Two years ago, when I became chair of the board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, my first official act was to invite the guests at our annual meeting to roll up their sleeves and get involved with the many hands-on projects at a volunteer expo that followed the annual meeting. It was a fitting way for me to begin my term, which comes to an end later this month.
The room buzzed with people, as they touched and felt the work of The Associated in action. The various projects brought together a beautiful cross section of people, who all shared the same goal: caring for the health and vibrancy of Jewish Baltimore.
Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh. All Jews are responsible for one another. That is a value deeply held by The Associated and put into action every day. Thousands of Jews in Baltimore contribute their time, their resources, their passion and their commitment to The Associated system. And our whole community benefits from those efforts.
Our reach extends well beyond our borders to Israel and communities in need around the globe. This year, when Jews in Ukraine feared for their safety amid the political upheaval in their country, we were there for them. We helped ensure that older Jews in our sister city, Odessa, were able to get the supplies they needed, and we enabled the celebration of Jewish life to continue even amid the chaos. Around the corner or around the globe, we stand up as a community and take care of each other.
In the two years I served as chair of the board, I have experienced a spirit of cooperation that is a hallmark of The Associated and our community. I have had the privilege of speaking with or partnering with hundreds of members of our organized Jewish community. Together, we have looked at the needs in our community, identified priorities and sought solutions for challenges that face us today or in the future.
During my term, I saw firsthand what it is that makes our city so special. There is an enormous sense of passion and commitment to the greater good expressed by all those who work for the health of our community, from the professionals who manage the day-to-day operations of The Associated and our agencies to the volunteer leaders who dedicate themselves so tirelessly to our system.
And there is a deep and rich history of involvement in the community that laid the foundation for the work I was able to do as chair of the board. I am humbled by the strength and wisdom of the leaders who came before me. It is their guidance that has helped us become a truly inspiring community.
I will close out chairmanship in much the same way as I began it. I invite all members of our community to do what they can to get involved, to roll up their sleeves to make a difference for someone else, whether in Baltimore, Israel or overseas.
I also wish b’hatzlacha to my successor, Mark Neumann, in whose capable hands I leave The Associated board. May he and the lay leaders and professionals with whom he works go from strength to strength in the efforts on behalf of our community.