Jodie brings amazing energy into every room she’s in. Whether it’s a Happy Hour, Shabbat or a learning opportunity, Jodie is there welcoming new people, inviting them to the next opportunity, and making sure the UNC game is on. This week I was able to learn more about how she ended back in DC by way of Chapel Hill, Charleston, and Israel! Learn more about the Jewish Tar Heel of the Week – Jodie.

Jackie: You grew up in the DC area. What drew you back?

Jodie: I actually never intended to move back to DC. I was living in Charleston, South Carolina when I decided I wanted to go learn in Israel. I quit my job, put everything I owned in storage, and got on a plane without a return ticket. When I came back, I was unemployed and had nowhere to live, so I moved in with my parents! I ended up getting a great job in the area, and I love the community here, so I’m really glad it worked out the way it did.

Jackie: I know you went to UNC and you’re a huge fan of its basketball team. What makes you so passionate about your alma mater?

Jodie: Chapel Hill is an amazing place, and I had a great college experience. Basketball was a huge part of that – everyone at UNC gets excited about a big game. It’s a lot of fun to go to a school that has that much school spirit, especially when your biggest rival [Duke University] is just 8 miles down the road. I have a lot of UNC pride. Cheering on the Tar Heels is a great way to express that and one of my favorite things to do. I graduated four years ago, and I still refuse to make plans that conflict with a basketball game!

Jackie: You studied in Israel for a few months and spent time in two pretty different places. Can you tell us about that experience?

Jodie: I knew that if I was going to take time off and spend a significant amount of time in Israel, I wanted to learn from a few different perspectives. The first program I did was Pardes, which is a pluralistic Jewish learning institute located in a fairly diverse Jerusalem neighborhood. I participated in the three-week summer program, which had about 100 students ranging in age from 18 to 84, and all levels of observance. Later, I studied at Neve Yerushalayim, a very religious seminary with about 30 girls, mostly in their 20s. We lived on a gated campus in the middle of a very Orthodox neighborhood.

They were two very different experiences, to say the least, but I really enjoyed and learned a lot from both of them. I have far too many thoughts to put them all here, but I think one of my most important takeaways was how important it is to understand where other people are coming from and their underlying beliefs and values before judging their lifestyles.

Jackie: You worked for a Hillel, and now you work in PR and Journalism. How has that transition from professional Jew to PR professional been for you?

Jodie: As a Jewish professional, I was very focused on facilitating Judaism for other people. I worked on Shabbat and holidays, and I was always trying to foster connections to Judaism and make sure everyone’s experience was a positive one. It can be hard to remember to take the time to reflect on your own Judaism. It was very meaningful work, but it has been nice to have the time to explore Shabbat and other Jewish activities for myself – although I definitely have a better appreciation now for the people who put them on!

Jackie: Now that you’re not working in the Jewish world anymore, what do you like to do Jewishly in DC for yourself?

Jodie: You can find me at just about everything. I’ve been very involved with Mesorah and Fuel for Truth, and I’m also a frequent attendee at Chabad, Moishe House, and, of course, GatherDC events!

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Jodie: That’s a hard one. It’s a toss-up between brisket and hamentashen.

Jackie: What is one thing you can’t live without?

Jodie: Leftovers.

Jackie: Finish the sentence – When the Jews Gather… There’s a lot of food!

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