Jewish community professional by day, salsa dancer by night. Get to know this aspiring meditation guru and BBQ loving foodie. She’s pretty cool.
Allie: How did you decide to become a Jewish community professional?
Abby: I went to college thinking I was going to the best physical therapist ever, and then realized science was not my thing. Then, I went on a Birthright Israel trip and it changed my life. It made me realize that I’m passionate about the history of Judaism and what it means for the rest of the world. After that, I declared Jewish Studies as my major. (Working at The Jewish Federation,) I love getting people passionate about something bigger than themselves. If you love what you do and you get paid for it, it’s a win-win.
Allie: I hear you were a part of an a capella group at college…tell me about that.
Abby: I’ve always been into the performing arts. I did show choir in high school, and musicals have been a passion of mine. At college, I auditioned for the Jewish a capella group on (Ohio State’s) campus MeshugaNotes, and I was in that for all of college. It was nice to do something that I loved and sing in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. We got to travel, and it was a great group of people to be with.
Allie: What kinds of hobbies do you do today?
Abby: I was a very hyperactive child, I played lots of sports, I did dancing, musicals, pianos, all of the things. I wasn’t trained in Latin dance, but we had a family friend from Mexico and when they would have parties that would turn into a dance fest. I love watching dancing shows, and I pick up (dancing) pretty easily. I tried to seek out (places to go dancing) in DC. There is salsa dancing somewhere every single day of the week. My favorite place to go is this place called Bachata Brunch. I love it. I go as much as I can. And it’s free, there’s no cover. Since I’m surrounded by the Jewish community all the time, sometimes it’s nice to have another community I can go to.
Allie: What do you like most about salsa dancing?
Abby: It’s so freeing. It’s a workout so I don’t have to run on the treadmill and be bored. There’s loud music, and it’s fun – you can just get lost in it. It makes me feel fun and empowered.
Allie: Describe your dream DC day…
Abby: I still have so much of DC I have to explore. So I would want to find a brunch place I’ve never been to before, then go to a museum I’ve never been to before, you can see a pattern. I like having adventures and trying new things. My ideal day would be to have someone take me to places I’ve never been to before for an entire day so I could get a feel for new things.
Allie: What’s on your travel bucket list?
Abby: Oh yeah. I want to hit all 7 continents and all 50 states in my lifetime. I want to get to Antarctica by the time I’m 30 because it’s a really hard trip to do and you need a lot of energy for it.
Allie: What are you most excited about this summer?
Abby: I’m excited to staff another Birthright Israel bus. And I’m looking forward to getting a new Young Leadership Board at Federation.
Allie: What is your favorite smell?
Abby: I really like warm, woody smells like teak and mahogany. Any candles that smell like men’s deodorant is a really soothing smell for me. It’s a mellow, relaxing vibe.
Allie: Do you have a favorite dating app?
Abby: Funny story, my sophomore year of college they did a pilot program for Birthright Israel ambassadors, and the marketing agency overseeing the program was the same one David Yarus (the JSwipe Founder) was working at. He posted in our Facebook group “Hey guys, I’m launching this new dating app, tell me what you think.” I’ve actually used JSwipe a lot, because it kind of works. But I’m sort of taking a dating hiatus right now.
Allie: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?
Abby: I turn off my phone and computer on Shabbat. It’s a hard thing to do when you’re constantly busy, but I’ve been doing this for almost two years now. It’s a really good mental break during the week. Everyone is so plugged in now, and there is this instant gratification when you get a message that is very anxiety driven.
So, I don’t have a designated place I go to on Shabbat, but turning off my phone is something I do every week.
Allie: How do you like to relax?
Abby: Realistically, I play a couple puzzle games on my phone, and watch some random videos on YouTube. Ideally, I love meditation. For me, it’s really easy to get caught up in what I’m doing. So anything that I can do to take a step back, take a deep breath, and be present. Like listening to music, or going to sit at a park overlooking the water. Something that is not me having to engage, where I can just be.
Allie: If you could eat 3 foods for the rest of your life what would they be?
Abby: Oh, this is hard because I’m such a foodie. I’ll say pulled BBQ meat, coleslaw, and blueberries. Or anything my mom cooks.
Allie: Any fun facts people may not know about you?
Abby: I just got accepted to a grad program at GW! The iCenter in Chicago is partnering with GW for the inaugural academic certificate program in Israel education. I just found out about this.
Allie: Complete this sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…
Abby: Miracles happen.