Lights. Chanukah. Action.

Over the last week, the skies of Jewish Baltimore have been aglow — not just from the chanukiot, but with fireworks and laser lights.

Attendees at Beth Tfiloh’s Chanukah Fireworks Under the Stars on Nov. 27 enjoyed the color and excitement of the evening, despite some rain and the frigid temperature. Included in the evening were the candle lighting of a 12-foot menorah, a latke bar, warm sufganiyot and live music.

Community members were asked to donate new, unwrapped toys, which were distributed to sick children at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai, the Hackerman-Patz House at Sinai Hospital and to Jewish Community Services’ Toy Closet. With all of the donations, area children will be happy this year!

Then, on Dec. 3, Chizuk Amuno Congregation presented Laser Lights II to celebrate the sixth night of the Jewish holiday. Throughout the darkened sanctuary space, the laser lights of Chanukah bounced off the ceiling and pierced the air.

There was plenty of festive singing and Chanukah treats, too.

Created with flickr slideshow.
Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief —

Digesting Pew

Panelists Michael Hoffman (left), Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz and Alan Cooperman dissect the findings of the Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews. (Melissa Gerr)

Panelists Michael Hoffman (left), Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz and Alan Cooperman dissect the findings of the Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews.
(Melissa Gerr)

“I have to admit that it’s less bad than I originally expected,” said Rabbi Ron Shulman of Chizuk Amuno Congregation and the president of the Baltimore Jewish Council.

Rabbi Shulman was referring to the findings of the Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews, as he opened the panel discussion held at Congregation Shomrei Emunah on Sunday, Nov. 24.

Rabbi Shulman continued, “The news isn’t good, but I think it’s a relatively accurate portrait of who we are. … It’s like looking at ourselves in the mirror … there are elements of the reflection that I think are very good, and there are elements of the reflection that are of deep concern.”

Rabbi Shulman moderated the panel discussion intended to help the approximately 50 attendees (including Israel Patoka representing Governor Martin O’Malley’s office and Marianne Kreitner representing Barbara Mikulski’s office) further dissect and understand the recently released information from the Pew survey of U.S. Jews.

The panelists were Alan Cooperman, deputy director at the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project, Laurence Kotler Berkowitz, senior director of research and analysis and director of the Berman Jewish DataBank at the Jewish Federations of North America, and Michael Hoffman, chief planning and strategy officer at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Cooperman interpreted the surveys’ numbers and helped the audience decipher the meaning behind them. He also explained some of the terminology, such as the difference between Jews by religion (self-identify as Jewish and claim Judaism as their religion) and Jews of no religion (self-identify as Jewish but claim no religious affiliation) and how that information was determined.

Some statistics Cooperman presented elicited reactions from the audience. One of those was that 30 percent of self-identifying Jews considered themselves Jewish because Jesus was a Jew (these were people who consider themselves non-Jewish by religion or parent). Also, 34 percent of Jews polled thought it possible to be Jewish and believe that Jesus was the messiah.

But the information that garnered much discussion and comment was data gathered from the survey question that asked respondents about their emotional connection to Israel. The least religious and also the youngest age group, 18 to 29 year olds, are much less emotionally connected to the State of Israel than all of the other age groups.

Kotler-Berkowitz presented next and focused on the commonalities and differences among the groups surveyed. He took considerable time to further expound on the “emotional connection to Israel” question. He explained that the debate among scientists studying the Pew data is whether or not these younger Jews will remain less emotionally attached to Israel or whether they will become more attached to Israel as they grow older, as the survey data (from older respondents) could possibly indicate. The question, he explained, is whether this group would behave in the manner of a “cohort effect” or not.

Cohort effect, in this instance, is if the cohort or unit of young Jews effectively stays unified in their thinking and attitudes and therefore remains relatively detached from Israel as they grow older. The opposite of that is to break out from their cohort frame of mind (for a host of reasons) and become more emotionally attached to Israel as they get older. The audience’s comments and questions reflected a large concern about hearing this information.

“Pew has been a game changer,” said Hoffman, the final presenter of the evening. “The amount of attention this study has had over the past couple of weeks has been a conversation starter for our national community and our local community.”

Hoffman admitted that it’s hard to translate a national study like Pew into a local application and that studies like these generally present many more questions than answers. He explained that in looking at the Pew findings in relation to Baltimore’s local 2010 study, Baltimore trends better in terms of attitude, behavior and participation in Jewish life. Baltimore Jews polled also trend higher in emotional attachment to Israel as well as travel to Israel. But the data also tells us, he warned, to be mindful of the findings and that Baltimore is not necessarily immune to these national trends.

“Judaism is becoming more individualistic and we have to figure out how to translate that individual expression into community,” said Hoffman.

120613_pewHe cited another statistic from the local study: Although 55 percent of non-Orthodox 18-to 34-year-olds say being Jewish is important to them, only 14 percent say being part of a Jewish community is important to them.

“So there is great deal of Jewish pride in the younger generation,” said Hoffman, “but they haven’t translated that into the value of participating in Jewish life.”

Some 46 percent of respondents found Jewish organizations in Baltimore to be remote or not relevant.

“It’s a call to action for us,” said Hoffman. “We need to be collaborating on how we’re going to evolve Jewish life in Baltimore so it continues to be vibrant, exciting, relevant and meaningful. … We have to meet the needs of the potential consumers of Jewish life.”

The Associated Raises More Than $1.2 Million On #GivingTuesday

Baltimore residents stepped up this #GivingTuesday and showed their support of the Jewish community. At the conclusion of this national day of giving, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore raised $1.264 million dollars, surpassing last year’s #GivingTuesday total of $1 million, the most raised by any nonprofit in the nation.

The money raised will go toward The Associated’s Annual Campaign, which strengthens Jewish life in Baltimore, Israel and around the world.

“We are so pleased with how the entire Baltimore community has responded to Giving Tuesday,” said Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated. “The past two years have been a testament to the kindness and generosity that Baltimoreans continue to exhibit. We are excited by the conversations we had with our donors and constituents about the importance of both giving back and making a positive difference in the community where we live.”

The money was raised through an old-fashioned “phone-a-thon,” where hundreds of volunteers committed part of their day to call on donors.

As part of the #GivingTuesday initiative, The Associated joined ‘Bmore Gives More’, a city-wide effort to make Baltimore the most generous city in the nation. Spearheaded by GiveCorps, which provides fundraising software and expertise to nonprofits, the stakeholders, which also included Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, raised more than $5 million. The effort was recognized by Henry Timms, founder of #GivingTuesday.

Now in its second year, #GivingTuesday was established by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a way to create a national day of giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. The goal is to make this effort part of the national consciousness, following the retail “holidays” of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

For the First Time: A Hasmonean Building Uncovered In The City Of David

In recent months, remains of an impressive structure from the Hasmonean period (second century BCE) have been unearthed in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Giv‘ati site, located in the City of David near the walls surrounding the Old City. Josephus wrote about Hasmonean Jerusalem, but it is only now that remains of a building are being exposed from this period of the city’s history

Researchers in Jerusalem discover a building dating back to the Hasmonean period.

Researchers in Jerusalem discover a building dating back to the Hasmonean period.

The building stands 13 feet high and covers an area of 689 square feet. The building’s broad walls, more than 3.3 feet thick, are made of roughly hewn limestone blocks that were arranged as headers and stretchers, a construction method characteristic of the Hasmonean period.

Although numerous pottery vessels were discovered inside the building, it was mainly the coins that surprised the researchers. The dating of these coins indicate that the structure was erected in the early second century BCE and continued to be in use into the Hasmonean period, during which significant changes were made inside the building.

Dr. Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, the excavation directors on behalf to the Israel Antiquities Authority, stated that: “The importance of this discovery is primarily because of the conspicuous paucity of buildings from the Hasmonean city of Jerusalem in archaeological research, despite the many excavations that have been conducted to date. Apart from several remains of the city’s fortifications that were discovered in different parts of Jerusalem, as well as pottery and other small finds, none of the Hasmonean city’s buildings have been uncovered so far, and this discovery bridges a certain gap in Jerusalem’s historical sequence. The Hasmonean city, which is well-known to us from the historical descriptions that appear in the works of Josephus, has suddenly acquired tangible expression.”

Aryeh Savir writes for Tazpit News Agency.

Menorahs Vandalized in States, Abroad

Half-way through the Chanukah holiday, and already several chanukiot have been vandalized, according to JTA Wire Service. First, a 6-foot menorah in front of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah was vandalized.

Jews celebrate Chanukah in Budapest, Hungary.

Jews celebrate Chanukah in Budapest, Hungary.

Three branches of the menorah were ripped off its left side and dropped in front of the Chabad House in Salt Lake City early Sunday morning, according to reports.

The center has been at its current location since 2005 and erected a menorah every year. It is the first time the menorah has been vandalized.

Rabbi Benny Zippel, executive director of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, said he believes the desecration was vandalism and not connected to anti-Semitism. He said he would press charges if the vandals were caught, however.

Meanwhile, a 9-foot menorah stolen Saturday night from the front of the Chabad of Northwest Indiana in Munster, Ind., was recovered the following day. It had been dumped in a backyard about a half-mile away.

Abroad, in Hungary, three vandals of public menorahs in the Hungarian capital of Budapest reportedly turned themselves into police.

Police were searching for a fourth vandal in the attacks they said took place over the weekend on four menorahs throughout the city, Hungary’s Club Radio reported. The vandalism was captured on public surveillance cameras.

The Hungarian daily newspaper Nepszabadsag reported Monday that the attacks — by vandals who were described as young people — appeared to have been “preplanned and premeditated.”

Chabad erected the four menorahs, which were placed at busy intersections throughout the city. The largest, at about 20 feet high, was erected downtown, according to Chabad, and the others are about 10 feet high.

Chabad has erected public menorahs in Budapest every Chanukah since the fall of communism in 1989. It was the first time that a public menorah has been damaged.



Israeli Wine Reaches Vietnam

Israel’s Golan Heights Winery launches its award winning range of wines in Vietnam reflecting its rapid growth in an ever increasing Asian wine culture.

Wine - 12.02.2013

Members of the Israeli and Vietnamese delegations at a party celebrating the signing of the agricultural cooperation agreement.

The Golan Heights Winery, which produces, markets and exports premium wines worldwide, has been selected to be the first Israeli winery to be marketed to Vietnam. As part of a new commercial initiative from Israel’s Ministry of Economy, the winery has begun to introduce Vietnam to Israel’s flourishing wine industry.

In recent years, Asia has seen an expansion of its wine culture. Within South East Asia, Vietnam has one of the highest wine consumptions per capita. While the country has witnessed an impressive development of wine culture over the last century, there is very little internal wine production given unfavorable climatic conditions for vine growing. Vietnam has now become a prominent wine importer and wines from as far afield as Chile, France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand are all readily available.

Wine 2 - 12.02.2013Einat HaLevi-Levine, Director of New Export Industries from Israel’s Ministry of Economy in Vietnam has spearheaded the campaign to expose Vietnam to Israeli wine. Beginning with a wine tasting in Hanoi in 2012, this year a series of wine marketing events were held around Vietnam. Reciprocal visits from Vietnamese wine import professionals were also received in Israel when they attended the Golan Heights Winery’s 30th year celebrations. Following the visit, the winery signed a distribution agreement with a Vietnamese distributor heralding the beginning of the next stage in this exciting endevour.

As November drew to a close, an agricultural cooperation agreement was signed in Vietnam by Israeli Minister of Agriculture, Yair Shamir, and Vietnamese Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Cao Duc Phat. The agreement was signed at a dinner party hosted by the Israeli Ministry culminating with a L’chaim over a glass of the newly imported Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon.

“The Asian market is one of the most interesting and challenging markets for the wine industry,” explained Anat Levi, CEO of the Golan Heights Winery. “The growth in consumption of quality wines here is among the highest in the world and Vietnam now joins the other Asian countries that we export to including Japan and China.”

“We are very proud to lead the process and see the entrance of the Golan Heights Winery to Vietnam,” added HaLevi-Levine. “This achievement signifies an Israeli breakthrough to Vietnam, an accomplishment that should not be taken for granted in this country of nearly 100 million people.” HaLevi-Levine sees the entry of the Israeli wine industry to Vietnam as a significant strengthening of bilateral trade and also of Israel’s positive “brand” in Vietnam.

Pictures: Members of the Israeli and Vietnamese delegations at a party celebrating the signing of the agricultural cooperation agreement.

Amit Pays Tribute To Longtime Volunteers

Amit honored several of the organization’s longtime volunteers at a gala at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion on Sunday, Nov. 17. Shown here, from left: Sonia Greenspon, Selma Mosgin, Russell  Hendel, Isabel Levinson and Fern Friedel. (David Stuck)

Amit honored several of the organization’s longtime volunteers at a gala at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion on Sunday, Nov. 17. Shown here, from left: Sonia Greenspon, Selma Mosgin, RussellHendel, Isabel Levinson and Fern Friedel. (David Stuck)

Selma Mosgin has one distinct memory that exemplifies why she has volunteered with Amit for more than 50 years.

On a trip to Israel in 1993, she visited several of the organization’s facilities, including a family residence where 11 troubled boys lived with a young couple. She remembers a peaceful scene with dinner preparations under way.

“The husband was talking to us and his little boy was standing there with his arms around his father’s side, and he was telling us about this particular group of boys that were so disturbed that they could not be in an apartment with the other children,” she said. “What they do with them is they save their lives. They give them special attention.”

Since 1925, Amit has been helping needy children in Israel with education, housing and other necessities. The organization operates 110 schools, youth villages and family residences along with many programs; it will help 26,000 children this year.

“We enable Israel’s youth to realize their potential,” said Robbie Pearlstein, Amit’s mid-Atlantic regional director.

On Sunday, Nov. 17, the organization honored several of its volunteers, some posthumously, at a gala at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion.

“We’ve had so many wonderful ladies who volunteered, and I felt like it was time to pay tribute, even to the ones who have gone,” said Sonia Greenspon, who organized the gala. She has been volunteering with the group for decades and was also honored.

Many volunteers, including Greenspon, got involved with Amit, which has had many names over the years, through other family members.

“[My mother] sat on the phone for hours every time there was a function, trying to get people to come and contribute,” Greenspon said. “My picture of her is sitting on the telephone.”

Greenspon, who has two grandchildren who attend Amit schools, has a similar story to Mosgin’s about a serene scene she once saw when there was a measles epidemic. Children who normally would have been in school were home in bed, but rather than complain, they seemed happy and content.

“They really give each child what they need — individual attention,” she said. “Seventy percent of the kids Amit helps live below the poverty line, and the organization’s alumni number more than 100,000.

Mosgin said the Israeli government turns failing schools over to Amit, and the organization brings in its own principals, teachers and curriculum. She said Amit’s schools produce top students.

“We get them prepared to go to college,” she said. “We just do miracles.”

Mosgin, 85, got involved in her 30s. Her grandmothers, mother, aunts and cousins were all involved. She’s served as president, and now co-president, since the early 1990s.

“So many of us are there because our parents or grandparents were there, and so it [was] passed on l’dor v’dor,” she said. “It’s a great honor, and I’m proud to have any part in what Amit does.”

Pearlstein said Amit volunteers, who span the age spectrum, truly feel connected to the organization’s work.

“They feel that they’re their kids, they feel ownership toward them,” she said. “It’s all about the kids and their love for Israel.”

She hopes that the gala served as a call to action.

“What hopefully will come out of this event [is that] the children of these women, who have worked their entire lives for the organization, will step up to the plate,” Pearlstein said.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Marc Shapiro is a JT staff reporter —

Israel. Bring It.

Penina Romanek says volunteering in Beit Shemesh is teaching her the importance of the State of Israel. (Maayan Jaffe)

Penina Romanek says volunteering in Beit Shemesh is teaching her the importance of the State of Israel. (Maayan Jaffe)

There are upward of 300 young men and women from the Greater Baltimore-Washington, D.C. corridor who are spending between five and 12 months this year in the State of Israel — volunteering, learning and living.

These people — young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 — are part of an international program called Masa Israel. Spearheaded in 2004 to increase the number of young Jews who come on long-term programs to Israel, Masa gives travelers the opportunity to touch and feel what life is like in Israel.

Take, for example, Devin Sutton, a 28-year-old graduate of University of Maryland, College Park. Sutton said she discovered Masa and its English Teaching Fellowship by chance. She was working as a kindergarten teacher in a Carroll County public school when she became frustrated by the administrative work. She switched to a job in customer service, only to become disillusioned by her choice; Sutton still wanted to teach. She also wanted to revisit Israel. She had only been to Israel once, on a Birthright trip.

“I had gone on Birthright through Oranim. I went back to the website and stumbled upon this program,” Sutton said. “I thought it would be one of the best ways to get back to teaching.”

With help from Masa grants — “I would not have been able to do it without help” — Sutton made the move. She said the year (she is living in Ramle and teaching underprivileged children in Lod) has achieved its goal.

“In Baltimore, I am not that connected. I did not go to Hebrew school, my family does not belong to a synagogue. Here, I have been able to find my Jewish identity and to teach. That is why I did this, I wanted a change, an opportunity to do something new and different … and to have the most impact,” said Sutton.

According to Mary Haar, director of Israel and Overseas for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, 832 young adults have traveled from Baltimore on a Masa program since the city became involved in 2008. In 2013, approximately 160 people took part. The Associated, whose 2013 grant to Masa was $303,000, hopes to increase that number in 2014 by 60 people.

Explained Haar: “One component of the grant is to create and implement a strategic, multimedia marketing campaign to increase awareness of Masa.”

The campaign is scheduled to launch in January 2014.

In Washington, that awareness has already been building for the past several months. Bold ads for Masa can be seen on the Metro and in other key venues throughout the area. This campaign — and a full-time Masa Israel recruitment professional — is made possible by a generous, anonymous donor.

According to Avital Ingber, chief development officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, this donor “wanted to help more local community members learn about Masa Israel. The donor’s child had a difficult time finding information to research a potential Masa Israel experience, and [the donor] wanted to help make this process easier for others.”

Jenn Rheuban is part of the Federation’s Young Leadership team.

According to Ingber, approximately 150 young adults from the Greater Washington area participated in Masa programs in 2013. The community is expecting an increase with the launch of, a new portal that features local Masa alumni and statistics about the positive impact of Masa Israel. Since its recent launch, site traffic is nearly doubling monthly.

In addition to young people from the area who are traveling to Israel through Masa, many young adults from across the country are volunteering in the communities’ partner cities, Ashkelon (Baltimore) and Beit Shemesh (Washington).

Penina Romanek, from Chicago, landed in Israel in October 2013 and is volunteering in Beit Shemesh through the Ethiopian National Project (ENP). She helps mentor the youth and assists in a Beit Shemesh school. She said while she feels good about giving back to the community, she feels she is gaining from the experience, as well.

“I have learned so much from the kids,” said Romanek. “They are teaching me the importance of the State of Israel. I can’t wait to go home and tell people what I see here.”

Similarly, Abby Mandel, of South Carolina, is working with ENP in the afternoons; she studies Hebrew in the mornings. She said she had no idea about the Ethiopian community before coming to Israel. She finds her work “inspiring.”

Said Mandel: “This feels very real.”

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief

Knockout: Violent ‘Game’ Targets Jews In Brooklyn

An alleged victim of the "knockout game” falls to ground after getting hit by a sucker punch. (WTAE.COM)

An alleged victim of the “knockout game” falls to ground after getting hit by a sucker punch. (WTAE.COM)

Across the country, the “knockout game” has people worried, but in the Jewish community, the fear might be even more pressing.

At least seven attacks, which generally involve an assailant picking out a victim at random and attempting to knock him or her out with a single sucker punch, have been reported in Brooklyn, N.Y., this fall, according to JTA Wire Service. Most of these incidents have involved Jewish victims.

On Saturday, a Brooklyn man was arraigned and released on $750 bail after being charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment of an Orthodox Jewish man. Although police initially announced that the suspect was being charged with a hate crime, prosecutors said Saturday that the charges included only assault, harassment and menacing, The New York Times reported.

The 24-year-old Orthodox man said he was surrounded by a group of men and punched by one. Prosecutors said the victim heard the alleged attacker and the other men talking about the game before the altercation.

“It is beyond appalling,” said Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, of the behavior. “It is beyond outrageous.”

Washington, D.C., police are investigating two assaults that officials say took place Nov. 14 and Nov. 15 near the Columbia Heights section of the city. Both of the female victims walked away with minor injuries, and neither was knocked out, said Gwendolyn Crump, director of communications for the department. The victims’ religious affiliation, if any, is unknown.

For Halber, who is originally from Brooklyn and still has family living in the New York City borough, including his parents, the recent incidents are especially unsettling.

Even though the Brooklyn victims were wearing traditional Jewish garb that self-identified them as being Jewish, said Halber, people who don’t dress in the traditional fashion shouldn’t necessarily feel that they are safe or protected just because they aren’t as easily identifiable.

“It can become epidemic very quickly,” he said, adding that this kind of trend must be confronted head-on, with tough sentences for those responsible and no plea options. “The only way to handle this is to crush this.”

In Baltimore City, Det. Jeremy Silbert, spokesman for the Baltimore police, said the department hasn’t had any reports of anything that resembles the knockout game. However, he said, that doesn’t mean that residents should let their guard down.

“We want to encourage everyone in the community to always be aware of their surroundings. If they’re driving or walking and they see anyone suspicious — whether it’s a person or a vehicle — we want them to immediately call 911,” said Silbert. “Callers never have to leave their name.”

Silbert said the department makes it a point to closely follow trends as they appear in other cities and states.

“While we have not seen any of these incidents, we would just ask for everyone to stay aware of their surroundings,” he said. “We know that people — in their community — know what’s suspicious and what’s not, and if they see something that looks out of place or just doesn’t sound right, we want them to call us, and we’ll have an officer come out.”

The Baltimore Jewish Council had no comment on the subject.

Connected to Give

Brett and Julie Cohen recently enrolled in the Young Donor Advised Philanthropic Fund.

Brett and Julie Cohen recently enrolled in the Young Donor Advised Philanthropic Fund.

Jewish social engagement drives charitable giving to both Jewish and non-Jewish causes.

So reported a recent study by Jumpstart, a philanthropic research and design lab based in Los Angeles, Calif. Earlier this year, Jumpstart released “Connected to Give,” the first findings from its National Study on American Jewish Giving. They collected data from nearly 3,000 American Jewish households that covered a wide spectrum of philanthropic habits. Polled were those with and without wills, Jews donating to Jewish and secular causes and those who do and do not include charitable bequests in their wills (dollars earmarked to charity upon their death).

Legacy or planned giving (charitable contributions pledged in wills or estate-planning documents) is typically considered attainable only by financially established or older patrons. But that sentiment is changing, reports the study, as more and more legacy programs geared to younger adults are being established within foundations.

Daniela Levine, senior development associate for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s legacy and endowment department, engages young adults in the Young Donor Advised Philanthropic Fund, a “during lifetime” contribution program.

“The Donor Advised Philanthropic Fund requires a $10,000 initial
contribution, and perhaps that’s too high a barrier for some young adults,” said Levine. “So we allow younger individuals (40 and under) to contribute $2,000 a year for five years to get their $10,000. Once they’ve reached that amount they can recommend grants from their fund like any other donor-advised fund contributor.”

The Associated’s donor-advised programs are tax deductible at the time of contribution into the fund, and its Consolidated Investment Fund (CIF) is managed by Associated fund managers. Brett Cohen, 34, and his wife Julie, recently enrolled in the Young Donor Advised Philanthropic Fund.

“We come from comfortable families with average resources,” said Cohen. “So especially with a new family, $10,000 was a little daunting. But $2,000 a year is about … $6 a day, that’s like a Starbucks coffee. We can do this. Young people have the capacity and ability and desire to do more, to really help out the community on a larger scale.”

The Cohens also see this as a way to pass on the value of tzedakah (charity) to their newborn son, and they hope to recruit other young friends that have the financial availability and capacity. They want to help create another generation of giving to the Baltimore community.

The Create a Jewish Legacy program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington also has an initiative geared to young adults as part of its “after lifetime” donor program.

“It’s called the Key Donor Life Insurance Program,” said Yvonne Schlafstein Distenfeld, co-chair of Create a Jewish Legacy. “A young person purchases a life insurance policy and the United Jewish Endowment Fund (the endowment arm of the federation), shares the cost 50/50 of the new policy with the donors and the federation is the beneficiary. So legacy giving is not just for very, very rich people or people in the third part of their life.”

Because life insurance policies cost much less when purchased at a young age, this is attainable for younger donors, enabling them to make a much larger financial impact than they thought possible.

“The Create a Jewish Legacy program reaches young adults because we’re creating a visible culture of planned giving across our community,” says Distenfeld. “It’s a cultural change of thinking.”

Kate Conn, CEO of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation said, “Organizations are leaving millions of dollars on the table by not placing planned giving front and center in their philanthropic efforts.”

Melissa Gerr is JT senior staff reporter and digital media editor —