Jewish Person of the Week – David Kaplinsky
Where did you grow up?
In grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. I moved to Chicago in 2006 a year after Hurricane Katrina, and lived in the South Loop with my family. After college, I moved back to Lakeview.
Where did you go to school?
I went to the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, where I majored in acting.
What do you do Jewish now?
I am currently in the 9 week Svara Beit Midrash. Svara is a traditionally radical yeshivah where we learn Jewish texts and Talmud. People of all ages investigate to get some new meaning and some old meaning. They have a whole method. I also attend Rose Crown Minyan, a lay led (no Rabbi officiating) Egalitarian minyan every Shabbat. Every Saturday morning at 9:30am. It’s a great community made up of 100 people a week including young adults, young families and some older folks. There are a lot of kids. It spans the ages.
Tell us about Jewish Chicago from your perspective?
There are so many options! You can easily pick one world or a couple of “bubbles” to be in, and you may have never heard or been to other Jewish happenings. There are a lot that I’ve heard of but I haven’t gone to. What I have learned from living in Chicago is that you don’t know until you try. You really are part of a “bubble” in the Chicago Jewish community. Chicago is so massive geographically, it is impossible to communicate across the entire breadth of the city.
What did you do Jewish in NOLA?
It was hard in NOLA, because you want to celebrate Shabbat but it feels like no one is around. Shabbat in New Orleans was pretty lonely so I started NOSH, a Facebook group to help facilitate Shabbat throughout NOLA. I love Chicago because of all the options for Shabbat.
What do you do for work?
I am an actor. For the last four and half years I have been doing plays in Chicago. I did an episode of Chicago PD which was awesome. I am also a Bar and Bat Mitzvah tutor in Lakeview and Lincoln Park, specifically for Anshe Sholom, Mishkan and unaffiliated families. I also work at Cheesie’s on Belmont as a cashier.
What is your favorite order from Cheesie’s?
My favorite Cheesie’s KOSHER thing to eat there is the MAC, mac and cheese grilled cheese. Also the popper without bacon!
What is your favorite Chicago Jewish Event?
Windy City Minyan which happens every third Friday of the month. I also loved Shabbat on the Lake (when it was actually on the lake). I liked being able to see all the services. On the beach, you can hear all of the davening.
What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
I love to be able to daven with other friends, sing together, to have a nice meal and hopefully wake up for shul in the morning and take a nice Shabbos nap after in the afternoon.
What are the top things that should be on peoples’ Chicago bucket list?
First, if you have not gone to the Art Institute how are you even here? Another is the Green Mill, they have Sunday night soul jazz night. It is an amazing trio, and overall super chill and a great place. Thalia Hall for concerts in Pilsen is also awesome. It is the best music venue in Chicago. It’s like a beautiful old theatre, large but intimate enough. Other good venues are the Punch House underneath for drinks and good vibes and Underground, which is a great basement cocktail bar.
What is it like being on the Windy City Minyan Steering Committee?
I like that it is sort of low commitment, and yet such a large value doing something I love. It’s hard to know how many people will come, some months it’s 50 people while other times it is 20. We are thinking about how to expand, for example using party rooms, because the community is so vibrant and growing.
Tell us about your involvement with Limmud Chicago?
I am the co-chair of Limmud Chicago. Limmud Chicago started in 2005. The organization is an international movement of Jewish learning, connecting all denominations and communities through a conference or Jewish learning events. Limmud started in the UK, and now is in 83 communities across the world. It is a very international community. Because the community is on the smaller side, they can take a Christmas retreat. It is the Jewish event of the year for people involved in the organization. It’s nonstop learning by day, party by night experience!
When the tribe gathers…There will be a party
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