Reflections as Associated Agency Chairs: Elizabeth Green, David Kuntz and Laura Rubenstein

As The Associated’s year draws to a close, we asked chairs of three of its agencies to reflect on their organization’s accomplishments. Here is what they had to say: 

Elizabeth Green

Elizabeth Green: Baltimore Jewish Council 

The Baltimore Jewish Council, BJC, serves several purposes.  We serve as the advocacy arm of The Associated, engage in Holocaust and Israel education, develop programs and discussions to combat antisemitism, engage in community relationship building, partner with the Elijah Cummings Youth Program and assist countless institutions with their security needs.  While the BJC remained active and engaged through the height of the pandemic, we are pleased that this year we have been able to return to many in-person, as well as hybrid, events.   

There were two events, in particular, that I would like to highlight – our Yom HaShoah program and the Israel at 75 Celebration at the Baltimore Museum of Industry

It was incredibly meaningful to be able to bring the community together at Beth El to recognize Yom HaShoah. We were able to honor the memories of members of several of the Survivor’s Speaker’s Bureau who passed away since our last gathering while also being mesmerized by author, Judy Batalion, who shared stories of female resistance fighters.  While still a hybrid event, the physical gathering together brought additional warmth and intensity to the event. 

We were also thrilled to partner with The Associated, the Israeli Embassy and the Maryland/Israel Development Center for a beautiful recognition of Israel’s 75th birthday. The achdus – unity – felt at the event was powerful.  We heard presentations from three Israeli companies working in Baltimore whose impact is felt quite literally worldwide.   

 We are incredibly fortunate to live in such a vibrant and active community and look forward to continuing to join together, in person, to celebrate our community, honor those who have made it possible and build connections that will allow it to endure and flourish.  

David Kuntz with the Israel Ambassador

David Kuntz: The Maryland/Israel Development Center 

For over 30 years, the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC) has promoted business, technology, research, innovation and partnerships with Israel. As an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, and in partnership with the State of Israel’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and the State of Maryland Dept of Commerce, the MIDC is proud to foster connections between Marylanders and Israelis. 

In May, the Maryland/Israel Development Center, the Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated hosted Baltimore Celebrates Israel” 75 Years of Technology and Innovation at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Twelve Israeli companies in Maryland showcased their technologies with live presentations from ELTA North America, Rafael USA and Right-Hear.  

We all joined together to recognize the “Start-up Nation’s” innovations, how Israeli technology has changed the world, and the strong connection between Israel, Baltimore and the State of Maryland.  

The Embassy of Israel and United Airlines partnered with us. Beth H. Goldsmith, Immediate Past Chair of The Associated, moderated the evening. Speakers included Senator Ben Cardin, Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Noach Hacker, Minister of Economic Affairs, Israeli Embassy to the United States and two fellows from the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel. 

In March, the MIDC arranged for Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, to meet with Maryland’s Secretary of Commerce, Kevin Anderson and Baltimore business leaders to discuss further collaborations. The Maryland Port Administration also joined for a productive discussion on growing the partnership with the MIDC. 

Maryland is now home to four Israeli agricultural technology companies. RightHear, an Israeli company with an audible wayfinding solution for the blind, recently opened its US headquarters in Maryland. NAYAX, a global financial technology company in Baltimore County, is now trading on both the NASDAQ and Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. 

In early 2024, the MIDC plans to re-launch its Binational Accelerator program. Ten to 15 Israeli companies will come to Maryland for a two-week customer discovery program with the goal of creating a pipeline of Israeli companies coming to Maryland. 

The MIDC has been a champion partner promoting Maryland-Israel bilateral trade and economic development to creating jobs in Maryland and promote our community’s role in the vitality of the State of Maryland. 

Laura Rubenstein

Laura Rubenstein: JCC 

I am proud to reflect on the incredible accomplishments of the JCC over the past two years consistent with our new vision statement, where Jewish journeys are discovered and explored, where authentic relationships are formed and celebrated, and where people of all communities are embraced. 

This year alone, we have undertaken significant updates to The Gordon Center lobby including new décor, a beautiful concession operation, enhanced technology capabilities, and a redesigned Meyerhoff art gallery.  We are especially thankful to the financial support of The Associated Jewish Federation of Baltimore in helping to make these dreams a reality. 

This year, The Gordon season featured programs during Black History month and tribute bands covering multiple musical genres. Our adult programs explored humanity through discussions, films, and storytelling. Notable speakers, Intro to Judaism classes, the Queer Jewish Arts Festival, and the Baltimore Jewish Film Festival provided numerous cinematic and educational opportunities, both virtual and in-person. 

Continuing to invest in our youth, the JCC has expanded dance and Children’s Theater programs, allowing children as young as three to delve into the performing arts. Camp enrollment is on track and our Camp Care Team has provided vital mental health support to campers, families, and staff.  

The launch of the J Life platform has connected families with the joys of Jewish traditions. We have celebrated Sukkot, Chanukah, Israel’s 75th birthday, and shabbat with festive community gatherings and new friendships.  

Through 4Front’s new Gesher Teen Board Member initiative, we have empowered local teens to be heard in local leadership settings. 4Front has expanded its partnerships, further strengthening our connections with local synagogues, agencies, non-profits, and other youth-serving programs. 

Motzei Shabbos at the Weinberg JCC in Park Heights has become a destination, offering social activities, fitness programs, art, musical entertainment, and more. The Weinberg JCC has seen increased membership with the addition of youth sports options, family programs, and enrichment opportunities for adults.  

Our Fitness Center in Owings Mills was renovated and the pickleball sensation has come to the J with classes, tournaments, and expanded court space and times. Our partnership with LifeBridge Health has grown, providing nutrition and fitness counseling for youth and adults through programs including GoGirlGo!, Jumpstart to Wellness, and a family-friendly Pediatrics Fair. 

Our J LIVE event J Live celebrated arts at the JCC and recognized the Gordon Center as the County’s premier performing arts venue and our Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame honored 11 notable Baltimore leaders. In May, we welcomed 500 athletes from 12 JCC delegations across the region for the annual Mid-Atlantic, Mini, and Junior Maccabi Games.  

The J has also embarked on a master plan to guide the long-term use of our outdoor and indoor spaces to meet the evolving needs of our community, including the transformation of the JCC to a shared campus with The Associated and other agencies at Park Heights.  

Behind all these achievements is our talented and devoted staff. We have worked to build a workplace culture that is supportive and welcoming. It is their dedication that allows us to create a thriving community.  

I have every confidence that the JCC will continue to flourish in the years to come and be a center for Jewish life where all are welcome. 

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The Associated is a home for everyone in the Baltimore Jewish community. We offer several email lists to help people find a community, engage with their peers and support Jewish journeys around the world.

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