American Jews are far more likely to contribute to charitable causes than people of other faiths, according to the Chicago-based Giving USA Foundation (givingusa.org). And Jews in the Baltimore metropolitan area are certainly no exception to the rule.

As 2020 comes roaring to an end, Jmore spoke with four community members about the nonprofits they plan to support during this critical season of giving. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Amanda Levine is a fifth grade science teacher at Pikesville’s Krieger Schechter Day School and a member of the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation, a program of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. This year, she says she and her husband, Dr. Stuart M. Levine, president of MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, increased their donations to many of the organizations they support.

“This is a hard time for everybody, and we thought really hard about how can we best serve our community and where can we make the greatest impact,” she says. “So we increased our giving to The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore because our dollars to The Associated make a huge impact. We’re also giving to CHANA this year because we know there’s a need [due to the increase in domestic violence during the pandemic]. We also increased our giving to Health Care for the Homeless, known for the good that they do. We tried to balance our local giving and our giving to the Jewish community.

“We also increased our giving to our synagogue, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, and our children’s schools, Krieger Schechter Day School and Beth Tfiloh [Dahan Community School], because we are so grateful for what the synagogues and schools have done during this time to keep our kids and families safe.”

  • Deborah Cardin is the development director at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. “For charities, we haven’t yet made all of our end-of-the-year gifts,” she says of herself and her husband, Jonathan Willis, a Baltimore County high school teacher. “We try to make sure that we are giving to a mix of social services that have been so vital, especially now, like the Maryland Food Bank, and arts and culture, especially those organizations that have been doing such an exceptional job of providing interesting online content, like Baltimore Heritage and the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Other causes that are important are our kids’ schools [such as] Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School, the University of Maryland, The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and places where we’ve been volunteering, like Meals on Wheels.”

  • Rather than focus on herself, Jmore gardening columnist Rebecca Brown proudly shares her mother’s plans for giving this year. “My mother, Abby Mason, has been giving a gift to heifer.org in honor of her four grandsons each year,” Brown says. “This year, she added a granddaughter. Our eldest son, Matt, and his fiancée, Tollie, were supposed to get married in September but postponed until next August due to the pandemic.

“My mother sent this text to my future daughter-in-law, letting her know about the donation on her behalf: ‘This is a little different type of gift and I hope you’ll like the idea behind it. Each year for the past 10 or so years, I’ve been donating to my favorite charity, which is called the Heifer Project. What I do is contribute to the organization for the purchase of a certain type of animal which is then shipped to a family in a poor country and given to a family who needs help to be better nourished or to start a business … something that would improve the family’s life or diet or give them the means of starting a little business. … Different years, I’ve sent sheep or pigs or goats, etc., but this year I’m buying an alpaca which will be female and impregnated when it gets to its new home in a mountainous region of South America. A vet will accompany it and assist with the birth and teach the family how to take care of it.”

  • Sara Shalva is the chief arts officer of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore and the Gordon Center for Performing Arts. She says she and her husband, Rabbi Benjamin Shalva, “are supporting The Associated, WYPR, Jews United for Justice, Krieger Schechter Day School, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and a bunch of out-of-town and national nonprofits.”