Cory Hermann Leads Through Jewish Education

Cory Hermann (right) and her husband Barak at URJ Crane Lake Camp (Courtesy of Cory Hermann)

Cory Hermann wants to change the world through education. With over 25 years of experience as a teacher under her belt, Hermann currently serves as Bolton Street Synagogue’s director of education, where she creates and orchestrates educational programs for the synagogue’s members.

Hermann, 54, lives in Owings Mills and is a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and Bolton Street Synagogue. She and her husband, Barak Hermann, the CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, have three children and currently live with their youngest son and their three dogs.

Cory Hermann has been involved in the Reform movement her whole life. She was born in New York, where her parents were both active leaders in their local congregation. As a child, she was a teacher’s aide at the religious school she attended, and as a teenager, she became a regional board member for her local NFTY chapter.

Originally, she planned to attend college to earn a political science major. But working at an overnight summer camp changed things.

“I decided that if I wanted to change the world, I would start small, and I would teach,” Hermann recalled. She changed her major to education and graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education.

Following graduation, Hermann chose not to teach at a public school. She held a variety of odd jobs before eventually being hired as the first full-time youth director at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, New York. After receiving her masters in social work from Adelphi University, she became the director of education in Temple Beth El in Huntington, New York.

“You name it, I did it,” Hermann said. “I was a personal assistant for someone who made books on tape, I was a DJ for a party company and I worked in animal hospitals as a veterinary tech.”

Hermann first applied to a position at Bolton Street Synagogue in January 2020, as she had been away from Jewish education for some time and was hoping to get back into the field. The congregation was looking for a part-time director of education at the time. But the COVID-19 pandemic began shortly afterward, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hermann was able to start work as she was undergoing treatment, and she began working from home as the director of education in July 2020.

2024 marks the end of her second two-year contract, but she plans to begin a new one this summer.

Even in a part-time position, Hermann has a lot of responsibilities. She plans programs for the synagogue’s religious school, works with teachers to develop curricula and welcomes new families into the community. She also song leads services, including a monthly Tot Shabbat service with Rabbi Andy Gordon, as well as co-teaching Bolton Street Synagogue’s adult b’nai mitzvah class.

Outside of her congregational work, Hermann continues to remain involved in the world of Jewish summer camps. She has been on the leadership team of URJ Crane Lake Camp since 2011, and she returns there every summer, in part because it’s an important part of her life and all three of her children have attended camp there.

“It’s something that’s an important part of my family’s lives, and for me personally, it’s a place where I feel incredibly valued and connected,” she said.

While not directly involved with her husband’s work at the JCC of Greater Baltimore, Hermann often supports him in his role there and developed family programming at the JCC prior to the pandemic.

As an educator, Hermann finds nothing more rewarding than watching her students learn and grow. Her most recent accomplishment is launching Bolton Street Synagogue’s Young Family Connections Program in 2023, meant to provide opportunities for families with young children in their religious school to socialize. The congregation recently received a JEEP grant for the program from the Charles Crane Family Foundation and The Associated, facilitated by Jewish Educational Services.

But while her work is largely focused on the growth of others, she said that she still has some growing to do herself. As she and her husband prepare to send their youngest child off to college, Hermann has been looking toward the future.

“I’m always looking to grow and learn,” Hermann noted. “I want to travel and experience things I haven’t experienced before. As our own kids grow and start their own families, I want to have the flexibility to be there for them when that time comes.”

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