July 2021
Jodi’s Journey Back to Judaism
You helped!

Jodi’s childhood was steeped in her Jewish faith! Jodi attended Hebrew school and was Bat Mitzvahed at Beth El synagogue in Pikesville.

Both her parents were Jewish, and her family was raised Jewish with a heavier focus on cultural connections, and family life, as compared to strict religious following.

Like many people, as she entered adulthood, got married and had children, her busy life kept her from being observant much, beyond celebrating the High Holidays and hosting Passover seders.

Jodi was still a proud Jew, but time was limited and being actively involved was not easy!

Early on Jodi and her husband, who is not Jewish had decided to raise their two children (now 5 and 7) in the Jewish faith.

Having children as well as relocating to Harford County, helped spark Jodi’s mid-life urge to reassess her life and what’s truly important – including her relationship to her Judaism.

Harford County was more affordable and a quieter area but Jodi knew it wouldn’t be easy to engage Jewishly. After all, life was busy and she was aware that her family might be one of the only ones in town that identify with any form of Judaism. So, she decided to look around to see if there were any other Jews up here—and there aren't too many.

As they began exploring what was available. They thought they would give Harford Chabad a try, a friend had already recommended Chabad so they decided to check it out.

Before she could make the call, surprise! Rabbi Kushi, with his deep and comprehensive database, and ears open, found Jodi and connected. “I don't know how he found me!” Jodi said, laughing, “but I am glad he did.”

Harford Chabad is a warm and welcoming, open space for families like Jodi’s to find their Jewish community, and when people find community – they find the time come together and engage.

You help them find themselves in their Judaism.

You make sure there is no Jew left behind – you help people like Jodi make that important connection – so they will never again feel like the only Jew in town.

With your support and backing Rabbi Kushi stayed in contact with Jodi and her family, reminding her that Harford Chabad was ready and waiting to support her in her journey to stay connected with her Judaism. The rabbi and his wife Fraida kept Jodi alerted to Harford Chabad’s activities – including dropping in in person to bring a little Purim cheer, with covid and the craziness Jodi was not able to attend.

Finally, an outdoor Challah-baking event before Rosh Hashana enticed Jodi to attend with her kids, because, well, it sounded like fun (and there was a bonus of seeing people safely during covid)!

“I think Rabbi Schusterman and his wife, and the community they've built, is extremely welcoming,” Jodi said. “We finally attended an event, and it was so fun. My kids had a great time, and I met a really good friend. She was making challah at the table next to me and we have play dates now. She has also relocated and was kind of finding her way. It was just a very welcoming experience.”

Since then, Jodi and her family have attended more events, like the outdoor shofar blowing, as Jodi continues evaluating (always evaluating after all she is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Maryland) what her Judaism means to her and her family – and at what level she wants to be involved.

What she has found is a community and a rabbi who accept her at whatever level of engagement she is comfortable with.

“I definitely feel connection to a community here of Jewish people,” she said. “I think the rabbi is an incredible person who just goes above and beyond for reaching out to all the Jews, and making everyone feel welcome. I still do have a lot of questions about Orthodox Judaism and Judaism in general. He's okay with that and I appreciate that. We have a really wonderful family that is doing a world of good in Harford County that's really needed.”

Having a connectedness to a smaller set of really active Jewish families and activists. in whatever sense that means for them, that's what keeps Jodi interested in Chabad, and thinking about how she can become more involved.

There is no doubt, that without your continued support of Harford Chabad and its community, Jodi would not have found the wide open welcome she was seeking. You helped her find a community that makes her feel a part of her new home.

“While Chabad (like Harford County) also has differences, they welcome everyone. I think that's really important to add to the Harford County community, which is not as diverse as other parts of Maryland,” Jodi said. “Chabad makes everyone feel like they could make this their home and feel comfortable. So that's a very important special part of Harford County.”

You assure Harford Chabad’s continued outreach to every Jew. And with your continued support those that are new to the area, like Jodi and her family, who are seeking a welcoming, comfortable place to explore their Judaism – will be sure to find it!