Hebrew name: Idan Yaakov
Job: General dentist
Currently living in: Beverly
Alma mater(s): Beverly High School, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
Favorite foods: Moroccan chicken, Trader Joe’s Chili lime tortilla rolls
Favorite movies: “Scary Movie 3,” “Harry Potter”
Favorite TV shows: “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “Dark,” “Broad City”
Favorite travel destinations: Amsterdam, Israel (Tel Aviv Beach), and the White Mountains
Somewhere you’d like to go next: European trip from Copenhagen to Barcelona
Favorite Jewish people not in your family: Barbara Streisand
Favorite Jewish holiday: Shabbat
Favorite North Shore spot: Waikiki Beach, Salem
What’s your Jewish background?
Both my parents are Israeli Jews who immigrated to Massachusetts in the ’80s. My mother is Ashkenazi and my dad is Sephardic, so growing up in our house we had a blend of many different Jewish cultures mixing together. Judaism is a pivotal aspect of my identity and is a part of my life that I greatly appreciate. I belong to the same temple – Temple B’nai Abraham – that I grew up with, and love going to temple with my husband and family for Shabbat services and holidays.
My closest friends are Jewish and growing up in a small Jewish community really helped strengthen my connection with my Jewish peers and Hebrew school classmates. Celebrating Shabbat almost every Friday with my family and friends connects me culturally and spiritually to Judaism. I love being Jewish and if/when I have kids I plan to raise them Jewish.
How has your temple changed/stayed the same since you were a kid?
When I was a kid, temple was a way for me to connect with my friends. As an adult now, the temple has become a way for me to enjoy time with my family and close friends while connecting us together in a way that’s hard to describe. Growing up at Temple B’nai Abraham I was able to see the temple have its 100-year anniversary. Every time I walk into my temple, I only have good memories and I create awesome new ones. Even recently I was able to help my husband celebrate his bar mitzvah at there. Temple B’nai Abraham slowly changes with its congregation, but the wonderful warm community feeling always stays the same.
How did that blended Jewish upbringing influence you growing up?
Having parents that were Ashkenazi and Sephardic and Israeli has made Judaism more exciting. There are so many more rituals and customs that I’ve been exposed to that it has allowed me to pick and choose the aspects of Judaism that spark the most joy in my life.
My parents’ connection to Israel also strengthened the important role that Israel plays in my Jewish life, and it has deepened my love for the Jewish state and how important it is for Israel to exist.
How does your Jewish identity impact your work?
Growing up in a Jewish household, I was always taught to do good in this world, and I feel as though I’m able to do this directly through my career. Being a dentist, it’s my job to help others. Since I graduated from dental school, I was able to work side by side with my parents and serve my hometown community through dentistry. I’m able to help people of all cultural and all socioeconomic backgrounds who are in pain and seeking help. I feel as though I’m able to contribute to tikkun olam (the Jewish idea of repairing the world) on a person-to-person basis. Similarly, my father, my brother and I have gone on dental mission trips to help those in need in countries abroad that don’t have existing healthcare systems. Θ