Young Leadership Spotlight: Joel C.

What inspired you to participate in a Birthright Israel DC community trip?

Growing up I was fortunate to have the chance to travel to Israel on school trips, on a community service trip, and with my family multiple times from 8th grade through 12th grade. When I went to Syracuse University a good amount of my friends attended trips through our Hillel program, but unfortunately I was ineligible because I had participated in organized trips before. After graduating I was excited to hear that Birthright had updated their eligibility requirements for trips and having participated in an organized trip before college no longer excluded me from participating in Birthright. Having just recently moved to DC, I saw the community trip as a great opportunity to make 40 new friends, and of course get a free opportunity to go back to one of my favorite places to visit in the world.

What is your favorite memory from your Birthright Israel DC community trip?

There were so many incredible experiences during my birthright trip and to pick one would be impossible. However, one that sticks out from the rest would be experiencing Machene Yehuda Market in Jerusalem with our fellow Israeli participants. My new Israeli friends took me to a home-style Iraqi restaurant, Azura.  It was off the beaten path and absolutely delicious – truly one of the best meals I had on the trip and a great time to sit back and relax in a setting that made me feel almost Israeli.

What are you most looking forward to about Reverse Mifgash?

Reverse Mifgash provides Israelis with the chance to get a small taste of the United States. For many it’s their first visit here and I’m looking forward to helping provide them with the best possible experience while here. Anytime
I’ve been on a trip to Israel, Israelis who have been fellow participants on the trips have gone out of their way to ensure that I had a tremendous time while in their country. I think it’s only appropriate that we return the favor by showing them the best DC can offer. Reverse Mifgash fosters an environment that encourages a positive discussion on the many issues that affect each of us in our daily lives, and I think with everything that is going on around the world right now, these discussion will be even more exciting. An interesting feature of birthright is seeing how people from all over the world seem to find many things they have in common.  I hope Reverse Mifgash has the same impact on all who participate in the experience.

What is your favorite Jewish food/holiday/or tradition?

My favorite Jewish tradition is one my family only recently started doing. Each year around Chanukah my parents host a large party for both sides of my family, my parent’s siblings, their kids, and my grandparents. We eat Chinese food and latkes, and have a few drinks.  It is a great time for our family to catch up at the end of a long year.  Though most of my cousins and I have grown up, this is one of few times each year we all really make an effort to see other. I’m extremely fortunate to have grown up in a family that was committed to passing down the many traditions of the past, and I’m glad to know that I’ve helped start a tradition that will continue to bring my family together for one of the more joyous Jewish holidays for many years to come.

What do you love most about DC’s Jewish community?

The DC Jewish community is great because you get to meet so many interesting people. Most think that DC is only centered around government work, but through the Federation and DC community I’ve meet lots of different people who work in countless different professions. I’m from the DMV area originally, but moving to a new city is still a big step.  Knowing there was the safety net of the DC Jewish community where I could go to services, or simply have a good meal, was comforting and made my move so much easier.

What is one piece of advice you like to live by?

“Never leave till tomorrow that which you can do today” Benjamin Franklin