Two states, one voice: Maryland and Israel sisterhood brings exhibit to JCC


photo courtesy of Kate Morgan

Freshman Kate Morgan [middle] spoke with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan [right] and Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan [left] about the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee at the yearly Hanukkah party hosted by the Hogans on Dec. 15, 2019.


The Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee, led by freshman student-chair Kate Morgan and her father, chairman Randy Morgan, will display two exhibits at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington from Jan. 12 to Feb. 23.

Gov. Larry Hogan founded the committee in 2016 after he learned that countries like Peru and Estonia had state committees with Maryland, but Israel did not. The committee is dedicated to strengthening the relationship between Maryland and Israel and showcasing various aspects of the states to one another.

Randy is the second-ever chair of the committee. He joined the committee around two years ago after the first chair, former JDS mother Bonnie Glick, left the position. Kate went to Hogan’s Hanukkah party in 2019 where she met him as well as Maryland Secretary of the State John Wobensmith and got permission to become the first student chair.

“I wanted to become involved in the committee because I have fallen in love with Israel on my trips there, and I wanted to take part in strengthening the relationship between Maryland and Israel,” Kate said.

The committee currently has 27 members and many organizational partners, such as the American Society for Yad Vashem, the Israeli-American Council, the Bender JCC of Greater Washington and the Israeli Embassy.

“The event at the JCC is going to have two exhibits, one from IsraAID, a non-profit organization [who] are the first on the grounds to help with natural disasters [sic],” Kate said. “The other exhibit is from Yad Vashem, and it is about Muslims in Albania that helped Jews during the Holocaust.”

The exhibits consist of a collection of photographs in addition to other elements. To add to the exhibits, there will be a workshop at the JCC on Jan. 22 for educators from public and private schools across Montgomery County, including JDS.

I wanted to become involved in the committee because I have fallen in love with Israel on my trips there, and I wanted to take part in strengthening the relationship between Maryland and Israel,”

— Freshman Kate Morgan

“We have invited faculty from JDS, as well as the coordinator for history and social studies for the entire state of Maryland for K through 12, to learn from the director of education of the American Society of Yad Vashem about the exhibit,” Randy said.

Two JDS photography classes will be visiting the exhibits in February.

The committee’s previous projects include adding a non-stop commercial flight from Washington’s Dulles airport to Tel Aviv, which was introduced last year by United Airlines. Another program planned by the committee was the Maryland-Israel Water conference between Israeli water conservation experts and Maryland water utilities employees.

In tandem with the exhibit is an event for BBYO chapters on Feb. 3, where various chapters will rotate through the exhibit. As student-chair, Kate is playing a large part in this event’s organization.

“My role is to act as the go-between for the committee and the kids our age. I promote activities between Maryland and Israel to kids at school, in BBYO and at my synagogue,” Kate said. “I also act as the teenage spokesperson for the committee through email, social media, phone calls and a little bit of public speaking.”

Although some events target specific demographics, Randy urges everyone to come to see the exhibits at the JCC because he believes they are crucial to learn about.

“We invite students and parents and the entire community to please come and see these exhibits and learn about the Holocaust, the special stories about Jews and Muslim neighbors of Albania as well as about IsraAID and the wonderful work that modern Israel does around the world to relieve communities that are in distress after a natural disaster,” Randy said.

This story was originally published on The Lion’s Tale on January 16, 2020.