Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sexual Assault Victims Afraid to Come Forward

chana banner

As almost 20 women across the country have come forward to accuse an iconic entertainer of sexual assault and many other express outrage, hundreds of people give him a standing ovation at a comedy performance in Florida. And this is not unusual. People who speak about being sexually assaulted or abused often find that the general public seem to feel entitled to pass judgment on their motivation, their character and even the truthfulness of their claim without the benefit of any knowledge of the facts in the matter. All the while the accused perpetrator is lauded and in many cases defended.

Knowing that complete strangers, who may only have a hint of information, find it acceptable to discuss these personal, intimate matters, while voicing strong, and not necessarily positive opinions about the victims, can be part of what prevents those assaulted from coming forward. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles standing between those who experienced abuse and justice.

Victims quite often blame themselves about what they could have done differently, or how they should have known the assault was going to happen. There is often fear of the perpetrator. Whether real or exaggerated, victims often are afraid of what other harm could come to them or to their loved ones.

There is also a great deal of shame for those who have had their bodies violated. When we are shamed, there is a huge urge to avoid any situation or interaction that will bring attention to what happened. So the idea of being asked intimate details and then having those answers scrutinized is just too much for many people.  When the perpetrator is famous, there is even more negative attention.

What can also be particularly discouraging for those who have not felt comfortable speaking up, is hearing friends and family criticize other victims. Many of us do not realize that 20 percent – or two out of every 10 individuals – are sexually abused. That means that when we share these comments in a group — wondering out loud why a victim didn’t speak up sooner or commenting about a victim’s clothing or choice in companions — we may be contributing to a victim’s reluctance to come forward for fear of being hurt again, Yet telling someone is the only way to start the healing process.

The Baltimore Jewish community provides a channel for victims to tell and that is CHANA.

CHANA provides crisis intervention, education, trauma therapy and consultation for victims and their families while advocating for community awareness, safety and healing.

While it is the job of the staff at CHANA to directly respond to these courageous victims, it is everyone’s responsibility to be mindful of their words and actions in the face of stories about abuse.  Let us not allow our thoughtless comments create any additional barriers for the silent victims in our presence to come forward to find help, hope and healing.

Learn more about CHANA.

 

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A Great Way to Help on #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday Phoneathon

By Anna and Daniel Klein
Co-chairs, #GivingTuesday Community Phone-a-thon

It’s safe to say that giving isn’t new to any of us. From helping at our children’s schools to helping in the larger community, all of us want to make the world a better place, even if that that place is a small corner, especially if that place is Baltimore. So it was with great excitement that we agreed to chair The Associated’s #GivingTuesday phone-a-thon for our community. We wanted to help.

Like the act of giving, an Associated phone-a-thon isn’t new. It’s a time-honored and effective way to reach out to donors, inviting all to help ensure the strength of our community with their gift. As chairs of the #GivingTuesday phone-a-thon, we are excited about leading a group of dedicated volunteers who will call longtime and new donors to ask for a gift to the 2015 Annual Campaign. We’re calling all day, Tuesday, December 2, during three shifts: 10 a.m. to noon, noon to 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Our goal is to raise more than $1 million to help The Associated care for people in need.

We cannot think of a better day than #GivingTuesday to raise these funds. Part of a massive, now-global day of giving, #GivingTuesday exists as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now in its third year, #GivingTuesday has become a day devoted to collective giving … inspiring everyone, everywhere to give to favorite organizations and causes.

Our ask to Jewish Baltimore? Become involved on #GivingTuesday. Here are three ways:

  • Phone-a-thon: Whether you’ve made calls before or are a newbie, help raise funds for our community. We’ll show you how.
  • Book Donation: Bring new or gently-used books for pre-K to eighth graders at Cross Country Elementary Middle School, where the Jewish Volunteer Connection and CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc., engage volunteers in the Bookworms reading program and in tutoring opportunities. Drop off your books at either the Weinberg Park Heights JCC or Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC lobbies.
  • Give: Strengthen, nurture and care for others with a gift to The Associated. Your gift – of any amount – matters. Plus, every gift increase and every new gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar through the #100DayChallenge.

Learn more: associated.org/givingtuesday.

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Filed under Philanthropy, Professionals, Uncategorized, Volunteering & Advocacy, Women, Young Adults

Hillel’s Role in the College Search

eli goucher

By Eli Kaufman
The college search process can all be quite overwhelming. Should I pick a big or small school?  Should I choose a school in the city or in a more rural setting? Do they have my major? Can I study abroad?

These are all questions that go through the minds of many students during this stressful time, and I definitely thought about every one of these questions during my search a little over four years ago.  But I also had a few more questions. I wanted to know if there was a strong Jewish community on campus and if I could get involved with the community.

I visited 10 schools in six states and Washington D.C. and as it turns out, I found my dream school:  Goucher College. Goucher, a school with an undergraduate population of roughly 1,500, has a Jewish population that sits above 30 percent.

At every school that I visited, the first question I would ask was about Hillel. ‘Does the school have a Hillel?’ ‘Is it active?’ ‘What are some of the different leadership opportunities available to students in Hillel?’

Every school had their answer, but there was just something about Goucher’s answer that grabbed my attention.

Goucher Hillel is a place where students can learn and grow Jewishly, but it does not stop there. Outside of the Hillel space is where Hillel seems to thrive. There are so many amazing opportunities to get involved in the community, more than I ever could have imagined.

Goucher Hillel has an impact locally. Students take part in CHAI’s Good Neighbor Day where they weatherize homes and do yard work for those who cannot do it themselves. Students volunteer at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. And students serve food in local soup kitchens.

Goucher Hillel has an impact internationally. As a first year student, I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua with Hillel to build a school at a place that teaches locals how to farm organically and sustainably.

I said before that Goucher Hillel’s Jewish population sits above 30 percent, but that population does anything but sit.  Hillel is one of the most active groups on campus and goes above and beyond anything that I originally thought when Rabbi Josh Snyder told me that it was very active. From handing out apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah to discussing Israel advocacy, Hillel is always in the public eye. If there is ever any conflict on political or social issues on campus, Hillel is at the forefront promoting open and engaging dialogue.

eli goucher blog

Hillel also has its fair share of fun/social programming as well. Sushi in the Sukkah, Build-A-Bear donations, and Challah for Hunger are all events that have been huge successes in the past year. Hillel’s balance of programming keeps everyone interested, involved and engaged.

Now, as I begin my senior year, I can firmly say that Hillel has been the reason why Goucher continues to be so special. It has become a home away from home for me. I spend hours doing my homework on the couches. I eat meals there with my friends. And I celebrate holidays with Goucher Hillel.  It has been everything I thought it would be and more.

 

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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

senior nnc
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
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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

volunteer
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

global peoplehood
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

Inclusion In the Jewish Community

disabled woman in wheelchair enjoying hot drink at home

By Dr. Aviva Weisbord
Executive Director, SHEMESH

The very first Jewish leadership gathering focused on disabilities and inclusion took place this past Chanukah. Sponsored by the Ruderman Foundation, with subsidies provided by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion brought together 25 individuals from across the United States and Canada to share their work with People with Disabilities and learn from each other and from an array of presenters. Our goals were to learn about educational and vocational possibilities for People with Disabilities and acquire insight and skills for integrating these individuals into the community.

As we listened in awe to reports and personal stories from a range of people with disabilities, it became clear that our Jewish values are an imperative for us to advocate and institute inclusion in all aspects of Jewish life. Here are a few examples of what we learned, through a combination of thought-provoking lectures, challenging exercises and many, many informal conversations with our colleagues:

  1. People with disabilities can be included. With a bit of brainstorming accompanied by the commitment to make inclusion happen, our brothers and sisters with disabilities can be part and parcel of synagogues, schools, and general community events, children and adults alike. One conference participant, Baila Gansburg, told us about the school she founded in Coconut Creek, called the South Florida Jewish Academy. It’s comprised of 60 percent children with disabilities and 40 percent“typical” children who have no diagnosis, but find more success in a small classroom. When she saw people hesitating to sign up their children for the school, Baila and her husband enrolled their own “typical” children, showing by example that they believe inclusion and full integration in the community is a value and an achievable one, at that. The school now goes from Kindergarten through 12th grade and is certified by the state. Accomplishments like these can be replicated in housing, jobs, schools, synagogues and all areas of the Jewish community.
  2. We as a community can provide the supports needed by people with disabilities. Whether we work with people with disabilities or not, we can be part of a supportive community. We can help with planning more ways for people with disabilities to live their lives independently, certainly in the area of decision-making and choices. We can help our community systems develop more awareness, pointing out places where, for example, a ramp can make the difference for someone who uses a wheelchair, such as the Bimah in the synagogue.
  3. We can help People with Disabilities take a more active part in Jewish life. If we’re on a program committee at shul, for example, we can ask: Why have a special Shabbat for People with Disabilities? How about including people with disabilities in the synagogue Shabbaton instead? Think about integrating programs and activities, as opposed to maintaining their separateness.
  4. Be aware of attitude and language. We were all horrified to learn that the origin of the word “handicapped” is the way people with disabilities used to beg for funds with their cap in hand to receive coins. In her poignant book, A Life Not With Standing, author Chava Willig Levy writes about “becoming a wheelchair.” “I didn’t mind being a wheelchair user,” she says, “but being an inanimate object still bothers me.” She mentions the time she was leaving a concert at Carnegie      Hall when a man in front of her said to his companion, “Let the wheelchair pass.”
  5. “I smiled and said, ‘You mean, let the woman in the wheelchair pass.’” “Well, you’re a part of it,” the man retorted. “No,” I replied. “It’s a part of me.” As we become more aware of the hurtful, depersonalizing language often used, we can help others increase their awareness, as well.

The Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion taught us all the importance of advocacy. I am going to Washington, D.C., to advocate for legislation to help people with disabilities. My new awareness has spurred me to mention at board meetings and committee meetings that we make our programs readily accessible to people with disabilities and how about including people with disabilities in the planning? We all benefit when we make sure to include every Jewish person in every facet of our unique community.

Learn more about Shemesh.

Read these books for Jewish Disability Awareness Month

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What 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,  November 17
1:00 p.m.
Jewish Women in the Civil War: Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield
clara
Stop by the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd Street, for a special performance by Living History Character Clara Barton. Hold your breath as the “Angel of the Battlefield” trods among the most dangerous and violent conflicts of the war to provide solace and hope to boys wounded in the fight. The program is free with museum admission.
Email tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org and mention “I’m interested in the Clara Barton event” for more information.

Monday, November 18
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
PJ Pals Gobbles Gelt & Gratitude
dreidels
Join your PJ Pals and enjoy story time, crafts and snacks for Chanukah and Thanksgiving. Program is for six months to five years (siblings welcome). Co-sponsored by the Downtown Baltimore JCC. Event will be held at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd Street. Learn more at kveller.com/jewish-events-calendar/display-event-baltimore/downtown/?i=1371

Tuesday, November 19
5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Partners in Innovation:  A Showcase of Maryland-Israel Business
Join MIDC for its third annual showcase of Israeli companies with Maryland offices. New to the showcase this year is the addition of Maryland companies currently trading and collaborating with Israel. This year’s event is held at the Horowitz Performing Arts Lobby at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway. Learn more at MarylandIsrael.org/showcase 2013.

Thursday, November 21
7:30 p.m.
David Broza in Memory of Pete Winer
With over 25 albums to his name, many of which have become multi-platinum, David Broza has been a star in Israel since he was 21. His multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and award winning flamenco and modern, finger-picking guitar style has won him global attention. Singing poetic rhythms in three languages, Broza’s latest release, “All or Nothing,” has gained world recognition. Concert will be held at The Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue, Owings Mills. Tickets are $28 in advance; $32 at the door, subject to availability. For information and to buy tickets, go to jcc.org/gordon-center/gordon-center/.

Future Events
Sunday, November 24
Registration begins at 8:15 a.m.
Digging Deeper: Lessons From Archaeology
Join colleagues and community as Foundation Stone and the Macks Center for Jewish Education present scholars and archaeologists sharing discoveries and history from Israel. Topics include “Using Visual Aids to Understand the Talmud,” “The Rabbi and the Archeologist: New Insights into Jerusalem,” and “Riddle of the Exodus.” Presenters include Rabbi Barnea Levi Selavan, David Willner, MA Ed., Yuval Gadot (Tel Aviv University), Jim Long, & Professor Aaron Demsky (Bar Ilan University). Program will be held at The Macks Center for Jewish Education Community Room, 5708 Park Heights Avenue. Go to cjebaltimore.org/digging for more information.

Sunday, December 1
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Top Secret Cooking-Mandel Bread
Middle schoolers can will enjoy an afternoon of learning how to read recipes, discovering top secret ingredients and sampling different flavor combinations. Cost includes ingredients, copies of recipes and snacks. Open to students in grades six to eight. Held at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, 3506 Gwynbrook Avenue, the program is $12 for JCC members, $18 for guests. Learn more at jcc.org/teens/teens-grades-6-8/.

Sunday, December 1
3:00 p.m.
The Mama Doni Band Chanukah Fever Concert

Mama Doni new pic
Mama Doni celebrates Jewish culture with irrepressible zest in its high-energy, interactive family rock concerts, and acoustic Shabbat experiences filled with a blend of reggae, rock, disco, Latin and Klezmer—all woven together with soulful energy and a super hip Jewish sensibility. Doni Zasloff Thomas, besides being Mama Doni, a music teacher, songwriter, lead singer for the band and a mom, has been honored with a Parents Choice® Award for the band’s CDs, Emunah and Shabbat Shaboom. For information on this Gordon Center for Performing Arts concert, go to jcc.org/gordon-center/family-entertainment/.

Tuesday, December 3
9:00 a.m. Mitzvah Morning; 11:30 a.m. L’dor V’dor Lunch; 6:30 p.m.
Twilight Tzedakah Giving Tuesday Community Phone-a-thon
Last year our Jewish community raised more than $1 million to fund the programs and agencies that shelter, feed, inspire and protect us. Our community received national recognition as the top fundraiser on Giving Tuesday 2012. This year we are part of a city-wide effort, BMORE Give More, to make Baltimore the most giving city in the country. Join us at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, 5700 Park Heights Avenue and let’s make 2013 even greater. Register at associated.org/giving.

Wednesday, December 4
7:00  – 9:00 p.m.
Journeys of Professional Jewish Women
CHANA: Counseling Helpline and Aid Network for Abused Women presents the second annual three-part Speaker Series at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, 5700 Park Heights Avenue. Hear from Dr. Rebbetzin Miriam Marwick, researcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses and Rebbetzin of Congregation Shomrei Emunah. Tickets are $36. All proceeds directly benefit CHANA clients. Register at www.chanabaltimore.org/speakerseries2013.

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Filed under Families, Israel & Overseas, Jewish Learning, Uncategorized, Women, Young Adults

Volunteering Overseas: A Journey of Meaningful Engagement

Grossman blog

By Jen Grossman

It wasn’t until I was midway over the Atlantic Ocean, that it hit me that I was really en route to Israel. The planning had been in the works for months, but the reality of it hadn’t seemed tangible until this moment.

I hadn’t been to Israel in 21 years and I had no idea what to expect. I was traveling there in my role as Vice Chair of Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) to learn about existing volunteer programs in Israel and to help create more opportunities for people who wanted to broaden their travel experience by volunteering.

In just one short week not only did I learn about the incredible landscape of volunteer initiatives in Israel, but through these meetings, site visits and experiences, I altered my perspective and definition of volunteerism. It became crystal clear that volunteering, particularly abroad, was more about connecting to people then doing something for them. That the importance of it wasn’t about the outcome, but was about the process.

My trip started in Ashkelon, Baltimore’s sister city, and my experiences and conversations in Ashkelon became the catalyst for opening my eyes to the power of connecting to a community or an individual in order to help that community thrive.

I will never forget my visit to an Ethiopian Youth Outreach Center run by the Ethiopian National Project (ENP).  The Center established a community garden to help strengthen the bond between Ethiopian teens and their parents. I toured the garden and listened to participants share how tending to the garden allowed them to rediscover a piece of their identity that they had lost when they left Ethiopia. The pride they took in their crops, in their successes and in the responsibility of their plot was indescribable.

In a gesture to share their culture with me, a group of the mothers invited me to join in their weekly coffee brewing ritual. They prepared cooked corn and bread in the way they would have in Ethiopia and generously asked me to eat it with them. It was at that moment I realized my purpose for being there! It wasn’t a wall they wanted painted or a structured project to do with them. They wanted me to sit and join them – to learn about their culture and their heritage. They wanted me to do something with them, not for them – to share a piece of who they are and take it with me to share with the world.

At that moment I realized there is no one way to volunteer and no cookie cutter definition of how to volunteer. I spent the rest of my week embracing Israel and making people-to-people connections by listening to the stories that were shared with me. Whether it was working with a group of special needs adults, at-risk teens or a women’s empowerment group, there was no shortage of opportunities for me to connect and volunteer in a way that felt both meaningful and authentic.

For more information about volunteer opportunities in Ashkelon or to participate in an exciting local community art initiative to celebrate the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, contact Rebecca Weinstock at rweinstock@associated.org or 410-843-7566.

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Filed under Israel & Overseas, Uncategorized, Volunteering & Advocacy, Women