Vital Partners

February 6, 2014
BY Linda A. Hurwitz

2014_hurwitz-lindaWhen The Associated: Jewish Comm- unity Federation of Baltimore identified values that exemplify its work in our community, a very important word came up time and time again: collaboration.

The centralized format of The Associated system inspires partnership among its agencies so that they do not compete against each other for resources. Instead, they seek opportunities to work together to maximize the impact they have on our community.

This spirit of collaboration extends beyond The Associated to organizations outside of the system and to government officials on the local, state and federal levels.

Managing our community’s relationship with our government partners is a central part of the mission of the Baltimore Jewish Council, the political and government relations arm of The Associated. In this role, the BJC identifies salient issues and works to address challenges and opportunities.

During the current state legislative session, for instance, the BJC is seeking funding for impactful capital projects. Among those is the Hillel Center for Social Justice at the University of Maryland, College Park, which will provide a center for students of all faiths, cultures and ethnicities to engage in social justice, dialogue and leadership development. Also included are emergency power stabilization and climate control upgrades at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and Levindale Geriatric Center. These proposed improvements will enhance hospital capacity and medical care for patients, families, employees and the surrounding community at times of emergency and during power surges and short- or long-term outages.

By leveraging access to public dollars, the BJC ensures that critical services, such as those for older adults and people with disabilities, are funded, and it also weighs in on public policy issues such as health care, domestic violence, affordable housing and environmental concerns.

The BJC has also secured millions of dollars in homeland security grants from the federal government for synagogues, day schools and Jewish organizations throughout the Baltimore area, including a $3 million increase this year for a total of $13 million in funding.

A centerpiece of the council’s work in Annapolis is its annual Advocacy Day, which was held earlier this week. Each year, concerned citizens — from teens in leadership programs to older adults — come together with legislators from their own districts to discuss the pressing issues of the current legislative session.

Advocacy Day is a unique and outstanding opportunity for members of our community to be counted and to be heard. Many of these issues are of great significance to the Jewish community as a whole; hearing from these advocates offers our local politicians a greater understanding of the issues that resonate with our community.

Many of the politicians who meet with constituents on Advocacy Day are important partners in the agenda for the future health of our community. They work with professionals from The Associated and lay leaders on committees, participate in planning discussions and serve on task forces in either actual or ad hoc roles.

As members of this community, we all benefit from the advocacy provided by the BJC; and there is an opportunity for each of us to play a role. Although Advocacy Day has passed, there are numerous opportunities available to anyone looking to get involved with community advocacy. I encourage you to visit the BJC’s website at www.baltjc.org to learn what you can do to make your voice heard.

Linda A. Hurwitz is chair of Community Planning and Allocations for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

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