Selecting a group of influencers, thought agents and movers-and-shakers under the age of 40 is no enviable task. Especially when it comes to Jewish Baltimore.
Across the nation, Baltimore Jewry is known for its cohesiveness, stability and strong sense of community. Just attend a conference of Jewish communal professionals in another city and you’ll hear the accolades and admissions of envy.
So what’s in the secret sauce? No doubt, it’s the people, those who are either part of families that have been here for generations as well as newcomers to Charm City. They want to give back to their respective fields and community, and they strive to leave their unique imprint.
The following is our annual “10 Under 40” feature. We applaud these 10 individuals for their sense of vision and vitality, their commitment to innovation and industriousness. And we thank them for what they bring to our community.
Name: Lauren Ades
Place of Residence: Lutherville
Spouse: Jonathan Ades
Children: Ellie, 4; Benjamin, 2
Profession: Attorney at PK Law
What Inspires You: Working in a stimulating environment that challenges me to think creatively and problem-solve on a daily basis is the most enjoyable aspect of my career. I also have a genuine interest in helping my clients overcome an issue or situation that will provide a positive impact on their business. The diversity of industries I am involved with, ranging from general business to real estate to commercial finance, makes every day different and energizing.
Having recently been named chair of PK Law’s Corporate and Real Estate practice group — making me the first woman to ascend to this position in the firm’s 30-year history — I now oversee all strategic planning and practice development initiatives for this group. This opportunity enables me to work even more closely with an incredibly talented group of professionals at PK Law, and I am equally humbled and passionate about this new role.
I strive for balance throughout my life and feel strongly about volunteering to improve our community, which includes serving on the board of the Center for Jewish Education and The Associated, as well as working with the National Young Leadership Cabinet. My passion also involves securing endowments for the Life and Legacy Committee of The Associated and working with young people on leadership development and engagement.
Spending quality time with my family is a major priority. I do not wish to be defined by one particular role or achievement, but rather be recognized as a person who makes time for the important things in life and always remaining grateful for what I have.
Name: Brett Cohen
Place of Residence: Pikesville
Spouse: Julie Snyder Cohen
Children: Benjamin, 5; Jacob, 21 months
Profession: Owner of Kitchen Saver
What Inspires You: To me the noblest of acts is giving to those we do not know. One human being looking out for another, a stranger, providing for them, doing good for those who are in need and lifting those who are down and helping them to create a better life for themselves. For me, it is personal.
When I was in college, the St. Louis Jewish community provided social services for me after my father suddenly died. It was a kindness I have never forgotten to this day. So when I am asked why I do what I do, the answer is I believe in helping the stranger with no expectation of anything in return. From my work with The Associated, the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, the Pearlstone Center and Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, I have been able to give back to the Baltimore community. As the owner of Kitchen Saver, I have always put my employees first and emphasized the importance of doing the right thing, whether it involves our customers or our responsibility to the community.
Name: Zeke Cohen
Place of Residence: Baltimore
Spouse: Reena Ardeshna
Child: Maya Cohen
Profession: City Councilman
What Inspires You: I love my job because I believe in Baltimore and in the people who live here. As a City Councilman, I am able to help handle the mundane quality-of-life issues like water bills and potholes, while also working on the big systemic challenges like poverty and educational inequity.
At a time when trust in government is at an all-time low, I am proud of the work we’ve done to increase accountability. We passed the Transparency in Lobbying Act, a law that gives citizens public access to the people who are paid to lobby. This law makes Baltimore a national leader in lobbying reform.
I’m inspired by my wife. She is a psychiatrist in Cherry Hill and she pours her heart and soul into supporting her patients. I’m also inspired by the children and families who are fighting hard to make Baltimore the great American comeback story!
Name: Zachary Greene
Place of Residence: Canton
Spouse: Jenny Chan
Children: Two fur-babies
Profession: Owner of Bite of Baltimore: Baltimore’s Premier Food Tour
What Inspires You: Bite of Baltimore is a tour company I own with my wife, which provides walking food tours through historic neighborhoods of Baltimore. It is also my way of giving back to the city that I love. I live here and I know how Baltimore is always getting put down. I see the look in people’s eyes when I tell them I live here. I know the image that the news, TV shows and editorials portray. I know that we are more, and we can B-More.
I want to share the love I have for this city, but it’s not just me. My partner restaurants are small businesses, locally owned and locally staffed. I take no money from them and ask no favors either. When you buy a Bite of Baltimore ticket, over 70 percent of the ticket price goes toward food, tax and tip. We purposely keep prices low so our clients will feel they are getting a lot for their money — and they are! We want to share our love of the city; support the local staff and owners; and help change the narrative that has plagued this city for too long.
Name: Rabbi Ariana Katz
Place of Residence: Charles Village
Spouse: Ever Hanna
Profession: Rabbi of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebel
What Inspires You: I love what I do because I get to listen for a living, teach for my life’s work, and organize because all of our lives depend on it. I am inspired each day by the richness of our tradition and the fierceness with which my teachers, colleagues and congregants encounter it. On a daily basis, I see places where our inherited tradition can be stretched, reimagined and uncovered to hold space for all of us. I am inspired by the resilience of human beings, our ability to open our hearts to one another and declare that sacred.
Over the course of my career, I hope to weave thick connections between people, and between people and our texts. I hope to learn and teach Torah that comforts and Torah that disquiets. I hope for ritual spaces that are transformative. I hope to be a good ally and accomplice, a loving family member and friend.
Name: Julie Lilienfeld
Place of Residence: Roland Park
Spouse: Matt Lilienfeld
Children: Miriam Lilienfeld, 1
Profession: Co-owner of Wishbone Reserve, a vintage home decor shop
What Inspires You: Alongside my two business partners, Athena Hoffberger and Ryan Haase, we have created a one-stop shop to find that gently used treasure. As a creative entrepreneur, I have a longtime interest and passion for all forms of art, design and business. From my past experience working for a local auction company and jeweler, I became familiar with estate acquisition, consignment and the importance of great customer service. Wishbone is an amalgamation of everything I learned the past several years and my forever interest in antiques.
I am inspired by the grand department stores of the late 19th- and mid-20th centuries, particularly the London-based store Biba, which closed in the late 1970s. My business partner Athena introduced Biba to me. I immediately fell in love with its Hollywood Regency interior and pop art-inspired displays. Retail should be an immersive and fun experience. I am also greatly inspired by all of the female entrepreneurs around Baltimore. So many talented and diverse women, starting up businesses around town. I’m so glad that my daughter gets to grow up in such a nurturing and strong community for women.
Our goal is to offer a fun space, where you can shop and shmy for curated vintage and antique items. We also offer a consignment service as well, perfect for individuals looking to downsize or change things up in their home.
Name: Jakir Manela
Place of Residence: Reisterstown
Spouse: Nets Manela
Children: Lev, 12; Shama, 9; Yovel, 4; Amani 1
Profession: CEO, Pearlstone Center
What Inspires You: I work to build a more just and sustainable world — for our children, for all children, for the planet, for Jews and all humanity. I am blessed to be able to do that by leading Pearlstone, a beautiful 180-acre campus featuring our retreat center, organic farm, outdoor education programming and a wonderful group of staff and board members and stakeholders who are local, regional, national and international in scope.
I believe that a vibrant and healthy Jewish community must be deeply invested in addressing the pressing issues of our time — and in today’s world that means we must fulfill our cultural, religious and ethical mandate by aggressively and effectively responding to the global climate crisis, food injustice, racism and bigotry and more.
In my own life, that mandate starts with how I show up as a husband and father every day while also investing in my own health and well-being.
From there, I strive on a professional level to be the best I can be as a partner, ally, collaborator and leader — for our Jewish community, for Baltimore and the Chesapeake region, and for Pearlstone’s 20,000-plus participants we see each year.
Long-term, I hope to continue building local, national and international models of justice and sustainability that are informed by ethical leadership and vibrant spiritual, joyous community. My amazing and inspirational life partner, Nets, and I pray together — with our hearts and our deeds — that our children and grandchildren will live in a world of balance, peace and vitality.
Name: Sarah Mersky
Place of Residence: Locust Point
Fiance: Kevin Miicke
Profession: Deputy Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council
What Inspires You: As the deputy director for the Baltimore Jewish Council, I oversee the council’s government and community relations portfolios. I spend the majority of my time advocating for funding for The Associated’s agencies and advancing policies that help our Jewish community and the people of Maryland as a whole.
It is inspiring to work for an organization that shares several of my values, and I am excited to continue advancing positive change.
Name: Jason Perlow
Place of Residence: Owings Mills
Spouse: Flor Berganza Perlow
Profession: Realtor and team leader of the Perlow Home Team of Berkshire Hathaway Homesale Realty
What Inspires You: As the team leader for the Perlow Home Team of Berkshire Hathaway Homesale Realty, I take great pride in providing stellar personalized service to every client. I am passionate about selling real estate; it allows me to build relationships each and every day with my clients. Fortuitously, many of my clients have become close friends throughout the years.
I am inspired by helping others in real estate, but also in other facets of my life. I served on the board of the Nikki Perlow Foundation, and currently I am involved in a charity raising money for the less fortunate in my wife’s native country, Guatemala. The charity supplies those in need with food, supplies and housing construction. Our goal this year is to build five new homes for the elderly in Guatemala.
In my career, I hope to set a new standard for the level of personal service provided to clients. In an industry that is increasingly tech-driven, I strive to be innovative and attentive to building strong personal relationships. In my life, I hope to build a leadership role in the Baltimore community and set an example for others to show that giving back is the most rewarding and gratifying pursuit one can achieve.
Name: Regina Reed
Place of Residence: Downtown Baltimore
Profession: Policy organizer at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council and Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore
What Inspires You: As an organizer working on national policy, I work closely with people on the front lines of health care and homelessness all over the country. It is my job to bring their stories and experiences to Capitol Hill in order to influence policy change to address the vast inequities in our health care system. I am inspired by the stories I hear, particularly from those with the lived experience of homelessness. Many have faced incredible traumas and still devote time to improving the world for others.
We know that homelessness, and most other evils in society, are caused by conscious decisions made throughout history. These decisions continue to be made every day in Congress and in local governments. While it can be disheartening, I am extremely motivated by the idea that we can end these evils through the same mechanism by which they were created: policy change. I’m proud to work for an organization whose mission is centered on health care as a human right, and I hope to continue my career advocating for this cause.