Weekly Updates

List of 4 items.

  • Matan Kogen, interning at Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. in Oakland

    Before beginning my internship, I knew I wanted a pet, but had no experience caring for one. I’ve never had a pet, save for a goldfish who lasted 120 hours in my care, on account of my parents’ allergies and their concern I would not work hard enough to take care of it.

    I’ve spent the past ten weeks interning at the Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Incorporated (RBARI). Throughout that time, I’ve spent many hours taking care of animals, working to keep them healthy, and making sure they feel loved. Moreover, these animals have taken care of me, and made me feel loved. Despite the tortured past many of our animals have endured, they remain filled with love and happiness.

    My internship has been an incredibly rewarding learning experience. The staff and volunteers at RBARI have taught me to care for and get to know animals, while the animals themselves have taught me emotional endurance, love, and much more.

    I never expected to bond with the animals as much as I have. Going to RBARI has ceased to feel like work - it feels like going to a friend’s house. When I arrive, I am greeted with some of the cutest, truest smiles I have ever encountered.

    When I tell people I work at an animal shelter, the most common reaction is something to the extent of “That’s so cool! I love animals, but I could never do that… I just couldn’t handle it if an animal was adopted or died.” At first, I would just shrug it off, saying I’d cross that bridge when/if I come to it. Now, having spent some time working there, I’ve experienced both of these, and I have a response. Death is always hard to deal with, and the death of an animal will hit you as you’d imagine it would. On the other hand, there is no feeling like what you experience when an animal you’re close with is adopted. It can be upsetting, as though a friend has moved away; however, once you internalize the information, it feels almost euphoric. Not to say that RBARI is a bad place - it consistently wins awards for being an outstanding shelter, but an animal shelter exists as a sort of purgatory, from which animals have only two escapes: death - a horrible fate, and adoption - a joyous fate. Few things make me happier than the adoption of an animal.

    Since I began my internship, many dogs have come and gone, but twelve dogs (Pitbulls, a Shar Pei, and a Yorkie-Poo) of various ages have been at the shelter since long before I began my internship. Some of these dogs were surrendered, don’t understand where their humans have gone, and are very lonely. Others were rescued from the streets or dangerous situations, and have never known the love of a caring owner.  If you have any interest in having a pet, I urge you to come and meet them, or to visit your local shelter, to give an animal in need its “furever home.”
  • Moshe Karlin, interning at Marcel Bakery and Kitchen

    Cumin, cilantro, mint, lemon, olive oil, Baharat mix, eggplant, butternut squash, pita, baguette. I spend my days in culinary heaven. It is hard work, but amazing to see the results that come out of it.

    New tastes confront me as I try ingredients for the first time - sharp or smelly cheeses, roasted vegetables, pastries - all the things that travel through the prep kitchen. Someone will say, "taste this and tell me what you think," or something new will be on a table and I will take a small bit.

    Every day, I see the results of my work become part of a large whole, as the food comes in from suppliers, gets broken down and stored, is prepped and made ready to head up stairs, and is finished for the customer. Empty display cases are refilled. Samples are put out for folks to try.

    This past weekend, my synagogue hosted a group of seniors from the Lower East Side, from Project Ezra. My mother and I co-chair this annual event. We had 45 guests join 20 member of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck. We all sat around at tables, talking and eating, learning about each other. Food is such a great way to bond. Sharing a meal can make you an instant friend.

    On Sunday evenings, I volunteer for Shearit HaPlate of Bergen County. I pick up food from a local kosher grocery store and take it to a central location where it is made available for food-insecure members of the Jewish community. It is a wonderful feeling to know that this small effort on my part brings a bit of relief, joy, and something delicious to families that are struggling. And it is done in a dignified, private way.

    Food. Eating. Cooking. All kinds of ways to express yourself, to help yourself, to help others.
  • Moshe Karlin, interning at Marcel Bakery and Kitchen

    For the second part of my final year, I am interning at Marcel Bakery and Kitchen in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. In the fall, I will be part of the freshman class at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. My plan is to get a Bachelor’s of Science in Culinary Arts and Food Science.

    Having spent two summers in the kitchen of Camp Ramah in Nyack, NY, I did have some commercial food experience. My hope for the internship was to see if the culinary world was something I really wanted to pursue. The opportunity to work with one of New Jersey’s up-and-coming chefs was too good to pass up.

    Meny Varkin, the chef-owner of Marcel, is part of the very happening world of Israeli chefs doing very exciting food work in the United States and around Europe.  Marcel features lots of items that were both familiar and new to me.
    Chef Meny has me working with his Prep Chef.  We are in the cold kitchen doing work for both the restaurant chefs and the cold case, where you can pick up a number of to-go items. My duties are as varied as making salads every morning, chopping vegetables for all the different soups, preparing different items sold within the cold cars, and rotating stock. Additionally, I take on any other tasks, as needed.

    The work is very hard and fulfilling.  Many of my basic culinary skills, such as my knife skills, have greatly improved. I am also exposed to different ways to work with the many items on the menu and in the prep area. This is especially true in the spice department. I really enjoy tasting and smelling the combinations that we use at Marcel.

    After a few weeks working with the prep chef, I have had a number of days when I worked on my own in the kitchen. It was very rewarding to know that the Chef and staff have this level of trust in me, and my work. There is a high level of professionalism at Marcel. It is also exciting to know that I am depended on to carry the work load.

    There are other parts of Marcel that I hope to explore. I know there are different aspects of the food industry to experience, as well as learning more about the work that becomes available with a culinary degree, including the specialization in areas like Food Science, Nutrition, Research and Development, and Management. Interning this semester has allowed me to see the landscape of the opportunities that lie ahead.
  • Matan Kogen, interning at Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. in Oakland

    When I came to Golda Och Academy for high school, I came knowing I would not be going on Neshama. I was already in love with my youth group, United Synagogue Youth, and wanted to go on a gap year in Israel, both of which I would not have been able to participate in, had I gone on Neshama. My disinterest in Neshama was further fueled by my joining, and finding, a strong sense of community in the GOA baseball team.

    If you think knowing I wasn’t going on Neshama would have driven me to figure out what I wanted to do for an internship early, you’d be wrong - but you’d be just like me.

    I always thought I was going to intern at one of a number of nonprofits I care about, including: USY, the Szarvas International Jewish Summer Camp, Knock Knock Give a Sock, or Little Kids Rock.

    I almost secured an internship at Little Kids Rock, when I realized I was going about my search all wrong. It occured to me that, since the GOA Internships must be volunteer internships, I should do something really outside-the-box.
    Once I realized I could get paid to sit at a desk later in life, I chose an internship which would allow me to follow a passion I had never realized I could pursue as a career: dogs.

    I have always loved dogs, but have never had a pet, as my parents don’t share this same love. For so long, I have wanted to be able to play with, cuddle with, and love a puppy of my own. While this is still not feasible for me, I have chosen an internship which allows me to give dogs in need the love they deserve.
    I am a full-time kennel volunteer at the Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. I spend my days walking and playing with dogs of all shapes and sizes. The job can be physically and emotionally taxing, but I really love it. I have lots of interesting co-workers, with many different backgrounds, but all of whom share a love of animals.

    When I first came to RBARI, I had never walked a dog by myself. Moreover, I had never met a pitbull. By my first day on the job, I was walking pitbulls I’d just met, with no supervision. Suffice to say, it was nerve wracking, but I’ve grown so close with the dogs, I’ve started referring to many of them as “my puppies.” I keep lots of their pictures on my phone, in case I find myself missing them a lot at any point in time.

    The following picture is of one of my favorite puppies, Jay, a seven-month-old pitbull terrier and boxer mix, and is, without a doubt, the friendliest dog I’ve ever met. Many of the other dog walkers don’t understand my connection with Jay, and think he’s too wild, but I love him. Just like me, Jay wants to explore the world around him, and is incredibly cuddly and loving.
    • Matan Kogen is interning at Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. in Oakland.
      Matan intern

      Matan Kogen is interning at Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. in Oakland.