Danielle's passion for Israel and Jewish text has inspired her to write a book! Read more about this Houstonian triplet below and find out why she is our mensch of the week!
Alyssa: How was growing up in Houston?
Danielle: Houston was a great place to grow up! I went to Jewish day school here, and I feel like I’ve been in Houston’s Jewish community for a long time. A lot of people who grow up here come back after college, so it’s a tight community, but at the same time, there are always new people coming in, so it’s been fun to see the community change like that.
Alyssa: Hook ‘em Horns! How did you enjoy your time at UT Austin?
Danielle: I loved UT! I majored in English, minored in Judaic Studies, and I was in a program called Liberal Arts Honors, which was a great way to make UT feel smaller while still getting all the benefits of a big state school. I was also really involved with Hillel and the pro-Israel group there and played intramural sports, so I feel like I was able to be a part of a lot of different communities at UT.
Alyssa: I know UT Austin is a big sports school! Would we catch you at a football game?
Danielle: I did go to a lot of football games my freshman year, but the whole thing is standing for 5 hours, which is a long time in the heat! I eventually stopped going to those, but I went to a lot of basketball games and volleyball games. Volleyball is super fun at UT.
Alyssa: Fun fact! You’re a triplet! What’s that like?
Danielle: I feel like that’s something everyone knew about me growing up, and now that we are all in different places, I forget to mention it, and people don’t necessarily know that about me anymore! We always went to the same schools and had friends in common, and growing up, we always had each other to play with. My brothers also went to UT, so it was really nice having them around.
Alyssa: Is there such a thing as triplet telepathy?
Danielle: I wish! Sometimes my brothers used to walk out of their rooms wearing the same thing, but not much more than that.
Alyssa: Where did your love for Jewish text and history come from?
Danielle: I have always been interested in Judaism and passionate about Israel. In high school, I would listen to a lot of Hebrew songs and T.V. shows. When I got to college, I became involved with Hillel and started taking Jewish learning classes and learning one-on-one with one of the rabbis there. I like textual study in general (part of being an English major/teacher!), so I love delving into Jewish texts and seeing how certain words appear in different places and create different meanings.
Alyssa: As a Jewish young adult in Houston, how do you continue to foster your love of Jewish learning?
Danielle: Some of it is definitely through Jewston and other Jewish organizations in Houston, but I also have a Chavruta (Jewish study buddy) that I learn with regularly (shout out to Jonas Actor)!
Alyssa: How many times have you been to Israel?
Danielle: I have been to Israel 3 times! The first time was at the end of high school. We went to Poland for a week and then Israel for 3 weeks. Then, I went on Birthright during my sophomore year of college. When I graduated, I went to Mayanot seminary in Jerusalem for a few weeks! I definitely want to go back soon, but what are plans right now??
Alyssa: When you aren’t at a Jewston event, what are you up to?
Danielle: I write a lot, and I'm actually working on getting a book published, so a lot of my time is spent on writing and reading. I also enjoy hiking and just being outside in general.
Alyssa: A book?? You’re writing a book? Tell us all about it!
Danielle: It’s historical fiction, set in a shtetl in 1862 Poland, during the height of the Jewish Enlightenment. As young Jews are leaving the community and assimilating into modern society, this shtetl discovers that its Torah is miraculously growing! The book follows five characters as they deal with the changes in the town and as they struggle to figure out their own Jewish identities. It’s an adult book with young adult appeal. I have officially finished the book and have been sending it out to literary agents!
Alyssa: I can’t wait to buy your book and set up a book signing at Jewston! You’re going to be a famous Jewish author, I just know it!
Alyssa: When Jewston comes together we... Danielle: Laugh a lot. Eat a lot. Learn a lot.