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Volunteer Spotlight: Simona Bogode, Emanuel Eeshas

Born in the former Soviet Union, Simona Bogode found her Jewish home at Emanuel Congregation in 2020. Since then, she’s been an active member and volunteer with the Emanuel Eeshas.

“My parents grew up not really being able to practice Judaism,” she says. “Growing up we knew we were Jewish, but other than attending High Holidays, we didn’t really connect much more. I did however get to go to Camp Chi! When I was 20, I went on my birthright trip and had a profound connection with my Jewish identity. After that, I tried to build a more Jewish community for myself. I volunteered at lot with the JCC, Jewish Vocational Services (an organization that really helped my family members when we first came here), and the JUF Uptown Cafe. However, I still was not feeling that community connection or real belonging.”

In 2019, Simona and her son found themselves alone at a children’s service at some family friends’ congregation. She realized then that she “really craved belonging and sincere connection so that’s when I started looking for a congregation my family could call home.” She and her family joined Emanuel in September 2020.

After Simona organized a virtual tour in memory of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sarabeth Salzman, executive director of Emanuel Congregation, called her and recommended she check out the Emanuel Eeshas.

“The women who are part of were involved with the Eeshas have been some of