Tomorrow night the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington will be hosting it’s Annual Meeting. Each year, the Jerome J. Dick Young Leadership Award is awarded at the annual meeting. The Jerome J. Dick Young Leadership Award has been given out for 44 years to individuals in their early forties, or younger, in recognition of their dedication to the Jewish community and capacity for leading and motivating people. Recipients of this award have gone on to become major players in the Greater Washington Jewish community. A full list of recipients can be found here: http://www.shalomdc.org/page.
This year’s recipients are Josh Stevens and Michael Plostock. Below is our interview with Mike. Read Josh’s interview here.
From an early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of playing an active role in the Jewish community. Celebrating the holidays, learning about our history, and helping the larger community was something that became a part of me. Growing up I was involved in Young Judaea, a Zionist youth movement and summer camp. Young Judaea helped me develop my strong connection to Israel and the Jewish people. The values instilled by my parents and Young Judaea helped me focus my volunteer work with GLOE, the GLBT Outreach & Engagement program at the DCJCC, and Federation. I am just wrapping up a year serving as co-chair of the Israel Engagement committee and about to begin two years as Co-Chair of Young Leadership.
You currently serve as the Israel Engagement Committee Co-Chair- what do you do?
Thankfully, I had the pleasure of working with an incredible co-chair, Wendy Rudolph, who has been involved with the Israel Engagement committee for a number of years and was able to show me the ropes. In this role, I’ve also been able to work with our amazing community Shaliach, Anton Goodman, who helped implement the ideas our committee came up with. Whether it was figuring out ways to expand the congregational shlichim program, hosting delegations from our partnership region, or developing a roadmap for an Israeli film series facilitation guide, we tried to develop ways to connect members of the DC community with Israel.
You’ve also been involved with Federation’s work overseas and participated in a YL mission to Moscow. What was that like?
The YL mission to Moscow was definitely what helped me realize that the work the Federation does is important and something that I want to be involved with. Traveling with a dozen other Washington young professionals to see the impact Federation is making in Moscow was inspiring. Today, when I make a solicitation on behalf of Federation, and explain what we’re doing to make a difference in Moscow, I have a name, a face, and a story to relay. Incidentally, there is an opportunity for others in the community to participate in an upcoming Federation overseas mission. The Israel Your Way Mission is a unique journey through Israel with 3 different excursions to choose from, culminating at The Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly where we’ll have an opportunity to hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu. The mission will take place from November 4-13 and I’ll be co-chairing the Culture excursion where we’ll take a journey through the robust art, dance, food, and wine culture of Israel. For more details, visit shalomdc.org/israelyourway, or give me a shout!
What do you do when you’re not being a Jewish powerhouse? What is your day job?
Thanks for the compliment! I am committed to maintaining my status as a “Jewish Powerhouse,” but I still have a full-time job to pay the bills. I’m currently a Senior Liaison Officer at the Department of Homeland Security in Secretary Napolitano’s office. It’s been an incredible job and a great opportunity to contribute to an organization with an incredibly important mission. If I’m not working or volunteering, you can usually find me hanging out with friends and my amazing 4 1/2 year old Pug/German Shepard mix, Efrat “Effie” van der Woodsen Plostock
If you could change one thing about the DC Jewish community, what would it be?
This is a tough question because my first instinct is to say I would like our community to be less transient, but on the other hand it is one of the things that makes our community so unique. We invest a lot of time and resources to build a community and because of the nature of Washington, where people often come for short stints in school or public service positions, we have to say goodbye to community members just as we’re getting them truly engaged. However, while there are downsides to this transient community it also provides an opportunity to touch a lot of people and build a huge network.
Describe the DC young professional community in three words.
Passionate, Connected, Capable