New Person, New Group

How do you keep the twenty- and thirty-something set engaged in or connected to Judaism?  How do you compete with all of the time commitments of work, graduate school and other activities?

The Merage JCC is looking for a solution that works with other Jewish groups and expands the options for young people. A recent addition to the staff might just be the answer.

Elana Simon, MSW, has founded many successful Jewish groups and had a lasting effect wherever she has gone, according to Dan Bernstein, president and CEO of the Merage JCC.  Her newest challenge is heading the Merage JCC’s new young adult department.

According to Simon, “We are working on putting together opportunities to bring young Jewish professionals ages 21 to 35 together for informal and fun gatherings.  We want to bring people together for support and enjoyment.”

She continued, “We believe there are a lot of young Jews in Orange County who are looking for something that’s a good fit for their interests.  We want to create a network of those people with a goal of offering a wide range of events…from social bar nights, trivia and game nights to pick-up basketball and hikes to Vegas trips and more.  I would love to hear from anyone interested in getting involved or to share ideas.  After all, fellow Jews getting together make it a Jewish event!”

Events will be open to the whole community, as the new organization wants to engage young Jews in OC who are not currently involved in anything Jewish or may want to be involved in something more suited to their interests.

Simon comes to the Merage JCC from the JCC of Southern Nevada, where she was the young adult program coordinator.  She grew up in Los Angeles and received her Master of Social Work degree from USC’s esteemed School of Social Work and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies from UCLA.  She has worked with preschoolers, children, teens, transitional age youth, young adults, adults and seniors in a variety of educational, social and social service capacities.

Simon has held numerous volunteer positions in Hillel at UCLA, her synagogue, her local Bureau of Jewish Education, multiple Jewish Community Centers and more.  She has experience working with all denominations of Jewish people.  Simon is passionate about Judaism and is committed to improving the lives of others: one-on-one, institutionally and communally.  As a seasoned lifeguard and swim and dive teacher, Simon likes hanging out by the pool in her free time.

Join the Young Adult Launch Party on February 23 at 8 p.m.  “It’s Jews & Shmooze — a beer and wine tasting event at the Newport Brew Company,” Simon said.

“We’re looking to be the option for everybody – JCC members to people not involved with anything, graduate students and working people,” Simon concluded.  “We want people to think of the JCC as home in a physical and metaphorical way.”

Contact Simon at ElanaSimon@jccoc.org or (949) 435-3400 x 271.  Check the group out on Facebook too.

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