Recently we chatted with Jacob Goldberg, a data scientist with a passion for giving back to his community! This former Long Islander is all about doing what you love and always pushing yourself to learn and grow. Keep reading to find out how Jacob got into volunteering, what his favorite pastimes are, and how he connects with his community and Jewish identity!
GatherDC: What brought you to the DMV and what made you want to stay?
Jacob: I was in Baltimore for grad school and the first job I got was on the border of DC and Maryland. There’s a ton to do in the area! I’m interested in lots of activities and there are so many opportunities to pursue those here. Also my family has migrated down from New York over the years so having them close is great!
GatherDC: Could you describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish?
Jacob: My dream day would start with volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. I really enjoy spending time giving to other people and it leaves me feeling good for the rest of the day. Then I would meet a friend for a walk around the mall, maybe go to a Smithsonian museum and grab lunch in the area. And if there was a hockey game (ideally the Islanders vs. the Capitals) that would be a fun way to “cap” off the day.
GatherDC: Could you tell us what you might do during your average volunteer shift?
Jacob: It really depends on what stage the project is in. The first time I volunteered I helped build a fence around a property. Our current project is in the early stages so we’ve been doing demolition and tearing down everything within the house. Recently we started putting up framing to begin rebuilding the house. It’s been really cool seeing the transformation and I’m looking forward to learning useful skills for maintaining a home. Especially now that I work from home and stare at a computer all day, getting out and doing manual labor is very enjoyable. [Editor’s Note: Want to get involved with Habitat for Humanity? Check out one of their current projects or their volunteer opportunities]
GatherDC: Sounds like a good way to get some energy out during the day! Is there something that you can’t get through the day without?
Jacob: Reading! I read pretty much every day, either to start or end the day. I think it’s a good practice to get into, and since I left school I’ve focused on learning through reading. Right now I’m finishing up Dracula and the next book I’m starting is Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Recently I’ve been trying to incorporate books that give me a new perspective.
GatherDC: Let’s switch gears a little bit. How do you connect with your Jewish identity?
Jacob: Connecting with my Judaism has been something I’ve tried to focus on since I switched jobs. Engaging with GatherDC has been a really great way to get involved! [Editor’s Note: We promise we didn’t pay him to talk us up!] A big part of Judaism for me is having a communal feeling. I grew up going to a Conservative synagogue but we never really did Shabbat. In college, Shabbat with Hillel was a way for me to cap off the week and be around people I had something in common with. It was a nice ritual to have every week.
GatherDC: Do you have a favorite Jewish tradition?
Jacob: Growing up, my grandma, mom, brothers, and I worked together to make latkes for Hanukkah. Each person had a specific role. My grandma has since passed away but now we’re able to include my niece and nephew in the tradition and pass it on. It’s kinda funny, but I can’t make latkes on my own because I only know the one step that I help with! My brothers and I usually strain the potatoes to get out the water and the starch. That’s what we’re trusted with. However, once my grandma had passed I was also trusted to help with the actual frying part.
GatherDC: Frying potatoes is a very important skill! Speaking of skills, did you pick up any pandemic hobbies over the past couple years?
Jacob: This isn’t a new hobby, but I played roller hockey growing up and I have really enjoyed playing during the pandemic. In grad school I was trying to find ways to de-stress and I got back into playing. Hockey has always been a mindful activity for me; I am able to focus in the moment and not worry about whatever else is going on. Once I moved to this area, the first thing I looked for was where I could play hockey. There are leagues in Alexandria and Rockville and now I play in both of them. My job is permanently remote so hockey is a great way to get me out of my apartment. Playing has really helped keep me sane, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. Now that I’ve realized how much I enjoy hockey I try to play as much as I can.
GatherDC: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Jacob: The first thing that comes to mind is advice from my middle school football coach. He told us “everyday you either get better or you get worse.” Like many pieces of advice, it’s cliche, but it motivated me for a long time and put me in a learning and growth mindset. This mindset is a big part of why I read and do all of these activities. I am constantly working to better myself.
GatherDC: Last but not least complete this sentence – When the Jews of DC gather…
Jacob: They chaval al hazman. The literal translation of this phrase is “waste of time,” but colloquially it means that you have filled your time well.
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