03 September 2019
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is thrilled to welcome Noa Bab to our community as our senior shlicha (Israeli emissary)! Learn about her background, her dedication as a community builder, and founder of a leading Israeli social media initiative!
Welcome to Greater Washington! Can you tell us about growing up in Israel?
Thank you! I’m so glad to be here! I grew up in Haifa on top of Mount Carmel, where the mountains touch the sea, and the houses and trees blend together. It was a wonderful place to grow up. I loved times spent on the beach with my friends and family and, to this day, we visit the beach almost every weekend.
I grew up in a secular family surrounded by the teachings of Zionism and a love of Israel. As a child, I would talk with my family and friends about “Israelis” and “Zionists,” and while we would use these terms freely, it was not until I was older that I realized that these referred not only to people and nationalities, but also to Jewish identity. Much of this realization occurred during my adolescence, when I was very involved with “Tzofim” (Israeli Scouts), the largest major youth movement in Israel. During that time, I was a youth leader and led programs about Israeli society and social activism for dozens of youth. These years with Tzofim helped to shape my critical thinking about modern society, justice, politics, and religion. Discussing Judaism both as a culture and a religion as an adolescent undoubtedly gave me a more meaningful understanding and appreciation for these issues in adulthood.
After high school, and before I joined the Israeli Defense Forces, I took a gap year in order to volunteer in Karmiel, a development town in northern Israel. While there, I volunteered with various educational projects for underprivileged children and youths, especially with new immigrants to Israel (“Olim”) from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. This experience exposed me to the complexities of Israel’s incredibly heterogeneous society, as well as its socioeconomic gaps and cultural differences.
Your most recent position was in a senior leadership role at eBay. Tell us about that experience.
Four and a half years ago I shifted my career to the technology sector. I had reached senior management levels in the philanthropy and NGO world and felt that I needed to learn new skills and explore new growth opportunities. I developed a five-year plan to deep-dive into the tech world, learn as much as I could, and bring this knowledge back to where it is most needed—the social world. Even in the tech arena, I found myself running communities, this time through technological means. I have always believed that moving things forward works best when it is done people to people; this works for social causes, for world leaders, and even for brands.
Between 2011 – 2015, I spent almost five years at The Edmond De Rothschild Foundation as the Head of Training and Social Media of The Rothschild Ambassadors Organization. I was fortunate to be one of the founders of the BR Ambassadors Leadership Development Program, which aims to create a just and thriving Israeli society by working to reduce social gaps through higher education and social responsibility. While training the next generation of young entrepreneurs, I was also working as a high school teacher because I wanted to change the world and believe that education is the answer. Nevertheless, while I loved teaching and leadership development, I could not stay indifferent to the huge gap between our teaching methods and the “New World” out there—the same world within which we are trying to equip our youngsters to thrive. That’s when I decided to cross over into the tech world to bridge the gap between technology and education.
What encouraged you to take on this new role as a shlicha with The Jewish Federation?
I’m excited about this opportunity in so many ways! Since I was a shlicha in Columbus, OH in the past, I had always known this was an experience I’d want to repeat at some point, and to share it with my family. The connections I made in Columbus were so deep and meaningful, that I can’t wait to get to know the Greater Washington community.
I feel so energized when I’m leading and guiding teams, and especially teams of community builders/leaders. This role has so much potential, and with a team of 14 schlichim (Israeli emissaries) as community builders, I look forward to making the whole greater than the sum of its parts, working on interesting collaborations, and much more.
What do you hope to bring to Jewish Greater Washington in your role?
I hope to bring some new perspectives into the Israeli narrative in this community. I plan to focus on:
- Israel as a startup nation, innovation and entrepreneurship. After more than five years training entrepreneurs and working in tech have helped me shape an answer to the trillion dollar question: How is it that Israel, a country of 8.7 million people, only 70 years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources—produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the UK? I hope to bring knowledge, stories, examples, and some answers to this question in public talks and personal conversations.
- Future of work experience and workshopsthe past seven years I’ve been leading a social media career initiative called “Dana and Noa Make My Career.” (In Hebrew this name makes sense, trust me!) This social media career initiative (over 75K followers with a 250K monthly reach) offers jobs in the humanities and social sciences fields, as well as a series of offline career development workshops (~40 workshops a year with 30 – 300 participants each). I run a team of five volunteers who operate this popular Facebook page, which has become the largest of its kind in Israel. Tens of thousands have stated that this resource positively affected their work paths and thousands have found jobs through this initiative. We know that with this initiative we have great responsibility, and so we make a big effort to support diversity and inclusion of specific groups into the labor market (such as people with disabilities, gender equality, different ethnic backgrounds, ages, etc.). I hope to put this knowledge and information to use in building our teams here.
- My family. I’m bringing my family of four on this new adventure! We enjoy traveling to new places, hiking in nature, we love meeting and hosting new people, and being part of different communities. My significant other (Omer) is a Middle East specialist, our daughter Yuval (4) is a great puzzle solver and gymnast, and Yanai (1.5) is a wonderful listener at this point. Would love to meet as many of you as possible!
What’s your favorite food?
This is going to sound dull but Greek salad, sushi, and tahini. Not all together though!
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
My friend tease me as I have a saying on how “work is more fun than fun,” and I do believe you have to work at a place that makes you feel satisfaction and joy. However, I definitely have some other projects going on. From the personal development side, I mentioned I have my non-profit startup that I love running and as a result, I also give a lot of talks about career/LinkedIn usage, etc. We have helped so many people find their workplace and as a volunteer project this brings me much pride. As for hobbies, I love surfing and stand-up paddling (SUP), and everything beach related, as well as long distance running. I’m a huge DIY person and most of our treasures were someone else’s trash at some point. So, if you’re in the midst of a renovation, you know where you can drop off your old furniture.