Linda G. Katz will have a lot to do after she officially becomes the new chair of CHANA on June 16, not the least of which will be continuing to address the impact the pandemic has had on domestic abuse.
“The pandemic just created an overlay that has been extreme,” Katz said. “We have called it a crisis within a crisis, read articles that have called it a pandemic within the pandemic. … Because people are home with their abusers, and I know that our staff anticipates that we will be feeling the repercussions of this period of time in the future for the next several years.”
CHANA is an organization providing a Jewish response to domestic violence in whatever form it takes, be it physical, emotional, sexual or financial.
Katz, 73, lives in Pikesville and is a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation. She has four daughters, Rebecca Stone of Nashville, Tenn.; Melanie Shapiro of Baltimore; and Erica Blumenthal and Julie Pastor of Los Angeles, as well as six grandchildren.
Katz is originally from Norfolk, Va., and moved to the Baltimore area in 1966 to attend Goucher College. She stayed in the area after marrying a Baltimore local.
Katz lived away from Baltimore for a year when she went to Israel in 1972 for a work-study program. She was scheduled to return a few days after Yom Kippur in 1973, but when the Yom Kippur War broke out, she volunteered to remain and serve the country. She took assignments working in a bakery and harvesting crops on a kibbutz in the Negev.
“We saw tanks in the streets on Kol Nidre, when it was totally silent otherwise,” she said. She noted that during that conflict, “it was Israel versus Arab countries. … And Israel was viewed, I think, in the worldview at that time with high regard and as the underdog.
“And that’s very different from what’s going on now,” Katz said.
Katz has master’s degrees in education and Jewish studies from Baltimore Hebrew University (which is now Towson University’s Baltimore Hebrew Institute).
Katz said she gravitated toward those fields because she was drawn to Jewish community, education and community work.
After graduation, she was hired as the first director of volunteer services at Jewish Family Services (today Jewish Community Services).
“My passion was the Jewish community,” Katz said. “I really believe that it’s important to be involved in the community in some way, and that as a Jewish person I directed most of my energy to the Jewish community, because it’s us. We are the ones who are going to take care of the future and preserving our heritage, and we can’t look to other people to do that.”
One of her accomplishments at Jewish Family Services was working on a 107-page handbook, written in both Russian and English, for new Americans entering the community in the late 1970s. It was written during a major influx of immigration from Russia, with the goal of helping new arrivals navigate the community. It included information on how to access medical services, where to go for English lessons and how to find employment.
Katz also worked at The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, serving both as chair of the Young Women’s Leadership Council and vice president of education in its women’s department. Of the projects she worked on while at the women’s department, one that stood out was co-writing an illustrated book for children that explained meetings.
Katz has also served as president of The Macks Center for Jewish Education.
She first became involved with CHANA after a trip to Israel with CHANA’s then- executive director, Nancy Aiken. Katz joined the board and served as CHANA’s development chair for more than three years.
In her new role, Katz expects her top priorities to include looking at the repercussions of the pandemic and addressing increased needs. Once things open up more, she hopes to expand prevention education and to continue raising awareness of CHANA and the resources it can offer community members who need them.