Rabbi Potek grew up in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering. He studied in Israel for two years, at Pardes and at Yeshivat Har Etzion. A passion for working with teens led to his work with organizations like the Nesiya Institute in Israel, Impact and Genesis in Boston, and Moriah College in Sydney. He has participated in a variety of interfaith programming and has interned at Beth Israel Congregation in New Orleans; at Hunter College Hillel; and Harvard University Hillel. Prior to joining GatherDC, from 2013-2015, he served as the campus rabbi for Northwestern University Hillel. He was ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a Modern Orthodox seminary in New York.
The rabbi says that he "loves to help people find new ways to think about Jewish identity, understand themselves, and process the world around them." He believes that there are many ways to be Jewish, and he wants to help more young professionals find a path that works for them. In September 2017, he co-hosted a sold-out alternative Yom Kippur experience in Washington, D.C. with Sarah Hurwitz, who worked as Michelle Obama’s chief speechwriter and who is writing a book about Judaism. The Washington Post reported that "Potek and Hurwitz will both speak, though they aren’t calling their talks sermons, just like they’re not calling the gathering a service or calling any of the activities prayer. Potek said they also won’t talk much about social action or politics, calling such discussion 'a distraction' during the event." Instead the alternative experience helped to engage more than 140 young professionals in a Jewish way on Yom Kippur who otherwise may not have observed the holiday in any other way.
GatherDC strengthens the fabric of Jewish life by serving as the central platform for post-college/pre-family Jewish life across the Washington, D.C. area, making it possible for thousands of 20s and 30s to live a Jewish life that feels right for them, right now. The group facilitates innovative opportunities for meaningful and relevant Jewish learning at programs and retreats such as Beyond the Tent, Mini Gatherings, and more. And it hosts an annual fellowship to train young adults to be leaders, engagers, and facilitators of Jewish life.
B'nai B'rith International has launched the Zero.Dot.Two Initiative (#0dot2) as a part of its 175th anniversary to discuss ideas around Jewish identity, to educate social media users about Judaism as a proactive way to combat anti-Semitism and to promote the Jewish connection to the State of Israel through the voices of many online influencers. With approximately 14.4 million Jewish individuals alive today, we represent approximately 0.2 percent of global citizens.
To learn more about this project and hear voices from other Jewish influencers, please visit: http://bit.ly/2pZ3qov.