At The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore’s Annual Meeting, Beth Goldsmith, chair of the board, described the start of the past fiscal year in July as a dismal one: financial distress, rising food insecurity and abuse, social isolation among older adults and isolation and anxiety among teens and young adults.
“Fortunately, our Associated system was on the scene for the unexpected challenges that we cannot foresee,” Goldsmith said. “Our centralized system allowed us to respond swiftly and intentionally, as we allocated our precious resources to address the most critical needs.”
On June 16, The Associated held their Annual Meeting, where they reviewed the challenges from the past fiscal year, and how The Associated met them.
For the second year in a row, the meeting was virtual.
“This fiscal year was a year filled with challenges, opportunity and hope,” Goldsmith said. “We defined ourselves as a community that came together. Our agencies, our synagogues, our day schools, all of us, collaborating to make sure that everyone received the care and support they needed, this is what community does.”
Several people who had benefited from Associated and Associated agencies services shared their stories. This included a man named Levi, who spoke of how Jewish Community Services helped him make a career transition, and “Mary,” who talked about how CHANA helped her after she was abused.
Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated, spoke of how The Associated system addressed the pandemic itself — by helping to get people vaccinated — as well as how they have addressed rising antisemitism and concerns over inequity. This has included implementing the Baltimore Jewish Community Task Force on Anti-Semitism’s action plan, advocating for a state hate crime bill, building connections between different racial and ethnic groups and embracing diversity in the Jewish community.
The event also included a video from Tomer Glam, the mayor of Ashkelon in Israel, who thanked the Baltimore community for supporting his city, particularly during the recent conflict with Hamas.
Another video highlighted the Baltimore Shinshinim, a group of teen emissaries who have spent much of the past year doing Israel- and Jewish-related programming in Baltimore.
When it comes to the future, Terrill said The Associated is using what it has learned this past year during the pandemic and its centennial anniversary, as well as the results of the 2020 Community Study, to better engage the community moving forward.
“We are harnessing the moment to reimagine Jewish life with new and innovative ways to build on the great work that we have already been conducting to engage, both online and offline, so we can advance the notion that every Jew is welcome in this community,” he said. “We want engagement to be on a continuum and not episodic, that people will be engaged for a lifetime.”
The event ended with a song put together and performed by The Associated’s professional staff.
“I hope you feel as inspired as I do about the work of The Associated network and know that whatever you do to support our work, you are making so much good happen for our community,” Goldsmith said after the song. “Thank you for your continued support and thank you for being a part of our Associated family.”