Date: June 16, 2022
Source: The Associated
Liore Klein – Finding Community Through Connection
Liore had the opposite experience in Jewish Baltimore.
Originally from New York, Liore has bounced around, living in several communities, before settling in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore City in 2018. She now lives there with her wife Alissa and their 2-year-old daughter Ellie. When Ellie was first born, Liore and Alissa were eager to introduce her to Jewish life.
“We had a big baby naming in our synagogue. We were so excited to bring her to synagogue events!”
Yet, Ellie was only four months old when the pandemic began.
Finding ways to introduce their daughter to Jewish life proved challenging for Liore and Alissa when synagogue life went virtual.
“That’s how we connected with Jodie,” she recalls.
Liore and Alissa shared the same synagogue with Jodie ZIsow-McClean, a friend and Community Connector through The Associated’s Macks Center for Jewish Education. The Community Connector program enlists the help of dedicated volunteers like Jodie to find and connect Jewish Baltimore families, with the goal of helping young families form relationships with each other, the larger Jewish community and Jewish tradition. Jodie is especially focused on building community with LGBTQ+ Jewish people and families.
“I remember the first event Jodie organized was a Tot Shabbat in a park,” recalls Liore. “It was lovely to have a child-centered event that was safe, that my child could enjoy and that supplemented our Jewish life.”
For Liore and other parents, events such as these provide critical opportunities for their young children to interact safely with other kids in-person, instead of through a computer screen.
But the connection goes beyond the children. As Liore explains, Jodie’s group has provided meaningful connections for the adults as well.
“At a synagogue, there are certainly other parents with young children. But there’s a mix. Some have high schoolers while others are in elementary or middle school. It’s nice being able to connect with other parents who are at similar stages in life, Jewish or otherwise.”
Since its inception Jodie’s group has held virtual Purim dance parties, story time and much more.
“I remember there was an event that was centered around bagels, coffee, story time and music. It was just lovely. It gave me a sense of community – something I don’t always get to have when trying to be safe about Covid.”
Looking to the future, Liore and Alissa are excited for more chances to introduce Ellie to Jewish life. And with a new child on the way, Liore feels comforted knowing that the Community Connector program will be there.
“I can’t wait to attend Jewish events with my children this summer. Even if a vaccine comes out for the littles, it’s not going to be administered below six months. I’m very protective of my family and so it’s really valuable to me that the Community Connector program is there for us and the rest of the community.”