By Dr. Darla Strouse ‘67, ‘04 Ed.D., founding board member of JTAN

 

With the many University of Maryland Alumni Association affinity groups, the large presence of Jewish students who have and continue to attend the university, and the strong and vibrant Hillel community, who would imagine that until 2020 there was not a Jewish alumni group in place? Well – that gap has definitely changed with the formation of the Jewish Terps Alumni Network, JTAN for short.  

The quick growth of JTAN is remarkable and due in large part to a dedicated and creative board of directors, an enthusiastic growing membership, and great virtual events that have taken place with plans in the works for upcoming offerings. Hillel has also created a terrific partnership with JTAN and with this collective support we are on the move!

In a university graduate survey identifying interests for JTAN, we discovered that alums highly valued their college affiliation and were interested in both personal and professional connections with fellow graduates. They wanted to participate in programs around Jewish holidays, enjoy a Jewish community of fellow Terps, socialize, develop interest areas and give back to those less fortunate.   

In working to engage members and attract more like-minded individuals, JTAN developed Facebook and Linkedin groups and has welcomed various speakers for virtual events, including several alums. The first was Andy Friedman ‘93 who demonstrated how to make several varieties of Hanukkah latkes. The second, in partnership with the Jewish Federation, enticed the famous Israeli chef Michael Solomonov to show us different twists on Passover food. Afterwards we heard from MollyBeth Rushfield how to “Put the YAY into the Seder” to spruce up your Seder during the pandemic. There was also a Comedy Central-type performance for Purim with Elliot Bromberg ‘19. Most recently JTAN hosted a virtual drag show in honor of Pride Month featuring Aveira ‘19 , the Jewish Drag Queen and Terp Alum. Everyone was entertained with a delightful mix of songs, comedy and trivia.

There are many volunteer opportunities for interested Terps, including joining the JTAN program and/or communication committee, as well as becoming a regional captain in JTAN’s partnership with Food on the 15th, a nationwide food and resource drive. For information on any of our events or to get involved (by emailing your resume/CV and a personal statement) contact us at jtanumd@gmail.com  

JTAN is less than one year old but has so much to offer. Unable to meet in person, events and ZOOM breakout rooms have opened many doors to learning, entertainment, discussions and conversations among members. We encourage those of you interested in Jewish affiliation and those who may also have ideas to share, to get in touch with us.

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