Jewish Girl of the Week – Deena

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Aaron:  Where did you grow up?
Deena: I’m a Washington DC native, born and raised.

Aaron:  Where do you live?
Deena: Aside from a 4 year hiatus in Philadelphia when I was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, I have lived on the red line my entire life (Van Ness, Tenleytown, Dupont Circle).  A year and a half ago, I moved to Columbia Heights.  It’s been great exploring different neighborhoods throughout the city.

Aaron: What was the last Jewish event that you attended?
Deena: I attended The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Charles E. Smith Leadership Retreat at Capital Camps.  It was an inspirational weekend where community members celebrated Shabbat together, learned about each other’s passions and philanthropic interests, and strategized how to create a vibrant Jewish community full of meaningful experiences for people with diverse interests and backgrounds.  I also just went to my cousin’s bar mitzvah in New York.  With 17 cousins under the age of 13, I dusted off the ole’ Coke and Pepsi shoes, which I’ll be using for many more celebrations.

Aaron:  What is your current job/passion project?
Deena: I’m a certified Project Management Professional Consultant by day and a Jewish community organizer by night.  I am passionate about social justice and I love helping people find their connections to others with shared values.  I am involved in a number of organizations, so let me know if you are looking for a group to get involved with.  Currently, I’m volunteering with the following:

  • Holocaust Survivor Initiative to raise critical funds for holocaust survivors in the metropolitan area.
  • ConnectGens Fellowship to transform Jewish social innovators’ ideas into ventures that engage, inspire, and support the Jewish community locally, in Israel, and overseas.
  • Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) Abraham Joshua Heschel Vision Awards to honor local social justice activists and raise funds to continue our critical work in the region.

Aaron: What is a fact that few people know about you?
Deena: My exposure to football was pretty limited during my ten years at an all girls school so, in an attempt to learn new things and connect with the football lovers in my life, I joined a fantasy football league this year.  I’m in 5th place so far!!

Aaron:  What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
Deena:

  1. I co-founded the DC Rape Crisis Center’s Young Professional Circle, a group of local young professionals supporting critical services of the DC Rape Crisis Center through community building, education, and philanthropy.
  2. I directed the Baker Tilly Casino Classic fundraiser after only six months at the company.  This event was so successful that firm leadership decided to host the event as an annual tradition, showcasing our commitment to stewardship in the community.
  3. After participating in Jews United for Justice (JUJF)’s Jeremiah Fellowship, I applied the community organizing skills I learned towards chairing the Heschel Awards.  With great support from other JUFJ volunteers, we raised over 25% more than the previous year!  I’m even more excited for this year’s event.  If there’s one thing I can leave you with today, I’d encourage you to join me next Sunday, November 18!  JUFJ’s Heschel Vision Awards honor local leaders who follow in Rabbi Heschel’s footsteps, including Maryland Governor O’Malley and 3 others, for their work on Marriage Equality, Maryland Dream Act, workers rights, and other progressive issues.  I highly recommend what promises to be a fun and exciting night where you can meet leaders who you not only admire, but also can actually work with in our fight for social, economic, and political justice in the DC metropolitan region!