The Associated Contributors

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

Let’s Do Good Together on this National Day of Service


Good Deeds Day is an international celebration that unites people around the world with doing good for others and the planet, while offering local volunteer opportunities for all ages and abilities to go out in the Baltimore community as well as at-home.

Aging Well in America: Preparing for Our Future The Associated’s In Perspective


Back in December, Beth H. Goldsmith, Chair of the Board of The Associated, sat down with a panel of experts to discuss a topic that affects us all — aging.

In this episode of The Associated’s In Perspective, we explored the current trends and best practices around aging as well as how our community addresses the growing needs of our older adult population. Take a listen.

Get to Know Alli Muser


Alli Muser is excited to be getting back into the workforce – and in her dream job at that. This mother of two, who originally hails from Rockland County, NY, has taken on the role of the Macks CJE (Center for Jewish Education) Camp Connector, helping families find the best camp for their children.

It’s the perfect position for this former teacher, and long-time camper, who grew up attending Tranquility Camp in upstate New York. Camp had a major impact on Alli’s life, and she wants to share that with others in the community.

A graduate of Towson University, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Alli sat down with us to talk about her new role, what camp means to her and how she hopes to help her adopted Baltimore Jewish community, a place she now affectionately calls home.

4Front’s Samantha Kahan Strakes Talks about Teens and Mental Health


For those who have been around teens these past two years, they cannot help but notice how difficult life has been. Milestones, like graduation and proms, have been cancelled or revamped, opportunities to get together have shifted and instability seems to be the norm as activities often shift from virtual to live to virtual again.

We took a moment to talk to Samantha Kahan Strakes, who is the co-managing senior director of 4Front Baltimore’s Jewish community-wide teen initiative. Housed at the JCC, 4Front offers a number of teen and parent of teen programs that include Diller Teen Fellows, Social Innovation Fellows, Students Taking Action for Change, Peer Leadership Fellows and Parenting UnPacked. Here are excerpts from our conversation.

Get to Know Karen Oppenheimer


Baltimore native Karen Oppenheimer spent the first half of her professional career providing mental health services to children, adolescents and adults in a variety of settings. As a licensed clinical social worker with a second graduate degree in education, Karen later pursued her interests and skills in working with students with disabilities and student affairs issues and concerns in higher education.

So, it’s no surprise that when she retired in 2018 as the Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Karen decided to begin this next chapter of her life as an active volunteer in the Baltimore Jewish Community.

Jen Grossman: Mitzvah Maven


Welcome back to Pull Up A Chair, our monthly podcast where we explore different themes and what it means to build and be a part of a strong Jewish community.

In this episode of Pull Up A Chair, we look at what connects us to community. For Baltimore transplant Jen Grossman, connection comes through service.

Jen has been deeply involved in volunteering and served multiple years as chair of the Jewish Volunteer Connection, an agency of The Associated. But her arrival and Baltimore had a rocky start.

“Volunteering really gave me a vehicle to meet people that were either in the same life stage as I was or had the same interests.”

Click here for full article.

Get to Know Natasha Baum


Natasha Baum began her Jewish Baltimore journey as a student and active participant with Towson University Hillel. Now one of the hosts for Shabbat with IMPACT, learn a little bit more about Natasha and her Shabbat creativity!

Howie and Martha Cohen: The Hosts with the Most


The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, with support from The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, has been helping kids connect with Israel for years by sponsoring shlichim to work as counselors at J Camps each summer. But it’s clearly not just the campers that “fall in love” with these Israeli emissaries, but the host parents as well.

This past summer, Howie and Martha Cohen volunteered to take in not one, but three Shlichim to spend nine weeks living in their home.

Get to Know Mark Gheiler


Born in Lima, Peru, Mark Gheiler immigrated to Maryland as a middle schooler in 1986. His father, involved in residential construction, accepted a job here in Baltimore. Mark’s Latin American and Jewish culture intersect during the high holidays, where family is central to every gathering. Mark and his wife Eve celebrate with their three children and grandparents from both sides of the family.

You may recognize Mark from his community involvement across Jewish Baltimore or through his professional work at his full-service real estate title and escrow company, MiCasa Title, LLC. We sat down to get to know Mark a bit and here’s what we found out.

Shelley Hendler is Living a Meaningful Life


From the time she was a teenager, Shelley Hendler worked. First making money babysitting and tutoring in high school, then later as an educator in the Baltimore County school system, then for 12 years, she served as a middle school administrator for Krieger Schechter Day School.

Meet Neil Katz


When asked to describe himself, Neil Katz will say that he is a connector — he loves people. High energy. Driven. Good at solving problems. All traits that have served him well during his extensive career in both the commercial real estate business and as an entrepreneurial investor.

Forever Friends: Alyson Friedman and Elise Rubenstein


Welcome back to Pull Up A Chair, our monthly podcast where we explore different themes and what it means to build and be a part of a strong Jewish community.

One Man’s Journey to Giving Back to the Community


David Baron was born in Baltimore, Maryland but in 1983, his family moved to Israel after his father accepted a job opportunity in Israel at the American Embassy.

Pull Up a Chair: BDS on our College Campuses


BDS, which is an acronym for “boycott divestment and sanctions” is a Palestinian-led movement, first launched in 2005. It has caused significant tensions at a number of colleges and universities over the years. What effect does it have on our Jewish student population and what tools can we use to combat it?

2021: A Year of Change and Hope


It was a year filled with challenges, but also a year filled with hope. Although it began with COVID-19 cases surging, January brought an unprecedented vaccine roll-out that solidified our belief that tomorrow would be brighter.