History is everywhere in the nation’s capital; that was part of the draw for Tami Wolf. The 29-year-old New Jersey native majored in history at American University, returning for a master’s degree in American history.
After grad school, she wanted to work in museum education, but her life and career took a different turn when she participated in the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program. She lived in Netanya for 10 months, extending the trip to study at a Jerusalem yeshiva.
Now, Wolf works for the DC Jewish Community Center as director of EntryPointDC, where she programs events for area young Jewish professionals. She is also a founding member and co-chair of the D.C. Masa Alumni Board and volunteers with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, teaching programs and leading school tours.
Wolf welcomed us to her DCJCC office on 16th Street to talk about living in Israel, why she loves D.C. and swimming with the sharks.
How was the experience participating in the Masa Israel program?
Masa Israel is a program for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 30 to live in Israel for a long period of time, about 5 to 10 months for Americans. I had gone on Birthright Israel in college and I had gotten back to Israel with my family in grad school. Spending a significant amount of time in Israel was on my to-do list and this opportunity came around. I did a program called Masa Israel Teaching Fellows where I lived and worked in Netanya from September 2011 through June 2012.
There are no words for Masa, at least for my Masa experience. It is one thing to visit a place, and it’s another thing to really get the chance to live there and become a part of the community and get to know the kids in school and about their lives and their families. They took us all around the country and I really got to know Israel, flaws and all, as opposed to Birthright, which is fantastic and wonderful, but such a quick experience. I’ll be honest. I almost stayed.
Tell us about your position at EntryPointDC.
I love what I get to do. EntryPointDC is the DCJCC’s programming for young professionals so I do about two to four programs a month — social, cultural, educational. As long as it looks cool and Jewish, I’m all over it.
We just had a huge program for Shavuot where we studied and ate cheesecakes and ice cream sundaes because that’s what you do. We had a happy hour. We have a community service project coming up. We have a Shabbat dinner and a show with the DCJCC’s theater company Theater J. So really kind of a wide variety of things.
I get to meet people and say, ‘You want to be Jewish and you want to do Jewish things, and I want to help you do that.’ How can I do that? How can I utilize the resources of the JCC? Our film department and our literary department. Our music department. Our LGBT program, GLOE. What can I use from here to bring you in and how can I connect you to other awesome Jewish things going on in the city?’
What do you love about D.C.?
Everything but the rent. It’s just such an exciting city. I’m coming up on my 11th anniversary of first moving to D.C. and it’s so not the place it was in 2004 when I got here. So for me it’s been really exciting to watch that change. I remember I would never have come to 14th Street and now I’m on 14th Street all the time. We have such an amazing culture here. There’s something going on all the time. There’s an amazing theater scene. Cultural events. Museums. Great spaces to just hang out in and really great restaurants too which I love. Move to D.C.
Where is the craziest place that you have scuba dived?
I was on vacation with my family in the Cayman Islands in the end of March, right before Passover this year. I can’t remember the name of the reef, but there were sharks everywhere, [and] that was very exciting. My father had a camera at the time so there are a lot of pictures of sharks and a lot of pictures of my sister and me pointing at sharks.