Recently named one of New York University’s 15 most influential students, Chelsea Garbell was nominated primarily for her work with Bridges, a Jewish-Muslim dialogue group sponsored by the Bronfman Center at the school and an official school club (www.bridges.bronfmancenter.org).
The Seattle Hebrew Academy and Northwest Yeshiva High School alumna acknowledges “interfaith work is certainly a huge passion of mine.
“We’ve had women’s dialogue events, panel discussions on conversion and Jerusalem [and] film screenings,” she says. She hosts Friday events where Jewish students go to Jumah (Friday prayers) and Muslim students go to Shabbat services and dinner. Over winter break, 16 Bridges members volunteered in Birmingham, Ala., with Habitat for Humanity, and recently Bill Clinton mentioned the group on The View.
“College is one of the few times when people who are different can interact with each other,” she explains. Politics are avoided for program topics, but “the idea is to build relationships” so members can then talk about touchy subjects, “and still be friends.”
Chelsea — who seems to function on very little sleep — “bakes a lot” and recently prepared 30 shaloch manot (Purim goodie bags) that included homemade marshmallows, a venture that involved schlepping all over lower Manhattan in search of kosher gelatin.
“I like giving gifts. It makes me happy,” says the 22-year-old junior who is majoring in Media, Culture and Communication and minoring in Public Health and Policy.
The Sunday after our talk, Chelsea headed to Abu Dhabi, UAE, to attend the Women as Global Leaders conference at Zayed University and spend a few days at NYU’s campus there.
Despite her interfaith work, she’s planning a career in healthcare policy and has earned a fellowship and Capitol Hill internship with NYU’s John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress.
Chelsea was active in USY at Herzl-Ner Tamid, and did a gap year in Israel through the Conservative movement’s Nativ program. Her family attends Shevet Achim and she describes herself as Modern Orthodox. Outside of school she’s an “active advocate for Planned Parenthood,” and her down time, she says, is the quintessential New York experience: “I see shows…I hang out with my friends and we drink wine and talk about religion a lot.”
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Bob Herschkowitz speaks frequently about his Holocaust experience, usually to students or church groups. But he brought his story to work recently, addressing the Boeing Everett Service Engineering Twin Aisle Group at their “Diversity Lunch and Learn Program” on January 26.
It was standing-room only, with an audience of more than 80 overflowing into the hall, said Bob. Some, he reported, walked 25 minutes across campus to attend. He subsequently received a Boeing Recognition Award from the Diversity and Inclusion Team, acknowledging exceptional performance.
Bob spoke of his childhood in Belgium, escape to France, and finally his crossing of the Swiss Alps on foot to freedom with his mother, father and baby brother.
A Boeing employee since 1967, Bob has “worked on every airplane since the 707.” He retired in 2000 to teach high school, but a contract job with a Boeing supplier brought him back into the workforce. When that assignment ended, he was hired back at Boeing’s Everett facility as a service engineer, meaning he’s part of what might be thought of as the “help desk.”
“It’s like when you call AAA, or for help with your computer,” he says, although considering the complexity of the machines involved, “it’s not that simple.”
A past president of the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, he is an active member of their speakers bureau. Bob also teaches history at Hebrew High, with modern history and the history of anti-Semitism being his favorite subjects.
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Adm. Herb Bridge (Ret.) was honored on Feb. 4 at the 90th annual banquet of the Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League for his and his family’s long-standing support of that organization. The event program contained a nice profile of Admiral Bridge, including a short list of his many, many civic involvements, his role in founding Seattle’s Better Business Bureau, “countless hours” devoted to United Way and his work for low-income housing with the Seattle Housing Resources Group.