Once upon a time, a boy from Israel and a girl from Australia met in New York City, got married in Baltimore, and a few years later moved to Pikesville.
That’s the “CliffsNotes” version of how Rebecca and Gavriel Brown became part of this community, a move that in many ways seems like beshert.
When first meeting Gavi and Bec (as they’re known by family and friends), this writer thought for sure they were Pikesville natives because of their deep civic involvement and unabashed love for the community. To my surprise, the couple — parents to 1-year-old daughter Adi — moved here just two years ago when Gavi began his doctoral program in education at Johns Hopkins University.
“We have felt so enveloped and welcomed by this community, and a lot of that has to do with our shul, Suburban Orthodox,” says Bec, 29, who was born and raised in Sydney and moved to New York after graduating college. “We take part in a lot of programs our shul has to offer, and I have also met so many people through my work at The Associated [Jewish Federation of Baltimore]. I have an entire network of people who I have become close with, a testament to the warmth of the Baltimore Jewish community.”
Bec started off her career in the fashion industry, working as an editor for such magazines as Life & Style, In Touch Weekly and Closer.
“I’ve always been interested in what clothes symbolize and mean when you wear them,” Bec says. “Right now, I’m into comfortable-but-fashionable looks. I’m also an advocate for modest fashion at modest prices. You can be fashionable and frum [religious.]”
Her passion for fashion led Bec to The Associated, thanks to an invitation from her friend Rachel Steinberg Warschawski.
“She knew I came from a fashion background, so she invited me to a Lion of Judah event featuring Israeli fashion designer Sharon Tal,” says Bec. “I was then invited to a Jewish Professional Women event by Iris Miller. It was those invitations that introduced me to the community.”
Bec’s career shifted and she now works as a development associate in women’s philanthropy at The Associated.
“This is a great way to marry my love for communal work with my love for bringing creative elements to events, all while bringing women in our community together,” says Bec, 27. “I feel a sense of gratitude to be able to work at an organization that does so much good for our community.”
Gavi, whose family moved to Silver Spring from Israel in 2002, says he’s in awe of the unique makeup of Baltimore’s Jewish community.
“I’ve never seen so many Jewish organizations that help so many people,” he says. “Each month there is another big fundraiser for a worthy organization, and there is a lot of cohesion among the community.”
It’s no surprise that Gavi, 27, became interested in education, with his grandfather and mother both being professors. Gavi began his journey in education at Teach for America, working at a school in New Jersey.
“I taught 90-plus kids a year in a school in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Newark, where some kids would show up with holes in their shoes,” he says. “But it was also a school where 100 percent of kids went on to college, and then amazing places after that. I had a ninth grader who went to Middlebury [College in Vermont] on a full [scholarship] ride. Being able to follow the futures of some of the kids I have taught is nice.”
Following Teach for America, Gavi taught at a New York charter school before relocating here with Bec. They lived here for a little over a year before their family expanded from two to three.
“Adi has changed our lives for the better,” Bec says. “She is the shining star to every morning. It’s so lovely to have our own family experience all her new developments and to see Gavi as a dad. It’s an amazing ride, and we are very lucky.”