Shalom Austin Staff and Volunteer Spotlight

Shalom Austin Staff and Volunteer Spotlight

David Marks Schaffer

Assistant Teacher, Early Childhood Program

What is your role and what do you do at Shalom Austin?

 I have been at Shalom Austin for a little over 10 years. I am an Assistant Teacher for the two-year-old children in the Early Childhood Program. 

What is your background and what brought you to Shalom Austin? 

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I was born in Berlin, Vermont. So, to quote President John F. Kennedy, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” My religious background was that I attended Hillel Academy in Dayton, Ohio and later, the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington, D.C. I was active in both Orthodox and Conservative synagogues while growing up. I also went to Israel on the Taglit/Birthright program. The very first time that I ever flew to Israel was with my Mom, when I was five years old. One of my favorite places in Israel, besides Jerusalem, is Tzfat by the Sea of Galilee. I love the mystical feeling of Tzfat, the breathtaking mountain scenery and the many blue painted doors and windows which one can see everywhere in Tzfat. When we moved to Austin, one of the most attractive features for me was the beautiful Shalom Austin campus, which I first saw on the website. It is a truly an amazingly vibrant Jewish community, blooming and evolving culturally. This vitality and diversity of the Austin Jewish community is what made me choose to move to Austin in the first place! 

What do you feel has been your most rewarding experience so far? 

My most rewarding experience has been the great opportunity to teach and to get to know the children and parents in my class. I have made so many strong bonds of friendship and have mutual respect for so many families, coworkers and members of Shalom Austin! 

What is your favorite part about working here? 

My favorite part about working at the Early Childhood Program is the tremendous joy to be found in the constant flow of new and innovative ideas. I always love learning a new song and/or dance from fellow educators and the tremendous feeling of kinship to be found in our great community. Overcoming obstacles and learning new skills is so exciting to me and there is truly never a dull moment in our ECP. I feel truly blessed to have such an awesome, perennially interesting place in which to teach.

Describe any exciting programs or projects in the works?

I wouldn’t want to give away any spoilers. Stay tuned for future developments.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting involved with Shalom Austin?

I would recommend to anyone contemplating getting involved in our thriving and exciting Austin Jewish community to do so as soon as possible! Shalom Austin is a warm, welcoming, excitingly creative, spiritually vibrant community and a great place to meet people and make some amazing, lifelong friendships.

Brian Deitch

Shalom Austin Volunteer

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What is your role at Shalom Austin?

I serve on the Board of Directors as a vice chair. I also chair the Governance Committee, co-chair the JCC Advisory Council, and sit on the Executive Committee.

What made you decide to become a Shalom Austin volunteer?

Jewish values and the perpetuation of those values is very important to me. Shalom Austin has allowed me to work with other like-minded people to make a meaningful impact in our community.

Why is volunteering important to you?

If want to see change in the world and seek justice for those less fortunate, it is our responsibility to take action and lead by example. Volunteering is a Jewish responsibility, whether it is in the Jewish community, Austin or beyond.

What is your background?

I am an Austin native. Since 2009 I have practiced law and am a partner at the Deitch Law Offices where I practice real estate, business and construction law.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting involved with Shalom Austin?

Please do. There are opportunities for different interests and a number of ways to get involved.

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