RAJEing since 2005
"My parents associated Judaism with danger,"
says Biana. Therefore, as she was growing up,
we had "absolutely no affiliation with Judaism."
It wasn't until she came to college that Biana
started having questions about her identity: "I
had questions about what it meant to be Jewish, because I didn't come
from a home that had the answers." She was searching to "learn more
about my Jewish self and figure out what being Jewish meant to me."
A friend pointed her in the direction of RAJE. "I did my first trip to Israel
with them and I've been involved ever since." Starting with "zero"
Jewish knowledge, upon completing the RAJE fellowship program and
returning from the trip, she continued her studies at RAJE by joining
the RAJE Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah program, celebrating her bat-mitzvah
ceremony at the RAJE center and taking on a Hebrew name.
Inspired by her experience with RAJE, Biana decided to pursue a
master's degree in non-profit administration. "I was so impressed
by what RAJE was doing, and I loved being involved in the Jewish
community...I've been working with Jewish non profits ever since."
Biana has served as associate director of Hillel at Baruch, and is
investing her considerable talents at the Shorefront Y, as a full time
Jewish educator and administrator of after school programming for
children and young families.
In addition to her work, she spends her free time building the Jewish
community as well: she volunteers in a variety of capacities at RAJE,
and she helps Jewish singles find their soul mates as a matchmaker.
"One of the biggest problems that plague our generation is the
inability to find the person that's right for you. I use the online platform
mymatchmaker.com as a platform to help end that struggle.
Both Biana and the greater Russian-American Jewish community have
benefited from Biana's involvement at RAJE. "RAJE is more than just
a free trip. It's a community, and it's a place that no matter where you
go, you can always come back and be welcomed with open arms. You
make friends for life. It is really building a real young Russian American