People often ask why I am so committed to Jewish comm- unity. The reason is because of the positive impact the Baltimore Jewish community has had on my family and because of the great work of the community in providing vital services to those in need and in building Jewish life.
I moved here from Georgia at age 9. My dad, a university professor, got a job for the State of Maryland. When my parents came here, the state had a real estate agent meet them at the airport, and because our name was Cohen, he showed them a home in Pikesville. They had no idea we were moving into a Jewish neighborhood.
The Jewish community became an integral part of my childhood, and it shaped my Jewish journey. I went to Camp Milldale, hung out at the Park Heights JCC and became active in Kadima and United Synagogue Youth (USY). My parents even became “more Jewish.” My mother became a bat mitzvah as an adult, and my parents had a Jewish wedding for their 33rd anniversary.
When I returned to Baltimore with my wife, Gail Schwartz, after graduate school, we wanted to become involved in Jewish volunteering. We joined The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Young Leadership Council, and we have now been involved for 25 years.
Over the years I’ve learned about the work The Associated does through its various agencies and programs. Yet, I’m often surprised at how many people who are members of the JCC or have parents or grandparents living in CHAI’s Weinberg Senior Living facilities still don’t realize that these are funded by The Associated.
From SHEMESH’s work helping students with learning differences to Jewish Community Services addressing the opioid epidemic, from area campus Hillels engaging our college students in Jewish life to the Macks Center for Jewish Education providing free PJ Library books to young families, The Associated is nurturing our community’s future. I think of The Associated as the “Intel inside” of all the related agencies and programs.
As campaign chair for The Associated this year, I understand that there are many priorities for your time and money. Yet, I believe that The Associated is our Jewish community’s hub, the organization that prioritizes and addresses our needs, and it is what makes Jewish Baltimore thrive.
I love The Associated’s impact on the power of community and on meeting vital community needs. It’s not a given. Please join me in supporting its goals by contributing to The Associated to ensure the future of the agencies and programs on which so many depend. Thank you.
Robb Cohen is campaign chair for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.