The Associated Contributors

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

2020 Community Study Underway to Map Jewish Community’s Future


It’s official. This April, The Associated launched the 2020 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study, the first look in a decade at the characteristics, attitudes and behaviors of the Baltimore Jewish community.

The results, which are expected to be available in January 2020, will help The Associated and its agencies, as well as synagogues, camps, day schools and other local Jewish organizations, identify trends and emerging needs that will inform our current planning and policy decisions.

Meet Hanan “Bean” Sibel


Growing up in the ghetto of West Baltimore during the Great Depression, Hanan “Bean” Sibel recalls that his family really “didn’t have much.”

Crowded in a small home with 13 people – grandparents, parents and kids – this close-knit family would even take in relatives who immigrated to the United States.

Despite the family’s financial hardships, Bean remembers they always had at least one pushke (tzedakahbox). “Whether it was for The Associated, our synagogue, HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) or another Jewish cause, whenever we had coins, we would drop them in.”

Out of Stigma’s Shadow


While accepting an award at the Grammy’s in February, performer Lady Gaga positioned the issue of mental health front and center.

“If I don’t get another chance to say this, I just want to say I’m so proud to be a part of a movie that addresses mental health issues. They’re so important… [W]e gotta take care of each other. So, if you see somebody that’s hurting, don’t look away. And if you’re hurting, even though it might be hard, try to find that bravery within yourself to dive deep and go tell somebody…” – Lady Gaga

The reason Gaga’s speech made headlines, according to Ruth Klein, PhD., director of mental health and compliance for Jewish Community Services (JCS), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, is that people rarely speak out or even speak at all about mental health issues.

Winter Break in Israel with The Associated’s Family Mission


The weather might be getting warmer, but it’s time to start thinking about winter break. Why stress over booking hotels or planning tours, when The Associated has put together the prefect trip for you and your family.

Just imagine your winter break in Israel. Rappelling into the Ramon Crater, digging at an ancient archaeological excavation, walking through ancient tunnels in Jerusalem, climbing Masada, floating in the Dead Sea and more.

Read on to learn why Family Mission Co-Chairs, Stacey & Randy Getz and Carol & Robert Keehn, do not want you to miss this opportunity.

Two Women, One Wrong Turn: The Ease of Opioid Addiction for Women


By Elizabeth Piper, Health Educator, Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated

I remember my first time using a prescription opioid. I was 17 and just had my wisdom teeth extracted earlier in the day. I was lying on the couch in our family room watching a re-run of Gilmore Girls, trying to distract myself from the pain I felt from the surgery.

My mom walked in with a white paper bag from the pharmacy. Inside was my prescription for Oxycodone. She opened the bottle and handed me one tablet. I took it with a glass of water and within 15 minutes, I felt something I had never experienced before.

Stitching History With the Holocaust at the Jewish Museum of Maryland through August 4, 2019


The loss the world experiences when people die before their time is difficult to comprehend. Jewish tradition suggests it is immeasurable: “anyone who destroys a life is considered to have destroyed an entire world” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

When immeasurable loss is magnified over millions of souls, it becomes so large as to engender a kind of numbness. Statistics don’t evoke emotion. Individuals, though. Individuals we relate to, we see ourselves in them. Individual’s stories make us want to take action.

That reality is part of what drives the exhibit Stitching History with the Holocaust, curated by the Jewish Museum Milwaukee (JMMilwaukee), and opening at the Jewish Museum of Maryland April 7, 2019.

How to Maintain Flexibilty for Longterm Health


Health with the Associated

Keeping our bodies fit is crucial as we get older as it can prevent illness, may play a role in injury prevention and help us stay healthy longer. And, making sure we stay limber and flexible is a vital part of keeping our bodies fit.

“Flexibility is important for older adults,” explains Niki Barr, fitness and wellness director of the Edward A. Myerberg Center. “It helps with overall mobility.”

How The Associated Welcomed Rich Topaz to Baltimore


Rich Topaz

A New York native, Rich Topaz, who today chairs the Ben-Gurion Society (BGS), recalls his moving to Baltimore and the warm welcome he received by the Baltimore Jewish community and IMPACT, The Associated’s young adult division.

“My wife, Heidi, is from Baltimore but I am not,” explains Rich. “So, when we moved here five years ago, I didn’t really have a social or professional network. That’s where The Associated, particularly IMPACT, stepped in.”

Rich knew he wanted to connect with other young professionals, and quickly found himself attending networking events, building relationships and ultimately participating in Young Leadership Council (YLC), a professional development program through IMPACT.

Today, five years later, Rich’s involvement with The Associated has grown tremendously. Rich sits on the boards for IMPACT, The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), and The Center for Community Engagement and Leadership (CCEL).

“There is a theme with the agencies I am involved in, which is that part of their missions is to provide entry points for people – both native Baltimoreans and transplants like myself – to become more involved in the Jewish community.”

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Anxiety In Kids Doesn’t Always Look Like Anxiety


Anxiety in Kids

Anxiety. Just the word itself can be, well… anxiety producing! While it may be hard to define, we have all come to recognize the feeling of anxiety when we experience it – nervously prepping for a big interview, sweating in anticipation of a difficult conversation, pacing while awaiting the results of a medical test, and the list could go on!

For those of us with children in our lives, we’ve also likely witnessed them struggle with anxiety from time to time, whether they (or we) recognize it or not – crying at daycare drop off, stressing over a test, and the like.

So, how do we know when anxiety has crossed the line from normal to clinical? How do we recognize anxiety when it doesn’t fit this classic nervous mold? And, how can we support our little ones when they are experiencing big worries?

Most of us are able to identify anxiety as it comes up in our lives, and while we typically think of anxiety as an unpleasant experience, anxiety, in its most productive form, is actually quite useful. For example, if you weren’t worried about an upcoming test, you probably wouldn’t study or pass!

We also want our kids to experience a healthy dose of anxiety around expectations we’ve set for them. Worry about consequences like getting caught or getting hurt can be a big motivator when it comes to following the rules for both kids and adults alike.

Anxiety turns from productive to problematic when our experience overwhelms our ability to cope. While children are no different than adults in their feelings of anxiety, they have far fewer living experiences, less effective coping skills, and more limited communication skills. Therefore, children can experience more intense and frequent bursts of anxiety.

While there are many times that we are able to see and anticipate our children’s anxiety without much difficulty (for example, a child afraid to be in alone in the dark), sometimes anxiety can look less like nervousness and more like emotional or behavioral disruptions – making it more difficult to recognize.

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A Mother’s Journey: Turning a Son’s Diagnosis into a Jewish Community Initiative


A Mother's Journey

Finding out your child has a disability can be life-altering. Just ask Erica Hobby. Two years ago, when this Pikesville mother of two first learned her son has autism, she found herself adjusting to a new reality – one that left her with more questions than answers.

Erica, who currently sits on The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore’s Disabilities Committee, talks about her personal journey, her determination to provide meaningful, Jewish experiences for her son, as well as other children with disabilities, and how her daughter is determined to join her and make a difference.

My son Jonathan wasn’t diagnosed with high-functioning autism until he was seven.Looking back there were always small things that stood out and that raised the question for us. I remember in preschool he didn’t want to sit on the grass so the teacher would put her sweater down so he could sit comfortably. He often ran away when we would be out running errands. And although he was very bright, he was socially immature.

It was hard when we found out he had autism. All of a sudden, we had to adjust our expectations. We began to think about his future – what does this mean for his life? He’s a smart, kind child, but will he have the ability to pursue and maintain his desired career? Will he live independently? And what kinds of supports might he need?

Having a child with disabilities can be so isolating. Unless you’ve walked in someone’s shoes, you can’t really understand what someone else is going through. We are blessed with amazing friends, and as much as they are supportive, there are aspects of our day-to-day lives that they can’t understand or relate to. Seeking out other moms of kids with disabilities has been critically important for me. We serve as a tremendous resource and support system for one another.

One of our main goals is to give our son the skills so he can be a capable and happy adult. He attends a school that incorporates the building of social and communication skills into their curriculum.

Click here to read the full article.