This story comes to us from Challah for Hunger, a not-for profit organization with over 85 active chapters around the globe, mostly based on university campuses, that bakes and sells challah bread and uses the proceeds to support social justice causes.

Vinny Rodgers recently joined Challah for Hunger as a Development and Communications Associate. Get to know Vinny below!

1. As a student of Holocaust studies, what lessons have you learned about people? How does studying the past affect your outlook on the future?

I feel that studying the Holocaust and other genocides has provided me a unique perspective on how to view people. Learning about some of the worst events in the history of mankind is difficult. I had to remind myself to not give up hope for the future. An excellent way to do that was to study the men and women who risked their lives for others. Headshot of Vinny Rodgers

It is easy to remember those who committed horrible crimes, but harder to recognize those who spoke out and saved lives, such as Emanuel Ringelblum, a historian in the Warsaw ghetto, who collected anything of significance. His trove of documents, diaries entries, drawings and newspaper articles provides insights to daily life in the ghetto.

Other individuals such as Jan Karski, Sophie Scholl, Max Manus, or the entire French village of Le Chambon, which is recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, are an inspiration to me. These individuals, and there are countless more, are what give me hope for the future. They are a reminder that during our darkest times, we can resist, work together to fight back and persevere.

2. What do you think is the biggest misconception about the issue of hunger, either locally or globally?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that hunger exists when no food is available. It is not a question of food being available, but a question of people gaining access to it.

3. What’s the best piece of professional advice you have ever received?

The best professional advice I received was from my old boss, before I came to Challah for Hunger. He really pushed me to keep following my desire to work for a non-profit. After every rejection letter I received he told me to keep applying, take interviews and not to give up since it has been something I have wanted to do for years. He worked with me, allowing me to fill out applications while at work, and to take time off to go to interviews. Without his support and advice, I don’t think I would be here at Challah for Hunger. 

4. What’s your favorite challah flavor? What’s your favorite challah memory?

I’m most looking forward to eating French Toast Challah. I always hear people talking about how good it is and I’m sure I will try it one day. My favorite challah memory is when my girlfriend was trying to make her first challah for an event she was planning. She was practicing for days and I was her guinea pig. She did a really good job and her event went well too!  

5. Where can you be found on a day off?

I like to consider myself an “outdoors” kind of guy; I'll be camping, going on canoe trips down the Delaware, hiking or just lounging somewhere outside. However, I am not averse to parking on a couch all day to watch sports or Netflix. 

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.