An Italian Jew

First Entry by Steve Barberio

This is the first online journal, or blog, I have created and I’m very excited. I’ve been writing and journaling all my adult life, documenting my observations, thoughts, emotions, and ideas in journals since 1977, but have seldom written anything in journal form for public consumption. 

I was a changed person when my senior year English teacher, Robbie Block z”l, offered the daily practice of journaling as a  vehicle of self-expression, documentation of adventures, and a safe space for the miscellany of my life. I will occasionally spend time reading my journals as a way to remember and share some of the crazy things that have happened around me.

I recently staged the above photo in one of my workspaces at home, with dozens of notebooks, journals, and sketch pads, which are filled with personal insights, poems, to-do lists, creative ideas, scripts, and a lot of other reflections of my life from the late 1970’s until today. And they contain many empty pages, too, or sheets with unfinished thoughts.

As Rabbi Jill Avrin and I began to explore how YourJewish could help make Jewish life more relevant and desirable for Jews and their adjacent family members, I saw an opportunity to share some of what I have lived as a Jew, mostly in the Twin Cities, but also in New Mexico and Washington, DC.  As summer passed into fall this year, it became clear to me that some people may enjoy what I have to say about the present and future, as well.

It will be here, in this blog, that I will share all that I have to say about life as a Barberio in America, an Italian Jew with so much to say. The list below, which looks like a resume, is in fact a shameless way to get the algorithms to attract followers from the organizations I’ve worked with in the past.  

  • The Son of a Northside Jewish Mother and Brooklyn, NY Italian Father.
  • The father of two and stepdad of three adult children.
  • The proud Papa of four grandchildren.
  • The former Artistic Director of Stages Theatre Company and motivating leader to build the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
  • An independent producer and consultant and producer under the name The Directors, LLP.
  • The facilitator of 10 year-long leadership cohorts of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute at the Wilder Foundation.
  • The Head of the Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences, once known as Solomon Schechter Day School of Albuquerque.
  • The Executive Director of Joy of Motion Dance Center in DC.
  • And, most recently as the Executive Director of Bet Shalom Congregation, here in the Twin Cities. 

My work with Jill is an honorable, yet challenging, enterprise, especially during these trying times.  We are both highly motivated to design and deliver excellent Jewish programming. A lot more will be revealed in the coming weeks and months. I invite you to check out Italian Jew from time and offer feedback through email or if you see one of these posts online.

Until then, take good care of yourself and others.

~ Steve

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