Uplifting the Oppressed


Anyone engaged in the Baltimore Jewish community knows how abundant its resources are. Those looking to further connect with their Judaism, explore it through the lens of a particular discipline or get help with a litany of issues don’t have to look far.

So it’s only appropriate that CHANA, an Associated agency that responds to abuse of all kinds, has become a model organization in elder abuse through its SAFE (Stop Abuse of Elders) program, the subject of this week’s cover story by Hannah Monicken.

Not only does CHANA help with housing, legal advocacy, counseling and various forms of crisis intervention, but the organization also spreads its knowledge and methods to other organizations.

One can’t help but think of the Passover story, of the helpless, enslaved Jewish people who, without the intervention of Moses and God, could not get themselves out of their situation. CHANA is following in those footsteps by stepping in to help those who may not have the ability to speak up and advocate for themselves.

Thankfully, none of my grandparents were ever victims of such horror, which 1 in 10 seniors has experienced. Were it ever suspected, I take comfort in knowing that CHANA would be there not only to educate me about warning signs, but also to step in if it indeed was happening.

Like CHANA, Jews United for Justice is elevating voices that may be getting drowned out by circumstance or lack of resources. As you’ll read in this week’s JT, JUFJ held a social justice seder on April 2 to talk about police accountability, a major issue for the grassroots organization. That seder was attended by a number of people who didn’t grow up in the city but rather Baltimore County, one of the organizers noted.

While those who grew up in the county likely enjoyed a cooperative relationship with police, it’s been well documented that those who grew up in certain parts of the city had vastly different experiences. To that end, the city is following through with a Department of Justice consent decree to reform its police department.

While many seder attendees have never dealt with police brutality, and the disproportionate policing of African-American communities likely never affected many attendees personally, those are the exact topics they were discussing.

Both the efforts of CHANA and JUFJ are prime examples of tikkun olam, an essential Jewish value.

As we recall our oppression and celebrate our freedom during Passover, let us also celebrate those organizations in Baltimore working to free and uplift those who are still oppressed.



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