Associated Takes Leadership Role: Convenes Community Leaders to Counter Hate and Promote Change

In a year that has seen a rise in hate groups and intolerance, the Baltimore Jewish community has been forced to confront the challenges to our collective safety and security.

Together, we have vowed we must do our part to fight against anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry and hatred.

To reach this end, The Associated is committed to working together with leaders and community members across ethnic and religious lines, convening discussions that lead to action and forging partnerships that lead to greater understanding and mutual respect.

At the same time, The Associated is working to strengthen partnerships between inter-ethnic and inter-religious organizations that will serve to better our community, as a whole.

In the past few months, The Associated has led the way in assembling leaders in our community to begin collaborating on ways to affect positive change.

Here are just a few of our efforts:

Young Leadership Meet with Archbishop Lori, Marc B. Terrill and Linda A. Hurwitz

Last month, a group of The Associated’s young leaders met with Marc B. Terrill, Linda A. Hurwitz and Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore to begin a conversation about ways to build relationships between the two faith-based organizations. It was a chance, said Terrill, for the organizations to marshal community resources for the greater good.

Citing the long-standing relationship between The Associated and the Archdiocese, the Archbishop spoke about the commonalities between the two communities and about building a deeper partnership.

To that end, he pointed to the unique opportunity to work closely with the young adult leaders and create ongoing, hands-on service opportunities to further the good work begin done in Baltimore, as well as share best practices. He noted the work already being done. For example, CHAI and Catholic Charities collectively were providing more senior housing in the Baltimore metro area than any other group. “Imagine,” he said, “if we weren’t filling this void in the community, what a huge unmet need there would be for our seniors.”

“It was enlightening to hear from the Archbishop about how our objectives overlap,” said Joel Fink, who attended the luncheon. Fink is also a board member of IMPACT, the young adult division of The Associated and co-chair of the IMPACT campaign.

“I see this as a great opportunity for our two organizations to be collaborative and for the young leaders of the Baltimore Jewish community and Catholic Charities to work together on projects that bring about positive change. It’s also a chance for us to network and learn from each other.”

The program ended with a commitment for The Associated and Catholic Charities to explore tangible ways to bring their young leadership together to share ideas and perhaps work on an ongoing social project collaboratively.

Roundtable Discussion Led by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

In September, The Associated joined with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin in close to 75 faith and community leaders across the region for a conversation title, “Untied Our Community After Charlottesville –Continuing the Conversation on Diversity and Inclusion.”

“There is a lot of energy out there that has been created,” Senator Cardin told the group. “If we can listen to each other, we can establish ways we can collectively be more effective.”

Participants included Marc B. Terrill and Howard Libit of the Baltimore Jewish; Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg of Beth Am Congregation; Rabbi Steven Fink of Temple Oheb Shalom; Raees Khan, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Muslim Council; Dr. Faheem Younus of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; Diane Bell McKoy, president and CEO of Associated Black Charities; and Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling of the United Methodist Church.

The group recognized the importance of not making this a one-time conversation, but continuing the discussion and The Associated and the Baltimore Jewish Council will continue to play a significant role in convening and participating in these conversations.

“I don’t want to overstate the significance of the get-together, but I do believe that the meeting held incredible importance,” said Terrill. “The fact that a broad, eclectic, formidable group of Baltimore leaders got together to call out the scourge of hate-speak and acts of intolerance with an eye toward working decisively together was both encouraging and uplifting.”

Interfaith “Blessing Bags” Program

Following the incident in Charlottesville, VA, the Baltimore Jewish Council hosted an interfaith program featuring Rabbi Andy Gordon, Bolton Street Synagogue, Imam Hassan Amin, executive director, Muslim Social Services Agency and Reverend David J. Ware, Church of the Redeemer. The three religious leaders spoke about the need for interfaith unity to the more than 130 attendees, which included many families.

Afterwards, co-sponsored by BJC, The Church of the Redeemer and JVC’s Repair the World, the participants shared dinner and conversation, then made 300 “blessing bags” for the homeless. These bags, filled with such items as toothpaste, socks, hand-warmers and more – were taken back to each individual’s community, where the participants would distribute them to those in need.

Following the evening, BJC heard from a number of Jewish community participants about how meaningful the event was and the importance of continued outreach among faiths through programs that involved “doing good.”

In keeping with this theme, BJC, in conjunction Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and the Islamic Society of Baltimore will host an inter-religious family dinner and conversation on November 11. Following dinner, children’s activities will be provided, while adults will continue with the discussion.

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