Young Leadership Spotlight: Jonathan S.

Jonathan S.

Growing up and in college – what was your involvement in Jewish life?

Growing up, I was very involved in Jewish life. I went to Gesher Jewish Day School and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.  I was also active in USY and BBYO. When I got to college I went on Birthright, but then I took a little bit of a break from organized Judaism.

Why and how did you get involved with Young Leadership and The Jewish Federation?

When I moved back to Washington after college I didn’t have much involvement in Jewish life at all.  However, I knew I wanted to go back to Israel.  My mom sent me something about The Jewish Federation’s NEXT DC Alumni Leadership Mission for Birthright alumni. I decided to apply and was accepted to the program. After going on that trip I realized that The Federation had a lot more to offer than collecting money for Jewish charities. From that point forward, I became involved in Young Leadership, and my involvement has continued to give me the connection to the Jewish community that I was looking for.

What has been your most memorable experience with The Federation?

I would have to say herding goats in Israel on Alumni Leadership Mission. It’s something I don’t think I will ever do again, but it was a very enlightening experience. Most people are probably reading this and thinking that I am crazy, but for those who have been on the trip and partaken in the experience, they understand.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Love the easy questions. Getting married to my amazing and beautiful fiancé Jordan!

Jonathan S. and Fiance Jordan

Why do you love the Jewish community?

I think the Jewish community is a community like no other. As a people we have needed to stick together throughout history to take care of each other.  But I think what is most incredible about our people is that with all of our own issues we are still able to take such good care of others. Look at Israel and the daily struggles that they have to survive, yet they deploy teams to help around the world to almost every disaster that occurs. I wish more organizations and countries thought about this. There is always something that you can do to contribute.

Who is your Jewish role model and why?

This is a tough one, but I think I would have to go with Golda Meir. She was a visionary, took many risks and most foreign leaders thought she was very charming.

What is your role in Sayin’ Thanks and why is this event meaningful to you?

(NOTE: Sayin’ Thanks is this year’s new twist on a Super Sunday. But instead of calling to ask for donations, The Federation and volunteers from the  local community are calling simply to say thank you to supporters.)

I am co-chairing the Sayin’ Thanks event with Joanne Moore.  I think it’s important that we take time to thank the community that makes it possible for The Federation to do what it does.  We are all beneficiaries of The Federation.  Most of us think of ourselves as givers, whether it is time or money, but we wouldn’t give if we didn’t get something out of it.  From the conversations I have had people both young and not-quite-as-young, everyone seems to get a lot more out of it than they realize. So I think it’s important for all of us, even those of us who think we are givers, to take a minute and thank our peers and friends for contributing to our lives.  So for my shameless plug, come see The Federation’s new home, take an hour out of your day onSunday, January 25th and say thanks to those who make it all possible!

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

I’m not one for resolutions…but 2015 is going to be an amazing year.  I would say my goals are to make sure I make time to enjoy the little things, those are the most important things and we often take them for granted.

What is your favorite Shabbat food or tradition?

Food: It has to be Shabbat morning babka. Traditions: I have two. The first is Shabbat dinner.  Shabbat dinner was a time growing up where we all had to be home. It was the one time a week we all sat around the table and ate as a family.  The second is Havdalah. I can’t say that I do it as often as I would like,  but it’s a beautiful ceremony.  It takes all of 10 minutes, but it gives you time to reflect back on the week you just had and look forward at the week you are about to start.

Jonathan S. & Friends