What is a casserole? At the Macks Jewish Connection Network’s Casserole Challenge, you can find out.
Jodi Teitelman, 25, works as a program associate for the Jewish Connection Network. As part of her job, she helps plan events for the community like the Casserole Challenge. For the Casserole Challenge, community members are encouraged to make a casserole, freeze it and then drop it off at one of a multitude of drop-off locations on Nov. 28. Some of the drop-off locations include Krieger Schechter Day School, Beth Am and the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, among others. The Jewish Connection Network also held a casserole-baking party for volunteers aged 55 and up, and is holding another for American Sign Language users on Nov. 19 at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC.
Originally from Connecticut, Teitelman moved to Baltimore to attend Towson University. After graduating in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in family and human services, Teitelman continued her education at Towson and received a master’s degree in leadership in Jewish education and family services.
Now, Teitelman lives in Canton and is currently exploring Baltimore’s Jewish community before she picks a synagogue to officially join.
What do you do for work on a day-to-day basis?
Right now we are in the midst of our busiest time of year. I spend time figuring out how many winter care packages we’re going to be delivering to each partner and working on the Jewish content for our sessions. I have a really incredible committee and make sure that they all understand what’s going on and that they have support to make success.
What’s the Casserole Challenge?
The Casserole Challenge takes place annually in November. It happens on Giving Tuesday. This year, we [hosted] a casserole-baking party for volunteers aged 55 and up. … There are people in our community who need food, and we want to engage our community in providing food to those that need it, so we ask our volunteers to look up a casserole recipe online. It could be a kugel, it could be an egg frittata, it could be a tuna noodle casserole, it could be spaghetti and meatballs. It could really be anything. On Giving Tuesday, we have different drop-off locations in the city where our volunteers can drop off their casseroles. Then we have drivers who will deliver them to our nonprofit partners throughout the area.
How would you describe your personal relationship with Judaism?
I am so proud to be Jewish. Everything about me is Jewish. I live my life according to Jewish values. I’ve always been drawn to Jewish opportunities. Growing up, I went to Jewish overnight camp. I was involved in BBYO, and I sang in HaZamir, which is an international Jewish choir. I loved Hebrew school. I would go to services every Saturday with my dad. As I got older, none of that changed. My parents certainly didn’t force me to be involved Jewishly; I wanted to show my Jewish side in every way possible. My parents were really good examples of Jewish individuals. My mom is an incredible community leader. She’s currently the president of our synagogue in Connecticut where I’m a fifth-generation member of the synagogue. We’re deeply rooted in our community. My dad is a very intelligent person. My parents and I are connected to Judaism in our own unique ways. But it just made sense for us. It was never a question of if we engage ourselves Jewishly. It was more of how we engage ourselves Jewishly in a way that seems like the most authentic to who we are.