for what we have and help those who are less fortunate. Look for opportunities to give back in the community and explain the important of this mitzvah to your children. Additionally, children begin to understand community and the positive power of a group of people working together toward a worthwhile goal. How about:

  • Checking out JVC's website. Consider being a part of community Mitzvah Day on December 24 & 25.
  • Calling a local senior center and inquire about opportunities to have young children visit and interact with residents.
  • Looking for local toy drives and collection drives. Many local businesses are organizing collections for the holidays.
  • Reading these articles for instilling a culture of philanthropy in your children: 6 Ways to Teach Your Children Philanthropy, The Giving Kid and Raising Children with Philanthropic Values.
  • Modeling philanthropy whenever you can. It isn’t enough to talk about giving back. You have to show your children that it is part of who you are.

Keep it simple – spend time with your children. During this time of year, carve out time to spend as a family, or even one-on-one with each child, without distractions. Kids are happiest when you sit with them and build a city out of boxes, create a pillow fortress, have a tea party or play a game together. These activities create memories and won’t cost a penny.

Teach children that Chanukah isn’t about presents. Chanukah is a wonderful family holiday that often gets overshadowed by the need to give and receive presents. Consider picking one night of Chanukah that is a “present-free night” and explore the holiday together through books, activities and education.

  • Visit PJ Library for a variety of books and activities to share together.
  • Challenge your kids to make their own menorah out of Legos, a piece of wood, paint and some bolts or any creative material they imagine.
  • Make edible dreidels using marshmallows, pretzel sticks, a Hershey kiss and some icing.

Make Chanukah a family affair. Consider adding a family activity to your menorah lighting each night. Here are 8 to get you started:

  • Make your favorite latke recipe and have a latke feast for dinner.
  • Play dreidel or a favorite board game and have family game night.
  • Rent a movie, pop some popcorn and snuggle up for movie night.
  • Work on a puzzle together.
  • Explore together with a science kit or art set.
  • Bake your favorite Chanukah cookies together or try sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).
  • Light the menorah over Skype or Facetime and sing your favorite Chanukah songs with out-of-town family.
  • Have each family member share their favorite book and read together.

Chanukah is a beautiful holiday that can be special and memorable for your family without breaking the bank. Join JCS and DBJCC this holiday season to share and create holiday traditions at our Chanukah celebration for families with young children from all faith backgrounds. Click here for more information. Wishing everyone a wonderful Chanukah!

This One is Personal
Monday, November 11, 2019

Marvin Pinkard, JMM executive director

By Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director, Jewish Museum of Maryland

In my 31 years of working in the museum field (at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, DC’s National Archives Experience and here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland) I have led teams that pulled together more than 80 exhibits on topics ranging from genetics and aviation to Magna Carta and the American Civil War to Mendes Cohen and Harry Houdini.

But none of these experiences engendered the type of strong personal feelings of JMM’s latest offering, Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling.

Like many projects I’ve worked on, it’s hard to pinpoint a single origin for this exhibit. The late Barry Lever had attempted to pull together an exhibit on Maryland’s scrap industry back in 2009, several years before I arrived at JMM. But our progress really accelerated in 2015, when we were selecting a potential candidate to follow our successful run of Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America.

At that time, I had recently attended the national conference of Jewish museums in New York. The keynote speaker, a well-known cultural critic, chastised Jewish museums for giving as much space to the words of “housewives” as to the teachings of rabbis.

Like several other members of the audience, I had a strong visceral reaction to this critique. Without denying the debt that Judaism owes to its great scholars, surely our survival as a people over the last two millennia is as dependent on Jewish mothers as it is on Jewish teachers. The real question wasn’t whose voices we paid attention to, it was “whose voices are we missing?”

The question of “who we value” was very much on my mind as we went about selecting our next topic for a national traveling exhibit. As we considered under-appreciated aspects of Jewish life and history, it didn’t take me long to realize that my own family’s story was a candidate for a show.

Like thousands of other Jewish immigrants, my grandparents had made a living from what other people threw away (paternal side – scrap metal; maternal side – scrap rag). Like so many others of their generation, my father and uncles hadn’t joined the scrap business – they were, in the words of Sonny Plant, “born into it.” And like so many of my contemporaries, I had left the “dirty work” of scrap behind for a career in a white-collar profession – even as my education was paid for by the sweat of the scrap yard.

I was aware that scrap recycling was one of the largest industries in the US, a key to a deeper understanding of environmental issues and historically, one of the major sources of funds that built the Jewish community in America (In 1930, Forbes magazine estimated that 90% of scrap businesses were Jewish owned).

I was also aware that most people had never been inside a scrap yard, had no idea what went on inside, and that many people not only denigrated “junk” but also the people who made their living from it.

Given our goal of finding (and sharing) value in the activities of everyday members of the Jewish community, choosing to do the scrap yard project was easy, the challenge was making the topic accessible to a wider audience. In addition to interviews and photos of dozens of scrap entrepreneurs from across America, we captured drone footage of a working yard, included a section on scrap in pop culture (remember the scene from Goldfinger?) and added interactives to let visitors feel the weight of being a scrap peddler and measure their worth (in copper or aluminum).

More than 100 people showed up for our VIP/Member opening and our first two public programs have received a strong positive response. Our education team has managed to fully book every school day between today and the middle of December. Many school groups participate in the board game we created as a companion to the exhibit, the game integrates learning about the history of scrap families with a hands-on lesson on supply and demand.

But years from now, when I look back at this experience, the most amazing thing I will remember is standing in front of the photo of my dad (and the patent for his invention) and realizing that his story and the stories of thousands of other men and women, who often toiled without recognition, finally has earned a place in a museum.

On Your Next Day Off, Visit The Jewish Museum of Maryland
Thursday, November 07, 2019

Lloyd Street Synagogue

When was the last time you visited The Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM)? If it’s been a while, or you’re planning a visit for the first time, this fall is the perfect time to head downtown and explore the JMM.

In the heart of Jonestown, just north of Little Italy, you’ll find America’s leading museum of regional Jewish history, culture and community. Serving as an anchor institution for this historic community, The JMM is not only a museum, but the campus also includes the historic Lloyd Street and B’nai Israel Synagogues. During your visit, as you walk through the neighborhood to grab lunch at the local deli, you’ll probably notice the revitalization along Baltimore Street.

The current exhibits are worth an afternoon visit. Travel back in time and uncover the story of this historic neighborhood in Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore. Also be sure to delve into the JMM’s newest exhibit, Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling, running now through April 26, 2020. Scrap recycling turns waste into raw materials and has given millions, many Jewish scrappers, a livelihood and has propelled American industry and innovation for centuries.

Other programs open to the public surrounding the Scrap Yard exhibit include Jewish author Adam Minter speaking about his book Secondhand Travels of a Global Scrap Man on Sunday, November 17; a family event, A Greener Hanukkah, on December 8; and a talk led by Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director of The JMM, Lives Built on Scrap: A Family Biography, on January 12.

Come discover this hands-on exhibit where you’ll encounter not just the tools of the scrap yard but the people who built and run a global industry, and so much more. Please visit for more details.

Chanukah Activities To Do With Your Grandchildren
Thursday, November 07, 2019

The holidays are just around the corner! Fill up your calendar with these amazing Chanukah activities.

Hands on Holiday: Roland Park
December 5, 11:00 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Roland Park)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

PJ Library Monument Lighting
December 5, 5:00 p.m. | Walters Art Museum
PJ Library is a participating partner in this free event at the Walters Art Museum.

A Greener Hanukkah
December 8, 11:00 a.m. | Jewish Museum of Maryland Herbert Bearman Campus
Chanukah is coming, join us this dollar day as we prepare for the holiday with a variety of arts and crafts projects all using recycled materials. Activities are suitable for all ages and no artistic talent is required.

PJ Our Way Great Chanukah Bake Off
December 8, 2:00 p.m. | Park Heights JCC
PJ Library and PJ Our Way invite families to compete against each other to create the best cookies decorated with a Chanukah theme. Cost is $10/family.

Chanukah at Foundry Row
December 15, 11:00 a.m. | Foundry Row
Join the JCC for Chanukah activities story-time, and a special Chanukah singalong.

Chanukah at Hunt Valley Towne Centre
December 21, 4:30 p.m. | Hunt Valley Towne Centre
Join the JCC for Chanukah activities story-time, and a special Chanukah singalong.

Meet Brad and Melissa Hecht
Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Brad and Melissa Hecht

On November 20, The Associated will present its signature Keynote event, “After Pittsburgh: Pride, People & Power.” Held at Woodholme Country Club, the evening will feature a conversation with Bari Weiss, New York Times staff writer and editor and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism.

Baltimore natives Bradley and Melissa Hecht are co-chairing the event with Morry and Lisa Zolet. We spoke to the Hechts about Keynote, Weiss and their involvement in the community.

Why did you want to co-chair Keynote this year?

Brad: When we were approached about the opportunity to take this leadership role, we jumped. We’ve attended Keynote for the better part of the last decade. We always find Keynote to be a great opportunity to connect with the community and learn from an interesting speaker on relevant topics.

Melissa: Keynote is definitely one of our favorite events of the year. I always feel like I could spend more time listening to the speakers. They always share such interesting perspectives about their topics.

Brad: That’s true. We often find ourselves talking about what was said at Keynote days and weeks afterward.

Why Bari Weiss?

Brad: Bari Weiss is a wonderful writer, and I’ve seen her speak on a number of television programs. She really stands up for our community. She grew up down the street from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and brings an interesting perspective to Antisemitism. I recently saw her, and she was speaking about how Antisemitism can be indicative of broader, societal issues than just the Jewish people. I’d love for people to walk away with some talking points on this front.

What would you like to ask her?

Brad: I’d love to know what she reads in the media to stay informed. And, I’ve seen that her twitter often has polarizing comments. I wonder how she digests that – of if she digests it.

Beyond Keynote, how does The Associated fit into your lives?

Melissa: Several years ago, we attended an Oriole Park tour through IMPACT, the young adult division of The Associated. While there, I started talking to another mother who was also active within The Associated. She’s since become one of my closest friends.

Brad: I remember in middle school I was a Top Notch Teen (the TNT summer program at the JCC). It was a great experience that taught me about volunteer service. At the same time, I had the opportunity to help kids form their Jewish identity. And, of course, I developed friendships and bonds that I still have to this day.

I’ve spent the vast majority of my professional life with M&T Bank. M&T encourages all of us to be actively involved in supporting causes that are important to us. One of our core principles is that we believe that our company’s success is dependent of the success of the communities we serve. When I decided I wanted to give back to the community as a young professional, I became involved with The Associated’s Young Leadership Council.

You both seem to have strong Jewish identities.

Melissa: I grew up attending Hebrew school at Temple Oheb Shalom and was bat mitzvahed there. We always celebrated the Jewish holidays with my grandparents, who spoke Yiddish.

Although I wasn’t as Jewishly involved when I moved out and went to college, when Brad and I had a family, we circled back to our Jewish identities and knew that is how we wanted to raise our family.

Who influenced you most?

Brad: This is an answer that has changed over time. Initially, my grandparents were the strongest influence on my Jewish identity. All of the holidays were celebrated with them and, to this day, remain some of my best memories. Now, our kids are the biggest influence on my Jewish identity.

Melissa: My late zayde was my biggest influence. He grew up in a kosher household and always reminded me of the pride he took in being Jewish.

Giving back also seems to be part of that identity.

Brad: We are passionate about giving to The Associated. It supports the Jewish and the broader community. It’s hard not to be passionate about that.

The fact that we have a system we can invest in that makes investment decisions about what the community needs is so important. It addresses needs from before birth – in fact, Melissa and I attended a program before our first child was born – to the other end of the life cycle.

Are you teaching your children about giving back like their parents do?

Brad: My children see me spending a lot of time supporting the community and I explain to them that the community does a lot for us. It’s important to support it with the resources we have.

Melissa: I try to make sure their Jewish identity is tied to caring for others, being good people and having empathy for people. I think we are succeeding for I feel like they have a lot of compassion for others.

You two seem to be so busy.

Melissa: Even our weekends are full.

What are you up to?

Melissa: When we’re not at one of our kids’ friend’s birthday parties, we fill our weekends spending time with friends and family.

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!

Meet Mike Fuld
Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Mike Fuld

Mike Fuld will never forget the first time he saw his wife, Samantha. He was working at Kutz Camp as a staff member; so was Samantha.

Mike and Samantha first met in 2006. They happened to both be assigned to work on an all-camp evening program. The rest, as Mke puts it, was history! They were married eight years later in 2014.

Overnight camp. For Mike, it was not only where he met his future wife, but the place where he spent more than 20 summers as a camper and a staff member. It was where he formed lifelong friendships, enjoyed summers filled with swimming,climbing the tower and rocking out during song sessions. It's where he celebrated his Jewish identity through immersive, yet creative, programs that emphasized Jewish values and traditions.

“What also really stands out about camp is that you gain independence and the experience of living as a community,” says Mike whose parents also attended Jewish camp.

“It is these ah-ha moments that I saw with my campers. Whether it was their first time taking a risk and being successful, or the first time they read from the Torah, watching a child experience those moments for the first time as a member of a community is really impactful to me.”

He adds, “Camp is the most important experience you can provide for your kids.”

In fact, studies show that Jewish camp also has a lasting impact on Jewish identity. Jewish children with impactful Jewish camp experiences are more likely to become adults who value their Jewish heritage and take on leadership roles in their communities. That’s why The Associated provides free consultative services for families looking to get their children involved in Jewish camp through its Center for Jewish Camping.

“The Associated is really an integral part of the fabric of the community,” says Mike, who was born in Baltimore but grew up in Central Pennsylvania. “I certainly am proud to be a part of it and to have the opportunity to help drive that.”

In addition to his passion about camp, Mike has taken an active role in developing future leaders as co-chair of The Associated’s Young Leadership Council (YLC) a program he himself went through when he moved to Baltimore from New York three years ago to work in the family business. He also serves on the program committee for The Associated’s Center for Leadership.

“I think these types of programs help create a stronger community by building a leadership pipeline. It’s exciting to help build and grow that.”

At the same time, there is a passion for Baltimore that drives Mike’s interest in supporting the work of The Associated. Although he grew up in Central Pennsylvania – after moving when he was one – both his parents and grandparents are committed to the community. In fact, his parents met at Pikesville High.

Looking towards the future, Mike and his wife are excited to get their daughter more involved.

“She’s 21 months old and starting to become more aware and observant of the stuff we do,” Mike explains. “I think it’s important to provide our daughter with several types of Jewish experiences so that she can make informed choices when she’s old enough. I’m thankful that organizations like The Associated, through their partnership with organizations like Jewish Volunteer Connection or the JCC, provide those opportunities to families.”

And, of course, there’s Jewish camp.

“My wife and I have always and will always continue to be connected to Jewish camp, it’s been such a huge part of our lives. It’s provided us with so many opportunities and experiences, connections and friendships – I’m looking forward to watching our daughter experience that as well.”


Did you know we are hosting a Camp Community Event? Sign up today!

Zack Garber: Busy Helping Baltimore
Thursday, October 24, 2019

Zack Garber Talking at Networking Event

To pin down Zack Garber’s involvement in the Baltimore Jewish community, and the greater Baltimore community, would be difficult. From his professional career as a financial advisor on the Garber Wealth Management team, to his time spent on various boards, task forces and volunteer organizations (not to mention a personal project or two), Zack’s day is filled with one goal – how to help others. Zack sat down with us earlier this month to give us a glimpse into his day-to-day, what inspires him and what advice he has for those looking to change the narrative.

Did you grow up in the area?

I did. I grew up in the Owings Mills area, went to Beth Tfiloh for elementary school and then went to McDonogh for middle and high school. After that I took a training program in London for four months before moving to New York and then ultimately earned my MBA at Penn.

Were you aware of The Associated while you were growing up?

My family has always been involved with The Associated. I remember my parents going to events, missions and meetings ever since I was a child. I have a vivid memory, when my mom served as president of Pearlstone. My little sister had her bat mitzvah there, so that was particularly memorable. When I moved back, I knew I wanted to get involved.

How are you involved with The Associated?

When I moved back to Baltimore, I reached out to The Associated and participated in their Young Leadership Council (YLC) program, among other things. Today, I serve on the board for IMPACT, The Associated’s Young Adult Division, as well as the general board.

How has IMPACT and YLC helped you?

For one, it’s a great way to get connected to The Associated and the Baltimore Jewish community. But it also gives you a big picture level of what The Associated is doing. In participating, you become an ambassador and truly understand the community. It’s also a great way to make friends and contacts. I still keep in touch with a lot of people from my YLC class.

Other volunteering?

I’m involved in a wide variety of volunteer organizations, locally and nationally, Jewish and non-Jewish. In addition to the work I do with The Associated, I frequently attend a volunteer organization that gathers like-minded individuals for high impact volunteer event and run my own networking group which highlights local Baltimore leaders. And I host a podcast!

A podcast?

It’s called Charm City Dreamers, and it’s 100% a personal endeavor. I interview diverse leaders about how they are achieving their dreams and why specifically they’re doing this in Baltimore. The goal is to highlight amazing visionaries that are achieving incredible things on a daily basis in Baltimore – people that we just don’t hear about. I want to help change the narrative around Baltimore City.

You have a busy schedule. What’s a typical day look like?

First thing I do is work out at the gym around 6:00 am, and then I head into work. I’ll be at the office from about 7:30 am to 6:00 pm. After that I either have a board meeting, a client event or a dinner with friends until about nine. Then, and this is my guilty pleasure, I probably watch like an hour of TV or read a book before bed.

What’s the last book you read that inspired you?

This is one of my favorite questions – so I have multiple answers. One topic I’ve been reading a lot about is water. Previously, I read Let There Be Water by Seth M. Siegel. I also recently read a book called Thirst by Scott Harrison. Seth Seigel just came out with a new book called Troubled Water that I just ordered and am looking forward to reading. And then I have two friends that recently published books, so that’s been very interesting!

If you could sit and have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?

I’ve thought about this and I think, if it’s someone that is alive, it would be Jeff Bezos. He’s an owner of a company that is going to have the largest impact on the world over the rest of our lifetime. I want to hear how he built what he did, understand what his vision is of the future, and how he’s managing it all.

Last question, favorite Jewish holiday and why?

I’d say Passover. I love the story of Exodus. I think one of the things about Passover that’s special is the concept of L’dor V’dor – Watching each generation and having multiple generations at the dinner table talk about the history of our people.

Get to Know Jeffrey Kahn, PhD, MPH
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Jeffrey Kahn Headshot

A Q&A with Jeffrey Kahn, PhD, MPH, the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and Levi Professor of Bioethics and Public Policy. Dr. Kahn is also the featured presenter for The Associated's upcoming November 5 Maimonides Society program "Genetic Tinkering: Could We? Should We?"

What brought you to Baltimore? It was really a return to Baltimore for us, in that I did an MPH at Johns Hopkins in the mid 1980's while I was a doctoral student at Georgetown and I always hoped I might have the chance to come back to the faculty. I was recruited back in 2011 and became director of the Berman Institute in 2016.

Your focus within the field of Bioethics is Genetic Engineering. Why is this a relevant area of concern? Ethics, policy and genetics is one area of focus for my work which has been an interest since I started studying bioethics when I was a molecular biology major in college. The issues have only continued as genetic research took off, from the sequencing of the human genome to the issues we’re grappling with today related to gene editing. With each advance the ethical issues seem to become more challenging—access to and use of genetic information; the implications of diagnostic genetic testing for ourselves and our children; and now we’re on the cusp of being able to modify individuals at the genetic level with unprecedented precision.

Have you seen any specifically Jewish issues within your field locally or globally? I’m not sure specifically Jewish, but many issues raise questions of Jewish law and about what the right thing to do is from the perspective of Judaism; but, my work has always been secular.

What is something you are looking forward to in the New Year? Finding time to work on writing a book, spending dedicated time with our (now adult) children, and for the renovations on our house to be finished!

Favorite book you’ve recently read? Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari.

For more details and to register for the November 5 event, which will explore the intersection of human genome editing and ethics, please visit:

Volunteering Through the Eyes of a Retiree
Friday, October 18, 2019

Cindy Z

By Cindy Zonies

Today I popped into the main office of Miguel’s high school to request an early dismissal for him. I was bringing him to his sixth and final appointment with an angel... a pro-bono dentist who treated and saved this 16 year old, his teeth and his smile.

My experience helping newly arrived individuals and families began when I was the assistant director of volunteer services with Jewish Family Services (now Jewish Community Services). At the time we were setting up households and arranging transportation through Mitzvah Mobility for Russian refugees.

Now, 35 years later, as a retiree, I volunteer to provide a more direct service to a family from Guatemala seeking asylum. I became involved after receiving an email from the team at Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), who had been asked to solicit Spanish speaking volunteers to assist with the many tasks of welcoming and offering support to families fleeing from the horrors of their native homes and their experiences at the border.

There are so many unmet needs for my assigned family, so I work in a small team with the backing of Immigrant Families Together, a foundation dedicated to reuniting and supporting immigrant families separated at the US/Mexico border.

I could write pages on the many ways we use our experiences, talents and connections to improve the quality of life for these folks who arrive with the clothes on their backs and nothing more. What could be more gratifying than delivering food to a hungry family, accessing what is needed to alleviate the pain of an earache, working with teachers in the children’s schools to facilitate communication and helping navigate the burdensome and frustrating immigration process?

My transition from work to retirement was not easy. In my case, I needed to redefine my identity, find purpose, get to a gym and clean out the house. Ugh for the last two.

While pursuing my volunteer interests, thanks to JVC, you might find me tutoring with Reading Partners, doing administrative work at Super Kids Camp or in the JVC office, shopping for The Market at Weinberg Village and participating in other long term, short term and one-time projects. Flexibility is crucial when you still want to meet up with friends and family, travel, get your dose of Netflix and follow other passions.

The beauty of volunteering for me is the luxury of growing and learning, meeting new and interesting people and picking and choosing my next opportunity as I peruse the variety of options on the JVC website.

I know this sounds trite, but I am truly honored and grateful to have the privilege of spending this chapter of my life doing what feels so right and so good.

My new identity…VOLUNTEER DO-GOODER and I couldn’t be happier!

Continuing the Trend of Giving in the Face of Change
Thursday, October 17, 2019

Advisor with clients

Amid a complex climate for charitable giving, American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $427.71 billion to U.S. charities in 2018, according to Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018. “After reaching record-breaking levels of giving in 2017, American individuals and organizations continued their generous support of charitable institutions in 2018,” said Rick Dunham, chair of Giving USA Foundation and CEO of Dunham + Company. The enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) left many wondering how the changes would affect the arena of charitable giving, but what can be gleaned is that Americans continue to be philanthropic in the face of reduced taxable incentives.

While the TCJA shifted the tax planning arena considerably, individuals are still left with a number of planning strategies to implement in order to continue their charitable inclinations and take advantage of the new tax laws. Not being able to itemize means that most charitable gifts are no longer income tax deductible for most taxpayers. What advice should advisors be giving their clients so that they still may continue to save on income taxes? What can advisors do to help clients continue their generosity in the new tax regime?

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 or greater levels.

1. Bunching and Clumping. First, “bunch” or “clump” deductions by making three or four years of gifts in one year. Under the new tax law, a gift of $10,000 does not afford a married taxpayer the opportunity to deduct their gift. But a gift of $40,000 would. The idea is to bunch multiple years of giving into just 1 year and take a large charitable deduction in the same year. The individual can make multiple years of gifts in one year to be allocated by the charity over a number of years, or the individual can open a donor advised fund (DAF) at a sponsoring charity, like The Associated, and recommend distributions from the DAF over the next few years. Same money and same amount of giving as before 2018, just timed differently. Moreover, by transferring low-basis, appreciated assets such as publicly traded stock, the benefits to this type of gift are enhanced. Giving them to charity with no tax makes more sense than ever since the state tax payable on the sale of the appreciated stock is no longer deductible, thus raising the after tax cost of selling appreciated assets.

2. Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). For all of your clients that are 70½ or older who give any amount to charity, the QCD 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 the charities which they support instead of taking a required minimum distribution (RMD and then writing a separate check from their personal bank accounts. Even if your client is taking the standard deduction and they do not itemize their charitable contributions, the QCD reduces their taxable income and saves your client money on taxes. Most investment companies are even giving designated “checkbooks” to those individuals who contribute their RMD to charities, which allows 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 a large, charitable income tax deduction and still leave your client with an income interest. 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. 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 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 Jackie Yahr at 410-369-9248 or

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.

Laurie Weitz Makes Women and Girls Her Priority
Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Laurie Weitz

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Laurie Weitz arrived in Baltimore in 1993 for her husband’s business. Living in the Greenspring Valley area at the time, she quickly connected with the Jewish community. She was involved as the first co-chair, along with Ned Himmelrich, for ACHARAI, president of Hadassah for two terms, then participated in programs through Associated Women.

Today, this businesswoman – her family owns restaurants at BWI – is chairing the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF) at The Associated. JWGF is a giving circle that empowers women, each of whom contributes the same amount, to direct grants to organizations that support women and girls.

Why JWGF? After I finished my second term as president of Hadassah, I joined Chapter Two (a 10-month educational and engagement program for women looking to grow as Jewish women through learning and hands-on social action) through Associated Women. Clara Klein, who was chair of Chapter Two at the time, gave a presentation about the giving circle. I loved the idea that we could help women and girls, not only in the Jewish community, but in the broader community as well.

Women and girls? Yes. Girls, particularly in the inner city, don’t have the same advantages and the same access to educational programs that we do. Even women in prison don’t always get the same services as the men. I feel that we have a responsibility to promote gender equality. The end result affects all of us.

What would you like to accomplish? I want to continue with the educational programs that Laury Scharff, who was the chair before me, added. Two years ago, for example, our group got to participate in a program that allowed us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. This year, we heard from Maggie Gunther Osborn from the United Philanthropy Forum, who gave us an overview of the 2020 census and its impact on the nonprofit community.

I understand you want to add a travel component to Israel. My main vision is to create a JWGF mission to Israel – ideally at the end of my term in 2021. Every year we get proposals from programs in Israel that help women and girls. I’d love it if we could do site visits with the finalists.

Do you have a Jewish role model? Henrietta Szold. She lived in Baltimore and created an amazing organization that created the medical infrastructure in Israel and many social programs to better the lives of women and girls.

Best advice your mother ever gave you? To use my voice and volunteer time to make this world a better place.

I see you have grandchildren. What advice would you give them? To do the same, and to never give up on reaching their goals. And be kind to others.

Anything else? Being a member of JWGF gives one the opportunity for collective philanthropy and for empowering themselves. A member can do as much or as little as their schedule will allow. If you want to participate in site visits you can. If you are interested in educational programs, we offer it. Everyone has an equal say in what we fund, and you can vote when we get together or remotely. Thanks to the support of The Associated, we are making a difference for women and girls in the community.

Imagine More
Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Women at JDC summit

Just a few weeks ago, JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) convened its first ever global women’s summit. It’s theme: Imagine More. More than 200 women (and a few men), from 25 states and 15 countries, gathered together to examine the world we live in today through the eyes of women.

A group of 20 Associated Women occupied three tables and immersed themselves into a day of learning and discovery. There was a palpable energy in the large banquet room filled with philanthropists, activists, and advocates who passionately addressed the importance of women as agents of change for individuals and communities around the globe.

The first keynote address was delivered by Dr. Paula Johnson, President of Wellesley College. She encouraged everyone there to question society’s accepted beliefs. “Only then, when we ask tough questions, can we ensure that we hold firm to our moral stances,” as it pertains to what goes on around us every day.

A constant thread throughout the day centered on women’s economic empowerment and how in many places around the world resources are needed to kickstart livelihoods. One fascinating example that was shared shed light on commonalities between the Haredi community in Israel and Israeli-Arabs. For some time now, strides have been made to support Haredi women so they can enter and advance within the Israeli workforce. Now this model has found its way into mixed communities with a significant Israeli-Arab population. These women also seek to be productive members of society and work alongside their Jewish neighbors.

The summit concluded with an address by Nguyen, a sexual assault survivor and the CEO and founder of Rise. In her emotional and moving telling of how she found her way through despair to the halls of Congress and the floor of the United Nations, it seemed as though everyone in the room knew of a similar story of redemption in their own communities. It was clear that the Jewish community is not immune to the social injustices of the world. She left the audience with these words, “Hope is contagious – anyone can drive democracy, scale hope, and create change. If I could do it, so can you.”

The group of Associated Women left feeling hopeful and challenged to make the world a better place tomorrow.

Anxiety Around School Violence and Lockdown Drills
Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Empty classroom

By Beth Land Hecht LCSW-C
Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated
Senior Manager, Community Engagement

In today’s world, our children are faced with multiple safety and security threats that we never, in our wildest dreams, could have imagined. Of course, there were routine fire drills all throughout my school years and while I can remember as a young child sitting in the hallway of my elementary school during “duck and cover” drills in the event of a nuclear blast, we weren’t exposed to constant reports and images of what that grim reality would actually mean.

But today, the news bombards us with stories related to violent attacks often targeting school children. Parents often struggle with their own reactions to these stressful events and are challenged with the decision of whether and how to discuss what has happened with their children.

Schools are tasked with the tremendous responsibility of implementing safety plans to ensure that staff and students know what to do in the event of an emergency. Most schools now have full-time security personnel or local police officers onsite.

In addition to routine fire drills, public schools are now required to practice lockdown and active shooter drills in preparation for threats of violence. So, not only are our children more exposed to incidents of violence around the world through TV and social media, they are also frequently reminded by drills at school that it could happen to them.

The drills can cause stress for some children; they may become confused or frightened and may worry about their safety or the safety of their friends and loved ones, which is why many experts say there is a delicate (and controversial) balance between preparing students and traumatizing them.

Parents are searching for the tools to help their children cope with these events without causing them to feel anxious and stressed. Here are some suggestions to consider:

1. Ask your child’s school to provide information about the types and frequency of drills they conduct and the safety procedures in place. Do they notify parents that a drill is planned or took place? Many schools do communicate this information with parents, but it is not a universal practice. How do teachers explain drills to children? What words or terms do they use?

2. Make time to talk with your children after a drill or (G-d forbid) the aftermath of an actual act of school violence to gauge their thoughts and feelings about it – then and now. Let their questions guide the information you share and keep your explanations appropriate to your child’s age and development. Younger children need brief, simple information balanced with reassurance that their school and family want to make sure they are safe and protected. Some children may choose not to talk but may prefer to spend time playing their favorite game or reading their favorite book with you. Take your cues from your child about what they need.

3. Observe your child’s emotional reactions. Changes in behavior, appetite or sleep may be signs of distress or anxiety. For most children, these symptoms will subside with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others due to history of loss, trauma, or behavioral health challenges. Parents can help children feel safe by creating and maintaining a normal routine and talking to them about their fears.

4. Limit television viewing and other media following a violent event. Exposure to the sights and sounds related to the event can cause anxiety, stress and confusion, especially if it is replaying over and over or if the information is developmentally inappropriate.

5. Include your children in creating a home safety plan (, which may help them feel more comfortable and secure. Even young children can play some part in developing and reviewing it regularly. Some families like to review their plan as part of a routine that includes checking their smoke detectors.

6. Seek help if you are at all concerned that your child might be experiencing anxiety. Jewish Community Services has mental health professionals who specialize in working with children and families. 410-466-9200.


NASP: National Association of School Psychologists:

Lockdown: Talking to Your Kids About School Violence by Nancy Kislin LCSW 2019 by Highpoint Life.

Returning to Odessa After 40 Years
Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Spirt Family in Odessa

Can you imagine leaving your home and family and most of your worldly possessions to move to a country where you didn’t speak the language and had only a few dollars to your name?

I can’t. Yet, that is precisely the choice my parents made when they decided to flee from Odessa over 40 years ago in search of a better life and for the freedom to be Jewish.

My mother recalls, "It wasn't much of a choice, we grew up hearing, we're such great people but too bad we’re Jews. We had to hide who we were. Growing up, I would listen to Hatikvah and Hava Nagila on British radio, making sure that the sound was as a low as we could get it and still be able to hear. We would put a blanket over us as we listened to the radio, creating almost a tent to muffle the sound even further and fearing that our neighbors would find out. We knew that here (in the former Soviet Union (FSU)) we and our children had no future.”

These are the stories that I heard growing up. I grew up privileged in Baltimore, free to be Jewish, free to go to Hebrew School, free to become Bat Mitzvah, free to be part of an amazing community. The complete opposite life of those who came before me.

This summer, I was invited to participate in a professional exchange program that would take me back to Odessa for the first time since I left, at the age of five. To experience the city with another colleague (Esther Greenberg, Chief Advancement Officer at the Jewish Community Center), to see how Jewish life has been revitalized and to work with teens and Ukrainian camp professionals at a Jewish Summer camp ran through the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and supported The Associated’s Baltimore-Odessa Partnership…how could I say no?”

I recognized what a lifechanging experience this would be but convincing my parents to travel with me and to take my eight-year-old son along for the ride, would add a component to this journey that would be impossible to duplicate.

Walking hand-in-hand with my parents and my son down the streets of Odessa, the experience seemed surreal, especially for my parents. The city they remembered was alive and thriving but yet so different. All remnants of the FSU were erased, monuments were taken down, the streets were renamed and there were synagogues, JCC’s, little girls wearing Star of David necklaces, men wearing yarmulkes and kosher restaurants. My dad said, “This doesn’t even feel like my Odessa; I would have never imagined that this could happen here.”

But thanks to The Associated and our international partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), this is possible. Everywhere we went, the imprint of Jewish Baltimore was felt and appreciated.

Firsthand, we saw the help we provide to a 65-year-old blind woman, named Natasha, who only receives a $60 pension per month and has no living family. If it wasn’t for the food that we deliver weekly, the transportation we provide for doctor appointments and the companionship she gets from volunteers, Natasha would be alone.

At a camp, 60 miles outside of Odessa, nearly 200 teens gather every year for ten days to strengthen Jewish identities and deepen their connection to Israel. “Camp is the single most powerful tool that we have in Ukraine for connecting our children to their roots and empowering them as a member of a global Jewish family. Many of these kids, go home and teach their parents what it means to be Jewish,” Ninel Dyakovskaya, camp director explains. Katerina Rabina, assistant camp director adds, “Without The Associated, who is our largest funder, these kids wouldn’t be able to experience Shabbat, learn about Israel, Jewish holidays or experience the beauty of what it means to be part of a Jewish Community.”

Lena, age 17, has been going to the JAFI camp for four years in a row. This year marks her last. “I can’t begin to tell you how upset I am that I won’t be coming back next year as a camper. I have made my best friends here, learned about Jewish traditions, culture and other things that I would have never learned from other places.”

“What makes this camp so unique, is our madrich (counselors). They create interesting content, make us curious to want to learn more, care about what we think and want to know what they could do to make it better. I plan to come back to camp as a madrich one day and share everything that I was taught with others,” said Vlad, camper, age 16.

This winter, two JAFI camp professionals will travel to Baltimore as part of the same exchange. We will continue to help them expand their program, improve their marketing and develop meaningful content to share with youth all over Ukraine.

10 Popular Jewish Superstitions
Friday, October 04, 2019

Jewish cemetary

My young co-worker once came late to a department meeting and found that there were no empty seats at the long conference table. She thought she was being discreet as she quietly pulled up a chair at the corner of the table in the back of the room. Little did she realize that this act would immediately halt the meeting as people shouted out to her that she will never get married if she sits at the corner of the table. Oy!

Chances are, if your grandmother is Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Romanian, or Ukrainian, you probably grew up with this superstition and many like it. Like many cultures, Jews have developed numerous superstitious practices or bubbe meises (old wive’s tales), that have been handed down from generation to generation.

Here is a list highlighting 10 of the most common, long-held Jewish superstitions:

1. Don’t Sit At The Corner Of The Table. According to Russian superstition, if an unmarried girl sits at the corner of the table, she won't get married for the next seven years.

2. Don’t Step Over Someone. If someone is sitting on the couch with their legs propped up on the coffee table, do not step over their legs. If you do, you will cause them to stop growing. To reverse this curse, just step back over them and ask that they put their feet down.

3. Never Leave Your Purse On The Floor. Never leave your purse or bag on the floor if you want to keep your money.

4. Spit Three Times After seeing, hearing, or learning of something horrible, it’s customary to spit three times to ward off the evil eye. Jews also spit and say “pu pu pu” after receiving good news. This ensures that the evil eye also doesn’t spoil the good news.

5. Don’t Take A Direct Path Home From The Cemetery. Cemeteries are filled with evil spirits, so after visiting a loved one don’t go directly home. You wouldn’t want the demons to follow you back to your house.

6. Bring Jam To A Housewarming Party. Not only is any flavor of jam a tasty gift to bring to a new home – it also serves as a distraction to evil spirits. While guests celebrate and mingle, demons nosh on sweet jam instead of wreaking havoc in the new home.

7. Only Bring An Even Number Of Flowers. While flowers are always a great way to commemorate a special occasion, make sure that bouquets are filled with an odd number of flowers. Bouquets with an even number of flowers are reserved for funerals only.

8. Wear A Metal Pin On Clothes When Embarking On A Trip. Attach a safety or straight pin out of sight under a shirt collar or on a sleeve before taking a journey. The metal is thought to be a powerful protective substance and can successfully ward off the evil spirits.

9. Never Hand A Knife Directly To Another Person. To avoid getting into a fight, make sure to place the knife down on a surface for the other person to pick it up. Or, you can give it directly, if you point the sharp end to yourself and make the knife's handle accessible for someone else to grab.

10. Close Open Books. Always make sure to close your book before you leave it, or the demons will steal the “holy knowledge” and use it for evil plans!

Jewish Private Schools are Bringing Community Home
Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Girl on iPad at school

When Anna Klein’s daughter, Mia, was a four-year-old preschooler at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School (BT), her class was asked to bring in brown bag lunches for the homeless. The bags were being delivered to Beans and Bread, a soup kitchen in Fells Point, not far from where the family was living at the time.

“I volunteered to drop them off,” recalls Klein. “And when I did, it was because these are the values I want my children to learn. I want them to know that they have an obligation to give back, not only to the Jewish community, but also to the global community. And, Beth Tfiloh emphasized the values of going out in the world and doing good.”

It was this commitment to civic responsibility, coupled with the knowledge that a Jewish private school education* developed the Jewish identity of its students, that was instrumental in her desire to see her children attend BT.

“I attended Jewish private schools through 12th grade and am the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor so my Jewish identity was always very strong and a big part of who I am,” she adds.

“A Jewish day school education has proven to be one of the most important entities in securing the next generation of Jews – no matter how they choose to identify as Jews,” says Michael Elman, who co-chairs The Associated’s Day School Commission with David Hurwitz.

“The value added,” he adds “is that Jewish day schools also allow Jewish students to grow their Jewish identity without sacrificing academics but actually enhancing them.”

Recognizing the impact Jewish private schools have on the next generation of Jews, The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore provides scholarship assistance to students at 11 Baltimore day schools to ensure students interested in attending can receive a Jewish education.

Hurwitz, whose three children graduated from BT, believes that each of them benefited from a strong academic dual curriculum that promoted critical thinking skills and made his children well prepared for college. And, the integration of Jewish values into the learning environment was critical to their development as responsible global citizens.

Yet, Jewish private schools provide even more, explains Hurwitz. “They offer a unique community in which parents and students come together in times of joy and in times of sorrow.”

Liana Davis can attest to that. Last year, when a family member faced a health crisis – and Liana had to be there to help – her Krieger Schechter Day School (KSDS) community stepped in.

“It was amazing to see how everyone in my children’s classes rallied around us. They were there for me to pick my children up from school, to carpool them to after-school activities and to provide play dates when I needed help. I had a built-in community that was there, helping me in any way possible.”

Davis, whose children are entering first and third grades at KSDS this year, I love how the school provided her kids with a community. It also instilled confidence in who they are.

“My daughter went from hardly saying a word to feeling confident enough to take on speaking parts in the school play. And, I love to see how confident they have become in their Jewish identity – the way they look forward to the candles, challah and blessings for Friday night Shabbat dinners.”

Yet many of Davis’ friends are often under the impression that one has to be religious in order for a Jewish private school to be the right fit.

Not true, says Davis, who grew up Conservadox (Conservative/Orthodox) while her husband grew up Reform. “At Schechter, people don’t judge. There are Jewish families across the Jewish spectrum.”

Klein agrees. “I often hear people express concern that sending their child to a Jewish private school, doesn’t provide the exposure to deal with the real world, which is obviously a lot more diverse. But I couldn’t disagree more, and I proudly share my experience.”

The Associated provides scholarship assistance to students at Jewish day schools.

“After graduating, I confidently navigated the VERY diverse world of Boston University, in large part because of the comfort of my strong Jewish identity. My first college friends were not even Jewish, and I loved shlepping them to a Hillel party and sitting around my Shabbat table with people from all over the world, Jewish and non-Jewish.“

“A Jewish private school education is important to the continuity of our community,” Hurwitz says. “And we are thrilled that The Associated, as the convener of Jewish Baltimore, recognizes the value of Jewish private schools in ensuring the sustainability and strength of our Jewish community.”

For families in Baltimore interested in an independent school experience for their children, consider a Jewish private school education. Learn more at

* Jewish private schools, also known as Jewish day schools, are part of an independent network of schools that provide children with a superior academic curriculum along with a deep understanding of Jewish values and traditions.

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

What Are You Listening To?
Monday, September 23, 2019

Young guy listening to music

For many people, music is the background sound to their day, or even their lives. A great podcast can help you discover something new, or just be fun and entertaining. We asked a few young adults in our community what they enjoy listening to throughout the day:

Stephen Knable: IMPACT My favorite music is probably 90s rock. As a child of the 80s-90s, I grew up on this genre. Podcast wise, I listen to pretty much anything sports or politics related. My favorite podcast is fivethirtyeight politics. Other than my family, my professional life is all politics all the time, and my personal life outside of family is pretty sports oriented.

Danielle Kasoff: Chair, CHAT My favorite music is country. I was introduced to it in high school and have been hooked ever since. I have several podcasts on my list, but I haven’t gotten around to listening to them just yet. The first one on my list is Serial. I love documentaries and the fact that the murder story of Hae Min Lee took place in Baltimore makes it a must for me to listen to at some point.

Jon Yoffe: IMPACT I grew up listening to rock/alternative and classic rock, rap and hip-hop, and was a loyal Dave Matthews Band fan. All these years later I've started to get into Phish. Lately I listen to a blend of rock, alternative, EDM and hip-hop. I was really into rap and hip-hop in college and I ended up doing an internship at Island Def Jam Music Group in New York City. That experience really solidified a place in my heart for hip-hop music and the culture. Of course, now, with two young children I listen to a lot of kids’ songs, but I'm trying to get them into the classics! I also can’t stand country music.

Heather Gorin: IMPACT I'm really not that into music. Lately, eight out of ten times I have Disney radio on for my 2-year-old.

Six Amazing Ways to Celebrate Sukkot
Friday, September 20, 2019

Sukkah City at the JCC

Experience the magic of this fall festival with songs, food, music and more. Check out these six family events around town.

Hands on Holiday: Finksburg
October 4, 10:00 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Finksburg)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Hands on Holiday: Govans
October 11, 10:30 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Govans)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Sukkot at Pearlstone
October 13, 4:00 p.m. | Pearlstone
Join us for our 2nd Annual Sukkot at Pearlstone Holiday Retreat! This multigenerational gathering of participants, both local and distant, is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience Pearlstone’s stunning and unique outdoor setting with intentional collective communal engagement.

Hands on Holiday: Light Street
October 16, 11:15 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Light Street)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Sukkah City 
October 17, 5:00 p.m. | Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
Celebrate this fall festival with over a dozen sukkot built to help our community celebrate together with activities, live music and so much more.

Tiyul Journeys: Sukkot
October 27, 2:00 p.m. | Pearlstone
During this one-of-a-kind experience for second through sixth graders, we will awaken our senses in the outdoors, learn about nature and connect to our roots through storytelling, food, music and ancient sacred skills.

Finding the Right Sport for Your Child
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Children playing basketball at JCC

By JCC Sports Coordinator and Coach Wendell Lee

The sports activity and clinic season is upon us, and it’s that time of year when many parents are faced with scheduling activities to keep their children busy and active during the afternoons and weekends.

Youth sports cover a wide range of activity and choosing the correct mix for a child is not a one-time event.

For some first-time parents selecting the right activities will be a process fraught with angst and indecision. Just remember, says JCC Sports Coordinator and Coach Wendell Lee, “There is NO single right way. There is no roadmap for your child or children. Activities that may be vital and sustaining for one child may seem restrictive and suffocating for another."

The Associated recently caught up with Coach Lee:

What do you hope a child will gain through participation in youth sports? Here, the range of responses is wide open – from the parent who is focused on working towards a scholarship for their child to play a sport in college – to the parent who wants a fun and regular place for their child to exercise and develop a love for being active. At the youngest ages, determining what is the right sport can be the toughest question.

Most parents tend to steer their children towards the sports that they enjoyed during their childhood. This predisposition allows a parent to guide and assist the child with a modest degree of skill, knowledge, or expertise. The crucial and elusive factor is finding the right balance.

The trick is to be open and listen to each child as they will often tell you the direction that is of interest to them. Once you’ve considered your response to “what will my child gain through participation...”, the difficult process of finding the right program begins.

Coaching children as young as two years old through grade 8, I have a keen sense of the challenges parents face. Once you have a clear vision of what you want, the selection process will become a breeze. Current experts cite the significant benefits of youth sports participation as:

• Socialization
• Health Benefits
• Structure
• Life’s Lessons
• Enjoyment

Once you targeted the benefits that you would like to acquire for your child, move in that direction.

A big question that seems to be impacting participation in Youth Sports is individual versus team sport participation. Learning to work as a member of a team may be the single most significant skill that you can provide for your child. Remember that a family is a team in many aspects and teamwork is essential to a family’s success.

Lastly, you are the adult, and your child needs you to make these decisions as part of their developmental process (although they may state otherwise). They are not yet equipped to know what is best for them in the long term.

Choosing a program? Age, cross-referenced with developmental readiness, is probably the most influential matrix in this decision-making process. Talk to other parents about their experience with the program. Then determine your goal. I believe that skill development is better for younger children to help them gain confidence and competence to meet challenges that winning and losing ultimately demand.

Finally, check out the coaches. Ask yourself, “what is their philosophy or experience with children at the age in question?”

If your child isn’t happy with their first experience (i.e. Soccer is not the right fit), how do you encourage them to try something different?

At the earliest ages, I am fortunate to coach multi-sport introductory clinics for children ages 3 to 5. What I’ve learned is that 6 months or even a year has a huge impact on what the children in the middle of the Bell Curve are interested in or capable of doing. That said, if it isn’t a good fit today, it does not mean it will not be a good fit in the next few months. Give participation a solid commitment.

What are the advantages of participation in youth sports? Let’s look at this question in a completely backward manner. What are the disadvantages of your child trying a sport? Although I love scientific reasoning, I am not going to list the health or mental benefits of sport activity in this post. Involvement in sports or really any youth activity is going to come with a price for parents.

• Sport activity can take time away from a comfortable time in front of a screen.
• You may need to do additional laundry each week.
• Your child may meet new children that do not live in your neighborhood or go to their school.
• You may have to drive a distance at an inconvenient time to participate in a specific program.
• It may be a sport that you did not play as child or know much about.

In short, whether it is a sport, hobby, or creative endeavor working towards a goal to develop competence in any activity is a process. When you think you’ve got it headed in the right direction, your child may want to change. There is nothing wrong with that.

Being active, engaged, and present is the true benefit of all competitive or non-competitive youth activities. We often don’t realize how many of Life’s Lessons are learned through interactive play or exploration.

Pearlstone’s Gramp Camp Was A Blast!
Monday, September 16, 2019

Gramp Camp family photo

By Ann Abramson

If you could see my face right now, you’d see the huge smile I have as I reflect on my experience at Pearlstone’s very first Gramp Camp. In my pre-Gramp Camp blog, all I could do was set my expectations and get excited. Now, I’m happy to tell you all that not only were my expectations met, they were absolutely exceeded.

From the moment we arrived, we were greeted with such a warm and embracing camp feeling. The children immediately felt the same loving embrace. Upon checking in, the children were very excited to unpack and explore the room to claim their own spaces and sleeping spots.

My husband and I got great delight in seeing how comfortable they became so quickly. When we emerged into the first group activity, the kids instantly gravitated to the relay races so they could find familiar faces and begin connecting with other children. At the same time, the grandparents had an opportunity to meet, share their hopes for the week, and, of course, play “Jewish Geography.” It was amazing how many different places people came from and how far they travelled to come to Pearlstone.

After our settling in process, we accompanied our grandkids on an exploratory farm scavenger hunt so we could all absorb the beauty and spirituality of the farming experience at Pearlstone. It was delightful to watch our grandchildren run through the fields and gardens smelling and tasting herbs and vegetables.

It was a great segue to our first meal together; a lunch with farm-grown delicacies followed by singing that accompanied the end of every meal. Live guitars, winds, horns and percussion original catchy lyrics and the grandchildren grabbing a drum or tambourine to support the music and glance at the posted lyrics held high so everyone could see and learn the words.

My grandchildren felt the ruach. We were drawn in by the lively scene of the music and feelings of togetherness, especially when we started dancing around the dining room. It brought back memories from my own summer camp experience, and I instantly felt younger again.

My grandchildren and I especially loved the creating seed balls that we will be able to plant in our gardens next spring. We’ll watch the seeds sown at Gramp Camp rise and bloom.

And the zip line! Wow! It was so thrilling to watch our grandchildren flying through the zip line, some for the first time and others veteran “zippers.” My smallest granddaughter had great trepidation about trying this new activity, but after much encouragement from the grandchildren around her, she rose above her trepidations and decided to give it a try.

The glee and on her face after completing the run will last in our memories (and hers) forever. It was such a freedom moment for her to try something a bit scary and different and to experience a sense of pride and success. I’m sure that next year she will be the first in line to do it again!

By far, the best activity, we all agreed, was the “chop-chop” experience when teams of grandchildren and grandparents worked together to gather food from the fields, prepare a meal, create beautiful plated presentations and serve them to the judges. The excitement in the children’s eyes about their creations and sharing it with the judges and the other teams was incredible.

When the judges awarded a prize to each team for the different categories, the groups screamed and sang with such feelings of accomplishment and connections to each other and to the other teams. A wonderful group experience for all.

There were storytelling times for the kids and storytelling workshops for the grandparents. In the grandparent workshops, we were taught how to share a story with our grandchildren about ourselves that they might not have ever heard before. We then shared the story quietly with our grandchildren, and I could feel their thrill to learn something new about their grandparents.

As the time came to a close, the kids felt that it was such a wonderful experience and that it was way too short. The grandparents, too, found new bonds that led to sharing of generational stories. The love and laughter would continue. With hugs and promises to return next year, both generations felt enriched, thrilled, sad and, of course, a bit exhausted. Such an extraordinary experience for one and all!

Save the date, June 30 – July 1 for Gramp Camp 2020 at Pearlstone! Many thanks to the Jewish Grandparents Network and The Associated for helping to make this life-changing program possible!

Gordon Center Fall Film Lineup
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Old classic film projector

With the fall season quickly approaching us, schedules are starting to fill up fast. Mark your calendar and don’t miss out on your chance to check out these featured films at the Gordon Center!

A Serious Man | Monday, November 4 at 1:00 p.m.

Set in the late 1960s, A Serious Man follows university professor Larry Gopnik through a series of personal and professional misfortunes, which lead him to seek understanding from the rabbis at his synagogue. Get tickets

Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles | Thursday, November 21 at 7:00 p.m.

Enjoy an evening viewing the origin story behind one of Broadway's most beloved musicals, Fiddler on The Roof. Get tickets

Gentleman’s Agreement | Monday, December 9 at 1:00 p.m.

In this 1947 film that won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, a journalist temporarily assumes a Jewish identity to research an assignment on anti-Semitism. Get tickets

Dating Again
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Young baby boomers

By Donna Kane, MA, Grief Counselor, Jewish Community Services

Many people say that it’s a couple’s world and indeed, it may seem that way when you have been widowed or divorced. For those who are newly single the perception of a “couple’s world” is especially daunting. Baby boomers who are choosing to date have to learn to embrace a new identity and navigate a new social environment.

After spending decades as a couple, many people face overwhelming feelings of isolation and loneliness when they find themselves suddenly single. People who are now 50 and older most likely met their spouses organically, at work, school, or a social event. When boomers were in college, computers took up entire rooms w and electronic socializing and dating were the stuff of science fiction. Needless to say, dating has changed. Social media and online dating services have made people more accessible to one and other which may be a good thing for people are ready for a new, healthy relationship. But to be ready, it is important to do the work of mourning the loss of your prior relationship and becoming comfortable with yourself and your identity in your “new normal.” Skipping this step and moving too quickly into dating can make you more vulnerable to being exploited or manipulated.

Many people who engage in support groups following divorce or the death of their spouse are adamant they will never date again. They are certain that they will live as a widow or a divorced person forever. But, forever is a long time. Boomers may have decades of good health and good living ahead of them. One of the happiest moments I have as a grief counselor is when I get a call from a former client and the conversation starts with, “you are not going to believe this…I met someone.” I cannot tell you why the conversation always starts with, “you are not going to believe this.” I totally believe it!

There is good news for those ready to re-engage in social activities and even start dating. Now more than ever there are activities to accommodate all types of people and interests. Travel companies are catering to singles, there are book clubs, outdoor activities, Mah Jongg and bridge groups for singles.

All the “good ones” are taken, you say. I would suggest that there may be even “better ones” out there. Many people who have experienced the loss of their spouse or partner – whether because of death or divorce – find that they have grown personally and spiritually through the experience. As a result, they may, in fact, be better prepared for a healthy relationship. With age and maturity, people often feel more comfortable and secure in their identities, which can allow for greater emotional and physical intimacy. Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some nervousness, especially about introducing physical intimacy into the relationship. No matter our age, it is a significant step. And even though concerns about birth control may not be an issue, taking safety precautions remains important. In fact, the CDC recently reported that the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is increasing in the 50 and over population.

Finding a relationship later in life can be “challenging” says Mary K. who began to date a few years after her divorce. My best advice, she says, “is be honest with yourself and the people you date. If you can do that, the bad experiences become funny stories and the good experiences sometimes turn into a relationship.”

A woman in one of my grief groups told me she had so much anxiety about a first date she thought about taking all the family pictures off the walls. “There were too many holes in the walls, so I left them up.” One picture of her and her late husband was, in her words, “front and center in the entrance way.” Her date picked her up and made no comment about the picture. When they came back, he asked who was in the picture and commented on how handsome her husband was. What does that mean, she wondered? Her first instinct was to minimize the photo, but she remembered her grief group discussing the importance of accepting and integrating the past into the future relationships. She told him this, “My husband was very handsome, and he was a wonderful grandfather. My grandkids really miss him.” He totally understood and they dated for almost a year before he moved out of state and she choose to stay in Baltimore to be near her family.

Of course, some people won’t journey into dating or a new intimate relationship, and that’s okay, too. Being alone, either by choice or by chance does not mean you have to be lonely. What is essential is to develop a positive support system of friends and family who will be there for you to share the good times and the bad times, people who will be there for you when you need physical and emotional support.

A sense of social connection is one of our fundamental human needs. Social connection has been proven to improve health, well-being, and longevity. When you feel ready to re-engage, there are many avenues available for making meaningful, healthy connections. Dating can be one option at any age.

Meet Zac Plotkin
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Zac Plotkin

Zac Plotkin looks back fondly at his 14 summers spent at Capital Camps. It was there that he made lifelong friends and garnered the experiences that would later guide him towards his current career path.

In fact, camp made such an impression on this young professional that in his junior year at Towson University, this human resource management major decided to make Jewish camping his profession.

Today, Zac works as an Engagement Coordinator at Camp Airy & Louise. He also participated in E3, a teen professionals’ network, through the JCC, where he hopes to blend what he learned with his ability to connect with campers and the greater community.

What was something you learned while participating in E3 that you never thought about before? I learned that I have a large network around me that can help solve problems in multiple situations. The networking opportunities and connections I made were the most valuable things I was able to take away from E3. I was surprised there were so many people in different positions and organizations willing, and happy, to help.

How can you apply the program to your career? One of the things I learned from the peer consultancy protocols were tips for working with parents. A lot of the E3 cohort members were parents of kids who attend or attended Jewish summer camps. They had ideas of how to present issues to parents that I had never thought of before this session. It is not something a summer staff member has to deal with, but as a full-time Jewish camp professional, I have more significant responsibility.

What was your favorite camp memory? I was a CIT counselor in 2016. We had weekly discussions with our CITs. This time I decided to wait for them to be quiet before I began talking. When they realized what was I doing, one of my CITs made a very funny comment. Almost immediately, the entire group started laughing uncontrollably. We laughed the entire time our discussion was meant to last—nearly 45 minutes. These are things that only happen at camp.

It’s hard to connect teens to Judaism. What do you find resonates with them? The biggest connection for teens, that I’ve seen, is for them to simply be at camp and be a part of a Jewish community. For some, being at Jewish camp makes it easy to engage in Jewish life such as weekly Shabbat dinners, Israeli dancing and singing Jewish songs. Those who are not involved in Jewish life throughout the year can easily immerse themselves in Judaism.

Looking back, what advice would you give your teen self? I would tell myself things are going to work out. I think every teen stresses over the little things too much, especially in social situations. We believe our image in middle school or high school is who we are and what we will be, but of course that’s not true. I’d probably go back and tell myself that you’re going to go off to college and this stuff won’t matter, nor will they care about what you looked like or acted like in high school.

What Jewish person would you like to have a conversation with? What would you talk about? I would love to talk to Danny Stein who was my core teacher at Alexander Muss High School in Israel (HSI) and had a huge influence on my life. He taught me a good portion of what I know about Israel today and started my love for Israel. It would be great to catch up and see how he is doing now that he is living in Israel.

What are your future career plans? My goal is to one day be a camp director wherever that may be. I have some steps to take and more to learn before I am ready to take on that job. It would be wise to get that experience at different camps along the way.

Melanie Shapiro ⁠— Advocate for Change
Monday, September 09, 2019

Melanie Shapiro

For Melanie Shapiro, change is a constant in her life. As director of Juvenile Justice Policy for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, Melanie is an advocate for change (and sometimes for stability, ensuring policies remain unchanged). Today, Melanie’s involvement spreads beyond her professional career, as she leverages her skills and experiences through her involvement with Jewish Professional Women (JPW) and the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC).

Tell us about your professional life.

I work for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, in the Government Relations Division. For 15 years I was a juvenile defender and moved into policy work full-time about two years ago. I advocate on behalf of the Office of the Public Defender and our clients on legislative and policy issues year-round and in Annapolis during the 90-day legislative session.

What made you pick a career in Juvenile Justice?

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to work in the juvenile justice field. I don’t really remember the “why” anymore. I enjoy law, I am passionate about advocacy and I also like working with children – this job provides me the opportunity to combine all three.

What does your involvement with The Associated look like?

I’m currently on the Committee for Jewish Professional Women (JPW) and I am a co-chair for the Baltimore Jewish Council’s (BJC) Government Relations Committee. The majority of my involvement is with those two committees.

What’s something you’ve noticed after working with JPW?

When JPW first started, the events were so small. This year’s signature event, however, had a few hundred people. It’s a very empowering group, open to all women in the community to learn and grow and meet one other. I think it’s just great to see the group blossom and flourish the way that it has.

What kind of change do you want to see in the community?

I would like more people to have the experience I had when I returned to Baltimore. Growing up in Baltimore, my mom was very involved in the Jewish community and still is, but I wasn’t aware of the myriad opportunities and ways I could be involved in the Jewish community, and I wasn’t aware of how widespread The Associated network is. I was introduced to JPW through a friend and started down the path of giving back to the community. I hope others will choose one of the many opportunities to become involved in ways that are meaningful to them.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Someone once said to me that nothing has to be permanent – that you have the power to change everything. For example, after my oldest was born, I was preparing to return to work. We lived in New York City and had secured a spot at a daycare center. I wondered if putting him in daycare was the right decision. And the advice that I got was that nothing had to be permanent – that I had the power to change anything that I wasn’t happy with. I think that is a mindset that is good for folks, personally and professionally.

What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

I would have to say Simchat Torah. I have fond childhood memories of going to Chizuk Amuno [Congregation], dancing around the synagogue and enjoying the celebration – I just enjoyed the fun atmosphere. Now, as an adult, I enjoy taking my children to Chizuk Amumo to dance, sing and celebrate the Torah.

Favorite book you read recently?

I would say Educated by Tara Westover. It’s about a woman who grew up isolated from others. She had an abusive upbringing, Despite the absence of any formal education, the author went to college and ultimately obtained a doctorate in history Now she wants to help and empower others and has shared her story in her book. It’s very powerful.

If you could have a coffee date with anyone in the world, who would it be? Michelle Obama.



Dogs or Cats? Dogs. My children are begging me for a family dog – I probably get asked every single day!

Break The Fast with a Community Favorite
Friday, August 30, 2019


The J Camp's Emily Stern shares her "Break Fast" Recipe, Blintz Souffle!


  • 12 frozen blintz
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • Dash salt

Instructions: 1. Melt butter in 9x13 pan. 2. Place blintz in pan, roll in butter. 3. Combine eggs, sourcream, vanilla, sugar, orange juice, and salt. Beat together until fluffy. 4. Pour over blintz. 5. Bake 1 hour at 350°. Enjoy!

Children's Activities and Events for the High Holidays
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Children reading together

Live with Purpose: Soup Kits
Runs until September 30

Tot Time with the J: Kenilworth
September 4, 10:00 a.m. | The Shops at Kenilworth
Join the JCC for an interactive story time with songs, puppets, movement and fun! Perfect for babies and toddlers.

Hands on Holiday: Roland Park
September 5, 11:00 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Roland Park)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free story time, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Tot Time with the J: Hunt Valley
September 12, 10:00 a.m. | Hunt Valley Towne Centre
Join the JCC for an interactive story time with songs, puppets, movement and fun! Perfect for babies and toddlers.

Hands on Holiday: Govans
September 13, 10:30 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Govans)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Tiyul Journeys: Rosh Hashanah
September 15, 2:00 p.m. | Pearlstone
During this one-of-a-kind experience for 2nd through 6th graders, we will awaken our senses in the outdoors, learn about nature and connect to our roots through storytelling, food, music and ancient sacred skills.

Hands on Holiday: Patterson Park
September 16, 11:00 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Patterson Park)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Tot Time with the J: Kenilworth
September 18, 10:00 a.m. | The Shops at Kenilworth
Join the JCC for an interactive story time with songs, puppets, movement and fun! Perfect for babies and toddlers.

Hands on Holiday: Light Street
September 18, 11:15 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Light Street)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Tot Time with the J: Metro Centre
September 19, 10:00 a.m. | Metro Centre at Owings Mills
Join the JCC for an interactive story time with songs, puppets, movement and fun! Perfect for babies and toddlers.

Hands on Holiday: Ivy Bookshop
September 22, 10:00 a.m. | The Ivy Bookshop
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Tot Time with the J: Hunt Valley
September 26, 10:00 a.m. | Hunt Valley Towne Centre
Join the JCC for an interactive story time with songs, puppets, movement and fun! Perfect for babies and toddlers.

Rosh Hashana Chagigah
September 26, 11:00 a.m. | Weinberg Park Heights JCC
Join us in J Town for a Rosh Hashanah Chagigah (New Year Celebration)! Filled with songs, stories, snacks and crafts. This is a free event, no registration required.

Tot Time with the J: Kenilworth
October 2, 10:00 a.m. | The Shops at Kenilworth
Join the JCC for an interactive story time with songs, puppets, movement and fun! Perfect for babies and toddlers.

Hands on Holiday: Roland Park
October 3, 11:00 a.m. | Enoch Pratt Library (Roland Park)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Hands on Holiday: Finksburg
October 4, 10:00 a.m.| Enoch Pratt Library (Finksburg)
Celebrate the holidays with the JCC free storytime, songs, and crafts. For children ages up to 5 years.

Tot Time with the J: Hunt Valley
October 10, 10:00 a.m. | Hunt Valley Towne Centre
Join the JCC for an interactive story time with songs, puppets, movement and fun! Perfect for babies and toddlers.

5 Ways to Incorporate Jewish Learning Into Your Daily Life
Tuesday, August 27, 2019


By Rabbi Debbie Pine

There is no better time to engage in Jewish learning than right now. Here are a few suggestions for how to incorporate Jewish learning into your daily life.

1. Engage with your synagogue. Even if you don’t belong to a synagogue, you are welcome at any of our local synagogues for Torah study and adult education. We, at the Associated, are proud to partner with a wide variety of synagogues throughout our community. There is no better place to dive into Jewish learning than at your local synagogue. All of our synagogues offer dynamic learning opportunities in addition to prayer, community and social justice opportunities. Check one out and get involved.

2. Read a weekly Dvar Torah. You can subscribe to countless meaningful Jewish teachings by becoming a regular subscriber through the internet. You can receive a weekly Dvar Torah about the week’s Torah portion, read essays about the upcoming high holidays or even study Torah with a partner. There are countless websites offering great Jewish learning opportunities.

3. Read a Jewish book. There are wonderful Jewish books constantly being published. Two of my recent favorites describing contemporary life in Israel are Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss and Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. If you are interested in history and biography, check out the thoughtful Jewish encounters series featuring great Jewish minds like Maimonides, Yehuda HaLevi, Rashi, David Ben-Gurion and most recently Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader Statesman, by Itamar Rabinovich.

4. Learn about Israel. Israel is a young, thriving and growing nation. Don’t let complex and confusing politics keep you away. Now is the time to understand the complexities of the modern state of Israel even if you might struggle to understand and accept current realities. Read The Times of Israel online for daily news and thoughtful blogs.

5. Travel. Join The Associated or your synagogue on a trip to Israel. You can also explore Berlin, Poland, Budapest, Morocco and other countries through a Jewish lens. By visiting and experiencing different Jewish communities, you can grasp the breadth and depth of global Jewish peoplehood.

Judaism teaches that the Gates of Repentance are always open. Judaism is religion of doing and learning. In our tradition, learning is raised to the level of prayer. Just as we are challenged to repent every day and not just on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the gates of learning are similarly always open. As we greet this new year, we are fortunate to live at a time with so many amazing opportunities for Jewish study. Life is busy, but you will never really have leisure. So seize the moment at this time of renewal to renew within yourself our great teaching on a regular basis.

6 Ways to Enjoy Rosh Hashanah Sustainably
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Apple Orchard

By Joan D. Plisko, Ph.D., Community Sustainability Director, Pearlstone

As we reflect on our personal actions and look toward the year ahead, it is an appropriate time to contemplate our relationship with Earth and our roles as stewards of G!d’s creation. G!d created the first human beings and led them around the Garden of Eden and said:

“Look at my works! See how beautiful they are – how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it” (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13).

From the onset, Jewish tradition teaches us that when we do not preserve the environment, we not only destroy life, but we diminish G!d’s presence in the world. As we enter 5780, I encourage each and every one of us to examine the small and large changes we can make that will create a deeper connection and benefit to Earth. Here are a few suggestions:

Buy Local: Enjoying the sweetness of Rosh Hashanah is synonymous with apples dipped in honey. To reduce the apple’s foodprint (i.e., environmental impact, or footprint, including the amount of land required to grow, the amount of carbon dioxide produced, if the food is organic, and if it is local), venture to a local orchard and pick your own organic apples! Alternatively, visit a farmer’s market to buy juicy local apples. Pick-up some local honey too!

Year ahead > Can you commit to buying more local food throughout the year?

Forest Bathe: One of my favorite rituals of Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich – a time to enjoy nature and cast away the sins of the past year. This year consider a deliberate walk in the woods and forest bathe – walking through the trees, soaking in the experience through your senses (note: this is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging), and ending up at a local river or stream.

Year ahead > Learn more about the watershed where you live and ways to help preserve it.

Zero Waste: A traditional and bountiful meal is the perfect opportunity to prevent waste. Serve a mouth-watering meal using only reusable dishes, cups, cutlery and napkins; and prepare only the amount of food you and your friends and family can eat in an effort to eliminate food waste.

Year ahead > Reduce/eliminate using plastic water bottles, plastic bags, straws and more.

Turn Up the Ambience: To save energy, dine by candlelight using soy or beeswax candles. Also, get creative and use items found around your home or yard to accentuate your holiday table.

Year ahead > Grab a sweater and turn down the thermostat over the winter! You will be amazed at how much energy you can save by lowering the temperature a few degrees.

Dress for Earth’s Success: Thinking of buying one more outfit to wear? Consider these alternatives: swap clothes with friends, buy something new (to you) at a consignment store or purchase a new accessory such as a scarf or tie to accentuate an outfit you already have.

Year ahead > Borrow, trade, swap or visit a tool bank (i.e., an organization that lends tools to community members) to get the items you need. Get creative and also donate unwanted clothes, tools, books and other items to local nonprofits.

Take Earth Action!: During your amazing holiday celebration, discuss environmental issues and focus on actions you can make individually and collectively. Use your pen, keyboard, voice or organizing skills to become a Jewish environmental advocate.

Year ahead > Join other Jewish Environmental enthusiasts via the Pearlstone Sustainability Coalition.

About the coalition: Launched in 2015, and currently chaired by Pearlstone Board Member, Delegate Dana Stein, the Pearlstone Sustainability Coalition facilitates the coming together of individuals and organizations to promote and foster our collective vision, A culture where sustainability and environmental health are integral to Baltimore’s Jewish community.

Have a healthy, sweet, and low impact year!

For more information or to share your Jewish environmental actions, please reach out to Joan Plisko, Community Sustainability Director, Pearlstone.

Kate Cohen Is Making Connections in Her Lutherville-Timonium Neighborhood
Monday, August 19, 2019

Kate Cohen

Judaism was always an important part of Kate Cohen’s life. It’s why this former teacher – now turned mother and Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) Connector – is hoping others will discover the beauty in Jewish life – in ways that work for their families.

By bringing her creativity and organizing skills to the Lutherville-Timonium neighborhood in which she lives, she is developing a variety of “fun” Jewish experiences for families across her community.

Like a Havdalah swim party at the Kids First Swim Schools in Cockeysville. And a Tu B’Shevat program at Irvine Nature Center, where families taste-tested dried fruits – while listening to stories and singing songs.

And, of course, the CPR program for parents in which Julie Wohl brought in some Jewish learning. Not only did they receive these critical life-saving skills, they learned how saving any life and helping others is a core Jewish tenet.

Many of these events include partnerships with area synagogues, where the rabbis and/or cantors lead the activity. “If someone is interested in joining a synagogue, they get a taste of what each rabbi is like.”

In addition to planning events, Kate is an open resource for Jewish families, meeting with them over coffee and providing them with information about the community. Many of the families want to learn about Jewish preschools, and Kate provides them with background information on the schools. She also offers suggestions about other programs in town that might appeal to these parents with young children, like the JCC’s Hello Baby Program, or local Tot Shabbats.

“I’m excited that I am giving families opportunities to feel comfortable being Jewish in our community by exposing families to Jewish experiences that resonate with them. I am inspiring them to make Judaism a part of their family’s life.”

Get to Know Kate Cohen

My favorite Jewish childhood memory is: going to sleep away camp at Camp Louise and singing the Friday night services and songs.

I love to bake. My go-to recipe: is whatever my mom wants to make.

When I’m not connecting families, I’m: doing activities with my son or playing Mahjong.

Favorite PJ Library book: to read to my son is Listen.

The best part of living in Lutherville-Timonium: is being in a central location to many different places.

My philosophy on being a Mom: is do what you have to do to survive.

Best advice I have for other Moms on raising a child Jewishly: is make it your own. Start new traditions that work for you and your family.

Radical Hospitality: Gleaning Jewish Lessons from Restaurateur Danny Meyers
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Lisa Bodziner

By Lisa Bodziner, Executive Director, Towson University Hillel

A mentor of mine suggested last spring, that I read one book to set the tone for our school year. Now in early August, I am almost finished with her assignment and ready to launch an unforgettable year at Towson University Hillel.

Growing up in Savannah, Georgia, I must admit it took me a while to learn that the cultural norms of how I was raised, weren’t norms everywhere. I assumed for example, everyone had 15 best friends over for cocktail hour every night, that everyone’s house was always filled with new friends, old friends, family and even strangers that quickly made connections.

So, what can I say? When I entered the world and work of Hillel, becoming accustomed to words like Radical Hospitality and Big Tent Judaism, it felt almost natural, like I was home again. Isn’t this what we are meant to do, warmly welcome anyone into our space? I began to ask myself, where’s the nuance? Where’s the radical? To warmly embrace anyone looking, searching and asking, wasn’t that just, in essence, how I was raised? Setting the Table by Danny Meyer is a must read for any business owner, manager and/or CEO. Setting the Table is about the transforming power of hospitality in business.

While it is not rooted in Jewish education, the concepts that Danny re-introduce to us are key and essentially Jewish. The foundation of what the Hillel movement and so many other Jewish organizations in our community are grounded in is exactly that – hospitality, warm embrace and acceptance in our everyday business transactions with people to create connections and growth with people.

Danny shares in his introduction, “business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.” And Danny is correct. In my years of experience in being an educator, program designer and Executive Director, how simple, yet challenging it is, to engage people, all people, to get connected to their own organizational mission, feel great about the product, vision and future.

Danny explores in his book how, being a restaurant owner and business manager, one must lead by intention, rather than intuition. He writes about how focusing on guests, community, suppliers and investors, one must always set the priorities and do so with “enlightened hospitality.”

Danny, in his book sets the tone and shares with readers the long journey and what it took, what lessons he learned along the way and what values he continued to return to, in order to become the successful and current CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group.

As a Jewish educator and director of a Jewish organization, particularly being on a college campus, is it not imperative for our staff to warmly embrace, with radical hospitality, anyone that enters our space? At Towson University and specifically at our Hillel, students, faculty, donors, staff and board members come from all walks of life, have all different notions, connections and ideals for what it means to live and be Jewish. According to Danny, if we are setting the table in our organization properly, we are making room for anyone to sit and have a meal – and ENJOY themselves in that experience.

In the last few chapters of his book, Danny concludes, “The courage to grow demands the courage to let go. Whenever you expand in business – not just the restaurant business – the process is incredibly challenging, especially for leaders who first rose to the top because of their tendency to want to control all the details. You have to let go. You have to surround yourself with ambassadors – people who know how to accomplish goals and make decisions, while treating people the way you would. They’re comfortable expressing themselves within the boundaries of your business culture and content with the role they play in helping a larger team achieve its greatest potential success.”

Towson University and Towson University Hillel are in an incredible moment of transition and growth. This year will demand of us that our mission is clear and that along with our stakeholders, board members, parents, students, staff and all our ambassadors, we set the table with southern, radical and warm hospitality and that all are welcomed and enjoy a meal at our table and in our community.

Please be in touch.

Lisa Bodziner, Executive Director, Towson University – Hillel,

Lisa Bodziner's Reading List Recommendations

Setting the Table – Danny Meyer
Next Generation Judaism – Rabbi Mike Uram
How’s Your Faith? – David Gregory

Podcasts: The Ballad of Billy Balls – iO Tillet Wright (not Jewishly themed)

Meet Laura Rubenstein – Attorney, Mother and Community Leader
Monday, July 15, 2019

Laura Rubenstein

Laura Rubenstein is a Partner at Wright, Constable & Skeen, LLP. As a Labor and Employment Attorney, she represents corporate clients and non-profit agencies in a wide range of matters including workplace and sexual harassment charges, wage and hour issues, FMLA disputes, employment contracts and more.

How did you first get involved with The Associated? After graduating from law school, I knew I needed to broaden my social network and meet like-minded young professionals. I quickly joined YLC and became acquainted with some really great folks, many of whom I am still in touch with today. YLC also gave me an opportunity to observe the JCC Board for one year. It was a board full of intelligent and thoughtful leaders. I really enjoyed the experience.

You recently rotated off as Lawyers’ Division Co-Chair. What other leadership roles have you had or will you hold within The Associated system? I have served on the JCC’s Board of Directors for the last 10 years and am now the 1st Vice Chair. I will take on the role of Chair of the Board in 2021. I’m honored for this opportunity to lead this dynamic organization and to follow in the footsteps of giants who have had this role before me.

Prior to that, I was co-chair of The Associated’s reinvigorated Jewish Professional Women’s group and a committee member on the Human Resources Steering Committee.

What is one piece of advice you would give to younger attorneys looking to become partners in their firms? Work hard, put in the time, be present, be helpful, be kind, be confident and always proofread your writing before sending any correspondence. Professionalism is still cool.

What do you love about being a lawyer? I am doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do professionally. I enjoy helping people and their businesses and watching my advice be put into action. I am fortunate to work with great people all day long.

How do you recharge and reenergize? I go home and play with my kids. Our whole family hops on bikes and rides to the neighborhood pool to swim and play together. We are also parents to a new puppy, so that’s been keeping us all on our toes. I’m purposely working late tonight to finish answering this questionnaire and to let the evening shower pass, but especially to avoid the pup’s teething stage.

An Education on Israel is Becoming Standard College-Prep
Friday, July 05, 2019

Woman on college campus

For parents of graduating high school seniors, this can be an emotional and stressful time of year. While excited for their children, they are also faced with the realization that their kids will soon be leaving the nest to move on to college and the next phase of their lives.

Having made it through the college application process, the attention now shifts to finding a compatible roommate, attending college acceptance days, planning fall move-in and organizing college schedules. And, of course, parents need to find time to squeeze in important conversations concerning alcohol and drug abuse, college hazing, roommate conflicts, class attendance…basically all the wisdom and advice they can impart to ensure their child’s safety and happiness.

But today, for parents of Jewish students who have observed the rise of anti-Semitic incidents throughout our country and the world and watched the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement permeate college campuses, there is now a need to address these issues as well. According to a Brandeis University study, titled “Hotspots of AntiSemitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment on US Campuses,” overall, 15% of respondents agreed that there was a hostile environment toward Jews on their campus compared to over a third who agreed that there was a hostile environment toward Israel.

The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore works closely with local and international agencies and community partners to establish programs that keep teens safe whether on campus or at home. The Israel High Leadership Program, offered by The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) and funded by The Associated, seeks to educate students about the complexities of Israel and provides a historical background as well as an understanding of current day issues. Facilitators recently held two parlor sessions with parents and teenagers alike to help students prepare for life on campus through a Jewish lens.

“CJE has curated and developed a range of resources to help prepare students for possible anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment on campus,” explains Sam Hopkins, Israel Program Coordinator at CJE. “We hope to empower our Baltimore students with the tools and knowledge so that they feel confident to engage in an intelligent, mature way when confronted with these issues in college.”

According to Hopkins, Israel High’s curriculum provides a starting point for thinking through real-world experiences on college campuses and an understanding of when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism. The program is designed to give students the knowledge and confidence to talk about Israel.

“Many of our high school students, although aware of the upsurge in anti-Israel protests, simply are not used to being challenged on these topics in their day-to-day lives,” explains Liz Minkin-Friedman, Co-facilitator of Beth Am Congregation’s Time to Uproot program.

Minkin-Friedman, who hosted one of the Israel High sessions in her home, is also the parent of a high school senior. The Time to Uproot program closely explores the change in the parent-student relationship during the college transition time. Seeing that many parents and students had questions surrounding the climate around Israel and being a Jew on campus, Minkin-Friedman approached CJE to help facilitate this discussion.

“I really think the climate on campus is so different than when I was in school. We teach our children to love Israel and embrace their Jewish identity. It is important to me that my son chooses a college where he feels safe to explore his Judaism without feeling uncomfortable or endangered. Israel High is helping teach the proper language in which to respond,” Minkin-Friedman adds.

In an effort to make the program content more relatable as well as provide an accurate perspective, CJE invited Lior Navon, Israel Fellow at Johns Hopkins Hillel, to share her perspective about what actually happens on college campuses.

“The climate on campus isn’t black and white when it comes to dealing with Israel conversations. In addition to having more Israel knowledge and master the facts, our students also receive the support when it comes to dealing with emotions and opinions of others and learn how to create a space for conversations of all kinds in a constructive way,’’ Navon explains.

CJE works closely with local educators and receives support and materials from international organizations such as Stand With Us, Makom, JerusalemU and Emory University’s Center for Israel Education.

“The truth is, it’s a complicated subject. It’s a complicated world. We will continue to learn and explore the role that Israel plays as part of our students’ educational and personal growth and to provide families with the guidance they need to feel comfortable and well-supported living as Jews on campus,” Hopkins says.

Learn About Odessa, Ukraine
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Odessa, Ukraine

Here are six fun facts you may not have known about our partner city and its Jewish community.

Thriving Jewish Community. In partnership with The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish community in Odessa is thriving – they even have two Jewish Community Centers! The Beit Grand JCC and Migdal JCC serve as venues for large concerts & holiday celebrations and offers a wide range of cultural programming for individuals and families – including theater, dance, art, volunteering and so much more.

Jewish Camp Connections. The Associated collaborates with the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) to provide Jewish youth in Odessa with transformative summer camp experiences. Youth learn Hebrew, celebrate Shabbat, and make Jewish friendships. In summer 2019, eleven teens and one camp counselor from JAFI will travel to Baltimore, MD to attend summer camp in the US. This experience will introduce them to American Jewry and connect them to peers from their sister cities of Ashkelon and Baltimore.

PJ Library in Odessa. In the spring of 2019, The Harold Grinspoon Foundation, in partnership with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore launched PJ Library in Odessa! This exciting opportunity provides each child with a free Jewish book each month. This program has been desired in the Odessa Jewish community for many years and its been wonderful to see hundreds of families signing up for the program.

Odessa Cuisine. The food in Odessa is unique since it combines several culinary traditions: Jewish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Moldovan, and Greek. Guests in Odessa are commonly served stuffed fish, vegetables and small vareniki, cabbage rolls, pancakes and other traditional dishes.

Famous Zionists of Odessa. Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky is one of the many Zionists who was born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine. Jabotinsky was born to a Jewish family in Odessa in 1880. He became a powerful speaker and influential leader in the Zionist movement. He established a Jewish self-defense organization to safeguard communities throughout Russia and became the leader of the right-wing Zionist group after Theodore Herzl’s death in 1904.

Odessa Opera House. The Opera House in Odessa was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the most remarkable sights to see throughout Eastern Europe. The building was reconstructed in 1887 after a fire destroyed the first building in 1873. The unique acoustics of the horseshoe designed hall allows performers to deliver in a whisper-low tone of voice and can still be heard from any part of the hall.

Pearlstone Shaliach Connects Israel, Nature and Judaism
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

David Ben Yehuda

From growing up on a Kibbutz, to serving in the army, to working as an Israeli Shaliach (Israeli emissary) at Pearlstone, an agency of The Associated, David Ben Yehuda has followed his passions of environmental education and Judaism. His previous experiences have guided him in his work at Pearlstone, where he’s created and led programs for all ages, including middle school students and older adults. We sat down and talked with David at the retreat center where he greeted us wearing a Pearlstone t-shirt and his signature sandals.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? I grew up on Kibbutz Kfar HaHoresh between Haifa and the Sea of Galilee. I spent four years in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the Shaldag unit as a combat soldier. The purpose of this unit was to prepare the IDF for special missions and maximize their abilities by training between war periods through intelligence gathering. After the army, I had a few small jobs before going to college. Today, I’ve been at Pearlstone for the past eight months and plan to stay for another 14 months.

How did you learn about the Israeli Shaliach position at Pearlstone? After the army and attending school at a private college in the Negev, I met a girl, Michal, who grew up in the same town as myself. She was the first Shaliach at Pearlstone back in 2016 and said it would be a great fit.

What are you most passionate about your job? I love the retreats and immersion programs where I get to spend a lot of time with a group of people. Initially, I tend to be be shy with others, but after I get to know them, I open up and become very involved. The retreats and celebrations at Pearlstone remind me of life on the kibbutz. Overall, I enjoy planning and creating educational programs. Another thing I am passionate about is the Teva (‘nature’ in Hebrew) program. We teach sixth-graders about environmental science over a four-day period. What I enjoy most is creating a positive Jewish community where everyone can take part.

Is there something you have learned while at Pearlstone? I did not know that you could make a connection between nature and Judaism. There are connections between the land we live on and the lessons in Genesis for example. It could be how we reflect on prayer by sitting near a tree or in a grassy area in an open field. I studied environmental science in school but never thought to use it when talking about its relationship to Jewish texts or its teachings.

What are the differences and similarities between living in Baltimore versus Israel? The biggest difference for me is the weather. The weather here is never predictable and can change quickly. We could have an event that gets rained out right before it starts or even during the event. I now look at the weather report every day. That is something we do not get in Israel. There you can rely on the weather depending on the season. In the summer it will be hot with no rain and open skies. You do not have to worry that an event will be rained out. However, there are a lot of similarities. One of which is the interactions between diverse groups of people. In both places, there are many cultures living and working with each other every day. The cultural diversity in Baltimore is unlike many places I have seen in America.

What are your plans after finishing your time at Pearlstone? I want to stay in the field of agricultural education. Pearlstone has helped me understand how to combine physical education with the environment in an educational manner, whether it be climbing, swimming or fishing. I want to take this with me and use it in the future. I love Baltimore and America, but Israel is my home. After my time here, I would love to return to my country and continue what I have been able to accomplish at Pearlstone.

Lindsay Dermer: Making an Impact in Jewish Baltimore
Friday, May 31, 2019

Lindsay Dermer

To say Lindsay Dermer has a busy schedule would be a disservice. Between her profession as an occupational therapist, her new role as a business owner and her involvement in the Jewish community and beyond, this nominee and winner for IMPACT’s People’s Choice Award is always looking for ways to grow as a professional and as a member of the Baltimore Jewish community.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? I grew up in Reisterstown and currently live in Pikesville. Last year, I became a Certified Aging in Place Specialist and started a business, Dermer Health Services, LLC. to help give people the opportunity to remain in their homes as long as possible.

What does your involvement with the community look like today? After college, I knew I wanted to stay connected with the Jewish community. I wasn’t afraid to go to events by myself , which allowed me to meet new friends and colleagues I otherwise would not have met. It wasn’t long until I found myself attending IMPACT events and others hosted by various agencies in The Associated system and beyond. I’m also an active participant in a fellowship that helps families in need. Recently I applied to IMPACT’s Young Leadership Council (YLC) program.

Volunteering is important to you. I’ve loved volunteering ever since my Bat Mitzvah project, where I put together care packages of toiletries for the Hackerman-Patz House at Sinai Hospital. Those Jewish values have been instilled in me from that point forward. No matter how big or small the volunteer project is, it still provides a rewarding feeling to help someone.

I remember helping an otherwise home-bound woman with everyday days including, assisting her with her bills, housework, managing her finances, and taking her to see a speaker she really liked through an organization she was previously involved with. She really enjoyed being able to go out and socialize with others she hasn’t seen in a long time, especially since when she typically goes out, it is for doctor appointments. These simple acts of kindness were truly appreciated.

Can you describe your involvement with IMPACT? I was recently on the Young Adult Task Force which works towards providing recommendations and funding for young adult programming. Those sessions recently concluded. At the end of last year, I attended the Channukah BrewHaha. I recently attended the Summer Soiree. I’m also involved with Repair the World: Baltimore, Charm City Tribe, and Moishe House. Becoming involved in different programs provides the opportunity to gain many different types of experiences.

What are you looking forward to in the future? I’m looking forward to gaining more leadership skills, as I mentioned with my recent application to YLC. I hope to use those skills in my professional life, my personal life, with my new business and of course within the Jewish community. Whether it means I will serve on a board or something similar, I aim to be more involved than the average member.

What’s a good piece of advice you would like to share? My advice would be to just go out there and try as many different programs as you can. There are so many programs and agencies within The Associated that you’re bound to find something that connects with you whether it is socially, volunteer-focused, or professionally.

Would you like to share any thoughts on being receiving the People’s Choice award? I was, of course, extremely honored to be nominated. I’ve been involved in the Jewish community for a long time and within my close circle of friends, everyone has always said ‘you’re so involved, you do so much’ but to have someone from outside my circle give me a nomination, it truly resonated with me that I am where I’m supposed to be.

Taste of Israel
Thursday, May 30, 2019


Looking for some new brunch ideas? Israeli cuisine may be the answer. Meant to be shared with friends and family, everything from shakshuka (eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and garlic) to Israeli salads are the perfect addition to any brunch. Traditional Israeli fare comes from all over the world and adds a global flavor to your table.

The best part about Israeli food is there is no right or wrong way to make or serve a dish. Just like in Judaism, and on an individual’s personal path to finding Jewish identity, Israeli food is made to taste and is always evolving. Recipes can be modified or changed to meet your flavor palate.

SHAKSHUKA Inspired by Bino Gabso, Libyian born Israeli and founder of Dr Shakshuka. Originated in North Africa (Tunisia, Libya, Morrocco)

• 1 Tbsp. olive oil • 1/2 onion, peeled and diced • 1 clove garlic, minced • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped • 4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes • 2 tbsp tomato paste • 1 tsp mild chili powder • 1 tsp cumin • 1 tsp paprika • Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste (careful, it’s spicy!)• Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste) • Salt and pepper, to taste • 6 eggs • 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish) • Feta cheese (optional)

  1. Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium heat. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.
  2. Add the diced bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium heat until softened.
  3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir until blended. Add spices and sugar, stir, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until it starts to reduce.
  4. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka.
  5. Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “over easy” style on top of the tomato sauce.
  6. Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much, which can lead to burning.
  7. Remove from heat and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Shakshuka is most enjoyed with warm, crispy pita bread, fresh parsley and feta cheese (if desired).

EGGPLANT DIP Originated in in Iraq, however it is a national dish of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

• 3 to 4 large eggplants • 1/2 cup vegetable oil • Juice from one lemon • 3-4 garlic cloves • Salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Roast 3-4 large eggplants in the oven until the peel is burned. Scoop the inside of the eggplants and put in a food processor or blender.
  2. Turn on food processor and blender and slowly add a half cup of oil. Add lemon juice, garlic cloves and salt and pepper to taste.

BAKLAVA Modern day Baklava was most likely developed in the imperial kitchens of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. Baklava is believed to be a combination of the Roman placenta cake, Central Asian Turkic layered bread and the Persian lauzinaq.

• 1 (1lb) box filo dough, defrosted and at room temperature • 1 cup raw pistachio pieces • 1 cup raw chopped walnuts • 1 cup raw chopped almonds • 2 tsp. cinnamon • 3 1/4 cups sugar • 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, melted • 1 1/2 cups water • 1 Tbsp. honey

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix nuts with the cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar. Make sure it is mixed well.
  3. Using a pastry brush, brush a light layer of margarine across the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan (do not to use a disposable aluminum pan).
  4. Take the filo sheets 2 at a time and layer along the bottom of the pan, brushing each layer with margarine.
  5. After using half the sheets, pour the nut mixture across the whole.
  6. Continue layering filo and margarine until there are no more sheets left.
  7. Cut into diamond-shaped pieces and bake for 45 minutes until top is golden.
  8. In the meantime bring the remaining 3 cups sugar, water and honey to a boil. Pour this carefully over the cooked baklava and allow it to be absorbed.
  9. Cool, cover and store in the refrigerator.
Meet Marina London
Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Marina London

Director of Jewish Programs, JCC Beit Grand

Tell us about yourself and your work experience: I was born and raised in a Jewish family from Odessa and have been involved in the Jewish community since I was thirteen years old. I started my career with the Israeli Cultural Center at the Israel State Embassy in Odessa. I worked as coordinator of various youth projects, including Taglit Birthright. I’ve now been working at the Beit Grand Jewish Community Center for the past ten years.

What is your favorite part about the Odessa Jewish Community? I am proud that the Odessa Jewish community is diverse, vibrant, and accepting of all Jews. We come together as a united community in good and bad times which is always beautiful.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities? As the Director of Jewish Programs, I manage over 25 different activities that take place at the JCC – including youth clubs, volunteer activities, summer camps, concerts, celebrations, ceremonies, and seminars. I hire and manage staff to work in all areas of the JCC. Additionally, I develop and implement marketing materials to recruit attendees for programs and events. I also build relationships with our community members and friends in Odessa. I facilitate projects that connect youth in Odessa to youth in Baltimore.

What is your favorite part about your job? My favorite part of the job is seeing the outcome and results of the hard work I put into planning and organizing programs for community members. It gives me great pleasure to see their happiness.

What do you like to do in your free time? Outside of work, I really enjoy traveling, though it is rare for me. I also like to go out with my friends, often to the beach. I participate in creative art workshops and projects at our JCC. Most importantly, I love spending time with my family.

Now is the time to be a part of LIFE & LEGACY!
Friday, May 24, 2019

Sheldon Caplis

I never thought we’d be able to do this. That is what I said to my wife, Jamie, as we discussed making a legacy gift to The Associated.

One of my mentors, Louis Fox, advised me in my twenties that if I was going to ask people for money, I needed to personally give back as well. I took his words to heart and began contributing annually to The Associated and other meaningful causes.

Now as we think about our legacy, we know how important it is to maintain a strong and vibrant Jewish community. The best way we could think of to help assure this was to endow our annual Associated gift through a bequest in our will. Imagine the impact if thousands of donors, large and small, took that step. It would provide a wonderful base of support for our community while it grows new resources to assist those in need.

Jamie and I view our commitment as playing a small but vital role in our community’s future.

Sheldon Caplis

To create your legacy, contact Donna Kasoff, Director of Endowment Development, at 410-369-9256, For more information, visit

What is LIFE & LEGACY™?

LIFE & LEGACY, a partnership of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) with The Associated, promotes after-lifetime giving to benefit The Associated and its network of 26 agencies and programs. Through training, support and monetary incentives, LIFE & LEGACY helps integrate legacy giving into the community’s philanthropic culture to assure the future of Jewish Baltimore.

A Modern Day Jewish Educator
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sally Grobani

Growing up in Prince Georges County, Sally Grobani had three passions – music, Judaics and Israel. Upon graduating from high school, she was fortunate to be able to incorporate her three interests, spending six years in Israel where she received an undergraduate degree in musicology from Bar-Ilan University.

When she returned to the United States, she chose to pursue her love of Judaics, receiving a master's degree in Jewish education from what was then Baltimore Hebrew University. This year, she received the Sam Kahan Distinguished Educator Award/Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education from the Macks Center for Jewish Education, an agency of The Associated. As the awardee, Sally will be Baltimore’s nominee for the national Grinspooon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

How did you become a teacher? When I returned to the States, Annapolis became my home, and I began a career of teaching private violin and viola lessons, performing and teaching in a congregational school. I was drawn to the idea of working in the Diaspora and helping students find meaning in Judaism and had the opportunity to teach at Aleph Bet Day School in Annapolis. When my family moved to Baltimore, I started teaching at Krieger Schechter Day School, and earned my master’s degree in Jewish Education at Baltimore Hebrew University.

What brought you to Baltimore? At the time, my oldest daughter was traveling to Baltimore to attend Jewish day school. It was an hour commute both ways. We decided it would make sense to move to Baltimore, where I got my new job, and make it easier for my kids. We also appreciated the rich Jewish life in Baltimore.

You recently received the award for your creativity in creating a new curriculum? I decided to create an alternative to the fourth grade Judaics curriculum at Krieger Schechter Day School, where I work. In fourth grade, the students study the Book of Exodus in Hebrew. Yet we realized that some students in our diverse student body might not connect to the text if we only taught it in the Hebrew language. I began looking for ideas and I put together a text that was a combination of Hebrew and English, supplemented with activities to help hem engage.

Activities? Activities might include acting out a part of the story, recreating the story by designing comic strips or developing a TV show where they interview characters. There is also a creative writing piece in which students create journal entries as if they were one of the characters. I also brought in iPads and incorporated technology into the lesson planning. I offer a variety of options so each student can choose what speaks to them.

I hear you also started a Social Justice Fair? Yes. In seventh grade, we talk about justice across multiple disciplines – English, Social Studies, Jewish History, Bible. In the fall, I invite alumni who are involved in the social justice world to participate in a roundtable. They talk about what they do and how they took something they were passionate about and use it to help others.

I understand that CJE, who gave you the award, has played a role in your educational career. I’ve been involved with CJE even when I lived in Annapolis. I would come in for their professional development workshops. And, thanks to their relationship with the Crane Foundation, they provide financial support for professional development opportunities. Because of that I was able to spend a week in Boston, learning how to teach Bible using a technique called philosophical inquiry. The goal is to encourage students to engage more deeply with the text and think of questions.

If you didn’t teach, what would you do? I would follow my other passion. Music. I would look for ways to play in chamber groups or orchestras.

What do you do in your spare time? I teach music lessons to eight violinists after school as well as b’nai mitzvah lessons. I love to listen to music and I try to find time to read.

Do you have a favorite book? I guess I would say Sea Biscuit and Turbulent Souls.

Is there anything people don’t know about you? When I was 10 years old and in fifth grade, I was arrested for “obstructing traffic and refusing to move.” I had participated in a demonstration for rights for Soviet Jews, in front of the Soviet embassy in Washington. I spent almost every Sunday demonstrating, but that was the only time I got arrested!

Four Ways to Make a CHANGE at the JCC Community Block Party
Monday, May 20, 2019

JCC Block Party

1. Begin Your Journey at Stevenson University. Before you head on the shuttle bus to go to the Block Party, grab some loose change from your vehicle and drop it in our CHANGE buckets! Teach your kids the value of tzedakah – just a few cents goes a long way to helping their friends and neighbors in Jewish Baltimore.

As part of that effort, use this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about your values and what is important to them. On the shuttle drive to the JCC, ask them questions like: The Associated’s Questions might include:

  • Would you rather help a few people in a large way or help many people in a smaller way?
  • What cause is most important to you? Do you want to help people, animals, the environment, or something else?
  • Would you rather help to provide food for a homeless shelter, spend time reading and playing games with an older adult who is lonely, or spend the day cleaning a stream to help animals in the Chesapeake Bay?

2. No festival is complete without some free swag. Come by our Associated tables and kids can tie dye a t-shirt, that says “I am a Change Maker.” Use this opportunity to ask them how they hope to change the world. At the same time, visit our CHANGE Car.

Check out our branded car. You can even try to win cool Associated prizes by participating in a game at the car.

3. Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon with your family. Did you know approximately 85 partners and vendors will be participating? Enjoy:

  • Inflatable Jumbo Games and Climbing Wall with J Kids & J Camps.
  • A Baby Block featuring Character Meet and Greet with Early Childhood.
  • A Sports & Wellness Boardwalk with carnival games, face-painting, live animals, and more!
  • Delicious kosher food, plus shopping for arts, crafts, fashion and more.

4. Drop off your change Purchase food and beverages and then drop off loose change at various locations around the Block Party. As you enjoy your food, ask yourself and your family to talk about their dreams. Perhaps start with: My hope for the future is a world in which...

The Block Party will be held Sunday, June 2 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC. Rain or shine!

Click for more information about the Block Party

A Former Los Angeles Native Finds A Home in Baltimore
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Rena and her family

When Rena Stern Kates moved here from Los Angeles for her husband Max’s urology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, she really only expected to stay for six years. But to their surprise, the couple quickly realized how much they liked Baltimore.

Today, as working parents two young children at home – Eli, 3, and Amira, 1 – they have developed a great group of friends. And, this busy mother still finds time to engage her children in making a difference for her newly adopted community.

What do you do? I'm an attorney, and I recently became a legal instructor at the Baltimore Police Academy, where I teach law classes to entry level police officer trainees. I also serve as a board member for Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), and it's been such a fun, enriching, and rewarding experience.

How’d you get started with JVC? My friend Jessica Goldstein and I were discussing how we wanted to do something to volunteer with our then two-year-olds. She came up with the idea to start a VolunTeam with JVC (Jewish Volunteer Connection) and to volunteer at a senior center. She asked me to be her co-chair. We met with Erica Bloom, and I was immediately impressed by Erica and by the resources JVC was able to offer us as volunteers. Erica was invaluable in helping us to establish contact with Springwell Senior Living Community and execute all the logistics of the project. All we had to do was focus on getting the word out to our friends and volunteering! Jessica has now passed the leadership torch to Michelle Holland, who is also a mom of young kids and a fantastic and dedicated VolunTeam co-chair.

What made you decide to do PlayDate Together at Springwell? I was looking for a volunteer program that would be not only be accommodating to young kids, but that would contribute to their growth and social awareness. Through this program, our kids have grown comfortable around people of all ages. The seniors love just watching the kids play together, and our kids enjoy the love and attention from the seniors. Everyone leaves with smiles on their faces.

Any specific moment that touched you? We volunteer at Springwell once a month. One week when we weren't volunteering, my son asked, ‘are we going to go see our friends at Springwell today?’ It was really sweet how he's come to look forward to going.

What’s it like raising kids in Jewish Baltimore compared to Los Angeles? Actually, Los Angeles has a similar Jewish community to Baltimore. Very large, yet somehow everyone knows everyone's business!

How do you recharge? Reading! And taking our 15-year-old beagle Professor Huggins for leisurely strolls in the neighborhood. She stops to smell basically every blade of grass, so it's more like a walking meditation than actual exercise, which is totally fine by me.

Books that you are reading? White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Even though it was written almost 20 years ago, the themes are still so relevant today. The writing is so sharp and extremely funny as well.

Favorite quote or song that motivates you? "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Where do you see yourself and family 10 years from now? I hope healthy, happy, and able to sleep past 6 a.m.

Watch out! What are Your Kids Watching?
Monday, May 13, 2019

Young girl watching tv

By Jennifer Rudo, Teen Engagement Coordinator, JCS Prevention Education

How is it that elementary aged kids have been able to master the art of bottle tossing? Why are kids trying to eat as much cinnamon as they can possibly consume? The answer is YouTube.

Kids are no longer being taught how to write cursive, but they sure know how to use the Internet, and YouTube is one of their favorite sites. YouTube has become America’s most popular social media platform – allowing anyone to upload videos to the site or watch videos others have posted, all free of charge.

These days, our kids have easy access to a host of different devices and lots of opportunity to browse for things that interest them on sites like YouTube. While this may not be all bad, it certainly can be risky. Yet parents often seem to overlook the platform when sharing their concerns about the influence social media can have on their children.

Most people have heard of the Tide Pod challenge which went viral on social media. Kids were recording videos of themselves and friends biting into the colorful laundry detergent pods just to prove that they could. It was all fun and games until some kids ended up in the hospital. Which leads me to ask why these kids who would never normally eat laundry detergent think that it’s somehow okay, just because they’ve seen it on online.

Maybe it’s the perception that things seem less dangerous because the videos are posted by ordinary people. What our young kids don’t realize is that these people, YouTubers, are trying to become famous. While being YouTube famous seems like a reasonable aspiration for kids, parents understand that it may come at a cost.

Here are some things parents can do to help kids navigate through the YouTube choices:

  • Take time to watch your child’s favorite videos with them, so you can see why they gravitate to those channels.
  • Talk to your kids about what they’re watching. Explain that videos aren’t always what they appear to be and that creative editing can alter what appears to be true. Make sure they understand that just because something is on TV, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
  • Help them “subscribe” to certain channels rather than allowing them to browse freely.
  • Check their history on YouTube to see what they have been watching.
  • Turn on the restricted mode setting to block out more mature themes. This is especially important since the minimum viewing age is 13 years old.
  • Identify items lying around the house like iPads and laptops that could be used to access social media without your knowledge.
  • If you have children of different ages, take steps to make sure the younger ones aren’t using their older sibling’s phones to access the internet.

As parents we can try our hardest to limit screen time and set boundaries, but remember that keeping an open line of communication starting when your kids are young will go a long way.

Entering the Next Chapter: Women Find Meaning with Chapter Three
Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Nina Rosenzwog

For close to four decades, Nina Rosenzwog admits there was hardly a day that went by when she wasn’t busy juggling her work as a school psychologist while making time for family, friends and her love of singing. Always active, she knew that now that she was retired, she wasn’t going to be able to sit back.

Buoyed by her passion to serve, and inspired by a lifetime of smart, interesting women she had befriended over the years, she wanted to provide a place where they could get together, learn and change the world.

“I felt there was something missing in the community for active women, who had worked all their life and now have free time to give back and make a statement,” says Rosenzwog.

That was when she approached Associated Women, and working with Michele Lax, Associated Women’s immediate past president, and Jessica Bronfein, chair-elect of Associated Women, Chapter Three was born. Geared for women ages 60 plus, Chapter Three provides them with access to interesting topics and speakers where they can engage in intimate settings.

“I’ve heard from women who want to learn more about Jewish customs to help them pass these rituals on to their grandchildren and women who want to understand finances and philanthropy. We want these women to craft the agenda around topics in which they are personally interested,” says Rosenzwog, the current chair of Associated Women.

Associated Women has been at the forefront of women’s programming for years. Its Inspired Women’s Project meets monthly for a year-long program that addresses topics such as Jewish traditions, women’s philanthropy and Israel engagement. Chapter Two is an educational and engagement program for Jewish women looking to grow that allows them to take part in experiential learning and hands-on social action while learning about The Associated and its agencies.

Chapter Three will draw upon the interests of volunteers to frame the topics addressed and empower these participants to organize the programming. Chapter Three recently received a grant from the Jane Krieger Schapiro Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of The Associated, which supports leadership development and programming for women through Associated Women.

In its first gathering held last fall, Chapter Three invited a small group of interested women to Rosenzwog’s home to hear from Dr. Yarden Fanta, the first Ethiopian woman to earn a doctorate in Israel. As part of the Sue Glick Liebman Visiting Israel Scholar program, the 50 attendees heard about the Fanta family’s journey from Ethiopia to Israel.

This spring, they participated in a White Glove Session at the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University. The White Glove Session is a private viewing of rare books, seized by German soldiers, that were discovered in storehouses in Europe following World War II. The books were distributed to religious, cultural and educational institutions in the U.S. when their owners could not be located.

During the White Glove Session, Chapter Three women will have a chance to learn about the collection before donning white gloves to explore these rare books.

“I want to empower women to take on the burning questions they might have and invite their friends and make an event out of it. I want these amazing women who have such amazing energy to be inspired.”

For more information about Associated Women, go to

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!

Meet Dov Hoffman
Monday, May 06, 2019

Dov Hoffman with Towson Tiger

For Dov Hoffman, embracing new experiences is a part of developing as a person and as a professional. From his moving to the Canton area, to taking on a leadership role with the American Marketing Association Baltimore Chapter (AMA Baltimore), not to mention his role on the board of Towson Hillel, Dov’s life is a busy one. Even so, he still finds time to be engaged Jewishly.

What was it like growing up Jewish?

Looking back at my childhood, Jewish life in the home was so important – whether it was celebrating the holidays or going to synagogue – there was a sense of Jewish life being a part of how we lived our lives. I went to Jewish day school and when I moved to Baltimore from Staten Island, I attended Yeshivat Rambam.

You didn’t go directly to college?

When I finished high school, I thought it would be a good idea to spend a year in Israel. While I had planned to go to college, and I ultimately went to Towson, there was a sense that I didn’t need to necessarily jump right into it. I thought, this way, I would be able to have several new experiences. It was probably one of the best decisions I ever made.

I attended a Young Judaea Year Course gap year program and it gave me the chance to explore Israel in different ways throughout the year. I spent three months volunteering on a kibbutz up north with one of my jobs being milking cows waking up at 4:00 in the morning; I took some classes in Jerusalem for which I ended up getting college credit; and, I volunteered for three months for Magen David Adom in Bat Yam, a city south of Tel Aviv. Near the end, my family came in and we did our own version of touring around Israel.

Have you gone back since?

I’ve gone back to Israel twice. The second time was during my freshmen year for a volunteer program in Northern Israel and helped do cleanup work around the area. My dad retired and three years ago made Aliyah. So, about a year and a half ago myself, my sister and my grandmother went out there for a couple weeks to visit.

What’s it like living in Canton? Does it affect your Jewish identity?

That’s an interesting question. I think from what I’ve seen, the Jewish community here in Baltimore is one that is very rich, and there are a lot of opportunities to engage in. You can even create your own opportunities.

Such as?

In addition, a few years ago, when I was getting involved with YLC and serving as an observer on the Towson Hillel board, fellow alumni Austin Nusbaum, Janna Zuckerman and myself formed what is now known as JTAA – The Jewish Tigers Alumni Alliance. It was something we wanted to create for Jewish Towson alumni including those involved with Towson Hillel while they were a student and those who weren’t as involved, I think it says something that we were able to say, “let’s do something about it” and we did.

I remember when I moved to Canton many of my Jewish friends and peers either lived in the area, whether it was Canton, Fells Point or Brewer’s Hill. People go to friends’ places for Shabbat dinners or attend Chabad. I definitely get the sense that there are a lot of young adults who are in the area, who are Jewish, and are getting together and being a part of the community.

What advice would you give to the person who either recently graduated or moved to Baltimore?

In all honesty I would personally say connect with The Associated. Over the past several years I’ve learned that there is an overwhelming amount that The Associated does for the Baltimore Jewish community and beyond. The Associated can steer you in a direction that is best suited to you.

Can you touch on your experience with Towson Hillel?

I first got involved with Towson Hillel my freshman year. I remember spending time there especially during holidays like Passover. Unfortunately, as I continued my studies and took on different leadership and volunteer roles, I found I had less and less time to maintain my involvement. It was partially for that reason that when I had the chance to observe a board years later through The Associated’s Young Leadership Council (YLC), I chose Towson Hillel. I’ve been on the board since 2014.

Do you see engagement with the younger generation, particularly when it comes to faith or religion, as a challenge?

I think no matter what the organization in question may be, engagement is a huge factor - especially with the younger generation. I think a part of what we’re after at Towson Hillel is to always keep driving for deeper levels of engagement and grow that community. I can tell you from the past few years of being on the board and hearing from the students and the activities going on that there are more and more students getting involved.

Favorite Jewish holiday?

I think it would be a tie between Chanukah and Passover. But since it’s on my mind recently I will say Passover. 

Favorite place to hang out in Baltimore?

I think I just really enjoy being along the water in the Canton or Fells area.

Are you a Ravens or Orioles fan?

Both. Despite growing up in New York, I can say that I’m not a Giants, Jets, Yankees or Mets fan. I guess we can contribute that to either coming here at a young age or growing up in a household where my dad was a diehard Steelers and Pirates fan.

Dogs or Cats?

Well growing up I had cats but most recently I would have to say dogs. I actually have been dog watching for my cousins so let’s say dogs.


Community Alert
Sunday, May 05, 2019

Damaged House from Rocket Strikes

by Marc B. Terrill - Miles outside Ashkelon

I arrived in Israel on Thursday, May 2 in the afternoon to join representatives from the Weinberg Foundation's Annual "Influentials" trip to Israel. As usual, the group experienced the joys and complexities of the country. The privilege of welcoming Shabbat on Friday evening with this group of individuals, many whom are not Jewish, was magical in so many ways. The song, the prayer, the emotion, the calm, the tranquility. Shabbat was ushered in with perfection.

On Saturday May 4, everything changed. Hundreds and hundreds of rockets were launched from Gaza bombarding the southern region of Israel. Calm turned to chaos. Many communities in the south have been rocked. Innocent people have died, families have been devastated and the trauma continues.

Moments ago, I spoke to representatives of Baltimore's partnership city in Israel. As you are aware, Ashkelon is situated no more than seven miles from Gaza City. Needless to say, our friends and family are in the bullseye of terror. During the torment of their circumstance, the Ashkelon leadership conveyed their deep appreciation to The Associated and Baltimore for being together in good times and the not so good. It was heartwarming to hear the comfort they take in knowing they are not alone.

We will continue to support our Israeli friends and family during these difficult days. We are in Ashkelon assisting with trauma relief and basic necessities because of you. Your gift to The Associated's Annual Campaign is once again in action.

Ashkelon Kids in Bomb Shelter

Ashkelon Kids in Bomb Shelter

So, today I extend a heartfelt thank you to the leaders, volunteers, donors and friends of The Associated who have made the lives of those in Ashkelon a bit better and a lot more hopeful today, because of what we all have done the days leading up to this unfortunate time.

Today, say a prayer and continue to make a difference.

If you would like to support our efforts in Ashkelon, please make a gift to the Annual Campaign today.

If you have already made a gift to the Annual Campaign and would like to do more, please click here to make an additional gift.

Out of Stigma’s Shadow
Thursday, May 02, 2019

Woman depressed

By Robyn Gellar, Public Relations Coordinator for Jewish Community Services

While accepting an award at the Grammy’s in February, performer Lady Gaga positioned the issue of mental health front and center.

"If I don't get another chance to say this, I just want to say I'm so proud to be a part of a movie that addresses mental health issues. They're so important... [W]e gotta take care of each other. So, if you see somebody that's hurting, don't look away. And if you're hurting, even though it might be hard, try to find that bravery within yourself to dive deep and go tell somebody...” – Lady Gaga

The reason Gaga’s speech made headlines, according to Ruth Klein, PhD., director of mental health and compliance for Jewish Community Services (JCS), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, is that people rarely speak out or even speak at all about mental health issues.

“Brain diseases are tough,” she says. “Brain and behavior are seen as you, while other diseases of the blood or the body are things that happen to you.” People tend to feel that those with mental health issues can control their behavior, when that’s often not the case.

Kerry Graves, executive director of NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) Metropolitan Baltimore, agrees. “Mental illness is seen differently than other illnesses like cancer or heart disease,” she explains. “It’s still not acceptable to say, ‘I need a break because of my mental illness.’

Yet, when Medstar Health recently conducted a community health needs assessment, sampling nearly a thousand people in Baltimore City, behavioral health – which includes mental illness and substance use disorders – emerged as the top priority. Those findings signaled “a real opportunity for Medstar to get involved in a more intentional way,” says Ryan Moran, community health director for all three of Medstar Health’s hospitals in Baltimore City.

Just a few months later, JCS, NAMI Metro Baltimore and Medstar Health are among the diverse group of partners coming together during Mental Health Awareness Month to present Out of Stigma’s Shadow: True, personal stories about mental health, mental illness, and the mysteries inside our heads. With help from The Stoop Storytelling Series, the program will feature first-person stories addressing behavioral health topics including depression, suicide, bipolar disorder, substance use disorders, and anxiety. Following intermission, a panel of experts will offer additional insight, resources, and information about advancements in treatment.

The free program will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. Additional program partners include Baltimore Jewish Council, Catholic Charities, Maryland Faith Health Network, and Behavioral Health System Baltimore.

As with many diseases or disorders, Dr. Klein points out that early intervention makes all the difference. “Whether or not you seek help, you still have the disease – avoidance or ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Issues will show up differently in different places like home or school, so professional evaluation is important.”

The program partners want the event to help eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders and encourage people to seek help. Everyone agrees that increasing awareness is key.

Kerry Graves hopes that will translate into action on everyone’s part.“ It’s so important for people to have to the courage to hold honest conversations with those around them,” she says.

Learn more.

Meet Sandi Moffet
Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Sandi Moffet

Baltimore native Sandi Moffet graduated from Park in 1987, earned her BA from Tufts University and returned home to attend the University of Baltimore School of Law for her JD and LLM in Taxation. A leader in her career and our Jewish community, Sandi is Partner and Strategic Advisor at Brown Advisory, President of the Board of Trustees of Chizuk Amuno Congregation and serves on the Boards of three Supporting Foundations at The Associated: the William and Irene Weinberg Family Foundation, the Harry Weinberg Family Foundation and the Jill Fox Memorial Fund.

Sandi and her husband, Brian, an attorney at Miles & Stockbridge, live in Pikesville with their two daughters, Ilana, who attends the University of Michigan, and Wynne, who attends Roland Park Country School.

Brown Advisory is one of The Associated’s corporate partners, investing in Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC).

What does a typical work day look like for you? I’m an early riser and start my day around 5:30 a.m. by answering work and Chizuk Amuno related emails. When I am not travelling to see clients, I am typically downtown by 8:00 a.m. As a Strategic Advisor at Brown Advisory, I work with our most complex clients – individuals and families – helping them navigate estate, tax, generational and other planning issues.

What do you love most about the work you do? One of the best parts of what I do is working with so many families that are genuinely charitably inclined. Their hearts and passions motivate them to help those in need. It’s always fulfilling to be able to work with families and help them create a charitable plan that is dynamic and purposeful and most importantly transmit values and passions to the next generation.

Why are you a donor to The Associated? I am a donor quite honestly because it is a part of my DNA. My grandparents and parents were always deeply committed – it is genuinely how I was raised. Giving time and funds to The Associated is just what you do. We are privileged in life to have the opportunity to help others and most especially those in the Jewish community. We must take care of our own and preserve and grow the future of the Jewish community. If not us – then who will? I have worked hard to instill this same passion in my daughters and I hope and believe that they will continue this family legacy.

What motivated you to support Brown Advisory in becoming corporate sponsor of The Associated and JVC? Brown Advisory is committed to giving back to community. I am so proud to be part of firm that deeply values the importance of community service. An overwhelming number of my colleagues serve on not-for-profit boards across the country in all areas. Our commitment to the JVC’s Days of Service closely aligns with the core values of Brown Advisory, so it was an obvious partnership. In addition, it was a great opportunity for me and my colleagues, who are so deeply committed to The Associated by serving on various boards and committees, to embark on a corporate relationship together.

Has anything positive come out of your corporate partnership with The Associated? Our partnership has been a wonderful chance for my firm to learn more about The Associated. Since the partnership began, JVC has come to our Baltimore office to facilitate a Party with/for a Purpose volunteer activity. Over fifty colleagues joined together to make lunches for an area shelter. The need to serve the homeless stems across all races, religions and gender – and our firm was able to come together to help those in need. Also, several of my colleagues have been inspired to continue to volunteer with JVC, and routinely participate in at least one of the Days of Service. They would never have known about these acts of service without Brown Advisory’s connection to The Associated.

What is your favorite summer Baltimore activity? I love spending time outdoors. Whether taking long walks with my daughters and mother, reading a book on my patio, or barbecuing and eating outside, I always find time to take advantage of our amazing warm weather. I love the summer and would take a 90-degree Baltimore hot and humid day any time of the year!

What Is Jewish About A Ropes Course?
Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Woman on rope course

By Mike Tintner, Pearlstone Adventure Educator

I sit on the edge of the platform looking down it feels like a mile to the ground. Am I really supposed to jump? My team is looking at me, walking me through the process of belaying in (securing a climber with a rope), tweezeling out (maintaining safety while unlocking safety ropes), and jumping down (from over 30 feet in the air). I know the steps, I have been trained and still, I feel butterflies in my stomach.

Throughout the training for the high ropes adventure course, a song keeps coming to mind. Gesher Tzar Maod; the whole entire world is a very narrow bridge. At times I traverse elements singing the words, “The main thing is to recall is to have no fear at all!” in my head.

Life gives every person a unique set of obstacles and challenges they must overcome if they wish to thrive. Jewish practice also presents challenges. On Sukkot, Jewish people are challenged to leave their homes and dwell outdoors. On Shabbat we are challenged to rest. On Yom Kippur, to pray and celebrate on an empty stomach. And finally, on Pesach, we are tasked with not eating leavened bread.

The beauty of the natural world is that every being has its own set of unique challenges and obstacles to overcome. The bison stick together as a herd to overcome the predators that wish to eat them; the trees must survive fire; and the river must change direction based on the landscape it flows over. These challenges don’t just create friction in nature; in fact, they create balance.

The moving of bison as a herd turns the soil they walk over. Forest fires (like the prescribed burns Pearlstone recently conducted) allow new seedlings room to grow and promotes healthy forests. The winding river slows and distributes water.

For so many humans working 9-5, balance means work and family or school and personal life. High ropes courses allow a chance to redefine how we look at balance. Every step you take on the swinging elements feels different while high in the air. The gear supports you in case you fall or want to hold on, but if you dare, you can let go and allow yourself to walk forward trusting in yourself that you have balance.

In an ideal world, all spiritual practices would be viewed like a ropes course: a challenge by choice. Challenge by choice means you are encouraged to push you comfort boundary in an effort to grow, yet peer pressure is not given nor is punishment feared. At Pearlstone’s High Ropes Adventure Course, participants will become familiar with challenge by choice as they’re encouraged to overcome physical obstacles such as height, and difficult balance to push their limits and have fun.

As I looked at the ground below me, the forest surrounding me and my friends nearby, I knew this challenge of trusting my gear was one I could overcome. So, I pushed off and let out a big “weeeeeeee” as I descended all the way to the ground. I am grateful that Judaism, the natural world and working at Pearlstone all have provided me with challenges that I have the opportunity to overcome as I thrive while living a balanced life.

Shelley Hendler Explores the Next Great Thing
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Shelley Hendler

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

Yet, five years ago, Shelley felt it was time to move on and start her own “chapter two.” Knowing she was still young, and looking to broaden her horizons, this empty-nester wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do. Then several opportunities came knocking at her door.

What happened? Someone invited me to a meeting of The Associated’s Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF). The women who participate in this collective philanthropy group make decisions on grants to programs that impact women and girls. JWGF opened up an opportunity for learning and, through the grant process, I was introduced to people working so passionately to make Baltimore and the Jewish community a better place.

Such as? Well, each year we get more than 50 letters of interest from programs supporting women and girls from programs that address everything from sex trafficking and domestic violence to after-school initiatives for girls. We then ask for grant proposals and visit from some of these projects to determine who receives grants. I love reading about and seeing the work these organizations do up close and personal, especially in Baltimore city.

Any surprises? I always gave to The Associated. It was what you did if you grew up in Jewish Baltimore. Yet I never had any idea of the breadth and depth of the work they did for the Jewish community and beyond.

I understand you are co-chair of JWFG’s multi-year grant? Yes, along with Saundra Madoff. The last multi-year grant we gave was in Baltimore City, so we wanted this one to be in the Jewish community. After a great deal of research, we decided to seek something innovative that would have impact with our aging population. We have recommended a program, which we believe will proactively help to counter social isolation in older adults.

You also are involved on the JCC Board? I’ve served on several task forces from supporting teen engagement to an early childhood education task force. Recently I found my niche with arts and culture and we are looking for opportunities to engage boomers. And, I’m on the Jewish Film Festival Committee.

How do you decide what movies to include in the Festival? There are 27 committee members and we divide into three groups. Each person screens and scores the films initially at home. The top scorers move on to the “movie minyans,” where we analyze and rate the films as a group.

We look at a variety of measures, from the technical aspects to making sure we have a diversity of films. For example, we don’t want a festival of only Holocaust films or just documentaries. And we like the films to be provocative so that filmgoers leave and have something to talk about.

Favorites over the years? Last year, I really enjoyed Keep the Change and In Between. This year, I liked the opening film from Argentina, The Last Suit. 

And you also sit on the grants committee for the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund of The Associated? As an educator, I love learning about informal and innovative Jewish educational programs that are being created to connect Baltimoreans to Judaism.

What’s it like to retire? Having worked since I was a teenager, I didn’t know what life would be like without structure. I wasn’t able to say the “r” (retire) word for two years.

My original motto was to say ‘yes’ to everything. But I’ve slipped in o what I call an “a la carte life.” I create my own schedule and it gives me time to care for aging parents. And I Iove learning, so I always try to find time to listen to authors, see a movie with a film critic, go to a museum and other excursions. And I spend a lot of time at the JCC – swimming and fitness.

The JCC? My dad was a handball player and I grew up at the Park Heights JCC. Now I feel like the JCC is my second home. If I’m not there for meetings, I’m swimming or working out. Sometimes I’m there so often, I forget where I parked my car!

Traveling with Family? How About Israel?
Thursday, April 18, 2019

Family Mission Group Photo

The weather might be getting warmer, but it’s time to start thinking about winter break. Why stress over booking hotels or planning tours, when The Associated has put together the prefect trip for you and your family.

Just imagine your winter break in Israel. Rappelling into the Ramon Crater, digging at an ancient archaeological excavation, walking through ancient tunnels in Jerusalem, climbing Masada, floating in the Dead Sea and more.

Read on to learn why Family Mission Co-Chairs, Stacey & Randy Getz and Carol & Robert Keehn, do not want you to miss this opportunity.

Why are you encouraging friends, family and members of the community to go on this trip?

C&R: FUN, FUN and more FUN. Israel is one of the most kid-friendly countries and offers so much for families to do and experience.

S&R: There is nothing better than seeing the country, through the eyes of others, especially our children and first-time visitors. This is a journey of a lifetime that I want my entire community to experience.

What surprised you the most on your last trip to Israel with The Associated?

S&R: At the last minute, we decided to travel with an eight-month-old. Even though, this might have presented a challenge, we did not want to miss the opportunity to build a playground in Ashkelon (Baltimore’s partner city) and see the playground’s dedication. It turned out to be one of the most meaningful experiences in our lives.

C&R: We remember our first trip with The Associated was back in 1983 on a young leadership mission. Each time we return, we are mesmerized by how the land has gotten greener, the culture has evolved, and the food has improved.

What are the most helpful Hebrew phrases that everyone should learn before traveling to Israel?

C&R: Eeifo ha-shaetuim, where is the bathroom, is an important phrase to learn. The more one can speak with the “locals,” the more fun you can have.

S&R: efshar bevakasha lekabel cheshbon, can I please have the check, will come in handy throughout the week.

What are you most excited to visit or do?

S&R: We are looking forward to the first visit to the Kotel as a group just before Shabbat begins. There is nothing else like it. A close second will be celebrating the b’nai mitzvot at Masada. Watching the children ceremonially join the Jewish people in this historical place is quite meaningful.

C&R: Visiting the Negev – David Ben Gurion had a dream that the people of Israel would one day reside in a green and lush Negev.

Why is it important to travel to Israel as a family?

C&R: The future of our community rests with our children. While our three sons all traveled to Israel in their teens, we now have the chance to experience it with our granddaughter, Molly.

S&R: This is an amazing way to give your children and grandchildren an experience of a lifetime – to illustrate to them the importance that Israel has in our of community and in our lives.

To learn more about The Associated’s Family Mission to Israel, visit or contact Marisa Ezrine at or 410-369-9270.

A Young Mom's Israel Journey Surprises with Baltimore Connections
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Women in Israel

By Jillian Book

Just a few weeks ago, I found myself in Israel on the Ashkelon Agricultural Farm, Hava Haklayit, with the breathtaking Ashkelon skyline in the backdrop. While newly jet-lagged, taking in the view of the city behind the farm, and breathing in the sweet Israeli air, I passively heard our facilitator mention “a seed can be planted anywhere in the world, but it will always yield a different variation of fruit based on its soil, then from that very flower grows the fruit.”

During this trip, I was in good company. I was traveling with eight moms I’ve gotten to know over the past two years. We are all Community Connectors for The Mack’s Center of Jewish Education (CJE). Our goal: to bring the joys of Judaism to families unaffiliated with synagogue life and empower these families who are often unconfident practicing Judaism in the comfort of their own homes.

Together, as Connectors we brainstorm activities and events big and small to bring Judaism to all things from coffee dates to cooking demos. But this opportunity, carefully crafted for us by both Huppit of the Afooda cooking world and Julie Wohl of the CJE, was an absolute treat. It was, for many of us, not only the first time we traveled without our children for such an extended period, this trip was a way for all of us to grow Jewishly, together.

I’ll never forget locking eyes with one of my closest girlfriends that I have made during my time as a Connector when the trip was announced. In just that initial eye contact, we both knew we would do whatever had to be done – lock in whatever child care was needed and make sure work was taken care of- so this trip could happen. We made it happen because of our love for Judaism and our connection to Israel.

Our goal on this trip of traveling from Baltimore to Ashkelon, our sister city, was to learn more about the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, and, in turn, deepen our personal connection to Israel and our own Judaism. I found myself learning about the great impact Baltimore has on Israel, with eight like-minded women and mothers who have all become family through the program, and even further through this trip. Although some of us are sadly at the end of our two-year Community Connector commitment, we learned about other opportunities and ways to become more involved, affiliated and connected in Baltimore’s deeply rooted love for Israel, and how we can keep it flourishing.

During our trip, we met the Director of the Partnership, Sigal, and facilitator, Roni. Each of them personally took the time to connect and match each of us with a host family for Shabbat. They took us to a Gan (kindergarten) in Ashkelon to teach us about the PJ ABC program. In this new age pen-pal program, Israel’s youngest students are paired with like-minded families in Baltimore to form a connection, a bond and a relationship that can last not only a year, but a lifetime. This particular class of kindergarteners happened to know students from Beth Tfiloh, a school where a few of my fellow moms send their children.

As the Director of Education at Bolton Street Synagogue, it is no secret that I favor the CJE’s Shevet Achim and Israel High curriculum, where Israeli high schoolers match with Baltimore high school students. Being able to watch a similar connection between Israel’s youngest students with Baltimore’s youngest students even further enhanced my love and appreciation for the Partnership. As soon as I returned to Baltimore, I knew I had to bring PJ ABC to my younger students.

It’s no secret I’ve always connected Jewishly. As a child, I was the one that looked forward to Hebrew school. Passover has always made me reflective of “breaking free” from my own “personal mitrzrayim.” Even now, lighting Shabbat candles in my grandparents (Bubby and Zaidy’s) kosher kitchen, makes me smile.

Upon graduating from high school without much direction or exciting goals, I fell back on the one thing that was always there for me, my Judaism. I decided to travel to Israel for a gap year. While initially this was an opportunity to uproot myself, leave my environment or my “soil” and replant myself, it became an opportunity to return to it, and not just to return to it but to flourish in it. That’s right – It took me traveling across the world to find the great impact my small-but-mighty Baltimore community has on small-but-mighty Israel.

As a pre-college student, I was luckily introduced to the opportunities Baltimore offers to stay involved. I learned that I could nurture my connection and my passion for Judaism with my love for Israel by being part of the Baltimore Jewish community. Following my gap year and during college, I returned to the same Baltimore synagogue, Beth El, where I looked forward to Hebrew school. I was seeking ways to become more involved and to reconnect with my “soil.”

This is the same place where I attended preschool. The same synagogue where I chanted Torah to celebrate my Bat Mitzvah, where I danced the Hora at my wedding, and where I am now getting ready to celebrate my daughter’s pre-school graduation.

Here I am, privileged enough to watch my little seed flourish in the same soil where I was planted. She is just as passionate about her love of Judaism and her smile shows me her comfort in all things Jewish. Right now she is too naïve to realize just how lucky we are to live here in Baltimore, a town constantly taking care of our soil, but I can’t wait to teach her about The Associated’s passion for the Partnership.

I also can’t wait to teach her about The Associated’s passion for the Partnership and how farms providing lunches and everyday food to students in Israel were provided by community members in our town – congregants at our synagogues, congregants we pray with during High Holidays, congregants with whom we have shared Shabbat dinners. I know one day I will take her to Israel so she too can learn how our home town nourishes our homeland.

Back on the farm, hearing our facilitator say “From the flower grows the fruit ...” meant so much more in that moment then farming. It meant taking care of our environment and teaching our children to take care of our environment, so they too can flourish. In this instance, the environment was the soil. As a parent, it meant passing on my love of Judaism to the next generation so they too can live Jewishly and then pass on their love for Judaism to the next generation. As a connector, it meant we are creating the soil for these families to feel comfortable and thrive in the Baltimore Jewish community.

Two years ago, when I was offered the opportunity of becoming a Community Connector, it seemed like a nice way to give back. It would be easy. I would meet new families in my vicinity, connect them with other like-minded moms, move on to the next “mommy match,” repeat.

What I didn’t expect was to exponentially grow my own village, and to make my own connections with families of all Jewish backgrounds across Baltimore. This opportunity has allowed me to further ground my Jewish Baltimore roots, to take care of my soil and to find additional ways to grow and help others flourish.

These past two years have connected me with women who have become family, women who have the same interests as I do, and women who care about nurturing our environment so our soil bares the sweetest fruit.

So, there we were, on a farm in Ashkelon. Eight moms that would have never been connected without this remarkable program, picking our very own vegetables to cook lunch, we would enjoy together. And this was just Day one.

I am so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity. In one short week I learned so much about myself, my community, my friends and Israel. My thanks to The Associated, the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership and the Macks Center for Jewish Education for providing this amazing opportunity.

Explore Israel during winter break with your family and join The Associated’s Centennial Family Mission. Learn more at

Is Your Child Ready for Overnight Camp? Finding the Right Fit
Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Kids at JCC Camp

Color wars and campfires... water sports and talent shows... holiday meals, musical productions, tournaments and traditions.

Summers spent at an overnight camp are all that and more. Research shows that attending an overnight camp also builds confidence and encourages independence – as well as creates friendships that often last a lifetime.

Yet how do you know if your youngster is ready to spend several weeks away from home? And, with a dizzying array of options, from general to specialty camps that focus on sports or arts, to even inclusion camps geared toward individuals with disabilities, it’s important to find the right match.

Janna Zuckerman, program manager of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Center for Jewish Camping, which helps families navigate the process of selecting a Jewish camp, has this advice for parents. Begin early, talk to other families and include your child in the process.

Here are five tips from Zuckerman to help you find that right fit.

1. Meet with Janna Zuckerman. Zuckerman offers a free, personalized consultation to families interested in Jewish camp. She will talk to parents in person or on the phone to determine what works for their family and child and narrow the possibilities down to three or four camps to investigate.

To best assist, she may ask you to describe your child and, in particular, his or her personality and interests. She may also ask questions to get a better sense of what you’re looking for: Are you looking for a co-ed or single sex environment? How far away are you willing to send your child? How many weeks are you looking for? What does Judaism look like for you and your family at home?

2. Research these options. Once you have a list of possible camps that fit your child’s interests, take a moment to narrow down the options. Go online to learn more about each camp, talk to the camp directors and get information and names of other camper families that you can contact to give you an unbiased view of what they like and don’t like.

In addition, attend one of The Center for Jewish Camping’s special events throughout the school year, in which 13 partner camps come together to offer hands-on activities that focus on Jewish learning. In addition, The Center exhibits at a number of area festivals.

3. Schedule time to visit. You wouldn’t think of sending your teen off to college without touring the campus. Why not have the same attitude about camp? After all, this is the first time your child will be living away from home, even if it’s a few weeks.

Many camps offer tours throughout the year, which provide a chance for your future camper to explore the campus, see the bunks, dining hall and activities. If you can, think about visiting during the summer when your child can see camp “in action.”

“The more a camper is familiar with the environment, the easier it will be for them to acclimate,” says Adam Broms, camp director of Capital Camps, located in Waynesboro, Pa.

Marty Rochlin, director of Camp Airy in Western Maryland estimates that between 75 and 80 percent of first-time families will take a tour prior to attending camp.

As for younger siblings, who have an older brother or sister at camp, Rochlin advises families to also tour as all kids are different and siblings often have different interests. “Each child needs to see himself or herself in the camp environment.”

4. Ask the right questions. Whether speaking to a camp director by phone, or visiting on a tour, asking the right questions can help determine the best fit for your child and for your family. Questions can include: what makes your camp different, how do you train your staff, do you offer a diverse group of activities or how will parents communicate with the camp and what do counselors do to help acclimate a first-time camper. Families can also address cost and whether a camp offers scholarships or financial assistance.

5. Try a “mini” experience. Many camps offer a mini-week for rookie campers that feature smaller bunks comprised of all first-time campers. These youngsters get to experience the full range of camp activities and get adjusted to the camp experience so that they are excited about returning for a longer session the following year.

Another new program is the family camp, weekends or short weeks at the campsite. Campers and parents participate in some activities side-by-side, other times they join their peers in programming.

“Children gain confidence while their parents are there,” explains Broms. Capital Camps offers several family camp options throughout the year, including a summer family camp and a New Year’s option as well.

In addition to family camp, Camps Airy and Louise, offers a “Camper in Training” Day, a one-day experience with family experience with two tracks, one for the camper and one for the parents, which includes information and camp activities like zip-lining and learning a new craft.

For more information, contact Janna Zuckerman at or 410-369-9237.

Love of Cooking Brings Communities Together
Friday, April 05, 2019

Talya Knable

Many will agree that food is at the heart of Jewish life and culture. So, what better way to bring two communities together than through a shared love of cooking?

That was the inspiration behind Food for Thought, The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) program funded by The Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. The program offers a cohort of CJE connectors an opportunity to strengthen their connection to Israel and Judaism through an immersive cooking experience both in Baltimore and Ashkelon.

Talya Knable, who serves on the board of both CJE and The Associated, recently participated in the Food for Thought program.

“I often attend ‘Shabbat in the Park’ programs with my family presented by CJE,” shares Talya, a New Jersey native. “I love Moms’ Night Out and the opportunity to be with other like-minded Jewish women. Food for Thought was a great way to bring a smaller group together – learning to cook some traditional Israeli meals was an added bonus.”

The Food for Thought participants met for several cooking workshops in Baltimore before traveling to Ashkelon, Baltimore’s partnership city, to meet their Israeli counterparts and sample some of the cuisine they learned to cook.

“In addition to all of the street food and tastings at traditional markets, we had an amazing farm to table experience,” recalls Talya. “We were given a list of ingredients and then walked the land together and picked the food that we would later use to cook our meal.”

Communal eating not only brings people together over a shared love of food but also encourages an opportunity for acceptance and engaging conversation.

Talya says that the Food for Thought program served as a vehicle to talk about other things such as Jewish traditions, history and different cultures coming together as well as provided a life-changing experience.

“During our home stay for Shabbat dinner, we shared a wonderful connection with our host family whose two older children are current Diller Teen Fellows in Baltimore. It was a nice personal touch and helped to bring our two Jewish communities closer together,” says Talya.

“I’ve never eaten so much during a trip before,” she jokes.

Talya admits that while her family’s favorite go-to meals are mac and cheese and pizza, she is excited to introduce some of the more traditional Israeli dishes at home with her husband Stephen and their two children Jack (age 3) and Leigh (age 15 months) and more importantly, share the stories about her new friends in Israel.

Talya, a psychotherapist in Lutherville, is also the voice behind The Mother Fix, a blog that combines her expertise as a psychotherapist with her experience as a mom.

Meet Rich Topaz
Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Rich Topaz

A New York native, Rich Topaz, who today chairs the Ben-Gurion Society (BGS), recalls his moving to Baltimore and the warm welcome he received by the Baltimore Jewish community and IMPACT, The Associated’s young adult division.

“My wife, Heidi, is from Baltimore but I am not,” explains Rich. “So, when we moved here five years ago, I didn’t really have a social or professional network. That’s where The Associated, particularly IMPACT, stepped in.”

Rich knew he wanted to connect with other young professionals, and quickly found himself attending networking events, building relationships and ultimately participating in Young Leadership Council (YLC), a professional development program through IMPACT.

Today, five years later, Rich’s involvement with The Associated has grown tremendously. Rich sits on the boards for IMPACT, The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), and The Center for Community Engagement and Leadership (CCEL).

“There is a theme with the agencies I am involved in, which is that part of their missions is to provide entry points for people – both native Baltimoreans and transplants like myself – to become more involved in the Jewish community.”

As chair of the previously mentioned Ben-Gurion Society, a part of IMPACT, Rich helps young professionals who are also donors of The Associated. Throughout the year BGS hosts multiple events, with their next event coming up in May.

“It’s something we’re very excited about,” says Rich. “On May 1 we will be having our first Meeting with a Macher, which will be part of a larger leadership series speaking with leaders in our community. For this event BGS members will hear from Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University, at the university’s incubator space. We think it will be a great opportunity to hear from Mr. Daniels and to see some of the exciting things the university is doing.”

In addition to his positions within The Associated, Rich has a full-time career as a real estate attorney with Miles & Stockbridge P.C. At the end of the day, however, for Rich spending time with his family is most important. A big fan of sports, and baseball in particular, Rich looks forward to taking his youngest son (born this December) to his first baseball game.

“We took my oldest to Camden Yards when he was only a few months old. Hopefully he’ll be able to follow the game a little better this year.”

At the same time, Rich can’t wait to get his two boys more involved in giving back to the Jewish community and to teach them the same Jewish values that were instilled in him when he was younger.

“My kids are still fairly young,” says Rich, “but my oldest is of the age where we’re trying to teach him about giving back, particularly to those less fortunate. We’re looking for events we can take him to, like Mitzvah Day. I’m looking forward to getting out and volunteering as a family.”

Meet Debbie Lubliner
Monday, April 01, 2019

Debbie Lubliner

Debbie Lubliner, a physical therapist at MedStar in Baltimore, grew up in Pikesville. After graduating high school, Debbie left for Washington University in St. Louis to begin a long academic career which included an advanced degree in physical therapy from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia.

Yet like many Baltimore natives, the call of home was too strong, and in 1993 she returned with her husband, Jamie, to raise their three children – Adam, Zack and Jenna.

“After being away for college and graduate school, I wanted to move back to Baltimore. Growing up, my immediate and extended family was very close, together for all of the holidays. I wanted to raise my family with that same closeness,” shares Debbie.

Approximately nine years ago, Debbie, who grew up in a Conservative Jewish home with strong Jewish values, became involved in The Associated’s Dor Tikvah, a two-year leadership development program that inspires women to hold key leadership positions within The Associated and throughout the Baltimore Jewish community.

“During my second year of Dor Tikvah I sat on the board of Jewish Community Services (JCS) where I remained actively involved for years,” Debbie explains. “As a physical therapist, I’ve always enjoyed helping people be the best they can be and my work with JCS seemed like an ideal fit.”

Thrilled that she had a role in creating positive change for the Baltimore Jewish community, at the completion of the program, Debbie looked to continue her work with women leadership and philanthropy.

“One of the biggest issues that women still face today,” Debbie says, “is finding work-life balance – being able to achieve goals professionally and within our families.”

The Associated’s Jewish Professional Women (JPW) group, which Debbie co-chairs, helps career-minded women network, learn and grow both professionally and personally.

“JPW’s events vary but the common theme is the programs allow women to network, reflect, and walk away with inspiration and information, all with a Jewish twist,” says Debbie. “JPW allows me to connect with other Jewish professional women, to learn from them, to discuss common goals and struggles. JPW is also a great introduction to The Associated for a lot of women who have never been involved in the organization. I hope by coming to our events, as an added benefit, women gain a better understanding of the crucial role The Associated serves in the lives of Jewish people in Baltimore and around the world.”

Debbie is looking forward to JPW’s upcoming LeadHERship event which features Sarah Hurwitz, chief speech writer for Michelle Obama who, on Tuesday, June 4, will share her journey as a Jewish woman in the White House.

“I’m particularly excited for A Jewish White House Journey: Storyteller to Speechwriter. Sarah Hurwitz is a great example of how finding one’s passion can breed success in both your career and personal life.”

For more information about Jewish Professional Women and to register for the event visit

Two Women, One Wrong Turn: The Ease of Opioid Addiction for Women
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Elizabeth Piper Headshot

By Elizabeth Piper, Health Educator, Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated

I remember my first time using a prescription opioid. I was 17 and just had my wisdom teeth extracted earlier in the day. I was lying on the couch in our family room watching a re-run of Gilmore Girls, trying to distract myself from the pain I felt from the surgery.

My mom walked in with a white paper bag from the pharmacy. Inside was my prescription for Oxycodone. She opened the bottle and handed me one tablet. I took it with a glass of water and within 15 minutes, I felt something I had never experienced before.

Not only was the pain gone, but all the thoughts that usually filled my worried brain had dissipated. I felt like I was floating on cloud 9 and nothing bad could touch me; I was safe. I was in a state of utter and complete bliss. I turned to my Mom, smiled, and said while giggling happily to myself, “This is why people do drugs,” before closing my eyes and passing out.

After four days of using the tablets of oxycodone as prescribed, I asked my Mom to flush them down the toilet. While enjoying the high and temporary release from pain they offered me, I was scared of the power these tiny tablets possessed.

I grew up in a home afflicted with addiction and mental illness. My mother was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder after years of battling alcoholism. I saw the ugliness behind the appeal of a psychoactive substance; I watched my loving, charismatic, military-serving, Johns Hopkins graduate mother turn into a hateful, cruel, incoherent mess, and I had no interest in living that Jekyll and Hyde narrative myself.

My friend, “Anna,” however, had a very different experience. She was prescribed Percocet following gall bladder surgery in high school. The daughter of an opioid addict, Anna had always felt this deep and heavy void inside of her that resulted from the emotional and psychological abuse she fell victim to growing up. When she was prescribed the Percocet by her doctor, she received no warning about the highly addictive substance. She wasn’t asked if opioid addiction ran in her family. She wasn’t provided with any shocking statistic. She was simply advised to take the painkiller “as needed.”

When Anna reflects on the first time she swallowed an opioid painkiller, like me, she remembers feeling blissful and completely at peace with herself –a novel feeling for her. After a month, Anna felt physically and psychologically addicted to her painkillers.

While this rapid dependence may seem surprising, research by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) shows that women may become physically dependent on opioid pain medication more quickly than men, due to basic physical and psychological differences like body fat percentages, metabolic rate, and hormonal fluctuations.

Once Anna had finished the Percocet tablets that were prescribed by her physician, she began to feel withdrawal symptoms commonly referred to as “dope sickness” – something people with opioid use disorder (OUD) describe as the worst flu you could possibly imagine.

Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, insomnia, hot and cold flashes, muscle aches and spasms, sensation of bugs crawling on or under your skin, headaches, and sweating. One study done by HHSOWH found that cravings were specifically higher among women than among men which puts people like Anna at higher risk for addiction and death by overdose.

While initially people with opioid use disorder chase the calming sensation opioids offer, eventually it becomes less about the “high” and more about avoiding the “low” that is dope sickness. The physical and psychological dependence on opioids is so intense that to live without them becomes not only unfathomable, but also seemingly impossible.

It’s no wonder then why so many women like Anna have struggled or are struggling with opioid use disorder in our country. While statistically there are more men overdosing and dying from prescription opioids, the rate of deaths from prescription opioid overdoses for women increased 471 percent between 1999-2015 compared to 218 percent for men. In addition, heroin deaths among women increased at more than twice the rate of men.

This documented gender difference with regard to addiction is the topic of an upcoming program from Jewish Community Services (JCS). Women and Addiction: Our Unique Risks, will take place on Wednesday, May 22, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at The Suburban Club, 7600 Park Heights Avenue in Baltimore.

Sponsored by The Joan G. Klein Fund for Substance Use Disorders with additional support from the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation at The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, the program will address the unique factors which can place women at risk for addiction and overdose and create obstacles to seeking treatment. Vickie Walters, LCSW-C, Executive Director of REACH Health Services and President-Elect of the Maryland Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (MATOD), will be the guest speaker for the event.

The program is free, but seating is limited. To reserve a seat, visit

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 open at the Jewish Museum of Maryland until August 4, 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: 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

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 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.

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.

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 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.

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


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.

To learn more about starting a VolunTeam and other ways to volunteer - visit

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


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 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

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.”

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).

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 had two great programs this year. The first, in January, focused on MedTech from Israel. We were 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, during March, focused on the opioid crisis from a medical perspective. I look forward to that annual event, which is always on my calendar, and a great time to catch up with medical colleagues representing all disciplines.

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

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


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 Registration to attend will be required. For additional information about the MIDC contact Nancy Boguslaw,

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


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


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.

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


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 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

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, Center 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


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.

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 |

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

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 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. Stay tuned 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.

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 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

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!

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

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 assumed a host role for the past year’s home sessions.

“It's very exciting. 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.”

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

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

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.

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


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


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 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


Seven 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 2019/2020. For more information, please contact Smadar Haika-Fox at 410-735-5035 or or visit

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:

Glossary of High Holiday Terms
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Kiddush Cup

Source: 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.


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 or 410-369-9248.

Judaica for The High Holidays
Thursday, August 09, 2018


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


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


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

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!

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

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


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 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.

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!

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

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.

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 – 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

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 th