Volunteering Is My Jam

You may have read my article about going back to work after many years as a stay-at-home mom. (If not, you can check it out here.) I read the comments (the nice ones, at least) and many of you suggested volunteering to get my feet wet in the outside-the-home working world. I’ve had the privilege of volunteering for JWOW (Jewish Without Walls) and The Lend a Hand Project. What I like the most so far is 1. conversing with other adults and 2. helping organizations make a difference in my community.

Here’s my latest piece for JWOW. I interviewed Dan Pashman. If you’re not already subscribed to his podcast The Sporkful, do it!


The table was turned on Dan Pashman as I interviewed him for our JWOW Up Close profile. Dan is not only the creator and host of the James Beard Award-nominated podcast The Sporkful, he’s also a loving husband to Janie and father to Becky (7) and Emily (4).

Born and raised in New Jersey, Dan’s passion for food and career in radio came
together like a perfect pastrami on rye in 2010 when he launched The Sporkful. Dan humbly claims, “It was my one good idea.” Dan’s witty sense of humor and modest attitude are outshined by his enthusiasm for what he does.

He spent years in radio, working for NPR and Sirius XM and regularly worked with
Rachel Maddow and Al Franken on Air America Radio; but The Sporkful allows Dan a freedom he never had. He says, “I’m very grateful. It was a lot of years coming.”

Beyond the realm of radio, Dan captivates viewers on the Cooking Channel where he hosts the series The Snackdown, You’re Eating It Wrong, and Good to Know. He’s also the author of Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious. Dan is easily recognized now, to the point where he can’t even enjoy a cup of joe. He shares, “I was walking through Greenlawn the other day holding a cup of coffee and some guy driving by rolled down his window and was like, ‘Hey, you’re drinking that wrong!’”

When he and his family moved from Brooklyn to Greenlawn in 2013, they immediately got involved with JWOW. Dan grew up in a Reform Jewish home. Although he had a Bar Mitzvah, he always enjoyed the cultural aspects of being Jewish, like celebrating holidays, and was less interested in going to temple. His wife, Janie, was raised Conservative, and she also strived for a way to connect to Judaism outside the traditional temple walls; JWOW was exactly what they were looking for. The Pashmans have hosted JWOW Shabbat and other events in their own home, and Janie now works for JWOW as a community organizer/educator.

Although Dan adamantly denies being a foodie, his knowledge about food is impressive. Dan is fired up about defending underrepresented ingredients like MSG (see The Sporkful episode), and his current grievance is with spaghetti and how it is colossally overrated. “Its rounded shape means it has a very low surface area to volume ratio, which means sauce does not adhere to it well. And very little of it contacts your teeth, so it’s less toothsome. Even fettuccini is a big improvement over spaghetti. People romanticize it and they talk about spaghetti and meatballs and it makes me angry.”

On March 10, Dan is facilitating JWOW’s town hall-style debate, “Is a Hot Dog a
Sandwich?” Be prepared for a contentious and thought provoking night. Dan announces, “Come to this Talmudic discussion on the nature of the sandwich.” Leave your preconceived sandwich notions at the door and prepare to think outside the breadbox.

Join us and meet Dan in person on Saturday, March 10, 7 – 9:30 p.m. at Jackson’s of Commack. Register at JewishWithoutWalls.org


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