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.

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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.

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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.

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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.



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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.

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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.

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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:

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

A Volunteer’s Message

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By Jennifer Grossman
Chair, Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC)

I remember vividly the day I was asked to chair Community Mitzvah Day, and my reply was ‘what is Mitzvah Day?’ Not only was it the beginning of my JVC involvement but it reminded me of how we as a community need to be more informed about the good things that happen, things that we at JVC make happen.

Since then I have seen first hand all the amazing things JVC does. I have witnessed how connecting people to meaningful volunteer opportunities becomes the gateway to helping them become lifelong volunteers, helping people to believe that the power of their time is a critical resource!

As I begin my two-year term as chair of JVC, I have several goals. First and foremost is to continue to meet vital community needs. Those needs constantly change, and so will JVC with them!

My hope is that together with the JVC staff, we will continue the growth and expansion of VolunTeams to help meet those needs. VolunTeams are making volunteering possible for everyone, regardless of much or how little time one has to volunteer. They have made hands on volunteering accessible and attainable for anybody, whether they are young adults, young families, baby boomers or seniors. With a VolunTeam, we can meet community needs without burning out our community members!

As a family we are part of the JVC board VolunTeam. My kids have been volunteering all their lives. Together as a family we have been involved in countless JVC and other volunteer experiences, so when it was our Sunday to go to a CHAI senior’s house to weatherize a home we all piled in ready to seal windows, fix showers and rake leaves!

But our experience went so much deeper than that. At one point, I came upstairs to get some more tape and I saw the homeowner sitting with my kids, offering them a snack and telling her story of what it was like when she was a kid.  She talked about how much brighter her house was with young children in it and with crumbs on the floor! How she loved the sound of the giggling and the finger prints they left everywhere.

At that moment,  I realized that this VolunTeam was as much about a people to people connection as it was a legitimate weatherizaiton project. We later crossed paths with the homeowners and both my kids and the homeowners stopped and reminisced about the morning, without a word about the windows, showers or leaves!

As you read this, if you asked yourself “what is that” or “how can I do that” even once, I challenge you to ask! Had I not asked what Mitzvah Day was that day, I would have missed out on eight incredible years of volunteer opportunities.  Too many people in our community can’t even begin to understand the incredible work JVC does both in and out of the Jewish community.

Together, let’s change that!


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Camp Counselors on Birthright

camp birthright

By Emily Allen
Two of my favorite places are camp and Israel, so when Capital Camps and Camps Airy and Louise decided to offer a camp staff Birthright trip, I couldn’t imagine a trip more fitting for me.

Four other Capital Camp staff members and I, along with 10 Airy and Louise staff members, were able to travel to Israel together through Israel Experience. I found that despite not knowing everyone prior to the trip, camp connected us in so many ways.

With the collaboration between Birthright Israel and The Associated we were able to participate in a service project in Baltimore’s sister city, Ashkelon. After a tour of the city, our group went to an educational farm where students from the area spend a portion of their school day learning and working. The goal of the farm is to teach kids that food doesn’t just show up in the grocery store, but is instead cultivated and grown by people in the community. At the farm, they follow a specific process: planting, watering and harvesting.

When we arrived at the fame, we danced with the kindergartners, and despite the language barrier, we connected and had fun together. Next we moved to the fields where we met and worked with some of the middle school children, picking potatoes they had planted themselves.

I personally connected this experience to camp because of the school’s inclusion of special needs children in the projects on the farm. The special needs kids were able to participate in projects with the other children and it was clear to see how much joy this brought them. Meeting children in Baltimore’s sister city created a deeper connection for me with Ashkelon that I did not have previous to Birthright.

As for the trip in general, traveling with 14 other camp counselors from this area truly meant that there was never a dull moment. At any given moment you could expect a sing-a-long on the bus or a typical camp game of “sheep” or “wah” in a park. One night we had a talent show, and in typical camp-fashion, a Camp Airy staff member wrote a song about our Birthright experience to the tune of “Let It Go” and printed out copies for everyone to sing along.

Our trip was full of amazing friendships and lifelong memories. Thanks to Birthright Israel and The Associated for their collaboration creating a trip specific to our interests as camp staff members.

Learn more about Jewish campaing at The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping.

Emily is a Baltimore native who grew up at Capital Camps, and is celebrating her 11th summer at camp, second on staff.

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