Meet Rachel: Jewish Storyteller of the Week

by Hannah Angerman / June 29, 2022

Rachel, a white woman with brown curly hair, stands in front of an ivory colored building with columns, smiling.

Meet Rachel! Rachel is all about storytelling – whether it’s through her work or her comedy, Rachel is always sharing a story. Read the full blog to learn more about how Rachel would spend her dream day in DC and her favorite Jewish holidays.

Hannah: What brought you to DC?

Rachel: I originally came to DC through an internship with NPR. That’s when I first discovered the magic of living at the center of the nonprofit and political worlds, the small town feel mixed with fast-paced city vibes, and the uniqueness of DC’s many distinct neighborhoods. 

After my internship with NPR concluded, I left DC for a few months but realized pretty quickly that I wanted to return—so I did! I’ve been living here for nearly five years now.

Hannah: What do you do for work now?

Rachel: I’m a Communications Officer at Schusterman Family Philanthropies, an organization that invests in efforts to achieve more just and inclusive societies in the United States and Israel. Schusterman invests across seven issue areas: democracy and voting rights, criminal justice, education, gender and reproductive equity, Israeli society, U.S. Jewish community, and the wellbeing of the Schusterman family’s hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

The main part of my role is managing editor for our blog (which will soon transition to a digital magazine!). This entails overseeing our editorial strategy and working with Schusterman’s grantees, network members, executive leadership, and staff members on crafting meaningful stories that showcase our grantees’ work and help share fresh insights on the issues the organization invests in. 

What I love most about my job is that I get to exercise my creative muscles on a daily basis to promote issues that I care about personally. And since Schusterman works across many issue areas, I don’t have to pick just one! This is definitely a passion job for me. 

Hannah: Could you describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish?

I’d start my morning with bottomless brunch at Agora; a Mediterranean restaurant tucked away in DuPont Circle. Many brunch spots in DC offer bottomless drinks, but Agora offers both bottomless drinks and food, a recipe for brunch heaven.

After brunch—and while nursing a very full stomach—I’d head over to Eastern Market. I used to live in Capitol Hill and would explore Eastern Market every weekend. It’s such a unique gathering place, with expansive and evolving options for perusing local crafts and food. A stand I always make sure to stop at is Aurora Bath and Jewels. This vendor always sells beautiful handmade candles topped with fun embellishments like dried flowers or sparkles.

After spending a few hours at Eastern Market, I would start a tour of my favorite bookstores across the city. DC has so many independent bookstores that are worth visiting. I’d begin with Capitol Hill Books at Eastern Market and East City Bookshop just up the block. I’d then head back to DuPont to stop by Second Story Books and Kramers, transition to Adams Morgan to pop into Lost City Books and The Potter’s House, and finally, make my way over to Van Ness to end the tour with Politics and Prose

Rachel stands in the middle of a forest thats leaves have turned bright yellow.

Hannah: How do you connect with your Jewish identity and/or Jewish community?

Rachel: One of many ways I connect with my Jewish identity is by tapping into the Jewish tradition of asking questions. In my opinion, asking questions is the first step to seeking justice and working to make the world a more equitable place.

As for connecting with the Jewish community, I love celebrating holidays and lifecycle events with family and friends. I also feel a connection when studying Jewish texts and feeling the weight of their meaning and history, as well as learning about Jewish life in the past and today by striving to visit Jewish communities and museums wherever I travel. 

Hannah: Do you have a favorite Jewish holiday?

Rachel: Last night, my fiancé and I were actually playing this game that I came up with: pick three Jewish holidays you would choose to celebrate twice in the same year. Mine were Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and Tu B’shvat. Hanukkah for the fun and the food, Rosh Hashanah for the meaningful reflection, and Tu B’shvat because there can never be too many opportunities to celebrate nature.

Hannah: If you could be doing anything right now, what would you be doing? 

Rachel: I would definitely be traveling—especially to places near water! I have a whole bucket list of places I want to go. I think travel is a great way to get you out of your bubble, meet new people, and have new experiences. 

Rachel stands on a green spot on top of a mountain, overlooking a large snowcapped maintain range in the distance

Hannah: I heard you’re a comedian! What kind of comedy do you like?

Rachel: I did sketch comedy throughout college (shout-out to Piscapo’s Arm!), and I took some classes at DC Improv before the pandemic. I’d love to take more classes! Doing comedy is the best way to keep me from taking anything—or myself—too seriously. As a writer, I also appreciate that comedy is a great exercise for practicing storytelling, especially improv. 

As for comedy I like, I’m often rewatching my favorite workplace comedies, usually The Office, which has gained popularity since it finished, and Superstore, which I believe is an underrated masterpiece. But there are so many groundbreaking shows that have come out in recent years. Broad City, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Schitt’s Creek…I could go on. 

Hannah: Would you rather be the smartest or the funniest person in the room?

Rachel: I would argue that to be funny, you need to be smart! Being funny takes figuring out comedic timing, coming up with wordplay, and finding comedy in situations where most people wouldn’t. I think there are many different ways a person can be smart, and being funny is definitely one of them.

Hannah: Complete this sentence: when the Jews of DC Gather…

Rachel: We nosh! 

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