RAJEing since 2007
Ken grew up with two secular parents and a
religious brother. He tried yeshiva at a young
age but "it was not for me." He maintained a
loose affiliation with Judaism until he joined the
Marines. "In Brooklyn you don't focus on who
you are. My Marine Corps experience made me appreciate the need
to strengthen my Jewish identity." By the time he returned to New York,
he was ready to take the advice of his brother and join the program.
"I was ready to explore Judaism. I was content in what I had in life:
a good job, etc., but I said to myself, is this it?" The RAJE Europe/
Israel trip was a transformational experience for Ken. "I saw the rate
of assimilation amongst my friends and peers, and I saw that I was
headed towards that path. I needed more content in my life to give me
a reason not to fall into that pattern." Ken decided he needed to invest
time into his Jewish education, so that he can give back to others. He
returned to Israel on a two year MASA funded Jewish studies program.
Today Ken is back at his old stomping grounds in Brooklyn. He loves
his job, working as assistant director for the Kings Bay Y. "I found a
major area of need in the world of Jewish nonprofits. The community of
Russian-American Jews will not survive unless there is an element of
togetherness and an element of participation that is not present today.
These people want a sense of community, a sense of togetherness in
a non-aggressive, cultural approach." Ken's programming teaches the
Jewish communal values of responsibility, charity, and group ethics
through community outreach.
Even with the extensive demands of his job at Kings Bay Y, Ken
spends his limited free time at RAJE, the organization which launched
his journey into Jewish communal life, tutoring the next generation of
Jewish leaders at RAJE every Sunday.