Siblings Brandon and Morgan Sacks credit Etz Chaim with “allowing us to be our true Jewish selves.” Growing up in Reisterstown, Brandon and Morgan attended services and Hebrew school at a Conservative synagogue, but were not particularly involved until they found Etz Chaim.
Brandon, the older of the pair, first got involved with Etz Chaim as a film student at Towson University, when he met Rabbi Efy and Penina Flamm. Living in Pikesville after college, he was looking for a way to stay involved in Jewish life and make Jewish friends when his cousins Dani Dermer and Lindsey Nussbaum (whom we profiled as a newlywed in our 2020 update) told him about JCare. JCare has been life-changing for Brandon, who particularly appreciates volunteer opportunities like decorating the Tikvah House for Chanukah. JCare allows “young adults like us to keep changing the world for the better and to keep making ourselves better,” he says.
When Morgan enrolled at Towson, Brandon encouraged her to find Rabbi Efy and Penina. Even though she graduated with her degree in mass communication in 2020, she still learns with them every week. During the pandemic, their one-on-one-learning moved to Zoom, and Morgan’s parents sometimes joined in. Morgan says that Hebrew school felt like a chore, but learning with Etz Chaim feels totally different. “Etz Chaim brought out the fun in Judaism. It makes me so proud to be Jewish!” she says. Now an active member of JCare, Morgan also enjoys tikkun olam activities like making lunch for the homeless. “Etz Chaim made me a more selfless person,” she says.
Brandon and Morgan both say they enjoy being part of Etz Chaim with a sibling. They encourage everyone to get involved: “This community provides everyone with such a great place to grow and be Jewish,” Brandon says.