Celebrating some of the region’s most accomplished young business and community leaders
Forty is a powerful number in Judaism.
Noah bobbed about in the flood through 40 days and 40 nights of torrential rain. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God and came down with the Ten Commandments. And students of Judaism are advised not to even contemplate studying kabbalah, or Jewish mystical thought, until the age of 40.
With ancient insight, the Talmud teaches that a person at age 40 transitions to the next level of wisdom and holiness. But modern experience shows us that there is much wisdom, too, among those who stand on the brink: The under-40 movers and shakers who bring a great deal of vitality, vision and innovation to their careers, professions and communities.
Jmore recently caught up with 10 of Jewish Baltimore’s most accomplished and respected under-40 leaders (albeit one slightly over 40) and asked them what moves and inspires them. These five women and five men told us that they draw strength and guidance from their families, are motivated by a deep sense of community and driven by a profound sense of purpose and altruism.
Name: Molly Amster
Profession: Baltimore director of Jews United for Justice
Resides In: Baltimore’s Ednor Gardens neighborhood
“Our tradition teaches that we should pursue justice, to be partners with God in bringing about a more perfect world. People have been thirsty for a Jewish community of action focused on the critical justice issues of our time, and in working with volunteer leaders to establish this branch of JUFJ we have birthed one.
“I get great energy from empowering people who are passionately seeking ways to address the legacy of racial inequity — the root cause of so much suffering in Baltimore.”
Name: Sarah David
Profession: Chief of staff for state Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin (D-11th)
Resides In: Downtown Baltimore
“As chief of staff for the chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, I am fortunate to be able to work for his passionate constituents and with many advocates for important issues in our state. I am driven by the opportunity to create and improve laws that impact so many Marylanders.
“As a lawyer and former prosecutor, I am passionate about the creation and implementation of our laws, and constantly pushing to improve our system of justice. As a young professional, I am passionate about our community and encouraging other young professionals to make the time to volunteer and engage with people and issues that need our attention.”
Name: Julia Denick
Profession: Media planner/buyer at TBC Advertising
Resides In: Mount Washington
“In an industry of constant change, media is a field that keeps you on your toes and requires staying ahead of consumer trends. If there is one thing that I have learned in my two years at TBC Advertising, you can never know enough!
“As a media planner/buyer, I think of myself as a professional student, always studying and researching new ways to effectively reach consumers in the right place, at the right time and in the right mindset.
“When I’m not living and breathing advertising for our firm’s clients, you can find me running or hiking around Baltimore, volunteering with Volunteering Untapped, cheering for the Orioles and planning events for the Elon University Baltimore alumni chapter.”
Name: Zachary Garber
Profession: Vice president and client advisor at Alex. Brown, a division of Raymond James & Associates Inc.
Resides In: Baltimore
“I am motivated every day by having the opportunity to help others achieve their goals and to develop lifelong meaningful connections with people from all different communities. I am fortunate that my profession enables me to both build deep relationships with a wide variety of individuals and institutions, and help them achieve their long-term financial goals, ultimately allowing them to focus on their missions and passions.
“Bringing people together to inspire each other and achieve greater goals than any one individual alone emboldens me to want to do more both professionally and in my community work. I serve on a wide variety of community and national nonprofit boards such as The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Young Leadership Council, the Jewish National Fund’s National Water Task Force, Living Classrooms’ Rising Stars program and chairman and founder of the Francis Scott Key Society.”
Name: Jordan Goodman
Profession: Founder of Beatwell, co-creator of the Chocolate Croissants podcast, musician, psychotherapist, entrepreneur and recognized leader in the fields of therapeutic and community drumming
Resides In: Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood
“My mission with Beatwell is to improve health and build connections between people using ancient and evidence-based drumming techniques of rhythm and meditation. I do group and one-on-one therapy and design drum circle programs for all populations, including extensive work in the Jewish community.
“I recently started the Chocolate Croissants podcast with my brother, Justin, a bassist and fitness professional, and friend Matt Halpern, a world-known drummer. The podcast is about self-improvement and creative entrepreneurship. It’s an exercise in creating a ritual of support, since being creative entrepreneurs can be challenging and lonely at times. We also wanted to build a community of like-minded people around the world to engage and inspire.
“As an artist, I’m drawn to the creative challenge of introducing ancient wisdom to a contemporary culture. I’m inspired by those who develop their way of adding value to the world and firmly planting their flag in that.”
Name: Evan Lutz
Profession: CEO and co-founder of Hungry Harvest, a Columbia-based fresh produce delivery service committed to fighting food waste and hunger (which last year was featured on TV’s “Shark Tank”)
Resides In: Baltimore
“What motivates me is that I believe that every person has the right to eat healthy. I believe that every fruit and vegetable deserves to get eaten. And I won’t stop until that belief becomes reality.”
Name: Rabbi Sarah R. Marion
Profession: Assistant rabbi/director of youth engagement at Temple Oheb Shalom in Northwest Baltimore
Resides In: Pikesville
“I was drawn to the rabbinate so that I might help others apply the wisdom of Jewish tradition and community to the unmet questions and needs of their lives. I am passionate about creating spaces for people of all ages to share their questions about identity, belonging, relationships and more so that their Jewish community emerges as a place in which they feel known, loved and cared for — a place that nurtures their souls and engages them at their very core.
“Though I enjoy working with all demographics, I am particularly interested in youth and family engagement. In recent years, I’ve focused on adolescent identity and the parent-teen relationship. In conjunction with my education and rabbinic theses exploring the Jewish mother-daughter relationship, I’ve created and facilitated initiatives for teens on gender and sexuality within Jewish frameworks, and developed a monthly learning program for mothers raising Jewish girls.
“Since joining the clergy team at Temple Oheb Shalom this past year, I’ve been energized and inspired by all the opportunities I’ve had to form connections with individuals and families from all facets of the community.”
Name: Ryan Perlberg
Profession: Private equity and real estate development, founder of Harris Creek Holdings
Resides In: Baltimore
“Remaining humble and surrounding yourself with a team of people smarter than you is a must. Don’t stop pushing yourself to be better and more innovative.
“What motivates me is my family. What drives me is the deal and challenge. I’ve slowly become a deal junkie! Working alongside brilliant partners/mentors has drastically helped my learning curve. Restoring properties in need has become a passion. I love this city.”
Name: Erika Rief
Profession: MBA/MA in design leadership candidate at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School and the Maryland Institute College of Art
Resides In: Little Italy
“I am currently pursuing a dual degree that integrates the disciplines of business and design. The framework we learn for approaching problems is called design thinking. Design thinking seeks to understand the goals and difficulties that the user of a product, service or experience is facing. With that knowledge, a business can create a better product, service or experience for its customers. What I love about design thinking is that it can be used to solve any problem, in any industry or setting.
“Over the course of the year, I’ve been able to work with many Baltimore organizations, exploring issues around public transportation, the aging population and neighborhood foot traffic. Seeing my solutions implemented and making a difference is really rewarding.”
Name: Joshua Rosenstein
Profession: Founder and owner of Edible Eden Baltimore Foodscapes
Resides In: Northwest Baltimore
“Edible Eden designs, installs and maintains food gardens and edible landscaping for businesses, homeowners and schools. We also offer educational workshops on everything from food preservation to eco spa.
“I am passionate about helping connect people to their food source and inspiring people toward seasonal, local sustainable deliciousness!”
Adam Stone is an Annapolis-based freelance writer.
Associate Editor Simone Ellin and Editor-in-Chief Alan Feiler contributed to this report.
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