Jconnect is one of the best programs for young professional Jews I have had the pleasure of being a part of. It is how I met the majority of my friends, and helped give me a solid foundation in a Jewish community without having to commit to joining a particular synagogue. Their programming is very well done, and their lean toward progressive, sustainable food culture is commendable.
I only wish that Jconnect would have been around when I was, well, younger than I am today :-) Great leadership, innovative programs, solid community!
I was not an active member of my university's Hillel as an undergrad. I connected to Judaism in different ways. When I came to Washington, I found that J-Connect was the best way to connect to the community- either with other Jews or as Jews serving the larger community. Through J-Connect I have a wonderful start to my week because of Yoga with Whitney on Mondays. I have been a part of Robert's amazing outreach efforts to bring awareness and action on homelessness and modern slavery. I also have been connected to others in the community through Rabbi Jacob's awesome networking skills. They make it easy to connect whether it be through a themed happy hour, cooking for a local tent city, or having a potluck Shabbat hosted in someone's house nearby. If you're in the area, come check it out!
I have enjoyed having jconnect seattle as a community player for the past several years. They continue to put on a variety of great events, everything from educational lectures to exercise classes to great parties and simchas. They are filling a niche in the seattle jewish community that had previously been vacant and I think they reach a lot of people that would otherwise not have a community to participate in.
I have been a board member for a year now. The welcome and support I have received from staff, board, and JConnect members has been so impressive and heartfelt. The program manager organizes so many well-attended events and continues to engage more and more young people in our area. The executive director is one of a kind and is the heart and soul of Hillel UW.
Jconnect welcomed me into Seattle. As a Canadian transplant moving into a new city, having an organization of people my age to meet was indespensible. Most of my friendships in Seattle have formed from people I met at Jconnect events and were fostered by the Jconnect community. Beyond connecting newcomers, Jconnect provides some truly special and unique opportunities. It is one of the only organizations that focuses on the graduate student and young professional community. This is particularly important because this age group tends move away from the undergraduate community very quickly but isn't quite ready to be immersed in more family oriented activities. As a result many young adults end up feeling alienated and isolated. Jconnect enables the opposte, a feeling of belonging and a gateway to the next phase where family oriented events and activities are more appropriate. Finally, Jconnect is extremely diverse. Since it caters to the Jewish community, one could easily make incorrect assumptions about what types of events Jconnect offers and what type of people lead and attend them. Jconnect offers activites for those interested in religious life, but also those interested in social justice, political action, outdoors activites (particularly valuable in the Pacific Northwest) and general social activites. Jconnect is almost entirely participant led thanks to a great staff that mentors and encourages participants to come up with new ideas for events and activities. This means that if a participant would like to raise funds for a charity or volunteer at an organization that Jconnect doesn't yet support, they have the freedom, the resources and the encouragement to organize the event and Jconnect will publicize it and provide any assistance necessary. This has helped furthery diversify the events, activites and body of participants such that they are all beyond classification. I have yet to find any organization that is as welcoming and understanding of people who don't self-identify with a particular community (religious sect, nationality or otherwise) and connect them with one another in an environment of encouragement, tolerance and understanding. The result is a truly remarkable organization that has welcomed thousands of would-be isolated young adults and energized them into active participants and leaders of a continually changing and growing community.
JConnect was how my partner and I found our community in Seattle. We moved here from Florida 5 years ago and knew no one. After attending many events we knew that we had found a great organization that had everything we were looking for in our new community. Within 3 years of attending a myriad of events we felt as connected in the young Jewish community as many of our new "Seattleite" friends. We can attribute most of our deepest bonds and most meaningful friendships to JConnect and the efforts of Will Berkowitz and his fantastic staff.
When I first moved to Seattle 5 years ago from Florida with my partner, we knew nobody and our nearest friends or family members were thousands of miles away. We discovered JConnect and instantly built a strong network of friends. While lately we have not attended JConnect with the same frequency we did our first two years here, the effects JConnect has had on us still remain strong. We are always attending Shabbat dinners (and throwing them ourselves) with friends from the JConnect community and our sense of Jewish identity has heightened after taking several classes and learning more as an adult than I did from stopping my Jewish education as a high schooler. I am grateful for everything the Hillel staff has provided to me over the years and I know my time in Seattle would not have been the same without JConnect.
J Connect is a place for young adults to go that helps this cohort stay engaged at a time when many of them would feel uncomfortable in the Jewish community. J Connect has all kinds of programming from spiritual to art to music to social justice work that is done within young hip context. I'm thinking about things like Megillah reading at a local bar which drew and drew and drew. There's no way most of these kids would have gone to synagogue on Purim. J Connect is a place to stretch social consciousness and work with Jewish values.
My experiences with JConnect have been many. In fact, when I think of the experiences that have served to create my Jewish identity, I often come back to my experiences with JConnect. Whether it was a holiday meal, Kabbat Shabbat services, a trip across the world or a simple gathering of friends to discuss the most recent happenings in the Jewish community, JConnect has been the fabric that tied the pieces together.