Category Archives: Seniors

Beating the Summer Heat with CHAI


By Aryeh Goetz
Director of Neighborhood Investment, CHAI

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts this summer will be hotter and rainier than normal, with the hottest periods in early to mid-July and early to mid-August. But knowing ahead of time that we’ll need to stay cool during the summer is only half the battle. What’s the other half? Preparation!

By trying these simple tips, you can keep your home cool and comfortable, while also cutting your cooling costs. It’s good for the environment and good for your wallet!

1. Use ceiling fans
The interesting thing about fans is that they don’t actually cool a room; they just make it feel cooler, by blowing the hot air away from your body. Fans can make a room feel up to seven degrees cooler, and they use much less electricity than the air conditioner. So make sure your ceiling fans are turned on high before you turn the temperature down. Box fans are a great alternative if you don’t already have ceiling fans around your home.

2. Replace the air filter
Clogged filters will limit your air conditioner’s effectiveness and are expensive. Show your AC unit some love and change the filter. You can pick up new, inexpensive filters at a grocery or home improvement store. Remember to check the size of the filter before purchasing. For best results, replace the filters once a month.

3. Cover your windows
Window treatments are not just a design element: they can help keep heat out, thereby reducing your electricity bill. If you have blinds or curtains, keep them closed. If you are looking to purchase new window treatments for your home, know that lighter colored fabrics deflect the sun’s rays better. Insulated curtains will do the best job of keeping the heat out.

4. Turn off heat generators
Running computers and televisions all day will put out a lot of heat. Be sure to turn them off when you aren’t using them and unplug them, too. Using the oven or stove will also heat up your home in a flash.

5. Avoid setting the thermostat excessively low
Sure, it’s tempting to crank the air conditioner down to 65 after spending time outdoors when it’s 100 degrees (or higher). But this won’t cool your home any faster. Even worse, you might forget that you set it extremely low, resulting in unnecessary cooling costs.

6. Smart Ways to Save on the AC

  •  Set the thermostat at 70° to 75°F when you’re home and 80°F when you’re not. Don’t turn it off completely before leaving the house. It can cost more to cool the house back down once it overheats.
  •  Position electric devices like lamps, TVs, or computers at least a few feet away from your AC thermostat. The AC can sense heat from these appliances, which can cause it to run longer than necessary.
  • Place room units on the north side of the house when possible. An AC unit operating in the shade uses up to 10 percent less electricity than one in the sun.
  • Know when to upgrade. In terms of energy use, you may want to consider a new AC if yours is more than 10 years old (window unit) or 12 years old (central air) — and definitely if it’s not cooling as well as it used to. It will save up to 30 percent off your bill.

8. Remember: Heat Rises
Attics can reach temps of 150°F. Take measures to properly insulate this area from the rest of the house: Install sweeps and weather-stripping around the door.

CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. wants you to know that there is help for the hot and weary! With the CHAI Energy Savings Loans, you can receive an interest-free loan of up to $10,000 to use toward home improvements that will help make your home more energy efficient. There are no income restrictions. You can live in the 21215 zip code in the city or in Pikesville, Mt. Washington, Owings Mills, Reisterstown or Randallstown!

Visit to apply for the Energy Savings Loan. You can download the application right from our homepage.

Wishing you an enjoyable, safe and cool summer!


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One Gift Reaches Thousands

By Michael Hoffman
Chief Planning and Strategy Officer

We may not agree on everything, but we can all agree on this: We are part of a special community, and The Associated is the gateway to supporting the needs of the entire community – from baby to bubbie. The Associated is committed to being as efficient and effective as possible, maximizing the limited human and financial resources for the overall benefit of our community. We bring together Jews from across the spectrum – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, secular and everyone in between – to help one another live better lives in Baltimore, in Israel and around the world.

This year, with the help of our donors, The Associated distributed $47.2 million in total resources to support efforts that strengthen Jewish life here in Baltimore and overseas. These resources are anchored by the power of the unrestricted Annual Campaign which raised $30 million. Thanks to the stability of these resources, we will once again to be able to provide our local and overseas agencies with 100 percent funding so that they can continue to provide meaningful services to our fellow community members in need. Here in Baltimore, we have much to be proud of. This year’s accomplishments ensured that next year’s funding plan continues to be a safety net for everyone in our community. And it was.

We pioneered care for the vulnerable

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CHAI’s Northwest Neighbors Connecting (NNC) continued to develop a diverse, interdependent community in northwest Baltimore City and is now one of the fastest-growing villages in the country with over 175 members in its first year.

We invested in our youth

Jewish summer camps are an immersive way to ignite positive Jewish memory and lasting Jewish living for our children. Understanding the powerful potential of summer experiences, we launched the Center for Jewish Camping to build excitement and participation in Jewish day and overnight camps.

We deepened Jewish life

The active participation of Baby Boomers in Jewish life became a priority. Baby Boomers have the time, resources and drive for meaningful, active life that can benefit the community and themselves. We convened the Baby Boomer Task Force which identified volunteer service as an opportunity for significant engagement. Looking forward, Jewish Volunteer Connection will develop strategies to connect these skilled Baby Boomers with specific community needs.

We developed a global peoplehood

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For more than 20 years, the Baltimore-Odessa Partnership has advanced the revitalization of Jewish life in Odessa and built personal connections between our two communities. This year, our support was critical as we rushed to the aid of the Jewish community in our sister city. By making funds immediately available to our overseas partners and raising additional funds from our community, we were able to add heightened security measures for Jewish institutions across Ukraine and provide a much needed life line to the vulnerable in Odessa.

These are just a small sampling of all of the wonderful projects, initiatives and efforts that happened right here in Jewish Baltimore. The need is real and so is your power to make a difference. Together we are creating a stronger, more vibrant Jewish community – day by day and from generation to generation. Whether it’s providing care for the vulnerable, investing in our youth, enriching the quality of Jewish live or deepening our sense of global peoplehood, The Associated exists so you can give – and receive – meaningfully.

To read our 2013-2014 Report to the Community that includes the full FY14 Funding Plan, click here.

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Filed under Families, Israel & Overseas, Philanthropy, Seniors, Social Services, Special Needs, Uncategorized, Volunteering & Advocacy, Women, Young Adults

Stopping Elder Abuse

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By Ellyn M. Loy LCSW-C
The Elder Abuse Project, CHANA

I am the Director of a new program at CHANA concerning the issue of Elder Abuse, so I was asked to blog – I think that’s a verb – about that. Looking through months of Associated blogs, I saw that folks wrote about many different things in many different ways. Some people used Jewish texts or holidays to create a context for their blog. Some people wrote about a meaningful experience they had. Others gave information on a subject while couching it in Jewish learning. I decided to incorporate all of these in my approach.

The Torah portion for this week comes from the very end of Genesis 47:28-50:26. Jacob is dying and he asks his son Joseph to promise him that he will be buried in Israel, not in Egypt. Joseph replies, ‘I will personally do as you have said.’

I first thought, besides being about older people, how can I translate this into something about elder abuse? I kept re-reading Joseph’s words about his personal commitment to do as his father had asked – not to get someone else to do it, or to ensure that it was done, but to do it himself. The lesson started to become clearer: to what in our lives do we need to make “personal” commitments?

At CHANA, the phone rings daily with people seeking immediate help for a distressing situation: a mother being physically, emotionally and financially abused by her adult son who is a drug addict; a 70-year-old couple who have been arguing for 40 years, but now that arguing has turned dangerous; a 50-year-old woman who finally is ready to talk about the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. When we answer the phone – ‘This is CHANA, how can I help you?’ – our commitment both as individuals and also as an agency is that we WILL help you. We accept the obligation as ours to fulfill on behalf of the community, as Joseph did for Jacob.

Stories about elder abuse are so distressful to hear. We want to believe that, by the time people grow older, things will get better for them. Relationships will be supportive and comforting, not abusive or threatening. We want to believe that families will treat their seniors with respect and honor, not disdain and anger. We want to believe that for the elderly, after a lifetime of caring for other people, now is the time that family and our community will care for them.

Unfortunately, the statistics say otherwise. In the United States over one million elderly people are abused each year. Two percent to 10 percent of persons over the age of 65 report being abused. And most alarmingly, 24 percent of murder victims over the age of 60 are killed by their spouse and 42 percent are killed by their children.
How can each one of us take “personal responsibility” to stop elder abuse in our community? First, we can make a commitment to treat the older adults in our own lives with love, care and respect. We all know that caring for an elderly person can be stressful and demanding. If you are caring for someone and the pressures become overbearing, reach out for help.

Second, we can keep our eyes open for our neighbors and the elderly around us. If you feel that an older person in your community is being harmed in any way, reach out and take personal responsibility to get that person help. They may not be able to do it themselves.

Eight Signs That An Elderly Person Might Be Neglected Or Abused

  1. Their physical or mental status has changed. They are unkempt, confused, have bruises or look like they are not being cared for, fed or bathed.
  2. They isolate themselves or others isolate them. They frequently or suddenly decline invitations to be with others.
  3.  Their financial situation becomes unstable or they worry that it will. There are sudden changes in their bank account. They mention they have “given” things away and deny that it was a problem but their demeanor suggests otherwise.
  4. They are less friendly, more anxious and depressed. Their negative mood is not necessarily due to aging; there could be more going on.
  5.  They stop caring for pets or seem to no longer find pleasure in their animal companions.
  6. They do not seem to be paying adequate attention to their health problems.
  7. Their living situation becomes hazardous, i.e. lack of heat, water or adequate food.
  8. They tell you they are being neglected, exploited or abused. It is important to take them seriously even if the more blatant signs are not yet visible.

Three Things You Can Do To Take Personal Responsibility

  1. Find a way to ask the elderly person if they are okay or if they need anything. Let them know you are concerned about them. It does not have to reach a level of serious abuse to warrant an intervention.
  2. Call CHANA and tell someone about your concern. The counselors at CHANA/Elder Abuse Project will help you sort out what you are seeing and feeling. If it seems that the person is in need, CHANA/Elder Abuse Project can help the person access the appropriate services.
  3. If you are caring for an elderly person and are feeling overburdened with the responsibility, talk to someone. There is no shame is seeking help for yourself so that you can continue to provide good care to someone else. There is information and resources that can help you. Go to CHANA/Elder Abuse Project or Jewish Community Services.


Filed under Families, Jewish Learning, Seniors, Women

Pew and the Jews…Baltimore Jews that is

ImageBy Michael Hoffman, Chief Planning & Strategy Officer

There has been much commentary about the recent release of the Pew Study Profile on American Jews.  A lot of commentary.  Literally hundreds of articles, blogs and rabbinic sermons on the impact of the study on the state of American Jewry.  There have been some who liken the release of the Pew study to the 1990 National Jewish Population, which provided shock and awe of the 52 percent intermarriage rate in the Jewish community.  There are sobering statistics in the Pew that illuminate some of the overarching challenges we face as Jewish institutions.

So what impact does Pew have on the Baltimore Jewish community?  The short answer is not that much.  Pew is a national study that, as of yet, has not been broken down regionally.  It is quite difficult to accurately translate the national Jewish experience to the local one.  Our Jewish experience in Baltimore is very different than one’s Jewish experience in San Francisco, Grand Rapids or New Orleans.  What Pew shows is that the Jewish experience is becoming more individualistic, less institutional and more experiential.  American Jews are looking for more meaning, relevance and demonstrated value in participation in Jewish life.

Here in Baltimore we have much to be proud of.  In 2010, The Associated released the findings of our own Jewish Community Study.  When you put The Associated study side-by-side with Pew, we compare significantly higher in many data points related to engagement and affiliation.  Baltimore Jews trend higher in wanting to be part of the Jewish community than what’s noted in the Pew study (82 percent vs. 28 percent).  More Baltimore Jewish households belong to a Jewish organization compared to national statistics (60 percent vs. 20 percent).  Baltimore Jews have a higher emotional attachment to Israel (74 percent vs. 69 percent).  We also trend better in Jewish education, philanthropy and show less of a decline in denominational Judaism.

Dr. Jack Ukeles, principal researcher for the 2010 Baltimore Jewish Community Study, stated it best when he said, “the Pew Study should be in the background, and the local study should be in the foreground.”  For Baltimore, Pew paints an important picture.  It presents a scenario on what Jewish life could look like in 10 years if we do not stay focused on the need to evolve the Jewish experience and stay relevant to the potential consumers of Jewish life.  Pew provides us with a case for giving, on why it is critically important to give to The Associated Annual Campaign – which nurtures Jewish life from cradle to grave by fostering opportunities for enrichment and education.  Pew provides us with a sense of validation in our investment in more than 30 innovative programs started after the Jewish Community Study including PJ Library, Charm City Tribe, Moishe House and the Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance.

Baltimore continues to be one of the most vibrant and exciting Jewish communities in North America, and thanks to the Pew, we now have data to prove this.  What makes Baltimore so unique is we do not rest on our laurels.  I am most excited about what is to come next from our dynamic Baltimore Jewish community and Associated system.

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November 4, 2013 · 4:43 pm

Family to Family

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– By Pamela Pipkin

Ina Giller immigrated to Baltimore in 1979 from Kiev with her husband, small daughter and in-laws.  She was blessed to have a cousin in Baltimore who sponsored her family, a relative who was able to embrace and help guide them.

An English teacher by trade, Inna soon began a critical role in smoothing the way for other Russian families.  Arriving in May, she laughs at how her “British English” didn’t always translate into easily speaking the language. The vocabulary was in her head, but conversation initially was more of a challenge, at times with humorous results. Her then 5-year-old daughter quickly adjusted and soaked up the English language, no doubt helped by attending Camp Milldale during the first summer they arrived.

Thankfully the family received a lot of help from HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), Jewish Family Services (now Jewish Community Services) and social workers specifically helping with Russian re-settlement – all funded by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

A number of Baltimore synagogues and lay leaders helped new families in all aspects of re-settlement, both practical and religious in nature. For those who were interested, this included both “Brit Milah” and “bar/bat mitzvah” practices that had been abandoned under Communist rule. Inna quickly realized her English skills could play a large part in facilitating transitions for new families and began interpreting for people to help determine what was needed. She later taught conversational English classes at Har Sinai Congregation.

In 1992, with a huge influx of new Russian immigrant families Inna became involved with the JCC “Family to Family” program which matched Baltimore families to newly arriving Russian families. Coordinating lists, she really made the effort to match families with similar traits such as children’s ages or professions. Whether offering job advice or business connections, she used any success tool available. Many of these new immigrants were here without any extended family. Acclimating to a new country, new language and new community could be a very lonely endeavor which made these “family to family” connections incredibly valuable. Inna felt compelled to put pieces together for people, to create a network that would be helpful and practical. Certainly every family has a unique path, but there is a common thread to the immigrant experience.

Inna has spent years giving back to the very system that was in place when she and her family arrived over 30 years ago. There is a profound sense of pride and joy in her voice when re-telling the memories of that time. Between the help she received and the help she offered to those who came after, many friends were made along the way. Today, Inna is helping develop The Journey, Together – 25 Years After Operation Exodus – a weeklong celebration recognizing the efforts of the Baltimore Jewish community in freeing Soviet Jewry and the accomplishments of the Russian emigres to date.

Learn more at >>

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Filed under Families, Israel & Overseas, Jewish Learning, Philanthropy, Seniors, Social Services, Volunteering & Advocacy, Women, Young Adults

10 Energy Saving Tips For Your Home


By Kristerfer Burnett
Neighborhood Organizer
CHAI:Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.

With summer behind us and fall in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about how to reduce those rising energy bills. You know … the bills that you are too afraid to open so you leave it on the table for a few days? During the fall and winter months energy costs often double for the average household, causing many of us to tighten our budgets.

But, you can start saving energy now! Here are a few tips from our friends at the Baltimore Energy Challenge that you can use to save energy, save money and live sustainably:

  1.  Switch to Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)
    CFLs use much less energy than traditional bulbs and last about six times longer.
  2. Turn Down the Thermostat and/or Install a Programmable Thermostat
    You can save over $200 a year by simply turning down your thermostat three degrees. Installing a programmable unit can make remembering to do this even easier!
  3. Wrap and Turn Temperature Down on Hot Water Heater
    Purchasing an insulating jacket for your hot water heater can produce valuable energy savings. Most of the cost associated with operating a hot water heater is maintaining the temperature of the water when it’s not in use.
  4.  Get Low-Flow Showerheads
    Installing low-flow showerheads can reduce water consumption by as much as 70 percent. In addition, you’ll use less energy heating up the water.
  5. Turn Stuff Off and Use Powerstrips to Do It
    Many electronic devises draw energy when they are not in use, simply by being plugged into the socket. Be sure to plug as many of them as you can onto a powerstrip and be sure to turn it off when you aren’t using them.
  6. Wash Laundry Using Cold Water and Line Dry Your Clothes
    You can reduce your energy cost per load by 90 percent if you use cold water to wash laundry. Also, drying machines represent as much as 12 percent of the cost  on  your energy bill! If you can, install a retractable line to hang them outside to dry on nice days.
  7. Increase Refrigerator Efficiency
    Reduce energy use and efficiency of your refrigerator by cleaning the coals, semi-annually. These are often located underneath the unit.
  8. Maintain Your Heating System
    About one-third of your annual household energy costs are associated with your home’s heating system. Be sure to have it maintained regularly so that you can save on your heating costs.
  9. Insulate and Air Seal Your Home
    The majority of the homes in Baltimore allow cool air and heat to leak out. Weatherizing your home using window plastic and other easy-to-install tools can do a lot to prevent leakage.
  10.  Educate Your Family Members and Neighbors
    Sharing these tips is a great way to get members of your family and neighbors to join you in reducing energy consumption!

Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. (CHAI) and The Associated are working on a few new initiatives to reduce your household’s energy consumption and help you save money. On October 6, 1 – 4 p.m., you’ll have the opportunity to learn more at the Northwest Energy Expo. It’s being held at The Myerberg Center.

Many key non-profits and businesses from the energy industry will discuss behaviors and practices that reduce energy consumption and help you save money. This wonderful event will feature break-out sessions on topics such as the “ins and outs” of having an energy audit done in your home, the benefits of home energy retrofits and tips on small things you can do around the house to conserve energy.

Finally, if you reside in the five Northwest neighborhoods that CHAI serves (Glen, Fallstaff, Cheswolde, Mt. Washington, Cross Country) you’ll have an opportunity to apply for the new interest-free Energy Savings Loan, which allows you to borrow either $5,000 or $10,000 for energy-related home renovations.

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It’s a new day at the J!

By Randi Benesch
Managing Director of Arts & Culture
Gordon Center for Performing Arts
JCC of Greater Baltimore

Music, dance, comedy, theater, film—there’s something for everyone, which is what you can expect to experience at the JCC this coming year. Both on our stages and in our classrooms, we invite you to become part of the conversation, celebration and participation.

The Gordon Center 2013-14 season kicks off on October 12th with 13-year old Russian Jewish musical prodigy Ethan Bortnick. The youngest musician ever to lead a world-wide solo tour, Ethan has performed with Elton John, Tony Bennett, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and many more. He will blow you away with his talent and charisma. This night also kicks off the week-long community-wide celebration of 25 years after Operation Exodus. The seventh annual Cinefest begins October 3, filled with four films from around the world, all Baltimore premieres. The film festival committee, all dedicated and passionate volunteers from our community, has selected four powerful films you won’t want to miss. Four engaging and wonderful speakers will lead discussions after each screening.

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Later in the month, we launch the first of five unique and fantastic programs for young families. In partnership with PJ Library, on Sunday, October 20, Shirlala presents a rockin’ fun time for the kids. Later in the season, the Mama Doni Band brings us a “Chanukah Fever Concert.” In January and February, kids will be amazed by the National Marionette Theater’s production of “Pinocchio” and the modern dance version of Company E’s “The Jungle Book.” In March, kids will be delighted while on a cultural journey of music presented by New York based “Ethel.” There are even discount packages available when you buy tickets to three or more shows.

David Broza, an Israeli superstar, joins us on Thursday, November 21. And American bluegrass legend, Seldom Scene, returns to the Gordon Center on November 2 followed by three laughter-filled comedy nights. Incredibly, a full month celebrating all things DANCE, featuring local, regional and national dance companies, performances, master classes, discussions and more will fill up National Dance Month in February! For all the details, visit our newly-designed website

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There is so much to see and do! If you have not already attended the monthly Open Mic night series at the Gordon, which is free to the public, and open for any and all artists to come and perform, please plan to do so on the second Tuesday of every month from 7-9 p.m. Perform or come support local talent.

Art can connect us as a community. Children and adults alike learn self-confidence, expand their creativity and build incredible connections with their classmates in the wide variety of educational programs we offer. From storytelling workshops with the STOOP Storytelling series creators, to an intimate book talk with author Meredith Jacobs of “The Modern Mom’s Guide to Shabbat,” to ceramics classes, painting classes, dance classes and more.

There is even a brand new Performing Arts camp launching at the JCC Owings Mills campus next summer for grades one to six. Kids will have the opportunity to learn acting, improv, stage combat, dance, choreography and a whole lot more. Everything you love about JCC camps, including swimming and beautiful outdoor activities, plus high-quality performing arts skill-based workshops and performances will still be offered. Stay tuned for more details.

We hope you’ll be inspired! Join us in the celebration and the conversation. We hope you’ll come visit us soon!

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