36 Under 36

‘Slamming’ Judaism’s Critics: Ethan Metzger

06/05/2014 - 20:00

After an SAR High School classmate challenged his religious beliefs two years ago, calling Metzger, who was raised in an Orthodox family, “brainwashed,” Metzger answered in poetry.

A fan of the “slam poetry” genre of competitive readings, he defended his upbringing and beliefs in 66 unrhymed lines that praised his parents and ended with the words:

“You can call it brainwashing if you want.

Ethan Metzger

Going Beyond Labels: Mati Esther Engel

Calendar Editor
06/05/2014 - 20:00

Mati Engel knows that young Jews are more than a series of labels. And she proved it when she organized a photography project this year that highlighted the insecurities she and her peers face — and stood them down.

Engel was a student at Stern College when she first encountered photographer Steve Rosenfield’s “What I Be” project, in which subjects pose for pictures with their insecurities written on their skin.

Mati Esther Engel

Inspired to Serve: Nily Rozic

Staff Writer
06/05/2014 - 20:00

Nily Rozic, who was elected last year as representative of the State Assembly’s 25th District in Queens, tells of two constituents who walked into her storefront office on Union Turnpike in recent days. Both needed help getting government services, both had language difficulties — one spoke mostly Spanish; one spoke Russian.

Nily Rozic

Conservative ‘Voice’ on Israel: Joshua Nass

06/05/2014 - 20:00

Joshua Nass spent his college years at Brandeis educating others — particularly Israel’s detractors. Educated at Ramaz, raised in New Rochelle and now living on the Upper East Side, in 2013 Nass founded Voices of Conservative Youth. “We boast about 5,000 activists,” he says, and claims “around a dozen college chapters.” He attracted financial support from Sheldon Adelson, a leading figure in U.S. conservative circles, and quickly became a pundit for Fox Business and other news stations to rebut those, including the American Studies Association, promoting boycotts of Israel and attempting to link Israel to apartheid.

Joshua Nass

Championing her Generation: Anya Kamenetz

06/05/2014 - 20:00

You might say millennials owe Anya Kamenetz a debt of gratitude for her most famous book. But please don’t. They already have enough debt.

Anya Kamenetz

Bringing Passion to Journalism and Volunteer Work: Jessica Abo

06/05/2014 - 20:00

Phil Donahue changed Jessica Abo’s life.

At 9, living in Bethlehem, Pa., Abo was watching the pioneer talk show host on TV. A young guest on the show, in tears, was consoled by the end of the show by a psychologist.

Jessica Abo

Jewish and Individualistic: Leah Vincent

06/05/2014 - 20:00

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

06/05/2014 - 20:00

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

06/05/2014 - 20:00

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

06/05/2014 - 20:00

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

MaNishtana Rison
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