Who the Folk?! Danya Kornblum

Danya Kornblum is the Director of the Center for Teen and Youth Engagement at the Sabes JCC. That’s not chopped liver… though that is her favorite food. Read on to find out what makes her folkin’ awesome.

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photoTC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities?

Danya: Yes. I’ve lived in Minneapolis almost my entire life. I love the Twin Cities!  It’s a wonderful community with a great mix of city life.  I went to the University of Kansas and I also lived in Israel for a few years when I was little–my father is from Israel–but other than that I’ve lived in Minneapolis.

TCJ: What was it like living in Israel?

Danya: It was just simple, in a good way. I have memories of walking to the corner store by myself and getting a treat. I remember we had an account there, so I’d be like, “Put it on the account!” I thought it was so great.

TCJ: You are the Director of the Center for Teen and Youth Engagement at the Sabes JCC. What exactly does that mean?

Danya: I am responsible for pretty much all the programming for children and teens at the JCC. That includes the Early Childhood Center, Camp Olami, HaBonim After School, BBYO. It clearly doesn’t mean that I do it all, but I oversee all of those programs and have a wonderful staff. And, I get to be part of the  conversation about the future. The future of the J will be very much centered around children and families and that’s super exciting!

TCJ: What makes you want to go to work everyday?

Danya: I love being involved in so many different types of programming that serve children, teens and families.  It’s amazing to see a child start as an infant at our ECC and then grow up to spend summers at Camp Olami.  Last summer was the first year I had a former camper come back as a counselor.  It was one of my proudest moments at the JCC.  And now we’re getting her excited and involved with BBYO.

TCJ: Did you always know you wanted to work with kids?

Danya: Believe it or not, when I was a kid my dream was that I would grow up to be a professional singer.  That clearly didn’t work out!  I have always loved kids. I think they’re hilarious.

TCJ: What are you most looking forward to about the start of camp?

Danya: Honestly, every day is different at camp. I could have a plan of what I’m going to accomplish for the day, but it’s useless because something always comes up. Maybe there’s a group of kids that put on a play and say, “Come watch our play!” I can’t say no to that! So I’m just looking forward to being outside and seeing something new every day, but especially watching the kids and staff have fun and spend their days doing something wacky and crazy that you can only do at camp.

TCJ: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Danya: My family and I all celebrate together. So we alternate houses each week. It’s really nice. We call it “Movie Night” even though we don’t watch a movie! We say the prayers with the kids, we have dinner, the adults sit around and talk, while the kids play.  The night usually ends with Dairy Queen and you can’t beat an Oreo Blizzard!

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Danya: Oh, Rosh Hashanah for sure. It’s a chance for a fresh start. You have the whole year ahead of you. You don’t know what’s going to happen; what exciting things are going to happen, or how things might chance. And I feel like that’s the one holiday with your family that isn’t like Passover where you do a whole seder, for instance. We do a couple prayers, which I love, but it’s just family time and I love it. And I love the food with Rosh Hashanah. My grandparents’ chopped liver is AMAZING. I love it.

TCJ: On that note, what’s your favorite Jewish food?

Danya: It’s got to be that chopped liver. I never used to eat it when I was a kid, but then a few years ago I decided to try it. It’s so good. It looks gross, but it’s delicious.

TCJ: Finally, give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome! 

Danya: I can recite dialogue from every single Friends episode.

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