Meet Anna: Jewish Educator and Outdoors Enthusiast of the Week

by GatherDC Staff / December 8, 2021

Anna Greenstone has a passion for languages and learning—in fact, that’s why she moved to DC! When she’s not developing training content, Anna is exploring the wonderful parks and outdoor spaces that the DMV has to offer and spending time with family and her new puppy. Read this week’s blog to learn more about Anna, her dream day in DC, and her incredible dream Shabbat guest list. 

What brought you to DC and what made you stay?

I’m from the East End of Pittsburgh and went to the University of Pittsburgh. I came here more than eight years ago to pursue an alternative route teaching program through the Center for Inspired Teaching. I’ve stayed because I love the dynamic, smart, and generous people I’ve met and come to call friends, and the nearby national and state parks. I’ve chosen the DMV as the place to build my home, career, and community. 

We’re glad you’re sticking around! Since you’ve had a lot of time now to explore the District—what’s your dream day in the DMV from start to finish?

Wake up ridiculously early (with no alarm) and head out for a hike along the C&O Canal, or maybe head east to Calvert Cliffs. Wherever it is, it’s near the water, and might be a bit of a schlep, but in my book, it’s always worth it. I would grab a latte and savory pastry with a friend at Vigilante Coffee in Hyattsville, then stroll through Eastern Market and buy more colorful art for my home. After that, I would want to take a nap or journal to recharge. Then in the evening I’d go see some funky live music outside, or—in the before times—at The Hamilton

What led you to your current job developing curriculum?

I’m fascinated by how and why people learn. It led me to study anthropology and languages, and then international education for graduate school. I followed that curiosity into the elementary school classroom, and have gradually moved into Training and Instructional Design. My current role as a Senior Instructional Design Specialist with a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor is such a cool culmination of work that I’m sparked by, and it feels purposeful. And I get to develop courses that center on what works for learners and content that helps improve the quality of humanitarian assistance work around the world.

What do you do to relax or for fun at the end of a long week? 

The key to my relaxation is getting to move outside. Lately weekends include lots of walks, especially with my new pup. Or I’ll head to a Latin/hip-hop dance class at Meridian Hill Park.  Cooking with music on is also super relaxing! Facetiming with my niece and nephews, who live in New York, is also pretty essential to my weekends, and incredibly fun! 

You have a new puppy! Can you tell us more about him?

I am a newly certified dog mom as of November 5th! My sweet chocolate lab, Teddy Pendo, is one year old and I found him at a DC shelter. I looked into his big hazel eyes and knew my life would never be the same. He’s still figuring himselfand meout. One of the many things I love about him already is his wide, large head. It reminds me of a cow!

What is your best life hack that has helped you get through the last year of the pandemic?

Again, did I mention moving outside? I wasn’t working for a chunk of the pandemic, so I took the opportunity to walk the entire C&O Canal towpath. It’s sixty miles from DC to Harpers Ferry stretched over four days. Then I did the rest piecemeal over a few months. It was one hundred eight-five miles in total.  


That’s incredible! Congratulations. Switching gears—if you could learn one new personal skill this year, what would it be and why? 

Actually playing the guitar. I pull it out occasionally and can strum a few chords. I’m a singer so I love to accompany myself. But I want to take this skill to the next level this year. 

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

I speak Swahili! I was pretty fluent years ago—I’ve still got it, although I’m a little rusty. I spent two and a half years in Kenya and Tanzania during and after college, and had a language scholarship to study Swahili intensively in Zanzibar.

How do you connect with your Jewish community, and what’s your favorite Jewish tradition?

Attending Sixth & I events and, occasionally, services. I connect with certain holiday rituals and practices that I find particularly meaningful. I really love Havdalah—candlelight, harmonized singing, and sweet spices is a beautiful combo. And to be honest, I really appreciate Jewish traditions and rituals around death. Creating space, time, and practice to honor and remember those who’ve died, even as time passes, has been important to me.  Making room for our grieving matters.

What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Oy, this is hard. Probably latkes, or matzah ball soup, no wait— haroset…or if we are in Israel, it’s salad and bourekas. 

If you could invite any three people to your Shabbat dinner, who would they be and why?

adrienne maree brown, and Michelle Buteau and Bryan Stevenson. I so deeply admire brown’s visionary writing and thinking. She expands my perspective and what I believe is possible for us collectively when I read her books. Buteau is hilarious, and fabulously unapologetically herself.  Stevenson, obviously, has done incredible justice work, moving the needle to reduce unfair and excessive sentencing, changing the justice system from within. I feel like we’d all get along, especially if there is enough challah to go around.  

Do you have a Jewish role model? If so, who and why?

As much as social media can be draining and overwhelming, I’ve found some really cool activists and thought leaders in this space. Lately, I’ve been following Hadar Cohen. I’m impressed by her study of Jewish mysticism and her advocacy for a more inclusive Judaism, and her outspoken solidarity with Palestinian communities.  

And, final question. When Jews of DC Gather…

…there will be fast talking and a multitude of opinions! 

You can follow Anna on Instagram here.

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