University of Florida graduate Lander Gold is a big Gators fan. While the Orlando area native bleeds orange and blue, he is even more passionate about his work engaging Jewish young adults.
In his role as senior director of institutional advancement at Moishe House, a nonprofit organization that provides pluralistic Jewish programming around the world, Gold helps the group raise money to continue its mission.
After earning a B.A. in sociology from the University of Florida, Gold received an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business, with a focus on nonprofit management.
Gold sat down with us in the Moishe House offices in the Schusterman International Center in Washington’s Chinatown, where he opened up about the biggest misconceptions of Moishe House, the transition from his native Florida to Washington, and his recent simcha.
What is something most people don’t know about Moishe House?
I think one of the biggest pieces that is unknown about Moishe House is our vast size in such a short period. We’re only nine years old, and we already exist in 77 houses in 17 countries. People misperceive the name Moishe House, thinking it might be a more religious organization. But really we’re a pluralistic Jewish organization for 22- to 30-year-olds across the world engaging Jewish young adults in any kinds of Jewish activities from Jewish learning and community service to social gatherings, Shabbat, Jewish holidays and culture.
What is the biggest challenge about your job?
I’d say the biggest challenge is that since we’re so young and still so new in the Jewish community compared to many of the organizations that we work with who are more than 100 years old, we still don’t have the notoriety among many of the community leaders and community members who are outside of our target demographic, outside the 22 to 30 year old demographic.
Where did you grow up and how does it compare to D.C.?
I grew up in Longwood, a suburb of Orlando, and to say it’s the polar opposite of here in D.C. would be an understatement. The Jewish community of Orlando is very small and tight-knit and everybody knows everybody. There are only a few synagogues. My Jewish identity really was in one particular organization, and that was BBYO. Here in D.C., you have countless outlets to engage in Jewish life. There are thousands of Jewish community members of all age groups, of all demographics, spread throughout the city and the suburbs. So I’d say the biggest difference is the size and the countless activities that you can engage in Jewish life here versus Longwood.
Tell us about your beloved University of Florida and the Gators.
Not to say every last thing in my life is orange and blue – because my wife of six months is an Ohio State Buckeye alumna. So 99.9 percent of my life is orange and blue, but I give .1 percent to my wife’s allegiance.
I had the most tremendous and incredible time when I was in college at Florida. I had the honor and privilege of serving as president of Hillel and as president of the Jewish Student Union. The University of Florida boasts the largest Jewish population of any college in the world outside of Israel. Being involved in the Jewish community there was a great honor. I was involved in campus activities, and we won three national championships while I was there – two in basketball and one in football. So it was a great time to be at the University of Florida.
We hear you’re off the market.
I got married Nov. 8 of this past year, here in D.C. at the Fairmont Hotel. Intertwining my participation in the Jewish community, Rabbi Scott Perlo from Sixth & I Historic Synagogue was the rabbi who married us, surrounded by all of our closest friends and family.
About a month after the wedding we went off on our honeymoon for close to three weeks in South Africa. We got to have the most incredible time on safari, in their wine country, in Cape Town, on the beaches.
Not only are we newlyweds, but also new fur parents of a 5-month-old puppy.