Yaniv Havusha

The Millennials: Yaniv Havusha, 38

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The Millennials: Yaniv Havusha, 38

Yaniv Havusha

Prounouns: he/him/his
Hometown: Swampscott
Currently living in: Salem
Alma mater(s): Cohen Hillel Academy (now Epstein Hillel), Swampscott High School, Curry College and Merrimack College (master’s degree in higher education and student affairs)
Job: Facilities manager for Epstein Hillel School
Hobbies: Reading, going to concerts and seeing live bands, seeing friends and family, being outside.
Favorite music: ‘90s and rock genre – I’m a huge Third Eye Blind fan, and go to as many of their concerts as I can. I also enjoy Hootie and the Blowfish, and O.A.R., and your typical top-40 stuff on the radio, as well as a huge Spotify listener of different ‘90s and 2000s hits.
Favorite book: “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Favorite North Shore spot: I’ll go with Fisherman’s Beach [in Swampscott]. I’ve always been a fan of reading on beaches. I grew up riding my bike there on Lynn Shore Drive. So Fisherman’s, just growing up in Swampscott, is where I always plop down.

Tell me about your Jewish background.

I have an Israeli father and American mother, who met in the ‘70s in Israel. Growing up we definitely followed the Jewish traditions, which again, for me, were really primarily focused around family and friends and exposure to Jewish values, tikkun olum, togetherness, Kehilla, [community], mishpachah [family]. I remember coming home on Friday to my mother’s challah baking in the oven and the smell of that. The Shabbat dinners that we would have with family and friends – we would do a Shabbat group every month or every couple of months. Having that kind of nuclear, built-in Jewish community was always great. How I was raised as well: having a bar mitzvah at Temple Sinai, going to Israel as often as we could to visit family and friends, to have that love of Israel that was instilled in me both from the family but also in the hallways of Cohen Hillel Academy from the teachers.

How is your Jewish experience now different from what you grew up with?

It’s different, but not that different, in a way. I think the biggest difference is that nuclear family I spoke about. You know, having an older brother and an older sister, and my parents moving out of state, I don’t have that same consistency of the family tradition and celebration of Friday night Shabbos and Friday night challah. I do still have that family connection and bringing together the community in that I celebrate here at the school with the students and faculty and staff, and then also go to Maine and go visit family and friends to celebrate the Jewish holidays up there. So even though the nuclear family has kind of broken apart a little bit, there is still that peripheral friend and family circle that I still celebrate and connect with.

You worked as the director for Jewish life at the University of Rhode Island (where you staffed both Birthright and Y2I trips). You worked as the assistant director of Camp Simchah at the JCCNS, and served as a Big in Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Boston. Now, you are the facilities manager at your alma mater, Epstein Hillel School. What has drawn you to Jewish education throughout all these years? What have you learned?

I am a product of up the hill, as I say. As I say I’m a proud product, and member of this hill … And I always gravitated toward education as a field. Having a mother who was an educator, other teachers within the family, and librarians and various mentors and guides throughout my life have always kept me grounded and helped me educationally, and helped me really become the person I am.
As I got older, and really explored more of my love of Israel and the connections I had, I found that Jewish education was really a great way to continue my love of education, but also … I didn’t want to be a classroom teacher. I always enjoyed the experiential learning of outside classrooms, and doing more of the engagement in that way and hanging out with students who are mentoring and working – like being a Jewish Big Brother. Jewish education was really a great way to be able to encompass all that … being able to do that here in the halls of Epstein Hillel … is really a great way to stay connected to education as well as to my community.

If you could have dinner with any Jewish person alive or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?

Looking at where Israel is now – Oct. 7 was such a horrible day and was on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War … I think Golda Meir would be an answer that I would put in there, knowing that she was the prime minister when the Yom Kippur War broke out, and then dealing with the fallout of that, and taking the responsibility … I think it’d be interesting to sit down with someone like her to hear her thoughts about, you know, ‘I warned you’ or, ‘History does repeat itself,’ and how these things are so similar, despite the time difference between them. Θ

Do you know someone aged 18-40 who we should feature in this column? Email klein@jewishjournal.org with their name and contact information.

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