Meet Nina! Nina is an artist, exercise enthusiast, foster dog mom, and much, much more. Nina loves to think deeply about her Judaism and share that with those around her. Read the full article to learn more about Nina and hear her very funny Jewish food anecdote.
Hannah: What brought you to DC?
Nina: In 2018/early 2019 I was living in Baltimore and dating a guy who was living in DC, so I was already thinking about moving here. We broke up before I could move, but I remember one of the last things he said to me prior to us breaking up was that I was never going to make it to DC. I remember using that as motivation and I basically said, “Watch me”. So I moved to DC and made it happen! I’ve lived here on and off because of COVID and have been back full-time for the past year.
Hannah: Can you describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish?
Nina: One of my brothers lives here and he has two children, so I would definitely say that a component of the perfect day would be spending time with my family. I would go to Busboys and Poets up on 14th Street. Then I’d probably do the museum circuit because we’re so fortunate to have such amazing museums here in DC. I would also go to the Botanical Gardens. Last thing would be going for a run, going to SoulCycle, or attempting to beat my boyfriend in pickleball or tennis.
Hannah: Can you tell me about something you’re passionate about?
Nina: I’m an artist! I grew up loving art, particularly Georgia O’Keeffe. I double majored in fine art and mass communications at school. After I graduated I stopped making art for a while because I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to pour myself into making anything. Then COVID happened and I worked through some anxieties that I hadn’t really addressed. I came to understand that art is integral to who I am as a human being. I was actually able to get back into art because of paint by numbers! Then I started making genuine, authentic, real art again for myself, and when I moved into my home I painted this massive impressionistic painting. It hangs on my wall and it’s a reminder that I can make art I love.
Hannah: That sounds amazing—What is one thing you can’t get through the day without?
Nina: I walk a dog everyday. You can pretty much guarantee that that’s something that I’m doing. Sadly my dog Nala passed away recently; I got her when I was 20 and clueless about owning a dog and we had a really special bond. But right now I’m fostering a dog through City Dogs Rescue so I still get my daily dog walk.
Hannah: What’s something that you do to relax or for fun at the end of the week?
Nina: I take a lot of comfort in the end of the week being Shabbat. For me it’s a time to take a step back and acknowledge that it’s time to rest. I really try to be phone-free on the weekend. Saturday mornings I always make it a point to get some form of exercise. Then I like to think back on the week and look at all the things I accomplished. I like to ask: how did I show up for myself? How can I improve upon what I did this week? The end of the week for me is really about reflecting and practicing mindfulness.
Hannah: If you could invite any three people to your Shabbat dinner who would you invite?
Nina: She’s probably a popular Shabbat guest but my first person would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I would also invite my family members who have passed away (some before I was born, some during my lifetime). Last but not least, I would invite my mom because she’s obsessed with RBG. I know it would make her life to be at that Shabbat table.
Hannah: What other ways do you connect with Judaism?
Nina: Every day I wear a necklace that has the word “strength” in Hebrew. It’s a subtle way for me to show my pride in my Judaism.
Hannah: Do you have a favorite Jewish tradition?
Nina: I love the symbolism of Passover and coming together during the seder. I like how our world stops because it’s Passover and we acknowledge the sanctity of the holiday and the story. I think that is a beautiful tradition. In my family we always use our very old and stained haggadah that my grandparents used, and we use my grandmother’s beautiful glass plates. My grandmother was the epitome of what I think a strong Jewish woman should be. She was president of her Hadassah chapter, she ran a religious school, she was an artist—she was just a very beautiful person. I always like to believe that she is present and honor her however I can. Passover is a great opportunity for that. A lot of my Judaism relates to honoring the people in my life who have passed away.
Hannah: Do you have a favorite Jewish food?
Nina: I actually have a funny Jewish food story. I used to work at a place where I was pretty much the only Jewish person on my side of the organization. During a team retreat, they asked everyone to go around and share their favorite Christmas cookie. I didn’t really know any Christmas cookies and when it was my turn I decided to go for it, so I said my favorite Christmas cookie was brisket. Everyone looked at me confused, and sort of like “did she really just say that?” and I’m very proud of that moment.
Hannah: If you accomplish one thing this year what would it be?
Nina: I really want to run a half marathon! I want to build up my endurance when I run. This year I want to feel strong and be able to carry myself in a really confident way and just feel good about how I’m showing up for myself. I’ve done so much work on my mental and emotional resilience and strength that now I want the physical to reflect that as well.
Hannah: Final question—complete this sentence: when the Jews of DC gather…
Nina: You feel like you belong, and you’re part of a community.
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