Jodie Singer brings us to a coffee shop where the wifi password is “cinnamon.” She sips a toffee nut latte. She’s got nothing nice to say to Duke graduates (go Tar Heels!). Jodie is an Open Doors fellow (tune into the blog in the coming weeks to hear from more of our ODF folks!), a developing leader, convener, and relationship-builder in her community. Let’s lean in and listen.
Samuel: What brought you to DC? What made you stay?
Jodie: I grew up in DC. I’m from here. After college, I was living in Charleston, South Carolina. Then, in 2015, I quit my job, put my stuff into storage, and went to Israel without a return ticket.
Samuel: That’s a huge step! What led to that?
Jodie: I was at a job where I didn’t see myself going anywhere. I had the opportunity to go to Israel and do a few different learning programs including Pardes and Neve Yerushalayim and I figured that was the time. There wasn’t going to be another opportunity to take a few months out of my life to go learn. When I decided to come home, I didn’t have a place to live or a job, so I moved in with my parents. But even before I landed back in DC, somebody at Neve Yerushalayim connected me with Mesorah, and I started getting involved there. I made new friends and got a job, all pretty quickly, and I’ve been here ever since.
Samuel: Nice! That’s –
Jodie: Though I did move out of my parents’ house.
Samuel: What did the process of coming back and making friends look like? Were you coming back into the community you’d had growing up?
Jodie: It was actually mostly new. Things like Mesorah and Fuel for Truth [Editor’s Note: the volunteer-led DC chapter no longer exists!] let me meet other people who were relatively new to DC and build my network. It was easier making new friends in DC than it was in Charleston.
Samuel: A lot of people we meet at Gather talk about how hard it is to make friends. Why do you think it was easier for you in DC than elsewhere?
Jodie: Two things. First, because of how much Jewish life is available in DC. And then also because of how transient DC can be. When you’re new in a place and you’re looking for new people to meet, you’re going to be more open to friendships. When people have lived somewhere for a long time and already have those established networks, they may not be as open. People might be nice and friendly – but they’re not looking for a new best friend.
Samuel: You mentioned your job earlier – someone told me you basically have Kerry Washington’s job from Scandal.
Jodie: There’s less murder.
Samuel: That’s good to hear.
Jodie: I help companies and organizations communicate during times of crisis. It could be like a data breach or litigation. We consult with the organization and advise them on how they should message but also the actions behind their communication as well.
Samuel: Are there any cases you’ve worked on and are proud of? Are you allowed to tell us?
Jodie: Definitely not.
Samuel: What does your relationship with Judaism look like?
Jodie: It’s always been a part of my life. I don’t know if it is tangible, or if I can pinpoint it. But it colors everything that I do. It is something I would miss if it wasn’t there. A lot of my friends are Jewish and my schedule is structured around Jewish events – whether that’s Shabbat or holidays or GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship. Judaism also shapes the way I see the news, in terms of anti-Semitism or reporting on Israel.
Samuel: Tell us about ODF! What were you looking for when you joined? What have you gotten out of it so far?
Jodie: I was looking to renew my connection to the Jewish community after Covid and meet new people! It’s been great having an excuse to take people to coffee and get to know them better.
Samuel: What’s your favorite piece of art you’ve encountered lately?
Jodie: I love these rings I got from an artist in Tzfat. The artist is just a lovely person and the rings are a reminder every day, every time I look at my hands, that I’m Jewish. They make me think about the times I was in Israel.
Samuel: You light up every time you mention your move to Israel. Is that something you would do again?
Jodie: I would love the opportunity to do it again. I don’t know when – maybe once I’m in my job for five or ten years and I get to go on sabbatical. But I’m not planning on leaving for that long again anytime soon. Someday if the stars align, and the opportunity comes my way, and it makes sense, I would love to do it again. Israel is a very special place where Jewish people are not a minority. There’s just a special feeling I get when I’m there, maybe on a higher spiritual plane. The community is incredible and I love learning.
Samuel: We just had a community member write an essay on Lech Lecha and the combination of joy and fear that comes with taking chances. In moving to Israel, you took a leap of faith, and one that has been very impactful on your life. What would you say to other young people considering “leaps of faith?”
Jodie: The unknown is always risky and scary, but the potential on the other side is exciting. If you focus on those and stay open to opportunities that come your way, you never know what will happen.
Samuel: If you could invite any three people to Shabbat dinner, who would you invite and why?
Jodie: I would really want to put some thought into that. There’s an art in creating the perfect Shabbat table. People need to get along with each other. You only have so many people at the table.
Samuel: What tells you people are getting along?
Jodie: Smiles. Laughter. Wine bottles being opened. Nobody saying “I think I need to go home now.”
Samuel: Alright, finish this sentence for us. When Jews of DC gather…
Jodie: There’s meaningful connection.
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