Over the past decade, Jonathan Hornstein has called many cities home.
At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration before working for management consulting firms in Chicago and Boston.
Now Hornstein, 29, an alumnus of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, is back in Baltimore, newly married, continuing his education and using his management skills in the philanthropy sector as a program associate with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
Hornstein is enrolled part- time in the applied economics master’s program at Johns Hopkins University and lives with his wife, Erika, in Harbor East. They are members of B’nai Israel Congregation in Jonestown and spend a lot of time engaging with a cohort of Jewish young professionals in Baltimore.
Tell us about your job with the Weinberg Foundation.
I work on the program team. Our essential responsibility is to develop the strategy for how we will give out our grants. The foundation gives out about $125 million in grants each year. We test a strategy, review individual grant applications and then start giving out the grants. My specific responsibilities are Israel and the Jewish community in the United States.
I also lead the small grants program. It’s a program for nonprofits in Baltimore and rural Maryland to get grants of $50,000-100,000 through a more streamlined process.
What are the grants to Israel typically for?
There are three specific program areas for Israel. One is older adult services, making sure that older adults are able to age with community and dignity.
The second area is jobs. That’s focused on helping low-income individuals get training to become employed so that they can find a path to economic independence. In Israel there are low-income individuals and families across the spectrum, but a disproportionate amount of unemployment and poverty is concentrated in the Arab- Israeli population and the Haredi population.
The third is for women and their children at risk. We provide support for women who are vulnerable for a variety of reasons. It could be because they have faced gender-based violence, it could be because they’re a victim of human trafficking, it could be because they are a single mom and are trying to raise kids while trying to save and support a family.
What’s it like being back in Baltimore’s Jewish community in this capacity?
It’s been amazing. At first I was a little scared to come back to Baltimore. But my wife Erika, she’s amazing, had already been living in Baltimore for a year and gotten back involved with the Jewish community and Baltimore community at large. When you’re working in the social impact sector, it’s amazing to come back and feel like you’re doing that work in a place where you have such a strong connection and roots.
You’re very involved in the Jewish community in your professional life, what about your personal life?
Erika and I are members at B’nai Israel Congregation. I actually proposed to Erika in the synagogue because one of her ancestors was bar mitzvahed there synagogue like 100 or 150 years ago. We really love our community there. We run a book club for the young professional community. That’s been a lot of fun.
We really like the Harbor Minyan Kabbalat Shabbat. We’ll go to Moishe House. We’re both mentors in a program called Thread. It is essentially a mentorship program for low-income Baltimore City high school students. We’ve had the amazing opportunity to mentor a young man through that program.
What else are you passionate about?
My wife and I love exploring different neighborhoods in Baltimore and checking out different restaurants and events. I do yoga. I have a great time following the Orioles and the Ravens. I have more fun doing that now that I’m back in Baltimore, although I wish the Orioles weren’t so painful to watch. One other sort of wild card thing about me that people know is that I am a rapper and I write hip-hop music.
Do you perform anywhere?
Not really. But Erika and I partnered to write a duo rap for our recent wedding.