Fostering a love of learning with Maureen David

Maureen David
(Courtesy of Maureen David)

Maureen David spoke passionately about a new development recently announced by The Associated Jewish Federation of Baltimore: the library previously housed at the
Macks Center for Jewish Education will expand to become the New Jewish Library of Baltimore. It will be home to a collection of over 16,000 multimedia, books, Judaica, and curricular materials for educators and the general community.

David, 65, is the chair of this exciting new venture.

“I used to have this running message on my computer screen from Pirkei Avot: ‘Who is Wise? One Who Learns from All People,’” David shared in a recent interview. “I love what The Associated has done in reaching across denominational lines, where everyone will always be included. We really are creating a place where the best kept secret is not a secret anymore. Libraries, reading, and learning have always been extremely meaningful for me, and in this Jewish library we have a special jewel that is focused on the Jewish community.”

The library’s new extensive collection will include a children’s collection, a large collection of Hebrew books, and a grief collection which has been developed in partnership with Sol Levinson.

David previously served as chair of the Board of the Macks Center for Jewish Education and is currently president of the Baltimore County Board of Library Trustees. Before her retirement, she was the vice president and general counsel at the University of Maryland Global Campus. In a way, this new role brings David’s lifelong love of learning and reading full circle, she shared: she began working as a librarian after graduating from Harvard with a BA in international relations and before attending law school.

David and her husband Steven, a professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University, have three daughters — Sarah, Julia and Katie — and three grandchildren — Cyrus, five, and Mira and Fiona, who are both two years old. The couple are members of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, which they chose “because it’s a community of learners.”

Chizuk Amuno has provided the family with opportunities that enhanced their understanding of what it means to be Jewish, she said.

“I married into a family with a very strong emotional and cultural connection to Judaism, and an equally strong support of Israel,” she said. As their family grew, however, it became clear to the couple that they could not teach their daughters about Judaism without a more solid foundation.

“My youngest was a baby when I enrolled in an adult bat mitzvah class, where I made a real commitment with a group of great women. We started really learning, and I learned to read Torah, which was the scariest thing in my life — I think if I would have argued before the Supreme Court I would not have felt as nervous,” she recalled.

The fact that her oldest daughter reads the Torah and Haftorah at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation because she wants to be a role model for her own children makes David feel that she fulfilled her role of teaching and passing on the love of learning and of Judaism to her girls.

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