• Jodi Samuels

I Am So Proud



Last night I went to class for my organization Jewish International Connection NY(WWW.JICNY.COM), a home away from home for foreign Jews living in New York. We run various programs including networking, social, learning, Shabbat and holiday events and Israel advocacy workshops.


We moved our Monday night class to a new location and we had a big celebration. There were almost 100 young professionals most non-observant who had come to hear Steve Eisenberg’s teach Torah potion of the week.


I reflected how 12 years we started JICNY. Within one month of arriving in the US we hosted dinner for international MBA students at Columbia University and we immediately realized that there was need for International Jews living in NY to have a sense of community. Soon after we launched the JICNY. We launched with Shabbat dinners and soon after we met Steve Eisenberg and he started teaching classes in my home. We now have over 200 events a year with over 10,000 people attending events and we have one part time person working for us. I am so proud of what we achieved.


Yesterday before class I met someone and I was talking about how much I have on my plate. I started JICNY before I had kids, now I have 3 kids including one will special needs, three businesses and my husband travels frequently for work. During this time the JICNY has grown and keeps growing. My friend asked me why I don’t cut back on JICNY. Everyone including my husband asks me this but JICNY is my passion and it hard to cut back on something that gives meaning and purpose. I love connecting people, I love seeing the impact our programs can have on people lives. I think back to the 90 marriages we know have come from our people meeting at our events. I recall the bride walking down the aisle who stopped to whisper to Gavin, “I would not be here without your relationship classes and guidance”. I know that so often people come to our events as soon as they just arrive in NY, they are apprehensive about their new big city and often will meet all their new circle of friends at our events. We watch people grow and transform as they discover Judaism. So often people come from communities that are so small and only old Jews practice Judaism and they come to NY and are delighted to be part of a dynamic and inspiring community. Mostly I love getting out of bed each day knowing that I will in my own way make a difference in the world.


At class I started talking with a young guy and he was asking me about JICNY. He said “I can hear you are passionate about JICNY – why?” I explained what JICNY does and how I truly believe that we impact lives. I also explained how having JICNY defines my family. My kids love hosting guests but more than that they have a sense of purpose and mission. They also understand that all people are different and most import they take responsibility at a young age and they too understand that they can change the world. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says in his book “Letters to the Next Generation”, “Children grow to fill the space we create for them, and if it’s big they will walk tall. Ideals are big, material possession are small. Ideals are what make life meaningful. People may envy others for what they earn or own, but they admire others for what they are and what principles they live by- and it’s better to be admired than envied” Gavin and I share this common passion and purpose, living with ideals brings happiness to the whole family.


I am proud of what we have built in the JICNY and I love how the JICNY has defined me and my family as people


Originally published: November 20, 2012

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