In 5774 …

maayan_jaffe_squareA New Year is a new beginning. As I prepared and edited the local Year In Review (see page 48), it was nostalgic to think about the big stories that broke this past year and affected our community — some positive, some challenging.

Jewish Community Center President Louis “Buddy” Sapolsky retired. Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School graduate Matthew Jeffers app-eared on ESPN. The Day School at Baltimore Hebrew and the Shoshana S. Cardin School announced their closures. Maryland enacted new gun laws. Hurricane Sandy swept through the eastern part of the country, and Baltimore responded with tremendous chesed and support.

Moving forward in life is more imp-ortant than reflecting on the past, but it’s fun to reminisce. It’s vital to embrace today and to plan for the future. We build off of yesterday’s experiences to create a strong tomorrow.

What can we hope for in Jewish Baltimore in 5774?

Last June, Marc B. Terrill celebrated his 10-year anniversary as president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Now, in his 11th, The Associated has established new mission, vision and values statements. As you’ll read in next week’s paper, according to Michael Hoffman, chief planning and strategy officer at The Associated, the new mission statement is “clearer, more focused and shorter.”

The Associated didn’t even bring its old mission statement to the table for dialogue. Instead, it asked top leadership, “If you were creating the federation, what would your mission statement be?”

As mentioned, this year, we suffered the loss of two Jewish day schools that served important roles in Jewish Baltimore. But we also opened and/or grew others. JEWELS is thriving, integrating children with special needs into classrooms with mainstream students and providing them with a Jewish education. Ohr Chadash continues to grow, recently announcing its new head of school, Rabbi Moshe Margolese, who is native to the area and says he is “a dedicated, caring and committed person,” enthusiastic about moving the school forward.

We are launching an Israel Engagement Center. We expect a renewed invigoration and investment in Jewish camping.

In 5774, we will have more Jews doing Jewish in day school, at Jewish camp and on Israel trips.

Later in the fall, there are plans to celebrate the local Russian Jewish community. While there have been reports of growing anti-Semitism in the Former Soviet Union in 5773, and President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have strained relations, in Jewish Baltimore, heading into 5774, our Russian Jews are more connected and more proud than ever in the past.

This year, my son’s English birthday falls on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. It’s fitting for him to turn a decade on the birthday of the world — for me — because Shlomo is my world. My first child, Shlomo has given me an excellent course in parenting. In 5763, Shlomo taught me that spit-up is underrated. He trained me to thrive on three hours of sleep.

He shows me what it means to get unconditional love — and how to give it back.

He serves as a daily reminder that there is a God — and He is good.

He has let me learn to parent, has forgiven mistakes and has taught me that, as his mom, each year will be better than the next.

Happy New Year, Jewish Baltimore! Happy birthday, Shlomo … and happy birthday, world!

Maayan Jaffe is JT Editor-in-chief
mjaffe@jewishtimes.com

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