Young Leadership Spotlight: Laura E.

Laura E.

How did you get involved with DC’s Jewish community?

I finished graduate school at GWU in 2014 and that fall, I started a new job in Dupont Circle. Even though I had lived in the DC area for over 3 years, I started realizing that I was not connected to the Jewish community and wanted to establish some “roots.” Having grown up in an active Jewish community just outside of Boston, it seemed natural for me to get involved in the DC Jewish community. After the Jewish holidays ended, I sent an email to the Young Leadership group, and the rest is history!

Tell us about your experience going on a DC Community: Birthright Israel Trip? What were a few favorite memories?

I am so grateful to have experienced the DC Community: Birthright Israel Trip this winter. Many of my friends went on other Birthright trips and after hearing about their experiences, I figured I’d make a couple friends and have a nice time. However, within hours of arriving at Dulles Airport, I realized that I had greatly underestimated the Birthright Israel experience: 40+ strangers became my insta-family. Since returning to DC, we have set up bus reunions, Whatsapp threads and Facebook groups.  The most memorable part of my trip was definitely the Salad Trail in the Negev. While it was certainly fabulous seeing state-of-the-art farming technologies utilized in the desert, watching my bus mates scrambling to pick the most carrots out of a sand-filled garden and attempting to taste test extremely hot peppers is something I will never forget!

What was your experience like as a NeXus participant last year?

Although NeXus is billed as a 6-week “learning session” – it’s a lot more than a traditional young professional educational opportunity. Yes, I was exposed to top Jewish professionals and learned more about Federation’s work, but I also met some awesome new friends who I might not have otherwise crossed paths with. What’s nice about NeXus is that it connects 20-somethings from throughout the greater Washington area and provides us with an opportunity to explore what it means to be Jewish in DC, and ways to get more involved.

What is your favorite thing about the DC Jewish community?

The DC Jewish community is extremely tight-knit, social and engaged. For DC young professionals, there are countless organizations, social groups and non-profits that offer a roster of service, social and educational opportunities. What always amazes me about the DC Jewish community is that the young professional community participates – there might be multiple events on the calendar, but everyone shows up. DC’s young Jewish professionals share a sense of camaraderie that is unmatched.

Jewish Community

What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

My all-time favorite holiday – Jewish or secular – is Rosh Hashanah. It’s the perfect combination of great food and wonderful company. Since before I can remember, I have walked to and from Shul on Rosh Hashanah with my sisters and my closest friends. It’s a far walk – it takes over an hour – but it’s two days of the year that I can always count on to catch up with my favorite people. Additionally, my family always hosts lunch on the second day of Rosh Hashanah for 30-40 of our dearest friends and family. We cook everything ourselves. It’s absolute chaos but it’s a pretty perfect afternoon.

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

Luck favors the prepared mind.” While I’m all about being spontaneous and adventurous, I’ve also learned the importance of thoughtfulness and preparation over the years. I’m a huge advocate for a “work hard play hard” lifestyle, but in order to do so, I need to manage my time and keep a watchful eye on my schedule. In both my professional and personal life, I try to be as organized and careful as possible. I find that when I manage things effectively, I’m able to make time for fun. Take for instance my Birthright Israel trip in January – deciding to miss two weeks of work for the trip of a lifetime was only possible through careful scheduling and advance planning.

What are you looking forward to most about 2016?

I feel like everyone has an inspiring or creative New Year’s Resolution, some express a desire to be more physically fit or travel more – I even have a close friend who wants to eat more tacos. Instead of going down the resolution route, I want to build off my experiences in Israel this past January. I want to spend quality time with my new DC area friends, stay in touch with our bus’s awesome Israeli participants, and enjoy Jewish DC opportunities with my new community.