Why do you give to the Jewish Federation of San Antonio?
I believe in the mission of the Federation. For me, community is the most important aspect of Judaism. Building and sustaining community is the ultimate goal for Federation, whether it be in San Antonio, North America, or abroad. It is easy to become myopic about my place in Judaism, but Federation has helped me look past the community I have here and to understand that my community spreads to other parts of the world, as well.
What programs at the Jewish Federation of San Antonio are you most excited about?
There are so many great programs at the JFSA. I am most active in the Young Adult Division (YAD) because I was able to make a natural connection with many other young adults who are involved. Through YAD, I was also exposed to our partnerships around the world, which was a catalyst in realizing that JFSA’s work does not end at the office at the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Campus of the Jewish Community or in San Antonio. Our work allows us to touch the lives of millions of Jews around the world. YAD’s commitment to engagement is important to continuing the foundations that have been laid by previous generations, so that other programs like our Partnership, Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio, the Emerging Leadership Course, and other social programs can continue to thrive for future generations.
What is your strongest Jewish memory?
My greatest memory probably happened this past summer. I was a staff member for a Birthright Archaeological niche trip in July. The trip was intensive, but the participants were able to learn fundamentals about archaeology. More importantly, they learned first-hand the origins of Judaism and how our story falls into the realm of the world. These were great memories for the participants to take away, but I remember standing at the top of Masada at sunrise. Leading up to our group hike, I had worked with 15 individuals, helping them learn what would have been their Torah portion on their bar or bat mitzvah. Each of them spent a few minutes talking about how they had connected with Torah, Israel, and Judaism. It was powerful listening and watching their transformation as a group of young adults made a pledge to engage with Judaism in a way that was meaningful for them.
Name a hope you have for the San Antonio Jewish community?
I hope we can find a way to engage as many Jews as possible. The world in 2019 looks very different than the world did in 1922 when the Jewish Federation of San Antonio was created. Creating a collective effort to ensure continuity of Judaism, not only in San Antonio but the whole world, is no small task. My hope for San Antonio is that we can figure out ways to engage the individual in a way that interests them, so that we can continue to match the beautiful diversity that exists in San Antonio.
With Rosh Hashanah coming up, what is your greatest hope for the New Year?
My greatest hope for the New Year is that everyone finds a way to meaningfully engage in tikkun olam, or repair the world. This concept is one that has always been one of the most important aspects of my Jewish identity and journey. Since the world’s earliest days, it has needed help in being repaired. The work will never be done, but I hope everyone, including myself, can find a way to learn, accept, and love a little bit more than this last year. If we can achieve this, we will be well on our way to helping repair the world.
Jason was born and raised in the San Antonio area. After attending college at the University of Texas at Austin, he moved to Florida for a little while before making his way back to San Antonio. Currently, Jason is a graduate student pursuing a PhD in anthropology. He also lives with his husband, Arron, and their three dogs in Cibolo.
In our San Antonio Jewish community, Jason sits on the Board of Trustees at Temple Beth-El (TBE) and is a co-chair of TBE20s30s, the young adult group at TBE. Also, he currently teaches grade 7 Judaic studies, focusing on social justice, Holocaust memory, and Jewish texts. In addition, he teaches grades 5 & 6 Hebrew. At JFSA, Jason sits on the YAD Board as the Engagement Chair and the ELC coordinator, as well as serving as a Campaign Ambassador. Outside of San Antonio, he is also a Birthright Israel Fellow, helping to elevate Israel education for North American young adults. Jason recently received the Sylvia F. & Harry Sugerman Young Adult Leadership Award.