Guy of the Week – Sam

We heard you run. Why?!
I enjoy sports involving personal challenge (I also practice gymnastics), and I’ve always been amazed by people who run marathons and extreme endurance events.  I ran cross-country for a season during high school and didn’t enjoy it very much, but I finally came back to it about a year ago once I realized DC is a runners’ town.  There’s this wonderful feeling of inner peace when you run–you get into a rhythm that keeps you going and prevents you from stopping.  I began running road races about half a  year ago (so far I’ve run four); most of them take place at 7 or 8 in the morning, and I love the anticipation of waking up before dawn to make it to the race site, and I enjoy the electrifying excitement in the air when hundreds of people are just waiting for the call to start lining up .  Races are so much fun because they combine individual competition with a group experience–for me it’s almost a sort of bonding experience with the other runners just by participating in the same mass activity, just like in flash mobs.

What is the fastest/farthest you have run?
The farthest I’ve run was a 15k in Greenbelt over Labor Day weekend–the weather was in the high 90s when we began so it was a challenge but the scenery was beautiful–we ran through an agricultural research facility and the woods.  My wish is that they begin awarding medals by height rather than age classes though–the 20-29 men’s bracket is pretty competitive and filled with tall, lanky guys with disproportionately long legs.

You work with the Federal Reserve. What’s that like?
Well that’s Class II restricted information.  No, really it’s exciting to work around the people who help make the economic policy that we read about in the news (and which make us the target of Ron Paul’s hate).  I work on a survey where we interview American households about their finances and attitudes about saving and the economy.  It’s exciting work because it’s one of the main sources of data that helps us answer some of the most relevant public policy questions of today, such as whether people save enough for retirement.  I like to tell people jokingly that I have weekly meetings with Ben Bernanke to advise him on economic policy; I have met him once briefly and he seems quite approachable, and can often be seen in the cafeteria sitting at tables with employees.  One of the coolest moments I can remember was when I happened to be in the same elevator with him and Alan Greenspan at the same time.

Where can we find you on a Friday night?
I like to have a foot in many different communities.  I go to Kesher Israel, Rosh Pina, DC Minyan, Chabad, and Tikkun Leil Shabbat primarily; I often go to Rockville to my friends at the Moishe House.  When I’m not going out, I usually host dinners for groups of friends.

What is your favorite Jewish dish?
I’m a big fan of malawach, which is a Yemenite flat bread wrap traditionally eaten with tomato puree, egg salad, and sour cream.  Of course, like most Yemenite foods–which often consist of dough and margarine fried in various ways–it’s not very healthy but it’s delicious!

Where are you going for the high holidays?
While I’d prefer to travel five hours each way to California just to spend two full days in synagogue with my parents (sorry mom), I will be staying here and going to DC Minyan services.  I found the services there spiritually engaging; I love the community, and I have made great friends there.  Besides, how can you beat services on the floor of a basketball court?

What is the best apple to dip in honey?
Granny Smith, because then you get tart and sweet flavors in one bite!

Finish this sentence: Next year will be sweet, because___.
I will be graduating from GW with my MS in statistics.  I’m working on figuring out what to do after that.

Which is better – East Coast or West Coast?
Well, I lived in the San Francisco area for 18 years, then spent college near Boston and I’ve lived here for three years.  While I do miss the great weather in California (many people ask how I could ever give that up), I plan to stay on the East Coast for the foreseeable future.  California culture tends to be more relaxed and friendly, but I find DC to be a reasonable East Coast substitute.  I am a bit disappointed that all these years on the East Coast seem to be erasing my NorCal vocabulary–I never say “hella” anymore.