Jewish continuity

Jewish and Individualistic: Leah Vincent


Raised in Pittsburgh in an ultra-Orthodox family, Vincent was cast out as a teenager for exchanging letters with a boy, and sent to New York. After years of struggling with her identity and sexuality, she has become an advocate for young women and people in oppressed communities; along the way she attended Brooklyn College and earned a master’s at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Earlier this year, Vincent published a well-received memoir, “Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood” (Nan A. Talese).

Leah Vincent, 32

Filling a Jewish Void: Robert J. Saferstein


Robert J. Saferstein has dedicated his career to “broadening the definition of what ‘Jewish’ can look like” by building community — one of his many motivations behind starting Friday Night Lights, a series of pop-up Shabbat dinners for gay Jewish professionals that attracts people from different religious and ideological backgrounds.

Robert J. Saferstein

Inspiring Fellow Russians to Embrace Judaism: Vladimir Ronin


Growing up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Vladimir Ronin knew he was Jewish, but not what that meant.

“There weren’t channels for me to develop any kind of Jewish identity,” said Ronin, 29, an associate analyst at Moody’s Investors Service and an MBA student at NYU’s Stern School of Business. “That changed when I was 10, and my family came to America.”

Vladimir Ronin, 29

Proud to be Jewish and Black: MaNishtana


‘MaNishtana?” What is the difference? For one Brooklyn Jewish man, this is the question he’s been facing his whole life.

MaNishtana Rison

Putting Bukharian Jews on the Map: Yaniv Meirov


Yaniv Meirov has been a leader since he and his community — both young — were even younger. His people, who hail from the Bukhara-speaking part of the former Soviet Union that included parts of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, began to arrive here in the early 1990s in the tens of thousands after the USSR broke up.

Yaniv Meirov, 24

Reaching out to College Students: Hart Levine


Call it a change of Hart.

An undergraduate bioengineering major at the University of Pennsylvania seven years ago, Hart Levine, along with some fellow Modern Orthodox Jews, embarked on some dormitory Chanukah caroling that led to a campus-wide — then nationwide — outreach effort, and for Levine (at least for now) a new career.

Hart Levine

Bringing Yiddish into the Future: Isaac Bleaman


Isaac Bleaman is taking an old language into the modern age with his digital Yiddish enterprise.

Raised in a Conservative, non-Yiddish speaking home in California, Bleaman discovered the language through traditional music and after-school Jewish education programs; his interest grew into a passion.

 Isaac Bleaman

Rabbi David Okunov, 30


Preserving the flame of Judaism.

When Rabbi David Okunov got word in 2011 that a small shul on Coney Island/Brighton Beach needed help for High Holy Days services, he agreed to lead them. He arrived to find five individuals, including an elderly Holocaust survivor, in a dilapidated room.


Scott Reich, 29

Contributing editor / blueprint editor

Reform minded.

Scott Reich actually enjoyed Hebrew school. “I loved the stories about how things came to be, the traditions,” he said.


Reyna Schaechter, 18

Associate Editor
Yiddish diva.

Reyna Schaechter is only 18 and is not chasidic, but she has been speaking Yiddish her entire life.

A Hunter College High School senior who will attend Yale next year, Schaechter calls the mameloshen her “tateloshen” (father tongue) because she — along with her older brother and younger sister — learned it at the insistence of their father, Binyumen.

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