Rebuild Baltimore


FTV_Terrill_MarcIt was hard to be a Baltimorean last week on so many levels. If you watched the news and followed posts on social media during the violent protests that shut down our city, you know just how difficult it was. There were angry crowds spilling into the streets and horrific images in the media of a city on fire. The pictures of the protests sparked by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray following his arrest did not put forward the charming side of our city to the world. But, in the end, this is not about appearances.

That said, throughout the unrest, there were moments of healing and hope emanating from the neighborhoods hardest hit and offers of help pouring in from surrounding areas. It is sometimes in the darkest moments that we see the best in people. If we are to rebuild together as a city, it is those moments on which we must focus.

The Jewish community has long stepped forward as advocates and activists for the entire community. We simply must speak up when we feel there is injustice and do what we can to lift others when there is despair and suffering. It is part of our tradition to act; it is who we are as Jews.

Immediately following the night of looting and fires on April 27, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore reached out to those in the faith-based community and civic organizations to see how we could help.

Our Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) is working with the No Boundaries Coalition, a coalition of organizations, churches and schools representing West Baltimore and striving to build a strong and unified community. JVC has mobilized volunteers who want to help residents reclaim their neighborhoods and, probably most importantly, be part of the conversation in moving our city and nation forward.

We set up drives to collect supplies for schools and community centers tasked with keeping children safe and engaged when schools were closed amid safety concerns. We collected nonperishable food items for vulnerable older adults whose lifeline to supplies was cut off by the destruction in their community. We have also set up mechanisms for fellow community members to give their time and money in aid of recovery.

For many in our city, last week’s tense protests harkened back to early April 1968 when the city erupted into violence following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Then, as today, The Associated stepped forward to help rebuild the city and restore to calm.

Our Jewish tradition teaches that we are all responsible for each other, and that certainly extends into neighborhoods where people are now hurting and in need of help.

We must all realize that recovery is not simply about sweeping away debris. It’s about issues that are complex, difficult and require thought, action and tenacious resolve.

Marc B. Terrill is president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. To find out how you can help rebuild Baltimore, visit

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