If you have spent some time at Sixth and I, you will recognize this week’s Jew of the Week. Abby joined the Sixth & I team this past summer as their Jewish Programming Event Planner. She comes to DC with an MSW and a passion for performing. Learn more about Abby in our interview with the Jewish Professional of the Week!
Jackie: You are a new arrival to DC. How are you liking the city so far?
Abby: I came to DC from St. Louis this summer after completing my MSW at Wash U and spending five months working with Rick Recht at Jewish Rock Radio. I am thrilled about my decision to move to DC. It is such an awesome, welcoming city with so many options for great areas to explore and numerous ways to stay active. Since moving here I have developed a never-ending list of amazing restaurants, joined a new rock climbing gym, and I live walking distance to Whole Foods and Trader Joes. What more could you want?
Jackie: What led you to become a Jewish professional?
Abby: I grew up actively involved in the St. Louis Jewish community because my mom worked for the JCC and later for Jewish Federation. I went to JCC Day Camps and Camp Sabra, was active in BBYO and Hillel at Indiana University. I have a passion for working with children with disabilities – especially youth theater – and didn’t necessarily plan to work in the Jewish community. I now realize that it is inspiring to be part of a work environment where I share values with colleagues, and the entire staff is amazingly accepting and supportive.
Jackie: You have already helped plan some amazing events at Sixth & I including Shabbat dinners, parties, and celebrations. What do you believe is central to create a warm inviting place?
Abby: You have to start with being consistently friendly to everyone who walks through the door. Everyone wants to feel comfortable and accepted for who they are. I also enjoy paying attention to details from the food options, room set-up, and decorations. It’s important to use our Event Assistants and volunteer Ambassadors to help create the desired culture.
Jackie: What has been your favorite event so far?
Abby: High Holidays actually stand out to me as one of my favorite events to have organized so far. This was my first huge event to tackle at Sixth & I. It was fulfilling to see the hard work put in by ALL the Sixth & I staff and incredible to have created meaningful services and programming for over 4,000 community members.
Jackie What makes Sixth & I different?
Abby: First, the magnificent sanctuary certainly makes events at Sixth & I uniquely special. Sixth & I is also a place of never-ending innovation. We are constantly developing inspiring programming, responding quickly to needs in the community and seeking new ways to elevate and design events that keep participants involved and curious to see what’s next. We’re also very clear on our mission of inclusiveness and prioritizing ways for young adults to feel connected to Jewish life.
Jackie: Any exciting behind-the-scene secrets you can share with us?
Abby: Taking risks and being flexible towards change are both key when creating inventive and exciting events.
Jackie: You have always had a passion for performing arts. How do you pursue that passion outside of work?
Abby: Currently, my main outlet for the performing arts is attending and seeing shows. I am still figuring out the best way to stay connected to theater and music in DC. I love dance and choreography and working with kids and teens. Also, I look forward to using my theater background for some future Sixth & I Events. In the meantime, I am planning to take some dance classes and make new connections in the DC art world. If you know anyone looking for a choreographer…you know where to find me.
Jackie: I noticed you front and center in the Pantsuit Flash Mob. How did you end up in that great YouTube video?
Abby: My mom actually sent me a Facebook post about the flash mob because my former neighbor from St. Louis was the organizer. I decided to go ahead and jump at the opportunity to do something fun and uplifting during the craziness of the election. This was actually my third flash mob experience and each previous time had been a blast and I thought it would be fun to dance in my new city. I just ended up being the lead dancer because of all of my show choir experience. I am very happy with how it all came together and applaud the incredible team behind the production.
Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…relationships develop, meaningful conversations ensue and memorable experiences are shared.