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. 


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!


*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!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.