I was born and raised on Long Island, New York, near the North Shore in the Town of Oyster Bay. I moved to Buffalo, NY in 2002 to attend the University at Buffalo where I earned my B.A. in Linguistics (concentrating in Applied Linguistics), a Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Millard Fillmore College, and a TESOL/TEFL/TESL Teaching Certificate from Oxford Seminars.
After completing my undergraduate studies, I made Aliyah to Israel (a special process where Jews from around the world can reclaim their birthright citizenship) and landed as an immigrant on December 27, 2007. My first six months were spent on Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael (a socialist commune), 15km south of Haifa. I studied on their Ulpan (intensive language program) for half the day, and spent the other half milking cows in their Refet (dairy shed). Afternoons and evenings were punctuated with laughter, meditation on the beach, Israeli folk dancing, and conversations over incredible coffee in their café.
I was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on August 20, 2008 and spent 37 months in the service, leaving as a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) and Commander with the rank of Staff Sergeant. I was a non-combat soldier (also known as a Jobnik) and served as a Mission Manager in the Overseas Office at the Foreign Relations Branch of the Ground Forces Command. Later, I would complete my service as an Instructor in the Foreign Training Division of the Ground Forces Command on their Battalion Commanders Course.
I returned to the United States in 2011 upon completion of my service and I rejoined my family on Long Island. It was at this time that I also began to work on my MBA, which I would later complete in February of 2014.
August of 2014 would see me leave my job as the Director of Human Resources & Accounting for a construction firm on Long Island. I felt that the time had come to set down some roots, and I wanted to do so in Buffalo, New York, one of the few places I have ever truly called home.
I would be hired later that August as the part-time director for Yad B’Yad (Hebrew for “Hand-in-Hand”), a not-for-profit project of the Bureau of Jewish Education in Getzville, New York. Yad B’Yad works to provide programming, education, advocacy, training, and support to ensure the full and meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities in both the Jewish and Secular communities of Western New York.
In March of 2015, I began working part-time for Jewish Family Service of Buffalo & Erie County at their Western New York Center for Survivors of Torture. I functioned as both a Case Manager at large for the Jewish community and the Liaison to Survivors & Child Survivors of the Holocaust. It was through this work that I truly found my calling and was inspired to apply to the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at SUNY Buffalo, my former alma mater. I was elated to receive my acceptance on May 7, 2015 and I began my studies on August 31, 2015.
In December of 2015 I left Yad B’Yad and accepted a full time position at Jewish Family Service as their Community Care Coordinator for Health Home & Jewish Community Services.
In my free time I study American Sign Language (I plan to sit in the near future for the interpreter certification exam). I also love to sew (my grandfather was a tailor, and I studied for a bit in NYC), practice meditation (specifically Hitbodedut, a type of Jewish meditation), hike, kayak, camp, and snowshoe. I find myself often turning to the outdoors to clear my mind whenever the opportunity presents itself. I’m a big believer in urban agriculture as a form of direct action and as a result I am a notorious office gardener.
My long-term career goal after completing the MSW program is to become an LCSW. As the population that I presently work with ages and moves on to the next great adventure, I would like to move into working with other groups of survivors and those who have been affected by trauma. My interests also extend to working with multiple communities, including the Disabled, LGBTQ, and Homeless communities (and of course these communities often overlap). I also find a great deal of joy working with Veterans.
While it has taken me nearly thirty years to reach this path, I wouldn’t change a single step of the journey that has brought me here. I am so glad that each of those steps has led me back to Buffalo, back to UB, and back to service.