Leadership Development Associate, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) International
Buffalo Grove, IL
Temple Beth Am – BATY & NFTY-CAR
DePaul University ’16 – Finance & Economics
Fun Fact: Speaks English, Spanish, & Russian
How did you get started in NFTY?
Growing up, I was really connected to my synagogue and Rabbi Richard Prass was one of my biggest mentors. He was always encouraging me to at least try NFTY and go to a couple of events. I also had one of my friends in my TYG that was always trying to get me to go as well. Eventually, I signed up for NFTY-CAR regional event toward the end of my sophomore year and I absolutely loved it. The people were incredible, the activities were really fun, and I just loved feeling connected to the Jewish community.
What made you want to stay involved in NFTY?
It truly was the people. I loved the people in my TYG and going to other NFTY events gave me the chance to meet other Jews from all different backgrounds and experiences.
Were you excited for Jewish life in college?
Going to the largest Catholic university in the country, I had planned on doing the bare minimum to stay connected to my Judaism. When I first started school, I had no intentions of joining a fraternity. But there were a couple of my friends, one of my roommates and an older guy, who were also NFTY alumni who encouraged me to join AEPi. It’s pretty awesome that my connections from NFTY were the reason I joined AEPi in the first place.
Tell me more about your experiences with AEPi and other Jewish organizations on campus.
Almost immediately, I started taking on leadership roles on campus. Actually, I ended up serving on the board of every Jewish organization at DePaul University, including AEPi, Hillel, and Chabad. I also served on the board of the Chicago Jewish Federation and was the first undergraduate to sit on the board of the then newly created Metro Chicago Hillel, and even helped to hire the current Executive Director. Additionally, I worked to have undergraduate student representation on the AEPi Foundation Board.
What are some similarities between NFTY and AEPi?
In addition to being Jewish organizations and giving people the chance to explore Judaism, both groups have given me the people that I still stay in contact with and who will undoubtedly be my best friends in my wedding. Additionally, both organizations care so much about creating experiences and supporting the next generation, l’dor v’dor. It’s pretty powerful to be part of a bigger legacy with both groups.
What do you appreciate the most from your time in NFTY?
NFTY gave me an incredible network of people that would eventually give me so many opportunities in college and beyond. If it wasn’t for NFTY, I would have never done AEPi or any of the other Jewish organizations in college. NFTY was absolutely the foundation that gave me the resources and the platform to develop as an informed and passionate leader and Jew. All of the leadership skills I gained in NFTY translated perfectly into college organizations and then into my current job. And that’s exactly what I’m doing at AEPi – helping people gain leadership skills to transition from high school to college, and then to their professional careers.
How involved do you think you’ll be in the Jewish community in the future?
I absolutely know that I will stay connected to the Jewish community and I’ll continue developing my Jewish identity through professional and volunteer roles, and continuing to make connections to Jewish communities. But again, NFTY was the stepping stone that gave me the skills and confidence to continue my involvement in the Jewish community.