10 December 2014
Growing up and in college – what was your involvement in Jewish life?
Jewish culture was a part of my life for a lot of my childhood, whether I knew it or not. I went to The Gan, Adas Israel’s pre-school, and to the DCJCC summer camp as a young child. I went to Hebrew School throughout almost all my years at middle and high school, was Bar Mitzvah-ed and went through confirmation. I think that all overloaded me a bit and I needed a break so when I went to college, I was barely involved with Jewish life.
Why and how did you get involved with Young Leadership?
I really was not very involved in the Jewish community in college and for my first few years after graduating. But what really inspired me to get back involved was going on a DC Birthright Israel community trip, specifically going to the Western Wall. It wasn’t the wall itself that really moved me – I had seen it in movies and pictures, and it was interesting but not overtly remarkable to me. What really moved me was the note that we wrote to put into the wall. It pushed me to really think about what was important to me in my life and that being an active part of the Jewish community was something that I really wanted.
What has been your most memorable experience with Young Leadership?
Revere Mifgash and the Birthright Alumni Leadership mission have been two of my favorite experiences. Having grown up learning about Israel from a distance but never experiencing it, I’ve been deeply inspired by my abilities to interact and learn from Israeli’s firsthand. The Alumni trip to Israel gave me the chance to witness and partake in many parts of the diverse experiences of the Israeli culture. Plus, I made some of my closest friends while on the trip who live in DC.
Reverse Mifgash is so wonderful because it brings out the best of both the Israeli and American Jewish communities. We get awesome and inquisitive Israeli’s who are really open to sharing their lives with us. We also get a ton of folks from the DC Jewish community who are generous enough to open up our world to strangers, and open minded enough to learn more about the Jewish community in Israel and at home in Washington.
What are you most looking forward to this year (2015)?
Throughout the time that I have been involved with Young Leadership (YL), I have had the privilege of meeting and working with a diverse group of young adults who fall all across the spectrum of Jewish knowledge and depth of involvement. It’s been great to see that some of our most vibrant leaders within YL got to be where they are today through the knowledge and skills they acquired in NeXus (click here to email for more information), an adult learning course that teaches a group of young professionals all about The Jewish Federation and local Jewish community. I am really excited I got a chance to experience this learning process with participants firsthand and look forward to helping future NeXus participants find their next steps on their Jewish journey!
Why do you love the Jewish community?
I love how inclusive and diverse it is. I find that Jews come in all shapes and sizes, and we truly strive to make sure that everyone has a place to do what they want to do within the Jewish community. Whether this means Jewish learning, networking, leadership development, or religious opportunities, the thoughtfulness and welcoming nature of our community shows those interested in learning more that we are open to everyone and work to meet everyone’s needs.
What is your favorite Chanukah tradition and why?
I really appreciate that moment when you are surrounded by friends and family as you gather together to light the candles and sing songs. It has almost become a competition for me of how many people I can work to bring together and spread that holiday vibe, I can’t wait!
What is your favorite Chanukah food?
I am a big fan of latkes and apple sauce, it’s a holiday staple! I was never really into the sour cream growing up, but recently I have been working to broaden my palette. And chocolate gelt is definitely a close second!
If you are interested in learning more about NeXus, please email Dena Cohen.