For the past 13 years, The New York Jewish Week, NJJN’s sister publication, has celebrated young people committed to making their world a better place by compiling a prestigious list of “36 Under 36.” This year more than 100 nominations were submitted, and the final list was carefully curated to include an impressive group of changemakers, including a collective of first responders.
Nicole Wasilus, 29, who grew up in East Brunswick and now lives in Philadelphia, is among the group of 36. She was chosen for her work with 18doors, an organization supporting those in interfaith relationships and engaging them in Jewish life. She is the daughter of Ellen and Ken Wasilus.
Read more about “36 Under 36”.
What you do:
I’m the director of lifecycle connections at 18Doors. I direct the Jewish Clergy Officiation Referral Service, which connects over 2,000 interfaith couples and families each year to rabbis and cantors across the United States and Canada for weddings, baby namings, and other lifecycle events. Outside of work, I participated this year in the Jewish Entrepreneurial Fellowship Program through Tribe 12 (a nonprofit connecting adults in their 20s and 30s to the Jewish community in Philadelphia), and launched a side business as a home organizer. It’s been a great way to connect to the Jewish community in Philly, and try something new.
Unexpected fun fact:
My dog Barkley has over 13,000 followers on Instagram (@everybodylovesBarkley).
How you got here:
I began in March 2019 as 18Doors’ first-ever director of lifecycle connections. The Jewish Clergy Referral Service began many years ago because interfaith couples were having trouble finding rabbis or cantors who would say yes to officiating their weddings. As this need continued to grow, the service grew and became one of the biggest pipelines for couples to our organization.
How does your Jewish identity/Jewish values influence the work that you do?
I’m inspired to help bring meaning and connection to the important and transitional moments in people’s lives. I’m here to support interfaith couples as they plan and celebrate life’s biggest moments, like getting married or starting a family.
Formative childhood moment:
My mom inspired my career in Jewish nonprofit work. She didn’t have the same opportunities as I did, but was always a leader in the Jewish community. Growing up, I watched as she led services at Anshe Emeth in South River for kids, taught classes, and planned programs that brought people together. She showed me how we should use our unique talents for the greater good, and the importance of being a part of the Jewish community.
What do you consider unique or innovative about what you do?
Our Jewish Clergy Referral Service’s new digital platform makes finding an interfaith-friendly rabbi or cantor in your community easy. This new technology puts the power in the hands of the individual or couple. It eliminates the stress of having to scour the internet for a rabbi or cantor, or go through the pain of finding out that a rabbi you had in mind does not officiate events for interfaith couples.
NJJN Managing Editor Shira Vickar-Fox contributed reporting.