At IMPACT, The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore’s young adult division, Sarah Machlis is involved in fundraising efforts and in programming for young professionals.
Machlis, 22, moved to Baltimore and started a new job as the development associate with IMPACT about two months ago. She grew up in New York, where she was involved with United Synagogue Youth and spent summers at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack. After high school, she did a gap year in Israel through Nativ, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s college leadership program in Israel.
Afterward, she attended the University of Delaware, where she studied sociology, with a concentration in law in society, and minors in Jewish studies and public policy. She graduated during the pandemic and found an opportunity for herself at The Associated.
Was there a Jewish experience you had growing up that was particularly formative for your Jewish identity?
I would say my gap year definitely was the most formative. … Since I went to a public high school and a public school system growing up, I was really craving that Jewish connection. Aside from my peers, through the program, through different opportunities that they provided us and the independence that they granted us for being 18 year olds in Israel, able to explore on your first time out of the house really, I was definitely able to have really meaningful conversations with so many people, to see where I wanted to go with my Judaism and where I wanted to go even with my career path generally.
Why did you decide to do a gap year?
I knew I wanted to have an experience that I would remember forever, and I knew I wanted to capitalize on the excitement I felt about my Judaism exiting high school. I just wanted to find myself in a different way.
How did you get connected to IMPACT?
The pandemic led people to have a lot more obstacles, especially graduating — college students generally — but graduating students especially. So I had reached out to a couple people in nonprofit organizations. … I have a connection at the ADL actually, in New York, that I spoke to, and she was a very good mentor for me and encouraged me to just look more broadly. So I just searched up opportunities for development jobs or nonprofit jobs, especially in the Jewish community because after my gap year and going to the University of Delaware, I just wanted to get back to my Jewish roots.
What has it been like learning to do a new job remotely?
It’s been a lot better than I expected. My team has been unbelievably supportive, especially knowing that I’m from out of the area and don’t know that many people. Everyone’s been so supportive. I was invited to a break fast; that was so thoughtful of someone to think [of inviting me], since I don’t really have family in the area. … There are definitely challenges, of training generally and things like that, and also meeting people around the office that I don’t see in meetings everyday, but my team has also just done a really great job of meeting in person, masks on, distanced when possible.
What are you looking forward to about living in Baltimore?
I’m looking forward to just meeting as many new people as I can, building those connections with people and also just exploring Baltimore. I have lived in New York my whole life, aside from college where I had been living in Delaware. It’s always very fun to be able to meet new people.