What are your hobbies? Guitar, drums, and any other instrument I can get my hands on, woodworking, camping, hanging out with my wonderful wife or friends, playing with our three-legged Border Collie, Miley, or one of our four cats. I’m a father-to-be, so I think that’ll be my biggest hobby pretty soon here.
What one Jewish experience of yours stands out over others? Honestly the feeling I had upon stepping out onto the streets of Israel for the first time was a surprisingly Jewish experience in itself. I suddenly saw and heard that Hebrew language all around me which I’d only ever known in text. It immediately contextualized a big part of my upbringing.
Why did you choose Cleveland? I’m a born and raised Clevelander with unshakable civic pride. When it came time to purchase our first home, my wife and I chose Collinwood and it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. The friends I’ve found here are forward-thinking, huge-hearted, highly creative go-getters who inspire me every day.
If you were the mayor of Cleveland, what would be your highest priority? Cleveland is rich with arts culture, world-class health care, a Great Lake and a diverse population, but we need a lot as well. We need to better empower the socially, socioeconomically and racially disenfranchised. We need to fix our pitted streets, improve public transit, utilize our lakefront and re-establish and improve our recycling program.
What nonprofit organizations do you affiliate with beyond donating? Some local nonprofits I really love are EDWINS, Waterloo Arts, Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present and Future, Waterloo Alley Cat Project, The East Cleveland Farmers Market Preservation Society (Coit Road Farmers Market) and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
Do you have an Israel experience? I was fortunate enough to travel with my family to Israel in late 2013 for a guided group tour experience, replete with all the must-do’s: placing a note in the Kotel, ascending Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, riding a camel, visiting the Holocaust museum and more. I’m very appreciative to have made that journey and I hope to return.
What role does Judaism play in your everyday life? I was raised honoring both Jewish and Catholic customs and for that diverse experience I am so thankful. I attended a Jewish day school and have always identified with that culture but also have had the privilege to find and forge my own level of affiliation, and I strongly believe that every individual should have that very same freedom.
Who are your mentors? My parents.
What was your first reaction when you learned you were selected as a 12 Under 36 honoree? I opened the congratulatory email and was completely surprised. I didn’t know anything at all about this 12 Under 36 list. I turned to my wife and said “Look at this email ... is this fake? How could I have been honored for this?” And she said “Aww, I submitted you for that months ago!” Special thanks to her and my stepmom who had the idea.
What did you want to be when you “grew up”? I began playing drums and guitar between the ages of 6 and 8 years old and wanted so badly to be a professional musician, and genuinely pushed for it up into my 20’s. I may not be a professional musician now, but I’ll never stop playing.
Where was your bar mitzvah? Congregation Shaarey Tikvah in May 2002.
What name do you have painted on your dream boat you dock at the yacht club in Lake Erie? Maiden Collinwood or Molly.
What was your nickname? Shmu, Shmuey, Shmuel, Habo, Slam, Slamuel, Samson.
You’re a professional athlete and just sign your first major contract. What’s the first big expenditure you make? A plot of land with a music studio and a woodshop!
What is your biggest pet peeve? Littering seriously bothers and baffles me.
Meet the honorees
Doug, 33, is a member of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple and resides in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.
Jamie Collins, 28, is a member of the Temple-Tifereth Israel and resides in Cleveland Heights.
Joseph (Yoey), 29, is a member of Young Israel of Greater Cleveland and Green Road Synagogue and resides in Beachwood.
Stanislav, 35, is a member of the Chabad Jewish Center of Solon and resides in Beachwood.
Rachel, 30, is a member of B’nai Jeshurun Congregation and resides in Cleveland Heights.