For Dov Hoffman, embracing new experiences is a part of developing as a person and as a professional. From his moving to the Canton area, to taking on a leadership role with the American Marketing Association Baltimore Chapter (AMA Baltimore), not to mention his role on the board of Towson Hillel, Dov’s life is a busy one. Even so, he still finds time to be engaged Jewishly.

What was it like growing up Jewish?

Looking back at my childhood, Jewish life in the home was so important – whether it was celebrating the holidays or going to synagogue – there was a sense of Jewish life being a part of how we lived our lives. I went to Jewish day school and when I moved to Baltimore from Staten Island, I attended Yeshivat Rambam.

You didn’t go directly to college?

When I finished high school, I thought it would be a good idea to spend a year in Israel. While I had planned to go to college, and I ultimately went to Towson, there was a sense that I didn’t need to necessarily jump right into it. I thought, this way, I would be able to have several new experiences. It was probably one of the best decisions I ever made.

I attended a Young Judaea Year Course gap year program and it gave me the chance to explore Israel in different ways throughout the year. I spent three months volunteering on a kibbutz up north with one of my jobs being milking cows waking up at 4:00 in the morning; I took some classes in Jerusalem for which I ended up getting college credit; and, I volunteered for three months for Magen David Adom in Bat Yam, a city south of Tel Aviv. Near the end, my family came in and we did our own version of touring around Israel.

Have you gone back since?

I’ve gone back to Israel twice. The second time was during my freshmen year for a volunteer program in Northern Israel and helped do cleanup work around the area. My dad retired and three years ago made Aliyah. So, about a year and a half ago myself, my sister and my grandmother went out there for a couple weeks to visit.

What’s it like living in Canton? Does it affect your Jewish identity?

That’s an interesting question. I think from what I’ve seen, the Jewish community here in Baltimore is one that is very rich, and there are a lot of opportunities to engage in. You can even create your own opportunities.

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