The list of organizations Alyson Friedman has been involved with is long: Beth El Congregation of Baltimore, CHANA, the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation and Art with a Heart, among others.
On Thursday, at The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland’s 104th Annual Convention, Friedman will be recognized with the E.B. Hirsh Lifetime Achievement Award. The organization will also honor women in the community with the Women Who Welcome Awards. This year’s theme was Welcoming the Stranger. The event’s guest speaker was well-known immigration attorney, Sheela Murthy, of Owings Mills-based Murthy Law Firm.
Friedman was selected by a committee made up of past Federation presidents, while the other recipients were nominated from each of the federation’s 26 constituent organizations, said Marcia Bornfriend, president of the federation.
Friedman is an active volunteer in the community and currently serves as co-chair of marketing for Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning at The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore.
“I involve myself in projects and organizations I feel passionate about and where I think I can make an impact,” Friedman said. “Being recognized for my hard work, time and dedication to causes I believe in is like icing on the cake. I am especially proud as a Jewish woman who believes strongly in advancing women in leadership roles in our society. Whenever I can take part in lifting up other women, sign me up.”
The E.B. Hirsh Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual for “giving their time and talents to the community,” Bornfriend said. It is named for the federation’s past president, Eleanor Betty “E.B.” Rosenthal Hirsh, who served from 1963-1965, and who was also president of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, one of many volunteer leadership roles she held. E.B. Hirsh is listed in the Jewish Museum of Maryland as having helped to preserve the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
“Receiving this honor in the context of this year’s theme, ‘Welcoming the Stranger,’ is especially meaningful as there has been so much happening around the world dealing with diversity, racial equity, inclusion and justice,” Friedman said. “There is much work that needs to be done on all of these topics and being welcoming and willing to have difficult conversations with people who may look different from ourselves is just the first step in what I see as a lifelong process. We need to each start with ourselves by reading more, listening and understanding our own biases. I love Maya Angelou’s quote, ‘When you know better, … do better.’”
Friedman, 53, grew up in Pikesville. She is a lifelong member of Beth El Congregation, of which her grandparents were founding members, and is involved in the Soul Center. Her children, who were raised in Owings Mills, now live in New Orleans, where she and her husband John enjoy visiting them.
“Jewish values inform all the work I do, whether it’s in the Jewish or secular community,” she said. “I would like to think I treat others with dignity and respect (k’vod), that I live ethically and responsibly (derech eretz), practice tolerance (sovlanut) and most importantly I am guided by the work of tikkun olam as I try my best in my own small way to ‘repair the world’ through my behaviors, attitudes and actions.”
Friedman has a bachelor’s in communications and psychology from The University of Michigan and a master’s in counseling psychology from Towson University.
Friedman began volunteering about 20 years ago when her oldest child began preschool. She got trained as a hotline volunteer for CHANA, taking calls from people who were victims of domestic violence.
This led to Friedman joining the CHANA board, which she served on for 17 years, and to her greater involvement in the community. She volunteered for The Associated and joined the Art with a Heart board, as well as other student mentoring and tutoring programs. She has served as a founding board member, past chair and campaign liaison for the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation and served as Women’s Campaign Chair for The Associated. She also served on the National Women’s Philanthropy Board of The Jewish Federations of North America for six years and is a graduate of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Leadership Institute’s first cohort.
She began volunteering, Friedman said, because she “had the time and capacity to do so.”
“What started out as a learning opportunity truly became my life’s mission to help others,” she said. “I feel beyond fortunate to be able to do this important work and take my ‘volunteer job’ very seriously. I believe people who have the means to help others have a responsibility to do so. We as Jews are very lucky to live in our Baltimore Jewish community and only by helping to grow our infrastructure can we hope to sustain our neighborhoods and vibrant communities we have worked tirelessly to build.”
Friedman values community and giving back, but most importantly, she values “family first and foremost, female friendships, justice, fairness and inclusion, clear communication and deep listening skills, intelligence, good grammar, a sense of fashion, our close-knit Baltimore Jewish community, art in its many forms, genuineness, warmth and love.”
Women Who Welcome Award Recipients
Every year, The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland recognizes one woman from each of its member organizations. The theme of this year’s convention was Welcoming the Stranger, so the organization recognized the Women Who Welcome. Here are the organizations and the women who were recognized.
Adat Chaim Sisterhood – Susan Ansel
AMIT Children – Iris Miller
Associated Women – Nina Rosenzwog
Beth El Congregation Sisterhood – Glenda Chernoff
Beth Israel Congregation Sisterhood – Cindy Bradley
Beth Tfiloh Congregation Sisterhood – Brenda Pariser
Brandeis National Committee, Baltimore Chapter – Norma Axel
CHANA – Joy Katzenberg
Chizuk Amuno Congregation Sisterhood – Sheila Sandbank
Covenant Guild, Inc. – Estelle Bloomberg
Hadassah of Greater Baltimore – Barbara Fink
Israel Bonds Maryland Women’s Division – Ellen Cohen
Jewish Women of Howard County – Michelle Lurie
Jewish Women International – Betsy Felsenberg
Kappa Guild, Inc. – Michale Sharon Misler
Levindale Auxiliary – Yael Schwarzenberger
Miriam Lodge, K.S.B., Inc. – Reta Zuckerman
Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Sisterhood – Shirley Carp (in memoriam)
Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Synagogue Sisterhood – Naomi Lazerow
Rodger C. Snyder Memorial, Ladies Auxiliary – Cheryl Mitnick
Sinai Mitzvah Foundation – Marcy K. Kolodny
Support for Families of Nursing Home Residents – Beth Wiseman
Temple Isaiah Sisterhood – Ellen Strichartz
The Women’s Club of Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom – Miriam Lavender (in memoriam) and Erma Sigler
Women of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation – Marcia Rosenblatt