By Jarrad Saffren
Taylor May said she enjoys taking “all these different tests about my personality.” But each exam reaches the same conclusion. And May’s husband, Nick May, reaches the same conclusion.
“My husband always says I love to have quality time,” said May, 28, the director of admissions at the Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax.
But she does not just want quality time for herself with her own people. She wants to give it to others, too, by connecting them with each other. It’s what she does in her job with families that are new to the school; it’s what she does in her synagogue, Congregation Beth Emeth in Herndon, as a member of its sisterhood and Jewish young professionals group; and it’s what she’s been doing since her teenage years as an enthusiastic member of BBYO who would pester her friends to join.
“I think it’s my job, my hobby and my passion,” May said.
For May’s personality type, the director of admissions job may be perfect. To take it, she left a position as regional director at BBYO that she held for over six years, and loved. Then when she started at Gesher in April, she discovered quickly that she made the right decision.
Gesher is the only Jewish day school in Northern Virginia. Many of the families that choose the school come from out of state or from another part of the state, according to May. Often, a parent has a new job in the area and the family doesn’t know too many people, or anyone at all. So once those families come into the community and school, they are looking for people to meet.
May views it as part of her job to not just integrate them to the school, but to the community as well. She will give new parents the contact information of other new parents, connect them to local organizations, like PJ Library, and organize a buddy system with the kids to make sure they know someone.
After connections turn into friendships, people often email May to thank her. She will read it and say, “Oh my God, this makes me so happy.” She adds that she leaves school on those days with “a little extra pep in my step.”
But when she gets home, she searches out more quality time. The Mays joined their synagogue in August and are already being asked by the brass to talk to new couples who are thinking about joining. May embraces the task and convinced her husband to join her by saying that it would be fun to have couple friends to get dinner with.
At BBYO, her job was to connect teens with other teens, as she described it. Before that, she attended George Mason University, served as president and in every board position in its Hillel chapter and connected Jews on campus to other Jews.
May discovered her “job, hobby and passion” as a high schooler in Scranton, Pa. After spending the first 10 years of her life on Long Island surrounded by Jews, she found herself as one of about five in a class of 300 kids. So she sought out Jewish community through a BBYO chapter that brought teens together. As May remembered it, she couldn’t stop talking during events, so a BBYO director told her to spread the word to Jews who weren’t yet involved in the organization. And May obliged.
“That’s where it started for me. I wanted my friends who were Jewish to be involved so much that I wouldn’t stop talking until they said, ‘Fine, I’ll try one program,’” May said. “And then they came and loved it.”