Elizabeth Simon-Higgs and husband, Stephen Higgs, moved to Baltimore six years ago for work. They moved downtown to have a shorter commute and to be able to walk to almost anything. Two years ago, when their first child, Daniel, was born, they decided they wanted more. They wanted a Jewish community.
“Since our son was born, connecting with the Jewish community has become especially critical,” says Liz.
Liz took the Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education’s (CJE) Hava NaBaby class and, after Daniel’s birth, joined the Downtown Baltimore Jewish Community Center’s (JCC) Hello Baby class. She and her son participate in Tot Shabbat, Hands on Holidays and, “one of my favorites, the Shabbat dinners for downtown families.”
She’s active on her neighborhood list serve, FedHillKids, where she hears about most of the JCC programs she attends. Thanks to these classes, she says, “we have met Jewish neighbors and realized there are more of us than we thought! They come out of the woodwork for the DBJCC.”
Liz has the added challenge of raising her child in an interfaith family. While she is Jewish, her husband is not. Though Stephen is very supportive of their family practicing Liz’s faith, she knows she needs to show her son examples of what it means to live a vibrant Jewish life outside the home.
“Judaism is a community-centered religion. Downtown doesn’t have the concentrated, high-visibility Jewish community of Upper Park Heights and Pikesville, so the DBJCC programming is critical; it brings out the Jewish and interfaith families and allows us to celebrate and mark time together,” says Liz. “I can light Shabbat candles and host a Seder, but if our son doesn’t see his neighbors and friends being Jewish, he won’t touch Judaism’s essence. In order for Daniel to be immersed in Judaism’s observances and culture, he needs more than just his mom’s example.”
Liz calls the downtown Baltimore Jewish community “growing and diverse” and says she just wants to say “thank you” to THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore for investing in downtown and making sure that Jews in all areas of Baltimore have what they need to raise vibrant Jewish families.