Larisa Boas, 47, Shorefront Jewish Community Council executive director


Larisa Boas, 47, is the executive director of the Shorefront Jewish Community Council in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Recently, the social services organization has seen a dramatic surge in needs within the local community, says Boas, as a result of the pandemic, inflation and other current economic challenges, and the arrival of thousands of new Ukrainian immigrants settling in the area. Herself an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Boas has been working in the city’s Jewish nonprofit sector for more than 20 years; she is also involved with the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island’s COVID-19 Disparities grant where she oversees teams of community health workers in both Coney Island and the Rockaways focused on eliminating COVID-19 racial and ethnic disparities. She lives in Midwood, Brooklyn. 

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Tell us a bit about your background.

As a young girl, newly emigrated to New York, my family initially settled in the heart of Borough Park in the hopes of living the American dream with the religious freedoms that enable us to embrace our Jewish identity. I attended a private Orthodox school not far from home. My grandparents were all Holocaust survivors and although I did not fully understand what that meant as a child, I do remember the tattoos on their arms. My parents possess an incredible work ethic and I grew up watching them helping and supporting others in any way that they could.

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Who is your New York Jewish hero?

My parents are my New York Jewish heroes. Together with my elderly Holocaust survivor grandparents and two little children, they immigrated from the former Soviet Union in search of a better life and religious freedom. Despite starting a new life with no English language, professional career or financial support, they demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their Jewish roots, family and a strong belief in the power of hard work and determination. Throughout my upbringing, they instilled in me a deep belief that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Their dedication to creating a brighter future for their family is an inspiration to all who know them, and they are truly deserving of this title.

What’s a fun/surprising fact about you?

I am a mother to four children and grandmother to three incredible grandsons.

How does your Jewish identity or experience influence your work?

My Jewish identity permeates everything that I do; it is who I am.

What is your favorite place to eat Jewish food in New York?

Pescada, a local neighborhood restaurant, has the most amazing desserts.

What are three spots in NYC that all Jewish New Yorkers should visit? 

There is no way to only pick three spots!

1) The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on a beautiful spring day — you start with the ferry ride and the ocean views, pack some snacks and lunch that you can enjoy on the beautiful grounds, and enjoy learning about all of the history packed into this destination.

2) Broadway — many early producers, composers and writers were Jewish and there have been countless Jewish-themed plays and musicals over the years.

3) A stroll down 13th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn — although there have been many changes since my family lived above one of the shops in the early 1980s, it exudes all things Jewish, from the variety of shops to lots of kosher restaurant options to just people watching.

How can people follow you online?

@larisaboas on Instagram or on LinkedIn.

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