Hebrew Name: Liba Sara
Job: Mid-Atlantic Community Associate Manager, Moishe House
Currently living in: Washington, D.C.
Alma maters: Marblehead High School ‘16, University of Michigan ‘20
Favorite food: Bagels
Favorite movie: “School of Rock”
Favorite TV show: “Euphoria”
Favorite activities: Trivia, kickball
Favorite travel destination: Japan, South Africa
Somewhere you’d like to go next: Australia
Favorite Jewish person not in your family: Ilana Glazer
Favorite Jewish holiday: Hanukkah
Favorite North Shore spot: Marblehead Harbor
What is your Jewish background, growing up and now?
My entire family is from Marblehead. I’m very thankful to still have four grandparents, and everybody lives in Marblehead, including my parents. I grew up reform, I attended Temple Emanu-El, went through Hebrew school there, and was bat mitzvahed there as well.
I think my Jewish journey really started when I went on the Lappin Foundation’s trip Y2I in the summer of 2014. Operation Protective Edge was happening at that time, and was really impactful in that when I came back, everybody was like, ‘Where are your pictures with the camels, and the wall, and everything?’ And so that really got me into Israel advocacy and explaining to my peers what the true situation on the ground was. I was invited back the following summer to be an Israel advocacy counselor on the following year’s trip.
I came back and was looking for more Jewish connection with those friends I had made. I cofounded a [B’nai B’rith Youth Organization] chapter on the North Shore, which was amazing to introduce me to a more global Jewish network. By the time I graduated high school and was headed off to Michigan, I was looking to continue that involvement and became linked in with Hillel, and was part of a sorority that was predominantly Jewish, and had the opportunity to travel to Poland, and to London and Spain with the Jewish Resource Center on campus.
I studied abroad on Semester at Sea, so I lived on a cruise ship for four months, and I got to serve as an intern for an organization called ‘Kahal: Your Jewish Home Abroad.’ We had a club called ‘Jews on a Cruise,’ and we were really able to connect with the Jewish communities in each place that we docked. For example, when we were in Shanghai, we got to visit the Jewish Refugees Museum. When we were in India, we got to go to a neighborhood in Kochi called Jew Town, which has about 60 Jews remaining. We got to celebrate Passover on the ship and be connected with our religion while we’re traversing many different continents.
When it was finally time for me to enter the real world when the pandemic hit, I was looking for the same opportunities for community building and connecting with my religious background. The job that came forward was working at Maryland Hillel, and the Social Justice Springboard Fellow. From August 2020 to this past May, I was serving in that capacity in College Park. It was really an awesome opportunity to meet students at the University of Maryland, get to know and work specifically with the freshman population adjusting to college in what could be considered a very unique time to do so, and put on social justice programming.
You recently started working for Moishe House.
Yes. Moishe House is a Jewish organization dedicated to providing Jewish community for people who are post-college, pre-settled down. To create this community, they open houses and they heavily subsidize rent for 3-5 residents living in those houses, and in exchange they ask those residents to put on a number of programs for their community. It’s a great way for people moving to a new city to have a living and breathing component to their Judaism in their own home. I’m the community manager for the Mid-Atlantic. I’ll be meeting with and helping resident transitions if people are moving in or out, ensuring that they’re meeting all the attendance requirements, meeting all the different program types there are. It’s a really cool thing and I’m just there to make sure the residents stay on track and be a figure they can come to with questions.
What are some things you’ve noticed working with young Jews in so many different capacities?
I think Judaism is definitely growing and evolving as time goes on in terms of more and more people are coming from an interfaith background; there’s more and more acceptance and exposure to Jews of color. I think the definition of Judaism and those who feel comfortable expressing their Judaism or learning more about Judaism is growing, and I think that’s really a positive thing. In Maryland we talk a lot about ‘big tent Judaism,’ or ‘big tent pluralism:’ opening up our doors to whoever wants to identify or associate themselves with Jewish learnings and teachings and practices. I think that a lot of Gen Z members are increasingly part of identifying themselves in those ways. I’m excited to see how practice evolves and Judaism grows from there.