Let’s meet Jewish Person of the Week, Jonathan Kamel
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the city, in Lincoln park (shocker, I know). I went to Walter Payton college prep for high school (Go Grizzlies!) and Anshe Emet for synagogue. I love it here and couldn’t see myself living anywhere else.
Where did you go to school?
I went to Northwestern for undergrad and studied Political Science. I loved politics and studying the American government – but overtime realized I did not want to build a career in the political space. Currently, I’m in the middle of a part time masters program at Northwestern’s Medill School in Integrated Marketing & Communications. I am in my second year, and I love it. I have been able to dive in a lot to some real client and project situations.
How do you use ChiTribe?
I love the ChiTribe calendar! It condenses all the incredible Jewish events that are happening in Chicago into a digestible format. I encourage everyone to check ChiTribe at least once a week to stay informed!
What did you do Jewish growing up?
Growing up, my family was your typical conservative Jewish home and we loved shabbat and celebrating the holidays. I went to hebrew school at Anshe emmet from junior Kindergarten to 10th grade. In High School I was active in Jewish Student Union and I was also in AEPi at Northwestern.
My Jewish identity is linked with my family’s history. My paternal grandfather fled his home in Poland before the Germans invaded and went to Moscow and fought in the Red Army.After the war, he waited 5 years from 1946-1951 at a DP camp in Germany to be able to move here. He was the only surviving family member.
At the age of six, my grandmother went into hiding in Italy during the war. She still carries scars from surviving the Holocaust, which is something I have grown more aware of overtime. Her experiences remind me how lucky I am to live in such a welcoming country, where Jews to the most part are accepted.
How is your Jewish identity impacted by your Israel Experience?
In 8th Grade I went on Ta’am Yisrael (Taste of Israel) which is a seven day trip to Israel for students from the Chicagoland area. It was my first time in Israel and also sparked my interest in politics. A huge part of my Jewish identity is about having a place for Jews to call home.
What do you do Jewish now?
I am mainly involved in the Israel Policy Forum, an organization focused on the vision of a Jewish and democratic Israel. We do so mainly by working on, supporting, and producing policies that will lead to a viable 2 state solution. We’ve found a niche in the community of being able to work internally and externally to create important and pragmatic conversations about Israel’s future. I am also involved in JUF, AJC, Citypac, and AIPAC. My passions have always been advocating for Israel and global Jewry.
Tell us more about IPF ATID
I got involved with Israel Policy Forum because I was looking for an organization focused on the vision of a Jewish and democratic Israel. I helped launch the young professional arm of the organization in 2017 called IPF ATID.
IPF saw a need within the American Jewish community to support pragmatic ideas. IPF works on supporting and producing policies that will lead to a viable two state solution. We believe strongly there are actions that need to be taken by the Israeli government to make sure that Israel is always a secure, Jewish and democratic state. Another issue we want to address is discussions on Israel in our Jewish community. We have become so polarized that discussions on Israel have almost become taboo. This has to change. IPF ATID sees ourselves as part of the solution here by reinjecting nuance and pragmatism back into the discourse.
What do you do for work?
I started my career at an full service agency called Digitas and then went to the sales side of the advertising industry. I currently work at Teads. We own our own ad unit on thousands of premium publishers. I am an Account Manager which means I keep existing business live and also try to grow accounts across my book of business. For me, it is a dynamic industry that keeps me on my toes and forces me to learn constantly.
What is the event we should know about?
IPF ATID Chicago Happy Hour Wednesday
December 12th, 2018 at 6:00-8:00pm at Old Crow in River North
Featured guest: Allison Rosenfeld, Assistant Regional Director, ADL
Why do you do for fun?
I run a lot. I have done a lot of half marathons and the Chicago marathon in 2016. I like to travel and am going to Chile this winter break with my family. Also a huge Northwestern wildcat fan (Go Cats!).
What is the best hidden Chicago gem?
Wednesday fireworks in the summer – you can see them from Oak Street beach and the river walk. You don’t have to go downtown.
Also Annette’s in Lincoln Park, its an ice cream place on Armitage that has been around since the mid 80s. Incredible classic place where you can sit outside on a beautiful summer night.
What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
I am a big fan of Base Hillel, Windy city minyan, and Moishe house. I’ve been into Shabbat from a young age. I feel that shabbat is so meaningful because it is a way to end your week and both relax and connect deeply to the community. I reflect on my own week, the challenges I am facing. We have such a strong and great community in Chicago of people who host shabbats and they are hosting amazing experiences.
When the tribe gathers…we realize the true power of our community
Who do you want to shout out?
My friend Adam Basciano from IPF ATID
Kyle and Shaily for my ChiTribe Shabbat cluster
Thank You to everyone on Chicago’s IPF ATID steering committee