When Gabriel Slamovits was an undergraduate at New York University, he worked tirelessly to strengthen the Jewish community on campus. After returning to the school to pursue a law degree six years later, he picked up right where he left off.
As president of the Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA) at NYU, Slamovits — who graduated in May — reinvigorated the Jewish community at the law school. Focused on his “belief in Jewish unity, not uniformity,” he increased Shabbat dinner attendance from about 15 to 25 to a regular turnout of between 75 and 100, created a mentorship program between students and alumni, launched a speaker series and annual networking reception and hosted events in partnership with the Black Allied Law Students Association and the law school’s LGBT group.
But Slamovits noticed a lack of a cohesive Jewish community for all graduate students, not just those in the law school. “You first strengthen the core and then you move out,” he said. So, after reaching out to student leaders at NYU’s dental, medical and business schools, Slamovits helped plan a graduate student Shabbat dinner for 200 people. “There had never been an event that was squarely aimed at graduate students,” he said. “People kept coming over to me to say, ‘I’ve been looking for this, thank you so much.’”
In order to give young professionals outside of NYU the same sense of community, Slamovits also co-founded The Downtown Minyan. “There was a need for a post-college and graduate student Jewish community that was sophisticated and accessible,” he said. The Minyan, which regularly attracts 100 people, offers both local millennials and NYU students a “radically welcoming community.” This idea of belonging is central to Slamovits’ mission as he creates “vibrant Jewish life downtown, both in the law school, and off campus.”
Although Slamovits has officially left campus to work at a midtown law firm, he expects to stay involved. “Somehow I don’t think this is the end for me,” Slamovits said with a grin.
NYC navigator: Slamovits not only knows the history of Manhattan street names and landmarks, but he has even given informal walking tours.