Andrea: I’m actually originally from DC! Born and raised in the DMV, I went to high school in the Rockville area and my family is still there. After a few years running around the world – from Argentina to Italy, Manhattan, and Atlanta, I was offered an amazing job with an opportunity to head back to DC and I jumped at it!
Andrea: I was raised in a Jewish household by interfaith parents, and was surprised once I started college that those words became a barrier to entrance to Jewish life. It was the first time my interest and commitment to Judaism was not enough, and I was finding myself more and more frustrated with the gatekeeping within the community. In an effort to get my “Jew Card” and open more of those doors, I ended up in a conservative seminary in New York for graduate school during which I met and fell in love with my husband – who is not Jewish.
Andrea celebrating her wedding
Five years ago, I volunteered to staff a trip to Israel with HoneymoonIsrael. It was everything I knew Judaism could be – diverse, welcoming, interesting, and full of incredible people. Halfway through that trip, I knew I had found my new home. Now I have the dream job – I work for HoneymoonIsrael as the DC Director. I also support our programmatic initiatives in 8 additional cities to help couples like me find and build their own Jewish community that is thriving, interesting, and deeply inclusive. We’re almost 500 alumni strong here in DC, and although we’re not going on trips right now, the community is VIBRANT! From virtual baby namings to trivia, drone tours in Israel to cooking classes, every moment seems like an opportunity for a new, creative idea.
My day-to-day is always different, which is why I love this job. Today started with a morning tech check with a famous chef for an event this weekend. That was followed by a call to Montrael about tahini and then an upcoming program for new moms, a “lunch date” zoom with a couple who is quarantining in a new place, a “coffee” with a local rabbi about new programs they’re offering which might be of interest to our couples, a Peloton Hamilton Run followed by actual coffee from Pitango, and then prepping for an evening event volunteering with Repair The Vote through HoneymoonIsraelDC. By then, my husband has probably made dinner, and we’ll watch some truly ridiculous NatGeo program or read a book.
Andrea and friends during a trip to Israel
Andrea: A perfect DC day pre-pandemic sounds like a dream: it starts with breakfast and hot chocolate at Pitango in Adams Morgan, my real “office” before the pandemic! My husband and I will probably hit the C&O canal for a few hours. (We’re trying to finish all 184 miles this year!) And then we would meet up with friends at one of our local wineries for a few hours of wine and sunshine and friendship. We love Big Cork, Blue Valley, and Creek’s Edge. Heading home, we’d drop by happy hour with friends at Anxo coming from that side of the city, ending up back in Adams Morgan for dinner and live music starting at the Blaguard for Totchos, or Songbyrd for alcoholic milkshakes. Even though we live in a “big city”, DC always feels pretty small and we’ll probably run into a lot of people we know on the streets in AdMo until we finally head home, a very short walk away.
Views from a local DMV winery
Andrea: I am a really active crafter. While I love a good run or gym session during the day, after work or on the weekends I’m probably knitting, doing watercolor, or spinning my own yarn. Usually that list would also include reading, but I’ve been struggling to stay awake and read during the pandemic.
One of Andrea’s latest crafting creations
Andrea: I try to find inspiration in all sorts of people throughout my life. My clearest inspiration though is my mother, Sherri. She married a non-Jewish man from a family who thought that was insane, and has spent countless hours bringing to life the pieces of Judaism that are important to her. This includes education for all, helping those in need, fair and open dialogue around all topics. She’s changed jobs and careers many times, but has always built a life of volunteership and creativity. Without an ‘institutional Judaism’ behind her for the most part, she has brought Jewish celebrations and community to countless people through her unmitigated hospitality and warmth. She is a true extrovert, getting energy from so many types of people, which she has given back to her community and her family tenfold. It is through her leadership in finding the parts of Judaism that resonate and create meaning in her life that I have been able to build a “start-up” Jewish community.
Andrea with her role model – her mom, Sherri.
Andrea: Everywhere! I love to travel, and I really struggle with this question. I’ve been to 49 states. So, I’d love to get to Hawaii, where a number of my friends live. I’ve always wanted to travel to Japan, see the winter markets in Germany, do a sheep-and-wine-adventure in New Zealand. I also don’t believe in having things on my bucket list that I’m not actively going towards – even if that means jumping off a cliff in Chile!
Andrea: I’ve spent some timing living in both Florence and Buenos Aires and I would love to live in either of those places again. I spent a lot of time on the road pre-pandemic (and hopefully post-pandemic), so I used to say that if I could spend a year anywhere I would have picked DC! Now that we’re sheltering-in-place here in DC for so many months in a row, it feels like I want to be everywhere else all at the same time.
Andrea: Sometimes it feels easy to get lost through the cracks of the Jewish community. The space between single-after-college and married-with-a-big-job and kids-thinking-about-suburbia is bigger than it intends to be. In this incredibly difficult time, I hope you can use this moment to try something really new in the Jewish community to help find your space. We don’t have to commute to pop in and try new things – it’s the silver lining for me!
Andrea with some of her HoneymoonIsrael crew
Andrea: it’s a lot more diverse than you might think!
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