Staff Spotlight: Shlomit Jackson
Interview with Shlomit Jackson, Jewish Educator
Shlomit Jackson has been a part of the JCC since she was in high school and worked as a camp counselor. Beginning in high school, she also taught Hebrew and Judaic studies at various temples in the area. “I have always kept my close relationship with my faith and with Israel and my family. I can’t see myself doing anything else. When I had my daughter, Danielle, I became a member here again because I wanted her to be in the preschool (ECE). When my son, Noah, started here, it was the perfect time to start working again, and where better than the ECE?
“I started with the alef-bet chug, and then I took a teaching position. From that more opportunities came my way, and I became the Jewish educator in the preschool; in April 2014, I accepted the full time position of AJCC Jewish Educator. I honestly can’t see myself working anywhere else. It makes sense for me as a Jewish professional, having a love for Israel and bringing my ruach (spirit), enthusiasm, and knowledge to the community here—both to the staff and the members.”
Shlomit moved to the United States from Israel in 1985 because of her father’s work. They moved to Virginia Beach, VA, where her mother’s aunt, a holocaust survivor, lived. In 1990, her family moved to Long Beach; her father had the opportunity to expand to the west coast and they had relatives here as well: the Bershtel family on her father’s side. Shlomit went to UCI for her BA in Psychology and Social Behavior, and she had the opportunity to go to the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem for her Junior Year abroad. “I always knew I wanted to go to Israel for my Jr. Year. I recommend going abroad for every college student.”
When Shlomit talks about working here at the J, her enthusiasm is unbounded: “I just love working here. What’s not to love about waking up in the morning and singing with the preschoolers? I get to teach blessings and sing songs I love to sing. I also really enjoy working closely with Maureen Lawrence. Together we are known as ShloMo, and we get to bring singing, dancing and movement to the children of ECE each and every week.
“I have such a close relationship with the preschool families, instilling the values of Judaism into their lives along with the traditions and customs of the holidays. It gives me such joy to work with the teachers and develop the ideas of Tikkun Olam, which then reach from the preschool to the entire JCC community. It’s gratifying to see Tikkun Olam infused throughout the building, with the food drives, Alex’s lemonade stand, working with JFCS with adopt-a-family, hug packs with NCJW, etc. Working with the other organizations and agencies is rewarding.
“The collaboration and support that I get from all the people I work with is so great. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do here without the help of Ronnie Levine, Susan Paletz, and of course, Alayna Cosores in the ECE. We all love and support each other, and it comes out in the programs that we create for our members. I knew Jeffrey Rips before I even came here because of my involvement with Hillel at UCI and working with some of his colleagues that are still my friends. I have worked really closely with Jeffrey about maintaining the mission and vision about the relationship with Judaism and Israel. I’m really proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the building. When you walk in there’s music, there’s food during the holidays, there’s the monitors livestreaming the Western Wall, and the building is always decorated for the Jewish holidays. It’s a wonderful atmosphere.
Whether she’s dressed as a dreidel for Chanukah and handing out gelt to the members or leading the weekly Shabbat afternoon service in the Promenade (check out our Facebook page!), Shlomit’s passion for everything she does here at the AJCC shines through. She has been married to Bryon for 14 years, and they have two beautiful children, Danielle and Noah, 11 and 8.