Happy Rosh Hashana!


Dear BZD Members and Friends,

When I was in my twenties, time seemed limitless. Now I measure time differently with two kids, a full-time job, animals, and a working husband. Then, in a blink of an eye, my day is over.

Rabbi Abraham Pam, cited in Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Haggadah, elaborates on Seforno’s interpretation of the verse containing the very first commandment to the Jewish people in the Torah, “החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים,” “This month shall be for you the beginning of the months.” He explains that the difference between a slave and a free man lies in the control of time. A slave works until he is told to stop. A free person decides when to begin and end. Thus the first command given to the Israelites to take control over the calendar was an essential prelude to freedom. It taught us to learn to value time and make it holy. As is written in Psalms, “Teach us rightly to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The value of time–how we mark it and how we use it–is seen throughout halacha and rabbinic literature. Certainly, Rosh Hashanah is a time when we reflect on how we have used the year and what we commit to doing for the upcoming year.

As this year comes to a close, I have certainly taken time to reflect, if not only for a moment, on the accomplishments we have had during this pandemic as a staff of three at BZD.

It seems as if just yesterday, our staff packed their bags and headed home for what would have been the longest 18 months of our lives. Yet, it didn’t take us long to figure out what our members and the Jewish community needed most. Within days we had our first zoom program in place, and we were over the moon excited to have 22 participants. As the pandemic continued, we added more and more programs, speakers, and tours and built our audience to where it is today – with 1,000-1,500 participants per event.

Our three most significant in-person events moved to the virtual platform, allowing a larger community to engage. We commemorated Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror on Yom Hazikaron, honored the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust during Yom HaShoah, and celebrated Israel’s 73rd Birthday on Yom Ha’Azmaut. Beyond these meaningful events, we traveled across the globe to Israel, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Venice, and sixty other unique places, bringing our members closer to their Jewish roots.

As you spend time reflecting on this past year, I hope the BZD and our committed staff come to mind. We love spending our Tuesday mornings with you and hope you have felt the same over the past 18 months. I’m hopeful that as we enter 5782, the message of Rosh Hashana guides us to invest time with our families, friends, and of course, communities such as the Baltimore Zionist District.

Shana Tova U’metuka!

Caren Leven

Executive Director

Baltimore Zionist District