BZD Israel

BZD In The News

'Never Again' Truly Is Now
December 29, 2023 | Laurie Edelman Goodwin | JMORE
It was early December, and I still felt stuck. I could not seem to shake off my grief from the murderous attacks of Oct. 7 in Israel. So when Caren Leven, executive director of the Baltimore Zionist District, invited me to participate on a solidarity mission to Israel, I could not refuse.
Destruction And Inspiration: Notes On A Baltimore Mission To Israel

December 28, 2023 | Jay Bernstein | Baltimore Jewish Life

Imagine taking a tour of the Warsaw Ghetto a few months after the its destruction by the Nazis in 1943; or viewing Kishinev weeks after the 1903 pogrom; or visiting the Jewish communities of the Rhineland after they were massacred in the Crusade of 1096.

Jewish Baltimoreans Attend March For Israel In Nation's Capital

November 15, 2023 | JTA

Scores of Baltimoreans attended yesterday’s March for Israel rally in Washington, D.C., which was considered the largest Jewish gathering in U.S. history.

‘Empty Shabbat Table’ Vigil Brings Together More Than 300 Baltimoreans To Advocate Release Of Israeli Hostages

November 5, 2023 | Alan Feiler | JMORE

Among the speakers at the Nov. 3 “Empty Shabbat Table” were relatives and friends of individuals abducted by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack.

Hundreds Turn Out At Penn Station For Solidarity Rally For Israel

October 29, 2023 | Alan Feiler | JMORE

In the shadow of the “Male/Female” sculpture outside of Penn Station, Israel supporters gathered to voice their outrage about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and call for the elimination of the terrorist group, while demanding the release of all hostages. 

Remembering The Sacrifices Made By Israelis During The Yom Kippur War

October 3, 2023 | Caren Leven | JMore

In the tapestry of history, certain moments etch themselves into the collective memory, transcending time and generations. An indelible chapter is the Yom Kippur War, a watershed moment in Israel’s journey. It is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices, strength and unwavering spirit illuminating a nation’s path from darkness to light.

Caren Leven Bridges Israel And Baltimore

September 27, 2023 | Jillian Diamond | Baltimore Jewish Times

Through her work as the executive director of the Baltimore Zionist District, Caren Leven forges bonds between Baltimore and Israel’s respective Jewish communities.
She is the latest director to helm the organization, which has been advocating and educating about Israel for more than a century. BZD is one of the oldest Zionist organizations in the United States.
Confronting The Challenge Of Antisemitism And Anti-Zionism On Campus

September 22, 2023 | Caren Leven | JNS

This weekend, the University of Pennsylvania finds itself at the epicenter of a contentious and critical debate that resonates far beyond its campus borders. The controversy surrounds the “Palestine Writes” literary festival scheduled to take place from Sept. 22-24, which has raised deep concerns within the Jewish community, particularly regarding the rise of antisemitism and Antizionism on college campuses.
Strengthening Bonds, Exploring Roots On BZD's Trip To Israel

August 11, 2023 | Caren Leven | Baltimore Jewish Times

As the executive director of the Baltimore Zionist District, I had the tremendous joy of witnessing a transformative adventure unfold as 24 Baltimore teens embarked on a life-changing trip to Israel. This unforgettable journey was designed to deepen their Jewish identity, instill cherished values and forge lasting connections with Israel and its people.
After Years-Long Absence, Friendship Caravan Spreads Israeli Cheer At Camp

July 26, 2023 | Jillian Diamond | Baltimore Jewish Times

Campers in the Baltimore area were treated to a special visit and performance by the Friendship Caravan, a program helmed by the Friends of Israel Scouts, Inc. Tzofim.

From June 11 to 13, a caravan of Israeli performers traveling across North America stopped at Beth Tfiloh Camps, Chizuk Amuno Camps, J Camps and Camps Airy & Louise. They put on shows full of singing and dancing for over 1,900 campers.

Baltimore Teens Journey To Israel For Educational Experiences

July 24, 2023 | Jillian Diamond | Baltimore Jewish Times

This July has marked the journey of a lifetime for several groups of Baltimore teenagers, who traveled to Israel with different community organizations.

The Baltimore cohort of Diller Teen Fellows, a 4Front program, and participants from Baltimore Zionist District who participated in the Gadna military program had very different experiences, but both involved developing leadership skills and cultivating a love of Israel.

Israel Is Not An Apartheid State | READER COMMENTARY

June 17, 2023 | The Baltimore Sun

In his recent letter to the editor, Charles Cooper falsely labels Israel as an apartheid state (”Israel remains an apartheid state,” June 7).

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a complicated issue with diverse interpretations and narratives. Pro-Palestinian groups claim Israel as an apartheid state, repressing and killing Palestinians in the disputed territories. It is vital to examine the situation critically, consider the broader context and challenge the apartheid characterization.

Baltimore To Celebrate Israel’s 75th Anniversary In Style

April 19, 2023 | Jillian Diamond | Baltimore Jewish Times

April 26 marks Yom Ha’atzmaut, more commonly known as Israel Independence Day. The holiday honors the founding of Israel in 1948, when David Ben-Gurion declared its independence as a Jewish state.

Baltimore Zionist District Sends First Teen Mission To Israel Since Start Of Pandemic

October 7, 2022 | Jesse Berman | JMore

When 15-year-old Max Riter arrived in Israel this summer, it represented not only his first trip to the Jewish state but a final opportunity to commune with his late grandmother, Susan Stepner, placing a message to her within the ancient stones of Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

Baltimore Zionist District Announces The Appointment Of Four New Board Members

September 8, 2022 | Baltimore Zionist District | EIN Presswire

Baltimore Zionist District (“BZD”) announced today the appointment of four new members to the Board of Directors. This brings the number of board members to thirteen. The four new additions to the Board are Eric Rubin, Vered Mei-Tal, Jaime Davidov, and Fern Babkes.

BZD To Take 55+ Group On In-Person Israel Tour

December 22, 2021 | Jesse Berman | Baltimore Jewish Times

“Next year in Jerusalem” is going to ring very true for participants of the Baltimore Zionist District’s upcoming tour of Israel.

BZD is currently organizing its first in-person trip to Israel since the start of the pandemic. This trip, intended for people 55 and older, will take place from March 22-April 5.

Baltimore Zionist District Plans First Mission To Israel Since Outset Of The Pandemic

October 7, 2022 | Jesse Berman | JMore

The Baltimore Zionist District is currently planning its first trip to Israel since the outset of the pandemic. The mission is for adults ages 55 and up, geared toward first-time visitors as well as individuals who have toured Israel on multiple occasions. Jmore recently spoke with Adi Ratzon, BZD’s shlicha, or Israel emissary, about the trip, which takes place Mar. 22 to Apr. 5, 2022.


Winter 2022 | Courtney McGee | Baltimore Style

As we get ready to ring in the new year, several local personalities share their personal aims for achieving a healthy, happy 2022. Creating, decluttering, embracing change and enjoying jazz number among their positive goals.

Check what our Executive Director, Caren Leven, had to say.

Caren Leven, Executive Director, Baltimore Zionist District

Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning

Caren is a Sabra (one born in Israel), and she arrived in the US at the age of 10. Although she could speak and understand English, she couldn’t read or write in English, creating a huge challenge when her parents enrolled her in public school.

Team Israel Plays Exhibition Game In Aberdeen Before Heading To Tokyo Olympics

July 20, 2021 | Alan Feiler | JMore

Harford County’s largest city, Aberdeen has never been known as a hotbed of Jewish life and culture. But on Monday afternoon, July 19, hundreds of area Jews made the trek to the small town to watch Israel’s national baseball team compete in an exhibition game against the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League All-Stars.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Announces Boycott Of Israeli West Bank Settlements

July 19, 2021 | JTA | JMore

Following pressure from pro-Palestinian activists, Ben & Jerry’s announced July 19 that it would stop selling ice cream in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The Vermont-based ice cream brand said it would continue operating in Israel, suggesting that it is planning to pull its products from stores located in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Demonstrators ‘Keep The Flame’ At Rally Against Antisemitism

July 12, 2021 | Jesse Berman | Baltimore Jewish Times

On Sunday afternoon, a few thousand demonstrators gathered together in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol building to attend “No Fear: Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People.” The rally was meant as a demonstration against antisemitism, Jewish hatred, and the denial of Jewish rights, said Caren Leven, the executive director of the BZD.

The Baltimore Zionist District, With Caren Leven

June 15, 2021 | Radio Sefarad

The Baltimore Zionist District (BZD) uses its direct Israeli connection as a home base for the creation of cultural and political programs and educational activities which deal with all aspects of Zionism and modern Israeli life. Its declared mission is “To foster knowledge and understanding of the State of Israel, to facilitate dialogue, to raise awareness, to advocate for a secure future for Israel and nurture the bonds between our local community and Israel.”

Baltimore Jews Express Support For Israel As Conflict Continues

May 19, 2021 | Jesse Berman | Baltimore Jewish Times

On Sunday afternoon, a few thousand demonstrators gathered together

Nearly 300 demonstrators, holding handmade signs and with Israeli flags flying in the breeze or draped over their shoulders, fanned out across both sides of Stevenson Road near Chizuk Amuno Congregation on May 13.

Social Media Post About Middle East Conflict Stirs Concern Among Local College Community

May 14, 2021 | Dan Lampariello | Fox 45 News

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WBFF) – A social media post circulating among students at the University of Maryland is causing concern among the area’s Jewish community. The post, which was posted and then allegedly shared by a number of students on Instagram, focuses on the current tension in the Middle East.

Pro-Israel Rally Held May 13 On Stevenson Road Sidewalk

May 12, 2021 | Staff Report | JMore

On Thursday, May 13, the Baltimore Zionist District and Stand With Us Mid-Atlantic held a rally in support of Israel on the sidewalk of Stevenson Road, by the Interstate-695 bypass. About 300 people, some draped in Israeli flags, attended. 

Baltimore Marks Yom HaZikaron And Yom Ha’atzmaut

April 7, 2021 | Jesse Berman | Baltimore Jewish Times

Synagogues and other Jewish organizations in the Baltimore area are preparing to both honor Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror and celebrate the birth of the Jewish nation through events commemorating Yom HaZikaron and celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut. 

Baltimore Jewish Council Condemn Anti-Semitic Postings From Hopkins Teaching Assistant

January 5, 2021 | Staff Report | JMore​

The Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore condemned the anti-Semitic comments allegedly posted on social media by a Johns Hopkins University teaching assistant. According to media reports, the teaching assistant was identified as Rasha Anayah, a graduate student in the chemistry department.

Chanukah Events, Virtual And Otherwise, To Take Place Across The Baltimore Metropolitan Area

December 1, 2020 | Alan Feiler | JMore​

“The proper response, as Chanukah teaches, is not to curse the darkness but to light a candle.” –Rabbi Dr. Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, author, theologian, activist and educator. Perhaps more than any other time in recent memory, the lights of the chanukiah will shine brighter and offer more hope and comfort than any other Chanukah season.

You Should Know … Adi Ratzon

October 8, 2020 | Carolyn Conte | Baltimore Jewish Times​

It’s not every day you run into a member of a coed combat unit of the Israel Defense Forces. Meet Adi Ratzon, 30, the shlicha for the Baltimore Zionist District. She brings Israeli culture to the Baltimore community through unique programs. Ratzon is originally from Ramat Gan, Israel. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology from the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo.

Baltimore Zionist District Hosts ‘Unorthodox’ Actors

June 17, 2020 | Carolyn Conte | Baltimore Jewish Times

Two actors from “Unorthodox,” 30 people, and a parrot gathered around their screens the evening of June 14 for a Baltimore Zionist District discussion of the Netflix show starring Shira Haas about a girl who leaves an ultra-Orthodox community in New York for a new and unknown life in Germany.

Baltimore Jewish Community Reacts To George Floyd’s Death And Protests

June 3, 2020 | JT Staff | Baltimore Jewish Times

In the days since George Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minneapolis, the nation and world have been wracked by protests, fueled by outrage at Floyd’s death and what is viewed as a broader problem with the conduct of American police, particularly in regard to the nation’s black community.

Baltimore Zionist District Honors Israel’s Fallen

April 22, 2020 | Jesse Berman | Baltimore Jewish Times

Baltimore Zionist District will hold its Virtual Yom Hazikaron Memorial Ceremony on April 27. The digital event replaces what had been a planned in-person event, and is co-hosted by The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, the JCC of Greater Baltimore, Friends of the IDF, and Beth Tfiloh Congregation.

The Tzofim Friendship Caravan Visits Baltimore

July 31, 2019 | Arielle Ashpes | Baltimore Jewish Times

On July 20, the 2019 Tzofim Friendship Caravan arrived at the Baltimore Zionist District (BZD) to perform for five days throughout the Baltimore area. Under the program organization and scheduling from BZD’s executive director, Caren Leven, the Tzofim traveled to various venues to perform throughout Maryland. For the Tzofim, as well as for each audience they performed for, it was a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone who took part.

Baltimore Zionist District Information Session And Mitzvah Project

March 29, 2019 | Victoria Brown | Baltimore Jewish Times

On March 24, Baltimore Zionist District (BZD) hosted an information session about a BZD-led trip to Israel this summer. It marked the beginning of a project through which people can donate toiletries, clothing and food items for the benefit of lone soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.

Haifa-Born Caren Leven Takes Helm Of Baltimore Zionist District

December 7, 2018 | Susan Ingram | Baltimore Jewish Times

Her parents met in a kibbutz after her mom left the U.S. for Israel to volunteer during the Yom Kippur War. The young Caren Leven grew up in Haifa in a high-rise “filled with children.” She learned to speak English from her mother and Hebrew from her Israeli father.

Baltimore Zionist District Hires New Executive Director

November 29, 2018 | Staff Report | JMore​

Caren Leven was recently named the new executive director of the Baltimore Zionist District. According to the organization’s website (, the Pikesville-based BZD’s mission is to “foster knowledge and understanding of the State of Israel, to facilitate dialogue, to raise awareness, and to advocate for a secure future for Israel.”

Baltimore Jewish Film Festival Offers Something For Everyone

March 26, 2018 | Simone Ellin | JMore​

Ever wonder how the entries are selected for the William and Irene Weinberg Family Baltimore Jewish Film Festival, now it its 30th year?

It’s an “intense and multi-layered” process, according to Alyson Bonavoglia, artistic director of the Gordon Center for Performing Arts.