What is your name? Leslie Brodsky
What is your current title? Depends on the time of day…Mother, Wife, Sales Manager at the Baltimore Convention Center, Board Development Officer at Bet Yeladim, Daughter, Sister, Aunt & Friend.
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? Currently Co-Chair Good Deeds Day, served on the Jew Year’s Eve committee.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? The Hard Rock Café was really popular back then so my theme was Leslie’s Hard Rock Bat Mitzvah.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? My favorite Jewish holiday is Chanukkah, where it is completely acceptable and encouraged to eat fried food for 8 days! I also love getting together with family, creating memories and carrying on traditions from my childhood. I also love watching my children get so much joy out of lighting the candles, singing songs and of course opening tons of presents.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? Definitely my parents! They have been very involved in the Howard County Jewish Community through Temple Isaiah and the Federation and have shown me how important it is to be a part of the community and to give back. Now that I have my own children, my husband Aaron and I want to make sure they also learn by example so they always feel like they have a sense of belonging and are part of a strong Jewish community.
What is your name? Sara Magden
What is your current title? Co-chair of Purim Palooza 2016
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? My husband and I are part of the Chai Society for young adults. I am also participating in the jLEADS Class of 2016.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? I never had one as I converted to Judaism when I was an adult.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? My favorite Jewish holiday is Passover. Seeing the excitement of the holiday through both of my daughter eyes has been extremely fulfilling. Passover, in general, is a holiday that brings our family & friends together for the big Seder which is fun to get ready for, especially with my little ones' helping hands and creative minds.
A weekly Jewish holiday in our household that has become a part of our family & a weekly tradition is Shabbat. It is a time for me, my husband and my daughters and to reflect on our week and enjoy time with one another.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? I became involved with the help of Meghann Schwartz of the Federation as well as my close friend, Randi Leshin. They are both incredible, kind, and strong women who inspire me to remain active and involved in the Jewish community.
I view my volunteer work as "my job". It is one of the ways to show my children that being involved with the Federation is Mommy’s way of giving back and doing a good mitzvah for our Jewish community of Howard County.
What is your name? Scott Adam Berkowitz
What is your current title? Titles: father (of three), husband, brother and son. Other: a cardiology faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the senior medical director for accountable care for Johns Hopkins Medicine and the executive director of Johns Hopkins Medicine Alliance for Patients (the Johns Hopkins Medicine Accountable Care Organization).
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I recently served on the Jew Year’s Eve planning committee. My wife and I have been donors to the Howard County Jewish Federation’s annual campaign for the last several years.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? I believe it was music, and I played my trumpet.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? My favorite Jewish holiday is Chanukah because of the history, emphasis on family and celebration, and because our children get so much enjoyment.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? In my life, Judaism has always been about family, tradition, faith and community. I grew up in a conservative congregation in Syracuse, New York. Somewhat involved in USY in high school, I then routinely attended Shabbat dinner in college at our local Hillel chapter, and met my wife Lesley at a Hillel pizza event. In 2011, I went to Israel for the first time on an amazing trip sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America National Young Leadership. The following year, I completed the leadership development program of the Baltimore Jewish Council. Over the last several years, we have developed many ties to the local Jewish community. Our children have all attended Bet Yeladim pre-school and have continued those friendships even after graduating. The kids love receiving PJ Library books each month and participating in many of the PJ events around town. We are members of Temple Isaiah and our oldest two children are in religious school there. I look forward to staying involved and continuing to build a strong and tight-knit Jewish community.
What is your name? Randi Singer
What is your current title? I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter, and many other titles. I am affiliated with the P.J. Library Mom’s Night Out group and the P.J. Library group. I am also a Chai Society member.
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? My current connection to oxyGEN is through the Chai Society activities to bring the Jewish Community together. I try to attend the functions that take place to meet new friends and see old ones.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? My bat mitzvah didn’t have a theme as it was a luncheon with a d.j. Plus it was so long ago, lol.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? Oh wow- my favorite Jewish holiday would have to be Rosh Hashanah. I just love how the family comes together and shares in happy occasions. Being that come from a large family, it is quite a gathering. I do also enjoy Yom Kippur in the fact of taking time to think back as to how I am as a person and what ways I can make a change to be better.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? Well, let’s see… I love my Jewish religion and am very proud to be Jewish. I grew up going to an Orthodox synagogue and learning the culture really inspired me to want to stay active. It was very important for me to marry Jewish and raise my children Jewish. I grew up belonging to NCSY and loved the shabbatons and extra gatherings we had. After I married, we began to grow a family. It was important for us to begin our children learning in a Jewish pre-school setting. They attended Bet Yeladim and we have been so blessed to have made so many “friends for life.” From those friendships, we actively get together with and without children. While one of my children is finishing pre-school, the other one is off to kindergarten and has started Hebrew school. It may seem like a lot, however I want my children to have the same learning as my husband and I did.
Being a part of staying involved makes me feel like I have a place in the world. It keeps me grounded and true to who I am. I enjoy sharing my Jewish life stories with my children as they grow and can’t wait to see the tradition continue.
What is your name? Randi Leshin
What is your current title? Owner/Hairstylist at All About U! Salon
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I am going to be in the jLEADS class of 2016 and co-chair of the Purim Palooza
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? Shopping at Randi's Mall
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? Simchat Torah. The Torah is always such a fragile and holy object, except on this day! We dance and sing with the Torah and it becomes something celebrated!
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? I was first approached to be part of the Mom's Night Out committee and it sounded like it could be a fun thing. The event was fun, but it is the people I met that got me hooked! After being involved on a few other committees, Meghann Schwartz convinced me that there was even more and now being an oxyGEN volunteer and participant has become my 2nd full time job!
What is your name? Liron Fisch
What is your current title? Art Administrator and Art Instructor, Columbia Art Center
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I was a part of the Jew Year's Eve committee, which was a rewarding experience, especially after seeing such a successful event. Also, I am currently planning exciting happy hours for the upcoming year for Jewish adults who live or work in Howard County.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? Since my Bat Mitzvah was in the spring and I have always loved flowers, I had a colorful, floral, spring themed Bat Mitzvah.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? Pesach has always been my favorite holiday. I love the symbolism, rituals, tradition, and refreshing feeling of springtime. I also enjoy when Pesach falls on my birthday!
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? I felt that I was missing involvement in my Jewish community, so I decided to apply for jLEADS. After graduation, I decided to continue my involvement by joining oxyGEN since it is important for me to see a young Jewish community grow and thrive.
What is your name? Bryan Miller
What is your current title? Realtor, Re/Max Advantage
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I am currently enrolled in jLEADS, and will serve on the inaugural oxyGEN committee to continue with my involvement in the Howard County Jewish Federation
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? Cars and Sports. Always an Avid Car Enthusiast
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? Hanukkah, of course. Who doesn’t love getting presents all the time? Now that I’m older, its great seeing the looks on my kids faces each night to see what present they are getting.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? I have always wanted to be involved. Howard County is very tough to find Jewish families such as myself. My goal was to get involved, and help bringing the Jewish families “out” so we can involve and create friendships with one another. jLEADS sounded great from the beginning, and turned out to be one of the best decisions I made. Some friendships have been created, that I can see remaining in the future, along with some great ideas that will be incorporated into the Jewish Federation of Howard County.
What is your name? Neal V. Green
What is your current title? Clinical Trials Specialist at The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I am currently a member of the jLEADS program and look forward to becoming more involved in oxyGEN and the Jewish Federation.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? Music. My Bar Mitzvah was held at Martin’s West. The first time we went there I saw the most magnificent 3-story chandelier hanging in the lobby and dreamed of having my picture taken hanging from it. We soon found out that when it was originally hung, two workers landed up in Shock Trauma! On the night of my Bar Mitzvah, they took my picture under it and I was thrilled.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday and something that I look forward to every year. While watching the Food Channel, I came across a show about the 2nd Seder held at Spago Beverly Hills. We decided to attend that Passover and had a wonderful time. The Seder was terrific and the food was excellent. Twelve years later we still go to the Seder and have made wonderful friends with the other participants who also attend year after year. It has become like one big family. To make it extra special, the entire cost of the Seder is donated to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. A major part of the Seder focuses on the issue of hunger in America.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? My Mom has always been very active in our Synagogue and the Jewish community. If something is going on, she can always be counted on to organize, lead, help, or do whatever is needed to make the event/program/etc.succeed. Watching her involvement has inspired me to become more active and involved. I am hopeful that through my involvement, other “younger” members of the Jewish community will feel more connected and involved.
What is your name? Alexander Dean Raven
What is your current title? Student / Entrepreneur / Homeless Advocate
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I am a part of jLEADS, the young adult Jewish Leadership Program held within Howard County. It's a great program, full of learning opportunities, and I'm happy to be a part of it. Thanks to Jeremy Goldman and Meghann Schwartz for the opportunity!
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? Now this is an interesting question, because I had a dual Bar Mitzvah! Me and Eric Stishan, happening in the middle of November, even though my birthday was in October. We had a huge D.J.'ed Rave Party afterwards, and then me & my group all went to Shadowland for Lazer Tag. So I guess, if there had to be a Particular Theme, it would be Lazers.
My favorite Jewish Holiday? Has to be a mix between Chanukah and Purim. I can't quite decide, because Chanukah always had 8 presents which is awesome. But Purim, is basically Jewish Halloween, and I received some of my best toys as a kid from the Purim Carnival the Federation gives. I still owe them that debt from my youth.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? I'm currently trying to start up my own business and work on a patent. Keep an eye out for it, shall be called aR&Dc Technologies! But I wanted to branch out and meet new people within a leadership environment, and participate in something that could strengthen my faith. Creating a new business takes a lot of work, but I am meeting new people & helping many through my homeless advocacy work, and this program has provided me avenues of helping many & learning more about myself. I'm happy I can be a part of it.
What is your name? Matt Aument
What is your current title? Senior Software Engineer and co-founder and co-president of Kol Nefesh.
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I am young-ish and a graduate of the inaugural jLEADS class of 2014, Federation donor, and volunteer for events like Purim Palooza and the Kiddush Cup golf tournament.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? If cow tipping were a valid theme, it probably would have been that, but growing up in suburban Pennsylvania and not knowing any Jewish people until I met my wife, I sadly have no bar mitzvah themes or Hebrew school horror stories to hang my hat on.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? I would have to say Yom Kippur because I feel like it’s G-d’s way of asking us silence all the noise in our lives, put everything aside for a day, and spend some time reflecting on who we are and who we want to be as people. Making the sacrifices called for by Yom Kippur (not just the food, but the work, electronics, and activities also) can be very liberating, and in the end, that makes it the most fulfilling of the holidays for me.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? Having not grown up religiously, I didn’t really have a sense of community. Once we had kids which we agreed to raise Jewish, I wanted to make sure that they knew who they were and that, even though they are in the minority, they knew they are part of this wonderful Jewish community. Even now, I continue to stay involved to teach my children that giving back is an important aspect to being part of the community. Whether it’s volunteering our time, making donations, or simply going out and spending time with other young Jewish families, I try to be an example for my kids on what it means to be active and contributing member to the community at large.
What is your current title? Catering Chef at CCBC in Catonsville
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I recently graduated from the very first jLEADS program. I am currently the Bet Yeladim Preschool representative to the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Howard County.
What was your bar mitzvah theme? Honestly, it has been 20 years, I couldn't remember if I tried. On a side note, my grandmother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer right before my Bat Mitzvah, and my family and I decided it was not right to celebrate during such a sad time. I had my service, but my party was canceled.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? I love Rosh Hashana! I have fond memories of elaborate dinners being held at my grandparent's home, which now are held at my parents’ house. Every year, my mother, my grandmother, and myself make the meal from scratch! Including our very own gefilte fish. I have been very fortunate to experience these long standing family traditions with both of them, which I hope to continue with my daughter and future child to come!
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? I have been very fortunate to have been raised by two wonderful, caring, and philanthropic individuals, my parents. Watching them over the years and seeing how their involvement in the Jewish community has really made a difference. They have made long lasting friendships through The Jewish Federation of Howard County. I only strive someday to be able to give back to my community in the many ways as they have continued to do so throughout their lives. I continue to be inspired everyday as I look at my daughter in the face and she tells me how she loves singing Shabbat songs or when we sit down to dinner and she stops us from picking up our forks to eat because we have forgotten to say the blessing on our food. I want to get more involved, hoping that Emma will one day look at me and ask what can I do?
What is your name? Rachel Burrows
What is your current title? Senior Marketing Manager at Coca-Cola
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I was a participant in the jLEADS Class of 2014.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? Noah’s Ark & Rainbows!
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? Passover. I love the Seder, all the festivities, and involving my kids.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? My father is a survivor of the Holocaust. His philosophy in life is to give back – which he demonstrates with so many actions – and that has inspired me to be more involved.
What is your name? Michael Schreibstein
What is your current title? Legal Assistant at Richard B. Schreibstein, LLC
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I am just getting starting in my involvement with oxyGEN. I was privileged and honored to be a member of the JjLEADS inaugural class. I will take the knowledge and experience from jLEADS and hopefully that will transition to my involvement in the community.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? I had a top hat theme. It was a fun and memorable event with food, dancing and music.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? My favorite holiday is Yom Kippur. Yes you have to fast but you get a chance to repent for bad sins and ask for forgiveness. You get to wipe the slate clean and start over. You are sealed in the book of life. Not to mention break the fast is always fun at my mom’s house.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? I got involved because I wanted to give back in my community. I learned from my grandparents, parents and family friends that giving back in the community is one of the best mitzvahs you can have.
It is very important to me to be involved because as the younger generation who lives in Howard County we have to keep the ball going. Growing up in Columbia the Jewish community has done a lot for me and now I have the opportunity to pay the community back by getting involved. I am hoping I can connect with other young Jewish Adults who also live in Howard County and together we can make the Jewish Community stronger for future generations that follow.
What is your name? Michael Milstein
What is your current title? Family Law Attorney at SIEGELLAW
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I just started getting involved with oxyGEN. I was honored to be a member of jLEADS inaugural class, and hopefully my jLEADS experiences will help me as I transition into the next phase of community involvement and connection with oxyGEN. As a young Jewish professional, having a network of like-minded peers is invaluable.
What was your bar mitvah theme? Baseball
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? Hanukkah. Could there be a better holiday? Food, family and gifts for eight nights, and there is nothing better than getting to see my daughters' faces light up as they tear into their presents and eat unbelievable amounts of chocolate gelt, night after night.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? I started getting involved to get to know other Jewish families in my community. I stay involved to maintain those ties, continue to form new ones, and be active in a meaningful way in the Jewish community in which I live, so that hopefully my daughters will want to do the same one day.
What is your name? Randi Benesch
What is your current title? Managing Director of Arts and Culture, Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore
What is your current connection to oxyGEN? I was honored to be a member of the first graduating class of JLeads. Looking forward to getting involved with the Young Adult Campaign.
What was your bar or bat mitzvah theme? I didn't have a theme- just pretty flowers, a great band and lots of dancing.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why? I love Passover. I love the foods, the songs, and the fun we have at the seder table year after year.
What inspired you to first get involved and what inspires you to stay involved? Professionally, I am very involved in the Baltimore Jewish community. But Howard County is my home and it's very important to me to feel a connection to our Jewish community right here in HoCo. I also feel that I'm setting an example for my children so they can see how meaningful it can be to volunteer your time and talents in something you feel passionate about.