Jewish Guy of the Week – Andy

Why did you move to DC?

Last January my wife, Rose, and I were on our honeymoon talking about if we wanted to buy a condo in Chicago or move to the suburbs.  Two weeks later, she got a call from a curriculum company in Bethesda that was interested in flying her out for an interview.  She went, the company loved her, and the company made a solid offer in the middle of March.  She accepted.  Life has not been quite the same since.  We had been married for only 6 months at that point, and we already were making a major life decision.  Personally, I was a mix of emotions.  I was scared out of mind, and I was absolutely proud of the work my wife had done to find and secure this amazing opportunity for her career.  If it was this good for her it could only be that much better for us.

We arrived in DC on the first Sunday night in April, signed a lease the following Tuesday, Rose started work the next day, and I flew back to Chicago to pack our apartment.  I joined her in Mid-May to start looking for work and help unpack.

Less than a week later, I met Avital Ingber at Starbucks on 21st and P.  One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was accepting a new opportunity in Young Leadership at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.  Now I coordinate our leadership and education programs, such as Nexus, ConnectGens, and the ConnectGens Fellowship with PresenTense (

What were you involved in before this?
My resume includes:  Sales Rep for Cutco Knives, Sales manager, Bagel Baker, Recruiting Manager, Independent Life Coach and Consultant, Trolley Driver/Tour Guide (think Vince Vaughn in the Break Up), Career Counselor, Birthright Israel Next Fellow, Trade Officer for the Israeli Government.  Those were all jobs that came with a paycheck of some sort.

For fun, I have managed to serve on a Synagogue board, planned an Eco-Shabbaton for young adults, performed on an Improv Comedy Team, trained for and ran about a half a dozen races, studied Hebrew and a little Talmud and did as much professional development as I could.

Any big events coming up?
Oh yeah.  Too many to count in fact.  The three biggest events that I have a hand in are:

1.  The ConnectGens Open House.
Applications for the Fellowship will actually be up within the next 2 weeks, but on November 2nd you can learn more about a new program that Federation is bringing to DC.  With the help of our generous funders and in partnership with PresenTense the Federation has launched the ConnectGens Fellowship.  We are looking for Jewish innovators, each with an idea to change the community here and abroad to apply for this program that provides a wealth of training, support and mentorship.  Of course we are looking for professionals that can support our fellows as coaches and mentors too.

2.  The Sukkah Hop
I have been to a few Sukkah Hops in my day, but never one that involved multiple buses and hundreds of people.  This event is guaranteed to sell out and I would not miss it.  $40 gets you food, drink and transportation to 3 of DC’s Finest Sukkot.

3.  The Network Kickoff
This is going to be a great event to meet and network with some of the brightest and best in DC.  Plus, Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s will be speaking.  Rumor has it there may be Chubby Hubby served to those who attend.

What is the coolest part of the Federation?
I have believed in the work of Federations for a long time.  For those that know the work of Federation well, the impact we have is clear.  The innovation we are supporting from Birthright Trips to Smart-Classrooms in Israel, through World ORT is amazing.  However, to someone who doesn’t know a lot about Federation, it is the type of organization that doesn’t always seem sexy and sweet because a lot of our everyday work is raising money to keep the community moving.  Federation’s annual campaign does a lot to help organizations locally and around the world meet their day to day needs.  Let’s face it, keeping the lights on is essential, but doesn’t always make for a great story.

People do come to really know and appreciate Federation, especially when they really need it.  Because it is large in size and mission, the Federation can always be there when organizations and individuals in the community really need it.  That fact gets me out of bed and into work every day.

For me personally, the coolest part about Federation is how much I get to learn every day.  So many individuals have been touched by Federation directly or by programs and places that would not exist without Federation dollars.  I have the privilege to hear stories of Jews and even sometimes non-Jews whose lives are better because of Federation.  Working here, I also realize that there is a lot to learn about the Jewish Nonprofit world, but Federation is a great place to learn about many facets all at once.  We are connected to much of the community and because of that, I have already met so many great lay leaders and colleagues from our organization and all of the other organizations that make Washington such a great Jewish community for Young Professionals.

Any New Year’s/Rosh Hashannah Resolutions?
Two things I know I want to commit to in the coming year:

1.  Maintaining my commitment to eating healthy and staying fit.  Several years ago I weighed over 300 pounds. With the help of my loving family, caring friends, Weight Watchers, personal trainers and life coaches I have lost over 120 pounds.  This year I am committed to hitting my ideal weight and staying in my healthy weight range for good.  One of my hobbies/exercise outlets is running, so I see myself going after a half marathon and possibly the full 26.2 before the next Rosh Hashannah.

2.  Traveling back to Israel.  I have been to Israel three times in my life.  I find myself transformed in so many ways, each time that I visit.  I first went on birthright hoping to fall in love with the land and in the process I also fell in love with the people.  It’s the people of the Israel that keep me coming back.  Israel is an amazing place and I consider it a blessing to have it as homeland for the Jewish people.

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] week, Andy Kirschner pitted DC against Chicago in “an un-OY-fficial match-up.”  He graded the cities on 10 […]

  2. […] Jacobs reports on the ConnectGens Fellowshp program.  Look for former Jewish Guy of the Week Andy Kirschner in this article, as well as close GTJ friend Eva Malka Davis.  Applications to Fellowship are due […]

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