Aaron: What brought you to DC?
Mark: I came to Washington in August 2011 as a grad student to study international security at Georgetown’s M.S. in Foreign Service (MSFS) program. I plan to pursue a career in some aspect of foreign affairs. In case that fails, I have a backup plan: CEO of Wegmans supermarkets or high school French/foreign language teacher.
Aaron: Have you been to Israel? What was your favorite experience?
Mark: I first went to Israel with Taglit, then for a fellowship with The Israel Project in Jerusalem, and I’m going in March on a student-run trip for Georgetown grad students.
When I lived in Jerusalem, I enjoyed exploring the city and seeing the blend of ancient and modern. But I really loved going to the Machane Yehuda, which I did almost every day. Its blend of colors, smells, tastes, textures and commotion is a full sensory experience. It has different vibes and crowds depending on when you go- early in the morning, in the evening, or late at night. You will never be bored there. For those who feel adventurous, go right before Shabbat and try to buy challah. It’s bedlam!
Aaron: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Mark: I am torn on this. On one hand, I prefer Chanukah because I love making latkes- LOTS of them. And by lots, I’m talking 20-30 pounds of potatoes, plus onions and the rest. I never use a food processor. Grating by hand, as our people did in the old country, tastes better. But I must recognize Tu B’Shevat. How often do we stop to think about trees, let alone set aside a day to celebrate their birthday? That’s special. And I love eating fruit.
Aaron: Who is the coolest Jew?
Mark: The Rambam. He was the Jewish Renaissance man. Or Sacha Baron Cohen. He is definitely cool.
Aaron: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Mark: When the Jews gather we will eat well.