Ruben Shimonov

MHWOW Host

New York, NY

Originally from Uzbekistan, Ruben grew up in Seattle, where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations, Near Eastern Studies, and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. As a Bukharian Jew—whose multilayered identity lies at the intersection of Mizrahi, Sephardic, and Russian-speaking Jewish (RSJ)—Ruben roots his work as an educator, social innovator, and community builder in a deep passion for the diverse cultural mosaic of the Jewish people. He has brought this interest to his work at Queens College Hillel for the past four years—most recently as Director of Cross-Community Engagement and Education. This passion has also informed his communal leadership endeavors within organizations such as the American Sephardi Federation (where he is the Young Leadership Board’s VP of Education and Community Engagement), JDC Entwine, OneTable, and, obviously, Moishe House. As an active MHWOW host, Ruben organizes Shabbat gatherings that celebrate Jewish cultural diversity, including the LGBTQ Sephardic-Mizrahi Shabbat Dinner Series. Through these innovative monthly dinners, Ruben has helped build a vibrant, and much needed, community platform for LGBTQ Jews from Sephardic and Mizrahi backgrounds.

As an alumni of Moishe House’s Retreatology program, Ruben recently organized a peer-led retreat for LGBTQ Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, curating a Shabbaton experience in which participants could explore and celebrate their multilayered identities. Ruben has also had the privilege to lead a learning session on Jewish global diversity and multiculturalism at NattyCon 2017. In 2017, Ruben was named a COJECO Blueprint Fellow and American Sephardi Federation Broome & Allen Fellow. As part of these fellowships, he has been working on community projects that highlight the intersectional identities of Russian-speaking Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. He is currently studying in a dual-master’s degree program in Public Administration and Judaic Studies at New York University.