Ashkelon Sends Thousands of Masks to Baltimore Jewish Community

girl wearing an israeli flag
(Inna Reznik / iStock / Getty Images)

Update (Sept. 1): The Owings Mills JCC no longer has masks available. Masks are currently available at the Park Heights JCC at the check-in tent desk to give to members, while supplies last.

Baltimore’s partner city in Israel, Ashkelon, sent The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and its agencies 2,000 reusable masks a few weeks ago. They delivered the masks to the JCC and CHAI, which has been distributing them to community members throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Both JCC locations have them readily available at the check-in tent desks to give to members.

CHAI will distribute its share of masks among seniors who are recipients of CHAI’s mobile pantry deliveries, and to residents of CHAI’s Weinberg Senior Living Communities.

Since 2003, The Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership has connected the two communities through collaborative projects in order to build relationships with Israel and Jewish people.

“The Associated stands with Ashkelon whenever we face security crises, and this is our opportunity to show our love and support while the whole world is fighting COVID-19,” said Sigal Ariely, partnership director in Ashkelon.

The municipality funded the manufacturing while the mayor and partnership chair designed the print. They donated the masks along with colorful, handmade cards.

“As written on the masks, we are stronger together, and we, in Ashkelon, stand with you, hoping and praying for better days,” Yehuda Halfon, co-chair of the partnership, stated in a press release. In a flyer from their office, Halfon and the mayor stated, “‘Beychad,’ together we shall overcome this challenging threat and with God’s will we will all be able to see each other and embrace each other soon.”

Harriette Wienner, co-chair of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, explained that this isn’t the first time Ashkelon has supported Baltimore in its times of need. “They wanted to do something for us because they knew we were in the thick of it,” she said. “They kind of got over the hump before we did. But this isn’t the first time they’ve come through for us; during Freddie Grey they reached out and asked how they could help. They really want to be a full partner with us and help us in our times of need.”

Wienner explained that when Marc Terrill joined the leadership of The Associated, the organization wanted to partner with an Israeli city long-term that would have an equal share in helping and collaborating. “Our two cities are very similar socially and economically,” Wienner said, so it was a perfect match.

Through the partnership, Wienner can say she knows and works with someone in Israel.

“It’s not just ‘that country over there with all those issues.’ Working together. especially for so many of our kids, means having this interest in Israel and brings Judaism home to them in a very real way.”

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