Strength in sisterhood at Adat Chaim Synagogue


At Adat Chaim Synagogue, women rule the roost.

The men’s club at the Owings Mills synagogue folded years ago, but its sisterhood has been going strong for years thanks to the commitment of its members.

women holding a sign in front of a garage door
Adat Chaim sisterhood members at an event honoring synagogue president Cathy Litofsky. (Courtesy of Cathy Litofsky)

“We’re a very small congregation, but [our] women are very strong and have a very active board,” said Cathy Litofsky, the synagogue’s president. “We operate as a committee, with each of the individuals having some sort of role or responsibility.”

The Adat Chaim Sisterhood is gearing up to begin another year of programming ahead of the high holidays, and will hold its yearly kick-off meeting on Sept. 14. This year, their programming will focus on the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism Torah Fund’s theme of Chazak v’Ematz, which translates to “be strong and courageous” and focuses on highlighting the achievements of strong and courageous women.

This theme is meant to bring the sisterhood back together after the physical and psychological isolation of the past two years necessitated by the pandemic. It has been a difficult time for many people, said Litofsky.

“That’s why this ‘be strong and courageous’ theme is wonderful,” she said. “I think that women do need a group to thrive as women.”

The Adat Chaim Sisterhood consists of approximately 30 members. Belonging to Adat Chaim is not a requirement for joining: some members are relatives of current members, while others were recruited at local events such as the Reisterstown Festival, where the sisterhood has a booth.

“It’s all word of mouth, and we enjoy having a very diverse group of women,” Litofsky said.

In addition to their plans to feature female speakers, the sisterhood also has a variety of fundraising and social events planned throughout the year. Their most popular fundraiser, according to Litofsky, is their Boscov’s Friends Helping Friends event on October 19, and they offer a variety of crafting-focused events as well. They are also planning three or four small concerts for the upcoming year.

Coming up soon after the kick-off meeting meeting, American-Israeli basketball player Tamir Goodman will be coming to speak at the synagogue on Sept. 16. Raised in Baltimore and dubbed “the Jewish Jordan” by Sports Illustrated during his high school basketball career, Goodman is the nephew of one of the synagogue sisterhood’s board members and will be talking about his work using basketball to bridge divides between people of different backgrounds.

Beyond special events, though, what brings the women of the Adat Chaim Sisterhood together most frequently is their book club. Active for the past four or five years, it offers its members the opportunity to learn about and discuss Jewish literature and important topics.

“It really builds and allows us to learn with each other, and I think that’s important,” said Litofsky.

In addition to her role as part of the sisterhood, Litofsky served as president of Adat Chaim for five years before choosing not to run for the position again and taking two years off. Now she is back, and serving the second year of her new term. The combined duration of her tenure as synagogue president has given her a unique perspective on how Jewish communities operate. She also wants people to know that despite the congregation’s small size, like Mt. Sinai, it is mighty.

“I’m really tired of people in the Jewish community not realizing that [Adat Chaim] is still here,” she said. “They don’t know what we can do to help people understand and know that we are here. We are still going strong and are a big part of the Jewish community, which is really important to me.”

“We want to be able to be here to work together to bring Jewish ideals into our lives, and to learn and gather and cultivate as a community. And that’s really important to me, too.”

Correction, 8/26: The date of the Boscov’s event was initially listed as being on the 12th. In fact, it is on the 19th. The article has been updated to reflect this information.

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