Interview with Allison From Jew in the City!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

As I've said many times before, blogging doesn't make any real money. But, like I've also said many times before, what I do receive in payment for the hard work I put into blogging are the amazing friendships, feedback and connections with other beautiful and like minded people that I would have otherwise never had.

Allison from Jew in the City is one of those amazing friends. I found Allison and her smart and funny videos and website when I first started blogging and basically living on Facebook. Right away I was impressed and wanted to connect. Allison and I are extremely similar in the way the we both desperately want to get a positive message out there about being an Orthodox Jew; that we are not some weird or extreme sect but actually fabulous, real women who want to make a difference in the world.  We're also both a little out of the box, super creative and have no problem admitting we wanted to be famous! But being deep and spiritual beings, we try to use our talents towards a loftier goal than just fame for fame's sake. 

We finally figured out a way to collaborate, and a few months ago Allison asked me to be the JITC stylist. We got together and found some great looks for her upcoming videos, and while meeting for coffee one day I even got a chance to have a cameo role in the video, and although you can only see a shadow of my back through a darkened window, it was a thrilling experience. I loved getting to know Allison...she has a bright and vibrant personality, a deep and meaningful soul, and is a sweetheart to boot! 

I hope you'll enjoy this interview with Allison...I'm sure you'll love her just as much as I do!

Fashion-isha: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up? What type of family do you have? What were some of your childhood aspirations?
Allison: I grew up in North Jersey in a Conservative Jewish family. We were proud Jews, but not particularly observant. I am the middle of three girls - perhaps a typical middle child. As a child I knew I wanted to go to an ivy league college (my parents idea) and then be famous somehow - either as an actress or a model (my idea ;). Although wanting fame for fame's sake is not a very lofty goal, looking back, I realize that part of what motivated this desire was wanting to preserve myself, as I was very aware of how mortal I was. I knew I wouldn't be here forever and wanted some way to keep living even after I was gone. I later discovered Orthodox Judaism and its recipe for 'immortality' - connecting to something transcendent, ideally at every moment, making every action eternal. 

Fashion-isha: What was the main determining factor that inspired you to start Jew in the City? 

Allison:  I was raised with a lot of negative associations with Orthodox Jews. We thought being Jewish was great, but not in the extreme "fanatical" way the Orthodox Jews did it. The thing was, I didn't actually know personally any Orthodox Jews. All of our ideas were based on rumors or short interactions my father had with Chasidic Jews at work. When I discovered the beauty within an observant Jewish lifestyle, I was met with a lot of dissent from my family and friends - why would I want to become one of "them"?

Once I made the transition and was happily living my Orthodox life, after half a dozen years working in Jewish outreach (hearing the same myths and misconception about orthodoxy I was raised with again and again) and then being interviewed for a newspaper article about Orthodox Jews, where the reporter also had the same information, something in clicked: The world doesn't understand who most of us actually are and something needs to be done about it.

You Tube was just getting popular at the time (about six years ago) and a You Tube show I had read about "Lonelygirl15" was accomplishing this intriguing thing. People felt like they knew the star of the show, even though she was just on a computer screen. I realized that I could do the same thing (and live out my childhood dream of acting!). The best way to improve people's perceptions of us was for them to just get a chance to meet us and get to know us and the internet was now providing a way to make that introduction to countless people.

Fashion-isha: Did you have the support of your family in deciding to undertake this endeavor? Did you have any opposition to your ideas?
Allison: Well, when I decided to quit my two jobs (at two different outreach organizations) while my husband was in his last year of law school, I was the main bread winner and we had two kids - in order to pursue Jew in the City full time, I think a lot of people thought I was crazy. My husband is a bit of a dreamer like I am, so even though there wasn't an exact plan how this would all work out financially, he supported me nevertheless. None of my family members have ever objected to the subjects I've covered - more just about the practicality of taking on a non-paid job. But after four plus years, I'm starting to make a bit of income from speaking engagements and ads on the videos, and I think that the people who really accomplish things in this world have to have a little bit of crazy in them. You have to sometimes do things that don't make sense (within reason) to make things happen that otherwise would be too impractical to ever happen.

Fashion-isha: How do you manage to juggle being a wife and mother while putting in a full time job working on Jew in the City?

Allison: The balance is hard. My husband also has a very busy work schedule. I try to work while the kids are at school (my baby has a babysitter during those hours) and then after they go to bed. And sometimes after school, I'll be online here and there if they're having a snack or watching a video. The biggest problem I face is that the work is never done. There's always another email to answer or comment to respond to or article to write. (I'm working on a book now too, which also is time consuming.) But I'm with my kids every morning before school and I'm at the bus stop picking them up, asking about their day, giving them the after school snack and doing homework every single night and in this day and age when so many mothers are out at an office, I feel blessed to spend the time with them that I do. We also have Shabbos - which is such a blessing. Because there's no social media on Shabbos!

Fashion-isha: Which of your videos do you feel is your all time favorite so far?

Allison: Hmmmm....maybe "The Jewish Afterlife" (watch video below!)- but, I don't know. I loved being able to direct and write for Mayim Bialik (she's been in two videos) and the "Freeda Wigs Makeover Edition" video was also so much fun. Do I have to choose only one?!

Allison modeling her cool outfit that we had styled which she was wearing the day Freeda Wigs ambushed her:

Fashion-isha: What are the main challenges that you face in your work?

Allison: Lack of time and funding to accomplish all that I want to accomplish. The most rewarding thing is when I get a message that someone who saw the site/videos was encouraged to look further into observant Judaism and is as blown away by it as I was, when I first discovered it. That's the stuff that keeps me going. Every Jew deserves a chance to know what is his.

Fashion-isha: So many women have dreams and locked up creativity but are just too afraid to go out there and achieve them, or they just don’t know how. What advice would you give to the women out there who want to make a difference and achieve great things?

Allison: Be irresponsible like me! But seriously - just start somewhere and then just refuse to stop. A woman, once asked me, if while I was on maternity leave (it doesn't really exist as a blogger, but I was taking some time off after my baby was born) if she could answer the Q&A's for the site in my name. She told me she had a knack for it. So I told her - then go make your own site. Why would you want to be someone else's anonymous question answerer when you could do it yourself? Dream big! 

Fashion-isha: What is your biggest dream? What is your biggest fear?

Allison: The biggest dream of mine is to get this information so out there that there's a new understanding and association for what Orthodox Jews and Judaism are about - that a shift takes place in people's thinking across the world (I told you I dream big!)
My biggest fear is to not have accomplished all I'm supposed to accomplish in this world -not in terms of Jew in the City, per se, but in my own growth and development. All my bad habits, and character traits I know need fixing - it's so hard to do. It's so easy in theory, when you think about the kind of person you want to be, but then getting yourself to behave - that's the hard part! 

Fashion-isha: If you could have dinner with any two people dead or alive who would they be?

Allison: Wow - that's a really tough question! If we include dead people, that's like all the people who have ever existed. Well, let's see - I recently wrote an open letter to Jerry Seinfeld (I saw his show and he seemed full of existential angst) where I told him to explore his Jewish heritage. If you could arrange a dinner meeting, I'd be able to get him the letter. And if Jerry got into observant Judaism, that could be huge in terms of getting the message out to more people.

Who else? Moses, maybe? Great leader, greatest prophet of all times. I think I'd have to go with him.

Now tell us some personal stuff:

F: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you.

A: My middle name is Faith. I used to hate it until I grew into it. 

F: Name 3 things you can't live without.

A: Meaning, makeup, and the people that I love (not necessarily in that order!) 

F: Are you a night owl or a morning person?

AUsed to be a night owl. Now I'm just a tired mama who wants to sleep 8 hours straight with no interruptions. I know that day will come again! 

FWhat do you usually eat for breakfast?

A: Coffee. My day begins with copious amounts of coffee - and some times a piece of cake or cookies if there's left over from Shabbos. Then, as the day goes on, I'll have something more sensible like grapefruit and cottage cheese. But not until much coffee has been drunk.

Now, to really see Allison in action, watch her "The Jewish Afterlife" video here:



Until next time,



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  1. Love the interview Sharon; I have many Jewish friends in the UK as I lived in a predominately Jewish area of London. I didn't realize that being an Orthodox Jew was such an unknown. Also loved the video.I am off to look at her website.
    Mazel tov for your guest appearance also xx

  2. There are so many things that I take from this interview, but I really enjoy the her message of taking a chance sometimes...Whether it be with other people who may seem uknown to you or quitting your job to follow a dream!


  3. I remember Allison from another one of your posts so this was fun learning more about her. I love her message about dreaming big...always.

    Enjoy your day!

  4. Quite funny!! Good read and I too can't live and breathe without make up((: among other things...
    xo Z

  5. Loved the interview! Gorgeous and strong women!

  6. Such a great interview. I love that she goes for her dreams and her drive and determination are infectious! Good for her for going for it! xo

  7. This is marvelous, I loved the questions and answers!! Fantastic work!! Hope you have a super week doll :) xx

  8. I remember what a fabulous job you did styling Allison in that post!...I loved this interview, and as someone who enjoys studying religions, I found her video very entertaining and enlightening. Another great post, Sharon! xo

  9. YOUR BLOG IS AWSOME:) I love every post and this story was so cute. I will happily follow you along.

    If you want some swedish decor inspiration, you can check out my blog:)
    I wish you a great week.

    LOVE Maria at

  10. WELL HELLO THERE BEAUTIFUL ONE! I have to say, my best friend is Jewish and the wit and beauty that I see in my Jewish friends is something I just treasure. I love the name of her blog, JEW IN THE CITY! And I agree that blogging has offered so many connections with others that in turn, gives me a clearer connection to myself. Thank you so much for visiting! Anita

  11. Allison is living her dreams...and that is so inspiring! Loved your interview with her!!

    xoxo Elizabeth

  12. Sharon,

    I think it's great that you guys have connected .. and for a wonderful cause. Sometimes I feel that people rush to judgement when they don't fully understand. It's unfortunate in such a seemingly transparent and open world that people are still so closed minded. When I was employed as a Dietician (yrs ago) I worked for a Doctor that was an Orthodox Jew. I spent lots of time with his wife in their kitchen ~ it was amazing :)

    Follow your dreams

    leslie ox

  13. What a great combination..I know Allison,she is very talented and does a great job passing on her message and Sharon,though I don't know you I feel like I do from all your posts..