Host Committee Chair
Maria is a lifelong devoted member of Congregation Shirat Hayam (CSH) in Swampscott, Massachusetts. She currently sits on the congregation's Interfaith Leadership Task Force, aimed at examining issues and recommending change to achieve ‘radical hospitality’, Shir Lanu (one song, every voice), inclusion, and equality for a secure future for CSH. Maria is also a Shir Chesed Team Leader for the congregation, where she facilitates Congregation Shirat Hayam volunteers in assisting families experiencing difficult times, such as during shiva or following a hospital stay.
Maria has been an active member of the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore (JCCNS) for over 30 years. Maria is a past president of JCCNS, and a lifetime board member. In 2011, she received the Samuel S. Stahl Community Service Award for her commitment to her local Jewish community and her tireless volunteer work to secure the future of JCCNS. Most recently, Maria has established the JCCNS' annual Bernice and Joseph Samiljan Service Day, intended to bring family and community members together to perform Tikkun Olam, giving back to their Jewish community. At the first annual event, children and families decorated and prepared Hanukkah gift bags for local Holocaust survivors.
Maria serves on the North Shore Advisory Council of Jewish Children and Family Services (JF&CS), where she helps increase awareness of the programs and services offered by JF&CS. Maria is also an active leader for JF&CS's Schechter Holocaust Services, coordinating and volunteering at their Cafe Hakalah, a monthly gathering for Holocaust survivors living on the North Shore. She also serves as a Friendly Visitor volunteer, where she visits with and supports elderly friends in the community.
Additionally, Maria is involved in the Juvenile Aid Scholarship organization which is a group who raises money to provide North Shore graduating high school seniors with college scholarships.
Maria is passionate about building and maintaining a strong, inclusive and welcoming Jewish community. Maria believes that through her meaningful long-time involvement and support of various community organizations, she continues to make a difference.
Most important in Maria’s life is her family. But when she isn’t busy planning the next family gathering or making her mother's secret recipes for family and friends, Maria can be found at the JCCNS fitness center, teaching or playing canasta, reading, spending time with friends, or planning her next adventure.