Sara Shvartzman considers herself lucky.
As the new arts and culture coordinator for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, she is able to blend three of her passions in one: the arts, working with older adults and working in the Jewish community. The 26-year-old Shvartzman, who was raised in Black Forest, Colo., but now calls Otterbein home, has a background in marketing, senior living care and social work.
Now, her job allows her to oversee the art gallery, adult arts classes at the JCC's Park Heights location, as well as two of the organization's signature events: the Jewish Film Festival, which opens April 4, and Cinefest.
"I grew up with a lot of ignorance and anti-Semitism in Colorado Springs," said Shvartzman. "I always wanted to be the one who helped to make a positive impact on the Jewish community as a whole. With this position, I now have that opportunity, and then some. And it feels great."
Shvartzman, who is also a trained opera singer, talked to us about searching for great films, her "foreign meats bucket list" and more.
Worst pet peeve? Hearing the sound of popping balloons, or squeaky Styrofoam. I have sensitive ears!
What song are you loving/hating right now? I'm loving the song "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," especially Ella Fitzgerald's rendition. Least favorite would be "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift. How is that country music?
Your worst habit? Leaving food too long in the refrigerator.
Trend that has exceeded its natural lifespan? Those strange neon colored hair pieces. I thought they were for teenagers.
Favorite part of your job? Calling foreign countries to track down unknown films. It's like I'm playing a reality TV show some days — where in the world is this film title and which distributor speaks English?
Food you hate? I pretty much eat anything. In fact, I have a foreign meats bucket list. I've had anything from rattlesnake to venison to pheasant to kangaroo kabobs.
Have you witnessed more involvement from younger people in religious organizations? I think there is somewhat of a re-insurgence of younger people getting involved but there are also more ways to get involved. At the JCC, we have a downtown Rabbi, her name is Jessy Gross. Her job is to meet younger people where they want (bars, her home, etc) and give them a small dose of Judaism if they want it. Human beings need face to face community, and religious based organizations have the capacity to make it happen.
Favorite place in Baltimore to get a drink? I love to go out in Mount Vernon. My two favorites are The Brewer's Art and Dionysus, an underground gem of a dive bar.
Last great meal you had? Steak Salad at Ropewalk Tavern in Federal Hill.
Favorite and most loathed fashion statements? My favorite fashion statement would be blunt bangs a la Zooey Deschanel. That and flowy grandma-style blouses. Most loathed? Uggs. They're over, but the folks in Federal Hill might disagree with me.
Film you'd love to show at the Jewish Film Festival and Cinefest? I'd love to convince our film committee to show something from the 60s in 3-D and make it a "hon" theme night where all attendees are encouraged to wear the big hair and glasses.
Best advice you ever got? "Never forget that today is the first day of the rest of your life." I have an excellent dad.
Favorite thing about Baltimore? The tight-knit friendly community and rowhomes with stoops. I'm writing this as I sit on my own little stoop and I'm very thankful to be here.
AS TOLD TO JORDAN BARTEL