Meet Yoni: Jewish Actor of the Week 

by Rachel Kriegsman / May 25, 2021

Hailing from New York, Yoni Bronstein has found his community in Fairfax. An actor by training, Yoni loves exploring DC’s theater scene as well as Mosaic’s blossoming arts scene. Of course, a dream day in DC would include a trip to the museums and catching a Nats game. When he’s not in DC or Fairfax, you can catch Yoni by the water in Alexandria or exploring the abundant trails in the mountains just to the west.

Read this week’s 1:1 interview to learn more about Yoni!

Rachel: What brought you to DC and what made you stay?

Yoni: I moved to DC with my then-girlfriend, and now fiancé, at the end of 2019. My fiancé Megan and I both graduated from Columbia’s School of the Arts Theatre Program in May of 2019 and began searching for jobs and trying to figure out what our next steps would be. Megan landed a great job at George Mason University’s School of the Arts. She’s a stage manager by trade, so that gig has worked out really well for her. 

DC has a great theater scene, so I thought it would be great for me as an actor to see what I could find. Also, I grew up in New York, so it’s nice that DC isn’t too far from where my family lives. 

Rachel: What motivated you to work in theater?

Yoni: Acting has been my passion since I was a kid. I remember telling my mom one day in the kitchen during my senior year of high school that I was going to be an actor. I went to Brandeis University to get my Bachelor of Arts, because I wanted to study a variety of things. I specifically did not go to [an acting] conservatory for that reason. But once I got to Brandeis, I was pretty quickly all in on theatre. I think the theatre is such a beautiful thing, it’s such a unique and special way to connect to other people. It’s not valued the way it should be. 

As a Jewish person, I think that it can sometimes be hard to be Jewish because the theater culture isn’t necessarily conducive to observing Shabbat or the Jewish holidays. That said, there are so many opportunities for Jewish people to express themselves in unique and special ways in the theater that I would love to see more of. A dream of mine is to help cultivate that in whatever my work turns out to be as an actor.

I am also very interested in writing and definitely want to do more of it over time. There is great TV nowadays that is coming from Israel. I think these shows are really special and could only be written by and come from Jews. And luckily shows like Shtisel, Valley of Tears, and Our Boys have an audience here in the US. 

One challenge for Jews in the US is how we relate to our Judaism and what tensions exist in relation to our Jewishness. It’s an interesting question that is rife with dramatic tension and is great for storytelling. 

Rachel: I hear you recently got a new job. Tell me about it. 

Yoni: I got an offer from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to work with their US Regional Offices team. The AJC is a national advocacy organization that fundraises and puts together events that are relevant to the American Jewish community, including a lot of interfaith and diplomatic work. My job will be focused on coordinating with regional offices across the country to help with social media, messaging, and fundraising efforts. I’m excited about it because it’s an opportunity to connect with Jewish communities across the country – from big communities like mine in New York to much smaller communities where creating Jewish programming is so important.

Rachel: Describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish. 

Yoni: I’ll start with the caveat that my time in DC, pre-Covid has been so brief. That said, I’m really looking forward to taking more advantage of the DMV as things begin to open back up.

My dream day would involve walking at least 5 miles all around DC getting to explore the city. I love urban areas and think DC is such a beautiful city. It would be fun to spend the day exploring it by foot. When we first moved to the area, I worked near Capitol Hill. I would walk over to the steps of the Capitol or to the National Mall for my lunch break and it was so nice. 

In an ideal world, I would also catch a Nationals game and hopefully the Mets would be in town. At night, I would see a show at one of the great theatre companies – Arena Stage, Theater J, or Studio Theatre

Rachel: Is there anything you would change about DC?

Yoni: I would love for DC to become a state as soon as possible. That would be so great. 

Another thing is that I love how New York incorporates its boroughs into the city and, as someone who lives in Northern Virginia, I would love to see the outer boroughs of DC become more integrated into the city. 

Finally, the theater in DC is truly so fantastic. I wish people would take more advantage of it. If you live in the DMV, check out your local theater and go see a show. Get out there and experience the cultural energy that is so vibrant in DC.

Rachel: What’s one thing that you can’t get through the day without? 

Yoni: Music, for sure. I love music of all kinds; nothing makes me feel more deeply. 

Rachel: What is something that people might be surprised to learn about you? 

Yoni: I think sometimes people are surprised to learn that I consider myself introverted. People often think I’m super outgoing and happy-go-lucky. I’m glad I exude that, but I often feel much more shy or introverted. 

Rachel: What do you do to relax at the end of a long week? 

Yoni: I play my guitar as much as I can and I hang out with my cat, Gracie. My fiancé and I also love to hop in the car and drive west to the mountains. There is such a wealth of trails and gorgeous views. DC-ers are lucky to have such beauty so close. 

Rachel: What is your favorite spot to visit in Fairfax? 

Yoni: I live about a mile from the Mosaic District. It has been fairly built up over the last few years and has a lot of great restaurants. But most importantly, it has an Angelika Film Center, which is a chain of independently owned movie theaters. I used to think there was only one in downtown Manhattan, but there are a few around the country, including one in Fairfax. 

The Angelika Film Center puts together great festivals, including a Jewish Film Festival. And they bring in a variety of independent films and host classic series, things like Hitchcocktober. It’s such a fun way to go to the movies.

Old Town Alexandria is another really beautiful spot that I highly recommend visiting. In fact, it’s where I proposed to my fiancé!

Rachel: When the Jews of DC Gather… 

Yoni: all the haters better scatter.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 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.