I’ve had the chance to interview some truly amazing people these past few years. I’ve also hunkered down for a day on a Jewish farm, taste-tested Chanukah-themed sodas and and danced down the aisles of a synagogue to a live rock band.
Working at j. has given me so many opportunities that I never would have had otherwise. So now, with a heavy heart, I’m moving on to a different publication, and it’s time to reflect.
What follows are my favorite, most meaningful and most memorable moments from the past three years at j., some professional and some personal:
• Sitting down for tea, french fries and an interview with local jazz singer and pianist Dorothy Lefkovits at the Lucky Penny Restaurant in San Francisco. The Jew-by-choice’s first experience on stage was at the legendary Apollo Theater in 1947. During our talk she was forthcoming but also seemed curious as to what the fuss was about and why I cared to write the story (it was because she sings like a bird). I loved the resulting story and hope she did, too.
• Exploring Jaron Lanier’s cavernous music studio in Berkeley, I learned his phenomenal life story (including his role in the creation of virtual reality). I watched, enraptured, as the dreadlocked genius masterfully played instrument after exotic instrument — including the one he had brought on stage to jam with the Plastic Ono Band at Oakland’s Fox Theater a year earlier.
• Talking with sweet Sway Machinery band leader Jeremiah Lockwood for a story, and then watching him burst into Congregation Emanu-El during Hidden Melodies Revealed (a reinterpreted High Holy Day service), voice booming, brass instruments blaring. Along with most attendees, I rose from my seat and danced in the aisles.
• My first Jewish Heritage Night with the Giants. It was freezing but I couldn’t stop smiling, my first social outing with the staff. It was my first time at AT&T Park and my first baseball game in a decade. My boyfriend devoured four kosher hot dogs and I focused on the He’Brew beers, wrapping myself in the new orange and black scarf with “Go Giants” in Hebrew scrawled across it.
• Spending a morning on new Jewish farm Urban Adamah for my recent cover story, where I interviewed a handful of inspiring young Jewish adults who are already deep into food justice. It revved up my interest in food policy —initially sparked by stories I got to write on Hazon and “Fair Food” author Oran Hesterman.
• Interviewing “Half-Empty” author and frequent “This American Life” contributor David Rakoff, a personal hero. When his highly recognizable voice came over the phone line, I quaked with nerves. He quickly assuaged my fears by dutifully answering questions, and was laughing right along with me.
• Learning how to jar my own pickles at an early RitLab (Ritual Laboratory) workshop at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. After adding all the ingredients and closing the lid, I decorated my pickle tag and placed it on the kitchen counter. Only I never ate the pickles, too afraid I’d packed it wrong or let air in and they’d be ruined.
• Interviewing Girls in Trouble leader and violinist Alicia Jo Rabins about Judaism, the lost women of the Bible and feminism — and how she spins those heady topics into indie folk songs.
• I hate to say it, but I remember all the interesting review products we’ve received — from chocolates to fair trade holiday banners. Though receiving them doesn’t ensure coverage, we have gotten some good stuff over the years. I most enjoyed my first Chanukah at j., when copy editor Andy Altman-Ohr received a sample of the Jones Soda Co. Happy Chanukah Pack — with flavors such as jelly donut and latke — and we all sipped out of paper cups.
• On that same note, the Israeli food we occasionally got to try in the office thanks to account executive Nancy Cohen and her caterer husband, Avi (of Avi-ously Delicious Catering). Never had I eaten grilled vegetables or hummus so flavorful.
It has been a wild ride, my time here at j. I’ll not soon forget the experiences, the articles or the interesting people I’ve talked to along the way.