GTJ interviewed one of the organizers of the World’s Largest Shabbat Dinner!

The Most Interesting Jew in the World - Screenshot of fundraising clip for White City Shabbat's Guinness World's Largest Shabbat Dinner in theme of Dos Equis beer commercial. Photo credit: courtesy of White City Shabbat

The Most Interesting Jew in the World – Screenshot of fundraising clip for White City Shabbat’s Guinness World’s Largest Shabbat Dinner in theme of Dos Equis beer commercial. Photo credit: courtesy of White City Shabbat

 

As part of White City Shabbat, Victoria is one of the organizers of the World’s Largest Shabbat Dinner!  Learn more about the Shabbat dinner here.

Rachel: We heard that before you lived in Israel, you were living in DC.  What brought you to DC?

Victoria: I moved to DC in 2011 to get my masters in public administration at George Washington University.

Rachel: Why did you decide to move to Israel?

Victoria: I had come to Israel a few times since I graduated high school, once on a family mission trip in 2005 & once with my mom on a women’s mission in 2011, and both experiences were great but very centered on site seeing and learning about the history of Israel.  When I came to Israel on Taglit in 2012 on a DC community Shorashim bus, the trip had an element of self-reflection that I had never experienced on a previous trip to Israel.  I was forced to confront questions like “What does Israel mean to you?” and “What do you want your relationship with Israel to be?” and when I thought about those and other topics I realized that 10 days was not enough for me to answer those questions satisfactorily.  On the last day of Birthright we were given a presentation about coming back to Israel on Masa and I filled out a card saying that I was interested in possibly returning for a longer Israel experience.

A few months passed and as I was entering my last semester of my master’s degree and trying to decide what I was going to do when I graduated I received a phone call from a Masa representative asking if I was still interested in coming back to Israel.  The call couldn’t have come at a better time and I made the decision that if I was ever going to explore my relationship with Judaism and Israel by living in the Jewish homeland, now was the time. 

Rachel: What is White City Shabbat?

Victoria: White City Shabbat is the portal for Jewish Life in Tel Aviv.  Bringing the concept of Shabbat dinner parties to a wider community, the organization hosts its own private, warm, welcoming, all-inclusive Shabbat meals every month.  White City Shabbat also hosts holiday celebrations and meals, Jewish learning series, beginners learning minyan, and inter-community programming.  To learn more about White City Shabbat visit www.WhiteCityShabbat.com.

Rachel: How did you get involved in White City Shabbat?

WCS logo (1)Victoria: White City Shabbat is one of many programs operated by a nonprofit organization called the Am Yisrael Foundation, which is where I worked as an intern during my Masa program.

While I was doing research on different Masa programs I reached out to a friend of mine, Natalie Solomon, who had made Aliyah recently and was volunteering with a passionate team of young professionals to form new nonprofit organization, the Am Yisrael Foundation, that actually had an intern at the time from one of the programs I was looking into.  After talking with Natalie and learning more about the great group of people she works with and the work they do to build community for the young-professional international community in Tel Aviv, I knew that going on Career Israel and interning with AYF was the right fit for me.

I feel so lucky that I was recruited for this position because it’s given me a chance to see Tel Aviv through the lens of passionate, highly motivated young pioneers who are working tirelessly to improve the city and the community that we’ve chosen to call home.  Even though my internship ended almost 2 months ago, I decided to continue volunteering with the Am Yisrael Foundation and helping them attempt the world record for the World’s Largest Shabbat Dinner.

Rachel: What motivated WCS to host the largest Shabbat dinner ever?

Victoria: It’s actually a funny story, no one really knows who exactly came up with the idea.  People within our organization had been playing around for a while with different ideas to inspire Jewish unity with some type of global Jewish communal effort and that is where the idea to attempt a Guinness World Record came from.  White City Shabbat and Am Yisrael Foundation are led by passionate young professionals who devote their free time to run these programs & we wanted a way to involve Jews from around the world in the incredible work that we’re doing.

Rachel: Who are you expecting to attend the dinner?

Victoria: We expect a lot of diversity in the event’s attendees.  At White City Shabbat we believe that Shabbat is the cornerstone of the Jewish faith and as such has the power to bring people together.  Furthermore, because of its unique demographics of so many young professionals, its mix of immigrants and natives who are both religious and secular, and its overarching atmosphere of openness and inclusivity, Tel Aviv is the perfect city to host an event of this magnitude.

Rachel: When you’re not at the world’s largest Shabbat, where can you be found on a typical Friday night?

Victoria: Since I’ve been living in Israel for the last 6 months, I feel so fortunate that I’m able to celebrate Shabbat with my friends every week.  In the Olim (new immigrant) community here in Tel Aviv we have a saying that your friends are your family, since many of us do not have family living in Israel or if we do they’re far away, and I’ve definitely been living by that statement since I got here.  Every week I either go to a friend’s apartment or to a White City Shabbat event for dinner, and, wherever I am, I know that Shabbat dinner will be filled with people that I love expressing their gratitude and happiness that we are together in Tel Aviv, in the homeland of the Jewish people, being able to share in the beauty of Shabbat.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?

Victoria: I’d have to say my mom.  She converted after she married my dad & even though she wasn’t raised Jewish she embodies Jewish values, like Tikkun Olam & Tzedakah, more than anyone else I know & has inspired me to try and do the same.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Victoria: we can change the world!