It’s not everybody who can say that they’re the only certified mahjong instructor in Maryland. Marc Wernick should know. He certified himself! In fact, Marc, a trustee of Bolton Street Synagogue’s board of directors, is super-proud that he started the March Madness mahjong craze at his Roland Park congregation.  

And while Marc isn’t one to toot his own shofar, that’s hardly the only project he’s taken on as a Jewish communal leader. A graduate of Na’aleh’s ACCELERATE, a leadership program, Marc is also a board member and chair of the marketing committee at the Macks Center for Jewish Connection (MCJC); a member of the JCC’s Arts and Culture and Queer Jewish Arts Festival Planning committees and a member of JPride’s Grants Committee and Needs Assessment Task Force. Na’aleh, the MCJC and the JCC are all Associated agencies. 

Recently, we caught up with the Brewers Hill resident to find out more about his Jewish journey. 

What inspired you to be involved in Jewish community? 

My father was very involved in the Jewish community in Montgomery County where I grew up. When he passed away very unexpectedly, I decided I wanted to say Kaddish for him every week. When you go to services every week, they recruit you to be on committees. That’s how I started. It’s really because my dad was a role model that I’ve become involved in Jewish communal work. I feel my dad’s presence when I do that work. It’s very comforting. 

Some say that it’s hard to break into Jewish Baltimore when you didn’t grow up there. 

I don’t subscribe to that. Bolton Street has really become my community and there are only a handful of Baltimore natives there. Most of us are transplants seeking that sense of community and family of choice. Whether it’s serving on a committee, bringing dinner to someone who just had surgery or meeting up with a friend from synagogue for coffee, it’s natural to build relationships.  

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