Meet Lauren: Jewish Volunteer of the Week

by Allison Friedman / July 15, 2020

Lauren Goldstein is about to make you want to turn off [insert your favorite streaming platform here] and go out into the world to make a difference. She spends her free time helping to provide COVID-19 testing, assisting the Medical Reserve Corps, and used to volunteer with Israel’s EMS organization.

Get to know this swing dance loving Michigander!

lauren jpotw

Allie: What brought you to the DC area?

Lauren: I am originally from Michigan and went to college at Michigan State, but felt like I needed a change.  I have some family in the area so wound up moving here last November.

Allie: What have you noticed are the biggest differences between Michigan and DC?

Lauren: It’s been a big cultural shock living in DC [compared to Michigan], I am learning a lot. I moved from a very conservative city with a small Jewish population, and now I’m in a much larger Jewish community. I’ve noticed a big difference in attitudes; DC is more work-oriented and people seem stressed out about work all the time. I moved without a job in place and it has been a difficult transition because the first question people ask is “what do you do?”.

Allie: If you could change that question, what would you change it to?

Lauren: “What are you passionate about?” or “what are you interested in?”

Allie: I like it. So, what are you interested in?

Lauren: I love dancing! I learned how to swing dance in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I also love the outdoors – hiking, camping, and kayaking.

Allie: What got you into swing dancing?

Lauren: I had just moved to Grand Rapids and didn’t know anyone except one friend, and he invited me to a swing dancing event. I met a lot of friends through [that swing dancing community]. I have been swing dancing only one time in DC at New Columbia Swing. I really liked it, people were so nice and good hearted.

Allie: Where in the city do you live?

Lauren: I live in Mount Vernon Triangle by myself. I started living alone in grad school and once you live alone, it’s hard to go back to roommates. Although, it would be nice to have someone around during coronavirus. I visit my brother and sister-in-law in Capitol Hill which is nice. Between that and volunteering, I get my extrovert fix.

Allie: Where have you been volunteering? 

Lauren: I volunteer at United Medical Center (UMC) doing COVID-19 testing – Bertie Backus (UDC), Anacostia, and Judiciary Square COVID-19 testing sites. At this time, I am currently working at the Judiciary Square testing location. 

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Allie: Is volunteering a passion of yours outside of this pandemic?

Lauren: Yes, I have been volunteering since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to help and never liked sitting at home, not doing anything. I used to volunteer in Israel as a first responder, and really enjoyed that. Recently, I found the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). If anyone is interested in volunteering with the MRC – you can reach out to me.

Allie: Tell me more about your time spent volunteering in Israel.

Lauren: It was amazing, I volunteered for Magen David Adom (Israel’s national EMS organization). I was stationed in Tel Aviv and trained there my first summer there. The second summer, I was in Jerusalem helping with the intensive care ambulances, so I would assist with CPR, insert IVs, and perform EKGs. It was an incredible experience. 

Allie: Have you stayed connected to this experience in DC?

Lauren: I’ve tried to. MesorahDC has been really helpful, it’s a young Jewish professional organization that helps people learn more about Judaism. It’s a little more conservative Jewishly, but the people have all different backgrounds. They have classes and services. I also attended a Stop the Bleed event as well as an AJC event. 

lauren ems

Allie: I hear you’ve been a regular at Alex Fosco’s (GatherDC’s Community Coordinator) Zoom Shabbat dinners throughout the pandemic. Tell me about that.

Lauren: As a newcomer to DC, it’s been a particularly great experience for me. I have actually liked her small, virtual Shabbats more than the big, typical in-person young adult Shabbat dinners. I find that even though you meet so many people at those big in-person dinners, it can actually be hard to get to know people. I saw Alex post about this Shabbat in a Facebook group I’m a part of, and I was familiar with the OneTable platform, so I joined. She’s been doing it every week, and I feel like I’m slowly getting to know people better. It’s been giving me a chance to bring a Shabbat practice into my life more.

Allie: Is there anything else you want to share?

Lauren: Get tested for COVID and stay safe!

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Lauren: they have a matzah ball!

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*Editor’s note: Since this interview, Lauren has earned a promotion at her United Medical Center volunteering gig! She is now employed as an Incident Commander, so keep an eye out for her if you get a COVID-19 test at Judiciary Square!


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