Rachel Weinstein White, the founder and executive director of Fig Tree, a New York-based Jewish education program for kids ages 3 through 13, was selected as one of the New York Jewish Week’s 36 to Watch (formerly 36 Under 36). This distinction honors leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers who are making a difference in New York’s Jewish community. Weinstein White, who took what one podcast called “the radical leap from the business world to Jewish education,” lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
For the full list of this year’s “36ers,” click here.
New York Jewish Week: Tell us a little bit about your work.
Weinstein White: Fig Tree attracts families from Jewish+ (interfaith), interracial and/or secular backgrounds, along with those simply seeking a Hebrew school alternative. We started with a dozen kids in the fall of 2015 and today enrolls over 300 students per year in three locations.
Who is your New York Jewish hero?
Was there a formative Jewish experience that influenced your life path?
At one of the first seders that I hosted as a parent, we had a table full of friends and family who also had little kids and I had spent weeks planning activities, readings and crafts for them — along with supplemental text for adults. And it was so fun. At the time, I was in a corporate job that I loathed, and a lightbulb went on for me: I’d rather be doing this. It took me a few more years to make Jewish education a reality for me professionally, but that moment was a pivotal one.
What’s a fun or surprising fact about you?
We keep chickens in our backyard.
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