Women: Seventy Years is Just the Start

women 70

By Elizabeth Schuman

If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.
– Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

One rainy fall afternoon, some 20 women gathered at the home of current Associated Women President Rina Janet.  Former presidents and/or campaign chairs, their shared connection inspired a lively conversation about history, experiences and accomplishments under their tenures and beyond.

Though the guests covered the decades between the 1970s and today, all agreed on one compelling takeaway, voiced by Genine Fidler, 1998 Women’s Campaign Chair: “We’ve built a power base to ensure the survival and strength of the Associated and our community. The support and power of Associated Women gives women the ability to achieve the highest possible positions in our community.”

As Associated Women celebrates its 70th Anniversary, it’s no stretch to say that the story of Associated Women mirrors the journey of women in 20th century America to today.  It’s a journey that reflects what women have always done – volunteer their time and money to help others, from family and friends to  people they would never meet. It’s a journey that reflects women’s changing roles – from working in the home to holding leadership positions in business and on nonprofit and corporate boards.

The women’s journey began even before the Associated Jewish Charities (precursor to today’s Associated) 1920 founding. Baltimore’s Jewish women were helping organizations such as the Hebrew Ladies Sewing Circle and Hebrew Ladies Orphans Aid Society. When the Women’s Division of Associated Jewish Charities was founded officially in 1945, just after World War II ended, the move represented the first step to a formal woman’s role within the organization and Jewish Baltimore.

Much has happened in 70 years.

Fortunately, a record of the early history of Associated Women is documented in two carefully-written booklets, chronicling the path from the original Women’s Division to the renamed Women’s Department in 1995. In the nearly 20 years since, there have been more transformational changes – in goals, accomplishments and today’s name: Associated Women.

A new history volume is underway, slated to premiere at the Women’s Annual Meeting in June 2015. The project, chaired by Annette Cooper, Associated Women President 1999-2001 and 1993 Campaign Chair, will pay homage to the early years and focus on what’s happened since 1995. We’ve begun talking with many of the women who were seated around Rina’s table and many others who held leadership roles of every stripe. Already, some themes have emerged:

  • Family
    Many women were inspired by their mothers and other family. Almost to a person, the women talk about the next generation and their hopes of inspiring their daughters, sons and grandchildren.
  • Community
    Community remains a constant. From providing services for those in need to creating outreach efforts to connect women to The Associated, these leaders have never forgotten the importance of Klal Yisroel,  the link between Jewish people in Baltimore, Israel and around the world.
  • Initiatives
    Programs such as CHANA and the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation were born of vision and hard work, prime examples of how the women behind Associated Women have never been about the status quo and have always been about recognizing problems and creating solutions.

Collectively, the women gathered around Rina’s table that fall afternoon represented decades of experience, commitment and knowledge. As they continued to talk and share, Rina reminded us all:

“We planted seeds for the next generation,” said Rina. “Today, let’s ask: ‘Seventy years from now, what are our aspirations for our daughters?”

Our history continues to be written.

Learn more at associated.org/women



Leave a comment

Filed under Families, Women

4 Reasons Jewish Camps Are Better Than Ever

By Janna Zuckerman
Program Manager, Center for Jewish Camping

janna camp4

Kids today live in a world that is filled with thousands of choices. Extracurricular activities, ranging from sports to dance to computers, are just some of the options filling their time during the school year. In the summer, they can spend two months doing whatever they enjoy most – swimming, traveling, camping and more.

With so many fascinating summer programs to choose from, Jewish summer camps need to be cutting-edge to keep up with the competition. The field of Jewish summer camp has definitely changed from generations ago, and is changing more and more each summer.

Don’t worry – summers at Jewish camp are still filled with friendships, canoe trips, Israeli dancing and color war, but it also so much more than that. Jewish camps are evolving to meet the changing expectations and demands of consumers. Camps now offer a wider range of choices (food, activities and session-length) to accommodate every child.

I spent the summer visiting an array of Jewish day and overnight camps, so I saw first-hand how the field is changing in an innovative and exciting way.

1) Specialty Camps and Programs
Jewish camps are constantly improving to attract kids who might not otherwise consider a Jewish camp. Is your child passionate about sports, arts, theater, film, outdoor adventure or science and technology? Today, many Jewish camps are adding specialty tracks and electives to interest kids who want to spend their summer doing these special activities. Additionally, some new Jewish camps have been built to attract different segments of Jewish youth to strengthen their Jewish identity and contribute to their specialized interests. I had the pleasure of visiting Camp Zeke, a brand-new specialty camp which launched this year in the Poconos. This camp celebrates healthy, active living through, yoga, strength training, dance, sailing and krav maga — all while celebrating Jewish values, culture and tradition.

2) More Choices: Shorter Sessions & Healthier Food
Summers at Jewish camp used to mean you would attend the entire summer, or at least a full month. In the world of Jewish camp today, it is rare to see a child or teen spend a full summer at just one camp. Instead, they are taking advantage of camp sessions that range in length – from just seven days to three or seven weeks! There are even five-day short-stay programs for younger campers to get a taste of camp! We are fortunate that many of our Associated “partner camps” have these rookie programs for campers entering second grade. Additionally, camps are meeting the needs of consumers by changing the menu and providing healthier options. Many camps serve locally-grown fruits and vegetables – no more bug juice — and provide gluten-free options for those with celiac disease.

3) Inclusion
The Jewish community is very diverse and constantly changing so camps are evolving and becoming more inclusive. Children from all backgrounds should feel safe at Jewish camp. The Foundation for Jewish Camp works closely with day and overnight camps across the country to ensure that interfaith families, those with disabilities, children of Russian or Israeli families and those from lower income families feel comfortable at camp. In the next year, The Foundation for Jewish Camp will work to significantly increase camp options for all children and provide staff training and education to ensure all campers feel welcome at camp. Many of our local day and overnight “partner” camps have special inclusion programs that allow campers to participate fully in the camp experience.

4) Affordable options
Last summer, The Foundation for Jewish Camp launched a new pilot program called BunkConnect – a user-friendly online referral platform designed to help moderate- and lower-income families access Jewish camp at special introductory rates between 40 to 60 percent off! This year, BunkConnect will extend to camps throughout the entire country. Other affordable camp options like the One Happy Camper Incentive grant made possible by Foundation for Jewish Camp and many overnight camps help make the cost of camp more reasonable for parents. Additionally, many camps offer scholarships and financial aid so kids from all backgrounds to experience camp’s magic.

The field of Jewish camp is changing constantly and there are many other reasons to choose Jewish camp! Meet with Janna – free community camp expert and learn how to find the perfect day or overnight camp for your child! Janna works closely with local camps, and conducts on-site visits during the summer to see them in action. In addition, Janna works with the National Foundation for Jewish Camp office to keep abreast of the latest trends and cutting-edge camp opportunities.

Stop by a convenient coffee shop location to talk camp, drink coffee, & s’more! Janna will be available to provide you with camp insider information and more. Learn more at associated.org/talkcamp.


Leave a comment

Filed under Camping, Families, Women

Governor’s Day to Serve

So many of us are just busy! It’s a constant struggle to try to get everything done, and we often find ourselves making lists in our heads while driving, during meetings, in the bathroom, making meals and in the brief moments of the day when our mind wanders. Aside from the kid’s lunches, bills to be paid and other critical tasks to be done, this constantly growing “To Do” list includes the desire to volunteer. But WHEN?!

Sometimes, when there is a community-wide day of service, it’s easy to set aside time to do good. Recently, Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) took part in the Governor’s Day to Serve (#daytoserve) a state-wide interfaith time of service. This was one of JVC’s four community-wide days of service and it’s a great way to get a taste of volunteering in the community.

Here is a look at how our community participated in this year’s Governor’s Day to Serve.

bt governor

Beth Tfiloh Congregation’s Brotherhood served dinner and socialized with the residents of Baltimore Station, a therapeutic residential treatment facility treating veterans and others dealing with homelessness, poverty and addiction.

bt kids

Preschool students from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School collected socks for Healthcare for the Homeless, which provides health related services, education and advocacy to those who are homeless.

diller garden

Diller teens and parents assisted with a community garden, in partnership with Pearlstone Center and Weinberg Village.


diller boys

Diller teens planted a garden at Weinberg Village in Owings Mills.

Leave a comment

Filed under Families, Volunteering & Advocacy

Protecting our Kids from the Dangers of Technology

kid text

By Rachael Abrams, LCSW-C
Jewish Community Services

Technology is a tricky thing. It is supposed to make our lives easier and in many ways it does. We can easily stay in touch with family who live out of town. We can pay multiple bills with the click of a button.

But with all of the advancement that technology brings us, it can simultaneously create complexity in our lives, generating more demands and even set up the potential for trouble. Adults generally understand that with the good often comes the bad, but for children, this can be a harder lesson to learn.

Richard Guerry, director of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication, firmly believes that we need to better educate our children on the importance of digital accountability and responsibility BEFORE they get the latest gadget on the market. Just as we provide drivers’ education and teach children about strangers, we have to help our kids navigate our technologically driven world.

Guerry uses the phrase “Public and Permanent” to demonstrate that anything emailed, texted and posted electronically is available for anyone to see, and it exists FOREVER. He hopes this philosophy will help kids think twice before sending off a hurtful text, inappropriate picture or compromising post. By better preparing our kids, we can help them avoid making digital mistakes that could have a detrimental impact on their lives.

How do we help our kids understand the risks? This can prove difficult, because even if they are willing to discuss this topic, we as parents are two steps behind the latest technology, gadgets, sites and apps. Our kids have already moved on to something else.

Nevertheless, we can still warn them of risks associated with technology use in today’s world.

  • Information Can Go Viral: Harassment and bullying can digitally skyrocket out of control because perpetrators can hide behind emails, texts and alternate screen names. Children should recognize actions that are considered bullying and know who they can talk to if they feel victimized.
  • Anything posted digitally is a reflection of the person who posts it. Once you put something in cyberspace, you may be saying more about yourself than you intended to reveal.
  • Everything that you post is permanent. Negative information can be hard to erase and can affect one’s reputation. Even if you think you’ve deleted unflattering information, it is easily stored, copied or forwarded for anyone else to use.
  • Private information needs to be kept private. Children need to consider what information they provide on line. Passwords, financial data and personal information should be stored carefully and only shared with legitimate parties. Many sites promote up to date privacy settings, and kids must understand how to use them. This is especially important for older kids using social media and younger kids playing online interactive games.
  • There are often legal and financial risks associated with technology use. Children must understand that their actions, particularly when inappropriate, could end up having legal and financial ramifications that could permanently hurt them.

We shouldn’t take for granted that our kids understand these concepts or assume that someone else will teach it to them. It is our responsibility to educate our kids on the pros and cons of technology use. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider the following guidelines:

  • Remind your children to use good judgment. Every action has a consequence that should be weighed beforehand.
  • Explore the consequences of inappropriate technology use. Go online with your kids and explain where dangers are lurking. Just as young kids are taught not to speak to strangers in person, they should follow the same advice online. Additionally, kids should know not to respond to inappropriate or threatening messages/texts and to report them to a trusted adult.
  • Spend some time understanding the technology your kids are using. Ask them to show you how the sites, apps and programs work. Have a conversation about problems that might arise.
  • Explore online parental tools and filters for help managing your child’s technology usage. Consider keeping shared technology in a common area such as the kitchen or family room. In addition, set up rules for technology use and establish consequences for breaking the rules.

As parents, we want the best for our children, and we want to do our part to ensure that we are keeping them safe. While it might seem easier to restrict access to technological advances, we would end up doing a disservice to our kids. The best thing to do is to have age appropriate, educational and candid conversations about not only the beauty of technology but the level of responsibility that goes along with it.

Join us for the JCS Parent Discussion Series, Protecting Our Children in a Technology Driven World, Monday, October 27, 2014. A Baltimore County police detective will share the rules and risks of technology use and tell us how we can keep our children safe. Click here for more information.



Leave a comment

Filed under Families, Women

Things To Do This Week in Baltimore

Check out these great events for the whole family sponsored by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore or Associated agencies.

Sunday, September 14
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Super Sunday

Join us at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC (5700 Park Heights Avenue) for the 2015 Super Sunday Community Phone-a-thon in support of The Associated’s Annual Campaign. Volunteers are invited to work together to help raise $1 million to care for the vulnerable, strengthen Jewish community and advocate on behalf of Israel. This year’s Super Sunday will feature the launch of The Associated’s #100DayChallenge, an initiative encouraging the community to make their pledges by December 31. A matching grant has been secured for all new and increased pledges during this time period.
There will also be a children’s area, where youngsters can color cards for Israeli soldiers and listen to PJ Library books.

Sunday, September 14
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Public Opening: The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen

mendes cohen exhibit
Explore the story of Baltimore’s Mendes Cohen – part Forrest Gump, part Indiana Jones and probably the most remarkable Baltimorean about whom you’ve never heard. Travel through an interactive maze on his life, enjoy interactive activities like recording an argument on a modern day issue and see how Mendes fit into the historical events of the 19th century. This exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street) will run through June 14.

Sunday, September 14
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Family Farm Day

Stop by the Pearlstone Center (5425 Mt. Gilead Avenue) and learn about where your Rosh Hashanah honey comes from. Make beeswax candles to take home, learn about bees and their hives and hear a PJ Library story.

Sunday, September 14
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Rise Above Bullying:  A Program for Children & Their Parents
Join Jewish Community Services at their Owings Mills location in this workshop about bullying aimed at both children and parents. In age appropriate groups, children, six to 13, will discuss bullying, practice CSA-inspired confidence building exercises and learn useful techniques for helping themselves and others.  In a separate group, parents will discuss who, what, when, where and why of bullying and learn how to help children whether they are the victim, a bystander or the bully.

This free program, held at the Owings Mills JCC (3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue) will feature presenters Susan Kurlander, M. Ed., Health Educator, JCS and Jen Lake, Director, Comprehensive Survival Arts (CSA)

Monday, September 15
7:00 p.m.
Israel After Gaza – Media Implosion: Failures in Gaza News Coverage Eric Rozenman, Washington Director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), will discuss the media and its role during this past summer’s Gaza news coverage. Held at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (7401 Park Heights Avenue), the event is sponsored by Baltimore Israel Coalition.

Leave a comment

Filed under Families, Israel & Overseas, Jewish Learning, Philanthropy, Women

Empowering Women to Embrace Healthy Relationships


By Nancy Aiken
Director, CHANA

Even as women have increased their presence in the workplace with meaningful occupations in the past few generations, we have not abandoned our concerns with relationships and caring for our families. It has not been an “either/or” for most women but rather a “how many balls can I juggle at one time?”  We just keep adding to the intricate collection flying in front of our eyes.

The past few generations of women have built the foundation for those who follow us to be empowered to expect equality and to speak up when what they receive falls short. We have taught this message to our daughters, with an unprecedented number of dating violence programs and websites changing the manner in which we view what once was thought of as a harmless rite of passage for our youth.

Many of us reach the point in our individual lives of what may seem like a plateau when the stress of finding a healthy relationship and then putting our children on the path to finding their own seems to abate and we can take a breath. Of all the things to worry about, abuse, seems to finally be low on the list.

But as the old saying teaches us, “a woman’s work is never done.”

Our community of engaged women, intent on everyone we care about being safe and happy is now confronted with the increasing concern of Elder Abuse.

Our defense mechanisms want us to believe that all we have to worry about is the nursing home worker or the home health care assistant, and yet for an elderly person to be treated with respect we must again look at trusted individuals. It is an alarming situation in our country when we know that if a person over 60 is murdered, that 24 percent of the time the perpetrator is a child and 42 percent of the time it is a spouse.

As the children of this growing senior population, it is imperative that we recognize the warning signs that our parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents are being mistreated. It is important to remember that this is not just about physical harm, but also neglect and abandonment. Is a neighbor taking advantage of an older person’s generosity? Is a family member pushing to have legal documents rewritten and signed? What are those bruises? Why does grandma look so scared?

CHANA, in partnership with Jewish Community Services and Levindale Geriatric Center, offers a new program, SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders. SAFE offers prevention and educational workshops for survivors, seniors and their caretakers, advisors and family members. In addition, SAFE offers crisis intervention, emergency shelter and counseling.

This new role of CHANA will prove to be challenging at times. Many of us may even be reluctant to speak up out of respect to our parents and older family members. But, we must step forward together and take a stand for our loved ones. Our work may never be done but the safer, healthier world we leave behind for our children and grandchild will be our legacy.

The individual and collective efforts of women, long before Ray Rice was a household name, have made tangible improvement to domestic violence laws and availability of resources.

Leave a comment

Filed under Social Services, Women

Clara and Michael Klein on The Power of Super Sunday


Bigger, bolder and better than ever – that’s the driving force behind this year’s Super Sunday, Jewish Baltimore’s largest, single-day fundraiser. With a goal of raising $1 million dollars for the 2015 Annual Campaign on Sunday, September 14, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC. Super Sunday co-chairs Clara and Michael Klein stand ready to lead the way.

Here’s what the Kleins had to say about that special day, giving and Jewish Baltimore:

175 Michael and Clara color

Why is Super Sunday important?
Clara: Super Sunday is one sure way to guarantee that our community comes together to support The Associated’s Annual Campaign.  On September 14, we kick off 2015 Annual Campaign – providing a tangible starting point for a huge effort. Funds raised support the many needs in our community as well as in Israel and overseas.  Whether one is a caller or a donor that day, it’s an honor to be part of this essential community-wide effort that touches so many lives.
Michael: The Associated is a highly efficient approach to fundraising. Instead of receiving countless calls from many Jewish organizations, our community benefits by having one central organization to support essential programs and agencies.  Every one of us has the responsibility to answer the call on Super Sunday and respond to our community’s needs. When we give on Super Sunday, we show that we care about each individual and each family.

Why must we care about and support our Jewish community?
Clara: I feel strongly that our community’s strength impacts the world’s Jewry and its survival. As we build and care locally, we also work to ensure the safety of Jews around the world. Just as we did generations ago, it is our responsibility to care for people who are struggling. While the years have passed, the needs continue at home, in Israel, and around the Jewish world as all of us contend with growing Anti-Semitism.
Michael: None of us can lose sight of the fact that our families came here with hardly anything. Only through the generosity of those who came before were we able to thrive. Today, it’s essential that we continue that legacy. Baltimore may be a small city, but its issues are large. Many of us are struggling with job loss and caring for aging parents, as well as other social and economic pressures.

When did you make your first gift to The Associated?
Clara: After my freshman year in college, I went on a mission to Israel and Eastern Europe. The experience of seeing Jews in need around the world changed my perspective and impressed upon me the importance of giving. I made my first gift when I returned.
Michael: I grew up near Bel Air, Md., spending most of my life in Harford County. Because of Clara, I learned about The Associated. We made our first gift because we saw the need to help Jews in our hometown. One of my first goals was to connect counseling services through The Associated to Jews living in Harford County.

Why answer the call?
Clara:  Our Annual Campaign depends on the continued generosity of every donor, as well as outreach to new donors. Becoming engaged and involved in our community is our obligation and responsibility. Every gift matters and is important. We encourage the younger generation to become involved and support The Associated.
Michael: Together, we share in responsibility for ensuring the health and vitality of our community. The breadth of work performed by The Associated and its volunteers transforms, enhances and supports lives throughout Baltimore, Israel and overseas. It is our obligation to recognize the foundation – our roots – established by our community’s founders generations ago and build upon that foundation.

More Impact: This year, the day packs even more power with the #100DayChallenge, an exciting dollar-for-dollar match for all new and increased gifts through December 31. Double the impact of your gift with an increase or a new gift!
Learn More: associated.org/supersunday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Families, Philanthropy, Professionals, Women, Young Adults