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Spotlight on: Jonas Berkowitch

Jonas Berkowitch is a busy senior at Churchill High School. In his spare time he plays basketball, is a scorekeeper at the JCC, and works at Bigz Burger Joint. He is involved in B'nai B'rith Youth Organization as the beau of Sababa BBG (girls chapter) and as the past President and Vice President of Erich Weiss AZA (boys chapter). Jonas has been accepted to the University of Houston as a hospitality management major, and he is looking forward to beginning college next year, but before that he has stopped to tell us more about himself as this month's Spotlight.

1. What brought you to San Antonio?

I was born in upstate NY, and I moved to SA when I was six. We moved for my dad to take a job here, and my memories of growing up are all from San Antonio.

2. What is your strongest Jewish memory? Three years ago at a BBYO retreat called Brotherhood weekend at Leaky, Texas, all of the boys came together and did the prayers on Friday night and we were all together all weekend long. It was cool being with only the guys in BBYO. We were able to connect with Judaism and have a good time doing it.

3. What volunteer activities do you find the most rewarding and why? I really enjoy working at Food Kitchens and Food Banks... I have experienced and witnessed the poverty in certain areas. I am directly impacting the people that are on the streets and are really hungry. It's a rewarding feeling. When I am helping in one of those pantries I realize my work could be the difference in someone eating and not eating. That's a big deal. In my future career plans I would like to be involved in the hospitality industry and in helping people. The volunteering has helped me get a glimpse of the industry.

4. Please share your favorite Jewish holiday. Why? My favorite holiday is Yom Kippur because I get a lot out of the fasting and I can think and reflect on the past year. I think about what I have done that I have liked and just the opposite. It's a nice time to take to myself and to really relax. It seems like without the food and with the quiet and with the dark mood, it has helped me find my Jewish identity. Yom Kippur is really the only time I get to personally reflect on my actions and to thank God for the actions I have done that are good and for the ones that I could improve. It's an important holiday and one that is meaningful.

5. Name a hope or aspiration you have for the San Antonio Jewish community?

Over the past 13 or 14 years we have really grown. I hope this continues. I have seen San Antonio continue to change for the better and I want it to keep happening. I want us to combat the anti-Semitism that is in the area. In my life I have never seen anything like what happened to the synagogues and I hope we can grow and be stronger and stop that in the future. When I was applying to colleges, I wrote about these incidents that happened in the synagogues, as they meant a lot to me. My last hope is for the youth programs to keep going and improving. BBYO has been so important in my life, and the more Jewish teens can be involved through youth groups, the more it will help them. It has really helped me a lot.

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