Name: Leonard Aronson
Currently living in: Cambridge
Alma mater: Epstein Hillel ’07, Gann Academy ’11, University of Pittsburgh ’15
Job: Software engineer
Favorite food: Should I say avocado just to be funny? If you’re looking for a millennial answer. I don’t know what my favorite food is. If you put a plate in front of me, I’ll probably eat it.
Favorite music: I actually have been told that I have a very Jewish summer camp style of music taste. I listen to Dave Matthews, Guster, Dispatch, O.A.R., any jam band that you could ever imagine.
Favorite movies: I guess I really like the “Lord of the Rings” movies – those are pretty fun.
Favorite TV show: I really liked “Lost” when I was in high school. I haven’t really had a show that’s been my absolute favorite TV show, though.
Favorite books: I love any Stephen King book – he’s definitely my favorite author.
Favorite Jewish person: David Aronson [his father, the cantor at Temple Sinai in Marblehead,] Kevin Youkilis [former Red Sox first/third baseman]
Favorite travel destination: [My girlfriend and] I spent three days in the Norwegian fjords, hiking and camping and kayaking, and it was just unbelievably beautiful … also, I went to Vietnam last December, and that whole country is like mind-blowingly amazing and so different. Where do I want to go next? I don’t know – put me on a plane and we’ll see where it takes me.
Tell me about your Jewish background.
My dad was the cantor at our shul which was a driving force … religiously. I went to Cohen Hillel Academy for elementary school and middle school, and then I went to Gann in high school, and then I went to the University of Pittsburgh, which was the first secular school that I went to, but while I was there I joined the Jewish fraternity, where I went every once in a while. Now I’m back in Boston working, and I’m living with two of my good friends who I went to Gann with and then another one of my friends who I met through other people from Gann.
Did you go to synagogue regularly?
When I was younger, definitely. That waivered a little bit as I went to college. That being said, I don’t think I lost any of the – I guess you’d call it my Jewish identity, by kind of not going to shul as regularly as I used to. I mean, I was the Jewish affairs chair at my fraternity, which led me to do things like leading the Passover Seder, and engaging some of our other Jewish members to go to Hillel with me on an occasional Friday night, and now I’ll go with one of my roommates or two of my roommates if they said they want to do it, and we’ll regularly host Shabbat dinners, and I’ll go to Shabbat dinners that are being hosted around the area, so I would say I stayed super-engaged in that respect. I’m also the vice president of a group called the JNFuture, the JNF’s younger brand trying to engage a younger group of people.
What was it like having your dad as cantor?
I think when I was younger it was kind of a bigger deal, especially since I was going to shul almost every weekend. Ever since I went to Gann, it wasn’t as big of a deal. At Gann there’s a lot more of a Newton-area presence than there is a North Shore presence, so the people I went to shul with didn’t even know the shuls in my area, so it didn’t really impact me that much.
That being said, it was great having, you know, my dad so involved – more in Marblehead’s Jewish community, because it always kept me connected, and you know, it was nice to – even though I wasn’t going, it was nice to know my dad was coming home on a Friday night from shul – that still kind of felt good.
A lot of people definitely knew who I was – more so than if my dad wasn’t the cantor, so I knew a lot more people in the community, which was great – walking around the supermarket, you could see any random person from shul … it’s nice to go back on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which I did most years through college and still do now – it’s nice to kind of go back and be back in the shul and hear my dad doing what he’s doing – it kind of makes the shul-going experience when I go back home a little more special.
What’s your career been like?
I am currently working at a company called Optum Analytics as a computer engineer and what we do is we work with healthcare data in order to help hospitals utilize their own personal data in better ways and help them make better decisions. I’ve enjoyed my last 2½ years there. I mean, computer science is a really cool career. You kind of go in, you are facing new challenges every day – it’s interesting.
What are your hopes for your own future and for the future of the world?
I hope to wake up tomorrow with a smile on my face. As far as the world goes – there are a lot of things I would hope for the world. I would hope to see world peace.