Girl of the Week – Ilana

Aaron: What brought you to DC?
Ilana: I came to DC to participate in an AmeriCorps program called AVODAH: The Jewish  Service Corps. I spent my whole life living in NYC and didn’t want to be one of those New Yorkers who never experienced living somewhere else for an extended period of time. After graduating from college, I took the first opportunity I could to move (yet not too far! I am a New Yorker after all…).
Aaron: We heard you have had some amazing personal/professional experiences. Tell us more.
Ilana: Wow, what an intimidating question to answer. I would say that overall I enjoy activities that are creative, thoughtful, spiritual, and engaging. For example, I have been involved in the Jewish environmental scene for a long time. I was a gardening and nature instructor at different Jewish summer camps and worked at two Jewish-environmental non-profits in NY,trying to mobilize Jewish communities around issues of sustainability and food justice. Through AVODAH this year, I’ve worked at an amazing organization called N Street Village that provides comprehensive social services to over 60% of DC’s female homeless population. My job specifically involved health and wellness programming and I had an incredible time leading a garden club, teaching a dance workout class, facilitating a spirituality and faith discussion group, and organizing an art show with our clients. On the side, I started learning bhangra  this year and was in a bhangra dance show!
Aaron: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Ilana: I seriously toy with the idea of becoming a rabbi. When people ask me what kind of rabbi I want to be, I always say “a cool one.” If I end up taking this path, I want to help create open-minded pluralistic Jewish communities and do interfaith work.
Aaron: Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Ilana: Probably at a potluck Shabbat dinner with my friends.
Aaron: How much longer will you be in DC. What’s next?
Ilana: I will be in DC for the next two years! I will be working at a non-profit called the Tahirih Justice Center. Tahirih is a Bahai-inspired organization that provides legal and social services for immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence. I’ll also be teaching Jewish youngsters at Hebrew school and hanging around Columbia Heights.
Aaron: How can we be involved in some of your great projects?
Ilana: Organizations and programs are always looking for volunteers–I learned that everyone has a talent or skill to offer another! Always reach out to something that interests you and see how you can contribute. You can also just ask me!
Aaron: What is the best part of DC Jewish life?
Ilana: It’s young and diverse. Every week there are various service options and programs to go to if you are a young professional–it’s not as hard to meet new people this way.