Aaron: Mazel Tov on your engagement. Who is the lucky man?
Jen: Thanks! The lucky man is my awesome fiancé, Yoni! If you didn’t meet him at last November’s Israel party, we hope to do another one before the summer is over.
Aaron: What can we expect at your wedding in Israel?
Jen: Well, first of all, if you’re in Israel at the time (October), you can probably show up…it’s going to be a big wedding. Yoni’s family takes up about two villages! It will (hopefully) be a very fun wedding, with lots of dancing and music and food and love! Also, because Yoni’s family is originally from Yemen, we are going to do a Henna ceremony, so you may see a picture of me on Facebook at some point wearing a very interesting costume with henna on my hands…
Aaron: What is your favorite part about being Jewish?
Jen: I actually enjoy both the intellectual/philosophical/spiritual part of being Jewish and the fun cultural aspects. I relate to Judaism as a menu of options from which I can choose the things I believe will best enrich my life. So, for example, even preparing to get married, as I’m doing now, is pretty amazing in itself, but when you add the Jewish philosophical and spiritual perspective, it can add a layer of richness to what is already a beautiful thing. I also love some parts of Jewish culture — I think Jewish music and art are both beautiful, and certain traditions, like the Mimounas I went to in Israel (Moroccan end-of-Passover parties), just make life more fun. So, my favorite parts of being Jewish involve having access to a specific perspective from which to think intellectually and philosophically about life, and also to simply have fun!
Aaron: Favorite DC moment?
Jen: Hmmm, well, I grew up here, so I have had many DC moments, but I particularly enjoy the open embassy weekend when I can visit all the embassies. In general, I also love going out and being able to discuss international affairs or politics as if it’s the most normal thing in the world.
Aaron: Where can we find Jen on a typical week night?
Jen: Well, for the past two years, you could have found me studying on the eighth floor of the SAIS library. But, now that grad school is over, I’m trying to get back to dancing! I’ve been a dancer since I was three, and my past two years of grad school were the first time that I had almost completely neglected dance. So now, my body is yelling at me to pay attention to it after so long, so hopefully, you’ll find me in the dance studio taking a ballet class instead of the library these days!
Aaron: Tell us about your cool SAIS life/friends?
Jen: Haha. Well, SAIS life was both wonderful and slightly exhausting — I just graduated this past May with my masters in international relations (concentrating in Conflict Management and Economics). In order to get to that point, I spent the past two years with a brilliant group of students at SAIS (the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies) where I had some of the best intellectual experiences of my academic life. As someone who has always traveled, learned languages, and been a little obsessed with what was going on in international politics, I knew I had found “my people” when I walked out of the library to take a phone call in French, and was surrounded by tons of other people doing exactly the same thing in all of their languages.