As part of our 25th anniversary series, we are featuring young leaders who #MakeItHappen in their communities. As a student at the University of Virginia, Kate Belza co-founded a Challah for Hunger chapter and has now moved on to serve as a Chapter Advisor. Kate is also spending her year serving as a JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corp Fellow in Buenos Aires, Argentina, helping to connect Jewish teens from Argentina to teens around the world.
What inspires you to get out of bed every day?
What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself?
#shootforthemoon #makeithappen #thankful
What projects are you working on now?
In my professional life, I am serving as a Global Service Corp Fellow with JDC Entwine in Buenos Aires, Argentina this year. Specifically, I am working with BBYO to create a network of global Jewish teens and empowering these teens to plan programs for their peers. We started a project matching teens in Buenos Aires with Jewish teens from around the world so they can make global connections and learn about international Jewish communities, many for the first time. I also serve as a Challah for Hunger Chapter Advisor, helping chapters become more effective and stay connected to the larger Challah for Hunger community.
What projects would you like to be working on in five years?
In five years I hope to be working on creating and maintaining partnerships and connections in the Jewish world. Whether this is in my professional life or as a lay leader I do not know; but I hope to be engaged with my Jewish community and still connected to the organizations that have been important to me.
What is the biggest risk you've taken, personally or professionally, and how did it pay off?
Moving to Buenos Aires for a year is one of the biggest risks I have taken, both personally and professionally. I have been blessed to travel a decent amount but I have never lived outside of the country for more than two months and never completely by myself. Although I am only a few months into my year abroad, I have already improved my Spanish exponentially, created relationships with some amazing people and have immersed myself in a vibrant and huge Jewish diaspora community (there are over 250,000 Jews in Argentina)... I am excited for what is yet to come!
Where do you go to find community?
My communities have changed drastically within the last six months but it has taught me one thing: I can always find community within the global Jewish world. Whether celebrating Purim in Ukraine, Shabbat in Spain, Rosh Hashanah in Argentina or making Challah at the Brody Jewish Center in Virginia, I find community. There is something special about knowing that wherever I go in the world, I will be welcomed and treated like family.
Where do you go to find solitude?
I get on my bike and ride with no direction in mind.
What is one change you would like to see in your lifetime?
In my lifetime, I would love to see a growth in the sense of volunteerism and philanthropy around the world.
Who is your hero?
My mom for two reasons. She works harder than almost anyone I know while still continuously strengthening her relationships with family. Also, she set me on my path; when I was 5 years old I was asked to start giving tzedakah, it did not matter where I gave it as long as I gave it. My mom instilled a sense of giving in me from a young age and I now want to spend my life giving professionally and personally.
Rock, paper, or scissors -- and why?
Paper. I could mold the paper into a paper rock, paper scissors...well really any type of paper creation.
To learn more about Kate's involvement with Challah for Hunger, read her blog post!
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.