By Seth Feldman, Jew in the City
When it comes to Jewish outreach, Jodi Berris will climb the highest mountain. Then she’ll ski down it.
“I have a pretty serious passion for skiing,” Berris says. “I ski every day, Sunday to Friday. I love skiing!”
Her love for the slopes is only matched by her love for creating Jewish events, a combination that led Berris to Park City, Utah, where she is creating an avalanche of Jewish activity.
“My goal is to create positive social opportunities for Jews so they can connect to each other and simultaneously build stronger bonds with their Judaism,” she says.
Consider this: Since moving to Park City just less than a year ago, Berris has recently launched a local Jewish Student Union, the public high school program of NCSY, as well as a middle school Junior NCSY chapter. Not to mention, she has also created an upcoming Momentum women’s Israel trip, challah bakes, kosher ice cream socials, Shabbat onegs and Jewish trivia nights.
“I like to make quick decisions and implement them immediately,” says Berris, who grew up modern Orthodox just outside Detroit.
“I’m passionate and proud of being Jewish.”
Berris’ road to Park City actually began in Park City when she worked at the 2002 Winter Olympics. It was a dream job for this sports fanatic who was a three-sport athlete at the University of Michigan in ice hockey, rowing and lacrosse.
After the Olympics, Berris set her career sights on other international sporting events. There was one challenge. “I couldn’t work these events in a secular world because of Shabbat,” she recalls. “I realized it was too hard to work in sports industry events.”
While Berris couldn’t work on sporting events that conflicted with her Shabbat observance, she was able to land an amazing job with Nike. That took her to Portland, Ore., where she was able to feed her skiing addiction as a member of the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol.
But Berris’ biggest claim to fame in Portland was being a powerhouse promoter of Jewish events from happy hours to Israeli dance nights to sold-out holiday parties at local microbreweries.
“She is an incredible force,” says Brett Schneider, who was a regular at Berris’ Portland events. “She has done more for the young Jewish community in Portland than anyone I know, and doing it all through volunteering. She is a true first-class person.”
“When I started, I didn’t think it was going to turn into what it turned into,” she says. “We had people meeting people.”
Some of those people hit it off so well that, at last count, Berris’ events led to 10 marriages.
These days, Berris, who’s 42, is looking for her own shidduch. She says she is open to any guy who embraces her modern Orthodox lifestyle and can keep up with her non-stop schedule of sports and Jewish events.
Which brings us back to Park City.
When not organizing Jewish events, Berris is a volunteer at the Nationally Ability Center, assisting skiers with different abilities. She also works full-time at Skullcandy, makers of headphones and other audio devices.
Pretty impressive for someone who not only loves the mountains but who also moves mountains to bring Jewish people together.
“In general, I’m a motivated go-getter,” she says. “When I see an opportunity, I don’t talk about it. I just do it.”