Allie: What brought you to DC?
Courtney: I actually grew up in the Maryland area, went away to college, and then moved to New York City to pursue acting. For years, I dreamed of being on Broadway as a musical theater star, like Sally Bowles in Cabaret. But then a few years after giving that a try, I moved back to DC. Although I love living in the city, after getting married – my husband and I moved to Kensington, MD so we could have a bit more space.
Allie: What’s your favorite part about living in DC?
Courtney: I’m a really big foodie and love going out to amazing local restaurants like Rasika, Filomena… and my new favorite is this little pizza place called Frankly Pizza. It’s exceptional gourmet little pizzas. I also love experiencing the culture in DC – going to indie bookstores like Politics and Prose, and seeing local theater (which I actually used to perform in myself).
Allie: I hear you have a pretty cool job at Adas Israel. Can you tell me a little about that?
Courtney: Sure! I’m the Director of Programmatic Engagement, and help with Adas’ robust programming. I do a little bit of everything – from working with the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington, to the young professional programs like Shir Delight, to holiday programming like Return Again Shabbat, to social action events, and lots more. It’s rewarding to be a part of a lot of different initiatives, and I love meeting and connecting with community members of all ages.
Allie: What inspired you to work in the Jewish community?
Courtney: While in grad school at George Washington’s Masters of Elementary Education program, I wrote a children’s book called The Number on Her Arm. The book stems from my personal experience of learning about the Holocaust from my grandmother – a survivor – and how honest and open she was about her experiences.
After my grandmother passed away, I felt a need to get her story out, so I went on to self-publish the book. Then, I got so busy promoting the book and discovering this overwhelming passion to teach children about the Holocaust. This experience motivated me to take the job at Adas Israel so I can spend my entire career working to make a positive difference in the Jewish community through education and programming.
Allie: That’s incredible. It sounds like you have a lot of passion for educating the next generation about the Holocaust. Are there other ways you pursue this passion?
Courtney: One of the groups I had an event with when I was promoting the book is called 3GNY (Third Generation Holocaust Survivors) in New York. It was so meaningful to meet a group of other grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and I really wanted to bring this group to DC. I found out that this group already existed in DC, but had not been very active. My boss allowed me to pursue bringing this group back to life, and now, we have our first event coming up – tonight! We’re going to be sharing pictures of our grandparents, telling stories, and brainstorming ideas this program can make possible.
Allie: Who’s your Jewish role model?
Courtney: My grandparents. They went through so much as Holocaust survivors at a young age, but they were able to move forward, move to Canada after the war, start a family, and provide for their children and grandchildren. Instead of harboring resentment and bitterness, they gave unconditional love, and used their experience to educate us.
Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…
Courtney: Laughter ensues.