Spotlight on Alumni: Lauren Abecassis & Naomi Schlesinger

Two inspiring leaders. One summer together in Israel on the inaugural FJL Tel-Aviv Program. Now, back in NYC, they are actively taking responsibility within their community and beyond. Here is their story:

Naomi grew up on Long Island, NY and currently attends New York University, studying toward a degree in Social Studies education. This past summer, Naomi secured an internship at ProoV, a technology start-up based in Herzliya. She gained new skills and invaluable professional office experience. Here is how Naomi described her summer with FJL:

While my internship definitely allowed me to grow professionally, I was able to also grow spiritually and intellectually during FJL’s supplementary programming. The evening and Shabbat programming allowed me to unpack my experiences and reflect on the values I want to incorporate into my personal and professional life.

Lauren at her office in Tel-Aviv

Lauren also grew up on Long Island, NY and is currently pursuing a Law degree at New York Law School. This past summer, Lauren interned at the prestigious Yigal Arnon Law Firm located at the Azrieli Towers in Tel-Aviv. During her internship, Lauren was introduced to legal and business aspects of the Israeli startup ecosystem. Through her charm and hard work, Lauren gained the trust of her colleagues and was granted numerous responsibilities, working closely with firm partners and other legal professionals in the field. Lauren was even given an office with a not-too-shabby view of the Mediterranean Sea!

Lauren returned from her experience on the FJL program fired up about making a difference:

Over the past two months, my outlook on Jewish leadership was shaped through my FJL experience. I am now ready to go back and make an impact on fighting antisemitism, standing up for Israel, and spreading the meaning of what it means to be not only a Jew, but a proud Jew.

Lauren and Naomi with other participants of the FJL Program in northern Israel

Lauren and Naomi's passion for giving and making a difference brought them together in a friendship that has now begun to flourish in their post-summer leadership activities in NYC.

On top of her demanding workload in law school and leadership role in the Jewish society on campus, Lauren now serves on the board of the UJA Young Leaders, organizing programs to engage young Jews in their heritage and traditions.

Lauren and Naomi experiencing the "Feast of the Senses" with Access Israel in partnership with FJL

Before her summer with FJL, in addition to her busy undergraduate schedule, Naomi was already active as a leader on campus through her role in the Realize Israel Student Organization at NYU. After a meeting this summer with Jamie Lassner- current Executive Director of Friends of Access Israel (FAISR), and long-time friend and inspirational speaker on numerous FJL programs, a new leadership opportunity was born.

After experiencing the transformative "Feast of the Senses" in the closing week of the FJL Program, Lauren and Naomi immediately got involved as ambassadors in the efforts of FAISR to raise awareness and impact change in the area of equal accessibility for individuals with disabilities. During the opening week back on campus, the pair, together with the leadership of Jamie Lassner, organized a "Feast of the Senses" for over 50 students at NYU in partnership with Realize Israel. Read Naomi's enthusiastic post here, and view pictures of the event here.

Lauren and Naomi celebrating the end of an incredible summer with FJL

With all of their incredible contributions, Naomi and Lauren have continued their personal Jewish journeys at Meor Manhattan, a vibrant hub for Jewish young professionals to engage in further exploration of their rich heritage. For both Naomi and Lauren, in their own words, this journey was sparked this past summer with FJL:

FJL gave me the opportunity to discover my place in Judaism... These experiences gave me the chance to connect to my Jewish roots and develop myself as a moral individual

The new year has only just begun, and FJL's newest alumni are already making waves. One can only wonder what Naomi and Lauren will do next!

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