Last year, the 26-year-old Lipnick went on a "birthright" trip -- a journey to Israel meant to get young Jews in touch with their heritage -- and rediscovered his roots. He's now heavily involved with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and is helping plan Israel@65, a street festival at Union Market in the District planned for Sunday to honor that country's 65th birthday. The festival will feature Israeli food, drinks and entertainment.
Tell me about your birthright experience.
Before birthright I just had a lot of friends who told me how amazing it was. I didn't think twice about it because I wasn't very involved in the Jewish community, and I didn't know how I would benefit from the trip. But then I thought, "Why not?" It was incredible. I went with a group of 40 that was all people from D.C. between 22 and 27 [years of age]. ... Then we got to see Israel from a different angle. We had an Israeli soldier and an Israeli tour guide come along with us. It was just very special. It gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate your roots without forcing you to do it.
What about the trip made you want to become involved here in D.C.?
The community was the biggest part of it -- the group of people I was with. Once I got back to D.C., it was the Jewish Federation that engaged me and brought me into it.
Do you consider yourself Jewish both religiously and culturally?
I would say both. I would say it was always there; it was just a little bit deeper and hadn't been brought out until recently.
What do you want people to take away from the festival?
I hope people find out how amazing Israel is and the resources that come out of it. I hope they experience Israel more and then decide they'd like to go.