The Associated Contributors

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Live Well. Be Well. Age Well.

As we age, we know that the process can be rewarding, freeing and amazing; but at times, this stage of life can also feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to understanding what services are available to best meet our needs.

That’s why The Associated created AgeWell Baltimore, an innovative network to help everyone live their best life.

Five Things Happening Throughout The Associated System

A new program that promotes healthy aging … a new vision for the Jewish Museum of Maryland … an exciting national announcement. Here are five things to know about The Associated this spring and summer.

Introducing a New Initiative for Older Adults
This month, The Associated and partner agencies launched a brand-new, innovative network to help older adults live their best life. Supported by Irene and Robbert Russel and family and the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation, AgeWell Baltimore, a Centennial initiative, is the place to go for resources and guidance to support independence and promote healthy aging.

Senior Year During a Pandemic

Under normal circumstances, your senior year in high school is one of the best years of your life. You are almost at the finish line, celebrating all of your accomplishments, relishing in being the ‘leaders’ of the school and looking forward to the future. But what happens when a pandemic changes that? We asked some local seniors to share how COVID-19 altered their Class of 2021 experience.

Sarah Renbaum, The Park School of Baltimore
From the time I started at Park School, I looked up to and envied each senior class. They ruled the school. So, if you told my five-year-old self that my senior year would be virtual with limited social interaction, I would never have believed it. But here it was – no epic first day of school and no homecoming entrance where the senior girls dance to their own song. No real opportunity to make my final mark on the school I attended for 13 years. Instead, I learned about flexibility and seeing the light in an otherwise dark situation. I experienced endless quality time with family, which I know I will cherish when I am away at college in a few short months. I experimented with new hobbies like cooking, tennis and even played competitive games of Fortnite with my brother. Most importantly, I learned how to adjust my expectations. Senior prom is happening, Covid style. Graduation will be in-person but smaller with no extended family. This was not the ultimate senior year I imagined, but my friends and I survived, thrived, and dare I say we may all look back and be better for the experience.

Click here for full article.

Letters To My Younger Self

A few years ago, in-between traveling for business and working 80+ hours a week, Robin Belsky got stuck in an airport. She grabbed and read a small 183 paged book while killing time called, “What I Know Now—Letters To My Younger Self” by Ellyn Spragins. This book inspired Robin to create the Jewish Professional Women’s “Letters To My Younger Self” event. Robin loves mentoring new and younger employees—and this book spoke to her.

Her own female mentors were important to her successes, sharing the good and not so good lessons they learned while crawling and then climbing to the top. Because of her mentors’ stories, lessons and warnings, Robin pays-it-forward in the knowledge she shares with those that work alongside her. She prides herself on her own personal line she always shares with new coworkers, which is, “I will teach you all I have, then get out of your way and give you the wings to fly and to sore higher than me.”

Meet Sol Davis

When Sol Davis arrived in Baltimore in January to take over as the new executive director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM), some could say it may not have been the ideal time to start a new job. COVID-19 was raging and the JMM was closed to visitors, with many wondering when it would fully open again.

Yet that didn’t deter him. Sol had a vision. A vision that combined the past successes of the JMM and the learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic with a concept of how museums might evolve in the future.

We sat down with this dynamic new director to get to know him better and learn about how he sees the JMM moving forward.

Saluting Local Heroes of The Associated

The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded we all make sacrifices. We’ve worn masks, social distanced, postponed simchas and in too many cases, endured unthinkable tragedy.

Despite these hardships, some have looked beyond their personal challenges to help others who are struggling. We’re proud to say that a few of these brave and generous individuals reside in our own Jewish community.

Meet Fritzi K. Hallock

Fritzi Kolker Hallock may have spent her formative years growing up a mere 20 miles from Pikesville, but in many ways it may have been a world away.

For when Fritzi was 12, her family moved from the heart of Northwest Baltimore to Columbia, Maryland. She went from a place where she says, “being Jewish was like having brown hair,” to a community in which everyone’s life story was different.

“I remember as a child lining up at Cross Country Elementary with my Jewish classmates to take the bus to Beth El Religious School … or walking to the Park Heights JCC after school to learn how to sew. All my friends were Jewish, and I didn’t think that was odd. In Columbia, I suddenly was meeting all kinds of people, most of whom were not Jewish.”

Although her family joined a Reform Temple in Howard County, now many of Fritzi’s Jewish memories continued to take place in Baltimore over Shabbat dinners with her grandmother and holidays with relatives. And, as one of only six Jewish students in her graduating class of 250 at Wilde Lake High School, she came to realize what it meant to be Jewish in a diverse world.

Meet Jodie Zisow-McClean

Originally from the Pikesville area, Jodie Zisow-McClean moved to Baltimore City in 1998 after graduating from Goucher College. An 8th grade Spanish teacher in the Baltimore City public school system, she has been a committed volunteer, focusing on social justice work.

This year, Jodie became the first LGBTQ Community Connector with The Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), an agency of The Associated.

Jodie became a Community Connector this past September, joining other first year connectors at a challenging time, with social distancing policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic severely limiting the opportunity for in-person gatherings. Even so, Jodie has still found ways to build a network of Jewish Families right in her own neighborhood and local community.

Meet Larraine Bernstein

Larraine Bernstein, born and raised in Baltimore, defines herself through her work as a professional in the public health field, her volunteer and philanthropic commitments and most importantly, through her family – her biggest priority. As far back as she can remember, Larraine says she always wanted to be a mother.

I feel blessed that my sons, Jonathan and Jeffrey, have grown to be exceptional, young adults, and giving birth to and raising them has been my most gratifying job. My younger son, Jeffrey now lives in Miami with his fiancé Alli and my older son Jon and his wife Erika live nearby.

How The Associated and Changemakers Fellowship Shaped Izzy Bennett’s Jewish Journey

June 2020. A few months into a pandemic that optimists thought would last two weeks, my life was in most ways together. I had housing, food, a part-time job that was meaningful to me and great company. But in a lot of ways I felt like I was falling down a black hole, I was staying with my parents as I could not afford to move out with a part-time job. After finishing my senior year and starting adulthood from my brother’s childhood bedroom, I was floundering.