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Meet Jessica, an educator spotlight

Native to Chicago, Jessica Ost has lived in Seattle since January 2018. She has served as the Program Manager for Teen Philanthropy at the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC) since February 2018 and is having a blast teaching teens about philanthropy and Jewish values. Prior to working for the SJCC, Jessica worked for Metro Chicago Hillel, The Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, and Shorashim. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with her Bachelors in Global Studies and a minor in Jewish Studies.

Where has your Jewish education taken you?

My Jewish education has taken me to the different positions that I have had at multiple Jewish non-profits. It has allowed me to take more than 200 young Jewish adults from North American to give them transformative Jewish experiences in Israel. Currently, I’m so proud that my Jewish education has brought me to a position to teach the future Jewish generation how to give back to the community with intention.

What makes you the most proud in your program?

Every time I meet with the teens in my program I have a new reason to be proud of my program! I am most proud of how impressive the teens are and that they are representing the Jewish community in such a positive and thoughtful way. I am proud that the first year of the program is not even over and the teens are already asking if they can be involved the following year. I’m proud that the teens are excited to fundraise for a cause they care deeply about. I’m proud that the teens want to engage in deep conversation with one another on how to reach consensus and are even willing to stay at meetings longer to make sure we reach consensus. When the teens introduce GIFT at the site visits, I am most proud that the teens are showing our community that their Jewish values affect where and how they want to give.

What are other ways you'd like to engage teens?

I would like to be educating youth on comprehensive sexual health education or teaching youth how to engage with what nature and what the outdoors has to offer. I think a best case scenario would be teaching teens about healthy sexuality and the outdoors *in* the outdoors through Jewish perspectives!

When you're not leading teen programs, what are you doing?

When I’m not leading teen programs, you can find me on a hike or backpacking trip, rock climbing, skiing, baking, reading, or playing games. From now until September, you will also find me preparing for my wedding!

Who is your Jewish hero?

My Jewish hero is Hannah Senesh. After experiencing anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust, she settled in the land of Israel at a time when conditions were harsh and then volunteered to fight as a paratrooper to bring more Jews to Israel. She sacrificed her life to save more Jews in Europe from being killed. The courage and selflessness that Hannah Senesh exhibited in her life are inspiring to me as a Jewish woman.