By day, Daniel Max Kestin designs intricate software programs that help companies run smoother. By night, he does pretty much the same thing. For free.
Since 2001, Kestin has served as Chief Technology Officer for Hazon, a non-profit organization that seeks to increase health and sustainability in the Jewish community. He built the organization’s Web site and then helped to transform it from its original basic operation to a complex site that can be accessed by many volunteers.
"Working for Hazon connected seemingly disparate parts of my life," says Kestin, "connecting Judaism to issues that were thought of as part of the secular world."
He’s also designed the organization’s blog, The Jew and the Carrot (www.jcarrot.org). Kestin continues to advise the entire Hazon staff (which has grown from 1.5 to 14 full-time employees) on technological issues.
But Hazon isn’t the only place benefiting from Kestin’s expert skills.
As a member of the Chevra Kadisha at B’nai Jeshurun, a non-denominational synagogue on the Upper West Side, Kestin replaced the previous system of phone trees with an email listserv and online web form to coordinate everyone’s availability for performing the tasks of the burial organization. "Everything that happens on the Chevra Kadisha is always on a quick turn-around," he says. "There is very little time to get messages out and coordinate time and place."
And Kestin knows that everyone has something to give back to the community.
"Traditionally doctors and lawyers are thought of as people who do pro-bono work," he says, "but I think it is possible to find whatever your outside passion is, that may or may not be thought of as something Jewish, to help an organization."
Sustainable romance: Kestin met his wife, Elissa Meth, at a Hazon event. The couple was married in June 2008. New beginnings: Kestin opened his own software architecture company, Kestin Technology Solutions, in 2008.
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