Bekah Waltemeyer, 26, is the development associate at Beth El Congregation of Baltimore.
She grew up in the Baltimore area, mostly attending Beth Am. She went to Towson University, where she studied family science and psychology, then went on to pursue a master’s degree in leadership in Jewish education and communal service at Towson’s Baltimore Hebrew Institute. She started working as Beth El’s development associate in July of 2019. She is now also starting an additional role as a pre-K teacher at Beth El’s religious school.
Why did you pursue your master’s degree?
During my junior year of undergrad, I kind of had that anxiety that you get junior, senior year, where you’re like, “What am I going to do with my life with this degree?” Fortunately, one of my best friends growing up, her parents are Eyal, [the director of Beth El Schools and director of the Rabbi Mark G. Loeb Center For Life Long Learning], and Hana Bor. Hana being the [master’s degree] program director, we went out to dinner, and I was just discussing my anxiety and what I am going to do with this degree, and she spoke about the program. We were with my mom as well, and then once we left dinner, me and my mom talked it through, and were like, this would be a really great opportunity. It’s only an additional two years after undergrad. You get a lot of scholarship opportunities. You also have endless possibilities with networking, and it’s tailored to your schedule as a postgraduate. I applied just out of surface-level interest, and after, once I got into the program, I definitely just benefited incredibly from all the classes more toward the communal services side.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as the development associate?
Day to day, I do a lot with contributions. We have about four pages of funds that we have at the synagogue, like scholarship funds. It’s all over the board. So I do a lot with contributions, which also includes Judaica items. People can dedicate items in honor of, in memory of [someone].
Also, right now, the annual appeal campaign is kicking off, so that is my major responsibility day to day, … making those phone calls, thanking people, sending out those letters.
Why did you want to teach at Beth El’s school?
I’ve always loved working with kids. I was a nanny before. Once I got into the development associate position, I was like, this is the perfect time because I’m kind of tired of working with kids, but now I’m missing that. … [Teaching is] a breath of fresh air after dealing with adults and also a nice way for me to feel like myself when I was little and how I enjoyed some of the aspects of Jewish life, so I want to influence the younger generation to have the same excitement and passion about learning. I know they’re super young, so it’s going to be impactful for them, but also, to make it fun so that they find Judaism fun and exciting.
Are you involved in the Jewish community outside of work?
I’m involved in [Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning’s DEIJ] cohort. It actually just ended in the past couple weeks. It’s a bunch of different professionals throughout the Baltimore Jewish community, and we all come together, discussing social injustice and racial injustice in the Jewish community and the wider community, and learning about ways that we can address these issues and bring them back to our specific organization.