HEBREW NAME: Ariella Batya
CURRENTLY LIVING IN: Peabody
ALMA MATERS: Peabody Veterans Memorial High School ’11, UMass Amherst ’15, Boston College (MBA expected)
JOB: Development assistant, major giving at Boston College
FAVORITE FOOD: Eggplant parmesan
FAVORITE MUSIC: Right now I listen to a lot of country music, but that’s far from everything.
FAVORITE BOOK: “To Kill a Mockingbird”
FAVORITE MOVIE: “Remember the Titans”
FAVORITE TV SHOW: “Grey’s Anatomy”
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION: Narragansett, R.I.
PLACE YOU WANT TO GO TO NEXT: Hawaii
FAVORITE JEWISH PERSON NOT IN YOUR FAMILY: Julian Edelman
FAVORITE JEWISH HOLIDAY: Any Jewish holiday where I get together with family and friends around the table is a good Jewish holiday.
WHAT WAS YOUR JEWISH BACKGROUND GROWING UP?
My parents belonged to Temple Ner Tamid and I’m also a member, and grew up going to temple all the time – I did religious school there, I had a bat mitzvah there, I was very active in the [United Synagogue Youth] youth group – I was a chapter president, and my senior year of high school was the president of the New England region of USY. Besides that, I went to Camp Simchah and Camp Young Judaea – if there was anything Jewish, I was a part of it.
YOUR PARENTS RUN LARRY LEVINE’S KOSHER MEAT MARKET IN PEABODY. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?
Basically, as soon as I could reach the counter, I was put to work in the store helping out with catering jobs. So my perspective on Jewish holidays is a little different. Every Jewish holiday is our biggest time of the store – so we just had Passover and we worked through all hours of the night making sure that everybody had matzah balls through the Seder. I’ve probably lost count – I think I had a turkey or roast beef sandwich for lunch from elementary school through probably high school – but there’s definitely certain foods where no matter how many times I’ve had them, I can still eat them and enjoy them. My dad makes pretty good knishes.
DID YOU EVER CONSIDER TAKING OVER THE FAMILY BUSINESS?
Somebody asked me that when I was really little, and I said, “My husband can do that.” I don’t have a husband, so – I would say that working at my dad’s is a hobby, not a profession.
ARE YOU STILL OBSERVANT?
I went to school at UMass Amherst and partook in some of the things that Hillel had to offer – attended a number of Shabbat dinners and things like that and also did Birthright … So that was my involvement in college. Now as a young adult, I’m actually a paying, full member of Temple Ner Tamid, so I’m there for holidays and things like that. I’d definitely say it’s a little bit harder when you’re in between – when you’re not a child and don’t have a family – but I try to find things to stay active.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE BDS PANEL AT UMASS?
It’s definitely something I didn’t want to see. That’s where I went to school, that’s where my sister went to school. I understand what they were saying – that it wasn’t a school-sponsored event, but it definitely wasn’t a good look. But to be honest, I think it’s a greater issue overall – not just on college campuses. I think anti-Semitism is unfortunately becoming more prevalent throughout.
HOW HAS YOUR CAREER BEEN?
At UMass, I studied sport management, which is in the business school. For three years, I worked for a company that’s brought in by universities to run ticket sales and service for their athletic departments, and with that company I worked at UMass Amherst and at Harvard. I recently started a job at Boston College in university advancement. I work as an assistant on the major giving team. At Boston College, they’re very fortunate – the gifts that we try to go after are $250,000 up to $5 million. Basically I’m an assistant to the gift officers that have their assigned territories and try to have relationships with alumni and past parents and supporters of the university, and find out their interests, and see if there’s a fit to match the funding of the university. I definitely think that down the line I’d like to become a frontline fundraiser, and I’d love to combine that with my passion for sports – be a fundraiser within an athletic department.
DO YOU THINK MILLENNIALS APPROACH JUDAISM DIFFERENTLY THAN PREVIOUS GENERATIONS?
I’ve had a number of Jewish friends, and they all practice their Judaism totally differently. For example, I have one friend who’s Jewish and if I invite her to come over for Passover Seder, she’ll come, whereas I have another Jewish friend in New York who’s shomer Shabbos and goes to shul all the time. It’s hard to group millennials and say this is how millennials practice, because it’s really different. It has to do with how they’re raised.
– Michael Wittner