Let’s meet our Jewish Person of the Week – Marisa Vrona
First off, Marisa Vrona, where did you spend Rosh Hashanah?
Temple Sholom in Lakeview, I love the choir there. I am not a member but really enjoy the services there. I’ve been going for three or four years. I love the rabbi there.
Where did you grow up?
I’m from Minneapolis, from Minnetonka. My dad is orthodox and grew up in the projects in the Bronx. My mom is from Des Moines, Iowa. My mom lived in Jerusalem for three years after college working as a tour guide. She speaks fluent Hebrew. They met at a wedding in New Orleans. They had a pen-pal relationship. Now, they are divorced.
My mom’s parents are heavily involved in the Jewish Community in Des Moines. My grandpa is on the national board for AIPAC, Bud Hockenberg. He still works 6 days a week as a partner at his law firm. My grandmother was one of the first female business owners in Des Moines, Present Concepts. Back then it was few and far between. They are an example of hard work ethic that I have today.
What did you do Jewish growing up?
Judaism has always been a big part of my life. My parents moved from New Orleans to Minneapolis for my dad’s work, he was a director of the JCC. I went to preschool at the JCC and then to the Minneapolis Jewish Day School (MDJS) at the JCC. I grew up at the JCC. I knew the employees and was friends with the front desk receptionist. When I went after sixth grade to public school, I maintained my Jewish practice and community through BBYO, also at the JCC.
When I was in high school, I was very involved in BBYO, president of my chapter, I went to BBYO leadership camps. I loved the leadership aspect of it. It meshed my love for Jewish community and working hard.
Where did you go to school?
What do you do Jewish now?
Before, I was on the board of another nonprofit in the city and now I am looking for a new leadership opportunity.
Also, I host a Hanukkah party every year. It started out years ago with a few friends and frozen latkes from Trader Joe’s. Now, it has become a big tradition and an epic party with friends.
What do you do for work?
I work at Wunderland Group as a Senior Client Engagement Manager. I have been there for 6 years. I work with companies to help them find contract and full-time talent in the Digital Marketing Content and Creative space. I love networking and helping people.
Now, I have been here for 6 years and I started there as a recruiter. I started my career in Public Relations and took a big risk to work at Wunderland Group. It was a huge deal for me to change my career. I was a coordinator and have moved up as a recruiter and now as a manager, I have served in almost every level in the organization.
What do you do for fun?
Everyone’s “fun” is very different and subjective. I love exercising, I do Yoga and spin (Flywheel). I also have a personal trainer. I do all this, so I can eat.
So, I love to eat, and I love to eat well. I love a hole in the wall restaurant. My passion is finding new restaurants that have not been uncovered yet. I do not love the overhyped ones.
And, I try not to have go-to’s. I have a list of restaurants on my phone, a to-do list. Right now, I have 82 places that I want to try.
I think the most overrated restaurant is Sunda. I do not like the see-and-be-seen vibe. I think atmosphere is important – it should be more about the food, the service and the neighborhood.
Actually, I’m going to Aba in next week.
On the other hand, I am trying to learn how to cook and I have a subscription to Blue Apron.
Birthright Registration for Winter is open now, tell us about your Birthright trip.
I went on Birthright my junior year of college. I went through some KU folks and some other universities. I remember taking shots of absinthe with our soldiers at the bars of Eilat.
On a more spiritual note, I remember hiking up Masada and seeing the sunrise, it was so beautiful and spiritual. We gathered together as a group and had a moment together.
Who do you want to shout-out?
Well, I would shout-out, Ms. Networking, Alyssa Rubnitz. Up until she started working with me, I was the token Jew in the office. This year, we wished each other a Happy New Year at work.
Before, I always liked teaching my coworkers about being Jewish and used to have a Hebrew word of the day. Something like, “That’s a nice house, I think I’ll “bayit!””
Alyssa is so friendly, she is a great networker. I love working with her, she is phenomenal! And, we live a block away from each other. She introduced me to Colectivo Coffee where I work from “home.”
Now finish this statement, When the tribe gathers…it is probably a JSwipe event.
ALSO – KANSAS BASKETBALL – THAT IS WHAT I DO FOR FUN NOVEMBER – APRIL. HOPEFULLY WE ARE IN THE FINAL FOUR THIS YEAR. I WATCH AT THE KU ALUMNI BAR AT KINCADE’S EVERY WEEK OR LOTTIE’S PUB IN WICKER PARK.