Community leaders share their thoughts for the Jewish New Year

Shofars (David Stuck)

“This past year has been extraordinarily challenging in so many ways for all of us. I hope that in this next year, I will be able to work with our many friends and partners to create a better Baltimore for everyone. There is much to be done, but I believe that if we work together, we can accomplish a lot.”

—Howard Libit, Baltimore Jewish Council executive director


“This year, my hope is to connect more of our members and the community at large to the state of Israel even though we are still faced with the burden of the COVID pandemic. My hope is that with our weekly virtual events (held on Tuesdays and every other Sunday), including Israel tours, lectures and conversations, lead our members to feel a connection to both the people and the state of Israel. Through these programs my intention is to overcome the false narrative spread by the media and on social media with regard to Israel and educate our community on the true meaning of Zionism and informing those who are faced with anti-Semitic rhetoric that we are here to help.“

—Caren Leven, Baltimore Zionist District executive director


“A famous refrain of the season declares, ‘Hadesh yamenu kekedem — renew our lives as in days of old.’ For much of life, I have struggled with this sentiment. What about the past was so illustrious and wonderful that we would pray to retroject ourselves into it? However, this year I have perfect clarity. This year I pray for a return to a time when we experienced unity and a sense of national purpose. This year I pray for a time when fire wasn’t devouring our planet; a time when plague wasn’t forcing us into lonely isolation; a time when democracy and the rule of law felt securely established; a time when we felt safe in our schools, synagogues and gathering places. This year I am praying for a time of reconciliation, good health, justice and rule of law, safety and peace — a time as days of old.

—Rabbi John Franken, Baltimore Board of Rabbis president and Temple Adas Shalom – The Harford Jewish Center rabbi


“May 5781 be a year that shows every person happiness and recovery from pain and suffering. It’s incumbent on each of us to show daily care, concern and support for others in our community. We also need to focus on our own self-care. The JCC will continue to safely serve our community and lead with innovation, empathy and passion to engage the beautiful diversity of Jewish Baltimore.”

—Barak Hermann, JCC of Greater Baltimore CEO


“This year, personally, I hope to publish the children’s book I wrote about Dona Gracia and finish the draft for the second book about Heleni HaMalka, another powerful woman in our ancient Jewish history. I also hope to prioritize text study as a daily activity. At the office, we set a strategic priority to be the most effective Jewish education resource, and our staff are so amazing. I hope to continue to support them so that their work can reach its intended target audiences. I also want to make more time for meaningful conversations with all of the many important people in my life, both professionally and personally.”

—Amian Kelemer, Macks Center for Jewish Education CEO


“Our motto since the beginning of the pandemic has been the famous Yiddish saying ‘Tracht Gut Vet Zain Gut; Think good, and it will be good.’ As the new year approaches, may we all be blessed with a year of revealed good, with much health and happiness, culminating with the ultimate goodness, the coming of Moshiach.

—Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum, Jewish Uniformed Service Association of Maryland director


“My hope for 5781 — both as a mom of five and a leader of a community-based organization — is that we will ride the pandemic waves with strength and resilience. May we enjoy the highs untinged by fear of what may be around the corner, and may we weather the lows, drawing strength from our family, friends and co-workers. I don’t think we can guard against the ups and downs of crises like we have never seen before; instead I hope we face our reality and support one another along the way.”

—Lisa K. Budlow, CHAI Baltimore CEO

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


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here