Who The Folk?! Allie Greenstein

As the new youth & camping manager of the Sabes JCC, Allie Greenstein’s love of the Twin Cities Jewish community is hereditary. Greenstein, who follows very communally-active parents Mike and Teri into Jewish communal work, has spent the last four summers as a program director and being in charge of the Staff-In-Training program. Now, replacing Danya Kornblum as Camp Olami director, she’s filling roles that her parents also held at Sabes JCC when they were younger. So, Who The Folk is Allie Greenstein?!

What roles have you had at Olami to build to this?

The first summer I was Yomi program director. The next summer I was one of the Ruach and Kesher program director. The last two I’ve been in charge of the SIT program and this past year also in charge of American Camping Association accreditation. I’ve been taking on a little bit more.

How have the steps gone getting ready for this summer?

Very good. I’m type A. I like to check things off.

You’re a list person.

I’m very much a list person. And it’s nice to say ‘the brochure is done,’ that’s one thing. Next, registration opens. It’s nice that it’s not all at once. It’s starting to get crazy really fast. But a good crazy.

What do you see as the biggest adjustment between roles?

Being at the forefront of everything. Everything I’ve done in the past has been behind the scenes. In some ways all eyes are pointed this way. But I’m excited. I’m ready for the opportunity too. I was an education major, so the chance to apply some of the things that I’ve learned because I didn’t want to teach, in a more informal setting, is great too.

What steered you away from the classroom?

There wasn’t one specific thing. I was very burnt out. I student-taught last year and it was draining. It was a great experience, but it was very mentally, physically and emotionally draining. I knew going into it that I had to be 110 percent into it all the time. And I was not there. So I knew I wanted to spend my life with kids, and figuring out a more informal setting; I love working in the Jewish community, so getting to meld those two together worked out really nicely. I realized I didn’t want to be in the classroom before I started my master’s program, but I know myself well enough to know that I’m not going to get my master’s if I didn’t do it now. So I figured maybe I’ll change my mind. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized what you get your undergrad degree in doesn’t matter for what you do in your work for a lot of jobs. So it all worked out.

Did your love for working in the Jewish community come from your parents?

I think my love for this place, yes. I grew up doing theater programs here, so that’s where we got our JCC involvement. My dad was the director of Olami, it was called Camp Yomi. My mom worked as a program director under him. That’s where they started dating. I went here as a camper and stared doing theater stuff, and got super involved at Adath. I love making connections, so being able to piece all of those things together has been really fun.

You literally have the job your dad used to have.

And actually doing some of the things my mom did. She was coordinating the basketball league, and that’s part of my job. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Someone called the other day who is a grandparent of someone who is going to be in Yomi. It turns out he knows my dad and they worked together on the JCC board. I live for that; I love being able to figure out who everyone is and how they’re connected.

To be fair, your dad has probably worked with everyone in the community on some board or another.

Between the two of them, it’s crazy.

Does that add more pressure to you because of their involvement?

I don’t think so. I think we all recognize our strengths. While some are similar and some are different, there are things I can pinpoint my parents are much stronger at that than I am. But I think some of that comes with age. I think we’re all confident in our specialty areas. I wouldn’t call it pressure. Obviously I want to do a good job, but I don’t relate that to family. I love this place and want it to succeed.

Favorite Jewish food?

Knishes and matzah ball soup. Obviously. Because they’re so good.

Favorite Jewish holiday?

I like Passover. I’m not a fan of the food, but we have hosted the second seder every year for at least the last 10 years. My dad writes the haggadah. At the end of it we sing “Hatikvah” the “Star Spangled Banner,” and the “Minnesota Rouser.”

It started with my great-grandma. They used to do it at their family seders and then it became tradition. We all stand up. You know the part with the cymbals in the anthem? Everyobe stands up and claps. Everyone who’s an outsider watching this must think “Holy cow, who is this crazy family?” But that’s how it goes, right? It’s really fun. It’s one of those things that keeps it unique and really fun.

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