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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
If you mention “Israel” to Dina Silberstein, her manner of speaking — direct with a hint of Long Island — softens and shifts. During a year abroad in Tel Aviv in 2011, Silberstein worked in real estate development, and not only inhaled the ocean air and fresh produce, but also rediscovered an almost-forgotten spot within herself for Judaism. Upon returning to New York, Silberstein delved into a career in real estate as well as volunteerism, launching an alumni chapter for Masa Israel Journey; MASA coordinates semester- to year-long programs in Israel for young adults.
There was no shortage of support for Israel on campus when Dina Goldberg (then Dina Muskin) was a student at Stern College. Like her, many of her friends had spent a year in seminary in Jerusalem. “Everyone was buying Israeli products and giving tzedaka,” she said. But something was missing.