Introducing: Jared Phusia

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If you ask Jared Phusia where he’s from, he says he’s from “a little bit of all over.” Jared’s dad served as a urologist in the Air Force when he was growing up, so their family got around, spending time in Charlottesville, Virginia; the Mississippi Gulf Coast; Florida; and New Jersey.

Introducing: Courtney Leach

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Courtney Leach grew up in Woodbridge, Virginia, and currently resides in the Kemp Mill neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland. A security coordinator for the Overseas Security Advisory Council with the State Department for the last two years,  Courtney will soon be a graduate student at University of Maryland University College (UMUC), where she will pursue her master’s in intelligence management.

Introducing: Rachel Hellman

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Rachel Hellman grew up in Pikesville, Maryland, and currently resides in DC. A kindergarten teacher by day and Kesher Israel volunteer on evenings and weekends, she loves to cook and host Shabbat meals to bring people together. In her free time, Rachel enjoys Zumba, People magazine, board games, and “Friends” reruns.

Introducing: Lauren Barney

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Lauren Barney is 24 years old and hails from the great steel city and city of champions, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She currently lives in Washington, D.C., and is getting her master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Introducing: Shlomo Fishman

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Interviewed by Rachel Kohn

Shlomo Fishman is 25 years old and grew up in Monsey, New York. He spent a gap year in Israel after graduating from high school before moving to Silver Spring, Maryland, in the fall of 2012. Shlomo is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from NOVA Southeastern University, but even before completing his degree, he has already created a name for himself in the local fitness community and beyond.   

Introducing: Russel Sparks

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Russel Sparks (yes, that is his real name) is from Chappaqua, New York, home to both Hillary Clinton and Kol HaBirah’s very own Bari Perlmutter. Russel went to Carnegie Mellon University and works as a patent examiner. He has lived in Maryland and DC but currently resides in Rosslyn, Virginia, right across the Key Bridge from Georgetown, where he attends services at Kesher Israel.

Introducing: Ezra Schwartz

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Ezra Schwartz is a 24-year-old software developer living in the heart of DC. Originally from Baltimore, he graduated from the University of Maryland in 2016 and moved to the nation’s capital later that summer. In his free time, Ezra can be found testing his knowledge at local trivia, sporting spiffy bow ties around Kesher Israel, or catching the latest flicks at the movies.  

Introducing: Jeremy Fogelman

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Jeremy Fogelman is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland. He received an undergraduate degree in computer engineering from University of Maryland College Park and his master’s in systems engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He currently works as a software developer by day and a film reviewer by night at hotchka.com. He is also part of the Washington, D.C.-area Film Critics Association.

Introducing: Stephanie Hefter

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Stephanie grew up in Baltimore and moved to DC almost four years ago “for the Jewish young professional community,” she said. “One of the events that showcased the breadth of the community for me was a Gather the Jews [now GatherDC] happy hour at Buffalo Billiards that had over 450 people!”

Pardes Seleh

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Pardes is a writer at the Independent Journal Review. She is 24 years old and is originally from Los Angeles, California. She graduated from UCLA in 2016 and currently resides in Washington, D.C.