Baltimore Jewish Community Continues the Momentum After March for Israel


The Baltimore Jewish community is not slowing down after the success of the massive pro-Israel rally in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14.

Harel Turkel
Harel Turkel (Courtesy of Turkel)

There will be more efforts and events to come that will focus on the tragedy of the Hamas attacks, the need to free hostages and the danger of antisemitism, they said.

“There is not going to be a slowdown in the momentum,” said Harel Turkel, past president of Jewish Community Services who is now co-chair of Israel and global initiatives for The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. “I think, if anything, it’s only going to increase over the next weeks and months.”

Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, echoed the sentiment.

“Our community is galvanized like never before,” Libit said. “Baltimore has such deep connections to Israel, from our philanthropy, to our relationships, to the visits that so many in our community make. We see our friends and family who have suffered such losses and continue to be under threat.

Howard Libit
Howard Libit (Courtesy)

“In the coming weeks, I see our role as continuing to educate and advocate, and I expect we will do this in a number of ways,” Libit added.

The Associated and BJC have a series of programs planned over the next few weeks to educate people about the war, offer information for college students and their parents and provide lessons on antisemitism for teenagers.

“My Baltimore Jewish Council team and I — along with our partners from other Associated agencies — continue to go out to schools and other organizations that invite us to speak about the war,” Libit said.

“As a Jewish community, we continue to strongly encourage people to go to Shabbat services, to light an extra Shabbat candle each Friday evening and to wear blue and white ribbons,” he continued.

Libit said he expects that public menorah lightings will also include a strong element of support for Israel and a call to release hostages.

Linda A. Hurwitz
Linda A. Hurwitz (Courtesy of Hurwitz)

Linda Adler Hurwitz, past board chair of The Associated and past campaign chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, said Baltimore Jews have “realized what our priorities are. We are all in this together and we as a people will rise and fall according to what we do right now in history.”

Referring to the March for Israel, she said, “We need to capitalize this unity of Jewish pride. We have to leverage this unique place that we find ourselves. Although we are heartbroken and incredibly devastated, we can use this as an opportunity to have deeper relationships within the broader community.”

An event on Nov. 19 at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC featured a workshop focused on teens “so they can understand the war, navigate social media, address antisemitism and really lean into the difficult questions of their identity,” Turkel said. “People are struggling right now, not just kids on college campuses but teens at schools that aren’t Jewish schools. This event [was] a great opportunity for them to find their voice, find their confidence and talk intelligently about what’s happening in Israel.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 21, The Associated held a community meeting to come up “with a unique way of building a better future,” said Hurwitz, who was co-chair for the Community Conversation: Stronger Together event at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC. “We have gathered our movers and shakers, our rabbis, those in leadership. By the end of the evening, we developed concrete ideas that can be implemented to allow Jewish Baltimore to take this incredible, awful, traumatic experience to find a positive outcome.”

On Nov. 29, there was a webinar for the business community focusing on the postwar impact on Israel’s economy. “It’s great for business owners who have investments in Israel or want to invest in Israel,” Turkel said.

And Jewish Community Services on Nov. 30 will have a virtual event called The Full Picture: Israel at War. “There’s going to be context and clarity around it with experts,” Turkel said. “It’s crucial for our community to really jump into this programming because it really helps them peel away all the misinformation.”

Meredith Weisel
Meredith Weisel (Courtesy of Meredith Weisel)

Meanwhile, Baltimore’s sister city, Ashkelon, is on the receiving end of messages of support and funds for relocating residents to safer places. “We just want to show all the support that we can right now at this difficult time,” Turkel said.

Meredith Weisel is regional director for the Anti-Defamation League office covering Maryland, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina.

“There’s a lot of things we can still be doing. … We need to feel for the loss of innocent life, whether it is Palestinian or Israeli, but we need to also be outspoken and peacefully protest concerning who started this and that it was a terrorist organization,” she said.

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here