Jewish Guy of the Week – Jake

1JakeWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherthejews.com.

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Jake: The low cost of living!  But seriously, I’m a political junkie and I’ve always loved DC.  I moved here last year (from Israel) to take a position with Israel Outdoors.  It was tough leaving my favorite city in the world – Tel Aviv – but I was happy to be moving to DC, which easily rounds out the top three.

Rachel: You work for Israel Outdoors.  What does that entail?
Jake: A lot!  Israel Outdoors is the largest Birthright trip organizer, and runs a huge number of amazing trips (over 130 this summer!).  In my last job, as a Birthright Field Coordinator, I handled everything on the Israel side of things.  Here in DC, we handle everything up to putting our participants on the plane (i.e. registration, recruitment, social media, itineraries, and customer service).  While I’ve loved this job, I’m currently on the hunt for a new opportunity (hint hint) but would love to stay in the Jewish communal world.

2JakeRachel: We heard you led Birthright trips a ridiculous amount of times.  How many times did you and what is your favorite part of Israel?
Jake: I’m about to staff my 18th Birthright trip in June, and a coworker pointed out the other day that that means I’ll have spent over half a year staffing the trips.  My own trip (in Summer 2006) changed my life in a profoundly positive way, and trying to create an equally meaningful experience for my peers has been one of the great pleasures of my life.  My favorite part of Israel, without a doubt, is the people.  Shakshuka comes in at a close second.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Jake: Passover.  It’s a story of Jewish perseverance and freedom, and also an opportunity for great food, great rituals, and lots of family awkwardness.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Jake: My mother’s matzo ball soup (aww).

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Jake: I’m a big [Theodor] Herzl fan.  While not overly religious, he was unabashedly Jewish.  He recognized a problem, and worked diligently to lay the groundwork for the State of Israel as the solution to that problem.  A journalist by trade, Herzl also had his fair share of pushback and personal problems (including an STD and a crazy family), but man…he rocked that beard.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Jake: the food disperses.