Creatively Connecting Families to Judaism


Judaism has always been an important part of Kate Cohen’s life. It’s why this mother and former teacher — now a Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) Connector — is hoping others will discover the beauty in Jewish life in ways that work for their families.

CJE’s connector program launched in April 2014 and is now on its fourth cohort of connectors. The program is a one to two-year experience that provides individuals with tools and opportunities to organize grassroots programs to connect others to Jewish Baltimore.

Cohen is bringing her creativity and organizing skills to her Lutherville-Timonium neighborhood, developing a variety of “fun” Jewish experiences for families across her community. This has included a Havdalah swim party at the Kids First Swim Schools in Cockeysville, and a CPR program for parents that incorporated some Jewish learning courtesy of CJE’s family engagement specialist Julie Wohl. Not only did participants receive critical life-saving skills, but they also learned how saving a life and helping others are core Jewish tenets.

Many of these events include partnerships with area synagogues, where the rabbis
and/or cantors lead the activity.

“If someone is interested in joining a synagogue, they get a taste of what each rabbi is like,” said Cohen.

In addition to planning events, Kate is an open resource for Jewish families, meeting with them over coffee and providing them with information about the community. Many of the families want to learn about Jewish preschools, and Kate provides them with background information on the schools. She also offers suggestions about other programs in town that might appeal to these parents with young children, like the JCC’s Hello Baby Program or local Tot Shabbats.

“I’m excited that I am giving families opportunities to feel comfortable being Jewish in our community by exposing families to Jewish experiences that resonate with them. I am inspiring them to make Judaism a part of their family’s life,” she said. JT

Originally published on the blog of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore.

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