Estee Bardanashvili

I was born and raised in the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia, a beautiful country by the Black Sea where Jews lived for the past 26 centuries. In my teenage years I went to fine arts and music colleges and studied in Moscow, Russia, till my family immigrated to New York. After graduating from Baruch College, with degrees in Economics and New Media, I joined Sesame Workshop and am currently producing several international co-productions of Sesame Street. My job takes me on the road once in a while (along with my own passion for travel) and I'm always pleasantly reminded how connected we are through the Jewish world - as no matter where I go I always have a warm welcome from the local Jewish community. I come from traditional Jewish family, my grandfather was the gabai of our city's synagogue and our family openly celebrated our origins and Jewish life-style. Therefore, I have always felt the need to be involved and share that pride. While living in Moscow I started to teach 'alef-bet' to preschoolers at the Jewish Sunday School of the Israeli Culture Center. When we immigrated to NY, I continued the same at the Sunday School of my synagogue and lead children's Shabbat groups at another one. Living in NY allows for so many opportunities to learn, grow, and be involved in the Jewish live and I'm always looking for new ways to do so. So when several month ago, at a Hineni Shabbat dinner I was told about JICNY and it's various activities, I decided to check it out. I came to the Monday's Torah class with Steve Eisenberg and was 'hooked' by the warm welcome and amazing people. Since then I've been attending Steve's weekly inspirational Torah's classes, Ziva Kramer's classed filled with amazing insights, and Yoni Gershan's spiritually uplifting chasidut lectures. Thanks to JICNY I've met so many great people and gained amazing friends, along with gaining new insights into my origins, religion, and culture.