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Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Jeff: A combination of work and family brought me to DC. I was born and raised in Potomac, Maryland. After college I was hired to work in NYC, however I was asked pretty quickly to transfer to our DC regional office about 5 years ago. Don’t worry, I didn’t take it personally. It was an easy choice to move back for the confluence of a great job opportunity, being proximate to family and friends, and most importantly, rooting for the Caps and Redskins games live without being berated by rival New York fans.
Rachel: You’re a ConnectGens Fellow. Can you tell us more about ConnectGens and your project?
Jeff: ConnectGens, powered by PresenTense, is a social entrepreneur fellowship that gives leadership skills, business tools and connections to those with creative ideas for engaging, inspiring and transforming the Jewish community. Over the 6-month part-time program, fellows learn how to evolve their venture into a successful, implementable strategy to impact our community, our city, or our world. The organized process is anchored around attending business development seminars and receiving support from a new entrepreneurial network including peers and individually matched coaches and mentors. The exciting conclusion to the program is at the Federation Annual Meeting when fellows have the opportunity to get on stage to pitch the venture idea to hundreds of attendees at the Annual Meeting.
Connectgens is about providing the forum for fellows to “dream out loud” and bring their ideas to life. Whether it’s the fellows’ current venture idea or their next, the education, experience and resources help shape some of our future leaders of tomorrow. The last two years have been huge successes and I can’t wait to see what new fellows and ventures come out of this year’s class. You can read about the amazing fellows from last year here: http://www.shalomdc.org/page.aspx?id=246059.
If you have an idea that can transform your community or change the world? Applications are open for the ConnectGens Fellowship in DC, powered by PresenTense and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Applications are due November 10. Visit www.shalomdc.org/fellowship for more info, and let me know if you’re interested!
Rachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Jeff: Shabbat has always been about family and friends. Growing up, Shabbat was our weekly (or as frequently as we could make it) respite to spend quality time together and enjoy some fine, home-cooked Jewish dining. Regardless of how exciting or stressful the past week may have been, Shabbat was family time. However, now that we are all older and on the path to starting our own families, family Shabbat has been fewer and farther between. Fortunately, between my existing Jewish network from growing up in the area and the incredible network I have found within Federation, Shabbat has become a BYO party amongst friends.
Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Jeff: Not even close. Mama Chod’s Matzah Ball soup. For me, there are few religious events as welcoming as heading home for Seder. I get to spend considerable time with siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, but the real draw is the best appetizer in town. Its very rare I make it to the entrée without my second or third helpings – it’s the only dish that never has leftovers.
Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Jeff: As a sports enthusiast, I have to say the coolest Jew ever is Sandy Koufax. He was revered both for his values and athletic prowess. The guy won 27 games in his last season in the big leagues – this year the best pitcher barely got over 20 in his prime. And his game 7 world series victory will still stands as one of the best pitching performances in the history of the World Series. But what differentiated Sandy Koufax was his decision to sit out Game 1 of a World Series match to observe Yom Kippur. He was applauded and became cemented as not just an incredible baseball player, but a model Jew willing to stand up for his traditions and show how to assimilate those values into modern day culture.
Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Jeff: When the Jews gather, a party is born! (For proof check out Impact DC next year.)