Lindsay Gaister Montague encourages people to celebrate Judaism in whatever way is meaningful for them. At Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation, she helps people of all ages connect to Judaism.
Growing up in Baltimore, Gaister Montague, 37, went to Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School. Currently, she lives in Reisterstown with her husband Travys and their three children.
After briefly leaving Baltimore to study English at the University of Delaware, Gaister Montague returned to work for Beth Tfiloh as their director of afterschool programming and social action for 14 years. In 2020, Gaister Montague started her position as the youth and teen engagement specialist at Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom.
How would you describe your relationship with Judaism?
Judaism has always been a very important part of my life. Since I was little, I loved attending synagogue services with my family, celebrating all of the Jewish holidays, watching my mom cook her delicious brisket and attending Hebrew school at Adat Chaim and the Judaic Academy before going to high school at Beth Tfiloh. Then, I continued my Jewish education with a minor in Jewish Studies at University of Delaware. Growing up, I also attended Jewish youth group events and Jewish camps, which further strengthened my connection to not only the religion itself, but to other Jewish youth.
My relationship with Judaism goes deeper than just celebrating the traditions, food and culture. I am also deeply passionate about the Jewish concept of tikkun olam [repairing the world] and I’ve been fortunate to work in the Baltimore Jewish community for the last 15 years, where I have had the opportunity to help others. I truly value hands-on community service, and by helping those less fortunate, I’ve been able to continue deepening my relationship with Judaism on a regular basis.
How does this relationship impact your life as a family?
Since Travys and I got married, we started celebrating Shabbat by having Friday night dinners with my parents. Every Friday night, we get together for a meal. We don’t light Shabbat candles or drink wine, but each week, we acknowledge that it’s Shabbat. We sing Shabbat songs with the kids and enjoy connecting to our Judaism through that special time together. We also eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, have shofar-blowing competitions on Yom Kippur, shake a lulav and etrog together on Sukkot, light the menorah together every night of Chanukah, dress up in fun costumes on Purim, hide and seek the afikomen on Passover and make sure we talk about how to help people less fortunate than us. Being Jewish is an integral part of our family and we are so proud of that.
What is a youth and teen engagement specialist?
A youth and teen engagement specialist is the person whose job it is to bring families and youth together through meaningful and exciting programming to help everyone develop a stronger connection to their own Judaism, in whatever way it is most meaningful to them. I help foster relationships between our teens, our youngest members, our senior members and the community. Through the programming that I help put together, our students are able to become leaders, create long-lasting friendships and feel empowered to make a difference in the world.
Did you always know you wanted to do this job?
No. I was never sure what I wanted to do. When I was younger, I had several career goals like wanting to be a choreographer, making commercials on television and owning a greeting card company. I’ve always been very detail-oriented and loved planning events and working with children. When the Jewish community presented an opportunity that involved both of those things, I took it and never looked back. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What do you do for fun?
This answer is much different now that COVID is here. I love listening to music and singing, especially while driving. I’m very artistic and love arts and crafts. I also love spending time with friends and playing board games. Before COVID, I enjoyed going to all of the Ravens games, seeing live comedy shows and going out to dinner inside restaurants. Now, I love online shopping and cleaning. With three kids and three dogs, any time I have to organize and clean is really amazing.