Enhancing Jewish Life in Baltimore


081613_barak_hermannMany of you know the JCC as a recreation, fitness and aquatics center with early childhood programs and camps, and truth be told, we do have excellent facilities and programs.

But what many of you do not know is that the J is also like a big open marketplace, or a <em<shuk (as they call it in Israel), where people of all races and religions can experience Jewish culture and community. Some of these Jewish experiences are generated at our campuses and others at various satellite locations. Creating meaningful Jewish experiences is a commitment by our board and staff, and we make it happen most successfully as a result of partnerships and collaborations we have formed in our community.

As we continue to grow to meet the needs of the ever-changing Jewish community, our team at the J looks to leverage our facilities and resources to promote Jewish life while also developing low barrier options for Jewish communal engagement.

Many of us in the Jewish community work within tight budgetary constraints, as we try to balance doing the most communal good while maintaining our financial bottom line. We are blessed to have The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, amazing agencies, wonderful synagogues and a multitude of communal resources with which to work collaboratively to support the needs of the Baltimore Jewish community.

Making connections. Entering conversations. Thinking differently. Forming new partnerships. Maximizing Jewish communal resources. These are the tickets to Jewish collaboration and creating Jewish partnerships that in turn will deliver greater good and support greater Jewish engagement and meaningful opportunities to live “Jewishly.”

At the JCC of Greater Baltimore, we strive to engage people in living a meaningful Jewish life but our team can’t do this on its own. We need partners.

We make it a priority to meet with our Jewish community leaders often. Our strategic objective has been to learn what others are already doing and how we can work together to offer diverse and innovative Jewish experiences for people of all ages.

I have found that our local Jewish leaders are excited to have these conversations with us. While many collaborations have already transpired, many more are in the works.

Our Jewish Film Festival in March and April engaged thousands of Baltimoreans, along with our Rami Kleinstein concert in March, which brought to the Gordon Center the best of contemporary Israeli music. Charm City Tribe, our downtown program for Jewish young adults, coordinated Purim and Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations in partnership with other groups to enhance their success.

Our camps are gearing up for a tremendous summer season. We have a partner agency, Jewish Volunteer Connection, working with our camp directors to bring the value of community service into all of our camp programs. The Pearlstone Center will continue to play an integral part at our JCC Camps at Milldale.

All over Greater Baltimore, we are partnering with organizations to help individuals connect to their Jewish selves, their heritage and their culture in ways that work for them.

So whether you represent a Jewish organization or you are an individual looking to continue on your Jewish journey, we are here at the J to meet you and help you get connected. Let’s start a conversation and maybe even a collaboration.

Barak Hermann is president of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore.

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